Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers fell into a 29-16 hole after 12 minutes and never really recovered. It didn't help that their hands couldn't find any faces to get into. To wit: The Magic converted 53.3 percent of their field goals and 60 percent (15-for-25) of their three-point attempts. Ryan Anderson (27 points) drilled seven of those triples. I'm thinkin' Philly should have tried covering that guy.
Said Sixers coach Doug Collins: "They've been shooting like that. Them being solid like that ain't a mystery. ... We had a horrible start to the game, fought back to get in it, had a horrible finish to the second quarter, to get it to within six and then give them a 10-0 run. And then we're fighting uphill the entire night."
Philly now has two losses in a row. Probably nothing, but I keep expecting this team's bubble to pop.
Lou Williams, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "In the past, we have had issues with just banging teams."
The Toronto Craptors: Let's get this out of the way first:
Now onto the Spurs: Holy shit on a stick! Nine wins in a row? Manu Ginobili's been back for three games now? Tony Parker (34 points and 14 assists) playing like the best PG in the league? You look up "flying under the radar" in the dictionary, you'll find these Spurs. Wow.
They still won't go anywhere in the playoffs, but still.
The Boston Celtics: With the lowly Pistons coming to town, Doc Rivers thought it was safe to give Kevin Garnett (hip flexor) the night off, probably in preparation of tonight's game in Chicago. So naturally Detroit came away with a double-digit victory in the TD Garden. Prior to last night, the Pistons had been 2-12 on the road.
As to why the C's got smacked down on their homecourt by a lousy team, take your pick. They shot like crap (44 percent), went only 1-for-6 on threes (and Rondo had the only make), got outrebounded 44-33, and bricked 13 free throws (in a 10-point loss).
Said Rivers: "So far, we've proven we can beat anybody and lose to anybody. That's the maddening part. What we haven't proven is that we can be a consistent basketball team."
On a possibly related subject, the Celtics are now a mere 15-13 despite having played 18 of their first 28 games in Boston. And 14 of their next 19 games are on the road.
This could get ugly, folks.
The Indiana Pacers: After last night's 98-87 loss to the Cadavers, the NBA's Best Kept Secret is not 2-6 in their last eight games.
Now, mind you, seven of the eight were versus teams on the plus side of .500. Of course, Cleveland isn't a winning team...and Indy trailed by as many as 21.
Said Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "It's not an excuse, but I think guys are worn down. It's been a tough stretch of the schedule against a string of good teams and we've had a slew of injuries. It's just something that will come back around."
Ah. I love when somebody says "no excuses" and then gives an excuse.
I'll give David West this much: He's not making excuses: "Good teams don't lose this many games in a row. Right now we can't call ourselves that. We're not playing good enough to be a good team. We just don't have enough resistance. We're letting teams dictate what they want to do offensively. I don't know if we're hoping teams come out and play bad. We're going to have to dig deep and find a way to get out of this."
The New Jersey Nyets: Several season-highs were achieved in last night's Grizzlies-Nyets game. Tony Allen matched season-highs in points (21) and steals (5). Marreese Speights had a season-high 20 points and a career-high 18 boards (which also counts as a season-high). And, of course, the Nyets suffered a season-high seventh consecutive loss.
New Jersey could have stopped their skid at six if they hadn't buttered their fingers in the final minutes. Check out out the following crunch time possessions:
Down 95-93 with 2:39 left: Deron Willians TO Down 95-93 with 2:03 left: MarShon Brooks TO Down 97-93 with 1:42 left: Willians TO (Mike Conley steals) Down 99-93 with 1:31 left: Williams missed three Down 99-93 with 1:21 left: Anthony Morrow missed three Down 101-95 with 0:53 left: Brooks TO (steps out of bounds)
Said Morrow: "It was tough, we got a little careless with the ball. Me and Deron one time weren't on the same page and it was probably my fault. I just read my man wrong."
Added Kris Humphries: "The difference between where we want to be at and where we are right now, right now we are a team that turns the ball over three of four possessions with the game on the line. It's no one's fault, in particular, we just have to tighten and be able to play under pressure in the fourth quarter. There is no play you can draw up for that. We just have to play basketball and execute. We didn't give ourselves a chance to win."
