20110304-david-luiz-of-chelsea-fc
"You soccer football players sure are good at diving, but have you ever seen me dive while on rollerskates?"

We're getting deeper into the month of March. You know what that means: clanked trey after clanked trey, lots of random pointless passing to kill a 35-second shot clock, and the ever-annoying possession arrow. I live in college basketball country, where few people give a crap about the pros, but I really just don't get it. Yeah, I watch some college basketball. But I always end up feeling frustrated by the poor play, inferior rules, and the fact that there are approximately 18,391 teams that I am supposed to know about come tournament time. Can we please get to the NBA playoffs sometime soon?

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

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Caption This!
What's up with Carmelo Anthony and Violet Palmer? And just what in the hell is Christian Eyenga doing?


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"Hey! Cracker Jack guy! Over here!"


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Larry Drew and Birdman Andersen, is there something you need to tell us?


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Oh come on, Silas. Quit trying to blame it on someone else. Everyone knows he who smelled it, dealt it.


20110306-marcin-gortat
Further proof that playing with Vince Carter will give you a headache


20110306-paul-pierce-rajon-rondo-jon-brockman
I'm not sure what's happening here, but it sure looks bawful, and it doesn't surprise me that Jon Brockman is involved


20110306-tony-parker-steve-blake
Uh, Tony, I'm pretty sure "Headbutting" is an offensive foul just like charging


All The Games:
Frail Blazers at Magic, 7pm: Those who had early March on their "when will Dwight Howard get suspended for picking up too many technical fouls" office pools, please collect your winnings.

Clippers at Bobcraps, 7pm: Eric Gordon: Out indefinitely. Clippers' hopes to no longer be who we thought they were: (Still) Out indefinitely.

Jazz at Knicks, 7:30pm: Carmelo: "Man, getting poked in the eye hurts!" Amar'e: "I see what you mean."

Hornets at Bulls, 8pm: So much for that epic Chris Paul/Derrick Rose matchup. By the way, if you haven't read Lee Jenkins' recent SI feature on Derrick Rose, I highly recommend it.

Mavericks at Timberwolves, 8pm: Nobody really cares about who wins or loses this game. We just want to see if Kevin Love can tie Moses Malone's double-double streak. (And I apologize in advance if I just stat cursed the hell out of Kevin Love. I really hope I didn't.)

Thunder at Grizzlies, 8pm: What's more odd: that Zach Randolph has transformed into one of the best power forwards in the NBA, or that we've basically come to accept this as fact and no longer give it much thought? Wasn't Z-Bo headlining our friggin' banner mere months ago?

Rockets at Kings, 10pm: And the sad saga of the Maloofs screwing over Sacramento continues. I'm really, really not looking forward to the Anaheim Kings.

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Lakers Grizzlies Basketball
That's odd. Doesn't mayo normally go on the inside of the sandwich?

I've heard of moral victories, but this is ridiculous.

However, that's not as ridiculous as this: The Nutcracker in 3D, complete with rat-faced Nazis, plus, according to the article, "singing and dancing. A little kung fu. An electrocuted shark and at least one beheading. And it's in 3D!" Oh, hell yes! (If you were wondering, it has a delightfully appropriate 0% on Rottentomatoes.com right now). Here is Roger Ebert's scathing review, and here is the absolutely insane trailer you must watch:



Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Spurs Warriors Basketball
I love how Richard Jefferson is subtly flexing his muscles to intimidate the friggin' Warriors


Nets Knicks Basketball
What sport are we playing mocking again?


62654005
Grimace face contest!


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Joey Crawford is nonplussed by Gasol-on-Gasol action


Nationally Televised Games:
Frail Blazers at Celtics, NBA TV, 7:30pm: With all the knee, ankle, and leg problems the Blazers have faced, I'm surprised they haven't had to miss a game yet because their team airplane had problems with its landing gear collapsing.

Spurs at Clippers, NBA TV, 10:30pm: No idea why this game made it onto NBA TV, but whatever. The Clippers effort in this game will resemble this video:




All The Other Games:
Grizzlies at Hawks, 7pm: And we come to a letdown game for the Care Bears.

Thunder at Nyets, 7pm: Russell Westbrook is playing some great basketball right now. Even better than Kevin Durant for the moment (though that is likely not going to be the case in the long run, but for this short span of time, absolutely true). So who gets to guard him? Either a playing-injured Devin Harris, or if he gets shut down, Jordan Farmar. Gonna be a long night...

Wizards Generals at Craptors, 7pm: This game will be about as exciting as the car chase scene in Mitchell.



Hot Merging Action!

But, hey, Basketbawful reader The Other Chris will be there! Lucky him:
Tonight's Bawful field trip for yours truly: Craptors vs. Generals. Our first round pick (Ed Davis) said to make his NBA debut after a brief stint in purgatory rehabbing in the D-league. Given the bitch-slapping the Wizards laid on the Mighty Dinos the last time, they should be up for a classic revenge game this time. And if you believe what I wrote in that last sentence, you've clearly never actually watched the Raptors play, because who knows what the hell you're going to get from this team from game-to-game. Beat Orlando on the road, lose to Charlotte at home. Yeah. High.. five?
Don't hang your head too low. You may miss seeing the Craptors mascot rollerblading down a flight of stairs!

Pistons at Heat, 7:30pm: LeBron and the Heat are obviously looking ahead to tomorrow's trip to Cleveland, but honestly, can we even consider this a trap game? I mean, this is Detroit we're talking about here. The only wins the Pissed-Ons have gotten all season? Against the Bobcraps, Warriors, Clippers, Purple Paupers, Generals, and Bucks. That's just sad.

Bobcraps at Hornets, 8pm: Numbers time! The Hornets have been playing well in the first half lately -- 54 points on 53% shooting as a team the last five games. However, the second half has been a struggle. During that same timeframe, they've gone cold as Santa's balls (can you tell I'm already getting ready for Christmas?), shooting a whopping 39% from the field en route to 38 points for the entire second half. So there you go. Four losses in their last five games. How nice of the Bobcraps to come to town so they can turn things around.

Magic at Bulls, 8pm: There's a slight chance Carlos Boozer might actually return to action tonight, but it may be this weekend at least. This team is already performing above my expectations for them -- it'd be great to see them with even more scoring and rebounding presence. That being said, hoo boy. This is going to be a tough, tough game for both teams.

Timberwolves at Mavericks, 8:30pm: Darko may have finally come into his own, but that doesn't change the fact that the Timberwolves are garbage. Dirk Nowitzki's averaged nearly 25 points per game against them over the past dozen meetings between the Timberpups and Mavs, and I don't expect that to change tonight.

Lakers at Rockets, 8:30pm: Bad sign for the Rockets... Here's what coach Rick Adelman had to say about when Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks will return to the lineup: "I've stopped asking. It's just what the doctor sees as they progress...They both have to get on the floor before we'll know how long it will be." And the losing continues. What a shame.

Bucks at Nuggets, 9pm: The Nuggets: still fired up, still putting up points. The Bucks: still banged up, still horrible on offense. Not a terribly compelling matchup here...

Pacers at Jazz, 9pm: The Pacers have already doubled their total of road wins against Western conference teams this year (2) compared to last year (1 for the whole damn season). Progress!

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20101111-paul-pierce-glasses
Sweet specs. They look like they're straight from the Herbie Hancock Collection:

(Photo via 30fps)

Not much time to talk today, so I'll share a quick couple of links.

Solid tweet from "Bill Simmons: "Note to ESPN.com: can we add a ".500 Line" graphic to our Heat Index that shows users if they're above or below .500?"

Here's a must-watch video of Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter mocking local news broadcasts. Your favorite team won!


Worst of the Night in Pictures:

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Rondo treats Chris "Charmin" Bosh like super soft toilet paper
(picture via The Basketball Jones, passed along by Wild Yams)


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Really? I guess God had money on the Nuggets last night


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Stunned


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You know, Phil Jackson could save a lot of time and energy by not bothering to draw up a play when it's just "have Kobe jack up a contested three"


Nationally Televised Friday Games:
Jazz at Hawks, ESPN, 7pm: Both of these teams seem a bit bipolar. I think it's going to come down to which version of each team shows up at different points in this game, particularly the fourth quarter. You never know when Good Jazz will show up at the same time as Bad Hawks and vice versa.

