The Minnesota Timberwolves: A sure sign of true bawfulness is when a team suffers smack talk from AP beat writers. To wit:
Scorers such as Kevin Martin dream about nights against a "defense" like the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Wolves have a hard enough time guarding spot-up shooters on the perimeter. When they're facing a guy who can blow by them on the way to the rim and also get a 3-pointer off in the blink of an eye, they don't stand a chance.
The Rockets made 14 3-pointers, feasting on the tumbling Timberwolves' awful defense. Minnesota entered the night last in the NBA in points allowed and then watched Houston hang 100 in the first three quarters.
Minnesota had four days to prepare for the game, yet came out of the gate looking as though it was playing its third game in four nights.
After shooting 39 percent in a home loss to Orlando on Saturday, Houston scored a season-high 39 points in the first quarter in Minnesota, hitting six 3-pointers and using superior ball movement with 12 assists on 13 made baskets.
As Kevin Love (24 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists) put it: "We're not anywhere close to where we should be [defensively]. It's something we need to figure out."
Regarding Kevin Martin, who scored 16 of his 34 points in the first 12 minutes, Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said: "He's such a difficult player in this league to guard because of all the things that he can do. These are the types of players we have to figure out how to defend."
The types of players? How about figuring out how to defense any type of player first, Kurt.
Prior to this game, the Rockets had lost seven in a row to Western Conference teams. As it his, Houston's 13-game winning streak over the Timberwolves ties the franchise record for longest winning streak against one opponent.
The Houston Rockets: If we're going to slam Minny's defense, then we should also point out that the Rocketeers let the T-Wolves score 125 points on 50+ percent shooting. And Houston gave up 37 points in the fourth quarter...nearly letting a 19-point lead get away from them. Just sayin'.
The Portland Frail Blazers: I bet the Frail Blazers didn't think their five-game winning streak was going to end at home against the worst team in the Western Conference. But the Portland players should have done their homework. Sure, the Kings had dropped seven of their last eight games, but three of the losses came in overtime (including a four-point loss to the Blazers last week) and they only lost one of those games by double-figures.
You know what I'm getting at, right?
The Blazers scored only 81 points on 39 percent shooting. They gave up 16 offensive rebounds, committed 19 turnovers and had a 20-11 free throw disadvantage. Essentially, the Kings -- who arrived in Portland with a road record of 3-16 -- outplayed the Frail Ones in every aspect of the game.
Then again, maybe this loss was the result of a stat curse. After all, on the same day he was selected as the Western Conference Player of the Week, LaMarcus Aldridge scored only 9 points on 4-for-14 shooting. It was the first time in 26 games he didn't score in double figures.
So, yeah, it was a good night for the Kings. But let's see if we can't throw a wet blanked on the Sactowners in my next entry...
The Washington Wizards Generals: It was New York's six-game losing streak versus Washington's 0-20 road record...
...so go ahead and make it 0-21.
Said Raymond Felton: "Everything was clicking tonight. It was one of our better games."
Big surprise there.
Washington gave up 12 points off 10 turnovers...in the first quarter. They finished with 20 lost balls for 24 points going the other way.
Here's where it gets really bawful. The Generals are eight games away from tying the longest road losing streak to open a season: 29 straight losses by the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks.
On the bright side, it's pretty unlikely they'll become the worst road team of all time. That dishonor belongs to -- waaaaaaiiit for it -- the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings! Those poor Purple Paupers lost their last 37 road games and finished 1-40 outside of Sactown.
There's a new wrinkle in the never-ending saga of Washington D.C. uniform failures: this one was self-inflicted. Kevin Seraphin of the Wizards committed the unpardonable fashion faux pas of wearing his shorts backward Monday night against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. He did what anyone would have done in that situation: He fixed 'em on the bench, surrounded by teammates.
Other moments in Washington uniform history (since Bog Boy is off sampling the cheeses of Vegas):
John Wall, quote machine: "I'm not going to lie about that. If you lose on the road, you're going to think about it. You watch SportsCenter, you're going to see what everybody's talking about: you not winning road games. It gets tough. But for us to get them to stop talking about it, we've got to do what we've got to do on the road and get one."
Flip Saunders, coach of the year candidate: "You can't turn it over 20 times and beat people on the road."
The Phoenix Suns: Earlier this season, the Philadelphia 76ers set their season-high point total (123) against the Suns. So you just knew these guys were licking their chops for a nice stat-padder.
Well, they got it.
Philadelphia ranks 21st in Offensive Rating (105.2) but finished this game with an O-Rating of 116.3. Thaddeus Young (24 points), Elton Brand (22), Evan Turner (14) and Lou Williams (14) all reached double figures.
The Sixers shot 67 percent in the first quarter, were at nearly 60 percent until garbage time and built a 22-point lead before pulling back on the throttle. Still, Philly finished with 105 points on 54 percent shooting. They scored 61 of those points in th first half. Their season-high for points in the first half is 64...which was set against the Suns.
