The New Jersey Nyets: Apparently, all the Atlanta Hawks needed was for their 119 Million Dollar Man to have elbow surgery and miss a month. After stealing New Jersey's lunch money, the Dirty Birds are now 4-1 without Joe Johnson. Now imagine how good they'd be if they'd spent their cap space on Darko Milicic instead of Johnson. Talk about Manna from Heaven.
Behind Josh Smith's season-high 34 points on 14-for-16 shooting, Atlanta shot 60 percent from the field and scored a whopping 23 points off only 13 forced turnovers. But hey, let's talk moral victories. Because losing 116-101 to the Hawks is somehow better than losing 100-75 to the Celtics...or something.
Said Avery Johnson: "WE HAD MUCH BETTER FIGHT IN US. I KNOW STATISTICALLY, WITH THEM SHOOTING 60 PERCENT FROM THE FIELD AND THE AMOUNT OF POINTS WE GAVE UP, IT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD, BUT I THOUGHT OUR EFFORT WAS MUCH BETTER TONIGHT THAN IT WAS ON SUNDAY. OUR GUYS TRIED. UNFORTUNATELY, WE PLAYED A BETTER TEAM TONIGHT."
The Nyets have now lost five in a row and are 2-10 on the road.
Devin Harris, quote machine: "We just couldn't score and we couldn't stop them from scoring."
Those are two pretty important parts of the game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers: In Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy Krueger was blown up, had his arm ripped the hell off and shoved through his exploding chest, and then got his head lopped off with a machete. And even that doesn't quite compare to the savage beatings being put on the Cavaliers lately. Check out their last five games:
Lost 106-87 to the Boston Celtics Lost 118-90 to the Miami Heat Lost 129-95 to the Minnesota Timberpoops Lost 102-92 to the Detroit Pissed-ons Lost 117-97 to the Philadelphia 76ers
To sum up: Five double-digit losses -- three to sub-.500 powder puffs -- by a combined total of 111 points. Man, it's like LeBron tore out what was left of the Cavs' hearts, jammed them into a Magic Bullet and hit "liquify with extreme prejudice...while laughing".
Regarding the last three losses -- in Minny, Detroit and Philly -- Cleveland coach Byron Scott woke up from his nap long enough to say: "I'm very disappointed with this whole road trip. We're getting beat off the dribble like we're not even there. Pride has to come into it. Guys go right down the lane for easy layups and nobody seems upset by it. Everybody has to do a lot of soul-searching."
Sorry, Byron. LeBron swallowed their souls Evil Dead-style.
Doug Collins, coach of the year candidate: Regarding his instructions to Thaddeus Young: "I told him that 3-point line is like the electric fence that you put in your yard with a dog. You get across and it shocks you, so stay in front of it."
Thaddeus Young, quote machine: Young, who scored a season-high 26 points on 11-for-12 shooting, found himself wishing NBA games lasted longer than 48 minutes. For, you know, stat padding. "I definitely wanted it to keep going. If it kept going, I get to 40 [points]."
The Denver Nuggets: Here's some sad face action from the AP recap:
Everything pointed to a storybook night for George Karl. Sitting at 999 NBA wins, he was back in North Carolina where he played in college and coaching against buddy Larry Brown.
Karl even joked before the game of missing the postgame flight to Boston and drinking wine with Brown to celebrate becoming just the seventh coach to win 1,000 games.
Instead, Karl was slumped in a chair at the end of the night dressed in a Tar Heel sweatshirt debating a late-game decision and lamenting the end of the Denver Nuggets' seven-game winning streak.
That "late-game decision" the recap was talking about came down to this: Down two points with less than 10 seconds left after a Stephen Jackson airball, Karl didn't call timeout, instead watching Chauncey "Mr. Big Shot" Billups dribble down and miss a fadeaway at the buzzer. Bobcraps win...Bobcraps win.
Said Karl: "It was a tough number. We rebounded at 7 [seconds] or something like that. The initial bust out I thought was good. At the end, we didn't have enough guys flooding the rebound, flooding the lane and trying to make something happen. I'm sure I'll look on film and I'll probably think I'll want to call timeout."
It also would have helped if his team hadn't shot 42 percent for the game.
As for Billups, he doesn't regret taking the shot that lost the game: "I had [D.J.] Augustin on me, who I knew couldn't really affect my shot. I got a good look, just didn't knock it down."
Huh. Anybody keep track of how many game-losing shots this guy has?
