Every year, in the final days before the All-Star Break, teams start to cash it in both mentally and physically. This results in some of the worst ball of the season. There were 10 games on the slate last night. Six of them were blowouts, and the Suns had to scramble to avoid geting blown out at home.
In honor of the pre-All-Star bawfulness, each of today's entries is preceded by a demotivational line from Despair, Inc. It just seemed appropriate.
Agony: Not all pain is gain: To the Chicago Bulls, who got blown out at home 107-87 by the Orlando Magic. This game ended two minutes and 26 seconds into the first quarter when Derrick Rose drove to the cup and got dropped by Dwight Howard. Rose left the game with a bruised right hip and did not return. The Bulls -- who were down by only three points when D-Rose made his exit -- fell behind 41-17 by the end of the quarter. Chicago probably would have just conceded the game, but David Stern is a real stickler for that whole "playing a full 48 minutes" thing.
Underachievement: The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the lawnmower: The Hawks entered last night's game as one of the league's best home teams. The Heat, meanwhile, were strictly middle of the pack no matter where they play. Maybe worse. But Miami's 94-76 win in Atlanta makes you wonder: Are the Heat actually that good -- and I mean potentially -- or are the Hawks just who we kind of thought they were?
It's hard to say. But Miami outscored Atlanta 27-12 in the final 12 minutes. Said Hawks coach Mike Woodson: "Just an awful fourth quarter. We just ran out of juice or just didn't have the energy to get through it."
Remember: Some people would have you believe the Hawks are contenders. Sometimes high expectations just lead to a longer, harder fall. Just sayin'.
By the way, Basketbawful reader Mike F. noticed some grand underachievement by the Atlanta pine riders, who were missing Jamal Crawford and Zaza Howeveryouspellhislastname: "I had to take my contacts out and put in glasses for the rest of my night after watching the Atlanta Hawks in the 4th Quarter. It's bad enough when you get outscored 27-12 and they got beat by Deaquan Cook all game long but when watching the game I noticed just how badly their bench played. So I looked at the box score after the game. The Miami Heat bench outscored the Hawks 45-8. I know they were without Zaza and Crawford. Still, thats some serious laction. Good thing I hadn't eaten dinner yet."
Teamwork: None of us is as dumb as all of us: The Philadelphia 76ers had won five games in a row, including two straight at home for the first time all season. And all of a sudden, people were talking about how Philly's season "isn't over" and that they "still had a chance to make the playoffs."
Last night's 104-93 road loss to the Craptors was a bitter dose of reality. Not only did the Sixers lose, Elton "The 80 Million Dollar Man" Brand got all pissy when Philly coach Eddie Jordan replaced him with guard Royal Ivey to start the second half. Ivey played the entire third quarter while Brand sulked on the bench until 1:48 remained in the third. When Brand finally got off his ass, the Sixers were down 76-53.
Bitched Brand: "I don't call the shots, I just go out there and play the best I can. I don't feel it was my fault, but I'm easy to get pulled, it seems."
Said Jordan: "I went with a small lineup and it backfired. It happens."
Continue Brand: "We weren't down enough to switch what we've been doing in a five-game win streak. That's what we did and we paid for it. We were down too much to fight back, even though we almost won it."
Meanwhile, Louis Williams wasn't so sure Jordan made the wrong move: "I wouldn't say it backfired because guys took the message. The message was, 'If you guys don't want to play, especially before the [All-Star] break, we'll play other guys.' Once other guys came in the game, the message was very clear. We played that second half like we should have played the first half."
One big happy family, those Sixers.
Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to other: A few short years ago, Joe Dumars was widely regarded as one of the top GMs in the NBA. He made the Pistons into one of the league's best teams even though they didn't really have a true superstar. Joe seemed untouchable, even if he picked Darko Milicic over guys like Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
That's all changed, especially in the last couple years, what with his exile of Chauncey Billups (for Allen Iverson!) and the $90 million he overpaid for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. The Pistons are now one of the league's worst teams, whether they're hurt or healthy, apparently. Chuckie V finished with 11 points and 3 boards, Gordon went 0-for-8, and Detroit lost at home...to the Excremento Kings.
And the Pistons fell vicitm to a scoring explosion for -- wait for it...waaaaait for it -- Beno Udrih, who scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half. Getting whupped by Beno might be a new low point of a very low season for Detroit.
Said Piston's coach John Kuester: "Udrih just lit us up. He barely played in New York, but he was great tonight. Guys like that are in the NBA for a reason, and you have to respect them."
