Cheer up, Scott! Things can't possibly get any wor...
...oh. Never mind then.
The Milwaukee Bucks: Not exactly a banner weekend for fearing the Deer, who got smeared twice and cruelly eliminated by the Hawks. With a chance to win the series at home in Game 6, the Bucks shot 32 percent and scored only 69 points in a double-digit loss. The performances of Brandon Jennings (missed his first six shots, finished 4-for-15, 1-for-9 from beyond the arc, only 1 lonely assist) and John Salmons (2-for-13) were particularly crippling. When your top two guys combine for more fouls (8) than field goals (6), it's trouble.
The game was essentially lost in the third quarter, when Milwaukee went 3-for-17 and got outscored 29-11. That included a 19-0 run by Atlanta as the Bucks went on an eight-minute scoring fail fest.
After the game, Kurt Thomas said: "We just realize that we had a bad third quarter. We're still confident as a team. We'll regroup and we'll play better on Sunday."
If by "playing better" Kurt actually meant "We're gonna lose by 21 points instead of only 14," then he's a freaking Nostradamus. In Game 7, the Bucks again shot 32 percent and finished with 74 points...five points "better" than Game 6. So maybe Thomas was right after all. But not really.
I guess Andy Bogut is pretty important after all.
An extra "blech!" goes once again the Jennings and Salmons, who combined for only 26 points on 11-for-36 shooting (2-for-9 on threes). The Bucks have now lost seven of their last eight road playoff games and their 74 points is tied for the sixth fewest points in a Game 7 during the shot-clock era.
Said Carlos Delfino: "We can't think about all the ifs. Yes, we missed his presence in the paint. But glory to the guys who kept fighting. We just tried to be as positive as we possibly could."
Added Brandon Jennings: "I think we were missing one piece, and that was Bogut. I wanted to walk out sad, but I had to keep my head up because we were down a couple players [Michael Redd also sustained a season-ending injury]. We did the best we could. We showed a lot of people that the Milwaukee Bucks can actually hang in this league."
Let next season's unrealistic expectations begin!
Jerry Stackhouse: He wasn't awful...but you knew I was going to include this, right? I'm not sure this is what Francis Scott Key imagined when he wrote the poem that became the song.
Josh Smith: This was a great play, but an ear pose? Really Josh?
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Here are some dirty little OKC facts for you: During the regular season, the Thunder gave up the sixth-most total offensive rebounds (937). They were tied with the Toronto Craptors and Washington WizardsGenerals Bullets for sixth in opponents' offensive rebounds per game (11.4), ranking ahead of only the Nuggets, Knicks, Pacers, Suns and Warriors. They kind of covered for this by ranking third in the league in Offensive Rebounding Percentage (.286). So yes, they were giving up offensive boards, but they were also grabbing offensive boards.
That should even things out, right?
In theory, I suppose. But what if your entire season and everything you've been fighting for in the first round of the playofss came down to a simple box out? What then? Here's what:
What a wasted opportunity. The Thunder were +18 in points off free throws, +17 in points off turnovers, +8 in points in the paint and +7 in points in transition. Unfortunately, they shot 36 percent, thanks largely to the misdirected gunning of Kevin Durant (see below) and Russell Westbrook (7-for-20, 1-for-6 from downtown). Of course, those guys did help bring their team back -- thanks to a trey by Durant and then a jumper and three-point play by Westbrook -- but too little, too late.
I should also mention that the Lakers bench outscored their counterparts 30-16. That's right, L.A.'s bench was integral in eliminating the Thunder. Who'da thunk?
Kevin Durant: His series averages look pretty good: 25.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.3 APG. However, KD shot 35 percent from the field and 28 percent from downtown. To break his percentages down further, he hit only 38 percent of his jumpers and a miserable 20 percent near the basket. Facing elimination, he went 5-for-23 from the field. That's 21 percent shooting accuracy in the most important game of his life to date.
