'Melo practices his "be careful what you wish for" face.
The New York Knicks: It was a battle of two slumping teams: Boston had lost four of seven and New York had lost five of six. If you were going to look for an advantage in this one, you might have gone with homecourt advantage, considering this game was being played in Madision Square Garden.
Or, instead, you might have gone with the fact that one team was the Celtics and the other team was the Knicks. That was my pick.
It looked like a bad one early on. The Leprechauns had seemingly lost their Lucky Charms in the first half, falling behind 51-37 after 24 minutes. And even though Boston make a bit of a comeback, Mr. Big Shot converted a four-point play with 7:26 left to put the Knicks up 82-73. That was a momentum shift.
Going the other way.
The Celtics went on a 13-0 over the next three minutes and 15 seconds. And, actually, that was part of a 23-4 run Boston used to close out the game. During that run, the C's were 9-for-13 while the Knicks went 1-for-11 and committed three turnovers. STAT and 'Melo? Utterly scoreless in the final 12 minutes.
Where's John Starks when you need him?
In all fairness, Anthony sat out the final 2:01. Because of, uhm, a cut in the corner of his eye.
Said 'Melo: "Whatever [the trainers] put on it, I thought I was cool until I got in there and it started seeping into my eye. And I couldn't open my eye after that."
Lucky him. He didn't have to see the end of his team's choke job.
Unfortunately, Knicks coach Mike _'Antoni's eyes were fine. After watching his team get outscored 59-35 in the second half, _'Antoni said: "We just got to a point there, I thought we just panicked. We've got a lot of work to do."
Do they ever. The new-look Bricks have now lost six of seven. They're 7-9 since the 'Melo trade, a stretch that includes two losses to the Cleveland Cadavers. You know...the worst team in professional basketball.
So what's wrong with the Brickerbockers? Other than the absence of defense and their lack of team chemistry? According to Jeff Fogle of Hoopdata, they've been slooooooowwwwwwiiiiiiiiinnnnngggg it down:
Just After the Trade (opponent's seasonal pace thru Sunday):
99 possesions vs. Milwaukee (92.3) 106 possessions vs. Cleveland (96.2) 97 possessions vs. Miami (93.0) 102 possessions vs. Orlando (94.1)
Hold up here. New York was still running at this point. That's a characteristic of a Mark D'Antoni coached team. They play so fast they lift their opponents to a pace factor that's higher than the norm. Slowpokes Milwaukee and Miami shoot up to the high 90's. Cleveland and Orlando are closer to leage average. They shoot up into the 100's. D'Antoni teams run. In the first four games after the trade, they were still running.
Continuing in chronological order: 90 possessions vs. New Orleans (90.9) 94 possessions vs. Cleveland (96.2) 91 possessions vs. Atlanta (92.1) 101 possessions vs. Utah (94.2) 95 possessions vs. Memphis (95.1) 98 possessions vs. Dallas (92.6) 99.5 possessions in 2 games vs. Indiana (97.6) 92 possessions vs. Memphis (95.1) 92 possessions vs. Detroit (91.4) 92 possessions vs. Milwaukee (92.3)
It's like somebody flicked a switch. Instead of forcing D'Antoni's tempo on opponents...the Knicks were suddenly playing to their opponent's tempo. They'd play halfcourt games with halfcourt teams. They'd go along with a faster pace against somebody like Indiana. The only uncharacteristically fast games were against Utah...which was garbage time the whole second half, and Dallas, which saw both teams on night two of a back-to-back (and 4th game in 5 nights) and distinterested in defense.
Or, we can show it this way.
New York Pace Factors: 98.2 for the season (second fastest in the NBA) 96.5 the last 15 games (since the trade) 95.4 the last 7 games 92.0 the last 3 games
Monday night's game with Boston was another slow one that will be in the same neighborhood as the recent stragglers. Boston was at 92.8 for the year entering Monday. New York played to their pace.
The recent slump is not a case of the new Knicks having trouble adjusting to D'Antoni's style. D'Antoni's style has been thrown out the window!
To be honest, I haven't noticed the slowdown while watching the games, but it makes sense. Before the trade, New York had one high-volume scorer. The Knicks now have two high-volume scorers taking close to 20 shots per game. Two guys aren't going to get 40 FGA in transition. That kind of volume shot-taking requires post-ups and isos. Which requires a slower style featuring more halfcourt sets.
And who knows? Maybe that'll work for them at some point. It's not working now, tho'.
Kevin Garnett, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From Basketbawful reader Shiv: "Unintentionally dirty (though that's debateable) quote: 'Doc thought we were soft. He thought our play was soft, he thought everything we were doing was soft and we weren't the Cs. So we got firm.' Apparently KG likes the way Rivers talks dirty."
