Deron Williams: I'm not saying he directly forced Jerry Sloan out of Utah. I don't think that's quite how it went down. However, by all indications, it seems as though dealing with day-to-day bullshit from new school players killed Sloan's passion for the game. Yeah, well, almost getting into a fist fight with your All-Star point guard will do that.
So, sure, Williams and his issues -- which may or may not have revolved around Sloan's super-strict adherence to the flex offense -- may have only been the final straw. But I'd still like to take that straw and set it on fire.
As for Sloan, he represented a lot of what I appreciate and love about the game. He was no-nonesense and a real man's man. I'll miss ya, coach Sloan. Good luck and Godspeed.
The Golden State Warriors: That whole "Outscore The Other Guys" strategy works if you're scoring...and the Warriors weren't doing that last night. They were missing from everywhere: 36-for-90 from the field (40 percent), 6-for-20 from downtown (30 percent) and 10-for-17 from the line (58 percent). Their eFG% was a dismal 43 percent and they were scoring at a rate of 93.2 points per 100 possessions.
Meanwhile, Phoenix had an eFG% of nearly 60 percent and an O-Rating of 118.6. The Suns -- a notoriously weak rebounding team -- won the Battle of the Boards 47-32 and, despite having far fewer misses, finished with an ORB% of 34.3.
Let me put it this way: The only thing the Suns didn't do was physically put the Warriors over their knees and administer what Grandma Bawful would have (in all her Hoosier glory) referred to as "a learnin'." Remember: The Warriors want to run-run-run-and-gun. And the human body isn't built to run a track meet every day.
Said Golden State coach Keith Smart: "You share with the younger players how hard it is that you have to play every night in the NBA, back to back in particular, but there's nothing you can do with it. We didn't play well to start the game off in the first half. We didn't have the energy we needed to have against this team."
Added David "I can't believe I left New York for this shit" Lee: "It was bad from start to finish, similar to the last game we played them. I feel like we got outplayed at all five positions from the start of the game to the end."
Um, that's 'cause you did get outplayed at all five positions from the start of the game to the end, David. As Air Supply would say, it's more than a feeling.
The Suns went on a 20-0 run between the second and third quarters and led by as many as 33 -- their biggest lead against any team this season -- before resting Steve Nash (18 points, 11 assists) during the fourth quarter of this 112-88 beati...er, learnin'.
Random: Rookie Zabian Dowdell, who was signed to cover for the injured Goran Tragic, almost doubled his NBA career-high by scoring 10 points.
The _allas Mavericks: Defense: It works bitches!
Assuming teams actually, you know, use it.
Apparently, _allas and _enver decided to take Lawler's Law to its most illogical extreme. The Mavericks hit 53.6 percent of their shots, went 11-for-25 from beyond the arc, had an eFG% of 60.1 percent and an O-Rating of 128.4. The Nuggets converted 52.4 percent of their field goals, including 48.4 percent of their treys (15-for-31), and had an equally mind-numbing eFG% (61.3) and O-Rating (129.5). _allas had six players in double-figures, while, for _enver, Carmelo Anthony scored 42, Chauncey Billups had 18 of his 30 in the first 12 minutes, and Aaron Affalo blew up for 19 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Considering that nobody could stop anybody else, it's appropriate the game came down to this:
You may have noticed 'Melo wasn't involved in that final play. That's 'cause he'd fouled out of the game. That's right: The Mavs couldn't defend one possession...even when the opposing team's best offensive player was sipping Gatorade on the sideline. And did I mention that _allas had a nine-point lead with 2:51 left?
Said Dirk Nowitzki: "It was a tough finish. Afflalo was basically a non-factor for three quarters, and all of a sudden he throws everything in that he got."
Added Jason Kidd: "This is the NBA. You win games sometimes when you're not supposed to and you lose games when you're not supposed to."
I think that was Jason's passive-aggressive way of saying the Mavericks should have won this one.
Random: According to ESPN Stats and Information: "It's the first time since the 1999-2000 season that Denver had players score 40-30-20 in the same game. On Jan. 20, 2000, Antonio McDyess scored 40, Nick Van Exel had 31 and Ron Mercer had 22 in a 122-115 loss to the Rockets."
Being mentioned in the save breath as the Holy McDyess-Mercer-Van Exel Trinity is pretty special. Soak it up, guys.
More random: The game's best plus-minus score? Brian Cardinal was +18 in his 16 minutes. By contrast, Nowitzki was -11 in his 36 minutes. Clearly, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle should be starting Cardinal and bringing Dirk in off the bench.
The Boston Celtics: Excuses? You want excuses?
I love that scene. Anyway...
...the Celtics have four All-Stars. But three of them are old men by NBA standards and the fourth was forced to play 44+ minutes because his one and only backup (Nate Robinson) went down with a bruised knee after only three minutes and 39 seconds of lacktion.
Remember, this Boston team was supposed to go deeper than Ron Jeremy. During the offseason, they signed Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq to counter L.A.'s superior size. And The Drain and The Big Creaky might have made a difference if they could actually suit up and shuffle up and down the court. As it was, Pau Gasol (20 points, 8-for-13, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) and Andrew Bynum (16 points, 6-for-10, 9 rebounds) got pretty much whatever they wanted and the Lakers outrebounded the Celtics 47-36 while racking up an ORB% of 33.3.
Speaking of depth, the combination of Robinson, Marquis Daniels and Delonte West might have been one of the best backup backcourts in the league. Unfortunately, Lil' Nate got hurt, and Daniels (bruised spinal cord) and West (broken wrist) on on mid-season vacation. As a result, Doc Rivers had to get nearly 20 "quality" minutes out of Von Wafer, who due to matchups (and Ray Allen's foul trouble) had to try and guard Kobe Bryant for long stretches of the second half. Even rookie Avery Bradley was given a turn at checking Bryant.
Do the words "thrown to the wolves" mean anything to you?
It's no surprise that Mamba got into a groove, scoring 20 points in the last 24 minutes, including 13 points in the final 12 and 8 (on 4-for-6 shooting) in the final 4:51. About the only thing Kobe didn't do in clutch time was flip a big middle finger at all the people who have been questioning his ability in the clutch.
The American education system: If you're going to be a douchebag, couldn't you at least be a creative, witty douchebag?
Update! Israel State Cup final fight: From Basketbawful reader Czernobog: "What, my brawl video wasn't Bawful enough? It has everything! A a 30 point blowout, a cheap punch from behind followed by an awesome takedown, cheap shots by a Greek giant in the scrum, and Refs who want nothing to do with it. Here, look at that shit again."
Chris's one-line lacktion ledger: Avery Bradley may have not had much to celebrate, but at least he came out of tonight's matchup richer, with a 1.3 trillion (1:17).