I bet 'Melo wishes he could have "blacked out" again last night...
The Boston Celtics: Let us harken back to the words of Paul Pierce, as reported in yesterday's WotN post:
"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."
Those are some mighty big words, and a good way for the Celtics to back them up would have been to shut down the Bulls in Chicago last night, thereby giving them a chance to wrest the third seed in the Eastern Conference away from the Atlanta Hawks.
But that didn't happen.
Instead, Derrick Rose (career-high 39) and Kirk Hinrich (season-high 30) combined for 69 points -- including 27 in the fourth quarter -- to beat Boston 101-93. This drops the Celtics to fourth in the East and means a second-round matchup with the Cleveland Craboliers. Assuming the C's can make it that far. I mean, it's a bad sign that a team specifically built around defense was beaten by two guys.
Boston has lost six of the last nine games.
Said Pierce: "One game left and we've got everyone healthy going into the playoffs, which was the No. 1 goal of the season."
Wait, I thought winning the title was your number one goal, Paul. Sounds like you've revised your expectations. Which is probably appropriate.
Rasheed Wallace: After his latest stink bomb -- a 1-for-7 shooting performance, 0-for-2 on threes -- I'm officially going to start calling chuck-it-up games from overpaid (and overrated) bench players "taking a 'Sheed." It's the same as taking a dump, only you're pooping directly onto your teammates. Note I almost named this a "dirty 'Sheedchez" after, well, you know.
Anyway, the best part of Wallace's dreadful showing was that he scored as many points for the Bulls as he did for the Celtics. Oh, yes. As Basketbawful reader Adrian said: "Holy shit. Sheed just choked on a rebound so hard he put it back in the Bulls' basket. Now I've seen it all. Only two years left with him, Boston!"
But wait! There's more! Watch 'Sheed not even try to contest Rose's slam. Why be in the poster, right?
What a bum.
John Paxson: And you probably thought that firing a guy on Christmas eve was the biggest superdick move Paxson could pull. Well, I'm not sorry you were so totally wrong. The latest: After a recent home loss to the Phoenix Suns, Pax grabbed coach Vinny Del Negro by the tie, jabbed him in the chest a couple times and challenged him to a fight. Why, you ask? Because Vinny played Joakim Noah -- who had recently missed 10 games with plantar fasciitis -- two minutes and five seconds longer than the 25-minute limit Bulls management had mandated. Seriously.
Stay classy, John Paxson!
Jerry Reinsdorf has dispatched lawyers to investigate the incident. Paxson, not surprisingly, has not been available for comment. This is what Vinny had to say: "I'm not going to comment. I go about my job every day no matter what happens. I'm a competitor. I've been involved in the game a long time. I love the challenge of it. All the other things that happen pretty much stay internally."
Said Bulls spokesman Tim Hallam "This is an organizational issue, which we will handle internally."
Added Joakim Noah: "I don't want to talk about it. Things happen in an organization. ... I don't think it's fair for us as players to be talking about that stuff. It's nothing. Really, it's nothing."
Uhm, no offense, Jo, but a boss physically abusing -- some would even say "attacking" -- his employee is something. Something pretty bad. Something most people in the real world would probably lose their jobs over. However, it's more likely Paxson will remain with the organization while Vinny gets the boot as soon as the season ends, either tonight or after a first round sweep by the Crabs.
Sounds fair, right?
The Gol_en State Warriors: Now that Nellie is the NBA's winningest coach ever, people have stoppped caring about the Warriors again. Which is how it should be. So, fittingly, I don't care enough to recap Gol_en State's home loss to the Jazz. I'll simply leave you with this: Devean George scored a season-high 21 points for the Warriors. Doesn't that sort of say all you need to know?
The Denver Nuggets: With homecourt advantage in the playoffs on the line, the Nuggets...lost 123-101 to the Suns in Phoenix. And the beating was actually worse than that. So bad, in fact, that Steve Nash and Amar''''''e Stoudemire sat out the entire fourth quarter. The Suns -- who knew the Nuggets had played the night before -- ran out to an 18-2 lead and Denver never really recovered.
And this is the team that's supposed to challenge the Lakers in the playoffs?
The Suns shot almost 54 percent from the field and went 14-for-24 from downtown...including 11-for-17 during the first three quarters.
Said Chauncey Billups: "Man, there's really nobody that's going to beat them when they shoot like that."
I've heard hands in faces can help with that, Chauncey. Speaking of Mr. Big Shot...
Chauncey Billups: Remember when the talk was always about how Billups owned Nash? Well, last night Captain Canada had 18 points and 10 assists in three quarters (despite a tough shooting night), while Mr. Big Shot went 1-for-6 from beyond the arc and didn't register a single assist in 33 minutes of PT.
The Sacramento Kings: The best thing about their 106-100 loss to the Mamba-less Lakers? The Purple Paupers are now one game closer to the end of their season. Hip-hip-HOOOORAY!!!
(Still, letting Shannon Brown -- 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting -- pull a Kobe impersonation on them was pretty embarrassing. Assuming they have any shame left.)
You know who's sad this year's crapfest is coming to it's crappy end? Paul Westphal: "Honestly, I'm sorry it's over. I really like this team. We knew that we had a hill to climb, and the journey is just beginning. We added eight more wins and added some players we can build around, so by any measure, there was improvement. The first thing is that we had to compete this year. We did that, and one of these days, we'll learn how to win."
Lacktion report: Only one entry for chris's daily lacktion update:
Celtics-Bulls: Flip Murray bricked twice and fouled once in 4:24 for a CELEBRATORY +3!