The Toronto Craptors: The Craptors are on pace for 60 losses. The Spurs are on pace for 70 wins. And I don't need to tell you how this turned out.
Believe it or not, the Craptosaurs played pretty well in the first two quarters and had an 11-point lead at the half. Then got outscored 17 points in the third quarter. The result: Their fifth straight loss and ninth in their last 10.
Said Toronto coach Jay Triano: "At halftime, we knew they were going to come out. They probably got read the riot act. they were going to come out. I don't know if it was our inability to stop them as much as our inability to score as the game went on. We just had a hard time scoring. We became very one dimensional. DeMar was the only one that could score for us."
Added DeMar DeRozan: "It's definitely frustrating. We were beating up on one of the best teams in the NBA, but we got to hold the lead. It's definitely frustrating."
The Cleveland Cavaliers: There aren't many bright sides for the Cavaliers these days. They've lost 14 in a row and 24 of their last 25 games. They haven't won since beating the New York Knicks in overtime on December 28. They're an NBA-worst 8-33 and just finished a five-game road trip in which they lost all five games by an average of 26.2 PPG.
But, hey, they played at home last night. Got blasted by a throwback performance from Grant Hill (27 points and 12 rebounds) and fell behind by as many as 17 points before making a furious rally that got snuffed out by a...clutch three-pointer by Vince Carter? Unofficially, I have that one down as Carter's first clutch three in seven years or so. Of course this one would come against the Cavs. But at least they only lost by eight points. That's better than 26! Progress!
Said Antawn Jamison: "Something to build on. But there's no doubt that this is tough."
For the record, Cleveland's record for consecutive losses is 19. Check out their next seven games: Bucks, at Chicago, at New Jersey, at Boston, Nuggets, at Orlando, at Miami. They'd better hope and pray they beat the Nyets...
Update! From ESPN Stats and Information: "The Cleveland Cavaliers dropped their 14th straight game, and are 8-33 (.195 win percent) at the halfway point of the season. Cleveland's record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the worst at the midway point of any season by a team that finished the previous season with the best record in the NBA. (In 2009-10, the Cavs were 61-21.) The previous mark was held by the Chicago Bulls. After going an NBA-best 62-20 in 1997-98, the Bulls were 8-17 (.320) at the halfway point of the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign."
The Utah Jazz: The Nyets had lost 11 of their last 12 games. I guess the 'Melo trade rumors were just that much of a distraction. That or the New Jersey kind of sucks. At any rate, Nyets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, sick of the endless back and forth, finally said "fuck it." Basically.
Said Prokhorov: "I'm not happy with the way ... this deal has gone until now. It has taken too long. It has been played out in public and it certainly has taken a toll on the players and I believe that it has cost us several games. I think management did a great job, but there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive. I'm instructing our team to walk away from the deal."
Freed of worry and care, the Nyets beat the Jazz.
Said Utah coach Jerry Sloan: "We look like we were lacking effort and our energy doesn't look good to me, even more so in the last couple of games. Just doesn't seem like great enthusiasm to play. I think we're better than we played, but give the Nets credit."
Added Deron Williams: "It just another bad loss. What else can I say?"
The Jazz now have back-to-back losses to the Wizards Generals and Nyets. And Basketbawful reader Stockton is worried:
The Jazz are so f###d right now.
Facing a b2b with Boston and Philly, and a trip to LA land, they just lost to 2 of the East bottom feeders...
They got outscored, outrebounded and outhustled by the NETS!!!! After building an early lead!!!!
They got burned by Vujacic, Farmar and Humphries!!!!
I sure hope Sloan can turn this around, but I'm not seeing much soul out there...
The Jazz sure have been a mystery this season. They've had big wins (Heat, Lakers, Magic) and embarrassing losses (Warriors, Wizards, Nets). I think the problem is that they're a very average defensive team (16th in D-Rating) and tend to fall behind a lot (which they did last night...by 16 points). Too much playing with fire.
Mikhail Prokhorov, quote machine: "Maybe [Anthony] sent me an e-mail, but I don't have a computer. Maybe the carrier pigeon got lost."
The Philadelphia 76ers: Up by four points with 17 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, what's the one thing the Sixers couldn't afford to do? Commit a foul on a three-point attempt. Which is what they did. Jason Richardson knocked down the trey and hit the free throw. The Magic went on to win in overtime...during which they got another four-point play from J.J. Redick.
Update! I have to agree with Basketbawful reader Marylander: You are not a good team if Hedo Turkoglu posterizes you twice in the same game.
Said Andre Iguodala: "We can't let [the games] boil down to that, then maybe we'll get a little more respect down the stretch, with how the game is called sometimes. I don't know if we earned that respect or not. We play hard every night ... [But] we never get it."
Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams: Guess who fouled Richardson and Redick on those four-point plays.
Update! Dwight Howard: From ESPN Stats and Information: "Dwight Howard missed a career-high 12 free throws in the Magic's 99-98 overtime win over the 76ers. That ties the franchise record for the most missed free throws in a game. Shaquille O'Neal had three separate games when he was with the Magic where he missed 12 free throws."
