kobe hands
Mamba: The Hands of Fail.

The Houston Rockets: Ah, the end of the regular season, when weird shit starts happening all across the NBA landscape. Teams that have been eliminated from postseason contention start busting their asses. Teams fighting for a playoff spot or better seeding inexplicably face plant. This stuff happens every season...and this season is no exception.

Take the recently red-hot Rocketeers, who had won eight of their last 10 games and began the night with a 15-5 record since the All-Star break. Thanks to a loss by the Grizzlies (see below), Houston had a very real chance to make up some serious ground in their bid to claim the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. All they had to do was win at home against the lowly Purple Paupers.

Instead, the Rockets let Sacramento shoot 53 percent from the field (despite going 1-for-11 from three-point range) while shooting 42.6 percent themselves. And you want to talk about being weak inside? The Kings scored 58 points in the paint and won the rebounding battle 46-43. Houston also bricked seven of their 21 foul shots...and lost by three. (According to the AP game notes, the Rockets had only missed a total of 13 freebies over their past five games.)

And trust me: The Kings tried to lose this game. The Sactowners fouled Kyle Lowry on three-point attempts twice in the final minute but managed to win despite their typical ineptitude (17 turnovers).

Said Kevin Martin: "From the tipoff, we just seemed to not have our energy that we had for the last couple of months. It's a bad time of year to not play like you've been playing for the last couple of months. For whatever reason, we just looked really tired in a lot of spurts."

Really tired in a lot of spurts? Uh, moving on, then.

Added Lowry: "The last month, we've been playing extremely hard. When the shots didn't fall, I think the frustration got to us a little bit."

I guess that's what happens when you basically have no margin for error.

The Memphis Grizzlies: And apparently it happens when you do have some margin for error. Memphis hasn't locked up anything. Well, except maybe Zach Randolph's next big contract, after which I expect him to revert to the Z-Bo of old.

But that's beyond the point.

The Grizzlies, who had won four in a row and are trying to secure a playoff spot, got outscored 23-13 in the fourth quarter and lost 82-81 at home to...

...the Los Angeles Clippers. This is where I point out that The Other L.A. Team shot only 41 percent, missed eight free throws, gave up 20 fast break points, got outrebounded and committed 20 turnovers. And Memphis lost. It didn't help that the Griz shot 39.5 percent (including 1-for-9 from downtown) and registered only 11 assists to 14 turnovers.

And they couldn't even get some home cookin' down the stretch. From the AP recap:

The game's closing seconds were marked with confusion and a review by officials. With 5.7 seconds left, Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe stumbled out of control down the lane, running into Tony Allen.

Officials reviewed the play to see if there was a shot clock violation. They ruled there was no shot clock violation, but officials differed on whether to call Allen for a block or Bledsoe for a charge.

A double foul was the result, leading to a jump ball. The Clippers controlled the tip and ran out the clock, as the Grizzlies couldn't reach them to foul.

"I had no idea," Griffin said when asked if he understood what happened on the play. "I was talking to one ref, and he called a charge. [Official] Violet [Palmer] called a block. Then I heard them talking about the time and talking about the shot clock."
For once, in a game involving the Clippers, it was the other team who was who we thought they were.

Said Randolph: "It was a tough game all around. I don't think we came out ready. [We] came out taking this team too lightly. Let them stick around in the game. And you see what happened."

Added Allen: "You can't take these teams lightly, these teams that don't have nothing to do for the postseason. They're coming out here and playing with pride."

The Clippers. Playing with pride. Who saw that coming?

The Portland Frail Blazers: The Frail Blazers were trying to clinch a playoff spot and that's exactly what they did...despite losing 108-87 at home to the lottery-bound Gol_en State Warriors. Portland shot 41 percent (including 3-for-21 from beyond the arc) got outrebounded 47-40 and trailed by as many as 26 points. Believe it or not, the game was tied at halftime, but the Blazers got outscored 37-21 in the third quarter and that pretty much sealed their fate.

And again: This happened in Portland.

Said Brandon Roy: "We didn't play well at all."

