You ready to back off your bold prediction yet, MJ?The Charlotte Bobcats:
Let's open this baby up with a quote
from Bobcats majority owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan:
And while the Bobcats' cap issues gave them no chance at the LeBron James-led free-agent class this summer, he insists the Bobcats, led by Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, are better than last season's 44-38 team that was swept by Orlando in the first round.
"I think we're going to be a better off team than we were last year," Jordan said. "We're together, we're coming off some success from last year. Granted, Raymond's not here. But when you think about, Tyson came off the bench.
"At the minimum, we should make the playoffs."
I bet MJ would like to take a mulligan on that one right about now.
Good news for the Bobcats: They didn't wait until they were down 15-20 points before starting to play last night! The bad news: It didn't matter. They lost anyway...falling to 1-6 on the season.
The 'Cats shot like they were playing with KFC buckets on their heads
-- 39 percent as a team -- with a very special (in the short bus way) thanks to Stephen Jackson (4-for-13), D.J. Augustin (3-for-15, 1-for-7 on threes) and Gerald Wallace (2-for-11).
Still, the real stake in Charlotte's shriveling heart was the failure to put any hands in the general viscinity of rookie Gary Neal's face. Neal went gonzo from beyond the arc, drilling 5 treys.
That said, the Bobcats had their chances. They were down 93-91 with 26.8 seconds left but chose defense over the intentional foul. Unfortunately, they let Manu Ginobili swoop in for a game-breaking layup with 4.9 seconds to go.
Said Bat-Manu: "The goal was to eat all the clock possible, but at the same time you don't want to take a really bad shot. It was a miscommunication between Boris [Diaw] and [Tyrus] Thomas and one left. I had a pretty good look."
As someone who has followed the careers of both Diaw and Thomas, all I can do is nod emphatically at the "miscommunication" part.
Anyway, said Charlotte coach Larry Brown: "D.J., Jack and Gerald going 9 of 39, I don't care who you're playing and you're going to have a tough time. To be in the game with us shooting it that way and turning it over again, like we do, it's a miracle we had a chance."
Chalk one up in the "Near Miracle Victory" column, Larry.Stephen Jackson, turnover machine:
S-Jax had 6 of Charlotte's 14 turnovers. But "shame" -- like most other words -- is not in his vocabulary: "Some nights I may have six turnovers, some nights I may have none." Wow. He's like a fortune cookie. Scatch that. A misfortune cookie.The Atlanta Hawks:
I hope the Dirty Birds enjoyed that 6-0 start and all those "Don't forget about the Hawks!" stories that were so popular for a week or so. You'd think people would have wised up to Atlanta's act by now. They usually pound lousy teams during soft stretches, maybe win a close game or two against a legit opponents. But in the final analysis, they are -- at best -- a second tier team.
To wit: After opening the season with six straight wins over "meh" teams, they've now lost two in a row against decent ones. Go figure.
I'll give the Hawks this much, though. They made the Magic work for it. Atlanta held Orlando to 43 percent shooting -- including 4-for-22 on threes -- and won the rebounding battle 48-43. But the Magic go a big night out of Pumaman (27 points, 11 rebounds) and...Vince Carter? Yes, Vince Carter, who finished with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting and scored 5 crucial points in the final 1:12.
That's right: The Hawks were out-clutched by Vince Carter.
And you know how Vag, er, Vince did it? Two layups, the second of which was an "And 1!" after which he actually roared and flexed to the crowd, Hulk Hogan style.
Said Carter: "It never gets old. Believe me."
Yeah. Unless you're the Hawks.Hawks coach Larry Drew, quote machine:
"As I told our guys, 'Let's not look at this loss as a moral victory.' We've always felt in our hearts all along that we were capable of playing against any team."
Playing against any team? Yes. Winning against any team? Eh, not so much.
Bonus stat: The Hawks gave up 22 points off 17 turnovers...and lost by 4. Just sayin'.The Toronto Raptors:
How does a team like the Golden State Warriors win on the road despite giving up 22 fast break points and
a whopping 32 points off 21 turnovers?
By playing the Craptors, of course. Now 1-6!
Stephen Curry, playing on a semi-bum ankle, scored a season-high 34 points on 12-for-21 shooting (including 2-for-4 on threes and 8-for-8 at the line). Moped Ellis added 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting before a bad fall waylaid him in the fourth quarter. The Warriors -- now 5-2! -- also got a double-double out of David Lee (14 points, 12 rebounds) in addition to shooting 52 percnt as a team and winning the rebounding battle 42-32.
Credit the Dinos for coming back from 20 points down to make a game of this one. But that's like sticking your genitals in a grizzly's mouth and then hoping to yank them out before they become bear kibble.
Said Linas Kleiza: "We just make the game hard on ourselves."
