It was always going to end like this. Somehow, even in those first moments, before Dwight Howard and Steve Nash had played a single game in purple and gold, it was always going to end like this.

Sad Lakers
A clean easy sweep.

No Kobe, no Nash, no MWP, no Blake, no Jodie Meeks, and Dwight Howard gets ejected after two quarters. In their final two games, the Laker lost by a combined 52 points. Those still walking began to envy the injured, as the Spurs rained down shot after shot against the helpless Laker defense.

A clean easy sweep.

Somehow, when the expectation was a Finals matchup with the Heat, nobody mentioned Andrew Goudelock. That didn't stop him from leading the Lakers in minutes in Game 3 (also known as the game where no Laker had a positive +/-). Nobody was talking about Andrew Goudelock, because until the penultimate game of the regular season he played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Goudelock didn't lead the Lakers in minutes for Game 4. That honor went to Chris Duhon. Back in the summertime, no NBA fans were having daydreams of Chris Duhon in the playoffs because he's Chris Duhon.

A clean easy sweep.

The Spurs execution made a mockery of the decrepit Laker defense. Players were falling over one another, running away from Tony Parker in confusion. Duncan was schooling Dwight at Staples Center, even smiling while he did it. The Spurs were the perfect team to break the Lakers. The same franchise that had broken the Shaq-Kobe stranglehold, once again dashing their dreams of empire. This time the dreams were just a mirage, a fever dream of Kobe and the league's apparent top center somehow turning back the clock. But you can't turn back the clock—that is, not unless you're the San Antonio Spurs.   

It was over before it even began. A clean easy sweep.

Welcome to the second round Tracy McGrady.

It seems like just yesterday when I was watching Westbrook play, while mentioning to a friend how he'd never missed a game at any level: grade school, college, pro. It was always too good to continue being true, but somehow I imagined him going his entire career like that.

All of that went up in smoke with a torn meniscus. So many things had to go wrong in order for this to happen. For one thing, Patrick Beverley had to be on the court.

Jeremy Lin had hurt himself during warmups and Beverley ended up playing over 40 minutes in the game. Had it not been for Lin's freak injury, Westbrook would likely be preparing for game 3 tonight; instead, he's done for the season.

Patrick Beverley may score under half a dozen points a game and not even average 20 minutes, but he's going to cast as large a shadow as anyone over this postseason. There will always be the question of what might have been with this year's Thunder team.

A return to the Finals is now unlikely: a championship... all but impossible. It's becoming abundantly clear that there is only one significant team out West. Every day the list of teams to challenge the Nazgul grows smaller. This is the greatest blow yet.

Or maybe this is just the year when the Clippers win it all. We'll know soon enough...
Sooooo, this is kind of awkward. I wonder how much ass Dan Gilbert had to kiss in order to get Mike Brown to agree to a mulligan on his Cleveland coaching career. (Oh wait, I know. 5 years, $20 million worth) That’s a pretty long contract for a guy who just three years ago, got fired because Dan felt he couldn't lead the Cavs to a championship. Truth is, the main reason Dan Gilbert fired Mike Brown was because he was trying so desperately to appease King James. Dan hired the well respected Byron Scott as a replacement and the rest was history.

"I'm Baaaaaack"
Am I the only one who thought that Byron Scott was the pretty good head coach? The Cavs were the very definition of Bawful for his entire tenure, yes I know. The numbers prove that much. But for a guy who had success in New Jersey and New Orleans, I felt Scott got the boot a little early. What did he have to work with? In his first season as head coach I think the best player was Antawn Jamison. Formerly the best player for equally terrible Washington Wizards. This past season Kyrie Irving only played 59 games. Dion Waiters played 61 games. And Anderson Varejao played just 25 games. Would the Cavs still have struggled had these players not been out significant time with injury? Probably yes. But it would have been better than relying so much on Tyler "43% from the floor" Zeller and Tristan "I got my shot blocked more than anyone else in the NBA for majority of the season I'm not joking go look it up" Thompson. I mean what did Dan Gilbert expect? For them to contend for a playoff spot? Someone please cue the Jim Mora "Playoffs?!?" video.

 He tries.
Now we've got Mike Brown back at the helm. Fresh off his 1.06 seasons of disappointment with the Lakers. It’s funny because I keep reading about Mike Brown's winning percentage during his first stint as coach. As if his supporters are trying to validate him by constantly referencing his resume. In my opinion great coaches don't have to have their stats thrown around left and right. It’s something that’s just understood. I know I’ve taken shots at him in the past, but honestly Mike Brown isn't a bad coach. He does have an excellent mind for defensive strategies. Hell, he'd probably be one of the best assistants in the league. I’m just not sure if I want him coaching my team if I care about winning championships. In my opinion, 80% of the Cavaliers success was directly related to Lebron.

Cavaliers Magic Basketball
"What about me?"

Unless Kyrie, Waiters, and Varejao can stay healthy, and the Cavs can pick up an additional two way player in this summer's draft, I don't see how they fare any better than they have the past few seasons. Kyrie and Waiters have already gone on record saying that Scott never lost the locker room. Is this Dan Gilbert’s way of saying he was wrong? Does he plan on making a run at Lebron in 2014? Now that Byron Scott is no longer coaching, will he finally uncross his arms? I’m scared and confused.

***I’ll leave you with this little fun fact:

***Because the Lakers still owe Mike Brown $7 Million dollars over the next two years. He’ll earn a total of $8.5 Million dollars in the 2013-2014 season. Making him the highest paid coach in the NBA.

mike brown
 "You wanna pay me how much?...Fine by me."

***I've been informed that Mike Brown's contract with the Lakers will become void once he signs with the Cavaliers .
nuggets of fun

The Boston Celtics: For a half, the Celtics looked like they just might steal Game 2 in New York. They shot 50 percent (8-for-16) in the first quarter and 61 percent (11-for-18) in the second. And during that second quarter, they limited the Knicks to 4-for-17 shooting and led by as many as nine points (48-39). It honest-to-goodness looked like coach Doc Rivers had made all the defensive and offensive adjustments necessary for his team to win.

Then the second half happened.

The Celtics seemingly forgot everything they'd ever learned about running an offense. Seriously, I haven't seen somebody have that much trouble scoring since my freshman year in college. In the third quarter, Boston went 4-for-18 from the field (including 0-for-3 from beyond the arc) and got outscored 32-11. The Celtics did manage to limit the Knicks to 13 points on 6-for-22 shooting in the fourth quarter...but they scored only 12 points on 3-for-18 shooting themselves.

So for those of you who enjoy simple math, Boston scored only 23 points on 7-for-36 shooting over the final two quarters. That's bad even by this site's standards.

Said Rivers: "I thought we attacked them in the first half, but they hung in there. They didn't let us throw a knockout punch and I thought in the second half they turned that on us and they threw a knockout punch. Several."

No arguments here.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Boston's 19.4 percent second-half shooting was their worst shooting percentage in any postseason half since 1996-97. Which is weird since the Celtics didn't even make the playoffs that season. Or the season before. Or the season after. I'm guessing they were referring to the first half of Boston's 124-77 loss to the Orlando Magic in 1995...when the Green Machine rolled out a starting lineup of Dee Brown, Sherman Douglas, Eric Montross, Derek Strong and an over-the-hill Dominique Wilkins. Still, the point is, the Celtics had a historically bawful shooting half last night.

ESPN Stats and Information went on to note that Boston scored only 24 points in the paint, which is tied for their lowest in-the-paint output this season and a full 14 points below their season average for points in the paint. That's largely because the Knicks were both playing aggressive halfcourt defense and getting the benefit of some home cookin'. For example, there was one sequence that happened with about five minutes to go in the third when Paul Pierce got mugged at the rim with no call -- he even had his headband knocked off during the play -- followed by J.R. Smith earning two foul shots off a minor bump by Jeff Green.

It was just that kind of night. I'm not going to even run through the play-by-play. The bottom line is that, during the second half, the Celtics were roughed up in the paint and intimidated into taking a lot of contested long-range jump shots. Pierce looked frustrated most of the night. Kevin Garnett battled foul trouble and looked about twice as frustrated as Pierce. Jeff Green (3-for-11) apparently left his shooting touch back in the first half of Game 1. And Courtney Lee played only four minutes off the bench during a game in which the Celtics desperately needed some scoring, any scoring, from anybody.

Of course, that might be because of Lee's "assist" to Kenyon Martin in Game 1, but still.

Anyway, the Celtics are now a combined 14-for-63 (22 percent) in the second halves of Games 1 and 2. That wouldn't get it done against the Charlotte Bobcats, let alone the Knicks.

That said, KG did make a solid point after the game: "They haven't scored 90 points yet, and when you're playing a team like this, that's a good sign. We just have to figure out the offensive side of the ball, and not be so stagnated. Figure out ways to score more off opportunities, be aggressive, take advantage of mismatches."

Sounds great. Maybe in Game 3 we'll see if they can actually do it.
By the way, even though it happened before things went sour for the Celtics, this disastrous 12-second sequence pretty much defined the game:

The Milwaukee Bucks: Apparently, the fulfillment of Brandon Jennings' "Bucks in 6" prediction won't officially start until Game 3. Hey, Milwaukee could still win four in a row, right? Right? Anyone? Bueller?

Okay, look, we all know how this is going to end. The Bucks are dead men walking. They played reasonably well in Game 2 -- 50 percent shooting, 14 fast break points, 40 points in the paint, 23 points off turnovers -- and still lost by double digits. The Heat were basically sleepwalking for three quarters, then turned it on for about two minutes and won going away.

By the way, that "two minutes" comment wasn't even a joke. Miami reeled off a 12-0 from in exactly two minute to start the fourth quarter to turn a 68-65 lead into an 80-65 laugher. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade weren't even in the game...and 10 of those 12 points were scored by Chris Andersen and Norris Cole.

Naturally, though, Miami's three quarters worth of relative apathy and indifference has actually given the Bucks hope. I'm not kidding.

Said Larry Sanders: "It's a series. We made progress this game."

Added Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan: "We felt pretty good about the position we were in, giving ourselves an opportunity on the road with 12 minutes to go. You feel good about that."

And then there was Jennings: "We showed a lot of improvement tonight. Aside of making that run in the fourth, I think we should have won this game."

Aside from that run...and Jennings' misguided shooting. Nostradamus Jr. scored only 8 points on 3-for-15 shooting and missed all seven of his three-point attempts. And the Bucks were outscored by 15 points when he was on the floor. And Brandon's backcourt mate, Monta Ellis, went 2-for-7, missed all three of his three-pointers, and committed 4 turnovers.

So to sum up, Milwaukee's best two players combined for 15 points on 5-for-22 shooting and 6 turnovers in 75 minutes of playing time. And a composite plus-minus of -20. Oh, and that 15 combined points is about 22 below their season average.

But maybe that's why the Bucks are feeling good about themselves. I mean, if those guys play even a little better, they have a decent chance of beating Miami at home. Right? Anyone? Bueller?

No, not really. The Bucks are condemned men, and we're watching them walk the NBA equivalent of the green mile. But at least Jennings gave us something to make fun of during the sweep. That's about the only thing worth keeping track of in this series.

Well, except this, maybe: According to ESPN Stats and Information, Miami has gone 44-for-57 (77.2 percent) inside five feet so far in this series. That's a full 10 percentage points higher than their FG% within five feet during the regular season...which led the league. So, yeah, give a hearty golf clap to Milwaukee's interior defense.

The Denver Nuggets: This game made me irrationally happy. Why? Because the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets were obviously channeling the collective spirit of the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets. Also known as (around these parts) as The Worst Defensive Team of All Time.

Yes, this game truly harkened back to those halcyon days, when Lawler's Law -- which states the first team to 100 points will win -- was about the best barometer for determining which team would win or lose a particular game. Speaking of which, did you know the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets held opponents below 100 points exactly zero times in 82 games? Or that they had more games in which teams scored between 150-159 points against them (6) than games in which they held a team below 110 points (4)? That team was so bad at defense that they averaged 119.9 points per game and still lost by an average of almost 11 points!

And yet even that group of defenseless misfits must have been shaking their heads in shock and embarrassment at the _efensive _isplay the current Nuggets put on last night.

Where to begin?

The Warriors had four players score 20 points or more, including Stephen Curry (30 points, 13-for-23), 13 assists), Jarrett Jack (26 points, 10-for-15, 7 assists), rookie Harrison Barnes (24 points, 9-for-14, 6 rebounds) and Klay Thompson (21 points, 8-for-11, 5-for-6 from beyond the arc).

Golden State's scoring by quarters went: 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting (57.9 percent), 35 points on 14-for-22 shooting (63.6 percent), 35 points on 13-for-19 shooting (68.4 percent) and 35 points on 13-for-19 shooting again.

As Nuggets coach George Karl said: "I don't think I've ever coached a game when a team got three 35-point quarters, maybe in my career. Ever."

Oh it gets better. Or worse if you're a Nuggets fan. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Warriors shot 64.6 percent for the game, which is the highest FG% in a playoff game since the Utah Jazz shot 65.1 percent in a 129-90 win over the Phoenix Suns in 1991. And Golden State's 131 points were the most in a regulation playoff game since the Celtics scored 131 against the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

And did I mention the Warriors were 14-for-25 (56 percent). Or that the Nuggets got outrebounded by 10 and bricked 11 free throws? Or that Denver allowed Golden State to score at a rate of 131.2 points per 100 possessions and rebound almost a quarter of their (very few) missed shots?

Said Karl: "We didn't do much of anything very well."

Mind you, according to Ty Lawson, the game plan was "to keep the ball out of Stephen Curry's hands." So of course Curry had 30 points on 23 shots plus 13 assists. Oh, and Curry had three steal, meaning the Nuggets couldn't keep the ball out of Curry's hands even when they were on offense.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Curry was 12-for-19 on shots 15 feet or more from the bucket, and 28 of his 30 points were scored from long range. So, uh, Nuggets...anybody got a hand to go with this face?

By the way, as the AP game recap noted, Curry had Golden State's first 30-10 game since Sleepy Floyd obliterated the Lakers with 51 points, 10 assists and 4 steals back in Game 4 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals (which Bill Simmons immortalized in writing at The Sleepy Floyd Game).

That's right: This game let me reminisce about both the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets and a classic humiliation of the Lakers. Good times.

Labels: , , , ,

I'm giving the posting while watching technique another try, so like last time keep tapping that refresh button.

The Knicks-Celtics game is about 2 minutes into the 2nd quarter, while the Heat vs. the Bucks is at halftime. I couldn't resist a chance to point out the way the Bucks are contradicting Reggie Miller's 'just have Jennings and Ellis force up shots' game plan. Halfway through, the Bucks are only trailing by 4, while the Broped has combined for precisely 1 point.

Who's leading the charge? You guessed it, Ersan Ilyasova. While I don't expect this to last or anything, you can see why I wanted to point this out before the Heat render the point irrelevant.

Back to watching Avery Bradley try to put the Celtics on his back...

Steve Kerr just pointed out that Jordan Crawford got a vote for 6th Man of the year, probably because somebody mistook him for Jamal. Classic. An 11-0 streak has given the Celtics a 4 point lead.

A glance at the play-by-play for the Miami game informs me that I missed Mike Dunleavy stealing the ball from LeBron James. I don't think I'll ever get another chance to witness that.

Paul Pierce is apparently able to hit a turnaround jumper over Raymond Felton. The Celtics lead by 8.

The Bucks trail by 3 points going into the 4th, demonstrating how the Heat love to play with their prey. Larry Sanders and Ilyasova have combined for 30 points while the Jennings has revved the Broped up to 11 combined points.

Does anybody actually like Chris Bosh? I mean, assumably his family and some people in Miami do. But does anybody reading this blog actually like him? I'm not trying to put anybody on the spot, I'm just curious.

2 minutes into the 4th quarter and the Heat are up by a dozen points (make that 15). Wow. I thought they'd play with their food a little longer, but I guess they got hungry. They must've realized the halftime audience from the more popular game was tuning in.

The Birdman already has 8 points and 6 rebounds in this quarter. Larry Sanders is lying on the ground and holding his right knee in pain. On a brighter note, the game that matters is back on now.

Shumpert hits a three to tie the game. Felton is still guarding Pierce for some reason so a possession later Boston has the lead again.

Garnett's cussing on the bench with 6 points and 4 fouls. New York by 5.

Steve Kerr atributes Boston's struggles to "the intensity of the Knicks' defense". These are strange times indeed. The Celtics trail by 14.

The Knicks are in cruise control, up 15 with about 5 minutes left. Did I just see Quentin Richardson on New York's bench? Am I having a flashback? At this point anything seems possible. Except, if I was having a flashback, the Knicks would be losing.

I wasn't hallucinating. It was Quentin Richardson. He just checked into the game as a human victory cigar, wearing the number 55. This is only his 2nd game as a Knick since 2009. It's also his first ever playoff game as a Knick. Those of you who followed the Knicks back then will not be remotely surprised by that last part.

Erasing the Zeke era, one win at a time

Despite the injury to Lee, Klay Thompson's jumpshot is not ready to go gentle into that good night. He's 3 for 3 in the game's first 2 minutes.

Iggy is playing out of his mind. He's 5 for 5 with two three pointers and several ferocious dunks. Klay is 4 for 4. Fittingly, the Warriors trail by a field goal. Which player will miss first? My vote is Klay.

Klay just missed. I can't help but feel I could've made some money on that guess somehow. 20 seconds later, Iggy misfires on a runner as time expires for the 1st quarter.

Somebody should make a tape of the sound the net makes when Curry's got his shot falling. I'd like to listen to that as I fall asleep. It could be like whale songs for basketball enthusiasts. So far, this game has a lot of parity and a lot of scoring. Could be a pip.

Curry is getting his revenge for airballing his first shot. He's got 15 in the 2nd quarter.

Carl Landry and Kenneth Faried are guarding each other. By the end of this series, one of those guys is going to be missing some teeth. Landry is clearly the frontrunner, but I like Faried's chances.

Iggy hits his first field goal since the 1st quarter. Right on cue, Klay Thompson hits a three followed by a Steph Curry three. Golden State leads by 13. This wounded tiger has claws.

I may have spoke too soon. It looks like Steph Curry has turned an ankle.

Steph is up off the bench to high five his teammates. I guess that's a good sign. Then again, David Lee is doing it too. Fortunately for Steph, it was his left ankle, not the surgically repaired one. The replay of the sprain didn't look too good, but Curry's back in the game to start the 4th with the Warriors leading by 13.

Curry hits a three from straight away. All better.

With three minutes left and the Nuggets trailing by 13 still, it looks like this series is about to be tied. Moments like this really expose Denver's inability to make threes. Denver's possessions are devolving into brickfests as Wilson Chandler, Ty Lawson, and Corey Brewer take turns missing from deep. Meanwhile, Klay and Steph have combined for 51 points, with 27 of those points coming from beyond the arc.

As a team, the Warriors ended up shooting 65%, a franchise playoffs record. I think the Nuggets players are about to find out how Coach Karl got that scar on his face.

This feels strangely awkward. Kind of like hooking up with an old girlfriend whom you used to have amazing sex with. After that initial surge of nostalgic excitement, you start to worry: Will it be as good as it used to be? Does she like the same things she used to? Maybe she's been with some guy with a freakishly large, well, you know.

Well, maybe that's the case, but let's all try to get some pleasure out of this, shall we?

The Boston Celtics: Thanks to a strong first half performance by Jeff Green (26 points, 8-for-15, 7 rebounds) and a solid all-around game from Paul Pierce (21 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal), the Celtics kept this one close and actually had a 70-67 lead heading into the fourth quarter. And during that final quarter, they held the Knicks to 18 points on 8-for-21 shooting, including 0-for-7 from three-point range.

Here's the problem:

Boston scored only 8 points in the fourth quarter. On 3-for-11 shooting. 0-for-5 on threes. With 8 turnovers.

That's right. The Celtics had almost three times as many turnovers as field goals in the final quarter. In fact, they lost the ball on their final two possessions, with future Hall of Famers Pierce and Kevin Garnett each taking a turn coughing it up.

Here's a breakdown of Boston's final 12 minutes of "offense," with scoring plays in bold:

KG missed 11-footer
KG missed 19-footer
Jason Terry missed three-pointer
Jeff Green offensive rebound
Jeff Green turnover
Jason Terry missed three-pointer
KG made 5-footer
Avery Bradley missed 7-footer (blocked by J.R. Smith??)
Jeff Green missed three-pointer
Paul Pierce made 18-footer
Jeff Green turnover (traveling)
Jeff Green turnover (pass stolen by Jason Kidd)
Paul Pierce made 14-footer
Avery Bradley turnover (pass stolen by J.R. Smith)
Paul Pierce missed three-pointer
Paul Pierce turnover (pass stolen by Carmelo Anthony)
Jeff Green turnover (ball stolen by Jason Kidd)
Jason Terry missed three-pointer
Jeff Green 2-for-2 from the free throw line
Paul Pierce turnover (ball stolen by Jason Kidd)
Kevin Garnett turnover (ball stolen by J.R. Smith)

Yes, folks, it was historically bawful. From Elias Sports Bureau:

The Celtics 8 points in the 4th quarter in Game 1 against the Knicks are a postseason franchise low for a 4th quarter. the previous low was 9 in Game 2 of the 1983 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks (the Celtics were swept 4-0 in that series).

So, yeah, Boston was shut the hell down by a New York team that ranked 17th in Defensive Efficiency this season. Then again, we're also talking about a Celtics squad that ranked 20th in Offensive Efficiency, is playing without its superstar point guard, and has to masquerade Avery Bradley at the one spot because Danny Ainge never stopped to consider, "Hey, I might need a backup point guard at some point."

By the way, if you're a Knicks fan, I wouldn't start feeling too smug just yet. Sure, 'Melo scored 36, but he shot like crap (13-for-29) and finished -3 on the day. Three starters -- Chris Copeland, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler -- combined for three points...all from Shumpert. And I'm not sure Kenyon Martin (10 points, 4-for-7, 5 offensive rebounds, 2 blocked shots) will play like that again.

The Celtics' bench: Speaking of historically bawful, Boston's reserves "contributed" a total of 4 points, all on free throws. As a unit, they went 0-for-7 from the field. And yes, Elias Sports Bureau had something to say about that too:

The last time the Celtics' bench failed to record a field goal in a playoff game was in Round 1 against the New York Knicks on May 6, 1990 (Celtics' bench was also 0-for-7). The Celtics lost 121-114. The leading scorers for the Celtics were Larry Bird (31) and Robert Parish (22).

Good to see Ainge's two big offseason signings -- Courtney Lee (0-for-2) and Jason Terry (0-for-5) -- are coming through when it matters most.

Doc Rivers, Captain Obvious: On his team's 20 turnovers (for 21 points going the other way): "We had some just bad turnovers tonight. If we had those turnovers in any game, we probably should lose the game and we did. We were making post passes from the other side of the floor. I mean, those are just not good passes. Again, all we have to do is trust, make the next-guy pass, let that guy make it. I thought early on even, I thought we did in the first half as well. We were trying to get the ball to Kevin [Garnett]. I think we threw three passes from half court to the post. I mean, you're going to turn the ball over when that happens instead of just making the next pass, letting that guy make the pass when he's in the passing area."

Gee. If only the Celtics had somebody, some almost coach-like figure, who could instruct them not to make those kinds of passes. Oh well.

Kevin Garnett: Co-Captain Obvious: "Turnovers, man. Twenty turnovers. That's too much. You don't give yourself a chance to win like that.

Paul Pierce, Co-Co-Captain Obvious: On his team's case of butterfingersitis: "I think some [passes] were forced, but some were just boneheaded plays."

Paul should know. He committed 6 of them.

And since we're still on this subject, here's a bonus fact from ESPN Stats and Information: this was only the sixth time in the past 15 years that a team had as many turnovers as points in a single quarter. Good times.

Golden State's Defense: The Warriors's D actually deserves a little credit. After all, they held an offensively explosive Nuggets team to 96.9 points per 100 possessions (per Basketball-Reference) and limited them to 54 percent shooting at the rim (per Hoopdata), well below their season average of 66.4 percent from that range, which was good enough for eighth in the league. On top of that, Golden State forced Denver into 13 misses out of 16 attempts from three-point range.

It wasn't a bad outing overall. In fact, all the Warriors needed to do in order to steal Game 1 in Denver was contain a 37-year-old man down the stretch. Which they failed to do. Spectacularly.

Andre "I'm not dead yet!" Miller scored 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. All Miller did over those final 12 minutes was go 7-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from the free throw line.

The best part is, the game was tied with 14.5 seconds left, meaning the Warriors were 14.5 seconds of solid defense away from forcing overtime and possibly stealing a playoff road game. So of course Miller isolated and drove in for the game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds to go. Game over.

Said Miller: I've never hit a game-winning shot. Never. I've taken a couple and missed or turned the ball over. But that was big for a first playoff game."

Just to sprinkle a little historic salt into Golden State's wounds, per ESPN Stats and Information, Miller is the third oldest player to make a go-ahead shot in the final 10 seconds of an NBA playoff game over the last 15 years, with only Hall of Famers Gary Payton and John Stockton doing it at more advanced ages.

Oh, yeah, one last piece of terrible news for the Warriors: David Lee is out for the rest of the season after tearing a hip flexor in Game 1.

Corey Brewer, quote machine, Part 1: "We were looking at each other. Andre was hot, we were kind of like, 'Why don't we just get out of the way and let Andre have the ball. That's what happened. He had Draymond Green on him and we kind of like those odds."

Corey Brewer, quote machine, Part 2: "I'm never surprised with Andre Miller. I say he's 'unguardable.' They always talk about these Kobe, LeBron, if you give Andre Miller the ball, he's one of the toughest guys to guard in the NBA."

Stephen Curry: Heading into the playoffs, Golden State coach Mark Jackson had some advice for Curry: "Keep shooting." And Curry did that all right. Just not all that successfully, going 7-for-20 from the field, including 4-for-10 from three-point range. He also committed a game-high 5 turnovers...almost half as many as Denver committed as a team.

The Chicago Bulls: This team is a damn mess. Derrick Rose apparently decided a while ago he wasn't going to play this season but won't just say it already. Joakim Noah is limping up and down the court on a foot riddled with plantar faciitis even though he probably shouldn't be playing at all. Poor Luol Deng looks like he's aged in dog years after leading the league in minutes per game the past two seasons, and he sure played like it in Game 1, scoring only 6 points on 3-for-11 shooting while getting lit up by Gerald "I've totally lost my confidence" Wallace (14 points, 5-for-7, 6 rebounds). Chicago's only reliable offensive options -- Carlos Boozer (25 points, 12-for-20, 8 rebounds) and Nate Robinson (17 points, 8-for-12, 1 assist) -- can't play any defense. Speaking of which...

...Chicago's "thing" the past few seasons, other than Rose, was its defense. Well, that defense got absolutely blistered by the Nets, who shot 55.8 percent from the field, finished with 56 points in the paint, and scored at a rate of 125.0 points per 100 possessions (per Basketball-Reference). Oh, and according to Hoopdata, Brooklyn was 20-for-24 (83.4 percent) at the rim and 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) from 3-9 feet. Which means that when the Nets made any move whatsoever toward the basket, they scored.

Possibly most depressing from Chicago's perspective was the contrasting play of Kirk Hinrich and C.J. Watson. In case you don't know the story from last summer, the Bulls opted out of the last year of Watson's contract (worth a little over $3 million) so they could sign Hinrich to a two-year contract worth about $8 million. So naturally Hinrich went on to miss 22 games, have the worst shooting season of his career (37 percent), and compile a Player Efficiency Rating of 10.8. Conventional wisdom is that his defense offsets his lousy shooting and inefficient offensive play, only Deron Williams lit the Bulls up(22 points, 9-for-15, 7 assists) and Hinrich compiled a team-worst plus-minus score of -19 before leaving the game with a leg injury.

Meanwhile, Watson came off the Brooklyn bench to score 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 23 minutes.

So a big thumbs up to Gar Forman and John Paxson on that decision.

Anyway, the Nets finished the first quarter on a 9-2 run and then shot 16-for-20 and outscored the Bulls 35-21 in the second quarter to take a 60-35 lead by halftime. And the game was basically over at that point.

The Memphis Grizzlies: Fans and the media seem to have a soft spot for the Grizzlies, possibly because they remind everybody of the awesome 1980s, when the best teams featured multiple elite big men, pounded the ball down low, and won their games in the trenches.

And hey, Memphis is pretty damn good, despite shipping Rudy Gay to Toronto a few months back. The Grizzlies won 56 games and some people actually think they might have as good a chance as anybody of beating the Heat. (Which, really, is the same as having no chance at all, but it's fun to dream.)

Anyway, the Clippers were only up by 6 points heading in the fourth quarter of Game 1 before unleashing hell and out scoring the Grizzlies 37-22 the rest of the way.

But in all honesty, here's the real stunner: Despite being the bigger team (in theory), Memphis was gangbanged 47-23 on the boards. That is not a misprint. Not a typo. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Clippers grabbed 67 percent of the available rebounds, making it The Other L.A. Team's highest rebounding percentage game of the season. Oh, and that -24 rebounding deficit was the Grizzlies' worst of the season.

But wait, there's more. The Clippers also had a huge edge on the offensive glass (14-4), which they used to score 25 second-chance points. Why is that such a big deal? Well, as ESPN Stats and Information pointed out, the Grizzlies rank first in the league at allowing the fewest second-chance points (11.8 per game).

Said Marc Gasol: "That's not acceptable. Once we made a stop, they kept running in and getting offensive rebounds and second-chance points. We have to be better than that. The rebounds were the difference."

Well, yeah, that and the fact that the Clippers shot 55.4 percent scored at a rate of 134.9 points per 100 possessions (per Basketball-Reference). Which, by the way, holy crap!

Gasol has nobody to blame but himself, given that he grabbed only 2 rebounds in 41 minutes. Pause for a second. Take a sip of coffee or whatever. Let that sink in. An elite seven-footer that people have been going ga-ga over all season grabbed 2 offensive rebounds in 41 minutes. Which makes Gasol eligible for the honorary Amar'e Stoudemire Run Away from the Rebounds Award.

Zach Randolph, "What Me Worry?" Quote Machine: "It's not that big of a deal right now. We want to win the next one. If we can't win the next one, then it's a big deal."

The Atlanta Hawks: Quick reminder: The Dirty Birds purposely tanked their last two games of the regular season in order to drop into the easier (read that: non-Heat) playoff bracket. And I think we can all agree it's very cute that the Hawks were thinking ahead to the second round of the playoffs. A round they will most likely never, ever see. Unless it's from the comfort of the couches at their homes.

Still, this was a weird game, wasn't it? Paul George shot the ball like his hands had been replaced with chicken wire and some old fishing hooks (3-for-13), but he went to the free throw line 18 times (making 17) and finished with a triple-double (23 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds). Meanwhile, the Hawks somehow managed to get blown out by 17 points despite shooting 50 percent as a team.

Of course, despite getting beaten 48-32 on the boards -- including 15-6 on the offensive glass -- all the Atlanteans wanted to talk about afterward was their 34-14 free throw deficit.

Said Josh Smith: "I felt like we earned the opportunity to shoot a little bit more free throws than what we did, but it is what it is. We have to make sure next game that just one player on the opposing team doesn't shoot more than the whole entire team."

Here's where a point out that the Pacers -- who ranked 19th in Offensive Efficiency this season -- scored at a rate of 118.8 points per 100 possessions. So maybe Smith should worry more about his team's defense and rebounding than the number of free throws the Pacers are getting.

At least Hawks coach Larry Drew saw what happened. Namely that his team got outworked.

Said Drew: "We didn't come up with the big plays, we didn't come up with the hustle plays, the energy plays. I thought right when we were, I believe it was a nine-point game, them shooting a free throw, they come up with the offensive rebound off the free throw, kick it out, swing it around, they get a three. That's just getting outworked. They clearly outworked us."

But hey, at least the Hawks don't have to worry about facing Miami in round two.

The Los Angeles Lakers: As I'm sure many of you already guessed, it truly pains me to report on a Lakers defeat. But I'll try to struggle on despite the ache in my soul.

Sarcasm aside, what a treat for Lakers fans, huh? With Kobe Bryant limited to coaching the team via Twitter, L.A. went with a starting backcourt of Steve Blake and Steve "freshly off the injured list" Nash. That's what we call living the dream.

And while Blake (12 points, 4 steals, 3 assists, 2 blocked shots) and Nash (16 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds) didn't play horrible, and although Dwight Howard (20 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Pau Gasol (16 points, 16 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals) had reasonably strong games, the Lakers still looked pretty outmatched despite holding the Spurs to 37 percent shooting.

It didn't help that the Lakers committed 18 turnovers and scored at a rate of 84.0 points per 100 possessions (per Basketball-Reference). And it really didn't help that L.A.'s bench (10 points, 2-for-8, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, zero assists) couldn't even match Matt Bonner (10 points, 3-for-6, 5 rebounds) let alone Manu Ginobili (18 points in 19 minutes).

Oh, and Kobe tweeting "Post. Post. Post." and "Pau get ur ass on the block and don't move till u get it" during the game made things, you know, a little awkward.

Said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni: "Yeah, that's what we did. It's great to have that commentary. ... He's a fan right now. He's a fan and you guys [the media] put a little more importance on that kind of fan, but he's a fan. He gets excited and he wants to be a part of it, so that's good."

But things didn't stop there. Oh no. Kobe later tweeted the following to former coach Phil Jackson: "I gotta do something. It's horrible not being able to at least be there with them."

To which Jackson responded: "No, you were right'll drive you bananas to just watch the ship go down. Just one game down-get one road win." Then Phil tweeted: "Kobe was coaching this one. he was on the beam."

And still later, Kobe responded to D'Antoni's "fan" comment with: "A fan?? Lol."

Like I said: Awkward.

No, this Lakers team will not win a title, but at least they're still the league's best and biggest soap opera.

The Milwaukee Bucks: On Friday, my buddy Mr. P texted me: "Brandon Jennings said the Bucks are gonna beat the Heat in 6 games." My response: "Beat them in what? Beer pong? Candyland? Darts?

Yeah. Jennings said it. Well, tweeted it, actually. And I guess that's "the thing" now, right? Irrational overconfidence. Like when Joe Flacco announced he was the best quarterback in the NFL. He's not, and no, winning the Super Bowl didn't make him the league's best QB any more than it make Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer back in the day. But there were still some who were saying that Flacco's insane belief in himself is what helped push him to the next level, or whatever other bullshit pro sports doublespeak you can think of.

No. Not really. All that kind of thinking has done is destroy the Baltimore Ravens' salary cap and make Jennings look like an you could tell by Dwyane Wade's reaction. As Nick Fury might say: "Ant...boot."

And hey, what do you know, Jennings shot 8-for-20 and the Bucks lost 110-87, shocking exactly nobody except Brandon Jennings. And hell, the final score wouldn't have even been that close if the Heat hadn't given up 22 points off 19 turnovers. Despite the buttery fingers, Miami scored at a rate of 122 points per 100 possessions and finished with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 61 percent. LeBron scored 27 points on only 11 shots. So...yeah.

Said Bucks coach Jim Boylan: "Obviously, incredibly efficient. When you have a game like that, what can you do?"

Quick answer: Nothing at all if you're the Bucks. I think we're going to see Boylan pose that question three more times in the next three games. But then he'll get a nice vacation, so it's all good.

Brandon Jennings, quote machine: "We've got nothing to lose. Nobody should be scared or anything. Let's just hoop."

Nothing to lose. Except the next three games. Moving on...

The Houston Rockets: It was a renaissance season for the Rockets in which a great many people heaped praise upon the genius of Daryl Morey. And sure, the Rockets had missed the playoffs under his watch for the past three seasons, but STATS! SCIENCE! MORE STATS!

Yes, Morey used some salary cap loopholes to steal Omer Asik from the Bulls and Jeremy Lin from the Knicks (who actually didn't want him all that much anyway), then orchestrated a trade for James Harden, who was demanding more money and a larger role than the Oklahoma City Thunder were willing to offer.

So Morey's genius -- which was essentially spending a combined $30 million per year on those three players -- propelled the Rockets to an eighth seed and a 31-point loss in Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the Thunder.


It was a rough day for Houston's big three. Harden went 6-for-19 from the field and 1-for-6 from downtown, Lin was 1-for-7 and finished with more fouls and turnovers (9) than rebounds and assists (7), and Asik contributed approximately half of a good game (9 points and 7 rebounds).


The Rockets shot 36 percent as a team, went 8-for-36 from three-point range, and scored at the miserable rate of 89.5 points per 100 possessions (per Basketball-Reference).


While I'm picking nits, I'll go ahead and mention that Houston's defense allowed the Thunder to shoot 53 percent from the field, run out for 24 fast break points, and score 50 points in the paint.

Said Harden: "We didn't have a rhythm as a team. I felt like it was basically one on five every time."

That pretty much sums it up.

James Harden, Rationalization Machine: "Believe it or not, I think this was good for us. Losing like this was definitely good for us. Now we know how to play."

Jeremy Lin, Co-Rationalization Machine: "We really don't have an excuse anymore. We've gotten it out and played terrible all the way across the board -- offensively, defensively. That one's over with."

I'm gonna try something new here and just update this as I watch. This may be a terrible idea, but it's worth a try. It could yield some good things, especially if we get a discussion going in the comments section while watching the game. Keep tapping that refresh button.

Pacers vs. Hawks:

The 2nd half just started. Mike Fratello could barely disguise the disgust in his voice describing the point-blank layup that Roy Hibbert just missed. A possession or so later Hibbert responds by airballing a hook shot. During the halftime report, Shaq suggested Hibbert "hook them to death" but he didn't specify who that "them" was. He did always hate the Pacers.

During the first commercial break of the half, Tyson Chandler lets us know that he wants to save wild animals.

68-55, Pacers. The Pacers have a seriously ugly possession where Stephenson throws the ball of the glass so hard in ends up by the three point line. Eventually Paul George follows it up with a blown dunk. The next possession is better with Hibbert hitting a hook shot. The possession after that he scores down low. It's that kind of display that always makes it seem like he should dominate the league. We'll see if it keeps up.

Pendergraph airballs after a nifty behind the back pass from George. Moments later, Jeff Teague is scoring with an easy layup. Stephenson makes a three but doesn't realize he isn't quite good enough for a heat check, bricking a shot from the same place on the next possession.

It's Jeff Teague vs. the Pacers, right now. That isn't good for the Hawks. Teague makes a nice steal and an assist but then tries forcing something down low. He seems confused that he can't get a call, apparently not realizing that nobody knows who he is. He follows this up by fouling D.J. Augustin at halfcourt for some reason. On the next possession he makes a jump shot.

Can anybody on the Hawks stop Paul George? It doesn't look like it. Indiana in 5?

Stephenson takes a hard foul from the Locksmith. Why do NBA players love abusing Lance?

Maybe it's because he can't make his free throws after being thrown to the ground.

Paul George makes Shelvin Mack's parents wish they never had him with a humiliating block that bangs off the glass. The Hawks keep possession. Across the country, hundreds of men born before the '50s mention how Russell would've tapped it to himself.

Atlanta is playing Ivan Johnson and the Locksmith at the same time. That always gets confusing. I think Ivan just bricked two shots in a row, but I can't be sure.

The locksmith just hit a 3. At the same moment Ivan Johnson was called for a foul for wrestling down low. There's some psychic string between these two in addition to their physical resemblance.

The Pacers are 26-27 from the line. Psycho T just missed one but immediately grabbed his own rebound. In the ensuing possession, the Pacers discover a way to turn Hibbert's airballs into Paul George threes. Make that Pacers in four.

Paul George has his first playoff triple-double with 4 and a half minutes left. How long until this guy is a full blown superstar? He's 22. Meanwhile, Josh Smith misses both free throws. It seems that he's moving in the other direction, his hinted at superstardom never arriving. He's 27.

Indiana is enjoying a 26 point free throw differential. They're leading by 13. I'll let you do the math.

Roy Hibbert gives Paul George his 12th assist on a nifty, high arching, spinning floater. I had no idea he could do that. He is still 7' 2", right? Paul George's 17 made free throws tie a Pacers playoff franchise high set by, you guessed it, Reggie Miller.

Damn it. I've missed the first 6 minutes of Spurs vs. Lakers on ABC.

Spurs vs. Lakers:

Steve Nash made Mike D'Antoni vow to pull him if he wasn't playing effectively. The Lakers might've had a chance in this series if Kobe had gotten D'Antoni to vow to pull him if it looked like he was about to rupture his achilles.

It looks like Tim Duncan can still hit a bank shot. I'm shocked. Shocked!

Parker just got blocked by Steve Blake a possession after Blake stole it from him. That's just embarrassing. Van Gundy is wondering if the Lakers have enough offense to compete with the Spurs. If he's suggesting that D'Antoni has to take down Popovich in a defensive battle, I'm tempted to predict a sweep.

Antawn Jamison is trying to get the Lakers back into this game by fouling Matt Bonner while he attempts a three. This inspires Mike Breen to call Bonner, "the Red Mamba". The Spurs lead 24-15 at the end of the first quarter.

It's amazing what playing for the Spurs does for a player. Even hardcore NBA fans have no idea who Cory Joseph is, but he's taking it to the Purple and Gold right now.

Danny Green jumps over Jodie Meeks head and Meeks comes up hobbling. Offensive foul Meeks. This is going to be a long/short series for Los Angeles. He also seems to get kneed in the groin by Cory Joseph on the play.

Kobe's tweeting while watching. He wants Pau to get his ass on the block. Surprisingly, he was a fan of the Red Mamba comment, which inspires JVG to call Breen "the grey mamba" and anoint himself the "bald mamba". This is getting out of control. Then again, it was out of control when Kobe started calling himself the Black Mamba in the first place.

Does that weak ass open 12 footer Gasol just short armed count as getting his ass in the paint? At least he has 10 rebounds, which is actually pretty damn impressive half way through the 2nd quarter.

Bonner easily floating a shot over Dwight's outstretched arm is depressing whether you like Dwight or not. Howard gets some revenge on the rim off a Gasol alley-oop pass. Moments later, Duncan throws down a no-nonsence dunk with no Laker anywhere near him. The Mundane eventually overtakes the Spectacular.

Between Duncan, Pau, and Dwight, this series threatens to have more big men highlights than the rest of the first round match-ups combined. Leave it to a Spurs-Lakers series to have a foot in the NBA's past.

The Spurs have gone to hack-a-Dwight already. Oh joy. Dwight makes both free throws. There's an outside chance that might actually keep Pop from intentionally fouling him another dozen times today. The Spurs lead 45-37 at the half.

Kobe tweets: "Post. Post. Post." Does anybody else find it odd that he's not there? Then again, you pretty much never see an injured Kobe on the sidelines. It's tempting to say a good teammate should be sitting with his team on the bench, but if you owned a helicopter, you probably wouldn't be there either.

Bill Simmons says that he's secretly hoping for Kobe to lose it and start going off on D'Antoni via Twitter. Uhm, I'm pretty sure it's not "secretly" hoping if you say it out loud on the ABC halftime show. Great sentiment, though.

D'Antoni is now drawing up plays where Pau is the ball handler in a pick and roll. Who needs guards?

Gasol short arms another mid-range shot. Somebody really needs to give him access to Kobe's twitter feed.

Kobe has obviously been holding Steve Blake back from becoming the franchise player. Blake hits a fade away to bring the Lakers within 4. Gasol finally gets into the post and scores over the "Red Mamba".

Tim Duncan knocks the ball off of Dwight's foot to gain possession. He then tries to post and gets stripped/fouled. The announcers are shocked at the way he yells at the ref but no technical is called. Moments later, Duncan is shooting free throws. On the possession after that, Duncan is at the line again and Howard has his 4th foul. I think it's the Lincoln beard combined with the Duncan face. The refs are clearly intimidated. Is there anybody else in the league who could rock the Lincoln beard with such authority?

Will the South ever yield?

I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious.

Gibobli's starting to feel it, scoring 8 points in the final minute and a half of the third. The Spurs lead by 13 going into the 4th. This one's taking on the feel of inevitability.

Cory Joseph's floater attempt draws nothing but air. Not even Popovich cares at this point. Gasol finally hits one of those mid-range shots off a Nash pick and roll. Timeout Spurs. OK, maybe Pop still cares. That's exactly the kind of play I was picturing when it seemed the Lakers were destined for greatness.

Jalen Rose's "Taco Bell Live Mas Moment" isn't so much a moment as it is a series of moments.

I'm surprised Nash didn't stop to do a facepalm after Howard blew an easy bank shot he fed him. Kawhi Leonard blocks a MWP three attempt and then takes it the length of the court, fakes MWP out of bounds, and lays it in. Jeff Van Gundy loves Kawhi Leonard. I concur.

Pau gets in the post. Unfortunately for him, Duncan was there too.

Pau tries to take it outside with a jumper. Unfortunately for him, Duncan was there too. No wonder JVG calls him irrepressible.

With about 4 minutes left and the Spurs heading towards their largest lead of the game, the camera finds Tracy McGrady sitting glumly on the sideline next to Boris Diaw. Breen describes the decision of the Spurs to sign the former league scoring champion as, "an insurance policy". I should've known that McGrady would one day get to the 2nd round in the most depressing way possible.

Duncan calmly steals the ball away from Blake in the backcourt before heading to the bench for the day.


Reggie's announcing this one. I was wondering when my luck would run out.

Only a minute has gone by and already LeBron has a rebound, an assist, and an and-one. Chris Bosh just hit a corner three. This should be an incredibly balanced and suspenseful series.

Bosh hits another corner three. Well, perhaps thinking he can hit that will come back to haunt him, maybe in a series that actually matters.

Ilyasova draws a charge on LeBron around the three point line. LBJ looks perplexed that anybody would even try that, let alone be successful. I think the Bucks have found their strategy.

LeBron and-one. Maybe not.

Jennings shoots much better when a defender is draped on him and he's falling out of bounds. Guard him at your own peril, Miami. I might be hallucinating but it looks like the Bucks are within 2 points at the end of the quarter.

Monta Ellis makes a spectacular steal from LeBron and saves the ball while flying out of bounds, which leads to Ilyasova missing a 2nd straight layup. Somehow that was always going to end that way.

Jennings checks in with 5 minutes left in the quarter and the Heat leading by 8. I guess Boylan wants to make sure his star is all rested up for their next series, or maybe he just realizes how easily exhausted 23 year olds are.

Jennings has scored 8 points in the 3 minutes since checking in. It must be all that rest. Three point game.

Why is Shaq analyzing 7 year old video footage of himself at the half? Oh yeah, because he's Shaq.

Reggie says that the only way the Bucks are going to be competitive in this series is if Jennings and Ellis force shots. With all the recent coaching vacancies, somebody's gotta put this brilliant basketball mind to good use. With the Heat up by 15, we're approaching the point where the commentators just prattle on until the final buzzer.

Jennings 4 point play. Alright, looks like I'm gonna have to keep watching after all.

The Heat have gone into highlight reel mode, and the Broped is starting to heed Reggie's advice about forcing shots. Miami by 15 again. This feels like a good moment to take a break from playoff watching. I'll see you in Oklahoma City.


I have this crazy feeling that the home teams are going to stay undefeated this weekend. The Rockets have missed their first 9 attempts from the floor. That Ibaka block on Harden was brutal.

So brutal, it's already on youtube.

Ibaka tries another block on Harden but it ends up being a goal tend. Does anybody keep goaltending stats? I'd be curious what players commit/draw the most.

Harden drills a three in Sefolosha's face and then draws a foul on Collison. The Rockets have a chance to get within 5 to end the quarter, not too bad considering they had half the Thunder's score about a minute ago. Reggie Jackson hits a teardrop giving the Thunder a 7 point lead going into the 2nd.

It looks like I'm not the only one who thinks Omer Asik looks like a giant Judge Reinhold.

Eerie, isn't it?

The Rockets keep on getting close, but then Westbrook or Durant do something ridiculous. Kevin Martin misses a layup and Patrick Beverly capitalizes with a three. The game is now tied, making it the first time any visitors have been even since around noon.

Ibaka turns a vicious block on Delfino into an outlet pass by swatting the ball about 20 feet into the hands of Sefolosha. Moments later, Perkins has an easy dunk. The Thunder make that tied game a distant memory with a 14 to 5 run.

The half-time dog show at OKC is legitimately incredible looking. They got dogs doing conga lines, back handsprings, and riding scooters. I picked the wrong sport to follow.

The Thunder are starting to run away with this one. Durant just sunk a three from the top of the arc. Have you noticed how role players thrive on corner threes while superstars tend to take the longer, less efficient ones? My theory is that stars don't like the corner as much because it limits their creativity; they can't survey the floor or drive as easily. Any other theories on that one? Maybe they just like looking like bad muthas. The corner three may be closer, but it rarely looks impressive.

The game has now reached that point where the commentators start describing it as a learning experience for the losing team. There may be a whole quarter left to play, but even the NBA employees are calling it a foregone conclusion. Whatever suspense remains mostly surrounds whether or not Russell Westbrook will grab two more rebounds for a triple-double. I'm signing off. I hope you've enjoyed this experiment in playoff coverage. Let me know in the comments section whether this is something you'd like to see more of or something I should never attempt again. If you're still hungry for entertainment, the end of the Karate Kid is on Nick@Nite. And yes, I am talking about the 1984 one.

That Johnny thinks he's so tough.

This time last year, who knew that  the Lakers would crawl into the playoffs and the Mavericks would miss them all together? James Hardin would be a borderline superstar for while playing for the Rockets. A kid from Weber State would be the rookie of the year. Andrew Bynum would be more famous for dunking his head in hair products than dunking basketballs. And that the Bobcats would yet again, be one of the worst teams in the NBA....Well, that last one was kinda obvious. Yep, 12-13 was a season filled with surprises. Now that the regular season has concluded, join us as we take a look at some of the highlights (and lowlights) from basketball's biggest stage.

NBA: NOV 16 Pistons v Lakers

Let’s start with the biggest flop in all of Hollywood. No, I don't mean Scary Movie 5. I'm talking about the LA Lakers. They kicked things off with the biggest trade we've seen in the NBA in years. The Lakers managed to rid themselves of one locker room cancer in Bynum, and traded him for the slightly less cancerous yet doubly distracting Dwight Howard. Pretty much everyone (myself included) had the Lakers in the Finals after the deal was struck.

Let us pause for an overly dramatic recap of the Lakers season.  

Throughout the planet, there was great weeping and gnashing of teeth. The birds fell silent. Dogs bayed and howled into the air. A purple mist hung low in the sky, blocking out the sun. Darkness stretched across the land as the low pounding war drums of the Laker army could be heard approaching slowly in the distance. The hour of destruction was upon us. And then suddenly; there was hope in the form of a 1-4 record at the start of the season. Shortly after came the firing of Mike Brown. The purple clouds parted, as the sun once again pierced through and shinned down on the depleted earth. Up springing buds of Hope and Faith from the soil. Mike D'Antoni was hired. The world rejoiced! For we knew, that the coming of D'Antoni could only lead to future post season failure for the Lakers. Dwight unhappy, Kobe unhappy, Pau unhappy, Nash wondering around in a fog, Metta World Peace being all Metta World Peace-y. All was right; justice and goodness prevailed over ruthless oppression. The Laker hoard are still alive, but they lay battered, bloodied, and bruised. With their tyrannical leader Black Mamba suffering a severe injury, the Lakers must limp forward across the battlefield. Charging headfirst in certain death. Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs ride into battle mounted upon white horses. A truly symbolic end is near. The Spurs represent everything the Lakers are not. A team forged by skillful management rather that bags of gold coin. Soon we shall witness the Lakers mercifully put out of their misery. The world will breathe a collective sigh of relief as righteousness will reign supreme.

laker army
 Mother of God.

Just before the season, Oklahoma City must have felt that two was company and three was a crowd. Durant and Westbrook saw their bearded brethren shipped out to Houston in exchange for the services of Kevin Martin. Shocking at first, but understandable. They just paid Serge Ibaka, and already had big money tied up with Durant and Westbrook. Harden went on to prove that he was worthy the max deal he was seeking. I didn't think he'd be as good carrying a franchise as he would be coming off the bench and playing against opposing teams second units. James Harden is 1st in FTA, 5th in PPG, 11th in PER, and 1st in FHE (Facial Hair Efficiency). Overall the Rockets had a pretty decent season. They've got a young group that seems to be playing very well together. Jeremy Lin has settled down in to a decent middle of the pack point guard. Omer Asik is third in the NBA in rebounds. And Chandler Parsons did a good Jeff Green impersonation from time to time. Kevin McHale knows what his team is, and never tried to over think the offense. The Rockets ran a fast paced style that only slowed down enough to let Harden get his shots in the half court. A nice turn around in Clutch City that appears to be heading in the right direction. Now lets hope the front office doesn’t pull a Mark Cuban and screw up the team right when everything is going perfect for them. YEAH I’M STILL PISSED.
hardin lin
 Oohhhhh, Someone's playing footsie!!!!
Is it weird that I feel kind of bad for Kevin Durant? I mean, yeah, he's in his mid twenties, makes millions of dollars for 6 months worth of work, and is adorn by fans all over the globe. But here he is, capping off his best season ever as a pro. And statistically one of the best ever (50/40/90). The Thunder are the best team in the Western Conference. He's doing everything that a young superstar should be doing. Yet all we can take about is Lebron James. Even Lebron's harshest of critics (myself included) have been SMH-ing all year long at Bron’s box score barrages. KD is putting up numbers so good that only 5 other people have done the same in NBA history. FIVE. EVER…. It doesn’t matter though because Lebron's team just won 27 games in a row. Durant is the youngest scoring champion ever? Well Lebron went six games without committing a foul. Oh Durant grew solid gold wings on his back and then flew to the moon? I guess that’s cool. But did you check out that Harlem Shake video the Miami Heat just did? Kevin is spot welded to Lebron's shadow for the next 4-5 years the way I see it. It’s like having an older brother who's winning at life, and no matter that you do, you can never be better than him. Lebron is Alec Baldwin, and Durant is William. He was in the Flintstones movie. No, that’s Stephen Baldwin. I think William was in Backdraft. Sorry KD...

 "Hey man, what the hell? They gave you platinum!?!"
Speaking of Lebron. He won. He won basketball. He won sports. He won. This is the Lebron the world has been waiting for. Back in 2003 we were told he could possibly be the greatest player ever. And I by NO MEANS am I saying that he’s there already. But I can see him trending in that direction if he continues this level of play. He made us forget that Dwayne Wade was also having an awesome season. He made us forget that Chris Bosh was a person. During the 27 game winning streak I felt that it could have gone all the way to 35. The Heat just had that kind of feel to them. Like nothing could slow them down. Every night someone stepped up to make big plays when needed. Even when they were down late in games you knew that SOMETHING was going to go in Miami's favor. When the Chicago Bulls shut it down I was a little…sad. I felt like I had a chance to witness history. Instead I got to see Nate Robinson walk around talking trash and flexing to the crowd.

 Some things never change.

This year we saw Brooklyn welcome its first professional sports franchise since 1957. That was the same year the first electric portable typewriter went on sale. Jay-Z proved that only in America, can a person sell drugs in his community, later rap about selling drugs in his community, go on to be part owner of a sports team in said community, and then on opening night of a billion dollar arena, host a concert honoring the community in which you used to sell drugs in. Cray.

nets kids

But Sean Carter was merely a minority owner. They real mastermind is Mikhail Prokhorov. This Russian Mark Cuban has ensured the Nets would wallow in salary tax hell for the foreseeable future all for the sake of building a mediocre playoff team. Wouldn't it have been easier to just buy the Hawks a few years ago and move them up north? Atlanta wouldn't miss them. And the Nets are every bit as average as the last 5 or 6 Hawks teams.

Hard to place all the blame on the owner. Billy King might be to worst GM in sports. He traded their 2012 draft pick which ending up being the rookie of the year, for Gerald Wallace. He then signed Wallace to a 4 year, $40 million dollar deal. Wallace responded by averaging a snooze educing 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assist. All while shooting less than 40% from the field and less than 65% from the free throw line. It’s a microcosm of the Nets season. A lot of money for not much production. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, the new arena. Everything looked good on the surface, but the Nets are the basketball version of the City of Qarth (Game of Thrones anyone?) After a 14-14 start, they threw Avery "Lil General" Johnson into the brig. And promoted PJ Carlesimo to head coach. It didn't really matter because at times they still run the same plays that Avery ran back in his Dallas days....And most of them sucked.

pj deron
"Coach, those are just crudely drawn pictures of bunnies"

While Miami, OKC, and San Antonio were duking it out for top spot on the NBA totem pole. Orlando and Charlotte were fighting for the title of worst team in the league. The Bob kittens were next to last in opponent points per game, and had a defensive rating of 111.5 which put them dead last. Their offensive rating was 101.5 which was good for 28th in the NBA. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that they were last in both total assist and field goal percentage. "Selfishly sucky" is a term I like to use. But for all their "efforts", they were not the worst team in the NBA. The Orlando Magic won just 20 games this season. They had an offensive rating ranked 27th and a defensive rating ranked 25th. The Magic had two double digit losing streaks of 10 and 12 games respectively. And they had a game in which they only scored 61 points. Oh, annnnnd Hedo Turkoglu got popped for performance enhancing drugs. (Not a typo) The Magic were so bad that long time guard JJ Redick was seen doing cartwheels out the door when he was traded to Milwaukee. What makes it worse is that even if one of these teams lands Nerlens Noel with the first pick in the draft, he'll be peeling out of there on his way to Los Angeles the first chance he gets. But by then, instead of being an awkward kid with very little muscle and even less offensive skills. He'll be stepping into his prime years, perfectly groomed to help someone else win a championship. I love the NBA.

 "And then coach said...Play hard until the final buzzer"

In 1974, when his hit film 'Sleeper' was ignored by the Academy, Woody Allen was quoted by ABC News as saying, "The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don't".

First of all, let me say to Glenn that you've been doing a great job, and you can't let one dude, or even two or three, saying negative crap to get to you. Do you know how many horrible things I've been called? You need to keep the skin thick and impervious - but I know that can be difficult. If you believe people when they say you're doing great, then you feel you have to believe them when they say you're not...

...or, as in my case, you can get into childish arguments trying to defend yourself, alienate even more people, and then eventually decide you've had enough foolishness and depart altogether. In your case, Glenn, you're about as nice a guy as they come, so I imagine it's difficult for you to not take such inane talk personally (believe me, I know the feeling)...

That said, I have brought this situation to the attention of Bawful himself, who has in fact been casually pondering the idea of returning, and he has asked me to present this:

Bawful will consider returning to contribute to post-season analysis if there is sufficient interest from the Bawful community. At the end of that time, he will engage in verbal intercourse (ha, I said intercourse) to gauge how much people want him back for next season, and whether it's in the cards for him to find the inspiration to return.

If you want to resurrect the body of Jason Voorhees for this post-season, write as much in a comment. Go ahead, kiss up. He'll read it, and decide whether to once again wield his bloody machete into that goodnight, leaving the bodies of self-centered incompetant players and coaches in his wake.

Your move, Bawful community.

Ok, so maybe getting kidnapped by Maoists wasn't the answer...

I've been hearing some rumors lately in the comments section that this blog is dead. I'm not gonna name names, but let's just say that the all-time leader in assists and steals isn't satisfied with the direction of the site. OK, fine, it was Stockton. But that's not really the point, is it? The point is that this blog is in trouble, and the time for pretending otherwise has past.

