If only Deron were an airplane, he could have flown
far, far away from last night's debacle in L.A.
Chicago weather: Let's see...9 degrees with -22 wind chill. Want to know what my walk to work from the train station was like? Then fast forward to the 3:40 mark of this video. Seriously, my morning has become a bad Arnie one-liner.
"Hey, Shu-cah-go. Cheel out!"
It's like the Bulls' epically bad shooting has caused an unearthly cold to descend upon the city. Speaking of which...
The Chicago Bulls After last night's apocalypse in Atlanta, the Bulls have lost five straight games and nine of their last 10 overall. Their only victory in that stretch was against a Detroit Pistons team that had fewer fresh bodies than your average morgue. I understand this team is lacking in offensive firepower, but where has the defense gone? In their first 10 games, the Bulls surrendered 100 points only once. At that point, they were ranked a very impressive 4th in Defensive Rating. Since then? Check out the points Chicago has given up in the last 10 games: 108, 112, 122, 105, 99, 85, 101, 110, 103, 118. Now they’re ranked 20th in Defensive Rating. And that number doesn’t even reflect their defensive fail against the Hawks.
But Vinny Del Negro isn't worried about his job.
Of course, the Bulls haven't quit on Vinny so much as given up on themselves. Seriously, this group of sadsacks looks as defeated as the Nyets did on the night they hit 0-18. If New Jersey can keep fighting despite all they've been through, why not the Bulls?
Vinny Del Negro: If you want to take this entry as an answer to that last question, go for it. By the way, did I mention he's not worried about his job? Job security is all about results. This 10-game festival of fail represents 1/8th of Chicago's season. Mind you, I'm a technical writer. So let's assume that I spent the next 45 days -- which, unless I'm the worst mathematologist in the world -- is 1/8th of my working year -- turning in all my assignments (user guides, help text, technical notes, functional specifications, and so on) written in crayon on giant stone slabs. Only instead of actual instructions on how to use software, the stone slabs were covered in dirty jokes and pictures of boobs.
I think I'd be a little worried about my job after that. Don't you?
Kirk Hinrich: He missed several games with a sprained left thumb -- he's a right-handed shooter, by the way -- before returning last night for a zero-point, 0-for-9 performance. It's like the Sprained Thumb Fairy showed up in the middle of the night to replace his hands a pile of wet spaghetti. The sad thing is, that misguided shooting performance will barely affect his average, which was already a lowly 36 percent.
The Indiana Pacers: This season, Greg Oden has been like the cursed Tiki idol from that old Brady Bunch episode.
I mean, Portland's injury problems have gotten so bad that even their coach blew out his right Achilles' tendon at practice and had to have surgery. But the Danny Granger-less Pacers were the perfect prescription for what's been ailing the Blazers. Even though Portland only had nine players available for last night's game, Indy still lost by double-digits at home. It was their sixth straight loss...and that streak could get pretty long with Granger out. Maybe somebody gave the Pacers a Tiki idol too...?
Dean Demopoulos, quote machine: Portland's assistant coach, who's currently filling in for the recovering-from-surgery Nate McMillan, is one serious quote machine. Regarding his boss, Dean said: "Even when I was young enough, I wasn't good enough. I'm 10 or 11 years older than Nate. I'd blow both Achilles' out." Then, regarding Brandon Roy: "I could almost fall asleep when he's got the ball. That's how comfortable I feel with him. He always comes through." I hope Nate gets better soon and everything, but I hope it's not too soon. Demopoulos is on a roll.
The Philadelphia 76ers: It seems fitting somehow that in his first game back with the Sixers, Allen Iverson got to lose to his second team, and in his second game back he got to lose to his third team. And mind you, his third team -- the Detroit Pistons -- was missing three of its four best players (Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince). Iverson went 3-for-10 and committed a game-high 6 turnovers, and freaking Kwame Brown (11 points, 5 boards) almost outplayed the entire Philly bench (12 points, 5 boards). And this happened in Philadelphia! Make it 11 straight losses for the Sixers.
The Not Answer strikes again.
And, according to the AP recap: "New Jersey and Minnesota are the only teams with worse records than the Sixers. The Sixers haven't won since Nov. 18 vs. Charlotte and they've lost by five or less points six times during the skid." But according to Iverson: "It's going to get better. This is one of those times when you find out what type of character you have as men." So says the guy who quit on his last two teams because he didn't want to come off the bench.
The New Jersey Nyets: If you honestly wondered whether the Nyets could recapture the magic they had against the craptacular Bulls, the answer -- and this really should have been obvious, shouldn't it? -- was:
So, really, the Nyets' 105-89 home loss to the Golden State Warriors was surprising only if you're a space alien who had never watched "The Basketball" before. And if that's the case, welcome to Earth, strange friends from afar! Please don't vaporize us with your Vaporizer Rays! We have so much to give your culture. Like Bacon Salt and Internet porn!
Said Devin Harris: "We made a lot of mental mistakes tonight. We came in and talked about what they do well. They create turnovers, they score off their turnovers, they're a fast-break team. We got a little bit careless with the ball and that led to a lot of uncontested layups and we kind of dug ourselves a hole." Oh! That's why the Warriors score 30 points off your 22 turnovers! Who knew taking care of the basketball was so important. Other than "everybody" that is.
The Toronto Raptors: Another night, another defensive fail for the Craptors. This team gives up points like the lives of their loved ones depend on it. On average, Toronto gives up almost 109 PPG. Well, they outdid themselves against the Bucks in Milwaukee, surrendering 117 points on 52+ percent shooting. The 22-point blowout came against a Bucks team that had dropped four in a row and eight of 10 overall. The Craptors are like a necromancer bringing dead offenses back to life.
Chris Bosh, quote machine: After the 117-95 loss, the RuPaul of Big Men said: "We gave ourselves a chance, but we didn't stick to our principles." Ooookay...?
Ersan Ilyasova: He just looks so silly.
Jonny Flynn: I'll give the rookie credit: he stood up to Chris Paul and his team was up by a point with 3.9 seconds to go. Sure, they had choked away a 16-point lead, but it really looked like the Timberpups were going to pull some fat out of the fire. Well, that sizzling sound you hear? It's their fat in the fire. Flynn committed a major defensive fail by turning his head after CP3 inbounded the ball to David West, which allowed Paul to streak to the hoop, receive a backdoor pass from West, and lay in the game-winner with 1.4 seconds left. Whoops.
Said Flynn: "We should have got this win tonight. I'll take some of the blame on that last backdoor cut." You'll take some of the blame, Jonny? Well, that's mighty gracious of you.
The Cleveland Cavaliers: So much for coming back strong after losing to the Grizzlies, huh? The Crabs got a little lesson in defensive tenacity from the All-Star-less Rockets, who forced 20 turnovers, frustrated Mike Brown into a two-tech ejection, and held Cleveland to a season-low-tying 85 points. Other than LeBron James (27 points on 8-for-21 shooting), no other Crabs starter made it to double digits.
King Crab, who hasn't been doing much dancing lately, said: "We just can't have unforced turnovers. You have to take pride in avoiding them and we didn't." Statistical note: James had a game-high 5 TOs. There's no "me" in "we," but there should be in LeBron's case. Maybe James should do the dance of shame.
The San Antonio Spurs: I know a win's a win and all that, but I'm not sure the Spurs should feel very confident about beating the Kings last night. Remember: San Antonio's championship teams have always been based on a relentless and stifling defense. Last night's 12-point win, on the other hand, was accomplished by seeing who could outscore who. Despite getting into town late after a tough loss in New Orleans the night before, the Kings shot over 52 percent as a team, had 62 points in the paint, got 24 points on the fast break, and finished with 106 points on the night. Meanwhile, the Spurs had to shoot 55 percent and go 8-for-9 from downtown just to outpace the feisty Sactowners.
