The Miami Heat: Miami has used a pretty simple formula to turn things around after a slow (compared to expectations) start: A three-man scoring attack and some stingy-ass defense.
Well, they got points out of Dwyane Wade (31), LeBron James (27) and Chris Bosh (26), although James and Bosh shot poorly (a combined 17-for-41). And of course the Heat got their standard production out of fellow starters Carlos Arroyo (4 points on 2-for-5 shooting and only 1 assist) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (2 points in 22 minutes). Then there were three goose eggs off the bench (from Erick Dampier, Juwan Howard and Mike Miller), a total of three points from "sharpshooter" James Jones (0-for-3) and backup center Joel Anthony (2 rebounds in 25 minutes), and a nearly competent game from Mario Chalmers (12 points on 4-for-12 shooting).
Oh, and Eddie House got another DNP-CD.
But the defense. Oh the defense. The Clippers scored 44 points in the first quarter. That was not a misprint or typo. They scored 44 points and outscored Miami by 18 in the first 12 minutes. I bet Vinny Del Negro soiled himself out of sheer joy.
Said VDN: "It's one win. We don't get extra wins for this game. I'm more concerned about the growth of the team. These wins give us confidence, but we have another game on Friday."
Okay. Maybe not.
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "It was too much for us to overcome. They absolutely blitzed us to start the game. It looked like we were running in mud."
The Other L.A. Team finished 111 points on 50 percent shooting. Their 44 first quarter points and 68 percent shooting in the first half were season highs. They had 18 fast break points and outscored Miami 58-46 in the paint. Blake Superior had his 30th double-double of the season (24 points and 14 boards), Eric Gordon lit it up for 26 points on 8-for-15 shooting, and B-Dizzle added 20 points and 9 assists. The Clips were up for this game. The Heat...not so much.
Said Griffin: "I'm sure they were a lot more hyped up for that Christmas Day game against the Lakers and not us."
By the way: Blake motherf**king Griffin:
The Clippers have now won three in a row and eight of 11. As Basketbawful reader Jonesy asked: "Are the Clippers now turning into the team we didn’t think they were???"
LeBron James: He shot poorly. He committed three of his team's seven turnovers. He apparently sprained his ankle midway through the fourth quarter and that supposedly limited his aggressiveness and effectiveness. And he lost...to the Clippers. All I can say is...
...karma's a bitch, baby!
Wait. I didn't type that. Somebody else did it. It wasn't me. I swear.
See what I did there? I contracted my statement. Otherwise known as "pulling a LeBron."
"It's just how I was feeling at the time. It wasn't even a comment from me, it was someone who sent it to me and I sent it out. It wasn't toward that team. It definitely wasn't a good showing by that team last night, I know they wish they would've played better.
"I don't think there was intent at all. I think everyone looks into everything I say. Everybody looks too far into it. No hit toward that organization. I've moved on and hopefully that organization is continuing to move on. But I'm happy where I am as a Miami Heat player."
As always, LeBron takes no blame for anything he does. Just like he didn't know what "contraction" meant, he didn't come up with the thing he tweeted. My favorite part of the article was this: When asked to clarify his confusing comments, James and the questions were cut off by a member of the Heat public relations staff.
You know the funny thing about his retraction? a) it's not like he's never re-tweeted anything ever, and just happened to delete the "RT" this time. b) It says right there he created the tweet from Ubertwitter, a Blackberry twitter client. Meaning only his phone could have created and typed out that message.
He is right on one thing though, it wasn't towards the "team"...or the "organization"...it was towards Dan and all the Cavs fans.
Now King Crab has an ankle injury...which makes his status "iffy" for tonight's game in Denver.
Said LeBron: "There's no damage, I got an X-ray after the game. The doctor told me it's day-to-day so I'll see how I feel tomorrow. I don't have to be a hero in the regular season if I'm not close to 100 percent."
Note that James and Bosh both played 40 minutes and Wade logged 41. And 'Bron has a tender vag, er, ankle. It'll be interesting to see what happens against the Nuggets...
The Golden State Warriors: The Warriors shot better than 50 percent, drilled 13 threes and even had a 14-point lead on the defending champions.