Alvin Gentry, coach of the year candidate: "Once again, we had too many turnovers and that's an immediate concern. You can't do that in this league and expect to win. We have to do a better job at protecting the ball."
The Milwaukee Bucks: Let's see if you've heard this one before: The Bucks shot 39 percent from the field and finished with only 83 points. And lost.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Still, Milwaukee gets bonus bawful points for getting lit the hell up by Kurt Thomas. Big Sexy -- as Bulls broadcaster Stacey King likes to call him -- finished with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocked shots and a steal.
It was the first time Thomas had scored 20 points in five years. Here's what I wrote about it at By The Horns:
Back on January 25, 2005, Kurt Thomas scored 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for the New York Knicks in a 133-118 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Those were good numbers. A little skewed, maybe, because of the pace (103.3) and the number of shots the Knicks attempted (105).
Let me put it this way: That night, the Knicks had two players score 20+ (Thomas and Trevor Ariza) and another player score 40 (Jamal Crawford). And that Suns team was in the lower half of the league in Defensive Rating.
Anyway, that was the last time Big Sexy scored 20 points. That includes his 2006 season, when he played for a Phoenix squad that led the league in PPG (108.4) and ranked second in Offensive Rating (111.5).
So when you consider the circumstances and the fact that he's the second-oldest player in the league (next to Shaq), then it's very possible we got to watch one of the best games of Kurt's career.
Think about it. The Bucks rank 6th in Defensive Rating (102.5). According to 82games.com, opposing centers don’t play very well against them. Starters and backups combine for 18.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.4 assists and a PER of 12.2 (which ranks between "in the rotation" and "scrounging for minutes" according to John Hollinger's reference guide). And those opposing centers have an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 45.5.
Well, as By The Horns reader inkybreath put it, "Did Big Sexy jump in the Hot Tub Time Machine before the game?"
I have no better explanation.
Andrew Bogut: He grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds, but he scored only 8 points on 4-for-11 shooting and didn't shoot a single free throw. And, as you already knew, Kurt Thomas ate his lunch. Rough year for Bogut. He's never been the same since Amar''''''e Stoudemire busted his arm.
Kurt Thomas, quote machine: On why he didn't have any 20-point games when he was playing for the Bucks last season (from ESPNChicago): "I take it however it comes. I played with a guy last year by the name of Brandon [Jennings] and he likes to get 'em up."
Carlos Boozer, quote machine: Regarding Big Sexy's big game (also from ESPNChicago): "He was on fire, man. Listen, we did that pick and roll and Kurt was wide open. He always be proclaiming how good his jump shot is, because he be having some good jump shot practices, but today he carried us. Real talk. He carried us the whole first half. He carried us to start the second half. That's why we got him here. He's a 16-year vet. He never gets rattled. Always got the same demeanor. Never gets too high, never gets too low. And tonight we called on him because he was wide open. He was knocking [shots] down for us.
The Cleveland Cavaliers: Last night, it was The Shot Part II for the Cavs:
It wasn't just Cleveland's 17th straight loss. It was also their 21st consecutive defeat away from home...which matches the franchise record for longes road losing streak set from January 13 to April 14, 2003.
The Cavs last road win was on November 9...in New Jersey.
And as I've noted, the Cavaliers play again tonight in Boston. Then they have back-to-back games at Orlando and Miami next Sunday and Monday. So, unless something miraculous happens, expect the new franchise record for consecutive road losses to reach 24. Cleveland's best shot is the Celtics game, because we all know the Leprechauns are down three centers and tend to sleep on bad teams.
In fact, one of the Cavs' three road wins was in Beantown.
Byron Scott, quote machine: "It's tough to take the loss because I thought our guys played hard enough to get the win. We have to keep playing hard and applying all the things we talked about at both ends of the floor. We have to know it's going to work out for us, we're going to have a breakout game. Right now we're losing some of these battles but in the long run we'll hopefully win the war."
The Toronto Craptors: Let's go ahead and get this out of the way:
Now, from The Other Chris:
Well, another game, another loss for the Raptors. At least they made this one entertaining, in the same way a car crash is.
Grizzlies end-of-game play: Give the play to Rudy Gay, let him do his thing (Hey, NBA defenders? He wants to go right, mmmK?). Jump shot with 0.8 left. Swish. Grizzlies up by 2. Toronto crowd deflated and with an inevitable sense of upcoming doom.
Raptors end-of-game play: Struggle to throw the ball into Sundiata Gaines - I'm sorry, why he is even on the floor in the first place? Because that's just how bad the Craptors are? OK, cool. Anyways, throw it in to Sundiata, who throws it directly into the arms of his defender. Game over.
