shave it manu
"Just go ahead shave your damn head already, Manu.
Then you can look all fresh and smoove. Like me."

Editor's note: This year's Christmas list begins today. Get psyched.

The Denver Nuggets: It was like the _enver Nuggets of old last night in Madision Square Garden. The Nuggets managed to lose despite earning 40 free throw attempts, shoot nearly 51 percent from the field and scoring 125 points. That takes an earnest lack of effort on the defensive end.

Sure enough, the Knicks scored 129 points on 52+ percent shooting as Denver blocked only four shots and forced only six turnovers.

As for New York...Amar''''e Stoudemire set a franchise record with his eighth straight 30-point game. What's more, the Knicks have now won 13 of their last 14 games, including the last eight in a row. That's the first time they've had eight straight victories since December 27, 1994 through January 13, 1995. And their 16-9 start is their best since opening the season at 18-7 in 1996-97.

Om nom nom! That's me...eating my words about the Knicks and STAT.

Of course, here's the obligatory moment when I point you to John Hollinger's Power Rankings and note that the Knicks have had, by far, the easiest strength of schedule in the league. The team with the second-easiest schedule? The Lakers. Funny that. Third-easiest? The Kings. Sorry, Chris. For what it's worth, the Heat have had the 23rd easiest SOS.

Chauncey Billups: He played 28 minutes and finished with 4 points on 1-for-7 shooting. By contrast, his backup, Ty Lawson, logged 20 minutes and finished with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Billups was -5 and Lawson was +8.

Just sayin'.

Dude's having a rough season. His PER is nearing a career low, his Turnover Percentge is at a career high (18.1 percent versus a career average of 13.5) and his Offensive Rating (108) is lower than his Defensive Rating (111). At this point of the season, Chauncey is making Derek Fisher's corpse smell springtime fresh.

Officiating: So, uhm, Stoudemire already had one technical when he shoved Nene after fouling him. Probably should've been technical number two, but the refs swallowed their whistles. Imagine that.

Said 'Melo: "I guess you can call that physical play."

That. Or home cookin'.

The New Orleans Hornets: Back on November 21, after an exceedingly ugly 75-71 win over the Excremento Kings, Hornets coach Monty Williams played the role of NBA prophet to perfection when he said this about his team's 11-1 record: "At this point in the season I don't even look at the standings. I had no idea we would have this kind of record. Looking at our record, it might be fool's gold."

Since then, New Orleans has gone 3-8. They've lost to good teams (Jazz, Spurs, Thunder, Knicks) and they've lost to bad teams (Clippers and Sixers).

Their latest loss -- in Philadelphia -- was the kind that makes eyes bleed. The Hornets scored 23 the first half. That was their season low for points in a half. Their 10 points in the second quarter was also a season low.

New Orleans shot 30 percent and finished with four assists. That wasn't a typo. A team with Chris Paul -- sometimes referred to as the league's best point guard -- had four assists in 48 minutes.

The Hornets are like a 50-year-old bachelor at a World of Warcraft convention: It would take a miracle of modern science for them to score. They haven't reached the 100-point plateau since scoring 108 at home against the Cavaliers on November 21. That was 13 games ago. In 23 games this season, they've scored 100 or more points only five times.

New Orleans is ranked 24 in Offensive Rating. Here's a list of the team's they're actually ahead of in that category: Clippers, Nyets, Bobcraps, Kings, Cavs and Bucks.

And check out some of these shooting stats from last night's loss to Philly: David West (2-for-10), Trevor Ariza (2-for-11), Emeka Okafor (0-for-5), Marco Belinelli (3-for-9). And those were the starters! The bench didn't fare much better: Willie Green (0-for-7), Jarrett Jack (3-for-8), Marcus Thornton (3-for-8), D.J. Mbenga (1-for-5), etc.

Said Chris Paul: "I don't even catch myself looking at the score. When you're out there playing, it's about the next possession. How can we get a stop and how can we score. We weren't making shots. We kept settling for outside jump shots instead of attacking the basket. It's been like that for a while."

