WotN - yeargh

Miami Heat: I suppose it would be fair to give the Heat a mulligan on this one. After all, they were without Shaq (old), Dwyane Wade (flu-like symptoms), and Udonis Haslem (sprained left ankle), and they were playing the second game of back-to-backs on the road against the third-best team in the East. So, you know, this game probably had "L" stamped on it from the onset. That said, their latest blowout loss combined with a Minnesota win (more on that in a minute) dropped the Heat into a virtual tie with the Timberwolves for the worst record in the league -- the Floridians are 9-35, while the T-Wolves are 9-36. Through hard work and what I can only assume was a blood pact with some dark power, Miami actually kept the game close most of the way -- the score was 83-80 with 11 minutes to go in the fourth -- but the Magic turned the dial up to 11 and, thanks to an 18-1 run, won going away 107-91.

When asked about the "tougher than anyone expected" play of the Heat, Hedo Turkoglu said, "We all knew that it was going to be tough because those guys...they've got nothing to lose." And other than the 38 games left on their schedule -- most of which I'm sure they will lose -- he's right. This team has fallen about as far as possible considering they won the 2006 title. It's not even February and people are suggesting that the Heat should just shut it down for the year. That's about as hopeless as it gets.

Washington Wizards: The Wiz were pretty stoked after Tuesday night's win over the Raptors, particularly since the two teams are fighting for the fifth playoff spot in the East. Unfortunately for them, cruel reality punched them square in the nuts on Wednesday night, since they had to fly into the frozen North and face an angry Raptors team on the road. As you can probably guess, it didn't end well. Washington shot 36 percent, missed seven freethrows, and had more turnovers (16) than assists (13). Meanwhile, Toronto shot 56 percent, had 30 assists (to 7 turnovers) and went on a 122 to 83 run to win 122-83.

Milwaukee Bucks: When a team is 18-28, they don't have any misconceptions about their place in the NBA pecking order. They're bad, they know they're bad, and they probably expect to lose when they go up against better teams. But when they get a crack at another 18-win team, they're probably thinking, "You know, maybe...." Maybe nothing. The Bucks lost, and they lost bad. It was absurd. The 76ers shouldn't beat anybody by 43 points, not even the Timberwolves. But it happened. Dear lord, it happened. The Bucks shot 38 percent, committed 19 turnovers, and set the sport back 10,000 years when "basketball" was just two cavemen beating each other over the head with rocks.

Royal Ivey: Yahoo has Ivey listed as the Bucks "Top Performer" because he led the team with 17 points and 6 rebounds, both of which were team highs. But upon closer scrutiny, you'll notice that his +/- score was -39. For those of you who don't understand that stat -- and honestly, I'm probably one of you -- that's supposed to mean his team got outscored by 39 points while he was on the floor. You'll have to contact John Hollinger to get a needlessly complex and impossible to understand explanation on whether that actually means anything significant, but it sure looks bad.

Bulls versus Timberwolves: I know that I'm guilty of hyperbole pretty much any time I say anything. But I am being 100 percent honest when I say this game was the worst thing I've ever seen, and that includes the time I walked in on my step-dad asleep on the couch with his dork in one hand and a wad of Kleenex in the other. (Seriously, who falls asleep while masturbating in the living room? Honestly?) But enough of my painful past; let's focus on the horror of the present. These teams started the game by combining to miss their first 18 shots, which included Al Jefferson missing a wide open dunk. With 5:25 left in the first quarter, the score was 3-2. THREE TO TWO!! During this stretch, some heckler supposedly said "First team to 21 wins." Bravo to you, oh mysterious stranger from afar. Anyway, as crazy as this sounds, the Timberwolves only scored 8 points (3-for-21) in the first 12 minutes of this horror show on their way to 83 points on 36 percent shooting...and they won by 16 points! That's how truly horrific the Bulls were. But according to interim head coach Jim Boylan, it wasn't just the 33 percent shooting and the 22 turnovers, it was the fact that his team was acting like a bunch of two-year-olds: "They went into their own little worlds and were acting kind of childish at times instead of doing what we know we need to do against a team like this." Uh, Jim, maybe you've already taken Motivational Speaking 101, but if you're trying to reach your team, that's not the way to do it. Anyway, this game was the basketball equivalent of a piano falling 10 stories onto a crate full of live babies. After watching this dreck, I can honestly say I will never smile again.

Jannero Pargo: He scored 11 points on 15 shots. And that's proof positive why you should never let Jannero Pargo shoot the ball 15 times.

