I might be totally imagining this, but the Mavericks' "defense"
seems to be aging Mark Cuban at an accelerated rate.
The Orlando Magic: "Vinsanity is back!"
You'll be reading that for the next couple days. At least until after the Magic play the Bulls in Chicago tomorrow night. And there's no doubt that Vince Carter had a throwback game, scoring 48 points on 19-for-27 from the field, 6-for-10 from downtown and 4-for-4 from the line. It was the third-highest point total of his career, behind only the 51 points he scored on February 27, 2000 for the Raptors against the Suns and the 51 points he dropped on the Heat while playing for the Nyets back on December 23, 2005.
And even though I really kind of hate VC, even I have to admit he looked pretty damn good last night. Step-back jumpers with a hand in his face, three-pointers while fading away over two guys, high-light reel-style layups over three guys. It was all pretty sweet...especially for a guy who shot 28 percent during the month of January. Carter also busted James Posey's ankles en route to a pro-hop layin.
You know a "but" is coming, right?
First of all, that performance was an abberation. Please undersstand this. Carter had what was, in essence, the third-best game of his career. And it's no coincidence it happened during a game that felt a helluva lot more like "Warriors versus Knicks" than "Chris Paul-less Hornets versus the Magic."
The final score was 123-117. Both teams shot over 50 percent: Orlando knocked down better than 54 percent of their field goal attempts while New Orleans hit nearly 52 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
This was not a defensive struggle, people.
And even though the Magic won, they fell behind by 17 points to a team without its best player and had to get a vintage scoring explosion from Vince Carter to eke out a six-point win at home.
Vince Carter, quote machine: Regarding his recent return from the icy grips of Basketball Death: "It's a new month. A new month brings new things. The past is the past, and it's going to be that. I've had rough months. That's just how it goes. And I know the expectations, and you work so hard to have an impressive resume, so it's expected each and every night. I understand that, and I don't have a problem with that. I don't mind being booed because I know what I can do. So I was just going to continue to play and shine through."
The _allas Mavericks: The slumping Mavericks outscored their opponent 37-19 in the fourth quarter to pull out a much-needed come-from-behind win. On the road, no less. And yet here they are in Worst of the Night.
That's because the opponent was the Gol_en State Warriors. And there were circumstances. And they were mitigating.
Calling the Warriors "injury plagued" is like calling Avatar "somewhat poorly written." They essentially played six men. Corey Maggette sat out with a finger injury. Devean George had flu-like symptoms. Vladimir Radmanovich missed the game with an Achilles injury. C.J. Watson (six minutes) and Chris Hunter (one minute) made token appearances. And Monta Ellis (27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) had to leave during the fourth quarter due to a right knee injury. So, you know, make it five men.
And yet the Warriors finished with 117 points.
Some people will tell you that the Warriors dropped 70 points in the first half -- the most points scored in a single half by an _allas opponent all season -- before the Mavs "cranked up the defense down the stretch." Right. I'm here to tell you _allas took advantage of a tired team that had no bench to speak of. Stephen Curry (25 points, 9 assists) logged 48 minutes. Anthony Morrow (career-high 33 points, 11 boards, 4 assists) played 45. Monta Ellis missed four minutes...and that was only because he got hurt. Anthony Tolliver (14 points, 11 rebounds) put in 37 minutes off the bench (the only Warrior reserve to get serious time) and freaking Ronny Turiaf ended up with 35 minutes.
Trust me: Turiaf would not be logging that much time unless absolutely necessary. So please, let's not try to claim the Mavericks shut anybody down in the end game.
By the way, the Mavericks have now rallied from a double-digit deficit in 11 games, the most of any team in the NBA. And while that sounds impressive, that only means they've had to come back from double-digit deficits 11 times. Plus they've had 10 one-point victories, which is also an NBA "best."
All of which means: When I look at their 32-19 record, it just seems a little fishy to me.
