The Toronto Craptors: Status check: The Extinction Lizards have dropped 16 of their last 21 games, with the five wins coming against the Pistons (13-26), Nyets (10-30), Mavericks (minus Dirk Nowitzki), Cavaliers (8-32) and Kings (9-29).
Back-to-back games against the Pistons and Wizards Generals (11-27) provided the Craptosaurs with the chance to get a rare win before an ugly four-game stretch in which they play the Hornets, Spurs, Magic and Heat...all on the road.
First up: A home game versus the Pistons...who were a mere 3-17 outside Detroit. Those three road wins came against the Clippers (during their 1-13 start), Kings and Craptors (uh oh). And...
Second up: A roadie against the Generals...who had lost 15 of their last 19. Their most recent loss was to the Timberwolves (10-31) and their three wins were against the Bobcraps (15-23), Pacers (16-21), Nyets and Kings (in OT). And...
Now, in all fairness, Leandro Barbosa injured his right hammy against the Pistons. Jerryd Bayless missed the Generals game with a sore left ankle. And of course Sonny Weems, Peja Stojakovic and Reggie Evans were all out.
Said Jose Calderon: "We knew it was only going to be, like, seven or eight players we had out there. We knew we'd have to play a lot of minutes. We played good for a long time. Maybe at the end the legs didn't respond as well as we needed to."
Still, missing players doesn't explain giving up a season-high 22 points to Knee Mac or letting Nick Young light you up for 18 third quarter points, Jose.
Added Toronto coach Jay Triano: "In a back-to-back where we have so many guys hurt, our margin for error isn't very good."
Everything about your team isn't very good, Jay.
The Milwaukee Bucks: That whole "Fear the Deer" campaign keeps feeling further and further away, doesn't it?
The Bucks actually managed to shoot better than 39 percent and scored over 90 points for a change. And they kept it close against a Sixers team that began the night 0-7 in games decided by four points or less. Oh, and Philly was coming off back-to-back losses against the sub-.500 Pistons and Pacers.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee -- currently ranked 6th in Defensive Rating at 102.7 and 11th in Opponents eFG% (48.8) -- let the Sixers finish with an O-Rating of 113.6 and an eFG% of 62.7. If you want the raw stats, Philly shot 57 percent from the field and 7-for-14 from downtown.
Said Bucks coach Scott Skiles: "We played pretty good offensively, but couldn't get anything going defensively."
Like the Craptors, the Roadkill Deer are understaffed, missing Michael Redd (left knee injury), Brandon Jennings (left foot surgery) and Carlos Delfino (concussion). But that doesn't change the fact that they're 14-23 and 11.5 games back in a division that a lot of people thought they were going to win.
The New Jersey Nyets: After their winless weekend -- including their 100-88 defeat by the Lakers in L.A. and a 96-89 come-from-ahead loss to the Frail Blazers in Portland -- the Nyets have lost five in a row and 10 of their last 11.
After choking up a 13-point lead in Portland, New Jersey coach Avery Johnson screamed: "WE HAD A PRETTY GOOD FLOW FOR 3 1/2 QUARTERS OF THE GAME, BUT WE'VE GOT TO FIGHT THROUGH THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL FATIGUE ON THE ROAD IF WE WANT TO BE A GOOD TEAM."
A "good" team, Avery? Your squad would have to make some serious strides to work their way up to "just below average."
A quick status check (at Basketball-Reference) shows us they rank 29th in PPG (92.2), 28th in Offensive Rating (101.2), 27th in Pace (89.7), 21st in Defensive Rating (108.7). More telling, they rank 29th in Expected W-L (11-29) and 30th in attendance (224,768).
The Charlotte Bobcraps: Speaking of winless weekends, the Bobcraps -- who entered the weekend 6-2 since Larry Brown was sacked by Michael Jordan -- saw their dead coach bounce get bounced. First came a loss to the Celtics, who were sans Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins. And with Paul Pierce limited to 25 minutes due to foul trouble, Doc Rivers turned to...Shaq.
The Big Creaky responded with 23 points on 10-for-12 shooting as Charlotte "held" Boston to 52 percent shooting and an Offensive Rating of 116.7.
The symbolic play of the game: Big Baby stuffing Tyrus Thomas on a dunk attempt:
Said Bobcraps coach Paul Silas: "Mentally we've got to come with it a little bit more. It's a mental game. That's what I told those guys -- 90 percent of it is mental and we are just not there yet."
