An era of horror in New Jersey finally, mercifully comes to an end.
The Indiana Pacers: So much for the "surging" Pacers. Indy had won 11 of its last 14 games including 10 of 11 at home. And, in their final home game of the season, the Pacers treated their fans to a 118-98 stink-bomb loss in which they had a 43-24 disadvantage in free throw attempts and got outrebounded 53-38. So...when do the Butler Bulldogs start playing again?
Said Troy Murphy: "No excuses. We just didn't have it tonight from start to finish."
In related news, the Pacers are 27th in attendance, ahead of only the Grizzlies, Kings and Nyets. The only surprise there is that Indy wasn't dead last. But then again, the only other thing to do in Indiana is watch corn slowly grow, so maybe it makes a little sense.
Pictured: Why I don't like telling people
that I'm originally from Indiana.
The Philadelphia 76ers: Speaking of last home games of the season, the Sixers -- who rank 26th in attendance -- tried to go out on a high note against the "surging" Heat. But not even the Curse of Surge could help Philly, who lost on a Udonis Haslem jumper with 1.3 seconds left despite shooting 55 percent for the game.
Andre "The Other 80 Million Dollar Man" Iguodala, who missed five free throws in the two-point loss (including two straight with 2:41 left and his team down two), said: "We had the game in our hands, but we let it slip away. We made some mistakes down the stretch and we don't give ourselves an attempt to try to win or tie the game up."
There's no better way to sum up Philly's season. Short of an interpretive seizure that ends with uncontrollable vomiting and defecation.
The Detroit Pistons: Speaking once again of final home games of the season, the Pistons -- who inexplicably rank 8th in attendance -- got to wrap up their home schedule against a Chris Bosh-less Craptors team that had lost five in a row and 18 of their last 25 games. Oh, and Toronto was also playing the second of back-to-back games, the first of which was a 104-88 home court fail to the equally hapless Chicago Bulls.
So of course the Craptors got 33 points from Andrea Bargnani and a career-high 26 from Amir Johnson to win 111-97 in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Defense was a problem. As summed up in the AP recap: "The Raptors had assists on 21 of their first 22 field goals, finished with a season-high 37 assists, and made 60 percent of their shots overall and on 3-pointers." In other words, there weren't any hands in any faces in Detroit last night.
In the process, the Pistons (26-55) have guaranteed their worst record since going 20-62 in the 1993-94 season. What's more, this will be the first year Detroit hasn't made the playoff since 2001.
Said Tayshaun Prince: "It's really disappointing."
Don't worry, Detroit fans. Only a few short months before the Lions open training camp!
Charlie Villanueval: Charlie V. -- one half of Joe Dumars' $90 million offseason spending spree -- had this to say on his Twitter account hours before his team's tipoff against the Craptors:
Toronto tonight at the palace, sorry Toronto fans, have love for u fans but Detroit is going to win
Guarantee win tonight, yeah I said it
And this is what he tweeted a few hours after the game:
Thank God I don't gamble cause I will be terrible at, lol
And this is what Villanueva told the press: "I don't think that fired them up because they had something to play for. I thought we would come ready to play, and I'm shocked we didn't after the way we've played lately."
I wonder if Charlie V. realizes his team has won 26 games this season. This loss isn't all that shocking. What's shocking is that Detroit fans haven't started chucking bricks during games.
The New Jersey Nyets: Speaking yet again about final home games of the season, the Nyets -- a mortal lock for this season's last place attendence record -- finished their run at the Izod Center with a double-digit loss to the Charlotte Bobcats in which they shot 39 percent and missed 20 of 24 three-pointers. As the AP recap put it: "The New Jersey Nets opened their 29-year NBA stay at the Meadowlands with a loss and they ended the run the same way."
Remember how the Nyets supposedly "fleeced" the Mavericks by getting Harris and DeSagana Diop in the Jason Kidd trade? Man, that seems forever and a week ago. Maybe Mark Cuban knew what he was doing after all...
Larry Brown, quote machine: As the AP recap pointed out: "The constant in both events was Larry Brown. He coached the Nets that night in 1981 against the Knicks and he was back for the final game to guide the Charlotte Bobcats over New Jersey 105-95 on Monday night."
