The Toronto Raptors: Let's get this post started the right way:
In all fairness to the Craptosaurs, their 96-85 loss to the Grizzlies is somewhat mitigated by injuries, as summed up by the AP recap:
[Joey] Dorsey was in the starting lineup because the Raptors were without their leading scorer (Andrea Bargnani, 21.2 points), their leading rebounder (Reggie Evans, 12.1) and starter Sonny Weems. Add Peja Stojakovic to the wounded, and Toronto pieced together a squad with no player taller than 6-foot-10 forward Ed Davis, except for seldom-used, 7-1 rookie Solomon Alabi. ... Evidence of how bad the Raptors' injury situation has been: Only [DeMar] DeRozan and Amir Johnson have played in all 13 games in December.
Despite throwing a M.A.S.H. unit at the Care Bears, Toronto still managed to shoot 50 percent from the field, score 52 points in the paint and win the rebounding battle by a slim margin. Unfortunately, as Doug Collins might say, they forgot to value the basketball and committed a season-high 25 turnovers.
Memphis scored 28 points off those turnovers.
Said Linus Kleiza: "The offense is just out of sync when you are missing your main guy and everything went through him before. You're trying to figure out how to play without him, and maybe that's why we had so many turnovers."
Bonus bawful: The Mighty Dinos hit only 35 percent of their free throws (5-for-14). Dorsey, who got abused by "Vintage" Zach Randolph in the second half, went 0-for-5 from the line.
New Jersey and the Nyets: A big sad face goes out to the Orlando Magic, who showed up about an hour and a half before their game against the Nyets in New Jersey because one of its buses got stuck in a snow drift a couple of blocks from the team hotel in Hoboken.
Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "It was crazy. I didn't have to go through things like that when I was a small college coach. The roads in Hoboken were atrocious. We went past a lot of abandoned cars on our way here. The bus got stuck and our guys had to walk back to the hotel. It was a little crazy, to say the least. At least we got the game in. That was the key."
Added J.J. Redick: "We have survived two canceled games, a stomach flu bug and a stuck bus. It's been a weird year."
As for the Nyets, they won the first quarter (25-24) and then slowly succumbed over the final three, finishing with only 88 points on 39 percent shooting. Their 16-point home loss was their eighth in the last 11 games. But hey, they had a two-game winning streak last week and they're only three victories away from matching last year's win total. Oh, and last year, they were ranked 30th in Offensive Rating. This year they're 26th. That's a little thing we like to call progress, my friends.
One last thing: I love how New Jersey's backup backcourt of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar is the same backup backcourt that was supposed to be the Walton's foot of the Lakers last season.
The Milwaukee Bucks: Here's the setup: The Atlanta Hawks had lost their last five road games. The Fearsome Dear were just one game over .500 at home.
And, when last we left them, the Bucks were blowing out the Lakers in L.A.
So of course they fell behind by 11 points after one quarter, by 15 at halftime and trailed by as many as 18 before a failed rally that left them staring blankly at a 95-80 home loss and a 7-7 record in Milwaukee this season. Last year, the Bucks were 28-13 at home.
The problem was...defense?
Said Andrew Bogut: "That's it right there. I'll even give you a quote on that: When we let teams shoot a high percentage, we lose."
The Hawks shot 50.7 percent. Milwaukee is 0-6 this year when allowing opponents to shoot 50 percent or better. So there you have it. Right?
Maybe. But then again, scoring 80 points on 37 percent shooting while going 4-for-15 from downtown (26 percent) and getting outrebounded 47-33 doesn't help either. The Bucks rank 30th in Offensive Rating and don't even have Brandon Jennings or Drew Gooden available.
Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We were searching most of the night, trying to find anything that would work with any consistency. We weren't able to find it."
Don't you mean "most of the season," Scott?
The New Orleans Hornets: The New Orleans Saints pulled off a huge win over the Atlanta Falcons last night. Apparently, the Gods of Karma decided to take it out on the Hornets, who got thumped by...the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Michael Beasley nearly had a triple-double (30 points, 9 rebounds, career-high 7 assists) and Minny shot 53 percent from the field (and nearly 50 from downtown). The Timberwolves led by as many as 19 points and on 113-98.
Remember: The Hornet started the season 11-1. The Timberwolves began the night 7-24. New Orleans dropped to 7-12 since their hot start. They've lost their last seven road games...the last last three to sub-.500 teams (Pistons, Pacers, Timberwolves).
Fool's gold, baby.
Said Chris Paul: "I think this one we're going to be mad at for a long time. Of course, you've got to get over it, but at the same time, we should have beat this team. Bad, bad, bad loss for us. I don't know, they just beat us."
Added David West: "I don't think we're going from start to finish. We have spurts and stretches where we're solid defensively. In terms of completion, we aren't going from start to finish."
Anyway, the Bobcraps came into the game having lost six of seven, with three of the losses by 30 points or more. There's no better prescription to that particular sickness than a home game versus a patsy like the Pistons, who were coming off a tough overtime loss to the Bulls the night before.
But before we get too excited here, it should be noted that Charlotte went on a 24-2 run in the second quarter and led by as many as 23 points and barely eked out a five-point win after sweating out a potentially game-tying three-point attempt by Ben Gordon. I'm just sayin'...Bobcrap fans shouldn't spend their Christmas money on tickets to the Finals just yet.
Paul Silas, coach of the year candidate: "Any time you lose games by 30 points, something is wrong."
