sadsack mamba
A "Sad Bench" photo starring Kobe Bryant? My day is officially made.

The Indiana Pacers: Said Danny Granger: "We shouldn't have won. We didn't shoot the ball too well."

I haven't heard that kind of unfiltered truth since a psychic told me I would die alone. Indy went 7-for-24 from downtown (29 percent) and 37-for-99 overall (37 percent). They even bricked eight of their 19 foul shots (58 percent).

And Granger? 9-for-23. He did have 17 rebounds, though. That was nine more than Amar''''''e Stoudemire. You know, for the record.

The Los Angeles Clippers: 37 points in the fourth quarter. As in, those are how many the Clippers gave up to the Hawks last night. But, hey, who plays defense in the final 12 minutes, anyway?

Oh, right. Teams that win basketball games.

Said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: "In the second half we didn't stop them at all. They scored at will against us and our energy defensively was not good enough. Our bench turned the ball over way too much, and that hurt. We can't give a team like that extra possessions."

Oh, sure, Vinny. Blame the bench. Your reserves committed seven of your team's 19 turnovers. Off of which the Hawks scored 24 points.

If I was The Notorious VDN, I'd also be worried about how slap happy my team was, because the Dirty Birds got 40 foul shots. On the road. Inside sources tell me that's a lot.

Joe Johnson: When can you call going 7-for-20 "breaking out of a slump"? When a guy went 18-for-51 in his previous three games, that's when.

The Cleveland Cavaliers: Dirk Nowitzki was out with his sprained knee and Caron Butler missed the game with what may be a season-ending knee injury. No matter. The Mavericks still had what it took to beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland. These days, "what it takes" to beat the Cavs is "five warm bodies in short pants."

On the bright side, Cleveland shot 50 percent from the field. On the not-so-bright side, they've now lost seven straight and 17 of their last 18. According to their coach, it's because they were without Boobie Gibson and Andy Varejao.

Said Byron Scott: "We didn't have enough guys play well. That's pretty much the bottom line. When you're playing against a good team like Dallas, it can't be just two guys. You have to have four or five guys play well."

When reminded that Brian Cardinal has been playing significant minutes for the Mavericks lately, Scott just stared blankly off into space, possibly thinking about overhauling his wardrobe.

The Toronto Craptors: Offensively speaking, the Celtics have been playing some real crap basketball lately. But few things can turn bad offense around quite like a trip to the Air Canada Centre Roller Rink.

(EDIT by Chris: Yep. With another Craptor loss, it's that time again. Enjoy!)

This season, the Craptosaurs rank 26th in Opponents PPG (104.4) and 27th in Defensive Rating (110.3). And in a turn of events that should shock nobody at all, Boston -- thanks in no small part to the return of Rajon Rondo -- shot 54 percent from the field and had 30 assists on 38 field goals.

Freaking Glen Davis had 8 assists.

Meanwhile, the Craptors -- who went 1-for-14 from beyond the arc -- have lost 11 of their past 14.

Rajon Rondo, quote machine: "I know the plays better than Doc."

The Phoenix Suns: The good news: They harassed Sacramento into 6-for-26 shooting in the first quarter and forced the Kings' backcourt of Beno Udrih and Tyreke Evans to go a combined 0-for-9 in the first half. For the game, they held the Kings to 94 points on 40 percent shooting.

The bad news: They held themselves to 89 points on 40 percent shooting. And that was despite a nearly flawless performance by Steve Nash (20 points, 12 assists, 2 steals, 8-for-8 from the field, 2-for-2 from downtown, 2-for-2 from the line).

The worst part is, the Suns were up eight points going into the fourth quarter. But the Kings -- who entered the game with a league-worst six wins -- outscored them 29-16 in the final 12 minutes thanks to DeMarcus Cousins and his 13 fourth quarter points. Cousins finished with career-highs in points (28) and assists (6).

Mind you, DeMarcus picked up his fifth foul with 7:31 remaining. But it's hard for a team to draw a big man's sixth foul when all they're doing is chucking up jumpers.

The Kings -- who outrebounded the Suns by a staggering 60-32 -- closed the game on a 19-2 run. Sacramento. Did that to Phoenix. Seriously.

Said Kings coach Paul Westphal: "It was crazy to be able to that (19-2 run). Our guys just kept playing hard. We were shooting 30 percent for most of the first half, something had to give."

