To review: Atlanta was ahead 99-98 when the Cavs missed a shot in the lane with about 16 seconds remaining on the shot clock. But the shot clock did not reset, and by the time point guard Mike Bibby dribbled up court and looked at the clock, it was ticking close to zero. Bibby passed the ball to Josh Smith in the lane, he had it stolen by LeBron James, and the Cavs came down court and scored for a 100-99 lead.Remember: this is supposed to be the Era of NBA Officiating Transparency. Remember: David Stern is supposed to be winning back the public's trust after The Scandal. So the officials would explain this gaffe surely.
Woodson was apoplectic, arguing his case vociferously to the referees while also screaming angrily at the 24-second clock operator. But to no avail.
"I'm not going to comment on it at this time. We're just going to file a protest, without a doubt let the league review it at the two-minute mark, and then see what they think."
Did he see that as a game-changer?
"Well, we've got a one-point lead and with the ball going our way, and we're rushing to get a shot because the clock is not in our favor? You figure it out."
There is an NBA procedure for instances such as this. A pool reporter is permitted to question the lead referee about a rules interpretation, and the referee is obligated to answer so long as it does not involve a judgment call, and the pool reporter is obligated to share the referee's answer with all other media.Let's face it: NBA fans will be doomed to deal with lousy officiating until the end of time. All we can do is accept it. Which, admittedly, will be tough for Atlanta fans to choke down today.
Pretty simple, no?
Well, lead referee Kenny Mauer would have none of it, relaying two words -- "no comment" -- when a Cavs public relations official informed him a pool reporter wished to question him about the play in question.
Mauer could have explained that he was acting within the rules as they are written, and that there is no recourse for going to a video review on a malfunction such as this.
"I think we should have won this game, and I think they know that, too," Bibby said. "I was bringing the ball up, and that's why I started to go because the clock was down. I didn't know, it was the middle of the game, I thought it was kind of quick. You look at the shot clock, you see the shot clock down, and you play."
Said Smith: "Malfunction? I thought one official was supposed to check the clock."
This is the second time this month that a lead referee has refused to explain a critical rules interpretation -- even though the league office has encouraged them (but not mandated them) to do so. A league spokesman said Mauer was within his rights to decline comment, and so all we have for an explanation this morning is the video of the play, the video of Woodson's ire and the pending protest (which seems almost certain to be turned down).
Bucks-Magic: Charlie Bell clanged five bricks (three from Orange Avenue) along with a giveaway and two fouls for an Association-leading +8 in 7:41 - at least the top suck differential UNTIL the end of the Pacers game below!!!
Grizzlies-Pacers: Hamed Haddadi had himself a missed field goal and two fouls in 4:43 for a +3 and a 2:0 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, in a stupefying stint as starting forward, Mike Dunleavy took after his father by lacking up THE biggest suck differential in the Association so far - wasting away in 16:13 by bricking four times (once from the charity stripe and thricely from the Indiana Central Canal), losing the rock once, taking a rejection, AND fouling three times for a +9!!!!!!!!!!!
Heat-Hornets: Joel Anthony minted a 1.6 trillion (1:35) for Erik Spoelstra's firey squad tonight.
Celtics-Suns: Despite four boards in 23 minutes, Brian Scalabrine fouled out in addition to losing the rock once and tossing three bricks from Van Buren Street for a 7:4 Voskuhl - his third consecutive Voskuhl in three games!
Sixers-Kings: Jason Kapono witnessed the paupers' distribution of dumb defense from up close, accruing a 6 trillion!
Thunder-Generals: Dominic McGuire returned to form with a foul and brick in 3:06 for a +2 suck differential.
Crabs-Hawks: Joe Smith had a not-so-mighty 2:0 Voskuhl in 5:52 by negating an assist with two bricks, one giveaway, and a foul.
Hornets-Rockets: Marcus Thornton sharply missed one field goal to give the buzzers a +1 in 8:47.
Warriors-Lakers: Phil Jackson must've been pretty confident that Golen State's non-defensive play would show up in a timely fashion, as he brought out Josh Powell in the middle of the game (with the Lakers still having to fight their way back) for a 3.7 trillion (3:43) take that would prove celebratory!
Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut never took off their warmups in the second half of the Bucks' 94-84 loss to the Bobcats. The team's second- and third-leading scorers were benched after combining to shoot 1-for-10 and play little defense in a one-sided matchup of teams that figure to contend for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.
"What do I need to say? We were 4-13 in our last 17 games, now 4-14 in our last 18," Skiles said. "Everybody has got to look at themselves right now."
Shocking? Yeah, I guess you could say that. Brandon Jennings could hardly believe it: "I was real surprised. I thought once we got it down a little bit, we were going to bring them back in, you know Bogut and Redd and them."
It's a classic Skiles move. He doesn't accept bullshit. He expects all-out effort every night...or else. As he should. But NBA players aren't machines, and with the money they make and the associated sense of entitlement they feel, they begin to resent being driven like horses all the time. Their effort starts to slip a little, especially on defense. And the harder Skiles tries to retake control, the worse his team will play. I saw it happen when he was in Phoenix. I saw it up close when he was coaching the Bulls. When these things start to happen, it's usually the foreplay to him getting effed over by his players...and fired by his bosses.
Said Skiles: "It's not so much producing. It's body language and the way we look out there. The bottom line: this is the NBA. You have to produce. It's what pro sports is. And we need more consistent production out of our key players."
I so totally agree with those sentiments. I do. And I'd probably be the same kind of coach. But, at least in the NBA, that kind of hard line attitude can and will cost you your job. Only Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Larry Brown could get away with being a ball buster to that extent. And even those guys are usually wise enough to pick their battles.
The New Jersey Nyets: Another night, another double-digit home loss for the New Jersey Nyets. Even Ji Jianlian's career-high 29 points could not save them. The Nyets actually kept things respectable until the fourth quarter, when they scored only 13 points on 6-for-18 shooting. Most of the Nyets' shots were long jumpers, and they got to the line only once in the final 12 minutes. The Thunder's defense got a lot of fluffing after this game, but come on, people. This is New Jersey we're talking about. They're 2-29 and have now lost 10 in a row for the second time this season. Shutting them down is a case of "dog bites man." Zzzzzzz...
Said New Jersey coach Kiki Vandeweghe: "I don't know if we ran out of gas or did they turn it up?" If by "if we ran out of gas" you mean "we suck," well, I guess that's your answer.
Wizards Generals: Losing to the Grizzlies doesn't earn an automatic bid for Worst of the Night anymore. They're actually...decent. (After they reach .500 or get over it, I'll dub them "halfway decent.") But Memphis was without Rudy Gay, their leading scorer (20.6 PPG). That should have evened things up, right? It sort of did. Washington forced the game into overtime. But we all them the Generals around here for a reason. You know why it went to overtime? Washington was actually up 102-100 with five seconds left. The Griz ran a helter skelter play in which the ball ended up in Zach Randolph ended up with the ball outside of the three-point line.
Now, Z-Bo is a great many things, but one thing he isn't is a three-point shooter. He's hit 28 percent of his treys over his career. And while I don't expect the Generals to know the exact percentage, I do think they should realize what shots you want Randolph to take. No, really. But instead, the defender crowded Randolph, which allowed him to slip past the defense for a drive on which he got fouled by Brendan Haywood with less than a second left. Z-Bo nailed 'em both, and it was onto overtime and another defining loss for the Generals.
Said Gilbert Areneas: "We just couldn't get a break." Indeed.
Speaking of Z-Bo, check out this factoid from today's Daily Dime: "Zach Randolph had 23 points and 13 rebounds on Monday and over his last five games he's scored 141 points and collected 91 rebounds. The last NBA player with as many points and rebounds in a five-game span was Shaquille O'Neal in February 1993, his rookie season."
Seriously....Zach Randolph for MVP?!
The Los Angeles Lakers: Earlier this season, I told Wild Yams in the comments section of a post that, when rested (i.e., not on the second night of back-to-backs), the Suns can play with anybody, and that they'll win at least one home game against the Lakers this season. Well, my thanks go out to the Phoenix players for making it happen in style. The Suns put a good old fashioned hurtin' on the Lakers, who are starting to look like the Fakers of old. It was 2006 all over again, as Phoenix outran, outshot and outhustled a bigger and more physical Lakers team.