Countered coach Williams: "Give them credit. They switched, they're active and athletic. But we missed a lot of point-blank shots, and we missed a lot of free throws."

At least Paul and Williams are on the same page...

The Los Angeles Lakers: Rough time to be the defending champs. As I mentioned above, the Lakers have had the second-easiest schedule so far and have an "okay" 17-7 record to show for it. Of course, they started the season 8-0, which means they're only 9-7 in their last 16 games. They're a lowly 4-5 in their last nine games.

And their offense? It's slowed way the hell down. After scoring 100+ points in 13 of their first 14 games -- which included 10 games in which they scored 110+ points -- they've only crossed the 100-point threshold twice in their last 10 games. They've been doing this despite facing a series of sub-.500 sadsacks like he Grizzlies (96 points scored), Rockets (99 points), Clippers (87 points) and Nyets (99). They also managed only 92 and 88 points in losses to the Pacers and Bulls.

Said Lamar Odom: "We can't be great every single night. But it's just the way we've been going for us for the last 10 to 15 games. We get a lead, give it away and have to fight back. We're not playing to our potential. Not taking anything away from the Nets, but we're just not playing well right now. It's a little disappointing."

Added Kobe: "We have to muster up the energy and muster up the motivation to play every night. I'm [annoyed] about it. We're not doing a good job of doing it.

So what's wrong with L.A.? Well, Pau Gasol has logged 40+ minutes 13 times this season -- including 45 and 42 minutes this weekend -- aftering playing 40 or more minutes 20 times all last season. He's wearing down late in games and, despite what Mamba fans want to believe, Gasol is the key to the Lakers' offense. That's why he leads the team in Offensive Rating (124 to 112 for Kobe) and Offensive Win Shares (3.1 to 2.3). And it's why Phil Jackson never wants to take Pau out of the game.

Then too, Ron Artest's shooting has gone completely in the crapper (38 percent from the field and 32 from downtown) and his 1.1 free throw attempts per game are a pretty good indicator that he's chucking his junk up from the outside.

Finally, the so-called "Killer Bs" have cooled way off lately. Take last night, for example, when they contributed 18 points on 6-for-18 from the field and 2-for-6 from downtown. Against the Bulls on Friday night, the bench finished with 13 points...and most of that was Matt Barnes (10 points, 5-for-7).

Without a fresh Gasol, with Artest misfiring all over the place, without consistent bench production, the Lakers are strugglin'. Even with the easy schedule. Presumably, some of this will be fixed when Andrew Bynum returns. Until he gets hurt again, of course.

The Cleveland Cavaliers: You know, the Cavs didn't fall on their face to start the season the way a lot of people thought they would. They were 4-3 after seven games and still a not-all-that-bad 7-9 a couple games before LeBron made his dramatic return to Cleveland.

Since then, Cleveland had dropped eight straight games -- including last night's blowout loss to the Thunder -- and check out these scores:

For those of you who enjoy simple math, the Cavaliers have been outscored 876-716 in the last eight games they've "played." That gives them an average margin of defeat of 20 points per loss.

So, uh, no Ewing Theory for these guys, I guess.

Next up for the Cavs? A Wednesday night game in Miami against the of eight straight. Uh oh.

Said Clevland coach Byron Scott: "I'm not even thinking about Miami. Right now, my biggest concern is those guys in that locker room. I'm not thinking about Miami or the next game. It's just about getting those guys to start understanding a little bit more of what we have to do as a team."

Added Mo Williams: "It doesn't matter. You've got to come to work every day. It's going to be the next challenge, and it happens to be Miami. We've got to go to Miami and play really well to get a win there."

Concluded Anderson Varejao: "It's another game. We're all looking for a win and we're going to go there and play hard, and hopefully we win."