Frail Blazers at Thunder, ESPN, 9:30pm: By the time this game is done, the Blazers might be running short on players thanks to knee injuries. I keep waiting for random assistant coaches to tear ACLs or dislocate patellas just sitting on the bench.

All The Other Friday Games:
Rockets at Pacers, 7pm: Two things. First, I'd just like to quote the opening of the STATS LLC game preview: "Just days ago, the Houston Rockets discussed the idea of increasing Yao Ming's minutes. That plan has hit a definite snag." Second, if the Pacers shoot over 60% from the field again in this game, I will probably need one of you to drive me to the hospital because my brain will explode trying to comprehend that reality.

Craptors at Magic, 7pm: I can't wait for Bawful to post the Raptors Mascot Fail video again Mondy morning.

Bobcraps at Wizards Generals, 7pm: BawfulFest 2010 continues! This is like the greatest worst week ever, isn't it?

Bricks at Timberwolves, 8pm: This only reaffirms my point. Darko + David Kahn = entertainment!

76ers at Mavericks, 8:30pm: Quick math lesson for the day: Mavericks' great defense + Sixers awful awful offense = high comedy. Woo.

Kings at Suns, 9pm: So let me get this straight. The Purple Paupers couldn't stop Beasley and the Timberwolves? What are they supposed to do against the Suns? I'm kinda-sorta intrigued.

Pistons at Clippers, 10:30pm: If you need any help getting to sleep, just put the TV on this game, kick back, and snore. This game will be even uglier than Morehead State women's basketball team coach Tom Hodges' suit. (h/t Jimmy Traina)

* * *

Nationally Televised Saturday Games:
Warriors at Bucks, NBA TV, 8:30pm: The Warriors were sold Friday for $450 million. I know, I don't understand it either.

All The Other Saturday Games:
Magic at Nyets, 7pm: Two words: Beat. Down.

Jazz at Bobcraps, 7pm: At what point does Jordan say "fuck it, I'm suiting up again!" just to keep the Bobcraps from being not only awful, but boring?

Pacers at Cavaliers, 7:30pm: I know it's early, but prepare to have your world rocked: as of Friday morning, the Pacers are only half a game out of the Central division lead.

Craptors at Heat, 7:30pm: I can't wait for Bawful to post the Raptors Mascot Fail video TWICE on Monday morning!

Frail Blazers at Hornets, 8pm: So when do we start hearing crap about the Hornets going for 72 wins? Meanwhile, The Onion delivers again. (h/t Basketbawful reader JJ)

Wizards Generals at Bulls, 8pm: The Generals are on the second night of a back-to-back, but if they play the Bobcraps on that first night, does it really count?

Celtics at Grizzlies, 8pm: This stinks of trap game to me for some reason...

76ers at Spurs, 8:30pm: Hey, did you know that "basketball is a game of mistakes?" That quote is going to haunt Doug Collins for awhile, just like Doug Collins' crappy coaching is going to haunt the Seventy Suxorz for awhile.

* * *

Nationally Televised Sunday Games:
Rockets at Bricks, 7:30pm: The Bricks as a team are 9th overall in rebounding, in spite of having Amar''''e Stoudemire on their roster. I am confused and frightened. Hold me.

All The Other Sunday Games:
Timberwolves at Hawks, 2pm: I feel like we need a camera focused on Darko Milicic at all times just so we can truly appreciate how horrific he is. Would anyone else watch that?

Pistons at Kings, 6pm: One of the worst offenses in the NBA goes head-to-head with one of the worst defenses in the NBA. I can't wait for all the sloppy ball movement and ridiculous bad jumpers that are completely uncontested.

Spurs at Thunder, 7pm: The Thunder are averaging an anemic 15 assists per game as a team. How is it this team can be over .500 and yet be so disappointing?

Suns at Lakers, 9:30pm: Some good news to report: Steve Nash's son Matteo was born this weekend. Congrats.

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Nuggets Pacers Basketball
Yes another angle of this picture was in the WOTN, but damnit, it deserves to be seen again

After last night's absolutely unbelievable display of bawfulness, tonight feels like it should be a letdown night. But don't worry -- just look at the schedule! Terrible basketball will happen tonight, folks.

Just for the record, I already hate the Pacers since they essentially are the reason Louisville doesn't have a professional basketball team anymore. But also I'm going up against Chris in the Bawful Fantasy League this week, and he had two Pacers on his team. So yeah, I'm pretty much screwed this week. I know nobody cares about anybody else's fantasy team, but Chris demanded I mention this, so there you go.

Here's some news on Brandon Roy's gimpy knees, which apparently are getting worse and worse. The Frail Blazers legacy continues, sadly. Are we sure Brandon Roy isn't Greg Oden's long lost son?

SI's Jimmy Traina did a nice interview with Shaq (since, you know, it's not like Shaq has anything better to do right now). Among other things, we find out that one of his favorite movies is Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood and one of his favorite TV shows is In Living Color. Okay, so that's pretty cool. Respect to anyone who likes stuff from back when the Wayans Brothers were actually funny. Speaking of In Living Color, want to see Isiah Thomas and Patrick Ewing show up in a skit? Watch this.

BAM!!

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Nuggets Pacers Basketball
Photographic evidence of Enver Nuggets _efense in action


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Theoretically this was taken last night, but this could be a stock Clippers picture for all I know


Jazz Heat Basketball
"Do I still have any broccoli in my teeth?"


Clippers Hornets Basketball
Kinda glad we can't see what Chris Paul is doing back there...


Pistons Trail Blazers basketball
The Pissed Ons continue to make Detroit even more depressing than it already was


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Mike D'Antoni doing what he does best


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GASOL OVERLOAD


Cavaliers Nets Basketball
Poor, poor New Jersey

Nationally Televised Games:
Jazz at Magic, ESPN, 7pm: Just a stab in the dark here, but I don't think Paul Millsap is going to go into Beast Mode again tonight.

Clippers at Spurs, ESPN, 9:30pm: Another case of the Clippers being on national television for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend.

All The Other Games:
Bucks at Hawks, 7pm: So much for the 6 game winning streak to start the year. The Hawks are now 6-2, but chin up! The only fearing of deer that will be done this season is fearing they might jump in front of your car while driving at night. (You don't want to know about my story about that...)

Rockets at Wizards Generals, 7pm: To quote Silvio from the WOTN comments, "Tonight Rockets (1-5) at Generals (1-4). And that's even not the bawfulest game of the night..."

Bobcraps at Craptors, 7pm: THIS is the game we are annointing "BawulFest." Ughhhhh. I'm just going to let Homer Simpson do the talking for me on this one: "I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked!"

Also, to finish quoting Silvio's epic rant, "Things like that makes me mad. I mean, there's so much teams that have potential to mimic Nyets 10-72 season (if not "better" it with single digits win), but they're not allowed to fulfill their potential. Why? Because those crappy crap teams play each other night after night after night. Look at Cavs - 3 games winning streak as schedule gave them Sixers, Generals and Nyets. And tonight they get ... Nyets again. Not fair. Not fair that one team is going to get W. Clippers. After Spurs tonight, Clippers host Pissed-Ond and Nyets, travel to Timberpoops and Pacers, then play Knicks at home. They're bound to take some win(s) out of that soft schedule. Yes, even them. There should be some rule like: if both teams play bawful game - neither gets win. Or, winner gets only 1/2 of win. Or something, this way NBA administration is denying those crappy teams their right to have single digits wins season."

Nyets at Cavaliers, 7:30pm: Because, hey, if you didn't get your fill of bad basketball between these two teams last night, you get to do it all over again tonight! The NBA: Where Groundhog Day Without Bill Murray's Charm Happens.

Warriors at Knicks, 7:30pm: OMG this is David Lee's first game in New York since being traded!! Too bad nobody really cares.

76ers at Thunder, 8pm: Hey everyone, remember when the Thunder were good? What happened? Lucky for them the Seventy Suxorz are in town!

Mavericks at Grizzlies, 8pm: Okay, yes, the Mavs lost to the Grizzlies a couple weeks ago. But Dirk cut his hair! There's no way they can lose now!

