Dino kiss
"In my country, we celebrate with open mouth. And tongue."

The San Antonio Spurs: No LeBron. No Shaq. Antawn Jamison left the game near the end of the third quarter with a left knee injury and did not return. Cleveland was missing an awful lot of firepower, which should have more than offset the absence of Tony Parker, who's out six weeks with a broken hand.


Wrong. Despite a season-high 38 points from Manu Ginobili, the Spurs couldn't put away a team that -- based on who they were missing -- might struggle to win a seven-game series against the New Jersey Nyets.

San Antonio missed 19 three-pointer and shot only 41 percent as a team, but it was their defense that had Gregg Popovich freaking out on the sideline. Pop blew up during a first quarter timeout and then benched DeJuan Blair and Richard Jefferson, replacing them with Malik Hairston and Ian Mahinmi. Mind you, those two dudes have combined to pla 158 minutes this season.

I think Popovich was trying to send a message.

Said Pop: "We gave away 8-12 points just because they ran it right down our throat and our transition was godawful. That was the worst part of the whole game."

To rub lemon juice in the wound, Ginobili's big feet prevented him from tying the game on what was intended to be a step-back trey. Video replays confirmed that Manu's foot was on the line.

Said Ginobili: "The replay was pretty clear. One inch. I knew I was on the line, that's why I stepped back. I was pretty sure it was a 3, but then I saw [referee] Joey Crawford asking for a review and he looked pretty sure. It's sad. It was a tough shot and the whole game changed."

Roger Mason: A lot of Spurs could get their own entry, but Mason deserved it the most for going 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-8 from downtown. His last bricked triple was wide open and could have tied the game in the closing seconds.

Keen insights: Basketbawful reader Armand A. sent in this gem from a live chat with ESPN's Chris Sheridan:

"I am not making LeBron predictions. But I will offer this: If he chooses NOT to opt out (which would only happen if the CBA is extended by June 30) and becomes an unrestricted f.a. in 2011, he can get a no-trade clause from the Cavs. The only way he gets that clause is by staying in Cleveland, and you have to spend 8 years in the league with the same team, and become a UFA, to qualify for one. That's a hole card in the Cavs' hand that people don't speak of much."
Armand's response:

Maybe there's a reason people don't speak of much about it? Like the fact that no freaking team is ever going to trade LeBron James away? A no-trade clause for him is about as useful as a Playboy magazine for someone who's living in the Playboy Mansion.
The Atlanta Hawks: So much was made of the Hawks sweeping the Celtics this season that it's worth pointing out the Dirty Birds have lost three straight games to the Bricks this season, including two of Atlanta's seven home losses.

Said Josh Smith: "We should have dominated this series but they match up well and [Mike] D'Antoni's a great coach."

Really, Josh? You do realize that the Bricks just set an NBA record by going 0-for-18 from beyond the arc in a 113-93 home loss to one of the worst teams in league history, right?

Added Hawks coach Mike Woodson: "We're just not matched up well with the Knicks for some reason. We played well enough to win tonight, but we were our own worst enemies down the stretch."

More lemon juice: Al Horford's potential game-winner was nullified by video review. And thanks to the 99-98 loss, Atlanta fell a game behind Boston for third place in the Eastern Conference and their road record dropped to 15-16. It's gonna be awfully hard to compete in the playoffs if they can't win on the road.

The Gol_en State Warriors: The New Orleans Hornets were in freefall...and then the Warriors came to town. Next thing you know, rookie Darren Collison dished a career-high 20 assists as the Hornets racked up 27 fast break points, scored 68 points in the paint, shot nearly 60 percent from the field and finished with 135 points.

It's like the face of every New Orleans player was composed of some strange, alien material that repels hands.

By the way, Collison's assist total tied Phoenix's Nash for the most in an NBA game this season and was one short of his Chris Paul's franchise record.

Said Don Nelson: "We played our hearts out. We came up short again. I have to be pleased with the way that we're playing. We just can't seem to scratch a win out."

Prolly 'cause you can't seem to play any D, Nellie.

Mind you, New Orleans' defense wasn't much better than Gol_en State's. The Warriors -- who are still missing Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins, among others -- played only eight men...and seven of them scored in double figures.

The Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Jefferson made his triumphant return from a DWI suspension, putting up 36 and 13 as the hometown Timberpoops racked up 60 points in the paint and finished with 112 points overall. Unfortunately, the Mavericks scored 125 points. You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have the facts of life...the facts of life...

Minny gave this game away -- literally -- by surrendering 32 points on 26 turnovers. I plugged those numbers into the Bat Computer and it vomited up a printout that said: "Fail."

Said Big Al: "A lot of it was just careless mistakes. We just didn't take care of the ball. We've just been kind of struggling with that all year."

Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn: Love finished with 6 points and 6 boards but shot 1-for-7, committed 3 turnovers and logged only 12 minutes. Meanwhile, Flynn was 4-for-12 adn committed 8 turnovers. Wonder Twin Powers...activate! Form of...oh shit!

Ryan Hollins: It's been a rough season for Herr Nowitzki. First Carl Landry nearly killed him with a tooth attack, and last night Hollins got ejected for clubbing Dirk in the head with a forearm, Randy "Macho Man" Savage-style.

Said Nowitzki: "Hollins is a little out of control, but hey, it happens out there.

Added Timberpoops coach Kurt Rambis: "I don't like some of his decision-making, but I like his aggressiveness. When guys play hard, there's a lot of physical contact, tempers are going to flare."

Nobody knows that better than Kurt Rambis. Except maybe Kevin McHale.