Bonus stats: Against the Thunder, the Cavs shot 34 percent, surrendered 53 percent shooting, got outscored 56-28 in the paint, gave up 29 fast break points, committed 17 turnovers for 29 points going the other way, and missed 12 free throws.

The Portland Frail Blazers: Brandon Roy was held to 9 points for the second time in the last three games and the Blazers finished with a season-low 78 points on 38 percent shooting en route to a 95-78 road loss to the Spurs.

San Antonio's bench outscored Portland's reserves 42-18. Hell, the Spurs' pine riders almost had a standoff against the Blazers' starters (60 points).

Meanwhile, Tim Duncan logged 28 minutes in his 1,000th career game, finishing with 13 rebounds, 8 points, 4 assists, 2 blocked shots and a game-high plus-minus score of +18 despite making only a token appearance in the fourth quarter. It was the first time in four games Timmy logged any fourth quarter PT. Speaking of which...

Tim Duncan, quote machine: Regarding his recent lack of fourth quarter minutes: "I think [coach Gregg Popovich's] philosophy this year is to try not to play me in the fourth quarter at all, whether we're winning or losing. I think he thinks our team is better without me out there. I've been trying to disprove him at some point. As the minutes continue to drop and I'm not in the fourth quarter, I'm going to become unbearable on the bench and pretty much annoy him to the point where he has to put me in. That's my goal."

The Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (27 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists) had his 18th double-double of the year and added yet another highlight to his ever-growing reel...

...unfortunately he still playes for the Clippers. The Other L.A. Team fell behind by as many as 26 points before pulling to within six points in the fourth quarter. But, well, 85 points on 38 percent shooting -- including 4-for-23 from downtown and eight missed free throws -- really isn't enough to get it done. Even against a slumping Magic team.

Said Eric Gordon: "We took good shots and just didn't make them."

Added Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: "We had some good looks, we just couldn't knock anything down."

Replace "Eric Gordon" with "Derrick Rose" on the first quote, and those could be stock statements from VDN's two seasons as head coach of the Bulls.

Anyway, the Clips are now an NBA-worst 5-20. That includes 0-10 on the road. And you have to wonder: Could things get any worse?

This is the Clippers. Of course things can get worse...

Donald Sterling: Team owner. Team heckler. Seriously.

It's not uncommon to hear Los Angeles Clippers fans heckle Baron Davis(notes). Of late, however, the jeers directed at the team’s struggling point guard are coming from a far more surprising source: The man paying Davis, Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling has expressed his displeasure about Davis' play by taunting him from his courtside seat at Clippers' home games, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. Among Sterling’s verbal barbs:

- "Why are you in the game?"

– "Why did you take that shot?"

– "You're out of shape!"

While Sterling has also taunted other Clippers players since the middle of last season, none have received it worse than Davis, the sources said. Davis has missed 14 of the teams 25 games this season and is averaging 7.4 points while making a team-high $13 million. Including this season, Davis has three years and nearly $42 million left on his contract.

"There's nothing I can say," Davis said of Sterling's taunts. "I have no comment on that. You just get to this point where it's a fight every day. It's a fight. You're fighting unnecessary battles. I'm fighting unnecessary battles.

"It's frustrating because I know and my teammates know I'm capable of getting it done, even dudes on the other team. It's frustrating."

Sterling had little comment when asked about his behavior.

"When they make shots, it's great," Sterling said during halftime of the Clippers' loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday. "When they don't, we're all disappointed."

When asked for more explanation, Sterling shrugged and politely ended the questioning.
If you ever want to know exactly why the Clippers are the worst NBA franchise -- maybe even the worst sports franchise -- of all time, just remember that shit flows downhill. And there's no bigger shit in this league than Donald Sterling.

Chris's Lacktion Report:

Nuggets-Knicks: In the "Carmelo Anthony Audition Special at MSG," Shawne Williams wowed the Manhattan crowd by tossing a brick from Wall Street and fouling and losing the rock once each in 3:08 for a +3.