They weren't there on Saturday night, either. Despite playing at home against a Hornets team that played an overtime game in Houston the night before and didn't arrive in Charlotte until around 6 a.m. EST, the Bobkittens found themselves in a dogfight that got a little too dogfighty when Tyrus Thomas tried to force-feed Emeka Okafor an elbow sammich:
Said Silas: "He hit him. ... What they saw was correct. We just can't have that at the time, we just can't. We're right in the ballgame."
Thomas was ejected. The Hornets got two shots and the ball. Okafor hit both freebies and then David West drew a foul and converted both 'throws. Suddenly an 81-77 Hornets lead was 85-77 with just over two minutes to go. Game, set, match.
Even tho' Tirade Thomas' hijinx killed any hopes of a comeback, it didn't help that Stephen Jackson (5-for-15 and 2-for-7 on threes) and Gerald Wallace (5-for-13 and only 3 boards) spent most of the night bitching at the officials instead of, you know, playing basketball.
Said Silas: "There's just too much nonsense going on out there as far as going after the referees and all that kind of thing. It's like I told the players, 'You didn't see [New Orleans] going after the referees.' Why? Because they understand, 'My job is to go out and play the game and concentrate on those particular things.' We just aren't there yet."
The Dallas Mavericks: We're not done talking about winless weekends yet. Now, I can understand a Dirk-less Dallas team falling behind by 24 points and losing 101-89 to the Spurs in San Antonio. I get that. It makes sense...in addition to dropping the Mavs to 2-7 minus Nowitzki. Still, the fact that the Dallas starters notched only 34 points in defeat was a little ominous.
Sure, enough, the Mavericks' starting five accounted for only 26 points in an 89-70 loss the the Grizzlies in Memphis. The Care Bears lead by as many as 23 in this one...despite the return of Nowitzki. The Mavs shot 32 percent and Dirk finished with as many technical fouls as field goals (2). His ejection happened during Dallas' 12-point third quarter. Which basically ended the game.
Sad fact: Ian Mahinmi scored more points off the bench (17) than Dirk, Brendan Haywood, Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson combined (15).
The Cleveland Cavaliers: And now comes the saddest winless weekend of them all. The Cavaliers -- many of whom were put on suicide watch after last week's 55-point loss to the Lakers -- suffered their 18th and 19th straight road losses in Utah and Denver, respectively.
Cleveland gave up 70 points in the first half of a 22-point loss to the Jazz. Utah shot 53 percent, registered 32 assists on 47 field goals, and, at times, looked like the freaking Globetrotters out there:
Things got even worse the next night in Denver. The Nuggets scored a season-high 80 points in the first half and built a 39-point lead before settling for a 127-99 win. Cleveland lost Mo Williams in the first quarter due to a left hip flexor strain...and they were already without Boobie Gibson (ankle), Anthony Parker (lower back), Anderson Varejao (ankle/foot), Joey Graham (quad), Leon Powe (knee) and Christian Eyenga (ankle).
So make it 23 losses in their last 24 games. But at least seven of the eight players they had available scored in double figures! Yeah!
Bonus giggles from stephanie g.:
The New York Knicks: Sure, they went .500 on their four-game Western Conference road trip, dropping a 109-87 decision to the Lakers and then losing 131-125 in Utah. But they were coming home to play an 8-28 Kings squad...
...that left New York with a 9-28 record.
It was an ugly loss, too, with New York's high-powered offense managing only 83 points on 31 percent shooting. STAT had sizable double-double(25 and 13) but went 6-for-22 from the field. Raymond Felton went 2-for-15 and Wilson Chandler was 4-for-14. The Knicks missed 10 shots at the rim, went 5-for-22 from inside 10 feet, 1-for-6 from 10-15 feet and 1-for-13 from 16-23 feet.
Did I mention Beno Udrih lit the 'Bockers up for 29 points on 11-for-14 shooting? And, yep, the New York crowd booed their team.
Said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni: "We just didn't have it -- everybody."
The Miami Heat: LeBron was out with a sprained ankle. Bosh sprained an ankle during the game and had to miss the entire fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade went into Beast Mode but got out-Beasted by Derrick Rose and then cock-blocked by Kyle Korver's crazy triple. Watch for yourself:
Now the Heat have lost three in a row and would have to win their next 40 straight to reach 70 wins. During their recent three-game slide, Miami has given up 113.3 PPG while letting their opponents shoot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from downtown (according to ESPN Stats and Information).
Karma. It's a bitch, huh?