I bet the Phoenix players were thinking the same thing. After all, they've finally started playing some defense. Of course, after making your opponent miss, you have to grab a rebound. Sacramento finished with 18 offensive boards.

Said Nash: "They got some offensive rebounds and some put backs, and some easy ones that really hurt us. Tonight we just missed some shots at the end and some wide open 3s. Our offense had some good looks, we just didn't make them."

In related news, the Suns have lost five of their last six games and nine of 12 overall.

Vince Carter, worst player of the night: I would like to introduce his game-worst plus-minus score of -17 as Exhibit A in the Case of Why I F**king Hate Seeing Vince Carter on the Suns.

effing vinsanity
Welcome to my nightmare.

The Houston Rockets: LaMarcus Aldridge had a double-double (25 points and 11 rebounds). Nicky Batum had a season-high 21 points. Patrick Mills had a career-high 14 points, 5 assists and 5 steals. Marcus Camby had 13 rebounds and season-high eight assists. See where I'm going with this?

The Rockets played like crap. They couldn't have stopped a jug of milk from expiring. Houston was down 10 at halftime, trailed by as many as 23 points, and was finally, mercifully laid to after their 100-85 whuppin'.

Said Rockets coach Rick Adelman: "Just a poor effort. That is as bad as we have played all year. We were a step behind all night."

Those rickety Rockets just can't keep from falling below .500. Probably because they can't win against good teams. In fact, their last victory over a team with a winning record was on December 1 against...

The Los Angeles Lakers: Remember how hot these guys were to start the season? They broke out of the gates 8-0 and were 13-2 after 15 games. During that opening stretch, they scored 100+ points 14 times and had 12 games in which they scored 110+ points. And there were whispers about whether they might be able to win 70+ games.

In the 19 games since then, the Lakers have gone 10-9. They've lost four of their last six games, and those four losses have been by 19, 16, 15 and 19 points. Three of the defeats happened on their homecourt.

L.A. was outrebounded 44-37, got outscored 50-36 in the paint and 28-5 on the fast break, and gave up 18 points off 20 turnovers. They trailed by as many as 26 points and got rightfully booed by the home crowd in the waning minutes of their 104-85 loss.

Huh. I thought Andrew Bynum coming back was supposed to fix everything. Instead, it looks like pretty much everything needs fixing.

Said Kobe Bryant: "We didn't execute well, and defensively we were poor," Bryant said. "We've just got to come out focused and ready to play. It's tough when you have to try to regenerate that energy every single night. It starts individually. You have to look at yourself and try to find things to get you going. Right now we can't beat anybody, but we'll be fine."

Speaking of starting individually, Kobe once again attempted almost as many shots (22) as the rest of L.A.'s starting lineup (25). He scored 17 in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 28 points. But he went 1-for-7 on threes and seemingly brought his team's offense to a screeching halt.

Said Phil Jackson: "Kobe had to screw up the game and start energizing the team by going one-on-one; it takes the rest of the guys out. And as a consequence that didn't bring us back in."

I didn't exactly need to type "SPOILER ALERT!" before that quote. But it's interesting to finally see P-Jax acknowledge that Kobe going all Black Mamba doesn't really make the Lakers better. That, in fact, it makes them worse.

Of course, at this point, it's hard to tell exactly what would make them better. Or even what exactly is wrong with them.

Said Bryant: "It's being out of sync. That's kind of what happened."

Suggested Bynum: "We're not really playing for each other right now. We're not playing to set the next man up."

Added Gasol: "I don't understand it, I don't like it and I have no explanation."

Observed Jackson: "The big thing about it is we've lost some games at home that are laughers for opponents coming in on our home court. That's a concern."

No kidding. But never fear, Lakers fans. Check out your team's upcoming schedule: Pistons, at Phoenix, Hornets, Knicks, Cavs, at Golden State, Nyets, Clippers. Regardless of their recent struggles, I can't see them finishing this stretch any worse than 6-2. By the way, how is it the Lakers -- currently tied with the Kings for the league's weakest strength of schedule -- have yet another extended stretch of mostly sub-.500 opponents?

Chris's Lacktion Report:

Pacers-Knicks: Solomon Jones decreed that an assist and field goal in 6:09 wasn't enough, by adding 3 turnovers and 2 fouls to the line for a 5:2 Voskuhl.

