The Sacramento Kings: After coming back from a 35-point deficit to beat the Bulls in Chicago, the Purple Paupers were within a single game of .500 (13-14) and everybody was talking them up as the surprise team of the season. Well...surprise! After their 98-86 loss to the Sixers in Philly -- despite the return of Kevin Martin (19 points, 4-for-10) -- the Kings have lost nine of their last 11 games. And the two victories came against the Denver Nuggets, who were without Chauncey Billups in the first game (which the Kings won 106-101) and minus Carmelo Anthony in the second (which Sacto won 102-100). They are now 15-23. I'm just sayin'.
Tyreke Evans: In case you didn't know, the Freak grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, not too far from the City of Brotherly Hate. In fact, he was a McDonald's All-American out of American Christian and a two-time state player of the year...so this was something of a homecoming for him. Sadly, he finished with as many turnovers (3) as field goals (3-for-10). Sometimes you just can't go home again.
Elton Brand: From the AP recap: "Elton Brand -- who was benched for entire fourth quarters a month ago -- scored 14 points for the Sixers and continued to find success in his role as an $80 million reserve." I really hav nothing to add.
The San Antonio Spurs: After San Antonio beat the shorthanded Lakers and then defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder sans Timmy D, some commenters wanted me to give the Spurs a little credit were they felt credit was due. I said no...and this is why. Despite getting Duncan back, the Spurs shot 38 percent and managed only 76 points in a 16-point loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte. During a nine-minute span that bridged the third and fourth quarters, San Antonio went 0-for-14 from the field and was outscored 19-2.
The Spurs' "big three" went 12-for-30 from the field. I said it last season and I stand behind my words now: the Spurs time as a dominant team has passed.
The Phoenix Suns: No discussion of teams whose time has passed would be complete without mentioning the Phoenix Suns, who after a strong start have joined the Heat and Jazz as the league's premier Bipolar Girlfriend Teams. But that'll happen when you mix a league-best Offensive Rating of 113.8 with a next-to-last Defensive Rating of 111.4. When Phoenix is playing, no lead is safe...either way.
Still, the Suns could have calmed their fans down a bit by beating the Hawks in Atlanta. And when Steve Nash hit a couple foul shots to put them up 100-96 with 10 seconds left, it looked like that was exactly what they were going to do. The Suns only needed to play defense for 10 seconds.
I'm sure you know where this is going.
Jared Dudley fouled Josh Smith with six seconds to go. Smith nailed the first freebie and missed the second, but Jamal Crawford snuck in for the offensive rebound and putback. Now Phoenix led 100-99 with three seconds left. The Hawks quickly fouled Amar''''''e Stoudemire, who of course missed one of two. Now the Suns only needed to play defense for three seconds.
I'm sure you know where this is going.
Here's a quick question for Jared Dudley and the Phoenix coaching: why in the name of Hitler's dead balls would you give Jamal "I fucking shoot first and ask questions never" Crawford any space whatsoever. He had the ball and three seconds on the clock. Did you really think he was going to do anything but chuck one up? There was no excuse whatsoever for Dudley to be anywhere but inside Crawford's jersey. Holy Christ.
Of course, Crawford would never have gotten the opportunity to drill that dagger if the Suns hadn't gone 18-for-37 at the rim...
Amar''''''e Stoudemire, quote machine: Regarding Crawford's game-winner: "That's what we wanted -- a well-contested shot." My response:
Steve Nash and Grant Hill: Remember Crawford's offensive board and layup that made his buzzer beater possible? Well, it happened because Nash and Hill ran into each other instead of collecting the board. Said Nash: "It was just unlucky. He was hustling and I was going where I was supposed to go and it just bounced right between us." Face palm.
The New York Knicks: The LeBron Audition took another hit on Friday night, as the Craptors raced out to a 28-point lead before settling for a 112-104 win over the Bricks in New York. Toronto shot 53 percent from the field, 54 percent from downtown, and earned 11 more free throw attempts. It's hard telling why the Craptors were the aggressors in this one. What do you think, coach D'Antoni? "We could've done better. We just didn't do it for whatever reason. Seemed like we were a little bit tight for the first couple of quarters."
The New Orleans Hornets: I have bloody grooves in my scalp from all the head-scratching this game caused me, so I'll just leave you with an excerpt from the AP recap:
The Detroit Pistons have gone through a lot of strange lineup combinations during an injury-plagued season.
Friday night might have had the oddest of them all.