Paul Silas, quote machine: Regarding not having his call returned by recently fired Bobcraps coach Larry Brown: "It's hard. I've been there, getting fired. Do you want that team to do well? Quite honestly, no. I can understand, but I hope to talk to him soon."
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Let me get this straight. The Thunder were at home. The Mavericks were minus coach Rick Carlisle (knee surgery) and lost Dirk Nowitzki (knee injury) in the second quarter. And yet Oklahoma City scored only 12 points in the fourth quarter and lost by 10.
Seriously, how does a team with Kevin Durant score only 12 points in money time?
Said thunder coach Scott Brooks: "We just picked a bad time to miss shots."
The Washington Wizards Generals: Somehow, despite Yao Ming's neverending injury cycle, the Houston Rockets have managed to win five straight games and surge all the way back to .500. In fact, a closer look at the schedule shows that Houston has won eight of the last 10...
...with wins against the Pistons (10-21), Cavaliers (8-22), Kings (5-23), Grizzlies (14-17), Kings (again), Warriors (12-18), Clippers (10-22) and Wizards (7-22).
I'm not trying to be a wet blanket. I'm just sayin'.
Still, Kevin Martin feels pretty good about it all. And he thinks this is just the beginning. Seriously. Said K-Mart: "From where we started, we should feel good about our road back to .500. It's not actually being at .500, because for the season, we have better goals than that. Our road back to .500, the way everybody is playing, that's what we should feel relieved about."
On the flip side, we have the Generals, losers of 10 of their last 11 games and a perfectly imperfect 0-15 on the road. With or without John Wall, I guess they are who we thought they were.
The Utah Jazz: Man, every time you feel like it's safe to start shoveling dirt on the Frail Blazers' grave, they dramatically thrust up one zombified hand and try to crawl out of their hole. To win: Last night's 96-91 win over the Jazz in Utah.
Portland is the city that won't die.
Deron Williams, quote machine: "They took us out of our stuff."
Jerry Sloan, quote machine: "They took the life out of us and busted us in the mouth. We fell out like flies."
The Philadelphia 76ers: Their 110-95 loss in Golden State came down to one factor: Hands in faces. As in they were not. The proof: The Warriors went 15-for-23 from beyond the arc. I'll save you some simple math and point out that's a 65 percent rate of accuracy.
Said Sixers coach Doug Collins: "Tonight was one of those games where we were a step slow. When you're a step slow against a team like this, then you're chasing. When you're chasing, that's when they are getting those 3s."
The Sacramento Kings: Hell is a one-point home loss to the Clippers and a league-worst 5-23 record. Of course, there was some drama...
Ryan Gomes: With his team leading by three points, Gomes fouled Tyreke Evans on a three-point attempt with 1.9 seconds left. Whoops. Fortunately for Ryan...
Tyreke Evans: ...the Freak hit the first two and missed the third. DeMarcus Cousins missed a tip and the loose ball went to Evans, who bricked an open nine-footer with 0.3 seconds left.
Said Evans: "I thought I wasn't going to get it off, so I kind of rushed it. I probably should have took my time. I was just trying to get the ball up and try to make it go in."
Said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: "You don't want to give them three [free throw] shots there; we didn't execute the way we wanted to. We were fortunate at the end, but we'll take it. We're finding ways to win. You've got to learn how to win games like that in this league."
It sure helps when you're playing the Kings, though, Vinny.
LeBron James, quote machine: Okay. Turns out he's against contraction. Now that, you know, he knows what the word means: "That's crazy, because I had no idea what the word 'contraction' meant before I saw it on the Internet."
Chris's Lacktion Report:
Magic-Nyets: Earl Clark crunched on two nougat-covered bricks in 3:16 for a +2 suck differential; in that same timespan, fellow alchemists Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon went +1 (via foul and turnover respectively).
Craptors-Grizzlies: Julian Wright scrawled all over his copy of Mario Paint in 49 seconds, while Ronald Dupree stole away 1.25 trillion (1:16) worth of rollerskate parts!
For the victorious baby cubs, Hamed Haddadi had one rebound, but also only played 44 seconds for a non-lacktive Mario.
Hornets-Wolves: DJ Mbenga buzzed into the turnover column once in 2:45 for a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Minnesota's Kosta Koufos threw a brick at a Koopa shell in 56 seconds for a +1 and a Mario!
Mavs-Thunder: Dallas's Brendan Haywood wasn't a hero with three boards in 18:19 being countered by four fouls for a 4:3 Voskuhl.
Generals-Rockets: Now stuck in the land of professional opponents, Al Thornton added two fouls to a brick in 7:40 for a +3, accompanied by Trevor Booker's 2.1 trillion (2:06) earmarked to solve the national debt.
Scrappy Brad Miller scraped one foul and two bricks (one from the National Mall) in 5:37 for a +3 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Frail Blazers-Jazz: Armon Johnson hammered out 11 seconds of ball for a Mario, while Utah's Ronnie Price was right after guessing he'd score a 5.2 trillion (5:14).
Clippers-The Purple Paupers Who Cannot Even Beat The Clippers: Starting forward Ryan Gomes gave the Clips a +6 in 17:14 after four bricks (two from the Senator Hotel) and two fouls in 17:14.
Sixers-Warriors: Reggie Williams recorded himself a spot in the lacktion ledger after 11:44 - bricking twice (once from Lake Merritt) and fouling once for a +3.