Is...is that a Joe Alexander sighting?! Holy Spider-Man's balls!Something must have gone horribly, horribly wrong in Chicago.The Chicago Bulls:
Going into last night's home game against the Miami Heat, the stakes were high for the Bullies. They were fighting for a playoff spot, for pride (since the Heat punked them and incited Kirk Hinrich into an ejection and suspension a couple weeks ago), and -- most importantly -- for the future.
After all, Chicago management has put all their eggs in the basket that is this summer's free agent market. That's why they traded John Salmons and the right to switch picks in the 2010 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks for what will amount to about $6 million in extra cap space. That way, they can dangle a max contract as a lure in an attempt to bring Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar''''''e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson to the Windy City. And since several other teams, including their own, will be able to offer those guys similar money, the Bulls needed to prove they're just one player away from becoming a contender.
In other words, they had every reason to play balls out.
Instead, their balls just kinda dropped off and Chicago fans were forced to sit through -- probably with a steaming mouthful of their own vomit -- what was probably the Bulls' worst loss of the season. Yes, worse than their home defeat to the eight-win New Jersey Nyets
. Yes, worse even than the time they collapsed after building a 35-point lead against the Excremento Kings
. See, after those ugly losses, at least there was plenty of time to steer the ship clear of any icebergs. But now, well, the ship be sinkin'. How far can it sink? Sky's the limit
Because I like tormenting myself, here are some numbers. The Bulls shot just 32 percent (including 28 percent in the first half) while the Heat hit nearly 52 percent of their field goals (including over 60 percent during the first 24 minutes). Chicago had just three fast break points and got outscored 52-28 in the paint. Miami got to the rim at will, scoring 18 layups and 4 dunks. The Heat led 63-33 at halftime and 86-49 after three quarters, and their biggest lead was 39. The Bulls lost 103-74 in what was their lowest scoring game of the season. The 29-point margin was Miami’s second-largest victory of the season and Chicago's second-worst.
And, of course, Derrick Rose went out of his way to prove he might actually be overrated
by going 5-for-16 and finishing with a game-worst plus-minus score of -33.
As bad as they are, those numbers can't quite get across how listless the Bulls were last night. This game was over after the first quarter...it was like the Chicago players weren't even trying. I've seen homeless people who put more effort into their personal hygiene than the Bulls put into that game. I've seen people try harder to be nice to telemarketers. I've personally tried harder to be cool about Kobe Bryant, who's, like, the world's biggest asshole and I won't be happy until he dies of natural causes during a karate attack. See where I'm going with this? The Bulls got bitchslapped...and their coach knows it.
Said Vinny Del Negro: "No good answer for anything. They just attacked us with O'Neal and Beasley. ... We did not have enough fight in us tonight. We beat each other up more in practice than we did the opponent tonight. That is the frustrating part — their effort was better, their energy was better and that is why they beat us up."
Added Taj Gibson: "They really punched us in the mouth tonight."
Even the Heat couldn't believe how readily Chicago bent over to take it. Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal -- who blistered the Bulls with 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting -- said: "We were a little shocked. We talked about it a little bit on the bench. Especially all the conversation that was kind of here in the papers and stuff like that, their struggles and the importance of the game for them, also. ... We were prepared for a fight."
Too bad the Bulls weren't.
Chicago has now lost 11 of their last 13 games -- including a 10-game losing streak -- and are 2 1/2 games behind the eighth place Toronto Craptors. And The Math
gives them about a 20 percent chance to make the playoffs.Uh, maybe we should just keep them in the studio from now on, mmmkay?Chuck, Kenny and Ernie:
I love these guys, but let's be honest: they sucked as announcers last night. Sir Charles was mumbling and providing brilliant analysis like "Three on one break, they need to finish this" and "You can't score 19 points in the first quarter and expect to win." Kenny didn't have much of anything to say (although, after Chuck's "19 points in the first quarter" comment, he did add that "They're on pace for a 38-point half."). And Ernie was giving the most uninspired play-by-play I've heard since...uh...since I provided commentary for a girl's softball game back in college. It was bad. Honestly, they were saved by the fact that the Heat obliterated the Bulls, because then they could ignore the game and crack jokes. That was the only thing that saved them from complete embarrassment.
Can we just agree that Charles, Kenny and Ernie are great studio guys that should leave play-by-play and color commentary to, you know, pretty much anybody else? Well, except Bill Russell and Rick Barry
.The Dallas Mavericks:
Most horror movies have what's known as "The Final Girl."
The Final Girl is usually the second hottest chick in the movie (next to the slut / bitch, who typically dies a violent and rather satisfying death) and often a token virgin who manages to survive to the end and destroy the killer / monster / alien / whatever. In many cases, The Final Girl will develop a love interest during the course of the movie, and that dude's function appears to be to give the audience a false sense of security. After all, The Final Girl just seems safer when she has somebody watching her back, you know? I mean, there's always the off chance that guy might be able to beat back the bad guy, right? Only that never happens, and the dude usually suffers some horrible mutilation and/or dismemberment right before the final act.
Well, I've come to the conclusion that the Mavericks are that guy
in the horror movie that is the upcoming Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers, of course, are Jason Voorhees. Many fans and experts have fooled themselves into thinking Dallas can maybe behead the Lakers, or trap them in a cave, or knock them into a wood chipper. Or something. But it ain't gonna happen, okay? The Mavs don't have what it takes. They don't. I don't care how many Caron Butlers or Brendan "I just work here"
Haywoods they add. They are going to die horribly before the final act.
