No, no, no. It's "Fear the Deer" not "Smear the
Queer Deer."The Atlanta Hawks:
I was on my way home from my pickup league when BadDave called. I hadn't gotten a chance to watch any of the Bucks-Hawks game yet -- all hail the wonders of DVR! -- so I had no idea what was had happened. I correctly figured I was in for an update. BadDave said: "They are who we though they were."
I knew immediately Atlanta had lost.
All season, I've been (ahem) very vocal in my disbelief
in the Hawks. I never denied the Dirty Birds were playing well in general or that -- by their relatively low standards -- they were having a standout year. But in the final analysis, the Hawks are made up of some good to very good players. None are great, several are average at best, and a few might struggle to make a roster outside of Atlanta (coughMarioWestcough). Good team, solid team, a team that earned the third-best record in a conference that -- let's be honest -- is kind of weak after the top two seeds.
And now here they are, teetering on the brink of elimination in the first round of the NBA playoffs against a team that is missing its best player (by the numbers). The only think that's keeping me from dancing a jig and singing "I toldja so, I toldja so, I toldja so!" is my belief that Atlanta can still come back and win this series...even if that only postpones their eventual elimination by one postseason round.
At any rate, how 'bout them Bucks? As AnacondaHL
said, the Deer have been Feared.
This series in general and this game in particular are perfect examples of why you have to beware of any team coached by Scott Skiles...until his players turn on him anyway. When he was in the NBA, Skiles was scrappy tough, and that's how his teams play. They get after it on defense, they never lose confidence, and they don't give up. A Skiles team doesn't always play well -- truthfully, he's never gotten the opportunity to coach a really, really talented squad -- but they almost always play hard.
Playing hard wins a lot of games that maybe should be won.Skiles headpalms even when he's winning.That's how hard core the dude is.
Case in point, an 18-footer by Josh Smith put the Atlanteans ahead 82-73 with 4:09 left. Considering the talent disparity between the Hawks and the Bogut-less Bucks, that lead should have been more than enough, especially considering the Dirty Birds were playing at home.
Instead, the Bucks went on a 14-0 run.
During that stretch, the Hawks missed seven straight shots. Here's a summary of their offensive fail: Missed layup by Josh Smith; missed layup by Jamal Crawford; Surrendered an offensive board to Ersan Ilyasova after Brandon Jennings missed a foul shot, leading to two freebies for John Salmons; turnover / offensive foul by Joe Smith (his sixth foul); missed three-pointer by Smith; offensive rebound by Al Horford; missed 7-footer by Horford; missed 17-footer by Crawford; offensive rebound by Horford; missed 6-footer by Crawford (blocked by Salmons); missed 15-footer by Crawford.
Horford extended the drama by banking in a crap three-pointer with 10 seconds left, but it didn't change the outcome: A 91-87 home loss to a severely weakened team.
Said Crawford: "This is incredible. We had the game won. It just slipped away from us."
Added Johnson: "It was a terrible loss. It was embarrassing."Joe Johnson:
His line was bad enough by itself to earn him a WotN entry -- only 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting (0-for-3 on triples), one measely trip to the line, a co-game-worst 4 turnovers and his first foul out of the year. And let's talk about foul number six. The Hawks were still up 82-81 when Kurt Thomas -- only the oldest player in the game -- suckered Joe Cool into a charge. Maybe Atlanta still would have lost with Johnson on the floor...or maybe not. But spending the last two-plus minutes of "Winning Time" without your best player never helps.Jamal Crawford:
One day after winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award, Crawford came off the bench and submitted a performance that should have gotten him benched. It took Jamal 18 field goal attempts to score 11 points -- he missed 14 of those shots, including three of his four attempts from downtown -- and he finished with more combined fouls and turnovers (7) than rebounds and assists (4). The Hawks had several stinky performances, but Crawford's was the stinkiest. I mean, it smelled like Bigfoot's dick.Even the self-proclaimed best point guard in theleague needs to double-facepalm now and then.The Utah Jazz:
Whew! It looks like the Nuggets are one big, happy family again. And thanks to this newfound and completely platonic case of group man love, Denver managed to snap an eight-game losing streak when facing playoff elimination...which just so happened to be the longest such streak in NBA history.
Despite the loss of Nene -- with five minutes left in the first half, Carlos Boozer's left leg banged up against Nene's left knee -- the Nuggets had six players in double figures, including J.R. Smith (17 points, 4-for-5 from downtown) and Chris Anderson (10 points, 7 rebounds) off the bench.
Said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan: "They were a lot more alive, they went after the ball a little harder than we did. The players off the bench gave them a big lift. Their bench people killed us."
Denver managed to run away from Utah thanks to hot shooting from the field (50+ percent) and more importantly from beyond the arc (nearly 53 percent). Meanwhile, the Jazz didn't get nearly enough help from C.J. Miles (4-for-10, 3 turnovers, 5 fouls), Wesley Matthews (4-for-10, 1-for-5 from downtown), or Kyle Korver (zero points, 0-for-6 from the field, 0-for-2 on threes).Deron Williams:
From the AP recap
[Deron Williams] declared after shootaround that he was the best point guard in the NBA right now.
The Nuggets won't disagree.
After watching him average 27.6 points and 12.0 assists over the first four games of the series, the Nuggets put Billups on Williams from the start instead of Afflalo.