But, really, that shouldn't have happened. Kwame Brown is long gone after all.
Derek Fisher went 1-for-7 against the vise-like defense of Steve Nash, Channing Frye (14 points, 11 rebounds) negated Andrew Bynum (14 points, 9 boards), and Amar''''''e Stoudemire (26 points, 11-for-17, 6 rebounds) outplayed Pau Gasol (13 points, 5-for-10, 5 boards), and Ron Artest was still out with a laceration to his head. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant took 16 more shots than either of L.A.'s big men on his way to scoring a game-high 34 points before sitting out most of the final quarter. Do you think the Suns would rather have Kobe shooting jumpers from all over the floor or get pounded inside by the Lakers' frontcourt? Let me put it this way: that strategy hasn't changed since 2006.
Phil Jackson gets it...even if he was powerless to stop it. "I wasn't comfortable with my starters or my bench. I didn't like either group. Guys didn't play right. We had the inside game going for us, yet we just didn't attack."
Added Kobe Bryant: "They played much better than we did, in a nutshell. That's all it was. They executed very well in transition, we didn't get back and it gave them a lot of easy opportunities, and that broke the game open." Uh, according to the numbers, the Suns scored only 11 of their 103 points on the fast break. I'm just sayin'.
The Lakers are now 6-6 on the season against teams that are .500 or better.
The Boston Celtics: You think the Lakers are in trouble? At least they're losing to good teams. The Celtics now have back-to-back losses to the (gak) Clippers and the (erk) Warriors. Losses in which they basically hit the snooze button on defense. I mean, the Clips shot better than 50 percent against them, and the Warriors came back from an 18-point first half deficit to beat Boston behind Monta Ellis' 37 points (15-for-26 from the field, 6-for-8 from the line).
Let's face it. We all know how well the Celtics can defend when motivated. Having an 18-point lead against Gol_en State should have been more than enough. The absence of Paul Pierce doesn't not explain that kind of defensive collapse. Early in the season, Doc Rivers complained that his squad had developed a tendency to relax against lesser teams, which is something they hadn't done in the previous two seasons. Is that the Rasheed Wallace Effect? Because, seriously, that's what 'Sheed's Detroit teams always used to do. Think about it.
The Portland Ail Blazers: I pumped these guys up in my Worst of Christmas Weekend post, and then they lay an egg at home against the Sixers? Well, the injuries were bound to catch up to them. You think the Blazers expected to be giving significant minutes to frontcourt players like Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph? And by "significant" I mean "any."
As if by coincidence, Elton Brand exploded off the bench for a season-high 25 points on 11-for-16 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds. Oh, and in case you care, Allen Iverson played and shot a surprising 7-for-11. Maybe he's finally becoming an efficient player...
The Denver Nuggets: Yes, the Nuggets were still Chauncey Billups-less, but the Kings were Tyreke Evans-less, which should have more than evened things up...right? And maybe it would have, if the _enver _efenders had remembered to put a hand in the face of one Andres Nocioni. Noc went 6-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-5 from downtown. He finished with a team-high 21 points, including 7 in the decisive fourth quarter.
The Nuggets have now lost six consecutive road games, where they score 14 fewer points per contest than they do at home. Since it seems doubtful they're going to have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, that could be a problem. Said Aaron Afflalo: "At the end of the day we're going to have to get a win on the road. We need some more practice time to regain our focus on whatever it may be at the end of the day we have to do to get a win."
Seriously? More practice is the answer?
Lacktion report: As usual, Chris is on the case - not even the newest of Association members can hide from the ledger!!!
Bucks-Bobcats: Charlie Bell rang up four bricks (twice from Discovery Place) in 7:31 for a +4 suck differential! Meanwhile, Larry Brown and Michael Jordan had Acie Law wager one rejection and brick each for a +2 in 1:50.