Kenyon Martin: He was 3-for-11 last night, and his performance was a subtle reminder that K-Mart should not be taking any shots that are not named "the dunk."

Juan Carlos Navarro: The man whose name sounds like he should be out somewhere picking full-flavored coffee beans shot 2-for-12 against Denver's fierce defense. Oh, and he missed all eight of this three-point attempts. Which begs the question: How many consecutive three-pointers do you have to miss before the coach tells you to stop taking them? My guess is eight.

Eddy Curry and Quentin Richardson: They both left the game early due to the ever-popular flu-like symptoms excuse. Personally, I think they just wanted to get a jump start on the Salt Lake City night life.

Larry Hughes: Now that's the Larry Hughes I know and love (to make fun of). After a couple of decent games, "Larry Lethargic" returned to shoot 2-for-11 and earn the worst +/- score on the team (-18). For those of you keeping track of this crap, he's now shooting 34 percent on the season.

Joel Przybilla: The Vanilla Gorilla actually had a pretty good game against the Cavs: 9 points (3-for-3), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 blocked shots. Here's where the "but" comes in. Two of those blocks came against Lebron James in the fourth quarter. They made Lebron angry. And the Blazers did not like him when he was angry. King James erupted for 17 points in the fourth and hit a reverse layup with less than a second on the clock to beat the Blazers 84-83. It's really hard to fault Przybilla for doing exactly what he's expected to do, namely clog the lane and play defense. But really, you should never tug on Superman's cape. It does not lead to good things.

Jarrett Jack and Sergio Rodriguez: These guys came off the bench with the impact of a fist full of rolled-up quarters upside the Blazers' collective head. Unfortunatley, it so happens they play for the Blazers, not against them. The line: 3 points on 0-for-12 shooting between the two of them. (And if you toss Channing Frye and James Jones in there, that's 3-for-25 shooting off the Portland bench.)

Update -- Magic Johnson: The man who gave us harmonism and fundamativity has now offered up the following insane bold prediction: The New York Knicks (14-31) are going to make the playoffs. In fact, Johnson said, "I think that they’re going to be a tough eight or seven seed, too." Why would Magic think something so, you know, stupid? "Because you can see that they’ve turned the corner. Now everybody knows their roles, their minutes. I watch every game." Well, there you have it. Magic watches every Knicks game. No wonder he's lost his damn mind.

More Magic madness: "Crawford has been one of my favorite players." Wait. He is talking about Jamal Crawford, right? So Magic Johnson...one of the greatest passers of all time...his favorite player is a dude who chucks the ball without conscience or care (41 percent shooting) and wouldn't pass his baby out of a burning building unless you crowbarred that baby out of his hands? I'm speechless. [Hat tip: TrueHoop]

Important: Hey, you've been goofing off this long. Now go on over to Deadspin and hail to the King.

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WotN - Matrix
"Man, I love playing crappy teams!"

Miami Heat: What an appalling display of terrible basketball. Since even glancing at the box score makes me feel indescribably dirty, here's what Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm said to me in an email: "No KG. No Ray Allen. Leon Powe: 25 and 11. They let Leon Powe get a double double. They lost by 30! 30! Do you know how hard it is to lose to that team without two of the big 3? The D-League All-Stars would take those guys to overtime! This is absurd. This is a performance of epic terribleness. This is suck, the likes of which we have not seen since Speed Zone, the non-Cannonball-Run titled Cannonball Run movie. This redefines ineptitude. This team is like some sort of submarine that runs on shitty basketball. But it only patrols feces infested waters. This is like the 300 of being bad at Basketball. It's hyper-dramatic and epic."

Dwyane Wade: Okay, I couldn't not mention this: Pookie shot 1-for-9 and left after the third quarter with flu-like symptoms. I can't say I blame him. It's human instinct to run as far away as possible from such a frightening disaster.

Pat Riley: Isn't Riles supposed to be the Great Motivator? I mean, this is the guy who came up with 15 Strong and trade-marked the term three-peat. Yet he couldn't stir the hearts of his players enough to get a hand in the face of Leon Powe? Wow. Said Riley: "I'm embarrassed by the effort." Good. He should be.

Carlos Delfino: Uh, thanks for showing up to work last night, Carlos. But...are you feeling okay? Is everything okay at home? Because 1 point (0-for-6) and 2 rebounds in 23 minutes wasn't quite what we'd expect from somebody who used to play for Fortitudo Pallacanestro Bologna. Then again, maybe it is.