Fellow Knickerbocker Bill Walker can now afford a one-room apartment on Madison Avenue after garnering a 2.65 trillion (2:40).

Lakers-Nyets: Sasha Vujacic clearly has had his share of toadstools and princesses, at least if an 8-second Super Mario is any indication! Johan Petro provided one block in 4:46, still gathering a trio of fouls for a 3:0 Voskuhl.

Frail Blazers-Spurs: Tiago Splitter divided his masonry between the charity stripe and the field in 3:33, and also lost the rock once for a +3 that garnered a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl!

Cavs-Thunder: Cleveland's Ryan Hollins had a 75% shooting percentage from the charity stripe (in four tries), but for the rest of his 13:54 stint, fouled thricely and gave up the ball twice for a 5:3 Voskuhl.

Magic-Clippers: Jarron Collins can now afford to hire some servants to underpay - just like owner Donald Sterling - after a 3.85 trillion payday (3:52)!


Anonymous Stockton said...
aCORding to the mighty Hollinger, the Lakers have the easiest schedule so far (surprise, surprise... altough it might help that the remaining teams in their division are bellow .50, and at least three of them are above .80 in the "craptometer").

On a different note...

Bulls and Mavericks, anyone?

Anonymous Pistoletti said...
Check the first stanza about the Lakers. "a lowly 4-9 in their last". Doesn't match their overall record with 7 losses.

Blogger Dick Sullivan said...
Check your math on the Cavs average differential too. Still in a Birdmas coma?

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
At this point of the season, Chauncey is making Derek Fisher's corpse smell springtime fresh.

Classic Bawful comedy gold. I laughed heartily at this sentence. Well played, sir.

How about a WoTW shout for the Pissed Ons for surrending a 25 point lead to the Mighty Dinos, at home, for the Craptors biggest comeback in franchise history?

The Pissed-Ons "accomplished" this feat by effectively getting outscored 37-14 in the 4th quarter (Ben Wallace tossed in a meaningless 3 at the end to make it officially 37-17, but the game was over at that point).

The Jarrett Jack for Jerryd Bayless trade is looking great for the Craptors right now. Bayless is getting better every game, and the Hornets continue to slump.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Check the first stanza about the Lakers. "a lowly 4-9 in their last". Doesn't match their overall record with 7 losses.

Yeah. Meant 4-5 in their last nine games.

Check your math on the Cavs average differential too. Still in a Birdmas coma?


876 - 716 = 160 points

160 points / 8 games = 20

What am I missing, Dick?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What am I missing, Dick?

Sounds like a personal problem. HEYOO! I'll be here all week.

Blogger Unknown said...
Yikes. It's not as if Davis doesn't deserve the insults or that Sterling doesn't have a point, but it's just another example of how classless Sterling is. Mark Cuban is an asshole too but for all his faults, it's hard to deny his passion for his team and his willingness to spend money to try to improve it (his decisions and/or their effectiveness notwithstanding).

Sterling doesn't put anything into the team yet expects results? Of course that's the larger picture I guess, when he's expecting results out of a known lazy player. But as you said, shit flows downhill and he's just enabling a bad culture in the entire organization.

Blogger chris said...
Third-easiest? The Kings. Sorry, Chris.

Well, this is a team that seems to have trouble beating the Nyets so at this point, the expected routine:

1. Max out at 23 wins

2. Have best shot at top pick in lottery, and NOT get 1st overall. again.

3. Maloofs start calling the folks at Mayflower Vans?


BTW, the Heat-Kings game on Saturday did NOT sell out. Ouch.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
Classless stuff from Sterling. Then again, if I were paying someone $13 million and that person didn't even take his job seriously enough to, you know, stay in shape over the summer, I would probably be pissed off too.

Still, while I agree with the ends (Davis deserves shit for his effort considering his salary- period), I don't agree with the means. It is very unlikely that Sterling's heckling will get him the desired result. It will probably make Davis demand a trade. Oh wait... that probably IS the desired result... Well, it's a dick move by Donald nonetheless.