Timberwolves at Kings, 10pm: Continuing our Darko Watch, he is averaging 4.4 ppg on 28% shooting this year, hitting only 53.8% of his free throws. He's averaging 1.1 assists to 2.13 turnovers and only 5 boards (even though he's 7'0").

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jordan bench
You ready to back off your bold prediction yet, MJ?

The Charlotte Bobcats: Let's open this baby up with a quote from Bobcats majority owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan:

And while the Bobcats' cap issues gave them no chance at the LeBron James-led free-agent class this summer, he insists the Bobcats, led by Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, are better than last season's 44-38 team that was swept by Orlando in the first round.

"I think we're going to be a better off team than we were last year," Jordan said. "We're together, we're coming off some success from last year. Granted, Raymond's not here. But when you think about, Tyson came off the bench.

"At the minimum, we should make the playoffs."

I bet MJ would like to take a mulligan on that one right about now.

Good news for the Bobcats: They didn't wait until they were down 15-20 points before starting to play last night! The bad news: It didn't matter. They lost anyway...falling to 1-6 on the season.
The 'Cats shot like they were playing with KFC buckets on their heads -- 39 percent as a team -- with a very special (in the short bus way) thanks to Stephen Jackson (4-for-13), D.J. Augustin (3-for-15, 1-for-7 on threes) and Gerald Wallace (2-for-11).

Still, the real stake in Charlotte's shriveling heart was the failure to put any hands in the general viscinity of rookie Gary Neal's face. Neal went gonzo from beyond the arc, drilling 5 treys.

That said, the Bobcats had their chances. They were down 93-91 with 26.8 seconds left but chose defense over the intentional foul. Unfortunately, they let Manu Ginobili swoop in for a game-breaking layup with 4.9 seconds to go.

Said Bat-Manu: "The goal was to eat all the clock possible, but at the same time you don't want to take a really bad shot. It was a miscommunication between Boris [Diaw] and [Tyrus] Thomas and one left. I had a pretty good look."

As someone who has followed the careers of both Diaw and Thomas, all I can do is nod emphatically at the "miscommunication" part.

Anyway, said Charlotte coach Larry Brown: "D.J., Jack and Gerald going 9 of 39, I don't care who you're playing and you're going to have a tough time. To be in the game with us shooting it that way and turning it over again, like we do, it's a miracle we had a chance."

Chalk one up in the "Near Miracle Victory" column, Larry.

Stephen Jackson, turnover machine: S-Jax had 6 of Charlotte's 14 turnovers. But "shame" -- like most other words -- is not in his vocabulary: "Some nights I may have six turnovers, some nights I may have none." Wow. He's like a fortune cookie. Scatch that. A misfortune cookie.

The Atlanta Hawks: I hope the Dirty Birds enjoyed that 6-0 start and all those "Don't forget about the Hawks!" stories that were so popular for a week or so. You'd think people would have wised up to Atlanta's act by now. They usually pound lousy teams during soft stretches, maybe win a close game or two against a legit opponents. But in the final analysis, they are -- at best -- a second tier team.

To wit: After opening the season with six straight wins over "meh" teams, they've now lost two in a row against decent ones. Go figure.

I'll give the Hawks this much, though. They made the Magic work for it. Atlanta held Orlando to 43 percent shooting -- including 4-for-22 on threes -- and won the rebounding battle 48-43. But the Magic go a big night out of Pumaman (27 points, 11 rebounds) and...Vince Carter? Yes, Vince Carter, who finished with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting and scored 5 crucial points in the final 1:12.

That's right: The Hawks were out-clutched by Vince Carter.

And you know how Vag, er, Vince did it? Two layups, the second of which was an "And 1!" after which he actually roared and flexed to the crowd, Hulk Hogan style.

Said Carter: "It never gets old. Believe me."

Yeah. Unless you're the Hawks.

Hawks coach Larry Drew, quote machine: "As I told our guys, 'Let's not look at this loss as a moral victory.' We've always felt in our hearts all along that we were capable of playing against any team."

Playing against any team? Yes. Winning against any team? Eh, not so much.

Bonus stat: The Hawks gave up 22 points off 17 turnovers...and lost by 4. Just sayin'.

The Toronto Raptors: How does a team like the Golden State Warriors win on the road despite giving up 22 fast break points and a whopping 32 points off 21 turnovers?

By playing the Craptors, of course. Now 1-6!

Stephen Curry, playing on a semi-bum ankle, scored a season-high 34 points on 12-for-21 shooting (including 2-for-4 on threes and 8-for-8 at the line). Moped Ellis added 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting before a bad fall waylaid him in the fourth quarter. The Warriors -- now 5-2! -- also got a double-double out of David Lee (14 points, 12 rebounds) in addition to shooting 52 percnt as a team and winning the rebounding battle 42-32.

Credit the Dinos for coming back from 20 points down to make a game of this one. But that's like sticking your genitals in a grizzly's mouth and then hoping to yank them out before they become bear kibble.

Said Linas Kleiza: "We just make the game hard on ourselves."

Actually, you can probably blame the front office for that, Linas. I'm pretty sure they're the ones responsible for sending you to war with a starting lineup of you, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani, Jarrett Jack and DeMar DeRozan. Admittedly, that group would make a terrific second unit on a real basketball team.

raptors mascot
"Do you guys need a new mascot?
Please tell me you need a mascot."

The Boston Celtics: Back-to-back road games in Oklahoma City and Dallas would be a tall order for any team. Still, the Celtics handed the Thunder a choice cut of ass on Monday night and looked ready to dispatch the Mavs last night after Paul Pierce knocked down a 17-footer to give Boston an 87-82 lead with 1:58 left.

BUT...the C's went scoreless over the final two-ish minutes while the Mavs netted seven points off a layup by Dirk Nowitzki, a triple by Jason Terry and what turned out to be the game-winning 16-footer by Nowitzki with 17.4 ticks on the clock.

Know who Dirk was shooting over? Big Baby. Who's, what, half a foot shorter?

Said Nowitzki: "I knew Kidd was going to find me and then Davis was there. I was able to face him up and knock the shot down."

Oh, but it gets better. Boston's final possession consisted of a three-pointer by Rajon Rondo with 3.8 seconds left and then (after a Terry foul) a desperation triple attempt by Kevin Garnett as time expired.

Really, Celtics? Threes by Rondo and Garnett? Those're the best shots you could get?

Doc Rivers -- who called that sequence "a terrible play" -- said: "I hope I can draw up a better play than that."

Ya think?

Jermaine O'Neal: We call him "The Drain" for a reason. O'Neal played only 11 minutes -- including zero in the second half -- because of a sore left knee that left him with "no explosion." Oh, and Jermaine benched himself for the final two quarters, figuring the Celtics would be better off with him on the bench.

Which might be the case. But if you're wondering by Big Baby was defending Dirk on the game-winner, this is why. Boy, it sure is a good thing the Celtics went out and got two injury-prone O'Neals last summer. Eight games into the season and they're both out already.

Dirk Nowitzki's new haircut: Well, Dirk cut his flowing locks. Now he's gone from looking like a WNBA player to looking like...Sloth from The Goonies?! That's what Dan Marino -- not the football player, but a Basketbawful fan from Belgium -- thinks.

dirk sloth
"Sloth love Chunk!"

The Phoenix Suns: Their two oldest players -- Steve Nash (16 points, 6-for-11, 11 assists) and Grant Hill (19 points, 12 rebounds -- were their best players. Robin Lopez went 1-for-4 and pulled down only 2 rebounds in 14 minutes. Hedo Turkoglu is starting. Channing Frye -- who got a $30 million contract from the Suns this summer -- went 1-for-7 off the bench.

Anybody else see any problems here?

And how about this: Zach Randolph returned from the dead to scored 23 points and gobble up 20 rebounds...including an absurd 8 offensive boards.

Oh, and then there were the turnovers: 23 of 'em, for 31 points going the other way. Hill and Nash combined for 9 TOs.

It's amazing the Suns didn't lose by 20.

Said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry: "That's [23] chances we don't get to shoot the basketball. If we are managing our turnovers, and we've got 10 or 12 turnovers, that's 10 more possessions that we can shoot it at the basket. Make five of them, and it's a different story. We've just got to do a better job in that department."

The Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets wasted some good defense (holdin the Bulls to 41 percent shooting) and a season-best 32-point from Carmelo Anthony by giving the Bulls 24 bonus points off 18 turnovers. They also kept shooting directly into their defenders hands, as Chicago had 12 blocked shots, including 9 combined from Taj Gibson (5) and Joakim Noah (4).

Also, anybody else notice the Nuggets are starting Shelden Williams? Eek.

As an aside, Gibson's sweet game -- 16 points (7-for-12), 6 boards, 5 blocks, 3 assists and a steal -- reminded me of some of the crap I got after dubbing him a potential All-Star in my Central Division preview. In fact, here's what AnacondaHL had to say:

Haha, I just noticed something from this post (emphasis mine):

"a couple of possible future All-Stars (Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson),"

Wait, what? Since when is someone projected to be the next Dan Gadzuric a possible future All-Star?
Well, check it, peeps: Six games into his second season, Taj is averaging 15.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.7 APG and 1.7 BPG while shooting a redonkulous 63 percent from the field. That puts him at 4th in the league in FGP. His Offensive Rating is 115 and his Player Efficiency Rating is 19.1, which, according to John Hollinger's reference guide, is pretty close to borderline All-Star territory.

As always, I'm just sayin'.

(Of course, when Boozer returns from his broken hand, Gibson will head back to the bench, his numbers will fall, and blah blah blah.)

acrobats
You know what? Don't ask. Just...don't ask.

Erik Spoelstra, quote machine: This is a belated entry submitted by Basketbawful reader clair. Regarding their game against the Nyets, Spoelstra said: "[Saturday] was about a nameless, faceless opponent. We needed to really come back and establish our toughness, our disposition defensively and the guys really took that to heart and I was glad that they were having fun out there."

As clair put it: "Nameless AND faceless. Ouch!"

Chris's brief lacktion report: Alonzo Gee grabbed a Legend of Zelda cartridge in just 3 seconds for a Super Mario! For Charlotte, Sherron Collins heaved a brick from Tryon Street in 3:33 for a +1 suck differential.

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Dwyane Wade's Halloween costume... Yeah...

Sorry to have to cut this one a little short. Schedule didn't go quite as planned today, so I wasn't really able to include anything that wasn't written last night.

Well, except for one thing. Footbawful news of the day: The Vikings have waived Randy Moss. Aside from this being absolutely hilarious in and of itself, here's a fantastic tweet from NotJayCutler about it: "Irony: Randy Moss getting cut before Tom Brady's hair."

Worst of the Weekend in Pictures:
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No caption really necessary here. Everything about this photo is amazing


20101031-mario
Mario West may not be currently on an NBA team, but at least we have another Mario


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Even when receiving NBA Mascot of the Year award, Bango looks depressed. Come on, Bango. I've been to Wisconsin. It's not that bad.


20101029-vinny-del-negro
Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers... Yeah, I can see it being a good fit


20101029-vinny-del-negro-facepalm
See what I mean?


20101029-john-kuester-facepalm
Our first John Kuester facepalm this season -- the Pistons season has officially begun


20101029-raptors-dance
...Okay then.


20101029-prokhorov
The Prokhorov dishing out an awkward high five? Oh hell yes.


Nationally Televised Games:
Trail Blazers at Bulls, 8pm: With three wins to start the season, Portland is off to their best start in a decade. Part of the Blazers' success so far this year the Blazers have rebounded well, with LaMarcus Aldridge averaging 9.7 boards. This is spite of missing big men Joel Przbilla (right knee) and Greg Oden (left knee). Did they combine the two healthy knees from their injured big men and give them to Aldridge to create a Frankensteined super player?

All The Other Games:
Craptors at Kings, 10pm: Anyone else excited to see DeMarcus Cousins' home debut? Meanwhile, I still can't get a feel for how good this Toronto team is this year. (It's somewhere between "godawful" and "surprisingly mediocre.") Perhaps we should consult our new Craptors correspondent The Philosoraptor for his insight?

Philosoraptor
Um, okay. Thank you for the thoughtful analysis that had nothing whatsoever to do with this game, Philosoraptor.

Spurs at Clippers, 10:30pm There are, however, no doubts that the Clippers are who we thought they were. Well, for now at least. They might be able to get as far as "bad, but not embarrassingly so" thanks to Blake Griffin being, you know, really friggin' good.

Well, on second thought, they're still super Clippery, and now have the NBA's worst shooting percentage at an unfathomably bad 37.7% after three games. (Yes, I totally have the old NBA Jam announcer's voice in my head right now saying "Puts up a brick!") Considering the Spurs have won 24 of the last 25 meetings with the Clippers, I don't hold high hopes for The Other LA Team getting anything going soon.

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shaq

The Boston Celtics

Last season, Boston's two biggest problems were age and injuries. Their offseason response was to get older and more injury prone with the acquisitions of Shaq and Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal. Remember: The 2009-10 Celtics were only a few baskets away from winning Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the road against a pretty good Lakers team. So how seriously should we take the 2010-11 Celtics? Let me put it this way: Even die-hard Boston fans have to answer that question by saying, "If Shaq and/or Jermaine O'Neal can just..."

That's right. All it's going to take is for Shaq and The Drain the make an actual, basketball-related impact on their new team. Mind you, this is something they've utterly failed to do in each of the last couple stops of the NBA careers. Shaq sunk the Seven Seconds or Less Era in Phoenix before helping Cleveland lose LeBron James forever.

As for The Drain, he got passed around like a hot potato after the Pacers finally suckered somebody into taking his giant contract off their bloodstained hands, and he was declared legally deceased during Miami's one-round playoff run last season. Mind you, it was the Celtics are the team who eliminated the Heat, so they got to watch his playoff implosion up close. How bad was he? Well, he went 9-for-44 from the field, his PER was 2.5 and he finished the series with an Offensive Rating of 57. Oh, and in Miami's elimination game, he grabbed only two defensive rebounds.

But you know what? I don't see those shambling mounds as Boston's biggest problems. As a Celtics fan, I'm much more worried about the fact that Rajon Rondo still can't hit jump shots with consistency or knock down clutch free throws. Those two factors may very well have cost the Celts the 2010 NBA title. Speaking of things that may have cost Boston the title, how about Ray Allen's playoff shooting slump? Look, shooters slump, I get that. But Allen's have been getting worse, lasting longer and are becoming more critical because they're happening during the playoffs. Are these things going to get better by tacking on another year and more miles to his odometer? On top of those factors, now that Tony Allen is marinating in the Grizzlies locker room, who's going to hound the Kobes and LeBrons of the world?

And let's not forget the C's lost their defensive guru, Tom Thibodeau, to the Chicago Bulls.

Look, the Celtics are going to win their division. Mostly because the other teams in the Atlantic are the crappiest of the crappy crap (see below). And they'll definitely be dangerous come playoff time, assuming everybody remains relatively healthy. But the 2010 Finals proved that championships are won and lost by the slimmest of margins. The Celtics just have too many question marks and what ifs.

The New Jersey Nyets

Last season, the Nyets managed only 12 wins and needed a late-season run -- if you can consider five wins in their last 12 games a "run" -- to avoid becoming the worst team (in terms of wins and losses) in NBA history. Still, as horrific as the season was -- poor Brook Lopez has permanent handprints on his face from all the facepalming he did last year -- all the losing was supposed to have a happy ending. After all, New Jersey had stockpiled cap space for the summer's free agent bonanza and their record practically made them a mortal lock for the number one overall draft pick. If they could just win the draft lottery and select John Wall...

...only they didn't win the draft lottery. They got the third pick, which they used to select Derrick Favors, a kid with decent long-term potential but little chance of making an impact this season. Other key acquisitions include Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, Troy Murphy, Quinton Ross, Jordan Farmar, Stephen Graham, Joe Smith's corpse and Johan Petro (for $10 million over three years...WTF?!).

I'm have absolutely no idea what kind of Frankenstein's monster new GM Billy King (a.k.a. the guy who once destroyed the Philadelphia 76ers) expects new coach Avery Johnson to build out of this freaky warehouse of scrap parts. But I can't wait to find out.

But you know what the best part is? After last year's near-record setting failfest, there's virtually no way the Nyets can't improve this season. Even a conservative estimate of, say, 24 wins would be an enormous improvement. So expect better days in New Jersey. Relatively speaking.

