The Washington Wizards Generals: The Generals seemed to catch a break when the Hornets' Emeka Okafor -- who averages a double-double (11.1 PPG and 10.1 RPG) and nearly 2 blocked shots -- went down with a left oblique muscle strain.
Enter: The Dragon Jason Smith!
Going into this game, Smith's scouting report read something like "tall white guy who does Chris Paul's laundry and passes out Gatorade during timeouts." Well, Smith hit his first nine shots, scored a team and career-high 20 points, and finished with a better plus-minus score (+6) than CP3 (0).
That dude must on a steady diet of powdered toast, because launching into the air with the power of VITAMIN F!
Washington has now lost six in a row and [GRIM REALITY ALERT!!] and are 0-25 on the road. That means the Generals are a mere four road losses from matching the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks' all-time worst 0-29 start on the road.
Am I dreaming? Somebody pinch me!
Said Andray Blatche: "We're not giving in and we're not giving up. We're just playing scared. It's tough when you fight the whole game and you come up short. ... I'm sure that if we keep playing like we're playing, we're going to pull off a road win."
John Wall: 4 points. 2-for-10. His lunch money stolen by Chris Paul. That Rookie of the Year award keeps slipping further and further away...
Monty Williams, backhanded compliment machine: On Smith's big night: "He brought the right kind of energy tonight. Sometimes, Jason will go for offensive rebounds he doesn't have a chance to grab or foul someone for no apparent reason, and tonight he was knocking down shots, he was attacking the rim, he made the right cuts and got to the free throw line. Defensively he didn't get exploited as bad as most people would have expected."
Way to throw a wet blanket on your boy, coach.
The San Antonio Spurs: I have a question for the Frail Blazers:
I'm kidding, but, seriously, how are they doing it? These guys have been left for dead more times than Jonah Hill's genitals. Greg Oden: Out for the season. Brandon Roy: Out indefinitely. Marcus Camby: Out indefinitely. Joel Przybilla: Seriously considering retirement.
If you think about it, they have no business being 16-9 without Brandon Roy (versus 10-13 with him). Or, for that matter, taking down the league's best team. But that's what they did last night. Pretty convincingly too.
How'd they do it? Well, the Spurs are 5th in both FGP (47.0) and eFG% (52.0), but Portland held 'em to 42.7 and 47.6, respectively. The key was limiting San Antonio's transition opportunities. According to TeamRankings.com, the Spurs rank 5th in fast break points per game (15.6). Last night, the Men in White and Black were held to 2 points in transition.
Beyond that, the Spurs didn't do much defensively. LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 40 points on 16-for-23 shooting and Portland finished with an Offensive Rating of 118.1 despite going 2-for-13 from downtown.
Said Frail Blazers coach Nate McMillan: "To go toe-to-toe with most teams, we can't do that. We've got to outwork you, we've got to be smarter, execute. And if we do that, we play hard, we're going to give ourselves a chance to win. Tonight, we beat the best team in the league."
Random bizarre story from the AP game notes: "A helicopter that was readying to pick up Blazers' owner Paul Allen and take him to his yacht went down in the water off Argentina this week. The two pilots were rescued from the water by Allen's crew and treated for minor injuries."
The Sacramento Kings: Okay, seriously, nobody thought they were going to beat the Lakers, Hornets and Celtics back-to-back-to-back, right?
By the way, what's up with those band-aids on the back of Ray Allen's calves. Does anybody know what's up with that?
Kevin Garnett, selective memory machine: In case you missed it, there was a bit of a dustup between Garnett, Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins last night. Basically, KG ended up on the floor after diving for a loose ball. Cousins tried to stand up over him and Rondo shoved him away.
Said Cousins: "It was all in the game and it wasn't nothing personal or dislike. That was the Celtics, and I was standing my ground. But it was really nothing."
Uh, standing your ground, DeMarcus? Standing is one thing. But the video shows Cousins walking toward KG when the play was clearly over. That's not "standing your ground"...and it's not surprising either.
Anyway, dig was KG had to say about the situation: "We're a very proud team. We don't really do that to other people and just want hold up some decency in this game and respect. We all have each other's back. I guess [Rondo] felt he was standing over me, which is inappropriate to us."
As always, I'm just sayin'.
The Los Angeles Lakers: As Wild Yams put it: "Lamar Odom with the animal style double double tonight, Kobe with 32 points and 11 assists, and Pau with 26 points, 16 boards and 4 blocks... and the Lakers need overtime at home to beat the Rockets. Dunno if missing Bynum is enough of an excuse to account for this."
I should also point out that L.A. couldn't do anything with Kevin Martin (20 points, 12-for-20, 10-for-11 from the line) or Luis Scola (24 points, 12-for-20, 15 rebounds). Oh, and get this, K-Mart was the only Houston player to attempt a single free throw. The Lakers, unbelievably, managed to avoid giving up a single freebie to 10 other Rocketeers in a game that went to overtime.
Huh. Weird. (Is...is that mom's homemade apple pie...?)
Random factoid: The Lakers seem to be pretty good in most areas, except they rank 21st in Defensive Rebound Percentage. Last year they were 9th. Dunno if that means anything, but...
The Houston Rockets: At this point, the Rockets seem to exist solely to be a pain in the ass to other teams. They're good enough on offense to keep things interesting (5th in O-Rating) but bad enough on defense to lose a lot of close ones (24th in D-Rating).
They've lost 13 of their last 20 games. That includes three overtime losses (to the Jazz, Hornets and Lakers), a six-point loss to the Heat, a three-point loss at Portland, a six-point loss to the Thunder, a five-point loss at Memphis and a five-point loss at Dallas. They're 22-28, but their point differential is +0.1.
Said Shane Battier: "Our margin of error is so small because we're a small team. As you saw, the rebounding game is something that continues to hurt us, especially when it's tight. We were right there, played good defense and forced tough shots, but we have to maintain concentration and discipline and really get five guys rebounding for the entire game."
Kobe Bryant, quote machine: "When I'm out there being aggressive and doing my thing, he needs to follow suit and just be just as aggressive which is hard for him because it's kind of against his nature. But I think tonight was a good step. Even when he was in Memphis and he was the go-to guy, he was always very nice. Very white swan. I need him to be black swan."
And you've gotta love this follow up from the AP: "Less Natalie Portman. More Mila Kunis. Gasol got the point just in time to help the Lakers avoid another embarrassing fall in their treacherous midseason dance."
I want it noted that I didn't make the girl joke this time.
Chris's lacktion report:
Generals-Hornets: Quincy Pondexter can certainly buy himself quite a bit of king cake for Mardi Gras this year, after a collection of 1.4 trillion (1:24)! DJ Mbenga made himself noticed by belaying a board in 3:26 with a foul and turnover for a 2:1 Voskuhl.
Rockets-Lakers: Jordan Hill climbed into the ledger tonight with a one-brick +1 in 2:46.