Stephen Graham: Little "Stevie" played 19 seconds against the Pistons last night, accomplishing nothing other than to create an anomoly in the box score. It's like Jim O'Brien subbed him in and then realized, "Wait, that was Stevie Graham, not Travis Diener! Man, all these crappy players are starting to look alike to me." (Okay, okay. Diener had 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting, so he's officially "not crappy" for at least one game.)

Fun fact: Did you know Steve has a fraternal twin named Joey? And -- get this -- Joey plays for the Toronto Raptors! In fact, Joe played 7 minutes against the Wizards last night, scoring zero points (0-for-4) and grabbing 2 rebounds. So I guess poop doesn't fall far from the butthole, huh? Also, both brothers graduated from Oklahoma State with degrees in Aviation Management and are licensed pilots. Well, at least they should be able to find a Clark Kent job when their basketball careers are over. Which should be any day now.

Jason Collins: The lid is back on the basket! Collins had his 25th scoreless game of the season (out of 41 games played) by going 0-for-0 in 11 minutes of aimless wandering up and down the court. He did have a two rebounds and a couple turnovers, though.

Vince Carter: He scored 16 points last night. And it "only" took him 22 shots to do it. I'm not a statisticologist, but I'm pretty sure that's less than one point per shot.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Bulls were missing three of their top five scorers (Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, and Joe Smith) as well as their backup point guard (Chris "C-Du" Duhon), and they still handled the Wolves with relative ease. Hey, didn't Minnesota beat the Suns and Warriors a few games ago? I guess if Al Jefferson doesn't score a career high, they don't win.

Golden State Warriors: What a fun, entertaining game. But the way Yao Ming manhandled the Warriors' front line (36 points, 19 rebounds) showed, once again, that the Warriors could really use a defensive-minded big man. Yet they signed Chris Webber. Hey, I know Don Nelson is all about out-of-the-box thinking, but that move seems more like out-of-the-mind thinking.

Bonzi Wells: Hold on a second, Wells is supposed to be a scorer, right? And the Warriors haven't played any defense for at least a hundred games or so, right? Then what's up with the 3 points (0-for-1) in 17 minutes?

Trade McGrady: Out with flu-like symptoms, huh? Well, I've seen the Camp CHEN-A-WANDA video, so excuse me if I'm a little skeptical.

Atlanta Hawks defense: I know the Suns are good. Really good, even. But 64 percent shooting?! Even Boris Diaw was 8-for-10! Hawks coach Mike Woodson said: "We just didn't show up tonight. (We) should be embarrassed." He's not wrong.

Atlanta Hawks offense: They took 100 shots and missed 67 of them (34 percent). They lost the ball 19 times. They also had their junk stuffed by the Suns 19 times! Man, they're going to tasting Wilsonburger for a week.

Joe Johnson: This was Joe's big chance to show the Suns what they're missing. Yeah, it didn't happen: 9 points (3-for-14), 1 assist, and 3 turnovers.

Phoenix Suns rebounding: The Suns played a great all-around game. The offense was beyond amazing -- they scored 125 points on 64 percent shooting. The defense was equally fantastic -- they held the Hawks to 92 points on 34 percent shooting by blocking 19 shots and forcing 19 turnovers. But they still got pounded on the boards 50-36. They also gave up 26 offensive rebounds. This rebounding thing is going to come back to haunt them, mark my words.

San Antonio Spurs: I know they haven't been playing well, and I know they aren't very good on the road. And yeah, Tony Parker is out with one of his fake injuries. But they're still the defending champs. They still have Tim Duncan. Yet they fell to what was then a 9-win team that had lost 14 consecutive games. You know, I'm starting to think this whole "The Spurs are just laying low" thing is a work of fiction.

Robert Horry: Zero points (0-for-1) and 1 assist in 9 minutes. Watching him play these days just makes me sad.

Earl Watson: Whoa there, Earl; 0-for-8 shooting? I didn't see this game. Can we confirm that he was shooting at the right basket?

Luke Walton: I didn't want to believe this about the Son of Walton, but I'm really starting to think that last year's breakout season was yet another example of the Contract Year Phenomenon. Last night, Luke scored zero points (0-for-3) and grabbed a couple rebounds before leaving the game with a hip pointer. With all the surpise and success of the Lakers' rejuvenation this season, it's a damn shame Walton isn't a part of it.

Hey you! Yeah, you. Haven't read the NBA Closer yet? Then what are you waiting for, Kobe Bryant to pass the ball?