The New York Knicks

During the offseason, the Bricks spent $100 million on Amar''''''e Stoudemire. Which would be fine if Amar''''''e wasn't a total fraud.

Okay, okay. That's not fair. Stoudemire isn't a total fraud. The guy is a stud on offense, ranking 5th in free throw attempts (632), 7th in field goal percentage (.557) and 10th in points per game (23.1). However, most of those sparkling stats came at the end of an assist from Steve Nash. In Phoenix, Amar''''''e lived off the variety of dunks, layups and pick-and-pops that Nash created. Conversely, Stoudemire was at his absolute worst when trying to create offense on his own. Unless he could simply blow by his man and not encounter any help defense at the rim, the dude looked like a baby deer trying to run on ice skates. STAT isn't a creator, he's a finisher. What's he going to finish in New York? Other than the hopes and dreams of Knicks fans everywhere. Assuming those suckers have any hopes and dreams left.

Stoudemire cowers from defensive rebounds the way Ron Artest shrinks away from giant snake eggs. And his answer to "defense" is to either leap out of the way matador style or reach in with the awkward clumsiness of a teenage boy groping his first real breast, which is why he ranked 5th in personal fouls last season (281).

The point is: If Amar''''''e is the foundation of your team -- the unquestioned heart and soul -- then your team is officially f***ed. I fully expect Stoudemire to become this season's premier 20-10-50 guy.

Knicks hopefuls might want to point out that Donnie Walsh flipped David "All O, No D" Lee for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike. I would remind those people that the team's starting point guard is Raymond Felton (a poor pick-and-roll player) and the team doesn't have much in the way of consistent, high-percentage three-point shooting. These things do not play to Stoudemire's strengths.

In other words: Expect New York's playoff drought to continue.

The Philadelphia 76ers

Year Two of The Elton Brand Era saw the Sixers win only 27 games and finish tied for the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. According to the Pythagorean Wins calculated by Basketball-Reference.com, Philly was better than only the following teams: New Jersey, Minnesota, The Other L.A. Team, Detroit and Washington. That's a real rogue's gallery of suck, right there.

During 2009-10, the Sixers should have worn masks with question marks on them, because the team had no identity whatsoever. I mean, they were supposed to be a running team yet finished the season ranked 22nd in Pace and 23rd in PPG. Furthermore, they ranked 22nd in three-point percentage (.343) and their inside game was anchored by Elton Brand, who was granted Living Statue status by the world's leading statueologists. Basically, there really wasn't much of anything this team did particularly well. Other than lose, that is.

Now ask yourself this: Has anything of major significance changed from last season to this season? Flipping Sammy Dalembert for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes makes the team...whiter...I guess. Number two overall pick Evan Turner was a summer league disappointment. And as for new coach Doug Collins, well, did you see his last two seasons as a head coach in Washington? He lost the trust of every player on that team not named Michael Jordan, and that was only because he was Jordan's Yes Man.

Which is why the quarterback battle between Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick is the only real ray of hope Philadelphia fans have right now.

Sorry, Philadelphia fans.

The Toronto Raptors

Last season, Chris Bosh ranked 6th in the league in rebounds per game (10.8), 7th in free throw attempts (590) and 9th in points per game (24.0). He was also 4th in Player Efficiency Rating (25.0), trailing only LeBron James (31.1), Dwyane Wade (28.0) and Kevin Durant (26.2). Of course, Bosh put together what was probably his best statistical season during a contract year while playing for a Raptors team that failed to make the playoffs. But those are just facts, so feel free to discard them.

(Reality check: Bosh ranked 7th in the league with 7.9 Offensive Win Shares, yet ranked only 19th overall with 9.6 Win Shares. For those of you who enjoy simple math, that means Bosh had only 1.7 Defensive Win Shares during his best statistical season. How is that possible? I'm sure it had nothing whatsoever to do with him gunning it on offense to improve his free agent standing.)
Anyway, even though Bosh was lighting it up -- at the offensive end, anyway -- the Raptors still floundered down the stretch and missed the postseason (thanks largely to an injury to Bosh). When Bosh decided to take his talents to South Beach, it was done to a massive chorus of "Good riddance!!" from Canadians everywhere. And yet...

...Bosh's departure has made Toronto's roster one of the most depressing sights in the league. Their best returning players (Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon) strike fear in no one's heart (unless you count their fantasy owners). Their new additions (Leandro Barbosa, Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza and draft pick Ed Davis) would be decent pickups for a team that was already pretty good. But the Raptors aren't pretty good. And this season, they might even be the worst team in the league.

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The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Craptors are currently engaged in one of the saddest "final playoff spot" duels I've ever been unfortunate enough to witness. Both teams are below .500. Toronto has dropped five straight games and 14 of 20 overall. Last week, Chicago suffered embarrassing losses to the Andrew Bogut-less Milwaukee Bucks and the 12-win New Jersey Nyets while barely eking out a win over the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers.

Do either of these teams actually want to make the playoffs?

Maybe last night's Bulls-Craptors game answered that question. The Dinos -- who recently lost Chris Bosh for the season due to a broken face -- fell behind by 10 at the half (58-48), by 19 after three quarters (84-65), and by as many as 25 in the fourth (94-69). Honestly, I'm not sure they were even trying. I've had more passionate battles against belly lint.

Want some examples? I've got some examples. Near the end of the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu, who has become persona non grata in Toronto, casually bricked two free throws and the crowd reacted like it was "Free Bag of Poo" night at the Air Canada Center. Late in the fourth, Jannero Pargo forced up an air ball that was hauled in by Reggie "The Nut Burglar" Evans. Evans then threw a lazy pass that was easily interecepted by Pargo, who walked it in for an uncontested layup.

Did I mention that Jose Calderon is signed through 2012-13 (when he will make more than $10 million), Turkododo is signed through 2013-14 (when he will make over $12 million) and that Andrea Bargnani is signed through 2014-15 (when he will make around $12 million)?

Oh yeah. Chris Bosh is totally going to resign with the Craptors this summer. Sure thing. And I'm a Chinese jet pilot.

Of course, if one lovely and talented woman has her way, these magical, singing words just might sway the RuPaul of Big Men into staying. Okay, they won't, but it's still a better effort than any of his teammates is making.

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Nellie
"Thanks, guys! I couldn't have done it without the 24 games we've won this season!"

The Minnesota Timberwolves: Even though the Warriors were without Monta "Moped" Ellis (flu), Anthony Randolph (ankle), Kelenna Azubuike, Andris Biedrins (sports hernia) and Brandan Wright, they still managed to beat the Timberpoops 116-107 in Minnesota to make Don Nelson the winningest coach in NBA history. Of course, if David Stern adopted any of my suggestions, a victory over Minny would only count for, like, 0.4 of an actual win. Although that would have still put Nelson at 1,332.4 coaching victories, which would still be the most ever.

Said Stephon Curry: "For us to get the record is a big accomplishment for us. We call it our championship game." In related news, the Warriors are 24-54 this season.

Don Nelson, quote machine: After setting the all-time NBA coaching wins record, Nelson -- who also has 1,061 career coaching losses -- said: "There's plenty of guys close to that if they want to coach a couple of years. There's coaches out there that win 50 at a time, 60 at a time. Not like me, winning 20 at a time, it's a little harder."

The New York Knicks: News flash: As of last night's 113-105 victory over the Bricks -- now the proud losers of 50 games in four of their past five seasons! -- the Pacers won for the 10th time in their last 11 home games and have won eight of 10 overall. Another news flash: Two women tried to sneak a dead man onto an airplane, Weekend At Bernies-style. Which of these facts is stranger? I'm going with the Pacers suddenly looking like postseason contenders. I'm baffled. Of course, Larry Bird is probably furiously dry-humping his desk in Conseco Field House and screaming, "Suck it, bitches!" At least, I'd like to think so.

Said Indy's Danny Granger: "We're clicking well on the offensive end. We're making shots, we're moving, we're getting layups, we're cutting. We really have everything going."

Not surprisingly, Bricks coach Mike 'Antoni remembers things a little differently: "I thought we were dead from the start with the game last night. We didn't have the necessary energy to start the game off. ... "I thought we played pretty well, except for the start."