The Gol_en State Warrors: Injured? Yes. Tired? Also yes. But facts are facts. They choked away a 14-point lead, gave up 127 points on 52 percent shooting (including almost 55 percent from downtown) and lost their season-worst ninth straight game (including five in a row at home).
And did I mention they're now tied with the Minnesota Timberpoops for the title of Worst Team in the Western Conference?
The San Antonio Spurs: For the first time this season, the Spurs are completely healthy. The Lakers, on the other hand, were without Kobe Bryant (bum foot) and Andrew Bynum (bruised hip cranky vagina). Should have been a gimme for San Antonio, right?
Sorry. These aren't your older brother's Spurs.
Pau Gasol (21 points, 18 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocked shots) not only outplayed Tim Duncan (16 points, 14 boards, 4 blocks), he also kinda proved that he -- and not a certain Black Mamba -- is L.A.'s foundation player. The Lakers really struggled without Gasol earlier this season. Yet in two games without Kobe Bryant, L.A. snapped a five-year losing streak in Portland by blowing out the Frail Blazers on Saturday, and last night they notched a double-digit home win over the Spurs.
The Lakers are now 55-33 all-time when Kobe sits out. Of course, Kobe apologists will be quick to point out that they're 19-23 in 42 games without him since the 2003-04 season. BUT...10 of those losses happened during the 2004-05 season. For the record, that was the first post-Shaq season. You know, the year Rudy Tomjanovich bailed on the team and and Kobe struggled with injuries down the stretch, forcing the Lakers to go to war with a starting five of Caron Butler, Chucky Atkins, Devean Goerge, Brian Grant and Luke Walton.
So, again, mitigating circumstances.
But as much as I love to bust on Kobe, the real victims of this entry are the Spurs. And here's what stands out most about this loss: The fact that nothing really stands out. They shot poorly (42 percent), but so did the Lakers (43 percent). They finished with three fewer rebounds and three fewer assists. They committed 13 turnovers, but L.A. scored only six points off those miscues, whereas San Antonio scored 12 points off 10 Lakers turnovers The Spurs outscored L.A. 48-46 in the paint.
When you come right down to it, the Spurs just...they just got outplayed. The Lakers were the better team. Without Kobe. Without Bynum. With Shannon Brown going 3-for-13 in 37 minutes while starting in Byrant's place.
If you're a San Antonio fan, that's gotta be pretty depressing. In related news, the Spurs are now involved in a legal battle over George Hill's genitals. And no, I'm not kidding.
The Nobel Peace Prize nomination process: Nominated? The Internet. Seriously. [H/T AnacondaHL.]
Lacktion report: Chris maintains his love affair with lacktion:
Hornets-Magic: Emeka Okafor bricked and fouled four times against two boards to earn a 4:2 Voskuhl in 9:01. Sean Marks also got into the Voskuhl category with a 3:1 ratio in 6:28, negating a board with three fouls. Meanwhile, former Clipper Jason Hart tossed a turnip in two seconds for a Super Mario!!!
Mavs-Warriors: The Oracle may have seen 244 points from both teams in 48 minutes, but such expansion on the scoreboard certainly did not prevent lacktivity from occurring!
In a snoozer of a start performance, Eduardo Najera subbed for Erick Dampier and can now participate in insider trades with team owner Mark Cuban, due to his 3.15 trillion (3:10) check! And speaking of Cuban, his "virtually untradeable" pet project (http://espn.go.com/blog/dallasmavericks/post/_/id/4665553/cuban-beaubois -is-pretty-much-untouchable), Rodrigue Beaubois, earned himself a +4 suck differential in 1:49 via a pair of both fouls and giveaways.
For Team Nellieball, CJ Watson also earned a +4 in 6:18, via a trio of fouls and a singular loss of the rock. Also collecting wealth (enough to make Oracle founder Larry Ellison proud) was Chris Hunter, who earned a 1.05 trillion (1:03).
Spurs-Lakers: DJ Mbenga can now buy a home in Beverly Hills after collecting a celebratory 1.3 trillion (1:18)!