Added Andre Miller: "You never want to throw away games. [The Warriors] knew that and they're not going to the playoffs."

Way to return to the postseason, Blazers. [throws confetti]

The Charlotte Bobcraps: Their playoff odds were already grim. But that shouldn't have been something a game against the Cadavers couldn't have fixed. For a night anyway. Only Charlotte shot 39 percent, gave up 20 fast break points, and fell behind by as many as 21 before losing 99-89 in Cleveland. Next up for the Bobcraps: A home game against the Magic and a road game against the Heat.

Ruh roh, Raggy.

Kwame Brown: "To lose a game like this, it's definitely a winnable game. To get down like we did, that was the ballgame. We've got to win every game we can."

I can see why the AP quoted Brown. That was, uhm, really revealing.

Added Gerald Henderson: "We aren't going to make the playoffs if we don't come to play. It's unfortunate to start games like that and expect to play in the postseason. It's just not going to happen if we continue to do that these next few games."

Correction, Gerald: It's just not going to happen. Period.

The Los Angeles Lakers: The Jazz -- who were riding an eight-game losing streak and had been eliminated from the playoffs at home by the Lakers last Friday -- shot 40 percent from the field, bricked 10 of their 23 free throw attempts and committed 17 turnovers.

Mind you, Utah's crappy crap performance happened in L.A. against a Lakers team that's been making a furious run at overtaking the Spurs for the number one seed in the Western Conference. But the Jazz won.

Or, more accurately, the Lakers lost.

L.A. went 31-for-82 from the field (37.8 percent) and 4-for-20 on threes (20 percent) while getting outrebounded 52-49 (including 16-14 on the offensive glass). They also committed 19 turnovers and gave up 22 fast break points. The 57 points they scored through three quarters was a season low. And rookie Gordon Hayward outdueled Kobe Bryant.

No, really.

Hayward scored a career-high 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He also hit the go-ahead free throw with six seconds left. The man who fouled him? Kobe. Oh, and I forgot to mention this dunk, which happened after Hayward walked right around Mr. All NBA Defensive First Team:

Hayward was playin' D, too.

And Hayward was defending Byrant on the game's final play, which ended when Kobe laughably lost the ball at the buzzer. The AP even referred to Bryant's failure as "meek" and his final attempt to score "ill-concieved."

Said Bryant: "It slipped. It slipped out of my hands."

Somewhere, presumably, Henry Abbott is raising his pinky finger to his lips and uttering his best Dr. Evil laugh.

Said Lamar Odom: "This was our worst game of the year. We didn't deserve to win, [but] we've had no problem bouncing back all year. We'll be fine. Our energy was just bad all the way around. ... You can't dissect this game. Nothing is there."

For fun, here's the full video of Hayward's highlights:

Kobe Bryant, quote machine: On whether the Lakers can take anything from the loss: "Out of this game? No. Flush that shit down the toilet and move on to the next one."

Phil Jackson, quote machine: "I wish Gordon Hayward would have stayed in college and helped Butler last night instead of kicking our butt."

The Milwaukee Bucks: Last year's feel-good story -- Fear the Deer! -- has given way to the reality that Milwaukee's hopes were resting on Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden and John Salmons. People picked this team to win the Central Division? Really?

Last night, the Bucks shot 36 percent and scored only 72 points in a loss to the Magic. A loss tonight in Miami against a rested Heat team will officially eliminate them from the postseason. I think we all know what this means.

Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We had our chances. As poorly as we played, our defense hung in there and gave us a chance to win. We just couldn't take advantage of it."

Story of the season for the Bucks.

The Toronto Craptors: And finally: A team bawful enough to just roll over and lose to a team with something to play for. The Knicks shot a blistering 57.7 percent and registered 31 assists on 45 field goals. Meanwhile, the Craptosaurs managed only 11 assists despite scoring 118 points and converting 45 field goals. That kinda tells you something, right?

