The Milwaukee Bucks: The Gol_en State _efense struck again: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute finished with a career-high 19 rebounds and a season-high 15 points. Meanwhile, Ersan Ilyasova had 23 points -- two off his career high -- and 13 rebounds. Which, again, proves my point that the words "season-high" and "career-high" are almost always used to describe the performance of Warriors opponents.
Still, Milwaukee's offense is so craptastic that it could manage only 94 points on 42 percent shooting against a defense that couldn't keep moss from growing on a rock. Mind you, the Bucks were minus their two best players (Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut), not to mention John Salmons, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Drew Good...
...wait, what? Jennings and Salmons played last night? Combining for 4 points on 2-for-11 shooting?
For what it's worth, the spectacle was nearly watchable, as the game was tied nine times and there were 22 lead changes. And there was the added incentive of seeing what Monta Ellis would do in the face of his All-Star "snub" (game-best 24 points, 1-for-5 from downtown, game-worst 4 turnovers). But, per usual, lack of offensive execution slaughtered the Deer.
Said Milwaukee taskmaster Scott Skiles: "We had so many opportunities, so many open-floor fast-break opportunities that we kind of kicked away. We took some wide-open shots and had a couple of three-on-ones and came up empty-handed."
It is worth noting, however, that Golden State shot 50.6 percent from the field and 12-for-24 from beyond the arc against what's supposed to be a crack defensive unit. Just sayin'.
Corey Maggette: Bad Porn scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and had an "And 1!" opportunity that could have pulled Milwaukee to within a single point with 10.3 seconds left. Of course, to nobody's surprise, he bonked the foul shot. The Bucks were forced to foul, the Warriors drilled their freebies, game over.
The Los Angeles Lakers: They were this close -- this close -- from shedding that whole "can't beat other elite teams" tag they've had branded on their collective ass this season. It's a scarlet letter "L" on L.A.'s left butt cheek. And it's going to sting...especially when you consider the Lakers' next five games (all on the road) against the Hornets, Care Bears, Celtics, Bricks and Magic.
Now, this season's San Antonio team has been (fairly) criticized for being all offense and (for them) relatively little defense. But this was an old school-style Spurs game: Bad shooting (both teams shooting in the very low 40s) and low scoring (neither team reached 90 points).
Said Mamba: "It was an ugly game. When you've got two good defensive teams, for the most part it's going to be that way. I think both teams didn't shoot the ball particularly well. They shot it better in stretches than we did. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game, but they just got a great bounce. It bounced right to him."
Ginobili had a wide-open 3-pointer that he missed. The Spurs got the rebound and Tony Parker drove the lane for one of his teardrop shots that also missed. Bryant had stepped over and was in position to draw the charge, but no call was made and after a multi-car pileup that left Parker, Bryant, Pau Gasol and Antonio McDyess on the ground. The ball went out of bounds to San Antonio, last touched by Artest.
There were 4.6 seconds remaining, enough time for Tim Duncan to get off a shot. That missed, but Lamar Odom got caught staring at Duncan instead of boxing out McDyess, who slipped past him and tipped in the rebound for the winning margin in the Spurs’ 89-88 victory.
The fact that it was the 36-year-old McDyess who made the big play set off a round of old man jokes around Twitter, and even among the Spurs.
"Come on, old man," George Hill said to McDyess as they left Staples Center. "I should carry you out, just for that shot.”"
"I need to be carried out," McDyess said.
And now...the video:
The best part of that sequence, I think, was the Lakers (most notably Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson) looking for a bailout via video review. Maybe somebody should have, I dunno, blocked out McDyess.
In all seriousness, are the Lakers going to win a big game this season? Before they flip on their "Playoff Switch" that is.
Derek Fisher: 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting and, by far, the game's bawfulest plus-minus score (-14 with Andy Bynum's -7 coming in at a distant second). Think about that: -14 in 24 minutes in a one-point loss. Seriously, you could soak Fish in a vat of Febreze every night and his corpse would still smell like a used diaper...filled with...Indian food. Or a turd covered in burnt hair. Or Bigfoot's dick. Take your pick.
Tim Duncan: This year's winner of the "Lifetime Achievement All-Star Selection" lived down to his bogus nod by scoring only 8 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Remember when opponents were genuinely afraid every time TD had the ball in his hands? Now they're probably thinking, "I hope he doesn't pass it to Richard Jefferson!" And that's kind of sad.
Anyway, on the season, Duncan is averaging career-worsts in PPG (13.5), RPG (9.3) and FGP (48.1). I get that San Antonio has the league's best record and Timmy is a first ballot Hall of Famer in the waiting...but Brad Miller numbers should not get him into the All-Star Game. Especially when somebody like Kevin Love -- according to Justin Kubatako of Basketball-Reference, writing for the New York Times -- is having a season for the ages.
Antonio McDyess, quote machine: On his game-winner: "I was in the right place at the right time, and it bounced right to me. I haven't had too many [buzzer-beaters]. I can probably count them on one hand, but this is a big one."
Kobe Bryant, quote machine: On the fact that the Lakers have already lost more home games this year than all of last season: "Mental toll? Not much. I think it builds mental toughness."