Oh, and this is the guy that had already airballed not one, but two three point shots in this game. Of course you want to get the ball into a D-league journeyman midget who's ice cold and being guarded by a much taller player. Nothing says "clutch", "execution" and "well-coached" like the final sequence, or the Craptors offense in general down the stretch.
But don't worry kids, it wasn't just on the offensive end that the Craptosaurs strove for new lows. Their defensive rebounding was.. nightmarish, catastrophic, nonexistent. And it wasn't just surrendering easy offensive boards. It was surrendering an endless series of putbacks, tips and layups for the Grizzlies. I haven't checked the box score to see how many offensive rebounds or second-chance points the Raptors gave up - with all the resistance of wet paper bag in a hurricane -- but I conservatively estimate, as a mathemelogist, that it was a metric fuckton.
They need to start putting lard in Ed Davis and Amir Johnson's food, or surgically implant a pair of balls on Andrea Bargnani's mangina, because.. ye Gods. The forecasted Crapt-pocalypse of points in the paint was all that and more for Z-Bo, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and even Lacktion Hall of Famer Darrell Freaking Arthur.
Special mention to Julian Wright for barely grazing the rim on the first freebie on two consecutive trips to the line. There's knowing your limitations, and then there's being so offensively limited that your team is playing four-on-five when you're on the floor.
My next game is against Phoenix; at least I can cheer Captain Canada, boo Half Man Half Season, and get drunk with my friends. And it will be Marcin Gortat's turn to beat our soft front line like a rented mule.
This team stinks and is getting worse. Cleveland, Sacramento and New Jersey, meet you at the bottom of the standings.
You forgot to mention that you witnessed the end of the only thing the Raptors had left going for the organization, and probably the reason why Gaines was in there for the last play: Going 0-13 from the arc marks the end of their league leading 986 game streak with at least 1 3ptm. And Dallas is only 5 games behind to break it.
The Orlando Magic: Orlando had reached the top of John Hollinger's Power Rankings. Dwight Howard had been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. And the Magic were playing at home against the Pistons. Aaaaaaaand...
Detroit got 20 points out of Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Tracy McGrady. In fact, Knee-Mac scored 14 points in the first quarter. The Pistons -- who rank 23rd in Offensive Rating (105.0) and 25th in PPG (94.8) -- scored 103 points and finished with on O-Rating of 114.7 against a team that ranks 5th in D-Rating (102.4).
The Pistons scored 26 points off 16 forced turnvoers.
Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "We have to get a lot better defensively, which is my responsibility. I played Quentin tonight and maybe I'll have to play him more, or maybe we will have to play other people if these guys won't commit to it. We've just got to defend a lot better than we did tonight."
When reminded that the team had traded for Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, two historically defenseless players, Van Gundy paused, stared blankly for a full minute, and then began to weep ever so softly.
Of course, another problem was Orlando's three-point shooting. They were 7-for-27 from downtown (25.9 percent). Live by the three...
Added Dwight Howard: "Guys just have to want to play, that's it. Either we get it together or we're just going to be a playoff team that doesn't win a championship."
Yeah, that's pretty much what I had you guys pegged as, Dwight. No offense.
Chris's amazing Monday lacktion ledger:
Pistons-Magic: Jason Maxiell minimized his on-court presence to a mere 54 seconds of Koopa Troopa chasing for a Mario!
Grizzlies-Craptors: Hasheem "Second Overall Dream" Thabeet celebrated in a new universe with a 0.8 second SUPER MARIO GALAXY!!
Meanwhile, Toronto's Sonny Weems skated into the ledger via two bricks and a lost rock in 8:22 to earn a +3.
Generals-Knicks: Kevin Seraphin commandeered three boards in 14:33 with three fouls and a turnover for a 4:3 Voskuhl, while Yi Jianlian can now purchase a throne with a 1.35 trillion (1:20). Calling into this evening's episode of X-Play were Hilton Armstrong and Cartier Martin, who were on the line for 46 seconds as Mario Brothers! (Armstrong managed a 100% shooting percentage on one attempt so he avoided pure lacktion, while Martin bricked from the National Mall to earn a +1.)
Bucks-Bulls: Milwaukee's tiny Earl Boykins gathered up all his strength for a LARGE lacktion score, going 0% on four shot attempts in 11:28 and adding a rejection, turnover, and foul as well for a +7!!!
Purple Paupers-Frail Blazers: Sean Marks met his personal best in WiiFit after 54 seconds of exercise for a Mario.
Spurs-Warriors: San Antonio's newest acquisition, Larry Owens, became the latest in a long line of league-wide lacktators with a brick from the Oakland Tribune building for a +1 in 1:52.
Dan Gadzuric gave the Warriors two fouls and a brick in 3:35 for a +3 that doubled as a 2:0 Voskuhl, while Louis Amundson negated a block in 6:47 with three fouls for a 3:0 Voskuhl.