Tony Allen, quote machine, Part 1: "At the end of the day it's about the Grizzlies getting a W, whether it's pretty or ugly. We try to do it together. This is a team thing. Ain't nothing pretty for us. We're not going to come out here like the Lakers, where one guy can get it done. We have numerous guys who can get it done."
Tony Allen, quote machine, Part 2: On hitting the go-ahead three: "I'm not going to turn down any shots. As hard as I work on the defensive end, you give a dog a bone every now and then, so I shot it with confidence and it went in."
The Sacramento Kings: The Sactowners wanted to limit the Linsanity and in fact held Jeremy Lin to 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Unfortunately for the Kings -- who shot 37.9 percent and lost the battle of the boards 48-35 -- Lin dished out a career-best 13 assists and the Knicks led by as many as 28 points before cruising in for a 100-85 victory.
Said Tyreke Evans: "We wanted to be aggressive, make it hard for (Lin), but he still ran the team and got assists."
Carmelo Anthony: With 'Melo leading the way, the Knicks were 8-15. With 'Melo out and Lin leading the way, New York has won seven in a row and are now 15-15. Suddenly there are questions. Questions about whether 'Melo can blend with Lin. And, yes, the word "selfish" has surfaced.
Said Anthony: "That's like a slap in the face. None of my teammates I've ever played with would say that I was a selfish player. Nobody. It's a tough situation. I'm human at the end of the day, so it's like damn, where is this coming from? I know I'm not a selfish player. People around me know I'm not a selfish player. I do everything I can to make people around me understand I'm not a selfish player."
Anthony continued: "Of course I want to take the last shot, let's be quite frank: I've been doing for nine years already, and I've made a ton of them."
Nope. He's not selfish at all.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Let's check the Fail Check List.
Failed to contain Kevin "I was held scoreless the night before" Martin (32 points, 10-for-18, 4-for-7 on threes, 8-for-8 from the line)? Check.
Failed to take care of the ball (22 turnovers for 26 points going the other way)? Check.
Failed in crunch time? Well, let's see, shall we?
Up 95-92 with 2:10 left: Russell Westbrook's layup is blocked by Samuel Dalembert Up 95-92 with 1:43 left: James Harden missed three-pointer Up 95-92 with 1:20 left: Westbrook missed three Up 95-94 with 0:41 left: Kevin Durant missed 15-footer Down 96-95 with 0:15 left: KD missed three Down 96-95 with 0:11 left: KD missed 17-footer Down 96-95 with 0:03 left: KD missed 10-footer Down 96-95 with 0:02 left: Westbrook missed tip shot Down 96-95 with 0:01: Westbrook missed 77-footer
I'd call that a big check.
Said Durant: "I got where I wanted to get, I just missed the shots. That's what happens. Guys can't expect you to make every shot at the end or you're setting yourself up for failure."
The Milwaukee Bucks: There aren't too many gimmies on the schedule for a team like the Bucks. But the New Orleans Hornets coming to town should have been one of them. Instead, The Deer In The Headlights lost 92-89 on their home court.
Milwaukee shot 38 percent, got outrebounded 48-40, and lost all sight of Marco Belinelli, who scored 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 6-for-7 on threes.
So I ask you: WTF?
Said Brandon Jennings: "It starts with myself. I need to come out with a lot more energy, and I need to play harder. I can't say I've been playing hard the last couple games because I really haven't. I need to look in the mirror and ask myself, 'Is this something that I'm up for?'"
In possibly related news, the Bucks have lost three straight and six of eight. With the six being one of the league's worst teams. Kind of embarrassing, isn't it, Brandon?
Said Jennings: "Of course it is. They're last in the Western Conference, so of course it's embarrassing to lose to a team that's 5-20 [now 6-23] and lose on your home court like that. I really don't know what it is. It don't seem like we have the same passion as we had before. We have to find a way to get that back. It is going to take a team effort."
The Charlotte Bobcraps: Good God. 16 losses in a row?