Much as I hate to admit it, Mikey has a point. The Bricks fell behind 38-25 after the first period and were down by as many as 20 in the first half before rallying for the close loss instead of the blowout loss. Yay team?

Tracy McGrady, quote machine: Regarding Indy's offense: "They get up and down, high volume of shots." Guess who's agent is probably already on the phone with Larry Bird...

The Washington Wizards Generals Bullets: Thanks to a 121-94 road thrashing by the Orlando Magic -- who have moved to within a half-game of the Los Angeles Lakers We Don't Give A Shit Until The Playoffs for the second-best record in the league -- the Bullets missed out on their first three-game winning streak in two years. Yep. It's been years between stringing together more than two wins in a row.

This beating, and maybe Washington's entire season, was epitomized by the crazy sequence that ended the third quarter. Jason Williams -- that's right, White Chocolate, baby! -- drilled a trey with two seconds left. Then Matt Barnes swatted a sloppy pass from The Fabulous Oberto back to Williams, who swished another three at the buzzer. Those few seconds bumped Orlando's lead from 13 to 19 and basically ended the game.

Said Williams: "I just got lucky."

There's no such thing as luck when you're playing the Bullets. I mean, the Magic shot almot 60 percent for the game. You don't knock down 44 out of 76 field goals by being lucky.

The Toronto Raptors: Can you say snakebitten? Oh, I guess that's pretty easy. Can you say hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian? Yeah. That's what I thought.

Anyway, one night after losing Chris Bosh "for weeks" after Antawn Jamison broke his face with an atomic elbow, Hedo Turkododo left the game during the first quarter after an unintentional headbutt from Boston's Tony Allen. Turkoglu sustained a bruised vagina nasal contusion and was taken to a local dance club for beers the hospital for a CT scan.

Hedo hurts
"Quick! Get me some gauze, an ice pack, a shot of
Maker's Mark and $20 for cover at Republik!"

Said Antoine Wright: "When it rains it pours, I guess. We're dropping like flies right now."

Buzz buzz buzz!! In related news, last night's 115-104 home loss to the slumping Celtics was Toronto's third not-win in a row and the 12th in their last 18 games. And remember, folks, the Craptors are actually fighting for a playoff spot. I'd hate to see what they'd be doing if they didn't have anything to play for.

Michael Finley: Boston's resident mummy almost missed last night's game against the Craptors after -- and I'm being totally serious here -- he strained his back picking up his luggage at the team hotel. At least he didn't trip over his walker, too.

Said Doc River: "That's when you know you're old."

Added Zombie Finley: "If the game had started at 3 o'clock I probably wouldn't have played. [Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte] worked on me before the game, I went and shot around and it was better so I was able to play." And eat brains...delicious brains...

The Atlanta Hawks: Let me set the stage for you. The Pistons were missing Tayshaun Prince (personal reasons), Richard Hamilton (ankle), Jason Maxiell (back) and Chris Wilcox (hamstring), then lost Rodney Stuckey to a first-half rib injury. Oh, yeah, and Detroit sucks. Conversely, the Hawks fancy themselves contenders, so naturally the Pistons beat them 90-88. It was Detroit's 25th win of the season.

After watching his team get outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter of a two-point loss to one of the league's worst teams, Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said: "We just self-destructed again down the stretch. That's something we've got to figure out before we start playing playoff basketball."

Yeah. Good luck with that, Mike.

Did I mention the Hawks missed nine free throws? Because that seems worth mentioning.

The Philadelphia 76ers: Philly shot almost 51 percent compared to 41 percent for the Heat, but still lost 99-95 after two dunks by Samuel Dalembert were waived off in the final 34 seconds, including one that would have tied the game with 5.6 seconds left.

Said Sammy: "At first it seemed as if it was inside, but when you look at the replay, it was outside. The referees are not perfect. I think in a crucial point like that they should have gone and watched the replay."

Sorry, Sam. I watched the replay. It was goaltending.

Anyway, the Heat have officially been described as "surging" now. You know what that means...

The Utah Jazz: Hmm. You think the Jazz were worn out from their overtime thriller against the Thunder on Tuesday night? According to the AP recap, the Mormon Musicians didn't arrive in Houston until about 4 a.m. Of course, based on the way they played, it was more like they hadn't shown up at all. Utah went 3-for-15 from downtown (no legs) and committed 26 turnovers, including 14 in the first half (no hands either, I guess).

Deron Williams -- who followed up his career-high 42-point effort against Oklahoma City by starting out 1-for-5 and committing 6 TOs in the first half -- said: "Coach [Jerry Sloan] told us to leave it all on the floor [against the Thunder]. I don't like to make excuses, but it was a tough game for us, a tough turnaround. I tried to get it going. I just never really had that energy."

Chuck Hayes, who not-so-coincidentally grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds, responded: "They probably had tired legs, they had a tough, hard-fought game. But that's the NBA. You're going to have back-to-backs like that."

That's the NBA alright. The Jazz fell behind by as many as 26 in the second half before losing 113-96. And just like that, they go from number two in the West to just number two.

Luis Scola, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "We were touching a lot of balls."

The New Jersey Nyets: It didn't really matter the Bucks were without Andrew Bogut or that they were playing the second of back-to-backs after surviving a scrappy game in Chicago the night before. The Nyets just have a way of bringing out the best in their opponents. Milwaukee got a double-double out of the ancient Kurt Thomas (12 points, 10 boards), shot 52 percent as a team and outrebounded New Jersey 45-34. The result: A 108-89 win that was about as easy as the final score makes it look.

The Nyets scored 31 points after halftime on 27 percent shooting. Meanwhile the Bucks have gone 20-6 since trading for John Salmons.

Speaking of Salmons, he earned a tech for yelling at Brook Lopez after Lopez was jawing at Bucks coach Scott Skiles. Said Brook: "I told [Coach Skiles] 'I wasn't talking to you.' Then Salmons told me to shut up and stop talking and I was confused."

I'm confused too, John. Is it really necessary to bully an 11-win team? I mean, really?

Nyets hurt
Being a member of the Nyets hurts bad enough
without the tough talk from John Salmons.

The Oklahoma City Thunder: Even though Carmelo Anthony got "knocked out" near the end of the third quarter (see below) and Denver went more than 11 minutes without hitting a shot at one point, the Thunder couldn't hold off the Nuggets, who outscored Oklahoma City 25-14 in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-point deficit and win 98-94. Think the Thunder, like the Jazz, were tuckered out from the night before? I mean, they were outrebounded 50-41 (including 15-10 on the offensive glass) and went 1-for-14 from beyond the arc. Oh, and they didn't connect on a field goal over the final nine minutes of the game.

"No excuses, no excuses," said a flat-footed Kevin Durant, who scored 33 but missed his last six shots.

Officiating: Well, at least they admitted getting the Durant call wrong.

Carmelo Anthony, quote machine: Regarding getting knocked the hell out: "One of the doctors asked me to say the months backwards. I can't do that on a regular day." The same goes for tying his shoes, folding toilet paper into equal squares, and changing the channel on his TV without a remote control.

By the way, how weird was 'Melo's knockout? In case you haven't watched it, do so now:


Basketbawful reader LotharBot said: "I also recommend watching the video of Carmelo lying on the court motionless while play went on around him. He contends he lost consciousness after colliding with Durant, but apparently everyone in the building thought he was throwing a temper tantrum, so the refs allowed the Thunder to inbound the ball, Denver didn't elect to call a timeout to stop them, and even when the Nugs got the ball back they dribbled into the frontcourt and tried to play around him. It wasn't until the next whistle that anybody thought 'huh... he didn't get up to cherry-pick after the steal. Maybe he's actually hurt.' It was a very, very strange sequence."

The Memphis Grizzlies: After losing at home 113-103 to the Rockets on Tuesday, the Griz traveled to Dallas for a 110-84 bitch slapping. Sometimes it doesn't pay to leave the house in the morning. The Grizzlies -- who were seriously thinking playoffs a few weeks ago -- have dropped six of seven and look like they're ready to go fishin'.

Said Mike Conley: "You can't quit. We have goals like making the playoffs, and we understand that we aren't in it, but we still have to be able to play no matter who we are playing or no matter who is out on the court. We have to play at 100 percent effort and we didn't bring that tonight."

