Am I the only one who thinks it looks like LeBron is taking an atomic knee
to the groin? 1,000 Bawful Bucks to anyone who wants to add FX to this pic.
Editor's note: I'm off to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras tomorrow morning, so this will be my last post until sometime next week. In the meantime, Chris, Dan B., Evil Ted and maybe even AnacondaHL will be providing your bawful lolz. Stay classy, everybody.
The Orlando Magic: The Magic were pretty happy with themselves after a couple recent wins over the Celtics. But let's be realistic, shall we? The Celtics of 2010 are not the Celtics of 2008. Hell, they just lost to the Chris Paul-less Hornets in Boston. They are no longer The Team to Beat. That would be the Cleveland Craboliers. Orlando had the chance to pick the Crabs off last night. But they didn't get it done.
Falling behind 37-23 after the first 12 minutes sure didn't help their cause. But credit the Magic for kicking it into gear in the second quarter, during which they outscored Cleveland 40-29 to make a game of it.
Things were pretty tight the rest of the way, but Orlando fell to pieces in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to a five-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter after Dwight Howard spun around Shaq for a dunk to put the Magic up 96-94.
Said Basketbawful reader BW in Cleveland: "Someone get the Orlando Magic a team supply of Depends because they just pissed all over themselves. You're leading in the 4th quarter after making a good run then proceed to just stop playing perimeter defense as the Cavs shoot 10-19 and 4-7 from the outside. Oh yeah, Wince also shot a blistering 5-16 from the field and was a defensive stalwart with a nice -21 on the night. Can we all agree the Magic will need to catch lightning in a bottle again this year to duplicate the run they made last season?"
Well, while I do think that's true, it's likely the Magic actually lost this game when Dwight agreed to film the following commercial:
Look, we all know Shaq annexed the Superman nickname years and years ago. We also know that The Big Geritol has basically coasted through the regular season since, what, 2002? But Shaq always gets fired up whan 1) he's facing another "dominant" center and 2) when he has been slighted by comparisons to said center...regardless of whether those slights are real or imagined.
Well, Shaq doesn't like the fact that people call Howard "Superman." He also hates Howard being likened to a younger version of himself. And, most of all, he hates the fact that he plays Howard straight up while the Magic double down on him.
Said Shaq: "Superman my ass. ... I don't really consider it manning up until you play me straight up. When I was coming up and there was Pat Ewing and Hakeem [Olajuwon], I never doubled anybody. You tell me who the real Superman is."
The Big Bitchy is, as usual, exercising a little selective memory. Dude's been around a long time, and trust me, his teams have used selective double-teaming when necessary. Hell, it happened back in the 1995 NBA Finals against Hakeem Olajuwon. Not on every possession, but it happened. Trust me on that. I just re-watched those Finals last summer.
But, again as usual, all that matters to Shaq is the reality he has created and chooses to believe in.
"Don't let them double team me and make it a him vs. me thing," O'Neal said. "Been doing it 18 years straight. Hakeem, Ewing, Rik Smits, [Tim] Duncan, [David] Robinson, the best of the best, straight up. I never doubled nobody. Nor have I ever asked for double team. If want to bang and push, let's bang and push. You're all giving away [Superman] titles, it's crazy."
Added King Crab: "The whole Superman thing kind of bothers him. That's definitely his nickname, and the fact that everybody kind of gave Dwight his name kind of bothers him a little bit."
Uhm, ya think?
Concluded Shaq: "Don't compare me to nobody. I'd rather not be mentioned. I'm offended."
Okay, okay, we get it, already!
For all the bluster, Shaq had more than words going for him last night. The Big Statue was in foul trouble for most of the night, but he actually took over defensively once he got back into the game in the fourth quarter.
As Brian Windhorst put it: "Only the finish belonged to O'Neal. He had a dunk and a layup on Howard and pulled down three key defensive rebounds. Howard went scoreless over the final seven and a half minutes and a close game turned lopsided. Some of it was because the Magic, as they tend to do when they lose, forgot about Howard and didn't feed him the ball. And some of it was because O'Neal refused to allow Howard to get position and refused to accept help to do so."
In non-Shaq news, the win allowed the Crabs to make history. Their 13-game winning streak isn't only the longest in the league this season, it tied both the Cleveland freanchise record and tied the legendary 1985-86 Boston Celtics for the most consecutive victories heading into the All-Star break.
The Denver Nuggets: Well...I guess the Nuggets started their All-Star break a little bit early. Both Carmelo Anthony (6-for-17, 5 fouls, 4 turnovers) and Chauncey Billups (4-for-16, 1-for-8 from downtown) were on hand as Denver played the cheap hoe to San Antonio's bitch slap. The Nuggets shot 39 percent from the field, were outrebounded 45-32 and got outscored in the paint 54-30.
The AP recap was quick to point out that the Nuggets "were missing their best defensive player, Kenyon Martin, who sat out a second consecutive game because of tendinitis in his left knee." However, that doesn't really explain why the Spurs came into their house and hit better than 53 percent of their field goals, including almost 50 percent of their treys (9-for-19). Not only that, San Antonio went on so many runs during the game -- 8-0 in the second quarter, 7-0 in the third, 14-2 in the fourth -- I was ready to rename them Team Ex-Lax.
Seven Spurs scored in double figures, including all five starters. The final score of 111-92 looks bad enough, but it might have been even worse. After all, the Spurs bonked 10 free throws.
And did I mention Tony Parker was out with a left hip flexor strain?
Said George Karl: "They were hungry. They were intense and angry and had an attitude. It was kind of payback for the two wins we took from them down there. Sometimes, I think when we don't score, when we don't have offense, we get frustrated. Other than the first quarter, we shot under 35 percent all night."
Added 'Melo: "I think in the back of their minds, they knew that we won on their court, got 'em twice down there, and they saw this as an opportunity to get one going into the break. It was just one of those nights."
And honestly, I'm not sure the Spurs were playing all that well. Neither is Basketbawful reader NarSARSsist, who said: "Some terrible defense at the end of the third quarter for the Spurs, highlighting just how much they miss having a real defensive stopper. On the first possession, the Nuggets inbound to Nene near the three point line, and Nene passes it down low to JR Smith, who is posting Ginobili up one on one. A simple spin around gets Smith past Ginobili for a 270 dunk and one. On the next Nuggets possession, the Nuggets run the same iso with Melo against Keith Bogans. Melo just turns and saunters by Bogans and dunks it home. It was such a terrible pair of plays that Pop briefly contemplated mid-season retirement."
Spurs explosion or Nuggets meltdown? Or was it a little of column A, a little of column B?
The loss was Denver's fourth in 28 home games. It was also only the fourth time this season they failed to score 100 or more points in the Pepsi Center.
Bad cheerleading outfits: Uhm...okay...
Someone got paid to design these.
Steve Nash, commercial genius: This is a "Best of the Night," actually. And if I were a woman, I would want to have Steve Nash's babies...however lazy-eyed and freaky they might look. Thanks to AnacondaHL for the link, btw.
Nike: When the biggest shoe company in the world is doing a photo shoot with the best college basketball player in the country, you'd think they'd be able to make sure they spelled "Kentucky" correctly on his jersey, right? Well, they didn't.
Some people say this "hints" at the fact that John Wall will leave Kentucky after this season to declare for the NBA draft. Wow. What an...yaaaaawn...exciting conspiracy theory. A tip 'o the hat to Basketbawful reader Wira, who provided the link.