Even though they were reduced to playing 6-foot-10 rookie Jonas Jerebko at point guard and 6-foot-11 Austin Daye at shooting guard, the Pistons beat the New Orleans Hornets 110-104 in overtime.
"I don't think I've played point guard since I was about 15," said Jerebko, who had a 10-inch height advantage over Chris Paul during their brief matchup. "I think it went pretty well. I'd rather play the point than play center in this league."
Emeka Okafor: His line: 7 points, 6 rebounds, zero assists, 2 blocked shots. Ben Wallace's The Mummy's line: 13 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocked shots. Memo to Emeka: You're supposed to respect your elders, not let them walk all over you.
The New Jersey Nyets: The tragic comedy of the 2009-10 New Jersey Nyets continued against the Pacers, who scored 72 points in the first half and then cruised in for a 121-105 win that dropped the Nyets to 3-36.
Kiki Vandewghe, Coach of the Year candidate: Regarding his team's blowout loss in Indy: "It was a three-minute period that hurt us. That's just something we have to learn. It's a 48-minute game, not 45."
The Minnesota Timberwolves: While the worst team in the league was giving up 72 points in the first half of their game against the Pacers in Indianapolis, the Timberpoops were surrendering 69 points in the second half of their game against the Grizzlies in Memphis. And I know this is going to blow your socks the hell off, but the result was the same: A depressing blowout loss.
Said Al Jefferson: "I don't know what you could possibly ask me after that." Added Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis: "Our defense was atrocious. I'm embarrassed about how our guys played. There was no energy or focus on the defensive end. Those were his only comments before storming back into the locker room to bitch out his team. Seriously. Said Kevin Love: "[Rambis] had some choice words for us. It was nothing we wanted to hear, but we knew it was coming."
Ah, rebuilding is so much fun...
The Gol_en State Warriors: It was business as usual for the Warriors on Friday night, as the Milwaukee Bucks -- who average 97.6 PPG on 42 percent shooting and rank 25th in Offensive Rating -- scored 113 points to pull out a rare win. And they did it on the Warriors' homecourt. Mind you, that 113 points was Milwaukee's fourth-highest point output for the season.
If you're looking for excuses, the Warriors have a few. After all, they entered the game with only eight players in uniform, lost Anthony Morrow to a knee injury and had three others foul out. Unbelievably,that left Nellie with only four players. Under NBA rules, Stephen Curry -- the last Golden State player to foul out -- was allowed to return for the final four seconds.
Said Nellie: "I thought we did the best job we could. I have no complaints from the effort the guys have. It was hard for them to finish with not that much in the tank."
Yeah. I guess an empty tank and no defense will do that.
Warriors update: Biedrins fouled out, leaving 5 players... then Curry picked up his 5th and 6th PFs! They had to let him keep playing, (as explained by Rule 3) and according to basketball-reference's game logs (1987-2010), this is the only time a player has ever logged all 48 minutes in a non-overtime game with 6 PF.
The Los Angeles Clippers: In what may be the defining "They are who we thought they were" game of their season, the Clippers lost to the Lakers by 40 fucking points. Man, I've stepped on ants that put up a better fight than the Clippers did. And talk about historic fails: This debacle represented the Lakers' biggest win against the Clippers since the Clippers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season.
When a team that has sucked as badly for as long as the Clippers have receives one of its worst-ever ass-kickings, well, that's really, really saying something. Which might explain why Baron Davis just completely lost his shit.
Said B-Dizzle: "In the second half, they were real scrappy. They were definitely playing with a little more aggressiveness, and that's what they do. They slap, they grab, they try to bully you. And that's what they were able to do. They were able to bully us tonight."
Well, I guess we now know how Baron feels about bullies.
The Orlando Magic: Vince Carter returned to Orlando's lineup just in time for Brandon Roy to be scratched from Portland's lineup...which means the Frail Blazers are missing so many dudes I don't even want to take the time to list them all. But it didn't matter: Portland's M.A.S.H. unit still won in a 102-87 blowout.
Spoiler Alert!! The Magic are in trouble.
The Pumaman struck again, by the way. Despite facing a club that's currently missing both of its centers, Dwight Howard managed only a modest double-double (11 points, 11 boards) while doing 3-for-10 from the charity stripe. Said Howard: "One thing we can't do is point the finger at each other. We've got to play through these situations." Yeah...starting with you, big man! And then Vinsanity, who went 1-for-7 and disappeared without talking to the press after the game.
The never should have let Hedo Turkoglu leave. Seriously.
