The Chicago Bulls: Last night, the Bulls ended their streak of blowout losses at four. Instead of losing by 20-ish, they lost by only two. Unfortunately for the Windy City Stags, David Stern has yet to add a "Gosh, they were awful close" column to the NBA standings.
The Bulls have a nasty habit of getting owned by opposing big men, and their 99-97 loss to the Bucks was no exception. Andrew Bogut was supposed to miss four weeks with a lower left leg strain. He suited up anyway and finished with a season-high 14 rebounds to go along with a team-high 22 points (10-for-19). Seven of field goals were layups. Bogut also had a game-high 4 blocked shots, including swats on back-to-back Bulls possessions in the final minute-ish (on a dunk attempt by Luol Deng and a layup attempt by Derrick Rose). Andy also squeezed a layup in between those two defensive plays.
The Bulls finished their annual circus trip (so named because the Ringling Bros. circus takes over the United Center for a few weeks) 1-5. That dropped them to 10-61 since the 1999-2000 season. For those of you who enjoy math, that means they've averaged less than one win per year on the trip. In fact, the Bulls went five season without winning a single game on the circus trip, going 0-32 from 1999-00 to 2003-04. So their 10-29 record in the past six seasons is actually a huge improvement if you think about it. Although it's probably better if you don't think about it.
The Bulls bench: Chicago's a little weak in the depth department right now because their minus one starter (Tyrus Thomas) and their sixth man (Kirk Hinrich). Therefore it's not too surprising that the Bulls bench was outscored 18-9. Still, the 4-for-18 shooting was pretty sad.
Brandon Jennings, fantasy assassin (but not in a good way): This is an e-mail from Derrick M., who's celebrating his 21st birthday today. Hopefully, he's not too drunk to see this: "I think you should mention Brandon Jennings in your WotN tomorrow. I picked up Brandon Jennings in my fantasy league early in the season after he got off to a hot start, so even though he was on my bench at the time, I was obviously ecstatic when he went off for 55 points against the Warriors. However, my joy was immediately tempered when I read this quote from Jennings after dropping the double nickel, "Sometimes it feels like Oak Hill (Academy) out there," Now, I've never played in the NBA so I can't be sure, but I'm fairly certain the level of competition of the NBA is a tiny bit better than high school. An lo and behold, since uttering that fateful stat curse Jennings has shot 36.5% from the field including 29.8% in his last 5 games. I guess the NBA's kinda difficult when the stepback-3-with-a-defender-in-your-face isn't falling."
The Philadelphia 76ers: Philly outrebounded the Mavs 60-37 (including 24-14 on the offensive glass), hit 10 more free throws, and finished +16 in both fastbreak points and points in the paint. But Jason Terry's 17-foot jumper with 1.4 seconds extended their losing streak to seven games. The Sixers are now 5-13 on the season.
It's a pretty disappointing start for a team that everybody thought was ready to challenge for Eastern Conference supremacy last season. So disappointing, in fact, that the Sixers are very, very seriously considering bringing Allen Iverson back for one final (let's hope so anyway) tour of duty. According to the AP recap:
Team president Ed Stefanski said in a statement that both parties remain noncommittal about a final decision after a nearly two-hour meeting Monday.
Iverson, his agent and business manager met with Stefanski, coach Eddie Jordan and two other members of the organization during the first formal meeting between the Sixers and their former MVP.
"All of us liked what he talked about today. I'm not going to share that," Jordan said before the game. "He's a charming individual. It was really good, really intriguing."
Intriguing? Absolutely, but probably not for the same reasons Jordan is talking about. Against the Mavs, Philly shot 40 percent and had only 13 assists on 37 field goals. I don't think bringing in the Cancer is really going to boost their shooting percentage or improve ball movement.
I guess the idea is to replace Lou Williams, who's going to miss about eight weeks after jaw surgery. And I guess on paper Iverson is better than Jrue Holiday. But Iverson is a stop gap at best. Sure, it's always a feel-good story when a former star player is reaquired by his old team for a retirement tour. I'm sure it'll sell a few more tickets. And maybe that's the real "Answer." Because, honestly, I don't see the Sixers becoming any more competitive with Iverson than they have been without him. He's proven himself as an inefficient player who is willing to do things his way or no way at all. That worked exactly once, thanks to Larry Brown and a group of committed roleplayers who were willing to kill themselves on defense while sacrificing shots on offense.