Actually, you can probably blame the front office for that, Linas. I'm pretty sure they're the ones responsible for sending you to war with a starting lineup of you, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani, Jarrett Jack and DeMar DeRozan. Admittedly, that group would make a terrific second unit on a real basketball team."Do you guys need a new mascot?Please tell me you need a mascot."The Boston Celtics:
Back-to-back road games in Oklahoma City and Dallas would be a tall order for any team. Still, the Celtics handed the Thunder a choice cut of ass on Monday night and looked ready to dispatch the Mavs last night after Paul Pierce knocked down a 17-footer to give Boston an 87-82 lead with 1:58 left.
BUT...the C's went scoreless over the final two-ish minutes while the Mavs netted seven points off a layup by Dirk Nowitzki, a triple by Jason Terry and what turned out to be the game-winning 16-footer by Nowitzki with 17.4 ticks on the clock.
Know who Dirk was shooting over? Big Baby. Who's, what, half a foot shorter?
Said Nowitzki: "I knew Kidd was going to find me and then Davis was there. I was able to face him up and knock the shot down."
Oh, but it gets better. Boston's final possession consisted of a three-pointer by Rajon Rondo with 3.8 seconds left and then (after a Terry foul) a desperation triple attempt by Kevin Garnett as time expired.
Really, Celtics? Threes by Rondo and Garnett? Those're the best shots you could get?
Doc Rivers -- who called that sequence "a terrible play" -- said: "I hope I can draw up a better play than that."
Ya think?Jermaine O'Neal:
We call him "The Drain" for a reason. O'Neal played only 11 minutes -- including zero in the second half -- because of a sore left knee that left him with "no explosion." Oh, and Jermaine benched himself for the final two quarters, figuring the Celtics would be better off with him on the bench.
Which might be the case. But if you're wondering by Big Baby was defending Dirk on the game-winner, this is why. Boy, it sure is a good thing the Celtics went out and got two injury-prone O'Neals last summer. Eight games into the season and they're both out already.Dirk Nowitzki's new haircut:
Well, Dirk cut his flowing locks. Now he's gone from looking like a WNBA player to looking like...Sloth
from The Goonies
?! That's what Dan Marino -- not the football player, but a Basketbawful fan from Belgium -- thinks."Sloth love Chunk!"The Phoenix Suns:
Their two oldest players -- Steve Nash (16 points, 6-for-11, 11 assists) and Grant Hill (19 points, 12 rebounds -- were their best players. Robin Lopez went 1-for-4 and pulled down only 2 rebounds in 14 minutes. Hedo Turkoglu is starting. Channing Frye -- who got a $30 million contract from the Suns this summer -- went 1-for-7 off the bench.
Anybody else see any problems here?
And how about this: Zach Randolph returned from the dead to scored 23 points and gobble up 20 rebounds...including an absurd 8 offensive boards.
Oh, and then there were the turnovers: 23 of 'em, for 31 points going the other way. Hill and Nash combined for 9 TOs.
It's amazing the Suns didn't lose by 20.
Said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry: "That's  chances we don't get to shoot the basketball. If we are managing our turnovers, and we've got 10 or 12 turnovers, that's 10 more possessions that we can shoot it at the basket. Make five of them, and it's a different story. We've just got to do a better job in that department."The Denver Nuggets:
The Nuggets wasted some good defense (holdin the Bulls to 41 percent shooting) and a season-best 32-point from Carmelo Anthony by giving the Bulls 24 bonus points off 18 turnovers. They also kept shooting directly into their defenders hands, as Chicago had 12 blocked shots, including 9 combined from Taj Gibson (5) and Joakim Noah (4).
Also, anybody else notice the Nuggets are starting
Shelden Williams? Eek.
As an aside, Gibson's sweet game -- 16 points (7-for-12), 6 boards, 5 blocks, 3 assists and a steal -- reminded me of some of the crap I got after dubbing him a potential All-Star in my Central Division preview
. In fact, here's what AnacondaHL
had to say:
Haha, I just noticed something from this post (emphasis mine):
"a couple of possible future All-Stars (Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson),"
Wait, what? Since when is someone projected to be the next Dan Gadzuric a possible future All-Star?
Well, check it, peeps: Six games into his second season, Taj is averaging 15.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.7 APG and 1.7 BPG while shooting a redonkulous 63 percent from the field. That puts him at 4th in the league in FGP. His Offensive Rating is 115 and his Player Efficiency Rating is 19.1, which, according to John Hollinger's reference guide
, is pretty close to borderline All-Star territory.
As always, I'm just sayin'.
(Of course, when Boozer returns from his broken hand, Gibson will head back to the bench, his numbers will fall, and blah blah blah.)You know what? Don't ask. Just...don't ask.Erik Spoelstra, quote machine:
This is a belated entry submitted by Basketbawful reader clair. Regarding their game against the Nyets, Spoelstra said
: "[Saturday] was about a nameless, faceless opponent. We needed to really come back and establish our toughness, our disposition defensively and the guys really took that to heart and I was glad that they were having fun out there."
As clair put it: "Nameless AND faceless. Ouch!"Chris's brief lacktion report:
Alonzo Gee grabbed a Legend of Zelda cartridge in just 3 seconds for a Super Mario
! For Charlotte, Sherron Collins heaved a brick from Tryon Street in 3:33 for a +1 suck differential
Labels: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Worst of the Night