Said Charlotte coach Paul Silas: "Fuck this shit. You can quote me on that."
I keed. Paul really said: "I thought we did OK against Kevin [Love] because he shot a lot of outside shots. But the other kid. Pep-a-vich his name is? Whatever, he just killed us down there."
Huh. When a coach doesn't even know the name of a guy who blasted his team for 21 points, 11 boards and 3 blocks, is it any wonder his players weren't guarding him?
Physician heal thyself.
The Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets were again minus the services of Nene (left calf strain), center Timofey Mozgov (left ankle sprain) and forward Danilo Gallinari (left ankle sprain). But, great googly moogly, does that explain why they shot 35 percent, clanked 13 free throws and trailed by as many as 31 points?
Said Al Harrington: "We struggled on offense, and that affected our defense. They were just a better team tonight, and we've got to move on."
Okay. Moving on then.
The Phoenix Suns: Despite another great game from Steve "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD FREE HIM!" Nash (22 points, 7-for-14, 16 assists) and a 15-point lead, the Suns got spit-roasted by Josh Smith (30 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocked shots) and fell apart down the stretch.
There was also at least one occurrence of dubious officiating. From the AP recap:
Atlanta trailed throughout, and by 15 early in the second half, until what amounted to a four-point play with 7:38 remaining. Smith scored on a drive, was fouled and referee Tre Maddox called Nash for a technical. Nash was incredulous afterward but the official ignored him and walked away. Johnson made the technical, and Smith added his free throw to put the Hawks ahead 82-81. That started a 10-0 run that put Atlanta up 88-81 on Green's fast-break layup with 6:27 remaining.
Nash said that he was trying to tell coach Alvin Gentry that Atlanta was going into the zone defense, and the referee thought he said something else.
"It was tough. It really changed the momentum of the game," Nash said. "(Kirk) Hinrich called double-fist, which is their zone defense, so I went to the sideline and I really just mouthed to Alvin, `They're in a double-fist I guess and what zone offense do you want us to run?' and he (Maddox) thought I said, `They're horrible.'
"I don't want to make any comment about the referees. I'll just say it's unfortunate that he misinterpreted what I said. It was just a tough break. It changed the momentum."
You know what else changed the momentum? The Suns' 20 turnovers.
The Washington Wizards Generals: C'mon now. You didn't really think they'd win three road games in a row did you?
The 2012 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Competition: Chase Budinger, Iman Shumpert, Paul George and Derrick Williams. No Blake Griffin. Looks like I'll be skipping this one.
Chris' Lacktion Ledger:
Spurs-Craptors: Cory Joseph bricked once from Yonge Street and added a foul and turnover in 170 seconds for a celebratory +3.
Sixers-Magic: Francisco Elson cleared out a plumbing system in 55 seconds to give Philadelphia a Mario.
Pistons-Celtics: Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal countered a pair of boards and one free throw in 21:55 with a turnover and a near-foulout for a 6:3 Voskuhl.
Grizzlies-Nyets: Jannero Pargo missed twice from the field in 5:15, fouled once, and lost the rock thricely for a +6!
Pacers-Cavs: The shores of the Cuyahoga were cash-laden tonight, as Indiana's Jeff Pendergraph wired himself 2.95 trilion (2:58) while Luke Harangody of the Cavs collected a 1.2 trillion check (74 seconds).
Bobcats-Wolves: Minnesota's Anthony Tolliver struck it rich with a 1.85 trillion (112 seconds)!
Hawks-Suns: Erick Dampier fouled once in 103 seconds to give the dirty birds a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl!
Blazers-Warriors: Kurt Thomas took in three boards and two points in 11:47, only to turn over the ball twice and foul four times for a 6:5 Voskuhl.
Meanwhile, East Oakland's Ekpe Udoh augmented a board in 20:34 with two fouls and two turnovers for a 4:1 Voskuhl.
Generals-Clippers: Roger Mason Jr. tossed a brick from the Library Tower at King Koopa in just 41 seconds, earning a +1 and Mario for the sad sack Generals!
Meanwhile, Travis Leslie lost the rock once in 132 seconds for a +1.