They also didn't bring their hands. Based on the 20 turnovers -- including 12 in the first half that turned into 18 points going the other way -- the Grizzlies were trying to handle the ball with wet pasta noodles dipped in bacon grease. That shouldn't have made me hungry, but it did.

Said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins: "It was unbelievable, the turnovers. We just kept giving them the ball, giving them the ball, and they'd run it down our throat or shoot 3s. Then they were moving the ball really well one stretch, and every time they moved it to an open guy he made a shot. That just broke our will."

The Los Angeles Clippers: Their loss -- a 93-85 home defeat -- was Portland's gain, as the Frail Blazers leap-frogged into the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the Clips reached loss number 51 of the season. That makes three straight 50-loss seasons...and 11 in the last 17 years. It would have been twelve, but they were only able to lose 41 games in the lockout-shortened 50-game season of 1998-99.

Said The Other L.A. Team's interim head coach / excuse maker Kim Hughes: "We missed a myriad of open shots and layups in the fourth quarter that really hurt us." You can't miss a myriad of open shots and layups in the fourth quarter and win. You just can't.

Anyway, the Clippers are who we thought they were. Movin' on...

The San Antonio Spurs: The "Surging" Curse continued last night, as the previously surging Spurs ran into a buzz saw called the Phoenix Suns. And it was a game of role reversal, with the Suns playing aggressive, physical defense and the Spurs either backing down or crying to the officials for a call. It was Bizarro Night in Phoenix.

Speaking of which, the Suns went up by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter before the Spurs rallied to get to within five points. Mysteriously, Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry left Steve Nash -- who had 18 points, 12 assists and a steal -- on the bench for the entire fourth quarter...even though San Antonio was making a comeback. I guess Alvin just really hearts Goran Dragic.

Said Gentry: "If we lose I probably would have gotten fired on the spot. I've got a two-time MVP sitting over there that had a great game. ... I don't think anybody was more happy than Steve the way Goran played. I just think that's what makes us a really good team, just the chemistry and the way everyone pulls for each other."

Nash, for his part, seemed pretty happy with it. Although you have to figure he might have felt otherwise if the Suns had lost. Anyway, Nash said: "Alvin's been ballsy that way lately and it's been great. One, it's important to give those guys confidence and, two, it gives us some rest."

The Spurs -- who fell to 7-9 in the second game of back-to-backs -- were left to rue their lousy first-half foul shooting. At one point in the first half, the Spurs were 4-for-13 from the foul line. They were 7-for-18 by halftime.

Said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich: "In the first half, we really missed a great opportunity by missing our free throws."

Of course, fatigue might have played a part in the loss. Hence the 19 turnovers and 6-for-25 long-range shooting.

Said Tim Duncan: "There were too many things that we could have taken care of that were simple. Just turning the ball over, missed free throws. We had a bunch of missed assignments defensively. That's a lot of things that we can clean up. It's a disappointing game for us, but such is life. We've got another one in two days."

Manu Ginobili: It was reported yesterday that the Spurs and Manu -- who has really been kicking ass and taking names lately -- have agreed to a three-year extension worth $38.9 million. The he goes out and scores only 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting, including 0-for-5 from three-point range. But I'm sure it's only coincidence.

Amar''''''e Stoudemire's green arm sleeve: I know it's NBA Green Week and all that, but STAT really should have left it at green socks only. My eyes couldn't focus on that arm sleeve for some reason. Was it just me?

Also, John Hollinger says the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns have one of the best offenses in NBA history. Hollinger also notes that Amar''''''e has really been picking it up lately. He notes Nash's achy back and Stoudemire's increased comfort. Why can't John start tracking Contract Year Phenomenon-related stats?

WNBA Draft: Damn it all!!! The WNBA Draft is going to be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. CST...but I'll still be at work. I wonder if I can get streaming video? Because the Washington Mystics are seeking a post player and I won't want to wait to find out if they get one! Of course, Mechelle Voepel says this year's draft class is lacking in star power, so maybe it won't matter if I can't watch it live. In case this is your first day on the Internet, welcome to the Internet! And I was being sarcastic.

Rasheed Wallace: Wow. Bill Simmons dismantled 'Sheed so thoroughly in this article that the FBI has already issued a warrant to search Bill's crawl space in case Wallace ever disappears. Simmons is 100 percent on the money, though.

Lacktion report: Last night's extensive run of lacktion kept chris even busier than usual...

Celtics-Raptors: It's amazing how rarely "celebratory" has applied to any of the C's exploits of late, but tonight was a chance for a brotherhood of water-system experts to emerge yet again, with Marquis Daniels (26 seconds) and Shelden Williams (42 seconds) each earning themselves Marios! For Toronto, Marco Belinelli built up a bank account worth 3.6 trillion (3:36) - the Association's 100th wealthy man this year!

Bullets-Magic: Fabricio Oberto - the Bullets' starting big man!!! - actually helped out thricely from the range in 19:41 (and blasted three boards to boot) but gave up his arsenal three times as well, along with a trio of fouls, to earn himself a 6:4 Voskuhl.

Nyets-Bucks: Chris Quinn had a mighty melee of more than millions come his way tonight: 3.5 trillion (3:31) to be exact.

Warriors-Wolves: Starting center Ronnie Turiaf turned a five-assist night into a Voskuhl in 22:12 by negating a field goal with four giveaways and a foul for a 5:2 ratio. (Losing the rock that much really seems to be appropriate for the night of the Nellieball Record-Breaking Win.)

Nuggets-Thunder: Ty Lawson received a cash settlement of 4.2 trillion (4:13) for Denver.

Jazz-Rockets: Jordan Hill climbed into the ledger for Houston tonight by countering three boards in 10:31 with four bricks, two fouls, and two turnovers for a 4:3 Voskuhl. Hilton Armstrong also checked in by putting down a deposit for an overnight stay worth 2.2 trillion (2:11).

Grizzlies-Mavs: Hamed Haddadi had himself a foul in 3:21 for a +1 suck differential that also earned a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl!

Frail Blazers-Clippers: Jeff Pendergraph wired himself another wave of cash, in this case 3.2 trillion (3:11) - the fifth successful entrepreneur of a rather currency-flush evening in the Association. Meanwhile, THE Steve Novak is clearly trying to be this season's least productive player overall, spending 13 seconds assembling a Robotic Operating Buddy for a Mario!

Spurs-Suns: Jarron Collins negated a trio of boards in 12:09 as starting center with four fouls and two turnovers for a 6:3 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Earl Clark crunched out a sweet box of Nintendo cereal in just 3 seconds for a SUPER MARIO!

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Vinny facepalm
I want it so "Aw, it's okay, Vinny." But it isn't. It really isn't.

The Boston Celtics: When Danny Ainge went balls out to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in 2007, the only undercurrent of fear was that the Celtics might have mortgaged their future for instant gratification. Hey, it's the American way, right? But by the time Boston won 66 games and beat the hated Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, those fears seemed totally unjustified.

But right now, in April of 2010, those fears have been totally justified.

Danilo Gallinari scored a career-high 31 points, Earl Barron finished with 17 points and a career-best 18 rebounds in his first NBA start in two years after spending most of this season in the freaking D-League, and the once mighty Celtics lost to the Bricks in New York despite shooting 54 percent from the field (compared to 44 percent for the Bricks).

Did I mention that the New Yorkers were without Knee-Mac (sore left knee), Al Harrington (sore left ankle) and Wilson Chandler (sore left groin)?

Not only were the Celtics -- who bobbled away the win by committing 18 turnovers -- outrebounded 44-34, but they looked like the Three Stooges Plus Two on their final play, during which they couldn't even get off a shot before the buzzer. The final score: Brick 104, Celtics 101.

Outplayed and (worse) outworked by the undermanned and one-defeat-away-from-50-losses Bricks. It's a new low in a season full of them for these Celtics.

The Toronto Craptors: The Craptors let the Crabs shoot 56 percent as LeBron James and Mo Williams combined for 25 assists, equaling the total output of everbody on the Toronto roster. Can you tell the Craptors are fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East?

As if the loss wasn't bad enough, Chris Bosh suffered a "maxilla and nasal fracture to the right side of his face" thanks to an atomic elbow from Antawn Jamison. No word yet on Bosh's status for Toronto's remaining games.

bloody bosh
FINISH HIM!!!