That 13-game winning streak was kind of an unlucky number for the Mavericks, who have dropped four of six games since then...with the two victories being needlessly close wins against the Bulls (see above) and Clippers (see below). Meanwhile, the Frail Blazers -- who have won five straight at home and six of their last seen games overall -- are moving up in the Western standings. And you could hardly blame them for hoping to draw Dallas in round one. After all, they're 3-0 against the Mavs this season, which gives them their first season series win over Mark Cuban's team since the 1998-99 season.
By the way, The Final Girl? She usually bites it when the killer returns for the sequel. So, in this scenario, The Final Girl is probably the Denver Nuggets.Jason Kidd, quote machine:
"They've beat us three times so for us it's about getting better. We understand that this is how teams will play us, so it's good that it happened now and not in 'the next season," he said, referring to the playoffs. So the Mavs finally understand how teams will play them...by trying to win. I'm glad Dallas finally figured that out only 72 games into the season.The Houston Rockets:
The Money Ballers have been getting pretty roughed up lately, and last night's 99-93 home loss to the Clippers proved once again that a plucky spirit combined with a can-do attitude isn't always an adequate substitute for star power.
Since no loss is complete without excuses, I should note the Rockets were missing Shane Battier (head shaving incident or something) and Kevin Martin (vaginal bleeding or whatever), so the Houston faithful can rightfully (but pathetically) log this defeat in the "Undermanned" column.
Trevor Ariza -- who led Team Pluck with 18 points, 8 boards and a career-high-tying 8 dimes -- said: "That's the hardest part about this game. We work ... all season with those guys and they go down. It takes a lot out of you. We know that coming into a game we just got to figure out ways to keep it going."
Uhm, wasn't Martin acquired at the trade deadline? If Ariza has been working with K-Mart all year, then Trevor must have a Hot Tub Time Machine and needs to share. I want to go back to St. Patrick's Day and not
eat a certain corned beef sandwich that might or might not have passed back out of my system with the force of a thousand exploding suns.
Anyway, let's get back to sad-sacking the Rockets for losing to the Clippers -- the Clippers -- who hadn't won on the road since February 2. That was a stretch of 11 straight losses away from home. The skid had lasted so long that Drew Gooden, who got traded to The Other L.A. Team over a month ago, got his first road win as a Clipper last night.
I should probably also point out that Houston missed 10 foul shots and lost by six. BONK.Baron Davis, going forward machine:
"Much needed. Much needed. It was great. Hopefully it gives us a lot of confidence for the next game going forward. It was definitely a stepping stone, a learning period and I was just proud of my teammates. We didn't really turn the ball over and we got good shots." Okay, the Clippers are 27-45. What could this win possibly be a stepping stone to? Another stair on the way to Basketball Hell? Oh, wait. I just checked The Other L.A. Team's schedule. Their next game is against the Golden State Warriors. Win number 28, here the Clippers come!Houston's "Big Three":
The Rockets were led by Ariza, Aaron Brooks (18 points, 9 assists) and Luis Scola (16 points, 14 assists). But they weren't scoring in an, ahem, efficient manner. Those three dudes combined to shoot 20-for-56. I guess you could call that scoring by the Law of Averages.Rasual Butler:
Hey Rasual...you don't get off the hook just because your team won. The line: 2-for-10, including 1-for-7 from downtown.Update!
Almost forgot...on Wednesday night, the Nyets ran a promotion in which fans were allowed to turn in the paper bags they otherwise might have worn on their heads for free Nyets merchandise
: a poster, a pack of player trading cards and a printed note from Yormark that said: "Thanks for letting us see your face. We hope to see it more often at Nets' games." Brilliant. Because fans wearing bags on their head want more reminders of one of the worst teams of all time. According to the story, "two people accepted the exchange offer by halftime." Thanks to Basketbawful reader Ash B
for the reminder.Update! LeBron James, ego machine: Said King Crab
: "I if really wanted to win the scoring title I could win it every single year. Every single year, I could really do it. But it doesn't matter to me." Thanks to Basketbawful reader K for the link.Derrek Lee:
Okay, this isn't basketball related, but I had to included it because I live in Chicago and because this is so, so very Chicago Cubs. Lee -- who is prone to injury
-- hurt himself while eating. Nope. Not making it up
Think I'm joking about this being "so, so Chicago Cubs"? Then check it:
The sad part is that if Lee comes back on Friday, this won't rank very highly on the list of recent Cubs' freak injuries. Those candidates would include Sammy Sosa sneezing his way out of the lineup, Carlos Zambrano emailing his elbow out, Kerry Wood slipping near a hot tub, Alfonso Soriano hopping his way to an MRI and Ryan Dempster breaking his toe while jumping out of the dugout to celebrate.Lacktion report:
At a glance, I can tell chris put more effort into this lacktion report than the Bulls did doing anything last night. Unless they were trying to suck, in which case their effort was off the charts. Anyway...
Heat-Bulls: Jamaal Magloire rebounded twice in 4:15, only to brick twice and capture a giveaway and three fouls for a 4:2 Voskuhl. For the heifers, former nightmare ant Joe Alexander bricked once in that same timespan for a +1 suck differential.
Mavs-Frail Blazers: Eduardo Najera can now invest in a stock market bubble alongside team owner Mark Cuban, as he collected a fortune of 5.35 trillion (5:21) in a losing effort! Also lacking it up for Dallas were DeShawn Stevenson (+1 in 1:01 via brick from Pioneer Courthouse Square) and Rodrigue Beaubois, the latter switching on his Game Boy for a 48-second Mario!
Portland's Dante Cunningham missed once in 2:59 for a +1.
Just received word in Bawful comments that...
THE BUCKS ARE TRYING TO EXTEND THE VIABILITY OF THE JOHN SALMONS ERA BY...
SIGNING DARNELL "LACKTION" JACKSON.
Labels: Charles Barkley, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson, Ernie Johnson, horror movie references, Houston Rockets, Kenny "The Jet" Smith, Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers