The Indiana Pacers: The NBA's Best Kept Secret was outscored 33-16 in the first quarter, 68-39 in the first half, and trailed by as many as 35 points before losing 105-90. And this happened to the Pacers in Indiana after two days off against a Heat team that was playing the third game of a back-to-back-to-back stretch and its fourth road game in five nights.
Mind you: The Pacers were trying to avenge a 35-point loss they suffered in Miami last month.
The Heat even did some clowning at Indy's expense. From the AP recap: "Things were going so well at halftime that James turned to the crowd and acted like he was reeling in a fish. Then during a third-quarter timeout, Mike Miller grabbed something resembling a rope from the team trainer and acted like he was going to bring in a steer. There were smiles all around all night long."
Unless you were a Pacers fan.
Said Roy Hibbert: "Pretty embarrassing. They just hit us at the start and we just weren't able to recover. ... None of us came ready to play tonight."
Bonus stat: The Pacers shot 2-for-15 from three-point range.
The Toronto Craptors: Linsanity continued in Toronto last night:
And this continued as well:
Jeremy Lin (28 points, 11 assists, 1 game-winning shot) played great, of course, the the Craptosaurs didn't do themselves any favors by choking away a 17-point lead and committing 9 of their 19 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Said Toronto coach Dwane Casey: "It should not have come to (Lin's) play. We had some many boneheaded plays to get to that play and to make that play relevant. We should have taken care of business before that."
Mike D'Antoni, quote machine, Part 1: "I'm just glad it went like this so we can calm the Linsanity down."
Mike D'Antoni, quote machine, Part 2: "You just watch and you're in awe. He held it until five tenths of a second left. He was pretty confident that was going in, no rebounds, no nothing. That ball was being buried."
Shane Battier, tweet machine: "Chuck Norris may wear Tebow pajamas but I'm pretty sure he has a Jeremy Lin night light to scare the boogeyman away. Wow! What a run!!!"
Steve Nash, tweet machine: "Its crazy! I'm watching Linsanity hoping every shot goes in. Hope I never grow up."
Ben Wallace, quote machine: On hitting a rare three-pointer and being the focus of Spurs coach Greg Popovich's Hack-a-Bad-Foul-Shooter strategy: "Three-ball -- that ain't nothing that you all haven't seen before. They hacked me. I made a couple free throws, shot a couple airballs -- still ain't nothing that you all have never seen before."
Bulls and Kings: Another "both teams sucked but only one of them could lose" game. On the one hand, the Bulls gave up a season-high 115 points at home to a Kings team that averages 89 points on the road. They also choked up a 19-point fourth quarter lead and let the Sactowners get to within 2 points with 14 seconds to go. On the other hand, the Paupers fell behind by 19 and failed to come back against a Chicago squad that just came off a nine-game, 16-day road trip and was missing its starting backcourt (which includes reigning MVP Derrick Rose).
The Utah Jazz: The Jazz were playing their third road game in three nights. The Thunder were coming off three full days of rest. I'm sure you can guess how this turned out, but I'll tell you anyway: The Thunder converted 54.5 percent of their field goals while holding the Jazz to 35.6 percent shooting. OKC led by as many as 27 points and basically cruised to victory.
Said Gordon Hayward (0 points, 0-for-6): "I'm not going to blame fatigue. That's just not acceptable. Whatever the reason was we're professionals, so back-to-back-to-back, that's our job. We've got to be prepared and we've got to be able to play."
Hayward then passed out from fatigue.
Meanwhile, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was more than willing to blame weary legs: "We knew it was going to be a tough task, being a back-to-back-to-back game and against a team here who was going to be rested for three days. We knew they would come out and try to jump on us. We lost the game in New Orleans and it may have knocked us off our stride a little bit. But you know what? Guys fought hard tonight. We just didn't have enough in the tank."
Kevin Martin: Talk about your Blue Light Specials. The story of the Rockets' 93-83 loss in Memphis was K-Mart, who was completely and utterly shut the hell down by Tony Allen. Martin finished with 0 points on 0-for-3 shooting and played only 19 minutes. And get this: Kevin averaged 31.4 PPG in four games against the Griz last season.
Said Lionel Hollins: "He didn't get off to a quick start. I thought Tony came out with the mindset that he was going to try to play him as hard as he could. Then the kid didn't make a couple of shots and things weren't going his way and they made a sub and played Courtney Lee."
Added Allen: "I got a video edit of his last three games before the game and I was studying his tendencies. We were talking about Kevin in shoot-around and about him being a Grizzlies killer. We had our antennas up."
The Phoenix Suns: Suns coach Alvin Gentry opted to rest Steve Nash and Grant Hill. The predictable result: Phoenix shot 33 percent and lost 109-92 in Denver, allowing the Nuggets to snap their five-game losing streak.
Said Denver coach George Karl: "Phoenix kind of gave us a some slack by not playing Nash."
Bonus stats: Without noted defensive stopper Steve Nash, the Suns gave up 25 fast break points and 54 points in the paint. In possibly related news, Phoenix surrendered 28 points off 21 turnovers.
The Portland Frail Blazers: As Dan B. put it in a text to me this morning: "The Generals won their second straight road game and scored 124 points. What the actual fuck is going on here??"
I couldn't have said it better myself.
The Washington Wizards Generals -- who began the night 2-10 on the road -- beat the Frail Blazers 124-109 IN PORTLAND despite giving up 28 points off 16 turnovers. It helped Washington's cause that the Blazers lost LeMarcus Aldridge two minutes into the game.
Said Marcus Camby: "I think when he went down, the life went out of us. It's sad but true."
In possibly related news, the Generals shot 60 percent for the game.
Said Portland coach Nate McMillan: "There was no defense."
Understatement of the year.
The Atlanta Hawks: I love this lead in to the AP recap: "The days of high-scoring games and one-sided victories are basically over for the Los Angeles Lakers under new coach Mike Brown, who is still in the process of learning his roster and adjusting to individual matchups with a less-than-stellar bench at his disposal."
It's like "Mike Brown in Cleveland: Part 2."
To wit: The Lakers shot 44 percent and won 86-78 in about as ugly a game as you'd ever not want to see, assuming a deal with Satan hasn't doomed you to an afterlife of watching Heat-Knicks games from the mid-1990s.
Said Brown (without a hint of irony I might add): "I thing we've done a decent job of controlling the tempo, because most of our games -- whether we win or lose -- are like 92-89. So everybody's playing at our pace right now."
And that's the attitude that got LeBron James to flee to Miami.
As for the Dirty Birds, they're pretty much who we thought they were. They're gonna make you believe some nights, then they're gonna punish your dumb ass for believing on other nights. Last night was one of those "other nights." They shot 33 percent and looked like a back rec league squad.
Said Hawks coach Larry Drew: "We couldn't buy a shot. I don't know how many layups we missed. We just missed a ton of point-blank shots, and we turned the ball over (at) crucial times. Obviously you can look at our stats and see that their size and length did affect us, but we gave it our best shot."
According to Hoopdata, Atlanta was 9-for-22 at the rim (41 percent). In case you're interested, they were 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) from 3-9 feet, 2-for-5 (40 percent) from 10-15 feet, 8-for-23 (34.8 percent) from 16-23 feet and 7-for-27 (26 percent) from beyond the arc.
Said Josh Smith: "We just couldn't make shots in the second half. There was a lid on the basket, for a long period of time, particularly in the third quarter. Whenever you can't make shots, you have to make it that much tougher for them to score as well."
Mike Brown, quote machine: In case you missed The Basketball Player Formerly Known as Crazy Pill's rant against his coach, here you go:
"I'm trying to win. And right now, coach is a stats guy. His background is video coordinator or whatever. So he's all stats. But Ron Artest is all feel. He doesn't understand that. Having me in the game at the end, he was worried about me shooting bad from the free throw line. And I was like, 'I could care less because I'm gonna get a stop at the end of the game.' He didn't understand the rhythm that we had -- me, Fish [Derek Fisher], Kobe [Bryant], Pau [Gasol] and Drew [Andrew Bynum]. I've been through games where I would have two points, go 1 for 9 and we'd win. That's what matters. Stats are for people who need stats.
"If I could count how many times another team went away from the best player when I was on him, I've got to be like No. 1 in the league. That's not a stat, and coach doesn't ... you would have to play basketball to feel that. When Phil Jackson was here, that's why I was in the game, because he understands that. Philly and Utah, I was on the bench because of stats.
"Every game on the road is gonna be close. But I think they panic a little bit when the games get close. But me, Kobe, Pau, Fish, we expect the games to be close. We expect to pull them out, and we don't panic. And coach, he panicked a little bit: 'I need to make a change.' So I just sit on the bench and wait and see what happens.
"I think he just has to get a better feel of the players. Kobe, he's got ice-cold blood in his veins. Fish is the same way. And you've just got to get used to your players when you've got two players with five rings. ... We're cold-blooded, and coach, he's got to understand that about us. We could care less what happens the whole game. I could care less what happens throughout the whole season. What matters is that next possession and getting that win. So he doesn't play me for the two games and in the fourth quarter they pull away.
"The real stat is the wins. That's the only stat that should count. If you win, that's all that matters. If I'm 1 for 10 from the free-throw line, 3 for 15 from the 3-point line, 29 percent from field goal, no rebounds, no assists and we won, bam. It doesn't matter because at the end of the game, I'm gonna get a big stop, I might hit a big shot.
"And then the player's gonna take a stupid shot because I'm on him because he has no other choice but to take a dumb shot. And we win the game and go home, have some oatmeal the next morning. It's real simple, man. The coach, he's got to get used to that."
For the record, "have some oatmeal the next morning" is going into my personal vocabulary.
Brown's response: "If I were him, I'd be frustrated, too. I told him: 'I don't take anything personally. I'm OK with it. But if I was a stats guy, Metta, you wouldn't be playing at all. I mean, look at your stats. And Synergy says you're the 192nd-best defensive player in the league. So if I was just a stats guy, the guy who should be playing at the small forward spot is Devin Ebanks -- because he's shooting better than you or Matt (Barnes).'"
Chris' Lacktion Ledger:
Knicks-Craptors: In the wake of Linsanity, Rasual Butler rollerskated to the floor and attempted a shot from Eaton Centre with just 0.5 seconds remaining...only to air it up for a +1 AND AN ANTI-CLUTCH SUPER MARIO GALAXY!!!!
Heat-Pacers: Juwan Howard harangued a board in 6:01 with two bricks, four turnovers, and two fouls for a 6:1 Voskuhl, and Eddy Curry had a +3 that doubled as a 3:0 Voskuhl in 3:27 via lost rock and two fouls. Mickell Gladness smiled after receiving a luxurious 5.3 trillion (320 second) check.
Indiana's Jeff Foster farmed out two boards in exactly 8 minutes, only to foul and brick twice for a 4:2 Voskuhl. And Jeff Pendergraph offered up a foul and turnover in 5:20 for a +2 and 2:0 Voskuhl.
Purple Paupers-Bulls: Francisco Garcia fouled once in 5:06 for a +1.
Suns-Nuggets: Robin Lopez laid an egg from the field and countered perfection from the stripe plus a board in 12:36 with three fouls and a turnover for a 4:3 Voskuhl, and Hakim Warrick lost the rock twice plus earned a foul for a +3 in 3:34.
Generals-Frail Blazers: Washington's Maurice Evans bricked once in 3:47 and also fouled for a CELEBRATORY (yep!) +2.