What should also tell you something is that Toronto trailed by as many as 29 points before making the final score somewhat respectable. You know what? Scratch that last statement. A 131-118 loss isn't respectable for either team. I mean, technically speaking, the Knicks won their fourth game in a row, crawled a game over .500 and pulled to within a half game of the sixth seed in the East. But their defense isn't scaring anyone. Other than scoreboard operators hoping to avoid carpel tunnel.

Back to the Craptors: The Knicks scored a season-high 78 points in the first half. Yeah. You know what that means, right?

The Phoenix Suns: They came back from a 22-point third quarter deficit to put a minor scare into a half-interested Bulls team...but lost anyway. Yep. That's the 2010-11 Phoenix Suns for ya. This game did have two great Steve Nash moments tho': First, Steve had a wardrobe malfunction. Later, he undressed Carlos Boozer by dishing to Marcin Gortat through Boozer's legs. It's not the Suns making the playoffs...but I'll take what I can get from them right now.

Crap games: Let's see: The Nyets pulled out a 107-105 home win over the Timberwolves and the Wizards Generals eked out a 107-105 home win over the Pistons. (That's not a typo. Both games ended with identical scores.) Bad teams duking it out with nothing on the line at the end of the season...that's what we call scalpers night off, folks.

The Atlanta Hawks: Allow me to show you how not surprised I was by their homecourt fail against the Spurs by not giving any details about the game.

Chris's Amazing Lacktion Ledger:

Bobcats-Happy Cadavers: Joey Graham crumbled from the field, with a trio of bricks in 9:35 and a foul for a celebratory +4.

Wolves-Nyets: Dan Gadzuric countered an assist in 4:21 with three fouls and a turnover for a 3:0 Voskuhl.

Bucks-Magic: Larry Sanders had a steal guest on his statline in 6:55, as well as a made free throw...only to foul thricely for a 3:1 Voskuhl ratio.

Pissed-ons-Generals: Ben Wallace botched two boards with three fouls in 8:21 for a 3:2 ratio - the 100th baller this year to score a Voskuhl!!!!!!! - while fellow Oakland County resident DaJuan Summers bricked once from Woodward Avenue and fouled once for a +2 in 1:52.

Sixers-Celtics: Mareese Speights bricked twice and took a rejection for a +3 in 2:48, while Boston's Sasha Pavlovic fouled once in 2:12 for a +1.

Suns-Bulls: In the highly unanticipated rematch of the 1993 Finals, Robin Lopez laid yet another egg by countering a block with a brick, four fouls, and a turnover for a 5:0 Voskuhl in 3:04! Meanwhile, Chicago's Kurt Thomas bricked and fouled once in 2:43 for a +2 and a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl.

Clippers-Grizzlies: Craig Smith bricked once in 3:26 for a +1. Darrell Arthur gave the baby cubs two boards in 14:20, but bricked seven times, fouled twice, and lost the rock twice for a 4:2 Voskuhl. Ishmael Smith tossed two misses in 5:41 for a +2.

Thunder-Nuggets: Timofey Mozgov panned a 1.1 trillion treasure (1:08) (Mozgov got hurt and thus did not score lacktion), while Kosta Koufos collected two airballs in 2:39 for a +2.

Warriors-Frail Blazers: East Oakland's Ekpe Udoh was 66% from the field (on three tries) and garnered a board in 18:48 as starting big man...but fouled four times and lost the rock twice for a 6:5 Voskuhl.

Jazz-Lakers: Francisco Elson fouled twice against a board for a 2:1 Voskuhl in 3:18, while Luke Walton had the SUCKIEST APRIL 5, 2011 OF ALL TIME by bricking four times (once from the Library Tower) and taking a rejection for a +5 in 5:07!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...
vince carter should get some WOTN honors, moreso than usual. He was actually hot the first 3/4 of the game, but the suns iso'd him about 10 times in the last minutes ... With hilarious results

Blogger Dan B. said...
"The Hands of Fail." Come on, Bawful. I read through the whole post waiting for more references to Manos: The Hands of Fate, but none were to be found!

Blogger ChrisH said...
remember when jason richardson bounced the ball off of booze's head in the rookie v sophmore game? seems like he migh just be ripe for that kind of stuff. maybe it's all the yellin he does.