Despite all the blood and Bosh's near decapitation, 'Tawn was genuinely surpised he almost killed a man: "I didn't think it was that severe. But once he went down, you knew it was. I didn't think I hit him that hard at all. It was just a bad angle and an unfortunate play. Freakish things like that happen." Jamison the rested the elbow on a trainer's table, which promptly blew the fuck up.

Here's some extra funny from an anonymous commenter:

I just heard some amazing commentary from the craptors' home feed:

Announcer 1: Hey, they gave us one green die, makes me feel like Vegas. (rolls a 6)

Announcer 2: Woah! Oh, the Raptors have 6 games remaining. Why don't you roll that again and see how many of those they're going win?

(*I think you see where this is going*)

Announcer 1: (rolls die-pauses) Why don't I try that again?

Proceeds to roll 3 more times before commercial break, never announcing how many games the Craps will win.
Sonny Weems, quote machine: "Every game we've played [the Cavaliers], it's been real close. I don't think they want that in the first round of the playoffs. We're going to come to play."

The Chicago Bulls: After a season full of bad breaks and dumb luck, the Bulls finally had things going their way. Toronto, the team standing between the Bulls and a playoff berth, got beat in Cleveland and Chris Bosh was nearly manslaughtered. And Chicago's opponent, the Miwaukee Bucks, had already lost Andrew Bogut for the season so he could recover from surgery on his broken hand. If you believe in statistical voodoo like PER, Win Shares an common sense, then you know Bogut was Milwaukee's best player.

So, to sum up: All the Bulls had to do to tie the Bosh-less Craptors in the standings was win a critical home game against the Bogut-less Bucks.

I'm sure you see where this is going.

The Bulls squandered a 13-point first-quarter lead by scoring a season-low 9 points in the second period and went on to lose despite holding the Bucks to 79 points on 36 percent shooting. John Salmons haunted his former team by scoring a game-high 26 points and making critcal plays down the stretch. Speaking of critcal plays down the stretch...

Vinny Del Negro: So the Bulls were down by three points with under 10 seconds to go, and this is what they got coming out of a timeout: A Brad Miller turnover after the big man tried to charge the hoop from 20 feet away. Really? That's the best play the Bulls could come up with when there entire season was on the line?!

Even better. After a forced foul on Brandon Jennings, the Bulls were down four with about six seconds left. Chicago's play coming out of a timeout? A midrange jumper by Kirk Hinrich, who was 4-for-16 on the night.

The Philadelphia 76ers: It looked like Philly was going to get a much-needed break during a season of torture. After all, the Pistons shambled into the City of Brotherly Hate on an 11-game losing streak. What's more, Charlie Villanueva has been bitching about his life to the press and via Twitter. Let's face it: Detroit is a crappy team in disarray.

And yet...the Pistons transformed into road warriors, shooting 62 percent for the game and beating the Sixers 124-103 behind a season-high 18 points from Ben Wallace.

Said Philly coach Eddie Jordan: "Too bad there's not a Phillies game or another [Donovan] McNabb trade to keep you guys occupied. It was just a poor performance and no excuse."

Jordan then provided an excuse by blaming shoddy effort by Elton Brand and Sammy Dalembert.

Responded Dalembert: "He's the coach and he's the boss. He's not happy and we're not happy. I'm out there trying hard and hustling. I don't have a problem with the coach."

That's fine, Sam, because he won't be your coach much longer.

John Kuester, quote machine: "Our guys made a conscious effort to play defense." Note: The Sixers shot 52 percent for the game.

The Golden State Warriors: So much for Don Nelson passing Lenny Wilkins for most coaching wins in NBA history. The Warriors, due to illness and injury, were limited to only seven players and lost 112-94 to the Washington Wizards Generals Bullets.

Said Nellie: "Not a very good effort, but when we start running out of bodies ... I wish I could've rested some guys more, but you've got to have five guys on the court at all times. If I could've got away with three, I would've done it."

I bet.

Here's some more Warrior fail, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information: The Warriors have lost 15 of their last 17 road games. This loss dropped them to 1-18 when scoring fewer than 100 points this season. And, finally, Gol_en State has allowed more than 100 points in 19 straight games.

But wait, there's more! From the AP recap: "Nick Young scored a season-high 29 points, JaVale McGee set career highs with 25 points and 15 rebounds, Shaun Livingston matched a career-high with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting and Andray Blatche added 21 points, giving the Wizards four 20-point scorers for the first time since December 2007."

People just love playing the Warriors.

The Memphis Grizzlies: Last night's 113-103 home loss to the slumping Rockets was best symbolized by Houston's 33-16 advantage in free throw attempts.

Said Trevor Ariza: "We fought so hard during the early part of the season to get into the playoffs. Now, to know that you have no chance is kind of tough to get motivated. That part caught up with us in the first half. Then, we realized we were playing for pride. We're playing for our team, our franchise, our families, and we started picking it up."

Too bad the same thing can't be said about the Memphis players.

The Excremento Kings: Blah, blah, blah, Paupers lost. Yeah, we know. But with their 95-86 victory in Sacramento, the Spurs have won 16 of their last 21 games and have officially been described as "surging." I couldn't help but notice the "surging" tag has been a kiss of death this season. Every time a team is described that way, bad things start to happen. The watch is on!

Defense: How 'bout that Thunder-Jazz game, huh? Yes, it was exciting. It was also a defenseless stat-padder that ended 140-39. From ESPN Stats and Information: "Deron Williams (42 points, 10 assists, one turnover) set a career-high for points, recorded his first 40-point, 10-assist game of his career and recorded just the 19th 40-point, 10-assist game with one or fewer turnovers since 1986-87. ... Carlos Boozer (28 points, 15 rebounds) picked up his 53rd double-double of the season. ... Kevin Durant (45 points) notched his 11th career 40-point game and became the leading scorer in the NBA through Tuesday."

How were the Gol_en State Warriors not involved in this game?

The Jazz and Thunder combined for 184 field goal attempts and 78 foul shots. But lack of D aside, the worst aspect of this game was quite clearly...

Officiating: Here's C.J. Miles' "block" of Kevin Durant's last-second shot in the Thunder-Jazz game. Apparently, arm is now part of the ball.


Update! Mike Bibby: From Basketbawful reader anne: "Just read the injury list - 'M. Bibby, ATL, PG - Ingrown toenail.' Does anything more need to be added? No, but geez, someone send him some Midol and a box of Tampax. I think I would have told them to put 'flu-like symptoms' instead if he's just wanting to rest before the playoffs." Speaking of the Bibster, he's earned exactly 77 free throws in 76 starts this season. His 1.0 FTA per game average is indeed a career low. I guess he's no fan of contact.

The NCAA Womens Championship Game: To this I say: Gak. Here's what Basketbawful reader DKH had to say: "OK, I didn't watch the women's championship game, but from the box score, that game must have just been full of bawful. Field goal percentages for the two teams: 26.5% and 32.8%. Connecticut enjoyed a 22-to-4 free throw attempt advantage (but only a 9-to-3 free throws made advantage [yes, 40.9% FT%; they must think they're Ben Wallace]). Not to mention Connecticut's 12 point first half, or that Stanford had only scored 2 second-half points when there were 12 minutes to go in the game."

Responded Basketbawful reader gordon gartrelle: "But...the women's game is so pure, so fundamentally sound! They play the way the game was meant to be played!"

Lacktion report: Now for chris's latest lacktivity update:

Hawks-Bobcats: Derrick Brown donned a plumber's hat and overalls in 22 seconds for a celebratory Mario!

Raptors-Crabs: Leon Powe let the ball slip from his claws once in 2:49 for a +1 suck differential, while Daniel Green pinched out a full 1.2 trillion (1:12) worth of greenbacks!

Bucks-Bulls: Hakim Warrick dreamed of a spot in the lacktion ledger, and after 4:21 in which he fouled twice and committed a turnover, he managed a +3!

Thunder-Jazz: Othyus Jeffers bricked once and fouled twice in 1:47 for a +3.

Spurs-Kings: One player on each squad got the chancce to play the Lost Levels: Ian Mahinmi of San Antonio with a 35-second Mario, and Jon Brockman with a 23-second stint of 8-bit video gaming for the purple paupers!

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