But you don't have to respect the Pistons. Not anymore.
Said Villaneuva: "This was very disappointing. We gave them that game."
Mmmm. Sour grapy.
Losing: If at first you don't succeed, failure may just be your style: No demotivational saying could be more appropriate for the 2009-10 New Jersey Nyets, who lost at home last night to the Milwaukee Bucks. And the opening of the AP recap sums things up pretty well:
It was a sad sight in a sorry season.
In front of about 1,000 fans, the New Jersey Nets lost for the 48th time before the All-Star break, trounced 97-77 by the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
Update! Here's a bonus empty arena pic from Basketbawful reader Pat:
If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you're
not alone. And yet you are alone. So very, very alone.
To be fair, the sparse crowd was at least partly due to a storm called "snowmageddon" that dumped more than a foot of snow on the New York region. But the Nyets haven't exactly been selling out the IZOD center recently...know what I'm sayin'?
Mind you, the Bucks were coming off an ugly loss to the lowly Pistons. But that didn't stop them from introducing the Nyets to their pimp hand.
Said Nets interim taskmaster Kiki Vandeweghe: "I'm not sure exactly what happened, but this is the first time in I think eight or nine games where we didn't compete in the second half. I'm not sure exactly what happened...people looked very tired to me."
Yeah. Tired of sucking. That takes a lot out of people.
We know, Brooke. We know.
By the way, Devin Harris was back with 27 points and 9 assists. But you never would have known it.
Overconfidence: Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you can survive he odds beating you: The Boston Celtics began the season with dreams of a 70-win season. According to Rasheed Wallace, anyway. But history should have taught the Celtics that those "Guaran'sheeds" can backfire wildly, even tragically. That's been the case this season, as the Celtics have fallen from "Championship Contender" to "probably going down in the second round...again."
Paul Pierce played...poorly (4-for-11, 8 turnovers). Ray Allen did not (back spasms). The Unlucky Leprechauns built a 12-point halftime lead before bricking 10 of their 13 second-half free throw attempts and getting lit the hell up by a rookie who's being forced to carry a "Little Mermaid" suitcase around with him (Darren Collison scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including 11 straight at one point).
Of course, Collison also set a Hornets franchise record by committing 10 turnovers, making him one assist shy of the ultra-rare triple-bumble. If only he'd dished one more dime!
Collison might have owned the Celtics in the fourth quarter, but Boston's collapse started in the third, when they were outscored 29-12.
Said Doc Rivers: "Our defense was terrible in the third quarter." Uh...what about your offense? I mean...12 points?!
Delusions: There is no joy greater than soaring high on the wings of your dreams, except maybe the joy of watching a dreamer who has nowhere to land buin the ocean of reality: Boy...every time you start to think the Phoenix Suns are right there, you find out "there" isn't really where you want them to be. Not if you're a Phoenix fan, anyway. After 4-0 road trip, the Suns were riding a five-game winning streak and five full days of rest. The Frail Blazers, on the other hand, were still without Brandon Roy and didn't arrive in Phoenix until 3 a.m. following a humiliating 89-77 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Yet Portland built a 16-point halftime lead and went on to win 108-101.
Said Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "They outhustled us, they came up with big plays, they made good passes. They did everything that we didn't do. ... We weren't ready to play and we didn't play with a whole lot of energy and passion, and when we don't do that, we're not very good. We become a very, very, very average team."
Basketbawful reader Hajt provided an even better quote from Gentry: "We sucked. We sucked. I mean we sucked. In all phases of it. They drove it to the basket. They made jump shots. We had to end up double-teaming and they swung the ball and either made jump shots or drove it to the basket. We didn't play. They scored 66 last night. They had 60 at the half. So our defense was terrible. In the five games we won we were pretty good defensively and did a pretty good job. We didn't tonight. Thanks."
No, Alvin. Thank you.
Incompetence: When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do. In the second quarter of last night's home game against the Bobcats, the Minnesota Timberpoops fell face-first into 21-point hole. However, they cut the lead to 10 points after three quarters and then mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback, outscoring Charlotte 22-13 in final 12 minutes. Heck, they even took a three-point lead on Al Jefferson's jump-hook with less than a minute to play.
You know where this is going, right?
Of course you do. But it's even more bawful than you know. With less than 10 seconds left and the Timberpoops up by a single point, Boris Diaw bricked a 21-footer...but Minnesota's Corey Brewer saved the ball from going out of bounds right into the hands of Charlotte's Nazr Mohammed, who dunked the 'Cats to a 93-92 win.