Celtics-Craptors: Ronald Dupree decided to play Roller Games on his Famicom for 11 seconds to earn a Mario!

Mavs-Cavs: Leon Powe provided a board and field goal for Team Comic Sans in 14:02 as starting big man...but three fouls and a giveaway resulted in a 4:3 Voskuhl.

Rockets-Frail Blazers: Sean Marks measured up to the low standards of the ledger by negating a rebound in 8:03 with three fouls for a 3:1 Voskuhl.

Grizzlies-Lakers: Joe Smith unmightily marred a steal with one foul in 4:36 for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl, while Derrick Caracter lost the rock once in the same timespan for a +1 and the same Voskuhl ratio.


Anonymous Stockton said...
During the regular season, each team plays 82 games, 41 each home and away. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year (16 games), teams from the other two divisions in its conference either three or four times (36 games), and teams in the other conference twice apiece (30 games).

Considering all the teams in the Laker's division are bellow .50, and basically the ##CK balls...

Blogger Wormboy said...
Why do sad Kobe faces always look like mad Kobe faces?

Stop being a whiny bitch, Kobe. You want your team to be better, do two things: a) stop jacking up so many shots, and instead feed the ball to Gasol, who is a much more efficient scorer than you, and b) how's about some of that lock-down D we hear so much about, but never see? Is "roaming D" really that helpful for your team, or is it an excuse not to be busting your ass chasing a mark through picks, so you can save your energy for contested off-balance threes at the other end?

To me, this season is a test of Kobe's desire to win: does he do what his team needs, or does he do what makes Kobe look like The Man? We know what Tim Duncan has done under similar circumstance, but how about you, Kobe?

Anonymous Karc said...
Sadly, Kobe going "hero mode" wasn't the biggest reason they lost that game. Weren't they killed by +20 on the fast break? Did LA even get a offensive rebound, something that will always keep them in a game when they can't get a score?

I mean, between this game, the Spurs, Bucks and Heat games, I'm sure a pretty savvy coach with aggressive and speedy players can put together a decent blueprint in beating this team in the playoffs. Say, like Utah or Houston, in the first round. They may even have home court.

Still not nearly as embarrassing as the 7-9 Seahawks getting to host a playoff game against the defending champions. Clay Bennett is a d-bag, but he was onto something. Between this, the Mariners and the Storm that no one watches, the SOS fools did not deserve the Sonics.

Anonymous Geert said...
After the Phoenix-Orlando trade it looked like most people thought Phoenix got the best part of the deal. I don't have the stats to back that claim up, but to me it did when I read the artcicles and blogs that wrote about it. And now Orlando went on a winning streak and Phoenix keeps losing. Makes me sad, because Nash is one of my favourite people on earth.

Also, Carters beard looks stupid.

Blogger chris said...
With Toronto losing, I just updated the WOTN with an essential video clip that goes with the occasion. ;)

Blogger Basketbawful said...
With Toronto losing, I just updated the WOTN with an essential video clip that goes with the occasion. ;)

Gah!! I keep forgetting!! Thanks for the update.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
Kinda wish you did Saturday. Warriors were embarrassing the Heat something silly. Up 20 at one point, scored 72 points in the first half, then collectively wet themselves when the Heat hangovers faded away by halftime. Good stuff

Anonymous JJ said...
Anyone else notice how bawful Tyreke has been? Pretty much all his stats are down from last year, and his FG% and 3P% are especially horrendous (although his 3P% "improved" from .255 to .280). What the heck happened to him?

Blogger Will said...
The Craptors are lucky they "only" lost by 14. They had 19 ORebs to the Celtics 2 (both by the Drain himself). I really have no point here, I just wanted to make a comment because my WV is sperm.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...

Tyreke is a 3rd world, homeless man's LeBron. When he can't bull his way to the basket, he's in a lot of trouble as a basketball player - only he's an even worse shooter than LB, and isn't as physically freakish as LB, although still pretty freakish. And he needs to have the ball in his hands pretty much all of the time, he's lost without it.

Teams were taken by surprise by the Freak last year; not so much this year.

I'm sure chris has intimate knowledge of Tyreke's shortcomings...

