No day at Basketbawful is complete without at least one facepalm photo.
The Washington WizardsGenerals Bullets: Could there be a better presecription for Boston's recent woes than playing the woeful Bullets? Well, except for playing the Nyets or Timberpoops, that is. No, of course not. Still, this contest was closer than the Celtics faithful would have liked...until the fourth quarter. That's when the (recently) Luckless Leprechauns outscored Washington 25-10 to ice the game. However, it was a win that had Bullets center Brendan Haywood crying foul. But mostly just crying.
Said Haywood: "You're playing against the Boston Celtics, so you're not going to get a lot of calls. KG's going to set illegal screens; they're not going to be called. That's just part of the game. You're going to go to the basket, and if it's not basically just a straight-up WWF body slam, you're not getting the call."
Just for kicks, let's go ahead and look at the final tallies. Personal fouls: Boston 23, Washington 24. Free throw attempts: Boston 36, Washington 36. Mind you, the Bullets average 24.7 FTAs per game, which means they were 11.3 FTAs over their average in this game. As always, I'm just sayin'.
As for Haywood's claims, the Celtics must have been "fouling" the Bullets on their jumpers too, because Washington went 19-for-50 from the outside and only 1-for-10 from downtown.
Antawn Jamison: 'Tawn joined KG in the "Chris Webber Memorial Limpin' Around Bravely On One Leg All-Stars" thanks to a left knee that went all gimpy during the pregame warm-ups. The dude was clearly laboring, which might explain why he got whistled for five fouls in the fourth quarter and scored only 8 points on 2-for-17 shooting, including 0-for-9 in the second half. Antawn's performance also had Washington coach Flip Saunders crying foul. But mostly just crying. "I thought the refereeing was inconsistent at times. I thought that 'Tawn got hit a few times. You don't go 2-for-17 in his situation and not get to the line more than six times. The guys were just really frustrated, especially 'Tawn, because of a lot of no-calls."
Reality check: 13 of Jamison's 17 shot attempts were jumpers, which traditionally don't result in a lot of foul shots.
The Miami Heat: The Bucks' 97-81 win in Maimi was the Heat's second-largest home loss of the season. Not bad for a team that entered the game 5-18 outside of Milwaukee. As for the Heat, things started off lousy and pretty much stayed that way. Miami set new season-lows by shooting 17.6 percent in the first quarter and 27.5 percent in the half. They ended up shooting 36.4 percent for the game...which was their third-worst FGP of the season.
As Basketbawful reader kazam92 put it: "The Heat are no longer the bipolar girlfriend. They just suck period. They were up 11-0 and got an anal fissure the rest of the game."
Bad news for Heat fans: In the next three weeks, Miami has only one more game in, er, Miami. In their next five games, they have roadies against the Celtics, Crabs, the suddenly red-hot Bulls and the Hawks. Can anybody smell the sub-.500 awaiting the Heat? It's that slight aroma of barbequed dog hair and fail.
Jermaine O'Neal The Drain missed the game with back spasms. Remember last season when some Miami fans insisted to me that O'Neal (12 PPG, 7 RPG) was going to make a huge difference on the Heat? Of course, those same people said Jamario Moon was going to play like an All-Star for Miami...and now Moon's playing in Cleveland. I'm just sayin'.
Erik Spoelstra, captain obvious: Regarding his team's blowout loss at home to a 21-25 team: "Needless to say, that was a very tough evening for us." Yes. That was needless to say.
The Phoenix Suns: Yes, they've won three in a row after a really ugly stretch of near Clipper-ness, but last night, against the Chris Paul-less Hornets, they let a 20-point third-quarter lead (83-63) dwindle to two (100-98) with 1:41 left in the fourth. Did I mention rookie Darren Collison -- playing in CP3's place -- lit 'em up for 16 points and 14 assists en route to the near comeback/upset? If it wasn't for a couple clutch plays by Grant Hill, the Suns might have lost this one. So here's an artist's rendition of the Suns nearly crapping away yet another 20-point lead:
Somebody get him a newspaper. This could take a while.