Blogger chris said...
Dan: Who's our Torgo equivalent in the Association?


You know it's a bawful night when you look at the titles of the highlight clips posted and think, "Hey, Gordon Hayward is a lacktion ledger semi-regular!"


Blogger Dan B. said...
Presenting... Episode #1 of The LeBrons!

Blogger Wormboy said...
Nice nutmeg for Nashie. Sadly, he's left to chalking up style points. :(

Blogger Wormboy said...
Also: I never noticed your account avatar before, ChrisH. On a different forum, years ago, I used exactly the same photo, except that I had "Licensed to Il" on it. What do we call that? Dictatorful?

Blogger Cortez said...
I love how Bryant stands there looking at the ref as if he got mauled by a mountain lion after Hayward took his milk money. To top it off, the kid goes coast to coast for a 3 point play.

Black Mamba indeed.

Anonymous Mbenga's Dacos said...
I know Gasol gets a lot of love on this blog, but does anyone gets the sense that he just doesn't play hard or that he plays not to get hurt.

Last night was prime display of why Lakers fans laugh at the notion that Gasol is the team MVP. He looked totally disinterested. And when he was met with resistance, he backed down.

Kobe stunk last night too (well all the Lakers did minus Bynum), but I never got the sense that he wasn't going all out. Kobe's P-n-roll D was atrocious, well pretty much all of his defense stunk last night, but I still never sensed that he wasn't trying.

Gasol wasn't trying. He's like the new Lamar Odom of the team.


Blogger Basketbawful said...
vince carter should get some WOTN honors, moreso than usual. He was actually hot the first 3/4 of the game, but the suns iso'd him about 10 times in the last minutes ... With hilarious results

That would require me to acknowledge Vince Carter.

"The Hands of Fail." Come on, Bawful. I read through the whole post waiting for more references to Manos: The Hands of Fate, but none were to be found!

Fixed. Sort of.

Presenting... Episode #1 of The LeBrons!

You know, I expected a lot of things out of The LeBrons. I expected it to decrease my intelligence by 40 IQ points. I expected it to have decent production values and an idiotic, nonsensical script. I expected it to make me hate LeBron a littel bit more. I did not, in any way, shape or form, expect an actual, honest-to-goodness Reservoir Dogs moment, let alone that Reservoir Dogs moment.

Anonymous Angry Canuck said...
Dear sports media
Please please stop with this "Zen Master" crap. Guy reads a couple of books on the topic and likes to make weird remarks, now he's a "Zen Master"? Do you even know what "Zen" is? It's insulting to all the Zen practitioners out there. Jeez.

Go Spurs!
Oh, and Amar'eee calling Gasol soft is definitely amusing.

Anonymous JJ said...
This is from Onion, but I wouldn't put it past him in real life.


Blogger LotharBot said...
Guys don't qualify for lacktion if they leave with an injury, right? Timofey Mozgov hurt his knee and ankle when Nick Collison flopped into him (selling a charge).

Still, that left the Nuggets with 3 healthy centers, yet down the stretch when the Thunder were going on a 16-0 run that was keyed in part by layups and offensive rebounds, Al Harrington was the biggest Nugget on the court. George Karl was either worst of the night, or he was pulling a Pop and intentionally running crappy lineups to deny the Thunder a pre-playoff scouting opportunity.

Blogger chris said...
LotharBot: Duly noted, time to fix the lacktion report. Thanks for the update.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"The LeBrons"

Oh god no, make it stop!!

Hmmm, I wonder which episode will feature 'Uncle' Delonte showing up at the house?

Anonymous Tree said...
Watched the end of the Bulls-Suns game last night ... oy vey! As a Torontonian, I'm well-conditioned to be unsurprised by anything Vag Carter does, but man - hoisting up a terrible, off-balance 2-pointer with ~3 seconds left and down by 3?!? Could he provide any more proof that he just doesn't care?