Shaq, pucker machine: Fun pic of Shaq in an MSG tunnel from Basketbawful reader Charles Y. Gently blowing a kiss...or sucking from a giant invisible straw? You decide!
Tommy Heinsohn, potty mouth: This is a late one...but deserved...sent in from Basketbawful reader Mark L.
The Sacramento Kings: Allow me to quote myself from By The Horns:
With 8:49 left in the third quarter of a home game against the Kings, former Bull John Salmons drilled an 11-footer to help the Bulls go up 79-44. For those who enjoy simple math, that represented a 35-point lead with less than 21 minutes to go. Completely and utterly insurmountable, right?
Sadly, it was not.
Sacramento outscored Chicago an astounding 58-19 the rest of the way, including 33-10 in the fourth quarter. No home team had ever lost after building a lead that huge. It was the biggest come-from-ahead loss in Bulls franchise history. It was also the largest come-from-behind win in Kings franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest comeback since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on November 27, 1996.
It was, without question, one of the worst things I've ever seen.
On Sunday, anticipating this "rematch" of that epic-level disaster, Derrick Rose said: "It's a heartbreaker. But you learn from it. If we're up 30, we're going to try to push it to 40, 50 points."
Mission accomplished, Derrick.
Let's go over the numbers:
They Bulls scored at least 30 points in all four quarters. The 132 points represent Chicago’s highest point total of the season. The 40-point margin of victory represents their second-largest win of the year. The Bulls shot 61.3 percent from the field (49-for-80) and 70.6 percent from three-point range (12-for-17). They earned 31 free throw attempts. They registered 34 assists (to 19 for the Kings). They outscored Sacramento 36-7 on the fast break and 56-22 in the paint. They blocked 10 shots and had 16 steals. They forced 22 turnovers while committing only 10.
Eight Bulls players scored in double figures:
Derrick Rose: 18 on 6-for-11 shooting Kyle Korver: 18 on 7-for-11 shooting Luol Deng: 17 on 5-for-9 shooting Carlos Boozer: 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting Keith Bogans: 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting Joakim Noah: 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting Omer Asik: 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting C.J. Watson: 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting
Said Kyle Korver: "Sometimes when it rains, it pours, right? I thought we executed really well. We got a lot of good looks. It's not like we were making a lot of tough shots. We hit a lot of jump shots. Guys passed the ball really well; we had a lot of assists. When you’re doing that, it’s really fun basketball to play."
Added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: "I love the balance. We're inside-out, keeping the ball moving, making the extra pass."
There wasn't much not to love in this one. Unless, of course, you’re a Sacramento fan. In which case, may heaven help you. The Kings are the second-worst team in their conference and may be forced to relocate to Anaheim.
Sorry, Kings fans.
No, really. I'm sorry.
"Fuck. We're gonna end up on Basketbawful again."
The Cleveland Cadavers: You wanna know how bad the Cads are? In a game in which his team led by as many as 26 and won by double digits, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was so pissed the Magic didn't win by more that the AP recap actually referred to him as "Van Grumpy."
When asked what he took from the win, Stan said: "Nothing. We got a win and that's what we take from it. We got a win, and we're moving on. This one is done."
Of course, Van Gundy is never done.
Stan continued: "You only play 82 games a year. It shouldn't be hard to go out and play hard and well all the time. We've seen ebbs and flows, but I don't have an excuse for it. We turned the ball over too much and we didn't play with a lot of energy."
Remember: The Magic won by 11. They won the game. That's how bad the Cads are.
The New Jersey Nyets: At the risk of overquoting in today's post, I have to include this snippet from the AP recap, which pretty much sums up the continuing misery of the Deron William-less Nyets: "Despite scoring 15 first-quarter points, turning the ball over 18 times in the game and nearly blowing a late 11-point lead, the Pacers opened a two-game lead in the race for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with a 102-98 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Monday."
Said Sasha "The Douche Machine" Vujacic: "We started off well and then we were searching for somebody to get it going in the second half. We probably started a little too late. We gave them the momentum and they didn't give us back the momentum."
Speaking of Sasha, he missed a late three-point attempt that could have tied the game.
Said Sasha: "I didn't have my legs under me and the ball came out weird. I probably miss that shot one in 10, and I am just frustrated I missed that one."
Vujacic scored 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. On a night when the Nyets came up four points short on their home floor, couldn't they have used, oh, say, another six points or so? If only Sasha could have scored 20...