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love had his 29th straight double-double (26 points and 11 boards) despite a rebound-free first half. Blake Griffin, on the other hand, was held to 29 points and 8 rebounds, snapping his streak of 27 straight double-doubles. Didn't matter. Minny went 1-for-16 from downtown and trailed by as many as 23 points before losing 126-111.
The Clippers have now won for the sixth time in seven games...and the 11th time in 14 tries overall.
The Timberwolves are now 2-21 on the road and 1-14 against the Western Conference. And they're staring up at the Clippers in the standings. Could it be that some Minnesota players actually wish they were Clippers?
Said Love: "I would rather be on the Clippers' side and won. They're playing good basketball, and you have to give it to them. I'd rather be in [Griffin's] shoes right now."
Egads. This is some kind of historic moment. Envy directed toward the Clippers.
But -- and you knew there was gonna be a "but didn't you? -- The Other L.A. Team's leading scorer, Eric Gordon, injured a tendon in his right ring finger in the first quarter. He returned and everything. But, well, uh oh.
Said Gordon: "It's hurting pretty bad. I'm just going to play through it. They said it's probably torn."
Officiating: Last Sunday, Griffin got ejected for getting roughed up by Lamar Odom without retaliating. Last night, he got T'd up...while he was on the bench.
Said Griffin: "I don't know about that. I stood up and went, 'Oh!' I said it much louder than that."
Stat curses: From Basketbawful reader The Other Chris:
1. Tune into Clippers game.
2. TV states DeAndre Jordan is a 45.5 percent free throw shooter, and 2-2. (Stat curse!)
All is right in the universe.
Kevin Love, quote machine: "We're not necessarily the Wizards, but we're definitely not the cream of the crop when it comes to winning on the road."
Oh burn! Speaking of which...
The Washington Wizards: The Bucks were minus three starters -- Brandon Jennings (left foot), Carlos Delfino (concussion) and John Salmons (right hip) -- and came into the game ranked dead last in field goal percentage (41.9 percent). The Wizards, on the other hand, began the night 0-19 on the road.
They ended the night 0-20.
Said John Wall: "At home, we've got so much energy and extra bounce in our step on defense. On the road, it's horrible. There's little stuff that we do at home that we don't do on the road. ... You don't want to go 0-41. That's embarrassing, and I think we gave a lot of them away."
Gave a lot of them away, John? You're losing on the road by 14+ PPG. But, hey, whatever helps you get to sleep at night.
The Wizards are now two losses away from matching the worst road start in over a decade. The 1997-98 Denver Nuggets lost their first 22 roadies. Bad news for the Wiz: Their next two away games are in New York and Oklahoma City. Although...
The New York Knicks: The Rockets scored 60 points in the first half. The Bricks scored 39 in the second half. So, well, yeah.
New York shot 42 percent and finished with only 89 points despite leading the league with an average of 107.5 PPG. It helped that Chuck Hayes contained Amar''''''e Stoudemire for the first three quarters and then shut him down in the fourth. STAT -- who had a game-high 5 turnovers -- went 3-for-8 in the final 12 minutes. And Hayes stripped him on back-to-back possessions.
Said Hayes: "It doesn't matter who it is, my preparation will always help me going into a game. I watch film. Not only do I watch film, but I watch a lot of basketball. I've watched him play and I understand what he's good at. I just had to make it tough for him."
Added Stoudemire: "He did a good job out there. He does a great job of creating contact and then being able to strip the ball."
Watch the man work:
By the way, this isn't a new thing. Chuck has done a number on STAT before:
And what do you know? The Knicks have now lost four straight and five of six. They are now only three games over .500 And look it: Their next two games are in San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Then, after a break against the Wizards, they play the Heat at home and then the Hawks in Atlanta.
Don't be surprised if New York is .500 by the end of the month.
In case you're wondering what's happened to the Knicks, I'll tell you. First, their three-point shooting, which was scorching hot early on, has come back down to earth a bit. Second, STAT and Raymond Felton are playing close to 40 MPG and coach Mike D'Antoni, as is typical of him, tends to leave his starters in way too long.
Oh, and being ranked 28th in Opponents PPG (106.6) and 24th in Defensive Rating (109.3) sure doesn't help any.
The Sacramento Kings: What more could those poor Purple Paupers ask for? They were playing at home against the Portland Frail Blazers, who were without Greg Oden (knee surgery), Brandon Roy (knee surgery) and Marcus Camby (knee surgery). And Portland was on the second night of back-to-backs.
Didn't matter. The Sactowners choked up a fourth quarter lead by scoring only four points in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter and five points in overtime. And, as you can guess, they didn't win.
Said Kings coach Paul Westfail: "That's a very good team that we took to the brink again and came up short. There's nothing easy about it. I think counting the road trip and this game, we've had a lead in the fourth quarter six out of seven times and won one of those games."
Added Nicky Batum: "In overtime, we didn't panic. We stayed calm and executed our game plan. We did a good job at the end. They have some good players like Tyreke, [DaMarcus] Cousins and Beno. I don't know how they only have nine wins."