Blogger Wormboy said...
@Mbenga's Dacos: I've never read anybody claiming that Gasol is the Lakers MVP. In contrast, I've read many, including me, who said that Gasol was a better Finals MVP candidate than Kobe in either '09 or '10. Why Finals MVP? Gasol's offensive efficiency was superb (Kobe's was mediocre), and the entire offense flowed FAR better when the ball was going through him. On defense, Gasol is actually not "soft" like people label him, just not stereotypical NBA, and it's been quite a while since Kobe was at all defensively dominant (I'm convinced that people continue to call him that based on a legacy that is a few years old and way out of date.) Preposterous? Not really. Parker was a Spurs Finals MVP even though everybody knew that the team lived or died with Timmy. Likewise, the Lakers are Kobe's team, but Gasol is almost as important, and was actually more important in at least one Finals. Depends on which stats you believe, I suppose. Me, I believe in intangibles as well as stats, and Gasol is a guy who makes everybody around him better by doing all the smart little things, while Kobe arguably makes those around him worse.

Also, not fair to judge a guy's past career by the present. Gasol seems to have lost a certain something this year, agreed.It happened during that stretch when he was playing huge minutes every night. That, and post-championship ennui is hardly an unusual phenomenon. The unflagging drive that Bean has in that regard is truly awesome, and in that regard he blows Gasol (and virtually everybody else) away.

It probably depends on what you value most in a player. Some value big numbers and flash. Some value efficiency and making your team better. Look at how the Lakers offense runs when Kobe is hoisting up long 2s (often totally unnecessary) against the double team. Look at the offense when Gasol is distributing and they run plays for him: HIS numbers don't show it, but everybody else finds scoring much easier, and the offense is far more efficient. He's unselfish. If he were an egomaniac like Kobe, Gasol could easily score 4-5 more point sper game, if not more, plus pad some other stats. It wouldn't even occur to him.

So yeah, a very subjective call. But I resented that those Finals MVP trophies were awarded to bean as if there were no possible alternative. I think there was an EXCELLENT alternative that wasn't considered because Gasol is understated. Had they said. "it's close, but it's Kobe's team" I would have been mollified. But they acted like Kobe was Christ's 2nd and 3rd coming, but in fact Kobe has struggled in both of those playoff runs. Kobe carries quite a few negatives, not least of which that his teammates mostly loath him. Loathing makes for poor bedfellows.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am truly shocked that nowhere has it been mention in here that Mario freakin' West not only started a game, but played 29 minutes! True, he lactated for 3pts, 3rbs, 1ast, 2stl, & 2pfs, but still. How can this go unreported?!?!?!

Blogger Tristan said...
Hands of Fail. Awesome (the caption, not the actual “film”). We could suggest an alternate title, since Kobe also slipped the ball off his left knee, but “Left Kneecap of Fail” does not have the same dramatic impact.

@Mbenga’s Dacos: I agree wholeheartedly with your Gasol observations. I’d even venture that Gasol also possesses Hands of Fail, at a much more frequent and infuriating rate than the Mamba. Things that come to mind:

a) Non-rebounds, where Pau just meekly tips the ball up playing volleyball with the rock, or tapping the ball out (sometimes) to the opposing team, instead of securing it with both hands;

b) Fumbled rebounds, whereby he snagged the ball with both hands (as he should), only to get it poked away or stripped, or instances where the opponent almost takes the ball away from him on defensive rebounds / outlet passes;

c) Missed rebounds / loose ball situations, where he just doesn’t crash the boards, or dive on the floor to grab the loose ball (he’ll hunch down, wave his long-ass arms to and fro without even picking up the ball, or he’ll get the ball but lose it anyway…pisses me off)

d) Not dunking the basketball when he could have very well done so, instead settling for soft lay-ups or floaters.

There are also instances of whining to the refs (which Kobe still does, although some of the non-calls against #24 have been ridiculous), not holding his ground or bothering to work one-on-one in the low blocks when his defender gets physical, and even occasionally taking veiled pot-shots at Kobe in the media, a la Shaq (which—on the surface—probably supports Wormboy’s assertion that his teammates loathe Kobe :) ).