Anywho, remember a few years back when Jason Williams (white chocolate) was acquired by the Clippers and then he "retired" for a season and a half before signing with the Magic? Every year that seems more and more like a brilliant career move...

Similarly, how great do you think long-time Clipper Lamar Odom feels every time he suits up as a Laker against the Clippers? Probably a mixed feeling of relief and anxiety- I bet he has nightmares about being a Clipper again.

Blogger The Sports Hayes said...
Its amazing the talent drop-off in the NBA this year. There's about 6-8 good teams per conference and the rest suddenly dip into the "really suck" range.

Its become that teams aren't getting "easy schedules" as it is simply half the NBA just sucks.

LA Clippers
New Jersey
Golden State

15 teams in the NBA with .500 records not counting the Knicks miracle surge and Indiana/Portland hanging around the .500 mark. In essence there are 18 teams that the Lakers, Magic and Celtics can routinely pound on a given night. If Miami didn't already drop a load in November, 72-10 wouldn't have been as farfetched as it sounded.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Magic-Clippers: Jason Collins can now afford to hire some servants to underpay - just like owner Donald Sterling - after a 3.85 trillion payday (3:52)!


Blogger Dick Sullivan said...
You're not missing anything, Bawful. I was missing 100 points. Facepalm. Carry on.

Blogger Wormboy said...
@ The other Chris: "Ben Wallace tossed in a meaningless 3 at the end to make it officially 37-17, but the game was over at that point."

Isn't this an impossible statement? Sort of like "matter and antimatter co-existing?"

I assume you mean Ben Gordon. But isn't it just like Ben Wallace to screw us up with his name again? First it was being one of two Wallaces on the same team. Now it's being one of two Bens on the same team. Curse him and his once-stupendous-and-now-lame athleticism!

On another note: I was also just thinking Friday that I was probably going to have to eat crow about Amar''''e as a player. This was a referendum trade for him, and he has actually come out of it looking pretty good.

Anonymous Mike Mai said...
huge fail in minnie today, surprisingly not related to the wolves.

Anonymous Czernobog said...
I was really looking forward to a WotW about the Craptors-pissedons game. The shambling Dinos surrendered 99 points in the first three quarters. To the pistons. Ben Wallace had a career high scoring game. He's 36.

You'd think that was the height of Bawful, but the Pistons still managed to give that one away.

Bawful goddamn history, folks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
re Craptors/Pistons...
Charlie V. is indeed an idiot. Preening and flexing after every three, layup, or dunk...loafing on defence. Glad the Craps got rid of him.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...

Nope, I mean Ben Wallace. Check the box score: 1-1 from 3.

His whole line is ridiculous, in fact. 23 points on 10-13 shooting - yes, I'm still talking about Ben *Wallace*, not Gordon - 14 boards, 5 steals, 4 assists.. That should tell you the kind of _efence that the Mighty Dinos are playing.

Golden State North (minus the talent!)

Anonymous JJ said...
I'm impressed by Knicks. I know they're mostly beating the teams they're "supposed to beat," but let's face it, they didn't exactly have too many teams on that list. Of course, they don't play D, but at least they're still winning. I'm a little surprised by Amare's consistent production, but Felton has been ridiculous. I know people say D'antoni's system pads stats, but you still have to knock down the shots.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
The 16-9 Knickerbockers have an SRS of -0.35. The 8-15 76ers have an SRS of 0.24.

I cannot wait for the wheels to come flying off this Amar''''''e bandwagon, where I shall laugh heartily.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
THANK YOU KHayes666!

And also how is it not mentione that Ben freaking Wallace scored a career high 23 points? Why is no one showing him making a 3 pointer!