What's more, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Durant Kevin Durant notched one of the worst shooting performances in NBA history in a loss that ended a best-of-seven series (minimum 20 FGAs). The only two players to surpass him were Paul Arizin (18.2 percent in the final game of the 1962 Divisional Finals) and Kenyon Martin (3-for-23 in Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals).
Yes, I know he helped rally the Thunder down the stretch. But OKC might not have needed a rally if he hadn't missed 17 of his first 20 shots.
Ron Artest, quote machine: "Everyone expected us to be this greatest team since sliced bread, but we aren't playing like that. It's great for us to get through it and understand that we're not the best thing since sliced bread. We actually have to work."
Phil Jackson, quote machine: "You have to remember these men are out there in their underwear, in their shorts. These aren't like the old days but they are pretty scantily clad, and they are, you know, in front of their fans. If you're at all self-conscious, there you are."
The Denver Nuggets: And so ends the season of the second Team That Could Beat the Lakers (the Mavericks being the other). Man, if you had told me in that the Nuggets would earn 40 free throw attempts and score 32 points off 19 Utah turnovers, I would have said there was no way they could lose.
And yet...they lost.
Denver couldn't do anything about Carlos Boozer (22 points, 10-for-14, 20 rebounds, 5 assists), Wesley Matthew (23 points, 13-for-15 at the line) or the Jazz bench (45 points, 15-for-26). Nor could the Nuggets keep from hacking, leading to an astounding 51 foul shots for the Mormon Musicians -- 39 on personal fouls and four more on technicals.
Said Chauncey Billups: "You have to give the Jazz credit. They stole home court and that proved to be the difference. Sometimes when we play against very, very disciplined teams, we tend to break down. We should have been able to run on them but being in foul trouble so much it stops the running."
Denver also had their share of problems guarding Utah's non-free throws. The Jazz shot better than 52 percent, thanks largely to Boozer and Paul Milsap (7-for-11).
Carmelo Anthony: Facing yet another first round elimination -- his sixth in seven years, including a 2006 opening round loss to the Clippers -- 'Melo finished with only 20 points on 6-for-22 shooting. Even though he snared a game-best 12 rebounds, Anthony was kind of outplayed by Matthews, who outscored him, defended him well, got him into foul trouble and helped goad Denver's coach into a tech.
Matthews came up with a huge defensive play when he blocked a shot by Anthony under the basket, then drew Anthony's fifth foul when Billups was short on a 3-pointer with 4:55 left. Billups was called for a technical after the play and Matthews made the free throw, then two more to put Utah up 104-95.
"I wanted that opportunity. You live for moments like that," Matthews said. "Growing up as a kid, you always want to go up against the best. You want to get the stops at the right time."
Matthews added two more from the line with 4:23 left, and Utah's lead was 106-95
Acting coach Adrian Dantley, Graham, Kenyon Martin and Billups all received technicals for Denver.
Dantley received Denver's first after Anthony collided with Matthews and was called for an offensive foul with 4:13 left in the second.
I'm pretty sure the Nuggets assumed the 'Melo-Matthews matchup was going to go in their favor. Like, By a lot. Didn't turn out that way, tho'. Kinda makes you go hmmmmm...
The Boston Celtics: They...you know what? Let's cover this first...
Paul Pierce, poster boy: Wait, wait, wait. Mo Williams can dunk? That's new one to me. And to Paul Pierce, apparently.
Said Williams: "Paul is 6-7, 6-8. I thought he'd block a layup. I was kind of high. I thought I could try. It turned out good. It was a great feeling, I'll tell you that."
Added LeBron: "I knew Mo could dunk. I told Mo a long time ago if he ever dunked in a game it was going to spark us like we haven't been sparked before. Not only did it fire the team, it fired himself up."
It..."fired himself up"? Uh, okay. Anyway, it sure did -- Williams scored 14 points in the quarter -- and it certainly did something for the Crabs as well, because they outscored the Celtics 21-9 over the final five minutes of the quarter and by 19 the rest of the way. Before Mo's jam, Cleveland had been shooting 21-for-28 (43 percent). After that, they went 17-for-30 (57 percent). Meanwhile, Boston had been shooting 27-for-52 (52 percent) but went only 9-for-29 (31 percent) after Williams posterized the Half-Truth.