Now, I want you to watch Bosh get injured:
Would you believe that Bosh actually got all bitchy about Omer Asik diving for that loose ball? Showing hustle and desire to win? The RuPaul of Big Men does not understand such things.
Said Bosh: "C'mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen. You've got to watch people's legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job. We all want to be healthy and that is very important. If it is by somebody's leg, don't dive for the ball, it's too close."
Oh. My. God. I knew Bosh was a huge flapping vajayjay, but I had no idea just how much that vajayjay did flap. I believe that kind of flapping is usually reserved for creatures that can take flight.
The Los Angeles Lakers: What a Sunday. Bears win. Tom Brady and the Patriots get their asses handed to them. And the Clippers beat the Lakers.
As if the loss wasn't humiliating enough, Lamar Odom got his pink princess ballet panties in a bunch and tried to take Blake Griffin's shirt off:
Said Odom: "Maybe I overreacted, but I just feel like if you're up 9, a ram in the back at that point? Any other time, I get it. You play hard, you're strong, whatever, but the ram in the back [while] up 9? I don't get it, so I'm just going to have to react."
Replied Griffin: "Whatever happened, I didn't say anything, I didn't take a swing at anybody, I didn't push anybody. When Baron came in, I grabbed him. ... There's never a situation where I'm not going to go to the glass. I would think of all people, [Odom] would know that."
B-Dizzle thinks the Candy Man was just, well, being a bit of a bitch.
Said Davis: "He plays with a chip, and at the same time he plays with a tenacity that a lot of times people, they misread that -- especially veteran guys. Veteran guys don't like being shown up, so like tonight I think Odom got a little frustrated because Blake wouldn't stop competing and pushing him, so he kind of lost his composure. That's what a lot of veteran guys do. They try and ground him. They try and frustrate him, but he continues to bring it."
If anything, Kobe was on Griffin's side.
Said Mamba: "[Going for the rebound with a nine-point lead] is just the right thing to do. You've got to play all the way through. You play until the final buzzer sounds. It's as simple as that. That's the way I grew up playing. That's the right way to play."
Then the shot at Pau Gasoft.
Said Bryant: "I think Lamar just had to make a stand, because up to that point, Blake ran through Pau. It wasn't nothing personal. Blake just ran through us, and we didn't have anybody who was going to put up a stand. I think that kind of turned the tide. ... We just didn't put up much of a fight."
As for the officiating...well, look, I understand why Odom got the boot, and I even understand why Davis got the early exit. But Griffin and Artest? For what exactly?
Said Phil Jackson: "I have no idea how they make their decisions -- whimsically, I think."
Chris's Weekend Lacktion Ledger:
Bobcats-Celtics: Semih Erden earned five fouls alongside one missed shot in 8:24 for a +6 and a 5:0 Voskuhl, while Von Wafer crunched out one brick from Fanueil Hall with a foul and giveaway for a +3 in 7:42.
Mavs-Spurs: Dallas's Alexis Ajinca added two fouls and a turnover to a field goal and steal in 11:33 for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Cavs-Jazz: Kyrylo Fesenko improvised a foul and two lost rocks despite hitting a pair of boards in 3:09 for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Frail Blazers-Suns: Armon Johnson hammered out a 17 second Mario, while Zabian Dowdell delivered the Suns an assist and steal in 34 seconds...not long enough to remove his Game and Watch and avoid earning his own Mario!
Clippers-Warriors: Jarron Collins jacked up a foul in 2:14 for a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl, the same statline East Oakland's Ekpe Udoh managed in 4:02.
Nyets-Lakers: New Jersey's Ben Uzoh undid the lock card that prevented him from playing Robodemons on his Famicom, activating his Game Genie after 37 seconds for a Mario. Los Angeles's Derrick Caracter also did some repair work on his NES, despite a board, by blowing on his cartridge slot 33 seconds for his own Mario.
Craptors-Generals: Cartier Martin unpacked his Game Boy in just 21 seconds for a Mario.
Mavs-Grizzlies: Hasheem "The Second Overall Dream" Thabeet assisted on one bucket in 4:15, only to foul thricely and brick once for a 3:0 Voskuhl.
Magic-Wolves: Earl Clark used sleight of hand to make 1.35 trillion (1:21) appear!
Cavs-Nuggets: Melvin Ely elicited a field goal and three boards in 28:43, but lost the rock twice and nearly fouled out for a 7:5 Voskuhl.
Nyets-Blazers: Quinton Ross got lost on his Paperboy route after 42 seconds of biking to earn a Mario.