Amar''''''e Stoudemire, quote machine: "We did a phenomenal job defensively. It all goes down to our defensive effort. In the past three games we've done a great job with that. We wanted to come out and set the tone early." Reality check: For the season, New Orleans averages 99.9 points on 45 percent shooting. Against Phoenix, the Hornets scored 100 points on 45 percent shooting. I'm not sure "holding a team without its best player to its averages" really qualifies as a "phenomenal job defensively." Oh, wait, we're talking about the Suns. It might actually be phenomenal defense for them.
The Los Angeles Lakers: Ha, ha! Suck it, Fakers!
Sorry. Couldn't help myself. Headlines like " The Grizzlies might have overshadowed Kobe Bryant's night by beating the Lakers" give me a happy. Regarding Mamba's night, he scored 44 points to pass Jerry West as L.A.'s all-time leading scorer. Mind you, West scored his 21,192 points on 19,032 shot attempts over 932 games. Bryant passed him by taking 19,271 shot attempts over 997 games. So yes, Bryant is the Lakers' new all-time scoring champ...but it was kind of by attrition.
Anyway, L.A.'s loss isn't too shocking, despite the Grizzlies' recent mini-slump. The second night of back-to-backs on the road against a good team usually results in a loss. Although it's worth noting the Lakers had a chance to win at the buzzer. However -- take note, Celtics -- Memphis sent a wave of defenders at Mamba, who was forced to pass the ball to Ron Artest. Not surprisingly, Artest missed. For all his talent, Ron-Ron never had a reputation as a clutch player.
Said Kobe: "They had like three guys [on me]. Ron was wide open in the corner. I'll take that look any time. It just went a little long." He'll take that look any time...but only if he absolutely cannot get the shot himself. We all realize that, right? I mean, Mamba took 28 shots while Pau Gasol finished with seven FGAs and Andrew Bynum got only three. Kobe absolutely shot well (16-for-28), but is there any reason Byrant needed 18 more shots than the team's two best percentage shooters combined? Of course not. And Phil Jackson noticed.
Said P-Jax: "At halftime, I told the guys that he [Bryant] was forcing the action, and let's get him over the hump and start playing team basketball. It didn't seem like we ever did." If by "we" he meant "Kobe," Phil is absolutely right.
Mike Conley: Mike bonked a couple freebies with 21 seconds left that could have iced the game. This guy buckled so bad he should be made into a belt to hold up the pants of fail.
Rudy Gay: He played well -- 21 points, 10-for-19 -- but he did have a pretty hilarious boner in the first half, as described in the AP game notes: "The teams were tied at 24 at the end of the first because of a mental lapse by Gay, who thought the game clock was running out and fired up a 47-footer with about 5 seconds left. The errant shot bounced hard off the backboard, and the Lakers moved the ball to Bryant, who connected on a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired."
Michael Wilbon: He seriously suggested that Kobe might deserve to become the NBA's new logo and also steal West's "Mr. Clutch" nickname. To which I say: Are you fucking kidding me?! Wilbon needs to be crammed into a large burlap sack and then beaten with large, heavy things. Wilbon's ridiculous little monologue was the most exploitative pile of feces since...since...since Bad Girls Go To Hell.
The Dallas Mavericks: Just as the Heat have lost their bipolar girlfriend designation by descending into the steamy bowels of suckitude, the Jazz are losing theirs by not sucking. After a tight first three quarters, Utah outscored Dallas 27-16 in the final 12 minutes to earn a 104-92 home win over the Mavs.
The key? Dallas was weak inside, as the Boring Musicians outrebounded the Cowboys 43-34 and outscored them 54-32 in the paint. Then, once Utah put on the nipple clamps in the final period, that was all she wrote.
Said Dirk Nowitzki: "They just stepped up their pressure in the fourth. I couldn't get any looks. I barely had the ball in my hands." Sounds like a personal problem.
That makes six straight wins for the Jazz, who are surging, and I don't mean in a my-stomach-after-capping-off-a-night-of-binge-drinking-by-eating-a-burrito-as-big-as-my-head kind of way. With this latest victory, Utah pulled to within a half-game of the Mavericks for third place in the Western Conference standings. But wait, there's more! The Jazz also clinched the season series 2-1, giving them the tiebreaker over the Mavs.