Part of it is on me. I haven't been writing as much as I used to, and it's quite possible that I peaked with that Jerry West story back in October. However, even when I had my foot all the way down on the accelerator, it was pretty clear that the auditorium was getting draftier and the seats were getting emptier.

Now, this is not a Dear John letter, and I'm not announcing my retirement. I'm writing this because I believe in this site, and I want it to make a full recovery. I may be naive, I may be crazy, and perhaps I shouldn't be writing on so many painkillers after rupturing my achilles; but I think we got some great days ahead. Yet in order to get there, we need to be honest about where we are now.

It isn't 2007 anymore. It's not even 2011. The Great Basketbawful may or may not come back, I honestly have no idea about that. What I do know is that I still have a few coherent sentences left in me, and there are still some readers out there looking for something different than what the mainstream offers. Back before I started writing for Bawful, I was a fan. I read this site because I wanted to be informed and entertained, and I suspect this is a common motivation. The purpose remains the same, but the question is how do we get there. Can I handle a full season's worth of Worst of the Nights while incorporating parody pieces and keeping up with breaking news? Evidently not. Can I inform you when J.R. Smith whips his cock out while occasionally crafting satirical pieces? Yeah, I probably can.

So that's what I'm asking. How are we going to evolve? I was going to write this letter after the playoffs, but the direness of the situation feels like it's increasing, and I'm suddenly less confident that the postseason will provide a deux ex machina. We have to do this ourselves. True, we've grown smaller, but there's a strength in that. As a smaller community, each voice has more power.

To those of you who've been keeping a dialogue going this season, (Wormboy and Barry I'm looking at you; yeah you too Stockton, also JJ, senormedia, nbacares, always dude your best!, the ubiquitous anonymous, and several others) I sincerely thank you. Your comments have kept me in the game.

Hopefully airing this stuff out will do some good. If not, my bad.

While hiking in the Nepalese Himalayas, the Basketbawful reporter known simply as Glenn was recently kidnapped by a group of Maoist rebels. They are holding him for ransom and currently only allowing him minimal access to the internet. As distressing as this may seem, the leader of the group wanted to make clear that the blogger should be back by the playoffs. The following statement was conveyed via morse code to our press offices.
The blogger you know as Glenn wanted to express his remorse over not posting lately, and to assure readers that he will be back in full force for the playoffs. He had taken the journey to contemplate the mysteries of the Lakers duking it out with the Jazz for an 8th seed, and to see if he could grow a Dallas Mavericks type beard. 
Due to the contemplative nature of his journey, the imprisoned author apparently wants to extend an olive branch to the AP, an organization that he often mocked. In one of his brief moments of internet access, he was said to have enjoyed this recap by Kyle Hightower. In addition to thinking that Kyle Hightower is a really cool name, the blogger was impressed by Hightower doing the research to show that Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic were the first teammates to both have 30/19 games since Walt Bellamy and Willis Reed did it for the Knicks in 1967.

The blogger did manage to smuggle Tuesday's lacktion report out of the country, written in blood.

Pacers-Cavaliers: Orlando Johnson whipped out a +6 suck differential in 9 minutes of play for the Pacers. 
Heat-Bucks: Jarvis Varnado's 2 minutes for the Heat resulted in a +1 suck differential. 
Nets-76ers: A +3 suck differential befell Kris Joseph after 5 minutes and 8 seconds spent representing the Nets. 
Grizzlies-Bobcats: The Grizzlies were busy, with Dexter Pittman finding his way to an eclectic +4 suck differential in 2 minutes and 27 seconds. Meanwhile, Tony Wroten cooked up a more traditional +2 suck differential in roughly 2 and a half minutes of play.
Thunder-Jazz: Marvin Williams climbed his way towards a 2 trillion, but didn't quite make it.  
Warriors-Timberwolves: Chris Johnson similarly was left looking up at a 4 trillion.  
Lakers-Hornets: Darius Miller of the Hornets attained a +3 suck differential in 6 minutes. 
At press time, a rather bitching kung fu battle was said to be taking place. There were also reports of a heavily armed Pam Grier being seen crossing the Bhutan border, apparently coming to the aid of her long time love interest.

Jrue Holiday: Everything else in this post pales in comparison to Jrue's stat-line. 2-24. It boggles the mind. As far back as records can be found, nobody in NBA history has taken so many shots and made so few of them. Jrue's night also set a modern record for worst shooting percentage for anybody to attempt 20 or more shots. In doing so, he passed none other than Allen Iverson who had gone 2 for 21 back in 2004 (also for the Sixers).

It looks like Jrue is gonna be a superstar afterall.

Holiday's terrible shooting percentage didn't keep him from taking the 2nd to last shot of the game for the Sixers. The shot was from 3 feet away. It was a miss.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you lose to the Bobcats.

Fruit Basket alert: Some Milwaukee Bucks players chipped in to send Jrue a fruit basket, as this latest loss for the 6ers pretty much guaranteed they wouldn't have to look in the rearview and could coast all the way to an 8th seed.

It wasn't a very good fruit basket however, since the Bucks will be mercilessly incinerated by the Heat.

Deron Williams: Williams dunked for the first time this season on Wednesday, which seems on the surface to be a good thing, but it also calls public attention to the fact that he hadn't dunked all season.

The Phoenix Suns: The Clippers bounced back in a big way, using the Phoenix Suns as the spring board to launch them. The abiding image from this game came when Ryan Hollins put Goran Dragic in a headlock.

Hollins looks delighted, Dragic terrified

Fun Fact: The Clippers 39 assists against the Suns represented the 2nd most for a team this season. The Spurs hold the record with 41 assists in a victory over Sacramento.

The Jazz: One day before the Nuggets' hopes for a deep playoff run were carried off on a stretcher, they made sure to do the Lakers a giant favor by defeating the Jazz in Utah. Now the Lakers are back in the playoffs, and the Jazz are once more staring hungrily at the feast from outside the window. Maybe they'll find a way back to the table in the next couple weeks, but if not, this will be a loss they regret for a while.

Raptors-Wizards: Jan Vesely committed two fouls in just under 4 minutes for a +2 suck differential.
Knicks-Hawks: Chris Copeland composed a +1 suck differential in 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
Nets-Cavaliers: Tomike Shengelia turned the ball over in 4 minutes and 8 seconds for a +1 suck differential, while his Net teammate Kris Joseph rounded out a 2 trillion.
Nuggets-Jazz: For the Nuggets, Jordan Hamilton went for a trillion, while Quincy Miller added a turnover to make his 1:01 a +1 suck differential.
Grizzlies-Blazers: Keyon Dooling offered up a +1 suck differential for the Grizzlies.
Warriors-Hornets: Terrel Harris of the Hornets offered up a smorgasbord of negative stats for a +5 suck differential in 6 minutes and 55 seconds. If Kent Bazemore had been given as much burn he probably could've matched him, but with only 1:34 to work with he had to settle for a +4. In comparison, Richard Jefferson was barely animate with a trillion.

You may have thought I was kidding when I suggested that the players were organizing some sort of revolt against the referees. It may have seen like the half-coherent ramblings of a lunatic conspiracy theorist. Well, I think Larry Sanders has done his part to remove all doubt. It's as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer now, the Ref War is officially underway. I only hope they don't cancel the playoffs.

The stakes are getting hire, the consequences more severe. In the words of the sportscaster, Bill Kennedy got "smoked" by the demonic elbow of Larry Sanders. Notice how players can't wait to dole out their dastardly retributions. The clock had barely ticked off a second, and already a ref was on the floor.

Perhaps you don't think that this attack was premeditated. Perhaps you're thinking that this was just a freak accident. I understand the urge to bury your head in the sand. War against the refs is a frightening concept. Yet, this was no accident, no mere coincidence. This was revenge. You may recall an incident in mid-March where Sanders was ejected and gave each of the refs a thumbs up.

At the time, many interpreted these upward thumbs as a sarcastic gesture. Now it seems all too clear, they were a threat, a promise, an opposably pointed kiss of death. Larry planned to give the refs much more than a thumbs up, and now he's making good on his heinous threat. Before the season's through, we can expect two more of these.

As basketball fans, I know that we've all had problems with refs from time to time, but for the sake of the game this madness has to stop. These things escalate quickly. It's only a matter of time before Ramon Sessions whacks a zebra with a pair of nunchucks.

And then what? The entire Utah Jazz starting 5 showing up with dirt bikes and switch blades? Suddenly, the referees are too afraid to defend themselves with technicals, and the apparent ringleader of this insurrection, a man they call Roscoe, has gone underground as splinter cells operate with autonomy. Be afraid refs, be very afraid.