Thunder-Nyets: Oklahoma City's Byron Mullens (who's taking a cue from Tim Duncan and denying his own status as big man) got off the Greyhound from Tulsa and made his Association debut tonight by mopping up some Goombas in a 40 second Mario!!!!
Generals-Grizzlies: DeShawn Stevenson fouled once for a +1 in 1:16.
Lakers-Suns: Earl Clark crunched out a brick, rejection, and giveaway to give Phoenix a celebratory +3 in 1:55.
Sixers-Blazers: Jrue Holiday vacationed in the land of lacktion tonight by bricking and losing the rock twice each, adding a foul and rejection to the itinerary for a +6 in 11:05. Fellow Philadelphian Jason Smith took a foul and giveaway himself to earn a +2 in 4:17 that also counts as a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Celtics-Warriors: As Gol_en State somehow played enough D to halt the C's, Don Nelson ended up in the rare position of bringing out a human victory cigar at the Oracle, lighting up Chris Hunter for a foul and turnover in 2:06 that scored a +2 as well as a 2:0 Voskuhl. Earlier, Doc Rivers attempted to stem the tide by having Brian Scalabrine foul once in 6:22 for a +1 that doubled as a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl - his second straight game within the realm of bawful big men!!!
1. Ron Artest strangled by pet octopus
2. Ron Artest's private plane lost in Bermuda Triangle
3. Ron Artest finds Bigfoot
4. Ron Artest discovers the Higgs boson
5. Ron Artest battles Hitler's-brain-in-robot-body
6. Ron Artest eats seven kittens
7. Ron Artest returns to his home planet of Z'Xoorantus IV.
Celtics-Magic: JJ Redick flew two fouls, one rejection, AND four bricks (three from Church Street Station) for a stunning +7 in 18:07, one of the longest stints of lacktion so far this season! His suck differential score is tied with Joel Anthony for 2nd-highest in the Association, behind Chase Budinger of the Rockets.
Crabs-Lakers: You know "Coach" Mike Brown wanted to really stick it to the other half of the puppet show tonight, and mid-game human victory cigars on their Wiis (Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson with an 11 second Mario and Daniel "Boobie" Gibson mushrooming to a 7 second Super Mario) speak for themselves!!! Jawad Williams then powered off his NES by jumping the flagpole for a game-closing 22 second stint, creating a trio of Mario Brothers for the Crabs!!!!!!
Clippers-Suns: Robin Lopez laid an egg in the points column for Phoenix, but did get two boards in 10:05. Despite that, he added two fouls and one giveaway to three bricks for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Grizzlies-Mavs: DeMarre Carroll took a fairytale journey through the Mushroom Kingdom for a 24 second Mario!
Hawks-Pacers: Atlanta's Randolph Morris and Othello Hunter each scripted themselves a +1 suck differential in 2:39, Morris via brick and Hunter via foul! Meanwhile, Indiana's Josh McRoberts negated a board and assist with two fouls and a brick in 3:35 for a Voskuhl ratio of 2:1.
Hornets-Bulls: New Orleans benchwarmer Bobby Brown punched out two bricks in 6:04 for a +2.
Sixers-Jazz: Rodney Carney clubbed a brick at Temple Square and a foul for a +2 in 3:02. Kosta Koufos cashed out with a 1.9 trillion (1:54) for Jerry Sloan.
Lakers-Kings: As the purple paupers once again ran out of gas in overtime against a good team, Phil Jackson called on Josh Powell to cable him some cash - in this instance, 3.1 trillion (3:08)!
Pistons-Raptors: Austin Daye donned a Tanooki Suit to give Detroit a 3 second Super Mario, while Toronto's Pops Mensah-Bonsu was taught typing past some Koopa shells in a mere 34 seconds for a regular Mario!
Celtics-Clippers: Brian Scalabrine countered a block and assist in 10:27 by garnering two fouls, leading to a 2:0 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Mike Dunleavy shockingly had the opportunity to bring out the human victory cigars against an elite squad, with Mardy Collins losing the rock twice for a +2 suck differential in 4:18, and Ricky Davis giving the Christmas present of a Game and Watch to Steve Novak to give the Clips a pair of Mario Brothers!!!! Davis spent 1400% more time on the court than Novak, rescuing Pauline from Donkey Kong in 14 seconds, as compared to Steve Novak's stupdendously short 1 second SUPER MARIO!