Friday lacktion report: Chris provides us with a heaping helping of Friday nigh lacktivity:
Kings-Sixers: As the Purple Paupers put on a pitiful performance in Philly, Donte Greene stepped down to the plate with some lacktion for Paul Westphal, providing a rejection and a brick for a +2 suck differential in 2:04.
Spurs-Bobcats: Acie Law laid down 1.65 trillion (1:40) in legal fees on behalf of Stephen Jackson, a time period which also saw Gerald Henderson take a rejection and bake one piece of masonry for a +2. DeSagana Diop also gave Michael Jordan and Larry Brown more mediocrity of his own, fouling twice and losing the rock once for a 3:2 Voskuhl in 7:10, negating two boards.
Bullets-Bulls: As Steve Novak has sunk into a sentence of warmup wearing for Team Dunleavy, Dominic McGuire has ever so slightly placed his crosshairs closer to the target of top Association lacktator!!! Despite the potential for overtime to cool down the fuse of futility, McGuire fired off one shot that spared the basket, and also saw another attempt absorbed by Chicago's defense for a +2 in 2:04, showing similar marksmanship to Fabricio Oberto, who triggered two fouls for the same score in 2:32 (and also earning a 2:0 Voskuhl in the process!!!) In more evidence of his continuing conviction in the quest for the lacktator crown, this non-performance was McGuire's second straight, putting him on 12 non-contributory nights this season, just three behind Novak for the Association lead!
Vinnie Smallz wanted in on the fun and had James Johnson play the role of the dynasty-era Jud Buechler, and Johnson got jammed with two fouls, one miss, and a giveaway for a +4 in 3:18.
Suns-Hawks: WELCOME BACK TO THE LACKTION REPORT, MARIO WEST!! A 2.85 trillion (2:52) shows that the overalled plumber has NOT lost any bit of his form - even in the wake of a 12 minute Wario earlier this week! But it was teammate Jason Collins who provided his teammate's namesake stat by conecting the lines in Qix briefly for a 31 second Mario.
Raptors-Knicks: Jonathan Bender was retired this time last year, but this time this year, can play like he hasn't yet unretired on the hardwood - a foul and giveaway garnered a +2 in 5:08 for Mike 'antoni.
Wolves-Grizzlies: Aleksandr Pavlovic put a nickel in the brick column - once from the Peabody Hotel - and also added on a turnover and a foul for a +7 in 10:53. For Memphis, Marcus Williams earned a +1 via foul in 5:58.
Bucks-Warriors: Chris Hunter fouled out in 11:01 and bricked once to negate 5 rebounds with a 6:5 Voskuhl.
Clippers-Lakers: With Steve Novak slumping into contributory basketball, Mardy Collins picked up the slack by losing the rock once for a +1 in 4:14.
The Sacramento Kings: Make it 10 losses in their last 12 games. And what a way to lose: Defeated by the Washington WizardsGenerals Bullets, who not only suck but where coming off a double-overtime loss to the Bulls in Chicago the night before. Also, it was Washington's fourth game in five nights. And did I mention they're terrible?
The Phoenix Suns: Hmm...the second game of back-to-backs for the Suns, eh? Well, if you read Basketbawful, you know what that means:
To wit: the Bobcats led by as many as 39 points, set a team record for points in the first quarter (43), first half (74) and reached .500 this late in a season for the first time ever. The final score was Charlotte 125, Phoenix 99.
Reality check: The Suns are now 10-14 after starting 14-3, with losses in 10 of their past 11 road games. And here's a reality quote from Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "We didn't slow them down at all. I mean they're not a team to score a lot of points. They're averaging 93 points a game. They had that in the middle of the third quarter."
The New York Knicks: The LeBron Audition took another hit on Saturday night in the form of a 94-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons on a night when Rodney Stuckey was forced to play 42 minutes with flu-like symptoms and dehydration because Ben Gordon and Will Bynum are still injured. Said Stuckey: "I didn't get home from the hospital until 4 a.m., because I needed IVs, but I had to fight through it. When Ben Gordon and Will Bynum get back, maybe I'll get some rest, but right now, I have to keep going."
Stuckey still managed 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals...and he showed a helluva lot more heart than any of the Bricks did. What do you think, coach D'Antoni? "We had a lack of energy, a lack of focus and a lack of urgency. We picked it up, obviously, at the start of the fourth quarter but it was too late. I don't think we came out with any kind of desire to win."