The Boston Celtics: So where was I? Oh, yeah. The Celtics might have let their best chance at stealing home court advantage from the Craboliers slip away. This is due mostly to their patented second half offensive collapse...which this time meant barely outscoring King Crab 15-13 in the fourth quarter.
Why can't the Celtics close out games? Perhaps AnacondaHL knows the answer:
Query: Do the Celtics keep coming out of halftime leads to blow it in the 3rd/4th because Doc Rivers has to give an obligatory locker room motivational speech, and it just makes them all dumber, and/or hate life?
An anonymous commenter provided the following (possibly more accurate) counterpoint:
More like 3 of their 4 best players are only good for about 20 minutes a game before running out of gas. Though I like your answer better (side note: does anyone else get angry that Doc Rivers and Mike Brown have more Coach of the Year awards than Jerry Sloan?)
To answer that last question: Yes. Yes, it does.
Back to the C's: Giving up 23 points off 16 turnovers didn't help. Nor did their offensive ineptitude down the stretch. Here's what their final minute and a half looked like: Pierce missed a short jumper; offensive rebound by Kendrick Perkins; Pierce missed a wide open three; Perkins turnover; Michael Finley missed a triple. That sequence started with Boston down only 96-93. Ah well.
Boston's bench: 9 measly points? Gak. 'Sheed finished with only 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting, plus he had more fouls (3) than rebounds (2). Worst offseason pickup ever? Maybe not, but he's up there.
The Utah Jazz: As a long-time Jazz fan, I'm not sure how much I have to say about this one. It was like watching a rerun of a television show you hate. Utah fell behind early, the Lakers' bench let them back in, and then Mamba went all Mola Ram on the Jazz:
Because I haven’t for a while.
Said Deron Williams: "It is kind of repetitive. We had a chance to win this game, but we couldn't make the plays down the stretch. Kobe made some unbelievable shots, and that was pretty much it."
Could this loss have been karma for clinching their first round victory over the Nuggets despite missing 17 free throws? No. The Lakers are just too big. Speaking of which...
Jerry Sloan, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From Shiv, via TrueHoop: "He's so big and long and that's where he hurt us."
Ron Artest, poster boy: I thought Paul Pierce's posterization looked pretty hapless...until I saw this.
Belated WotNs: Basketbawful reader Amin couldn't believe I didn't include this in Friday's Suns-Blazers writeup. I can't either.
This was stephanie g.'s favorite picture from the final Spurs-Mavs game. And not it's mine.
Weekend lacktion report: Now chris brings you a weekend worth of lacktivity:
Hawks-Bucks: You knew as soon as "Hawks" came up on your screen, that the ultimate 8-bit plumber would be here lacking it up, right? THE Mario West helped celebrate the Game 7 that Atlanta forced by fouling once in 1 minute for a +1 suck differential.
For Milwaukee, Dan Gadzuric negated a board in 5:45 with two bricks, one foul, and one giveaway for a 2:1 Voskuhl.
Nuggets-Jazz: As Utah celebrates yet another playoff series victory, Kyrylo Fesenko found himself in the ledger despite one board in 10:24, bricking thricely, losing the rock four times, and fouling three times for a 7:1 Voskuhl!
Sundiata Gaines (at 29 seconds) and Othyus Jeffers (at a mere 19 seconds) really relish their Famicom, as evidenced by a second straight appearance as MARIO BROTHERS!!!
Celtics-Crabs: Marquis Daniels potted a 1.95 trillion (1:57) while Zydrunas Ilgauskas scratched a piece of masonry once and clawed at the C's for a pair of fouls in 5:09 for a +3 suck differential and a 2:0 Voskuhl!
Bucks-Hawks: Maurice Evans celebrated Atlanta's second consecutive second-round appearance by bricking once from Underground Atlanta for a +1 in 6:20.
Jazz-Lakers: Josh Powell piled on the portobellos in just nine seconds for a SUPER MARIO!!!