But, since we can't say it about the Clippers right now, I'll say it now: They are who we thought they were.
The Warriors got outrebounded 47-27 -- including 18-7 on the offensive glass -- and gave up 46 points in the fourth quarter. During that final 12 minutes, Mamba scored 17 of his 39 points, Lamar Odom had a stretch in which he scored 10 straight, and Ron Artest knocked down a key three-pointer with just under two minutes to play.
Defensive fail? Hey, it's the Warriors.
Kobe Bryant, quote machine: "It don't matter who's on me. When it's go time, it's go time."
Ron Artest, quote machine: "He always has that look. Nine times out of 10, he's successful. Actually, it's like 9.5 times out of 10, he's successful."
Monta Ellis, quote machine: Ellis -- who nearly matched Kobe with 38 points despite a bout of the flu -- said: "Just two players trying to get a win. I've known for the last three years I'm going to guard him. It was a great test for us. We gave it our all."
The Chicago Bulls: Let's just call this "The Tyrus Thomas Revenge Game" and be done with it. Please. Thanks.
The Dallas Mavericks: After last night's 102-89 loss to the Pacers in Indy, the Mavericks are 2-6 without Dirk Nowitzki. And I just have to ask...
Said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle: "I'm not answering any Dirk questions."
Yeah, but coach...
"We don't have Dirk, so it's not a topic that's worth discussion. We've got to win with the guys we have."
Whoa. Saucer of milk, table one, please.
So, coach, what does the team need to...
"For us, the key word is precise. We just have to be so precise with everything we do. Everything that happens, every possession, is precious on both ends of the floor. We just have to keep pushing."
I hear, you, Rick, but even without He Who Must Not Be Named, the Pacers are, well, they...
"Granger's an All-Star, their bigs are really good and solid and they are going to get better, and their wing players -- they ripped us tonight. And their point guards are good, too."
Okay then. No more questions.
The Sacramento Kings: Boston has been bumbling and stumbling without Kevin Garnett. Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal sat out with a sore knee. And Shaq basically missed the game due to foul trouble. It didn't matter. Even a hobbled and out-of-synch Celtics team can clobber the Kings of Bawful.
Bottom line: The Celts shot 52 percent, led by as many as 28 points, and won 119-95. None of Boston's starters played a single second of the fourth quarter.
Said Kings coach Paul Westphal: "They were primed for a good effort [to] get the bad taste of the last game out of their mouths."
And if there's anybody who knows about games leaving bad tastes, it's Westphal.
The New York Knicks: Said Deron Williams: "We had success in the past playing [a fast tempo] against them. They run hard on the offensive end and are a little susceptible on the defensive end. We used that to our advantage."
Did they ever. The Jazz didn't score many points in transition -- they finished with 9 fast break points -- but they hit nearly 60 percent of their shots, drilled 10 threes, scored 21 points off 14 forced turnovers, earned 39 free throws and scored 54 points in the paint en route to a 131-125 win.
Seven Jazz players scored in double-figures, including reserves C.J. Miles (24 points on 10-for-15 shooting) and Mehmet Okur (10 points on 4-for-5 shooting in 10 minutes of PT).
Said Mike D'Antoni: "They got a lot of young guys. It's the first time we've seen that."
The first time...you've seen...a lot of young guys? Really, Mike?
The Toronto Craptors: A season-high 36 points for Jamal Crawford? Check. A go-ahead three-pointer by Mike Bibby with 8.2 seconds left? Double check. The fifth lost in seven games and 14th in 19 overall? Triple check.
Love this comment from Basketbawful reader The Other Chris:
Quote from Jamal Crawford after the Dirty Birds dispatched the flailing Dinos:
"This Raptors team is playing a lot better," Crawford said.
Toronto has lost five of seven and 14 of 19.
Better than what? Cleveland? A pile of dogshit that's on fire?
The Orlando Magic: I knew it. I saw this coming. As soon as I saw a sidebar headline for this article titled "Magic on fire since blockbuster trade," I knew the Magic were gonna cool off. During their nine-game winning streak, Orlando averaged 107.7 PPG and had six games of 110 points or more.