The Miami Heat: The Bipolar Girlfriend strikes again! One night after an impressive 115-106 win over the Rockets in Houston, Miami was pimp-smacked 98-80 by the Thunder in Oklahoma City. It's just been that kind of one-step-forward, one-step-back kind of season for the Heat, who couldn't have defended Kevin Durant (36 points, 14-for-18) with all four of Agent Zero's handguns.
Said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra: "I can say this now because we don't play them again, but I'm glad we don't meet these guys again until next year. It'll give us some time to figure [defending Durant] out."
The San Antonio Spurs: Remember what I said about how the Spurs time has pretty much passed? Their 92-86 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis didn't do anything to change my mind. Manu Ginobili was bawful from the field (3-for-10) and Tony Parker was bawful from everywhere (4 points, 2-for-8, 3 assists, 2 turnovers). And don't look now, but San Antonio's record (24-15) is barely better than the Grizzlies' (21-18). That sound you just heard was a collective pants-shitting by Spurs fans everywhere.
Lionel Hollins, quote machine: He seems to think his team could maybe kinda-sorta make the playoffs. Someday. I think. "This is what the playoffs is all about, and we can do that -- whenever we are going to do it. I'm positive we're going to do it one time."
Crabs-Clippers: On the one hand, I feel like I have to give this one to the Clippers for following up a 40-point loss with a one-point loss, proving they can break your heart in a new way every single night. I mean, the Clips lost at home despite shooting 60 percent from the field! On the other hand, I kind of what to give this to the Crabs for letting The Other L.A. Team shoot 60 percent and almost losing to the Clips one night after they lost by 40 to the Lakers. I mean, this whole affair was bawful pretty much every way you could possibly cut it.
Still...what a week for the Clippers, huh? They found out Blake Griffin is out for the season and then followed their four-game winning streak with a four-game losing streak, which included a one-point loss, a two-point loss, and two blowouts. I guess karma really is a bitch...
Saturday lacktion report: Chris delivers less lacktion than Friday night, but with a whole lotta love:
Kings-Bullets: Andres Nocioni exploded with a pair of bricks and a foul and rejection for a +4 suck differential in 4:10, while Kenny Thomas was shelled with a foul and giveaway for a +2 in 2:51.
Heat-Thunder: As noted in comments, Joel Anthony took a foul for OFFENSIVE GOALTENDING, adding a foul and a brick to the list for a +3 in 9:58 that also was worth a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Bucks-Jazz: Kurt Thomas negated a steal and assist in 5:48 with a brick and two fouls, earning a 2:0 Voskuhl. Thursday night hero Sundiata Gaines was convinced by Kosta Koufos to climb some ladders and rescue Pauline from Donkey Kong as 58 second Mario Brothers, with Sundiata also tossing a brick to give himself a +1!!
Crabs-Clippers: Brian Skinner shrank into somnambulence with a +4 via fouls in 11:38, also earning a 4:0 Voskuhl!!!!!
Many thanks to everybody who sent in this picture of Mark Cuban. Speaking of which...
The Dallas Mavericks: A blowout loss to the Toronto Craptors. As I said earlier this week, can we all just agree the Mavs aren't contenders this season? They're stuck (alongside the Spurs and Suns) in what I like to call the Early 2000s Utah Jazz Zone. They're still good enough to beat crappy teams most nights, and they can win 50-ish games that way, but they aren't going to contend for much beyond a first or second-round playoff exit.
At any rate, Jason Terry had lots to say after this crummy loss: "There was no smiling and joking in this locker room after that game. That was embarrassing. I don't care who you're playing or what their record is. When you're in their building, you've got to come out ready to fight. We come in the game and we just think it's going to be easy. Their second group came out there full of energy, making shot after shot, making plays. We didn't bring it."
The Utah Jazz: 49 free throws for the Nuggets. Wow.
Sunday lacktion report: So there were only two games in the Association, but one was enough for Chris to get his caseload documented!
Jazz-Nuggets: Sundiata Gaines has now played 7 times in the Association, of which one of those instances was a Youtube-friendly career-defining game-winner. However, three of those nights have involved the lacktion ledger, including tonight's one-turnover +1 suck differential in 2:17, paired up with Ronnie Price's +5 in 4:31 via brick, giveaway and three fouls. (In fact, Sundiata has not provided a single point to Utah since that TNT moment!)
Despite four boards and two steals and blocks, Chris Andersen flew into the report of non- contributory recidivism, fouling thricely and losing the ball three times for a 6:4 Voskuhl in 21:08.