Williams said nothing would change no matter who was guarding him, and he was right, getting 34 points and 10 assists before fouling out in the final minute. He became the first player in NBA history to register 20 or more points and double-digit assists in five games to begin a playoff series.
"We played good defense on him," Dantley insisted, "but he's just a great basketball player."
Did Deron really say that? Yes. Yes, he did
"I feel I was the best point guard in the league for a while," said Williams, when asked by FanHouse during a media session after Wednesday's shootaround at the Pepsi Center if he's the NBA's top point guard. "I think I'm the best point guard in the league. No reason. I just think I'm the best."
Williams, who averaged 18.7 points and 10.5 assists during the regular season while making his first All-Star Game, has thought that for a while. He was asked who the second-best point guard is in the NBA.
"CP," said Williams, referring to New Orleans' Chris Paul, who was taken No. 4 in the 2005 draft while Williams went No. 3, with Paul getting off to a quicker NBA start. "Just like he probably thinks he's the best and I'm No. 2."
So who's the bronze medalist in this point-guard derby?
"Steve Nash," Williams said. "You got to argue him, what he's doing at this age (36) is crazy. I felt he's been the best point guard for the first probably three or four years that I was in the league."
While I'm not necessarily disagreeing with Williams, his proclamation couldn't help but remind me of similar words from Basketbawful Hall of Shame candidate Stephon Marbury circa 2005
"Don't get me wrong -- I love Jason Kidd. He's a great point guard," Marbury said. "(But) how am I comparing myself to him when I think I'm the best point guard to play basketball? That doesn't make any sense. I mean, how can I sit here and compare myself to somebody if I already think I'm the best?
"I'm telling you what it is: I know I'm the best point guard in the NBA. I don't need anybody else to tell me that. When I go on the basketball court, if I think about what you're all saying, I'll lose my mind."
Of course, Starbury lost his mind anyway. But wait, here's some more:
"Me and Jason Kidd are two different players," Marbury said. "The way you see basketball, and the way I see it, it's not the same thing. You can't compare both of us. We don't play anything alike. We're totally different. You may feel he's better, there's another person that feels different."
But Kidd has played in 73 playoff games and seven All-Star Games. Marbury has appeared in 18 playoff games and two All-Star Games. And in current All-Star voting, Marbury is sixth among Eastern Conference guards with 151,749 votes as of yesterday. Kidd is fifth with 306,359.
"I don't care about (the voting)," Marbury said. "That stuff doesn't matter to me."
He admitted that when he was younger, playing in the All-Star Game was important to him. And he did say that "playing in the All-Star Game is always fun, because you're recognized as being one of the elite players." But he won't be disappointed if he's not among the All-Stars Feb. 20 in Denver.
"As long as I'm playing come April, (trying to) win the championship, that's the most important thing," he said.
You know where Steph was in April of 2005? Wrapping up his season on a 33-win Knicks team
. And, uh, we all know how things went from there.
I'm just saying: Declaring openly that he's the best PG in the league is kind of like walking a mile in Starbury's shoes
...and I'm not sure that's a good thing.Carmelo Anthony:
According to the AP recap
: "The Nuggets had lost eight straight elimination games, six since Anthony joined the team in 2003." It's probably too early to tell, but could 'Melo be Tracy McGrady 2.0? Yes, I know he's gotten out of the first round of the playoffs, but...Dwight Howard:
Pumaman just can't keep his mouth shut. Case in point
Even on a day off, Dwight Howard can antagonize officials enough to draw a penalty.
The Orlando Magic center was fined $35,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for criticizing officials on his blog, the second time this season he's been penalized for posting such comments.
Howard was in chronic foul trouble and constantly complaining about officiating in the Magic's series sweep over Charlotte. He fouled out in the last two games, played only 105 minutes and committed 22 fouls in four games.
"I'm not looking to say anything to get myself in trouble with the league, but I just don't see other star players getting called for fouls the way I get them," Howard posted on his blog. "No star player in the league is outta games the way I am."
Coach Stan Van Gundy and forward Matt Barnes were fined $35,000 each last week for criticizing officials and publicly questioning their calls on Howard. Orlando's All-Star center also was fined $15,000 in November for similar comments on his blog, although those were light compared to his latest post.
"I mean, it was almost comical at times how I was getting fouls called on me," Howard wrote. "There was nothing I could do [out] there and I felt like I couldn't even move without getting that whistle blown on me."
Seriously, Dwight, just shut up and play. Better yet...SHUT UP AND JAM!! GAIDEN!!Lacktion report:
And now, chris presents a very special lacktion report (pro tip: skip to the Jazz-Nuggets entry for the specialness).
Bucks-Hawks: As the deer celebrated a rare road win in Georgia's capital, Dan Gadzuric did his best to live up to the franchise's general mediocrity over the years, countering two field goals and a board in 11:01 with five fouls and a giveaway for a 6:5 Voskuhl.
Jazz-Nuggets: 56 seconds was all it took to get FOUR folks plugged into the NES tonight in a MARIO PARTY -- Sundiata Gaines, Othyus Jeffers, and Kosta Koufos for the Jazz, and Malik Allen the celebrant for Denver!!! Amazingly, Jeffers and Koufos went non-lacktive by managing to score boards in their mini-stints.
Labels: Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz, Worst of the Night