Shawn Marion, delusions of grandeur machine: After scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in what might have been his best statistical game since leaving the Phoenix Suns, The Matrix said: "I've done that before. That's easy."

Oh, so he's just been choosing to suck the last couple years. Because kicking ass? That's easy. And why do things the easy way, right?

Regarding his recent "unselfishness," Marion added: "I want to win. At the end of the day, you have to make sacrifices to win. ... Ultimately, I've done a lot of things in this league and I want to win a championship. I want to leave that as my legacy."

Why didn't you have that attitude in Phoenix, Shawn?! Damn.

The New Jersey Nyets: The Memphis Grizzlies had lost eight straight games at home. That was bad. But the New Jersey Nyets were coming to town. That was good. And even though the Griz nearly allowed the Nyets to rally their way out of a 21-point hole, the end result was a 107-101 loss that keeps some slim hope alive for a historically bawful season.

Did I mention Zach Randolph didn't even suit up for Memphis?

Said Devin Harris: "We got it down to three or four a couple of times, we just couldn't get enough to get it down at that point. We had good shots. We had some solid looks. We got to the rim. We had some tough breaks. Couldn't get the tip-ins. We were right on the edge, but we couldn't get it across."

Story of the season, right, Devin?

The victory was the Grizzlies' first home win beating the Lakers 95-93 on February 1.

Said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins: "I don't know if [the Grizzlies] realized the magnitude of losing at home the way we had with eight games. We played well in the first half, got the lead and made just enough plays at the end to win the game."

Kiki Vandeweghe and Devin Harris, co-captains obvious: Said Kiki: "You can't spot [The Grizzlies] 20 points, and then decide to play."

Added Harris: "We definitely don't like to give teams head starts the way we've been doing. Once we correct that, it will be easier to contend in that fourth quarter, instead of coming back from big deficits."

In related news, sticking your head in a lion's mouth often leads to having your head bitten off by a goddamn lion.

Allen Iverson: It's sad that Allen Iverson is dealing with alcohol and gambling problems. What's even sadder is the the list of related headlines included in that story. Here they are, oldest to newest:

Iverson planning to retire from the NBA

Larry Brown wants to tell Iverson: Don't give up Report

He's back: Iverson accepts 76ers' contract offer

Tearful Iverson happy to be back with 76ers

76ers G Iverson out indefinitely for ill daughter

Iverson won't be returning to 76ers this season

Iverson's wife files papers for divorce in Atlanta
Just glancing over those headlines is like watching a man's slow descent into self-destruction. What a sad, sad way for things to go.

Lacktion report: And now, courtesy of chris, here is your meager Monday lactivity update:

Spurs-Crabs: Ian Mahinmi made one free throw and took one board down in 4:59, only to lose the rock thricely and foul once for a 4:2 Voskuhl.

Hawks-Knicks: Zaza Pachulia had an assist and two boards in 9:45; however, he wedded himself to three fouls and a giveaway for a Voskhul ratio of 4:2.

Mavs-Wolves: Damien Wilkins pulled down a board in his surprisingly productive short stint on court, but clearly the family name hasn't vaulted him out of 8-bit territory, as a 46-second Mario shows.

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Blogger AnacondaHL said...
The lemon juice section of the Knicks game isn't right, and I watched the end of that crazy game live.

After going on a 13-2 run, The Knicks had the ball with only 3 or so seconds separating the end of the game clock and the shot clock, Knicks up 1. Atlanta opts to NOT foul.... and Crawford comes up with the steal!

7 seconds left, Atlanta races down the court, and Josh Smith goes in for the winning bucket... only to get stuffed by freaking Wilson Chandler (read again: WILSON CHANDLER).

Yet Horford came up with the offensive rebound! However, he may not have had time to gather it, or moved too slowly on the putback, but it was already too late, the shot was clearly late even in real-time even having seen that crazy ending. It was the MSG stadium announcer that declared the Hawks win, but the score was never updated, and the officials checked the replay just to confirm the result.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
I wasn't saying Horford's shot should have counted. I was merely suggested that it probably felt like a kick in the cock to the Hawks when the review (correctly) confirmed they were loo-hoo-hoosers.

Blogger Jon-Michael said...

The Nuggets are apparently looking into Jake Voskhul to moisten a chair while Kenyon Martin recovers from tendinitis in his knee before the playoffs.

Blogger stephanie g said...
How soon until the FBI starts to investigate the stat guys in New Orleans?

Blogger Ash said...
Ugh. As much as I want to leave poor AI alone, there is a new headline up that goes with all those other ones:

Report: Iverson has gambling, alcohol issues

We need to give the guy a break now.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Was the Warriors/Hornets game the first time in league history were 4 different players all scored exactly 28 points?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The last two teams to reach 50 games first won the title. The last two teams with the best record after the all-star break won the title. Go CAVS!

Anonymous winnetou said...
Off-topic, but since the topic has been quite popular, I'd like to point it out anyway: Five months after the game's release, the nba 2k10 pc patch might finally be released (soon). Great news on a day when I decided I'd play the all-star game, only to start and be benched after 4 productive minutes for the rest of the game.

Anonymous Czernobog said...
@Anon: While I wouldn't argue that the Crabs aren't the team to beat, you should look into the subject of scientific rigour. What you're talking about is an insignificant sample size.

But more importantly, this is where we celebrate the worst that basketball has to offer. It's the wrong place to cheer for your team, my snuggy wearing friend.

Blogger Dan B. said...
winnetou -- Woo. Hopefully it won't have some of the bugs that the most recent patch on the consoles had (like big men jacking up threes Sheed-style)

Anonymous Armand A said...
Weehee!! I got quoted in WOTN!! Look at me!!!