Manu Ginobili may still be sporting the ugliest bald spot in the league, but he knows what's what: "A team that has come from New Orleans last night should have been more tired than us, but they ran more." Yeah...what's up with that, Manu? I mean, should Beno Udrih and Omri Casspi be able to come off the bench and combine for 35 points on 16-for-25 shooting against a Popovich defense?
The Utah Jazz: The Jazz had a Memento moment last night. I mean, short term memory loss is the only reason I could come up with for why they forgot to show up for the fourth quarter of their game against the Lakers. Utah scored 6 points -- that's right, 6 points -- on 2-for-18 shooting in that Fourth Quarter of Doom. Mind you, the Jazz were only down by two points after three quarter, but ended up losing 101-77.
For some perspective on this dubious accomplishment, the Jazz became the ninth team in the shot clock era to score 6 or fewer points in the fourth quarter. HISTORIC FAIL.
Said Jerry Sloan: "They came out and just destroyed us. We were hanging in the ballgame, but that just shows you what a great team they have. ... We have to learn to stay within what we are trying to do. You can't go out and play street basketball against this team. They will annihilate you."
Fun fact: The Lakers have won 10 games in a row and are 17-3 overall. However...they've played only four road games so far this season with only three sets of back-to-back games (the last of which came against the Warriors/Nyets poop-and-vomit combo). I guess there really is no place like home.
Kosta Koufous: Reid S. send in this truly bawful sequence for poor Kosta:
If he'd slipped on a banana peel, his night would have been complete.
Tim Thomas: So...Timmy T. was somehow involved in a brawl -- at Denny's of all places -- in which chairs were thrown, tables were knocked over and police had to be called in. I know people were kinda hurt and everything, but still...best night at Denny's ever, right?
Lacktion report: Fresh off yet another purple pauper Loss That Ain't As Bad As Others, Chris is back on the lack track:
Pistons-Sixers: Detroit's DaJuan Summers warmed up to a foul in 2:20 for a +1 suck differential. In response, Philadelphia's Royal Ivey decreed a +3 in 1:37 via brick, foul, and giveaway.
Warriors-Nyets: Sean Williams countered two boards with a pair of turnovers and a trio of fouls for a 5:2 Voskuhl in 6:14, while fellow ruble-rouser Tony Battie earned a +2 via masonry in 4:31
Raptors-Bucks: Rasho Nesterovic made one field goal in exactly 13 minutes as starting center, only to take a rejection and three fouls for a prehistoric 3:2 Voskuhl.
Hornets-Wolves: Hilton Armstrong checked himself past the vestibule of Voskuhls with three fouls and a turnover in 5:04 against two boards for a 4:2 ratio.
Kings-Spurs: Ime Udoka made bank tonight with a 2.7 trillion (2:42) for the purple paupers, while San Antonio's Malik Hairston went nostalgic by sneaking through a level of Metal Gear for 22 seconds, resulting in his second Mario in two games.
Crabs-Rockets: Jawad Williams was one tick of the clock away from pinching out a fortune, but instead had to get back into the Mushroom Kingdom to collect gold coins in a 59 second Mario. Meanwhile, Chase Budinger pursued a spot as Clutch the Bear's human victory cigar with an incredible statline of SEVEN bricks (twice from One Shell Plaza, followed by another pair from the charity stripe!!!) and a rejection for a +8 in 8:04, good enough to tie the Nyets' Terrence Williams for the highest single-game suck differential this season!!!!!
Jazz-Lakers: Kosta Koufos took down three boards in 4:14, but in an evening in which Utah went from very competitive in three quarters to near-complete silence in the fourth, giving up the rock three times and fouling twice led to a 5:3 Voskuhl. With the reversal in fortune complete, Phil Jackson was able to summon Josh Powell as tonight's human victory cigar, bricking once for a +1 in 2:04.