Of course, Gasol was the missing piece that propelled these current Lakers into championship contention; I recall seeing on TV his first game as a Laker (versus the Nets, same game that Kobe mangled his right index or pinky), and Gasol appeared taller than his listed 7-0 – I swear, with the beard and that Lakers road uniform on, he fucking seemed like a European Wilt Chamberlain (as fucked as that sounds), and even had a mini-Wilt type of game, with 24 and 12, plus a few dimes. Pau’s contributions and presence since have been tremendous and perhaps even immeasurable (of course, playing with a pretty damn good offensive force that draws double- and triple-teams in Kobe, leading to open looks for Gasol and company, also helps). All that said, Gasol can still play much tougher and more forcefully than he has shown, starting with securing rebounds, blocking more shots, and not playing matador defense (a crime that a few Lakers, including Bean, have been guilty of, from time to time).

Blogger Tristan said...
@Wormboy: Regarding those Finals MVPs, from both statistical and intangibles viewpoints, Kobe earned his (the word “deserved” has been much misused when talking about such awards; as Eastwood’s character says in Unforgiven, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”). Series averages of 33-7-6 (2009) and 28-8-4 (2010), plus being the focal point of the opposing team’s defense, and Gasol’s propensity for the “yips” in big (heck, even regular season) ballgames (a term that I believe had been used to describe another great second option, Kevin McHale, back in the day; granted, even Kobe had the yips in the pivotal Game 7 last year, until the 4th quarter -- only Artest had nerves of reinforced steel that whole game) – I think that the Finals MVP voters did not err in awarding Bryant for his efforts and production. No, the voters and media (which admittedly has not been on Kobe’s side for some time now) did not act as if Mamba was the second, third, or fourth coming of the Messiah lol -- I didn’t get that vibe reading the post-series coverage.

I agree that Kobe’s inclination to hoist up long mid-range Js against double teams (particularly off the left elbow on the high post) can be unnecessary, at times; I don’t think that Mamba’s urge to score against every manner of double- or triple-team will ever pass away lol – which has hurt as much as helped the Lakers in certain game situations, when the offense is clicking and he goes solo anyway, or when the ball needs to move, but Kobe goes on Mamba mode regardless.

Regarding intangibles, if Pau supposedly does all the smart little things, then why doesn’t he hold his ground in the low post, actually pull down rebounds instead of just brushing the ball with his fingertips, and protect the paint on defense instead of letting pipsqueak point guards drive and score? I’ll answer that: because he’s soft -- soft and hesitant to play physical, especially when going that extra effort means the difference between victory and defeat.

I’ll conclude (and concur with your point about Pau’s importance, albeit with a different twist) by saying that Gasol and also Odom are the difference-makers for the two-time defending champions (not Kobe, Bynum, or Artest) – they can dominate the opposing front-line with their length and skill, but also blow the game for LA with either failed close-outs on open shooters, bumbled rebounds or loose balls, no box-outs, or stupid fouls; they’ve committed such bawful mistakes too many times, even in the playoffs.

Blogger Wormboy said...
@Tristan: Nobody's ever argued with Kobe's net numbers. I'm arguing about efficiency: how many shots does he take to get those numbers? Because he'll shoot his team right the hell out of a game to get those numbers, and has done so, even in those title runs. In this way Kobe is a lot like Iverson.

And I think the "soft" thing is BS for fans raised on NBA: non-bangers can actually often do a helluva lot more than bangers. You guys complain about Gasol tipping rather than yanking. When I see that, I see a guy who knows he can't get to a certain ball, but does everything in his power to keep it alive so he or another teammate will have a second shot at it. It's when I don't see tipping that I get concerned: the non-tipper is giving up on the ball, since he figures he's not going to get credit for it anyway. So tipping is pure effort, and pure icing for a player not obsessed by stats. Problem is, pro sports in America is stats-obsessed, and hence the Iverson/Kobe players more concerned with looking great than winning.

Remember, every missed shot is a partial turnover. Efficient players need to be more valued.