Good God, the end of that Minny-Jersey game was epic. But only on the Jersey side, as Minny made their free throws.
Jersey with the ball, about 22 seconds left, down four: they go for a quick two, but the Minny defender cuts off Harris, who passes out to the 3-pt line. One more pass around the arc and there's about 12 seconds left. You would think that at this point, the Nets would realize that you can't go for a quick two anymore. But Yi gets the ball and tries to drive, gets cut off, then passes back to Dooling beyond the arc, who pump fakes, tries to draw a foul, gets off balance, then passes while in the air to Yi for the corner three. There are now three seconds left. It's taken 19 seconds to get to this point. Yi shoots the corner three, and it hits the top corner of the backboard and caroms all the way back out to Dooling (or whoever is standing at the wing), who tries and fails to get the shot off before the final buzzer.
Even if he had managed to make a three before the final buzzer, the Nets still would have lost by a point. Hilariously epic fail.
Nationally Televised Games:
Rockets at Magic: Vince Carter is now on a 28.6% shooting streak over the past four games. Okay, here's my theory: the even-more-insane Stephon Marbury has convinced Vinsanity to start eating Vaseline like Starbury, and his hands are so slippery afterwards that it makes it hard to shoot. Plausible, right?
All The Other Games:
Raptors at Pistons: Okay, the Raptors have somehow won two straight, but one of those wins was against the Nyets. Speaking of which...
Timberwolves at Nyets: Oh sweet merciful crap, this is a bad, bad game. Kill it with fire! Do I need to say it? Your Basketbawful Game of the Night, everyone!
Jazz at Heat: You know, I can't figure out exactly why, but the Jazz are having trouble winning on the road this year. (Checks Internet) "Sloan's team is 5-8 on the road, averaging 96.5 points. The Jazz average 105.3 at home." Oh. Well, there you go.
Warriors at Hornets: Gol_en State is 3-13 on the road. New Orleans is 10-3 at home. Well, I think we can all see where this game is heading...
Wizards Generals at Bucks: This stat really surprised me. The Bucks are averaging 98.0 points per game, and giving up 97.3 per game. And yet they are only 12-14? That's what happens when your record in games decided by 3 or fewer points is only 2-8.
Ail Blazers at Spurs: Thanks to the Curse of Walton, Portland doesn't have Oden, Vanilla Godzilla Przybilla, or any true centers to protect the rim. If Tim Duncan decides to go off and have a monster night, I won't be the least bit surprised.
Hawks at Nuggets: Poor Denver. George Karl is probably calling and texting Chauncey Billups every five minutes asking if he's feeling ready to play yet.
Thunder at Suns: The last time the Thunder won a game in Phoenix (a 152-149 double OT game in 2006), they were still the Sonics, and Nick Collison is the only player from that roster still with the team.
Crabs at Kings: King Crab versus the Kings! I just like how that fits together. At least it's the most interesting thing about this blowout-in-the-making. And our own Chris will be there!
Sixers-Generals: Philadelphia's Jason Smith negated an assist with a foul in 3:54 for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Hawks-Wolves: Oleksiy Pecherov fouled and bricked once each in 1:58 for a +2 suck differential and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl for Minnesota.
Blazers-Mavs: Tim Thomas bricked thricely (once from Fountain Place) for a +3 in 6:04.
Clippers-Rockets: Brian Skinner took a foul and gave up the rock once for a +2 in 3:39 which also earned a 2:0 Voskuhl, while fellow Clipper Steve Novak booked a 21 second stay at Hotel Mario! Clutch the Bear's starting center Chuck Hayes made one field goal in 10:43, only to counter that and two boards with four fouls and a turnover for a 5:4 Voskuhl.
Thunder-Lakers: Nick Collison made one board and one free throw in 12:22 - but bricked a field goal and another charity stripe shot while ultimately fouling out, resulting in a 6:2 Voskuhl!