To which Larry responded: "I was here for the first and the last. What does that tell you? How dumb are these people who keep hiring me? I'm sure over my career I've been in a lot of buildings and outlasted them. Me. Nelly [Don Nelson] and Lenny [Wilkens]. Coach [Jerry] Sloan. I don't know if that's a good thing."
The Milwaukee Bucks: Still speaking about final home games of the season -- do you sense a theme here? -- the previously surging but currently Andrew Bogut-less Bucks couldn't defend (giving up 53 percent shooting) or throw the ball into the ocean (shooting 38 percent as a team). As a result, they lost to the Hawks 104-96 and got dumped to sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Ah, but what does playoff seeding mean, anyway? Just ask rookie Brandon Jennings, veteran of exactly zero playoff games.
Said Jennings: "It's either Atlanta or Boston. I think they are both beatable for us. We've been hanging with them the whole year."
Aw! Rookies are so cute when they're being stupid.
Update! The Sacramento Kings: Hey, have I mentioned any last home games of the season yet? Well, the Paupers lost theirs. And it was a classic revenge game, as Kevin Martin -- who got voted off Excremento Island in favor of 'Reke the Freak -- had his second-highest scoring game of the season: 39 points on 11-for-20 from the field and 16-for-16 from the line.
Meanwhile, Evans -- thanks to some shot happiness and ball-hoggery -- joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James in the 20-5-5 Rookie Club, which probably doesn't take that much of the sting out of Sacto's 25-56 record. Although, because of that record, 'Reke's record was pretty much the only reason the fans showed up. Just ask Paul Westphal: "This game was more about extraneous things more than the actual wins or losses. I think the players sensed that."
Yeah. I think the players have sensed that for a while, Paul. In related news, the Kings picked up the option on Westphal's contract for 2011-12 before the game.
Said Rockets coach Rick Adelman: "I didn't even know what was going on. Then finally they put 20-5-5 up there. I was more than happy to let him have that and we will take the win and go home."
The Los Angeles Clippers: Okay. One more "losing their final home game of the season" entry...which is what the Clippers did in getting pounded by the Mavericks 117-94. Okay, okay. Technically, The Other L.A. Team will finish up their season with a "home game" against the Lakers on Wednesday night, but that's the same as a game on the moon for the poor Clips, who were officially eliminated from the "30-Win Club" race. The best they can do is finish 29-53.
In related news, The Other L.A. Team is 20th in attendence despite being in freaking Los Angeles.
In all fairness to the Clippers, they were minus both of their starting guards -- Baron Davis (quitter sprained wrist) and Eric Gordon (sick of the Clippers viral infection) -- but that doesn't change the fact that they've lost eight of nine games and 18 of 21 to ensure their 17th losing season in the last 18 years. Abandon hope all ye who play or root for the Clippers!
Yep. They are who we thought they were.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: And finally a team wins their final home game of the season! And their 133-111 victory over the Timberpoops -- during which Minny committed 19 turnovers, gave up almost 60 percent shooting and fell behind by as many as 30 points -- gave the Spurs their 11th straight 50-win season. Feel the surge!
Minny's season ends Wednesday at home against the Pistons, and we have some potentially historic fail in the works. If the Timberwolves lose, they'll tie the Tony Campbell-led 1991-92 squad for worst record in the 21-year history of the franchise.
Said Al Jefferson: "If it happens, it was just meant to happen. That's how I look at it. Of course we don't want it to happen, but it's life."
Added Timberpoops coach Kurt Rambis: "This team was not built to win this year. We knew that."
So...the T-Poops were supposed to suck this season? I just love it when a team fulfills their potential!
The Memphis Grizzlies: Their 123-101 loss in Denver bumped the Griz back to a game below .500, which just feels about right for this team, doesn't it? Memphis shot 39 percent, gave up 39 free throw attempts and surrendered 27 fast break points. I thought bears came out of hibernation in the spring.
Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins: "I didn't like nothing about the whole game. They pretty much had a party here. A going-away party. The last game for the fans. They had a party with it."
Zach Randolph: Now here's the Z-Bo we knew and loved! Near the end of the third quarter, Randolph got tagged with foul numero cinco for sending Nene to the floor during the battle for an offensive board. Admittedly, Nene might have done a little grabbing and acting, but losing your cool over iffy calls usually doesn't help. And of course it didn't. Zach's blabbing earned him a double-technical and an automatic ejection. Nene drilled all four free throws (two for the initial foul and two for the techs) to increase the Nuggets' lead to 90-72. Game over.