SPOILER ALERT!! It's because they suck, Nick.
The Indiana Pacers: Despite Mike Dunleavy Jr. notching his 1,500th career assist, the Pacers upchucked a fourth quarter lead and lost...like this:
"IS THERE ANYTHING HE CAN'T DO?!"
Now insert obligatory "Monta Ellis should be an All-Star even though he's scoring a ton of points in an up-tempo offense on a lousy team."
Said Warriors coach Keith Smart: "He is letting his game speak for itself. Having talked to a lot of coaches, they have noticed how well he is playing. Our All-Star made a play, made two big plays."
Countered Pacers coach Jim O'Brien: "We lost the game because we turned the ball over. We can't give up 27 points on turnovers if we want to win. Monta hit a great shot, but we lost because of the turnovers, and that's the bottom line."
The Los Angeles Lakers: The Mavericks went into a slump when Dirk Nowitzki went down with a knee injury. The slump got worse when Caron Butler was lost for the season. The slump continued even after Dirk returned. And after starting the season 24-5, Dallas went 2-9 during said slump.
Enter the slumpbusting Lakers. As Basketbawful reader Karc put it:
The Lakers this year are like legal marijuana. Whenever a team is feeling down in the dumps, it can get a nice high from beating the Lakers. The Pacers, Grizzlies, Spurs, Nuggets, Clippers (?!), and now the Mavericks. Now there are some teams that are beyond help (namely the Cavs and the Pistons), but everyone else, take some of that hippy lettuce that P-Jax, Lamar, and Crazy Pills like so much.
What a waste of a 20-10 game from Odom and Bryant. Then again, that three-point barrage by the Mavs and three extra free throws was the difference in the game (+6 and +3 in a 9-point win, so there you go).
But again, let me know when the Lakers beat a good team on the road. By my count, they're 0-3 (not counting the Hornets, total fool's gold with that start).
L.A. lost despite shooting 54 percent from the field. Too bad they let the Mavs shoot a season-high 55 percent.
Said Kobe: "We were making mistakes all night on defense, because offensively things were going well for us. It was one of those games that was fool's gold. We were playing well offensively and got a lead, but we were making mistakes defensively."
In the third quarter -- during which they had an eight-point lead at one point -- the Lakers committed seven turnovers and got outscored 30-17.
Now, you could cite various problems with last night's performance by the Lakers, like their defense, or l ike Pau Gasol leading the team in scoring (23 points) but getting only four shots in the second half.
However, the problem of the night, and probably the problem of the season, is summed up by this snippet from the AP recap: "The biggest surprise was Kidd. After missing 13 of his past 14 shots, and 12 of his past 13 3-pointers, he made 8-of-12, and 5-of-8 from behind the arc. He also had 10 assists."
Now check out L.A.'s "Production By Position" page at 82games.com. Lakers PGs are averaging 11.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, an eFG% of 45.9 and a PER of 8.6. By contast, opposing PGs are averaging 22.3 PPG, 9.2 APG, an eFG% of 52.1 and a PER of 19.3.
Based on PER, L.A.'s net production at the point guard position is -10.7. Mind you, the Lakers are +11.3 at SG, +1.4 at SF, +6.0 at PF and +6.2 at C.
In short: point guard has been the Walton's foot of the Lakers this season.
Update! Jason Terry, quote machine: Thanks to Dooj for being disappointed in me for not including this on the first run. I'm disappointed in me, too. "All teams go through tough times. We're going to grow from this. At the end we'll be the last team standing."
I can only assume Terry means the last team standing in the Dallas locker room cleaning out their lockers after another heartbreaking playoff elimination.
Update! George Karl, quote machine: From Basketbawful reader Pablo: "If it's true, it's true. If it isn't true, it isn't true."
Jazz-Nyets: As Jerry Sloan's band of improvisers shockingly lost their way in Newark, two men made it to the ledger: Kyrylo Fesenko, who furrowed a foul against Bowser in just 48 seconds for a Mario, a +1, and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl, and Gordon Hayward, who put on the plumbers' overalls himself in a 13 second Mario.
Sixers-Magic: Not really lacktion, but the Pumaman notched a Dantley by scoring 10 of his 18 points from the stripe...despite the fact he only went 45% from the line!!!!
Generals-Bucks: In the highly unanticipated rematch of the 1971 Finals, Hilton Armstrong checked into the report with a one-brick +1 in 3:03, the same timespan Cartier Martin discovered two pieces of masonry for a +2.
Grizzlies-Hornets: Aaron Gray grabbed two fouls against one board in 7:12 for a 2:1 Voskuhl.
Lakers-Mavs: Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter pureed portobellos together in just 26 seconds as Mario Brothers (though Caracter went non-lacktive with a 100% shooting percentage on one attempt, and a board)!!
Pacers-Warriors: Ekpe Udoh downed a board in 5:43, only to brick once and foul twice for a 2:1 Voskuhl.
Wolves-Clippers: Jarron Collins can now help ease Donald Sterling's legal expenses, after notching a 4 trillion (4:02)!