Anonymous Azreous said...
A great breakdown of Vag Carter's awful play down the stretch:

As for the winner of the Orlando-Phoenix trade, the Suns are likely to have the better results in the years to come, picking up Gortat for the long haul (who has played well) when they were extremely unlikely to resign Richardson anyway. But this season...not so much.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
JJ, he's playing with Plantar Fascitis I believe. Also, the Kings roster is a pastiche of too many players at one or two positions. Starters today will have DNPs the next

Blogger The Dude Abides said...
@JJ - plantar fasciitis happened

The success of the Lakers each game is predicated on how assertive Pau is in getting post position and how aggressive he is once he gets the ball in the post. He has become the bellwether for the team. Last night, he scored six of the team's first eight points, then disappeared. When he disappears, the rest of the team starts chucking up contested long jumpers, then in the second half, Kobe goes into hero mode.

The one wild card in the Lakers' favor is Bynum. He still doesn't quite have his legs under him yet on some shot attempts, but it appears that his knees are more healthy than they've been since the January 2009 torn MCL (the Kobe collision). He was out for four months with that injury, and played that postseason and all of last season with an undiagnosed torn meniscus, which he aggravated in the first round of the 2010 playoffs against OKC and got surgically repaired in July. Since it was repaired and not removed, it's given that knee greater stability. He's jumping better than he has since January 2009, when he averaged about 30 and 12 in the two weeks before Kobe crashed into him. If he can get back in beast mode, his teammates can feed him in the post whenever Pau disappears.

Anonymous Czernobog said...
@JJ: He's not 100% healthy. Plantar fasciitis.

Also, his coach is a moron. They have no coherent offense, and the lineup around him keeps changing.

Anonymous luislandry said...
You may be interested that 7/20 is a worse shooting percentage than 18/51. Lousy Joe Johnson...

My word verification word was "forloid"...what a cool fake word.

Anonymous No Ring King said...
Said it before...

San Antonio is 29-4, which is a winning rate of .879, same as the 1996 Bulls.

Times I heard about Miami matching or beating those Bulls when they had 0% of the season completed: millions.

Times I've heard about the Spurs doing the same, when they've got 40% of the season in their rear-view and are actually on pace for the record: zero.

Blogger Wormboy said...
I wonder if Pau just got gassed. They need to feed the man.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
"I think the big issue is individually, finding things that motivate you," Bryant said.

"I'm pretty self-motivated but I think for the guys, from talking to them, it's important to find little challenges so they can get up every single night, whether it's reading one of your . . . stories or whatever it is, you've got to find something that gets you going a little bit. . . .

"That's the role that you guys [the press] play in this thing. You guys write doom-and-gloom stories. I think that actually builds up a lot of tension.

"Most of the guys don't read them, but you can feel the energy from the crowd when you go out there, how concerned everybody is, so that does put a lot of pressure on us."

Anonymous Czernobog said...
@No ring king: I've thought the same thing myself, but I really wouldn't want these Spurs and their diminutive center being compared to the Dinasty Bulls. I don't like the Heat comparisons either, but even though there's more evidence in favour of a Spurs comparison, neither is valid.

All things considered, I'm happy to keep my fingers crossed for Duncan and let them fly under the radar.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
*cries self to sleep*

This p much sucks.

Blogger lordhenry said...
In the mountains of L.A., in the citadel of Minas Mamba, on a throne of frozen tears sits the Dark Lord, Kobe "Bean" Bryant, the Black Mamba, he of the five rings, gimpy finger, and maniacal shot-jackery.

The Mamba is not amused.
"SO we lost by 15. TO MEMPHIS."
Darth Vega, Pau Gasol, steps into the vortex of his master's wrath, "My Lord, Memphis is led by my brother who has improved a l--"
"Please, spare me the drivel, Gasoft, I just wanted to see who was stupid enough to answer. Times like these are when I fry Sasha with my lightning to make myself feel better, but since that numb old man never played him, he got traded--"
In a shower of light and ice, the Black Mamba is launched from his throne as it explodes around him.

All eyes turn towards Phil Jackson, the Zen Master, he of 13 rings, who stands with his hand extended, still smoking from the lightning it just unleashed.
"Surprised you evaded that, Kobe, apparently you still have some hops."
"Old man, you have gone too far...."
A sardonic smile plays on Phil's lips. "No, this time your assholery has gone too far. You may be the Dark Lord, but it is time to remind you who is the EMPEROR."

Blogger Bing said...
Did Rondo really say that or was the quote made up for laughs?
Dude can play but that is a seriously douchy thing to say.