Anonymous JJ said...
AnacondaHL, it's not that I don't know Knicks aren't going to even out eventually, like Hornets are doing. But, I'm pretty sure they'll still make playoffs at this pace (granted, it's not much a feat in Leastern Conference). After years of Isiah and subsequent clean up, New York NEEDS this. =(

Anonymous Bryan said...
Somedays I wish Artest would just retire and start boxing or playing football already. Its come to the point that everyone just assumes his shot isnt going in whenever he shoots it. 38%??? If it wasn't for his occasional lockdown D he might be the worst starter in the league.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Lakers have problems but it's not all that bad. We can at least be reasonably sure that their problems will be solved at some point.

The reason Gasol plays 45 minutes a game is because the Lakers literally do not have a center on their roster right now. Gasol is a PF despite logging 100% of his minutes this year at the C. Odom masqueraded as a C in Turkey but truth be told he's closer to a 3 in this league than a traditional 4. Theo Ratliff is hurt (wow big shock!), Bynum is hurt (even bigger shock!!!) and Caracter is not an NBA player, but if he was he would be a 4 given that he's a generous 6'9". It's a problem. Any time Phil takes Gasol out of a game, the other team goes on a run because Caracter simply shouldn't be playing in the NBA. He's a guaranteed rally starter for the other team.

The good news for Laker fans is that the problem will be solved at some point, maybe very soon. Bynum will come back either tomorrow or some time on this road trip. Ratliff will come back eventually also, meaning Caracter can go back to the D-League where he belongs. And if all else fails, Kupchak can flip Sasha's corpse/expiring contract for a backup center.

Other than that gaping hole at the 5, the Lakers are essentially who we thought they were. Kobe's per 36 numbers are actually very good this year, way up from last year. His raw numbers don't look great because he only plays 33 minutes per game due to Phil protecting his knee, but he hasn't scored on this level in his career EVER with the exception of his insane 06 season. Odom is having a career year. Gasol was league MVP until he got tired of getting punched in the kidneys every night for no foul. Fisher is less of a dessicated corpse than he was last year. The bench is better even if they completely no show games every now and then. Artest sucks but at least this year the team has the option of giving his minutes to Barnes whereas last year, the team just had to suck it up and watch Ron-Ron play 40 ineffective minutes a game.

So yeah, the Lakers have hit a rough patch, but it'll get better, maybe as soon as tomorrow. If the Spurs break a sweat throughout the whole season, the Lakers probably won't get HCA throughout, but that hasn't stopped the team during the Phil/Kobe era before.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
BTW, according to Elias, yesterday's win over Utah marked the first time in 30 years that Dallas had been over .500 as a franchise since their opening day win.

JJ - The Hornet's crash is legitimately questionable though, they had a strong SRS with strong performances. I mean other than Jarret Jack joining the team, what could explain their fall? ...oh wait...

The Knicks crash is completely predictable by all accounts of return to the mean.

Blogger Wormboy said...

Nope, I mean Ben Wallace. Check the box score: 1-1 from 3.

His whole line is ridiculous, in fact. 23 points on 10-13 shooting - yes, I'm still talking about Ben *Wallace*, not Gordon - 14 boards, 5 steals, 4 assists.. That should tell you the kind of _efence that the Mighty Dinos are playing."

Holy shit! That's hilarious! I guess that's why one watches game like that: to see the wildly implausible happen now and then! :)

Re: the Knicks. Agreed with Anacondahl. Regression to the mean. Still, their challenge is to improve substantially over last season, and that is well within their grasp. Stoudemire thrives in a D'antoni system, as does a speedster like Felton. At least management is putting together the kind of team that will entertain and do moderately well under D'antoni. That might not be so great, but it is infinitely better than where NYC has been in recent years. So even when their inevitable fade comes, we've seen an improvement over last year. And still need a hat tip to Amar''''e unless he totally face plants.

Also agreed with anonymous about Gasol and the Lakers. They are contenders again as soon as they another decent big body. This is really an unreasonable burden on a guy like Gasol.

But isn't Odom having a great year with comparable minutes? I'm having trouble explaining that without invoking candy or a Kardashian.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Wormboy - Odom's still playing his normal postion, while Gasol is not. That could explain it.