Really, Kobe? Then the Cleveland Cadavers must have the kind of mental toughness NASA could build a space shuttle out of.
Gary Neal, trick shot-making machine: Neal is best known, perhaps, by his stunning handshake fail from earlier this season. Now he should become even more well-known for this:
The Orlando Magic: Man, when LeBron said he had been eyeballing this rematch with the Magicians, I guess he wasn't kidding around. His Royal Crabbiness had a superhuman game -- 51 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and a 23-point first quarter -- as the cHeat busted the Sorcerer's Apprentices in Orlando.
Here's some extra LeBron-themed factoids from ESPN Stats and Information:
LeBron James' 51 points Thursday gave him the ...
most by any player this season (the previous high was 47 by Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin).
ninth 50-point game of his career -- all of them on the road.
sixth 50-point game in Heat history.
second-most points against the Magic in the Dwight Howard era (Allen Iverson scored 60).
Are 50-point games becoming less frequent? LeBron's 51-point effort was the first 50-point game of the season. 50-pt games have been in decline each of the last three seasons. There were just three such games all of last season (Andre Miller, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Jennings) after 11 in 2008-09.
This is the 9th 50-point game for LeBron James on the ROAD. He ties Kobe Bryant for the 2nd-most road 50-point games in the last 25 seasons.
LeBron James recorded the 6th 50-pt game in Heat history, with 3 of them coming against the Magic. His 51 is 3rd most in franchise history, behind Glen Rice's 56 and teammate Dwyane Wade's 55.
LeBron James is only the 2nd player in Heat history to reach 45+ points, 10+ rebounds and 8+ assists. Dwyane Wade went for 50 pts, 10 rebounds and 9 assists on march 14, 2009 vs Utah. No Heat player has ever had a triple-double with 40 or more points
LeBron James had 29 points in the first half. That is tied with Wesley Matthews for the 2nd-most points scored in the first half this season. Kevin Martin had 32 in the first half on December 11 against the Cavaliers.
On the night, 'Bron was 17-for-25 from the field, 3-for-5 from three-point range (including a real ball-buster with 1:29 left when the Magic were storming back), and 14-for-17 from the line. What's more, King Crab hit his first 11 shots of the night.
Said LeBron: "Just playing this team got me going. We understand that it wasn't just any regular-season game. There were a lot of things said about us in the offseason that came from this organization. So we just wanted to come in here and play to our abilities and make a statement."
They made a statement all right. Miami built a gast-flabbering 90-67 lead on Eddy House's triple with 7:39 to go. And then...
The Miami cHeat: Wake up! Wake up! LeBron, D-Wade, RuPaul of Big Men...you've got to wake up! Somebody get me three shots of adrenaline!
That 23-point lead should have been the end of things, especially considering Miami's starters were still, you know, in the game and everything. But, damn, it started raining threes. Orlando went on a rampage from long distance, drilling six triples in the final four minutes and seven seconds of the game, squeezing them around several layups.
Before you knew it -- thanks to a ball that got knocked out of bounds off LeBron (and the irritated face he made was a thing of beauty) -- the Magic had a chance to tie the game with just under 10 seconds left. And they ran a play that got Ryan Anderson open
"We just let our guard down. We can't do that as a veteran ball club. You can say that about a young team. We came in [the locker room] and you could tell by the look on the guys' faces that we weren't satisfied with the way we finished the game out. That's always a good sign. It wasn't just 'Let's celebrate.'"
Added cHeat coach Erik Spoelstra: "They've very competitive. You've got to be on top of you game and for 42 minutes we played as well and as efficient as we can on both ends of the court. We had an unfortunate six-minute lapse, but I'm not going to let that take away from the win. It was a good win. Our guys were very motivated in this game to beat a division rival, but hopefully we've learned our lesson."
Dwyane Wade: I'm not saying he didn't fall down and go boom. I'm just cutting and pasting this comment from Basketbawful reader diane:
While showing replay of Wade rolling on the floor...
"Wade is starting to develop Vince Carter disease." -Charles Barkley
Is that fair? Watch for yourself:
I'm not going to judge. I am going to point out that Larry Bird once knocked himself out and fractured a cheek bone at a time when his back was injured so badly he had been in traction the previous night...and he got up faster than Wade (and minus all the rolling and writhing around). As always, just sayin'.
Dwight Howard: Props to D-Wade for this play, though, performing quite the ego-ectomy on Pumaman:
And this is where I point out that Dwight went 3-for-13 from the line. Shaqnopsis at its worst. Or its bawful best, depending on your perspective.
Chris's lacktion report:
Heat-Magic: Zydrunas Ilgauskas gathered up a steal in 3:29, but also collected a brick and two fouls for a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Miami's Joel "Triple-Zero" Anthony may have recorded some positive stats for the night - 100% shooting percentage on one attempt, and two boards - yet he lost the rock once and nearly fouled out for a 6:4 Voskuhl.
Bucks-Warriors: Charlie Bell dialed in one brick from One Kaiser Plaza for a +1 suck differential.