This really shouldn't surprise anyone. Dallas has won, what, 10 one-point games this season? Games that close are usually about 50-50. The fact that the Mavericks pulled them all out probably means their record is at least slightly deceiving.
Erick Dampier: "Ericka" finished with zero points and 2 rebounds despite starting at center and logging 20 minutes of PT. And this is the point where I remind you, faithful readers, that, years ago, Mark Cuban opted to let Steve Nash walk away and then used the money he refused to spend to retain Nash on Dampier. This fact must never, ever be forgotten.
The Sacramento Kings: The Nuggets were playing their fifth straight game without Carmelo Anthony (anal spasms), and it actually looked like the Purple Paupers were going to take advantage of 'Melo's extended vacation. Sacto was up 64-50 at halftime and 72-55 with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter before going into "Collapse Mode." I'll save our intrepid lacktion reporter some pain and just cut to the chase: The Kings ended up losing to the Nuggets 112-109 in OT.
Damning stat of the night: The Kings gave up 25 points off 19 turnovers. And 15 of those TOs happened during the second half.
Said Sacramento coach Paul "I'm not Vinny Del Negro" Westphal: "I can't give them credit for forcing turnovers. I give us blame for not being strong with the basketball. I think the Nuggets were ready for us to take the game, but we let them start feeling it, did not execute offensively. I honestly don't think the Nuggets woke up until late in the fourth quarter. And then in overtime they were really good with their intensity. They were feeling like they might as well win and they did."
So the Kings were feeling like they might as well lose...and they did? Oh, what a feeling.
Keep in mind that the Paupers were without Tyreke Evans, who was a late scratch due to a vaginal bleeding. But that doesn't change the fact that the Purple Ones have lost 10 straight road games and are 3-18 since the 35-point comeback in Chicago.
The Charlotte Bobcats: The 'Cats arrived in Portland with a 6-17 road record, and they left with a road record of 6-18 after the Frail Blazers whupped them 98-79. Charlotte is one of those classic "good at home, bad on the road" squads that experts say is scary...but they really aren't. Yes, I know they posted a 12-4 record in January, which was a franchise record for wins in a single month. And I also know the Bobcats averaged 112.7 points in their past three games, and that those wins all came on the road. But then again, they were also against the Suns, Warriors and Kings...defensive sieves one and all.
Do not let those deceiving samples fool you. When Stephen Jackson is absolutely critical to a team's success, then your team is fundamentally flawed.
One of Captain Jack's biggest problems is ball control, and sure enough, he and teammate Boris Diaw tied for a game-high in turnovers (5), which was a big part of why the Bobcats gave up 28 points on 21 turnovers.
Mitigating factor: This game was Charlotte's fifth in seven days as part of a six-game Western Conference road trip. So maybe I'm wrong about all that stuff I said. Maybe the 'Cats really can make some noise this postseason.
Yeah. And maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot.
Update! Lacktion report: Sorry for the brain fart...I forgot Chris's lacktion report on the first go-around:
Celtics-Bullets: Brian Scalabrine fired off three fouls in 9:54 to negate an assist for a 3:0 Voskuhl, while Fabricio Oberto was sparked by Dominic McGuire's absence to blast into the lacktion ledger with two fouls and a giveaway for a +3 in 4:22 that also earned a 3:0 Voskuhl!
Lakers-Grizzlies: DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell no doubt will have boosted Jerry Buss's bank for his next poker match, judging from their collection of 1.15 trillion (1:10) and 1.6 trillion (1:37) respectively!!!!
Suns-Hornets: Morris Peterson pawed at two pieces of masonry from the French Quarter for a +2 in 8:20, while Sean Marks dropped a foul in 2:50 for a +1 that also counted as a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl.
Kings-Nuggets: Sean May took a foul in 1:43 for a +1 (and a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl).
Bobcats-Frail Blazers: DeSagana Diop negated a board in 2:24 with two fouls for a 2:1 Voskuhl, while Portland's Patrick Mills made his second career appearance in the Association count with a giveaway and brick for a +2 in 1:37.