Said Minny coach Kurt Rambis: "Normally you don't want to throw the ball back under your opponent's basket."
Added Rambis: "But we also had three players who were standing around 20 feet from the basket and not one of them made a move to the basket when the shot went up."
Good point, Kurt. It was definitely a team fail as opposed to an individual fail. Thanks for straightening that out.
Limitations: Until you spread your wings, you'll have no idea how far you can walk: The Utah Jazz appeared to be red-hot heading into last night's matchup with the Lakers. The Mormon Musicians had won nine in a row and 13 of their last 14 games. And they were playing at home. And L.A. was still without Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers jumped out to a 31-18 lead after one quarter and went on to win 96-81 over a Jazz team that apparently needed some 5-Hour Energy.
Said Jerry Sloan: "Where our energy was is beyond me. Our energy level was very, very low."
Added Deron Williams: "They had more energy than us tonight. They played harder, competed harder and looked like they wanted the game more."
By the way, Pau Gasol had another monster game: 22 points (10-for-15), 19 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocked shots. Honestly? Kobe or no Kobe, I think Pau may be the best player on this team. I doubt anybody will ever take that assertion seriously because Pau won't ever average 30 PPG or hit all the tough (and, really, needlessly difficult) shots Kobe does, but Gasol really does do everything you want a player to do. There's a reason L.A.'s fortunes turned around when Mitch Kupchak pulled off the heist that brought Pau to the Lakers.
Think Chris Kaveman is ready to stop bitching about Pau being an All-Star?
Also, Lamar Odom said "Get out of my way, Saturn!" with a 25-point, 11-rebound performance.
By the way: The Jazz missed 12 free throws. Gak.
Ineptitude: If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly: That's really the best possible advice I could give to each and every single player on the Los Angeles Clippers. And I'm talking past, present and future. The Other L.A. Team is forever doomed to be who we thought they were. This never seemed any more true than after their 132-102 road loss to the Gol_en State Warriors, who are embroiled in a pathetic slap fight with the Minnesota Timberpoops for the honor of being the Second-Worst Team in the League.
Since Mike Dunleavy got canned, the Clippers have lost three in a row by a total of 57 points.
Said Clippers interim prisoner coach Kim Hughes: "We have to find out what caused this tonight [and] if I have to adjust playing time to figure it out, then that's what I have to do. We didn't play any defense tonight."
Added Baron Davis: "We didn't have any rhythm or continuity on offense, and our defense was even worse. It's going to take some soul searching from each and every individual. We have been spiraling down and we need to stop that."
Yes. Stop that.
Stat check: The Warriors shot 62 percent from the field and nearly 60 from downtown. To further break that down for you, they hit 76 percent of their shots at the rim (16-for-21), 75 percent of their shots inside 10 feet (6-for-8), 60 percent of their shots from 10-15 feet (3-for-5), 50 percent of their shots from 16-23 feet (11-for-22) and 59 percent of their treys (13-for-22).
Hands? Faces? Anybody? Bueller?
By the way, Chris "Wah! Pau Gasol shouldn't be an All-Star! Wah!" Kaveman -- who, after much bitching and complaining became an All-Star injury replacement -- finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds, zero blocks and 3 turnovers.
Lacktion report: Chris is flying high thanks to Sacto's two-game winning streak. But not too high to report last night's lactivity:
Heat-Hawks: Jason Collins fouled twice and lost the rock once in 3:51 for a +3 suck differential that also doubled as a 3:0 Voskuhl! THE Mario West continues his never-ending mission to climb a few ladders to rescue Pauline, as seen with tonight's 55 second Mario.
Kings-Pistons: Jon Brockman may be known as the "Brock Ness Monster" for his critical blocking skills, but tonight he took down a celebratory monsterous money pile worth 3.25 trillion (3:15)!
Bucks-Nyets: In his continuing return to bench duty, Chris Douglas-Roberts bricked once in 3:35 for a +1.
Bobcats-Wolves: Tyson Chandler earned himself a 100% shooting percentage (via one field goal) and two boards in 11:31, but also racked up four fouls and a giveaway for a 5:4 Voskuhl.
Celtics-Hornets: Julian Wright fouled once while cleaning a drain in 43 seconds for a Mario that also doubles as a +1.
Lakers-Jazz: Sure, his career will forever be defined by that game-winner against the Crabs, but Sundiata Gaines continues to spend more time in lacktivity than anything else, as seen with tonight's +2 in 2:50 via brick and block.