Do you think Iggy wants to be "The Other A.I." again? Do you think Brand wants to be even less involved in the offense? Me neither.
Update! Samuel Dalembert, the hero: Oh, the many faces of fail. From SB Nation:
Imagine you were a big NBA fan and were posed this question. Which NBA player goaltended his own team's buzzer-beating shot attempt after the buzzer sounded, thereby preventing his team from winning?
Something tells me you'd guess "Samuel Dalembert" pretty quickly. The dude's been in the league for eight years and still makes plays that 15-year-olds would avoid. Case in point: last night's game against the Mavericks. Fast forward to the 49-second mark to see Dalembert swat away teammate Andre Iguodala's game-winning three-point attempt.
The Memphis Grizzlies: It seems the Griz need to audit a course at the local community college. It's called Hand in the Face 101. Memphis allowed the Jazz to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field en route to a 120-93 rout. The Jazz practically formed a conga line on their way to the hoop...and that 120 points was a season-high. Their previous high for points this season was 113. DEFENSIVE FAIL.
For the game, Utah was +11 in FG%, +28 in 3P%, +4 in points from free throws (despite earning seven fewer attempts), +5 in rebounds, +13 in assists, +6 in steals, +2 in blocks, +9 in fast break points and +12 in points in the paint. It was pluses all around for the Jazz, who have beaten the Grizzlies 10 times in a row.
Said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins: "They're playing really well. They've destroyed a couple of teams here in their last games and we just got added to that." Then his head fucking exploded.
Another Grizzlies-induced headache.
Added Sam Young: "We just couldn't make a stop when we needed it. I think a lot of times we felt like we had some momentum but couldn't get stops on defense." That's an understatement.
The good news for the Grizzlies? They play the Timberwolves tomorrow. And they might want to win that one, because then they play Dallas, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Miami.
The Indiana Pacers: Speaking of defensive fails...the Pacers succeeded in looking even more defenseless than the chronically defenseless Golden State Warriors. And that's saying something. The Golden Staters shot 56 percent from the field in their 126-107 victory over Indy, thanks in large part to a career-high 45 points from Monta Ellis. And mind you, the Warriors fell behind by 15 points in the first half before winning by 19. There's nothing like a 34-point swing to ruin a team's night.
Moped might have scored 50 if he hadn't fouled out. And, as it turns out, that was all part of the plan. Said Ellis: "My wife asked me to get 50 tonight [and] I was going for it. When I fouled out she threw her thumb up and said, 'Hey, 45 and a win is cool for me.' So I'm happy."
Welcome to the life of the Indiana Pacers: opposing players circle them on the schedule and their wives tell them to go for 50.
Uh, Roy? It'll hurt less if you play some defense.
Random trivia from the ESPN recap: Ellis became the fifth player since 2000-01 to score at least 45 points while also fouling out. The other guys were Allen Iverson (51 in 2004-05), Gilbert Arenas (47 in 2005-06), Paul Pierce (50 in 2005-06) and Kobe Bryant.(58 in 2006-07). Ellis is also the third player since 1986-87 to have 45 points and five steals in a game in which he fouled out, joining Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson. Basically, he owned the Pacers. Although you'll note he had one lonely assist versus 7 turnovers. He obviously was subscribing to the Kevin McHale shooting philosophy: Single coverage? Shoot. Double team? Shoot. Triple team? Shoot. Quadruple team? Pass.
Jim O'Brien, drastic understatement machine: Said the Pacers coach: "We just didn't get the job done defensively and defend at a very high level." Welcome to the World of Duh, population you.
Lacktion: Short, sweet and lacktion-y.
Sixers-Mavs: Jason Kapono apparently was placed in the Sixers lineup as a good luck charm, as in 10:31 he managed a plus-twelve +/- score. But in a losing effort, he also managed a +4 suck differential with a foul and three bricks (twice from the edge of the Trinity River).
Pacers-Warriors: Indiana's Roy Hibbert negated a field goal and two boards in 10:45 with five fouls and a giveaway for a 6:4 Voskuhl, while Mikki Moore, the starting big man for Team Nellieball, countered three boards and two points in 17:41 with five fouls of his own and a turnover as well for a 6:5 Voskuhl.