Now, just for shits and giggles, here's a classic Z-Bo booboo from the Isiah Thomas Era in New York. Gods, how I miss that era.
Rudy Gay: Even though he took a team-high 14 shot attempts, Gay finished with more fouls (4) than field goals (3) and more turnovers (2) than assists (1). Every time I've seen Rudy turn in one of these sub-par performances over the second half of the season, I always think the same thing: I wonder who's going to end up overpaying him this summer? I hope to God it's not the Bulls.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Spider-Man's balls! Will Portland's misery never end? As if they hadn't been through enough this season -- including the loss of both centers, the Vanilla Godzilla reinjuring himself in the shower and their coach rupturing an Achilles tendonat practice -- the Frail Blazers have lost Brandon Roy to a torn meniscus in his right knee. Roy says he wants to play in the postseason, but that seems like borderline lunacy to me. Sure, his doctors say he probably can't hurt it any worse, but it's a fucking torn meniscus, Brandon! Take a seat, get healthy, and bring it next season.
Did I mention that a total of 13 Blazers have missed a combined 307 games this season?
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. The Thunder. They ended up getting locked into the eighth seed and a first-round playoff date with the Lakers by losing 103-95 to the Roy-less Blazers, who got a season-high 30 points and 13 rebounds from Marcus Camby. Not only did the Camby Man go 12-for-16 from the field, but he submitted his highest scoring output since going off for 33 points against (of course) the Phoenix Suns on December 2, 2005.
More fun facts: Oklahoma City got pounded 60-40 in the paint and gave up 27 points off 16 turnovers.
The Washington WizardsGenerals Bullets: The Bullets were up by 10 points with about 10 and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter...but the Bricks ended up winning that quarter 40-21 as Washington lost 114-103.
Said Shaun Livingston: "Both offensively and defensively, it was just a total meltdown."
Added "Mr. Responsible" Andray Blatch: "We weren't disciplined in the fourth quarter. Plain and simple. They hit a couple of shots and we just lost our mind. We were like a chicken without a head out there."
Update! Andray Blatch: From AnacondaHL: "Extra bit from the Whizz-Bricks game: With Washington up 92-83, about 9 minutes left in the game, the Blatche Watch (hurrdurf) began. Having picked up his 5th PF, but having already collected a 17/10/7, Blatche started upping the amount of forced passes to teammates (this had been going on since the 3rd period), shooting for that triple-double. This of course opens a 20-2 run for the Knicks, eventually leading to the 40 point 4th quarter and a NY win. If the camera were any closer, I would have loved to see each sneer made when teammates missed shots and layups on potential assists."
Wow. It's like Blatch is channeling Wilt Chamberlain from the season the Dipper lead the league in assists. (It was 1967-68 in case you're interested.)
Mike D'Antoni, quote machine: Regarding the "hope" the Bricks have after completing their franchise record ninth consecutive losing season: "The fans need to hang in there a bit with us and hopefully we'll get the job done. It's going to be a tough summer, but they've hung this long so they might as well wait a few months and see what happens."
Paul Pierce and his delusions of grandeur: From Basketbawful reader winnetou: "Paul Pierce, Dunning-Kruger effect representative, when asked about the Celtics' playoff ambitions and chances: 'We want to be the champs. That’s the minimum level [of achievement to consider the season a success]. I don’t care what our record is. I don’t care how we’ve played. Our minimum level is winning the championship. That’s been our goal since we brought the team together, and that’s not changed.' But is it realistic? 'Yeah,' Pierce said. 'Without question.' (Boston Herald via TrueHoop)."
Update! Lacktion report: Evil e-mail gremlins sent chris's brilliant lacktion report to my Spam folder. I guess the Yahoo! e-mail administrators don't like lacktion.
Heat-Sixers: Joel Anthony made one steal in 19:23 as Miami's starting big man, yet bricked twice, took a rejection, and gained two fouls for a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Raptors-Pistons: Rasho Nesterovic lost the rock once in 4:35 for a +1 suck differential, also worthy of a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl. Marcus Banks collected on a single-giveaway +1 as well, but in 1:24.
Bobcats-Nyets: Nazr Mohammed spent 18:07 collecting two boards, only to take a rejection and three fouls and giveaways each for a 6:2 Voskuhl.