Carmelo Anthony, quote machine: Now this is a guy who looks like he's being kept in Denver with one of those electric fences you put in your yard with a dog. They're called "motions" and this guy is going through them -- 22 points on 21 shots and a game-high 4 turnovers -- but he's still churning out quotes. Regarding his coach's chance to win 1,000 games (via Murcy): "You've got to win a lot of games to get to 1,000. And you've got to know a lot of basketball to get that chance to get to 1,000."
In related news, you need a lot of fingers to count to 1,000. If you're 'Melo.
Stephen Jackson, quote machine: "We have to start winning games now, so we don't have to use so much energy at the end of the season to be in the position we want to be in."
The Golden State Warriors: On the one hand, they kept pace with the Mavericks -- winners of 10 straight games -- and barely lost a winnable game. On the other hand, Ian Mahinmi, who had logged only 39 minutes before last night, played 21 minutes and finished with 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. What's more, Mahinmi had 10 free throw attempts...compared to 13 for the Warriors as a team. Meanwhile, Alexis Ajinca -- who began the day with three total minutes played -- put in nine minutes of PT and grabbed a career-high 6 rebounds. Did I mention both men are French?
Look, all I'm sayin' is that I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the words "season-high" or "career-high" used to describe player performances against the Warriors the last few seasons. In related news, Golden State has lost four in a row and nine of their last 10 games. Their current record is 8-13.
Brendan Haywood: The reason Mahinmi and Ajinca were even playing was because Tyson Chandler was sick with -- you guessed it! -- flu-like symptoms. Now, you would have thought Chandler's absence would have opened the door to a big night for Haywood. Only Haywood picked up two quick fouls and ended up playing fewer minutes than Mahinmi. But that's not all: Mahinmi's eight free throws matched how many Haywood has made all season.
Keith Smart, coach of the year candidate: "We're not getting the results as far as the wins we need, but we're playing hard. When we put it all together, we'll be a good team. Our hearts are in the right place. We practice hard and compete. We're right there with a lot of the top level teams. We'll turn the corner if we play with this kind of effort."
Alexis Ajinca, quote machine: "I guess French guys don't like Golden State."
The Detroit Pistons: Knee-Mac returned to Houston -- a.k.a. The Second Team Tracy McGrady Failed To Lead Out Of The First Round -- and had his best game of the season: 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with 5 fouls, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and a steal. And the Pissed-ons were even +4 during Knee-Mac's 23 minutes.
Yet Detroit finished -15 to the still Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming-less Rockets.
Said McGrady: "It really wasn't as strange as I thought it would be. I felt like I was going to come out here and, whatever [happened] I was going to have a good game. ... I'm never surprised [by getting booed]. You never know what to expect. Some cheers, some boos. I've seen it, heard it."
Especially the boos.
Bonus stat: Detroit's 83 points (on 41 percent shooting with 18 turnovers) were a season-low for a Rockets opponent.
Richard Hamilton: Rip scored 6 points on 3-for-9 shooting and played only 15 minutes because he earned double techs and an automatic ejection in the first half. It's the second time this season Hamilton has bitched his way into an early exit.
Said Detroit coach John Kuester: "We can't afford to lose him anymore in a game because we need him. He's been in this league long enough, and he needs to -- like all of us -- be able to adjust to the whistle."
The Primal Rage of John Kuester. Fear it.
Kuester has a point. But here's another: With the way the Pistons have been playing this season -- they're eight games under .500 and only 2-10 outside their own miserable city -- you can't really blame him for wanting to leave early. On that subject...
Tracy McGrady, quote machine: "I'm accepting my role on this team and I really enjoy trying to make my team better."
Joe Dumars: Remember that rebuilding plan that centered around getting rid of Chauncey Billups and spending $90 million on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? I hate to keep bringing this up, but Gordon scored 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting in 37 minutes of lacktion and Villy didn't even play. So...yeah.
The Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash -- 24 points, 10-for-16, 15 assists -- finished with a plus-minus score of +5. Unfortunately, every other Suns player was in the red. Even more unfortunately, Phoenix wasted a nine-point fourth quarter lead by letting the Frail Blazers outscore them 37-24.
Said Nash: "We struggled to score at times, and that was it. They did a better job than us defensively."
In possibly related news, Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference says Nash is the second-most one-dimension player of all time. Behind Kiki Vandewhatever. Without bothering to sort through a bunch of meaningless numbers, I would argue that Nash's one dimension is so good it's equivalent to at least two or three dimensions. Movin' on...
As is often the case with the Suns, turnovers were as much their undoing as their defense. Phoenix gave up 19 points off 19 turnovers. And they managed only 2 fast break points.