...which reminds me of his quote from earlier in the season: "I know I can score 20 or 30 points anytime I want. But I'm not that kind of a guy. I want to win. I want to play the right way. Some games I'm going to get 10 shots, some games 15 shots; sometimes, especially coming off the bench, you're going to feel cold, and you need time to get in the rhythm. But right now, what I care the most is for us to become a better team. And we are really capable of doing that."
Ah, I love that quote.
The Utah Jazz: The Mormon Musicians were playing in Memphis with a chance to make ground on the Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot out West. In theory. Only the Jazz were outrebounded 40-30 (including 14-6 on the offensive glass), outassisted 33-20 (by a Zach Randolph team!), and committed 19 turnovers to only 9 for the Grizzlies. Utah trailed by as many as 20 and lost 103-85.
Thanks for, er, showing up, guys.
Said C.J. Miles: "On top of being able to get the tiebreaker and for us to move a whole game up, you would think that we'd be able to play. [The Grizzlies] played better as a whole."
Added Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin: "We got off to a decent start. then we got away from it once [Harris] got out of the game. It's not just the point guard. We lost the execution. We lost our energy."
The Jazz are now 5-8 since Harris made his debut. Three of those wins came against the Kings, Craptors and Timberwolves. And, with 11 games remaining, Utah is a full three games behind the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot. And Memphis now has the tiebreaker.
I'm just sayin'.
The Golden State Warriors: Ruh roh, Raggy.
San Antonio's sweet, sweet regular season just hit a major road bump in the form of a sprained ankle for Tim Duncan. X-rays were negative...but Timmy is going to be out indefinitely.
Said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "It's not flowers and lollipops."
At 57-13, the Spurs a seven-game lead on the Lakers for the best record in the West. But check out San Antonio's next five games: at Denver, at Portland, at Memphis, versus the Frail Blazers and versus the Celtics. Five games against five tough teams fighting and clawing for playoff positioning. Without Duncan.
Golden State has lost 26 straight in San Antonio, last winning there on Feb. 14, 1997 Here's what the team's looked like then.
ESPN analyst Chris Mullin started and scored 18 points for the Warriors.
Current Spurs star Tim Duncan was a senior at Wake Forest.
Avery Johnson and Vinny Del Negro were Spurs players, not NBA coaches.
The game was played at the Alamodome, not the AT&T Center.
It's arguable whether Del Negro is an NBA coach...but still. That's all pretty wild, isn't it?
The Toronto Craptors: Sweet Jesus.
On Sunday, the Craptosaurs amazingly snapped their franchise-record 14-game road losing streak in Oklahoma City. Last night, they trailed by as many as 41 before losing 123-90 in Denver.
Can we go back and retroactively take away their win against the Thunder?
Said soon-to-be-fired Toronto coach Jay Triano: "If you are a step slow in this league, and whether it's inexperience or fatigue from travel or playing in a back-to-back, you get exposed. We did tonight."
Historical note: The Craptors haven't won in Denver since December 30, 2003. For some perspective, that's the season in which Kevin Garnett won the MVP, LeBron James was Rookie of the Year, Tracy McGrady led the league in scoring (28.0) and the All-Star-less one-All-Star Pistons beat the Shaq-Kobe-Mailman-Glove Lakers for the NBA title. In that game, Toronto featured a starting lineup of Vince Carter, Alvin Williams, Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Chris Bosh. Denver had a lineup of 'Melo, Andre Miller, Voshon Lenard, Nene and Marcus Camby.
Julian Wright: OMG. See below.
Chris's Monday Lacktion Ledger:
Celtics-Knicks: Troy Murphy marred a board with a foul and turnover in 1:54 for a 2:1 Voskuhl, and Carlos Arroyo collected 3.2 trillion (3:11) for the Celtics.
Meanwhile, Shelden Williams shaved off the top of a gold loaf and gained 2.75 trillion (2:46) that will enable him to get his family one ticket at MSG next year.
The Purple Paupers Who Haven't Taped On "Anaheim" Over The Sacramento Part Of Their Uniforms Yet-Bulls: Donte Greene lost the rock once and bricked thricely (twice from Wacker Drive!) for a +4 in 8:36.
Warriors-Spurs: San Antonio's Danny Green definitely understood the color of money today, after a 1 trillion (62 seconds) in celebration!
Craptors-Nuggets: STOP THE PRESSES.
JULIAN WRIGHT IS THE RICHEST PLAYER IN THE ASSOCIATION THIS YEAR, after skating face-first into a pile of loonies that totaled...
TEN AND THREE TENTHS TRILLION. Yep, 10.3 TRILLION (10:16).
With his earnings duly noted, Mr. Wright is now qualified to sit on the floor next to David Stern's butler at the Association compound.