Last night, the Hornets threw a wet blank on all that fire.
The Magic shot 39 percent from the field and finished with only 89 points. And, mind you, this game went to overtime. It's like they were possessed by the spirits of the Milwaukee Bucks or something. But hey, they were in it, right?
Said Dwight Howard: "We know how to win games, so instead of losing our composure and allowing a team to get in our heads and get us frustrated ... we did a good job of getting back into the game. I never thought we were going to lose this game at all."
And yet you did, Dwight. Speaking of which...
Dwight Howard: Pumaman had an Animal Style double-double (29 points and 20 rebounds) and, with 11 seconds to go, he stepped to the free throw line to attempt two foul shots that could turn a one-point deficit into a one-point lead.
Do I even need to tell you what happened?
Said Howard: "You can't just look at it as the [missed] free throws lost the game. There were a lot of plays down the stretch that we didn't make. We didn't play as hard as we're supposed to play and they got easy buckets. ... There was a lot of mistakes that we made to put us in that position."
Way to take responsibility for your misses, Dwight.
The Milwaukee Bucks: Stop me if you've heard this story before: The Bucks shot 39 percent, scored only 84 points, and lost. The only thing that ever changes is the opponent (the Spurs in this case) and the location (in Milwaukee).
One extra bit of bawful on this one: Matt Bonner went off for 17 points in the second half...and made the Bucks look silly in the process.
Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "Nothing against Matt, we're Matt Bonner fans, but we know he's going to pump fake and go right. He pump-faked and went right over, and over, and over again. He made us pay."
The Detroit Pistons: Detroit coach John Kuester unveiled a new starting lineup of Chris Wilcox, Tayshaun Prince, Greg Monroe, Tracey McGrady and Rodney Stuckey. Richard Hamilton went to the bench...and never got off of it.
Said Kuester: "Don't read anything into that. We shortened the rotation and changed the lineup. That's it."
Prince had an alternate explanation.
Said Tayshaune: "Buffoonery. Do you all know what that means?"
Added Rip: "I think that's the first time in my career that I've put on my jersey and didn't play," he said. "No one warned me about it. I was completely surprised. Do I think it was a level of disrespect or unfair or anything like that? I'll leave that to y'all. I can't control that, just like I can't control my playing time. I'm just going to keep doing the same thing I've done for nine years -- get ready to play for the Pistons. If they don't play me, or they trade me, there's nothing I can do about that."
And there's nothing the Pistons can do about, well, pretty much anything. Zach Randolph played like the Incredible Hulk (34 points, 10-for-17, 14-for-17 at the line, 17 rebounds) and the Pistons lost at home to the Grizzlies.
The New Jersey Nyets: All I really have to say about this one is that, if the Suns had lost, you'd be reading about my suicide this morning.
Chris's Lacktion Report:
Hawks-Raptors: Atlanta's Josh Powell skated into the life of a man in full after garnering an entire exact 1 trillion!
Purple Paupers-Celtics: Even against the West Coast's worst excuse for a basketball team, The Big Voskuhl, ahem, Shaq, strike again with a 7:3 ratio in a 13:25 stint as starting center, ountering one board and field goal with four fouls and three delicious apple turnovers.
Knicks-Jazz: Toney Douglas dabbled in the construction of masonry next to the corner of Exchange Place and Broadway, adding on a giveaway at ZCMI in 4:03 for a +2 suck differential.
For the beboppers, Francisco Elson found one foul note along a turnover in 4:30 for a +2 that also gathered up a +2 that was also worth a 2:0 Voskuhl. Kyrylo Fesenko syncopated one foul in 1:31 for a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Lakers-Warriors: Andris Biedrins once again volleyed off a Voskuhl as East Oakland's big man, countering three boards and a field goal in 24:43 with two lost rocks and a foulout for an 8:5 ratio.
LOL El (Oh El) (thanks, AnacondaHL) Heat-THE CLIPPERS: Erick Dampier certainly dabbled in the lifestyles of the rich and infamous tonight, garnering a 1.3 trillion (1:18) in royalties for the "Heatles" in Donald Sterling's playground.