Hedo Turkododo, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick: The Suns' three big offseason acquisitions combined for 35 minutes, 13 points (4-for-9), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and a plus-minus score of -10. And did I mention that Earl Barron is STARTING for the Suns? Yeah, I'm looking at you, Hedo and Hakim.
The Washington Wizards Generals: Check out this section of the AP recap:
The Lakers have abandoned all hope of stopping Nick Young from throwing himself a raging homecoming party whenever the Washington Wizards visit.
Yet Los Angeles still muddled through a victory that could have been a whole lot smoother without the hometown kid causing so much commotion.
At times during an otherwise dispassionate game, Young seemed to be the only player having any fun. The former USC guard hit a career-best six 3-pointers while scoring a season-high 30 points for the Wizards, who closed the third quarter on a 16-1 run to make the two-time defending champions uncomfortable.
"We know when Nick Young comes to town, we're going to give up 25 points," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said admiringly. "This kid is going to come back to L.A. and have a great game."
So the Lakers are basically conceding to the fact that Nick Young -- Nick Young! -- is going to light them up. Young's a shooting guard, right? Kobe Bryant's also a shooting guard, right? And Kobe makes the All-Defensive First Team year after year, right? Am...am I missing something?
Anyway, the Andray Blatch-less Generals actually did play the Lakers tough -- a jumper by Gilbert Arenas made it a four-point game with 57 seconds left -- but L.A.'s inside play was too much: Washington gave up 22 offensive rebounds and was outscored 58-30 in the paint. Regarding those offensive boards, Pau Gasol had as many of them (9) as the entire Generals team.
Random extra: Note the bonus bawful in this line from the AP recap: "Young carried Washington during the first half, scoring 19 points with three 3-pointers while rarely passing the ball."
I swear I'm not writing for the AP...
Lamar Odom, quote machine: "Sometimes we need to do a better job of keeping our intensity at a high. When we focus, we've been really good this year, but when we lose that focus, teams have been able to sneak up on us and give us trouble."
FS West announcher, unintentionally dirty quote machine: On Kobe / Pau / Lamar, via Basketbawful reader Sophie: "Those guys are looking to get each other off tonight."
"Tough Guys" Andrea Bargnani and Mike Dunleavy: Shayan e-mailed about this, er, heated exchange from Monday night's Raps-Pacers game: "Bargnani elbows Mike Dunleavy, then Dunleavy 'retaliates,' to which Bargnani says 'Wow, that's it? That's your best shot?'"
The New York Knicks: Some potential future bawful from Basketbawful reader Kaan:
Now that the Knicks have won 10 of 11, everyone is talking about Amar'e this, Amar'e that, look at Felton, oh Fields is a jewel and all that. They may be right. But please look at this schedule. Who did this? Is this schedule even legit?
10 of 11 wins: Sacramento, Golden State, LA Clippers, Charlotte, Charlotte, Atlanta (they lost obviously), Detroit, New Jersey, New Orleans, Toronto, Minnesota...
Out of the 10 wins they had, only New Orleans is over .500 and they are sinking like the Titanic...but how can you put together such awesome bawfulness of a schedule.
Wait it gets better.
Knicks play Toronto and Washington next. So 12 out of 13 is not out of question. Then we'll hear that the Knicks are contenders, they might be better than the aging Celts, dysfunctional Heat and ready-to-melt Magic...
But keep an eye on what's to come afterwards. If you put together all the crap teams one after another, that means you're just postponing the ineviteble big boys.
After Toronto and Washington, here is the Knicks' next 14 games. Hey don't despair I saw a Cleveland game in there...
Denver Boston Miami Cleveland Oklahoma City Chicago Miami Orlando Indiana San Antonio Phoenix LA Lakers Portland Utah and the beat goes on....
This is one weird schedule and one media frenzy to keep an eye on...
Pistons-Rockets: Brad Miller scrapped his way to 3 boards in 13:12, but bricked six times and fouled and lost the rock twice each for a 4:3 Voskuhl. Also lacking it up for Houston was Jared Jeffrise, whose one giveaway in 10:50 netted him a +1.
Generals-Lakers: Hilton Armstrong blocked one shot in 8:22, only to ring up one foul via room service for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl. Alonzo Gee gave up his Castlevania cartridge after 26 seconds for a Mario.
For Los Angeles, Derrick Caracter captured a board in 5:28, and also fouled twice and bricked thricely for a 2:1 Voskuhl.