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Time out folks: Chris Webber's career has come full circle. C-Webb signed with Golden State today, and could be back in action as early as next Thursday. The Warriors are betting this comeback pans out better than Penny Hardaway, Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller and Allan Houston. I'm just hoping this will lead to less TV time for Austin Croshere.

I'm not completely sold on what the Warriors will be gaining from this free agent signing. Both Chris Mullin and Don Nelson laud Webber's passing ability and basketball IQ. I'm seeing a deadly combination of age, knee problems and rust negating most of that. If they were looking for a big man that can move the ball and play questionable defense, why didn't Vlade Divac's name come up?

Anyway, Chris could be back in action next week, and Brandan Wright's hopes of logging 200 minutes this season are looking mighty grim.


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Clark Kent job 2
Within every despondant nine-to-fiver, there
may be a Superblogger waiting to burst forth.

Clark Kent job (klark kent jahb) noun. The sports blogger's "day job." That is, the form of employment -- be it full or part-time -- that allows the blogger to pay the bills until he can land the job of his dreams: Sports writer. No, wait: Paid sports writer.

Usage example: I work for as a technical writer for a global computer software firm. That's my Clark Kent job.

Word Trivia: When you meet a "writer," nine times out of 10, that person probably isn't currently getting paid to write anything at all. The self-proclaimed Word Smith might be employed as a marketing analyst, or a Starbucks barista, or even a professional whistler. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, as long as he can read, type, and register for a LiveJournal or Blogger.com account, he can (and will) refer to himself as a "sports blogger." Kind of like how anybody who takes the LSAT, makes it through three years of law school, and passes the Bar exam gets to call themselves a "lawyer."

However, no amount of irrational enthusiasm can convince a landlord to let him stay in an apartment for free, nor can it make lifegiving food magically appear in his mouth. Hence the absolute and dire necessity of the Clark Kent job. But the sports blogger will be quick to remind you, that's just a job. They are working toward a career. And the career of a sports blogger can usually be broken down into the following stages:

Stage 1 - Awkward, stumbling beginning: This stage can last anywhere from a week, to six months, to even a year or more. The blogger is full of energy and fresh ideas, but either has no idea how to articulate them or lacks the confidence to do so. He spends hours pouring over existing blogs, repeatedly telling, "This is easy! I can do this! I'm smarter/funnier/better than [whoever]." He will publish a new post here and there, but nothing consistent. The blogger openly questions, "Why bother? What's the point?" In many cases, the blogger will quit during this stage. If he does not, then he will move on to...

Stage 2 - Manic overactivity: Something clicks and the blogger kicks on the afterburners. He spends hours designing, redsigning, and re-re-designing his site. Years and years worth of fresh, unique ideas come pouring out in the form of two, three, four, sometimes even five posts a day. He's reading and commenting on every similara blog he can find, he's networking, he's sending out resumes and writing samples. And he is writing like Apollo Creed is standing by his computer screaming, "There is no tomorrow! There is no tomorrow!" As far as he can tell, every post he publishes reads like a hilarious and polished South Park script. Every comment from a site visitor, even if that visitor's name is "grandma," brings him untold joy. He obsessively tracks site hits and clicks on the "Check Mail" button every two or three minutes. The blogger openly declares, "This is happening. I'm really going to do it!"

Stage 3 - The cold, crushing grip of reality: The number of posts slow down significantly, in some cases dwindling down to next to nothing. That untapped well of creativity and innovation begins to dry up. The blogger realizes that the 10 or 20 comments he receives each day come from the same two or three people, and even then half of the comments are his replies to their comments. He's been blogging for months -- blogging at the top of his game, damn it! -- and ESPN hasn't called. MSNBC hasn't called. FOX Sports hasn't called. Hell, the Homerville Gazette Weekly hasn't called. The blogger openly questions, "Why bother? What's the point?" In many cases, the blogger will quit during this stage, sometimes declaring to his small (but loyal) fan base that he is "retiring." Sometimes, that retirement is permenant. Other times, it's merely Jordanesque, which leads to...

Stage 4 - The Comeback: It's hard to walk away from fame and notoriety, even if that "fame" consists solely of a few friends who keep asking the blogger when he's going to post on his blog again, because they thought his other posts were "pretty funny." After squirting a healthy dose of Visine in his Eye of the Tiger, the blogger makes his triumphant return. Only this time, he vows to start taking his blog seriously. He narrows the scope of his blogroll so that it only includes the best of the best. His posts take on a more professional feel. Gone, or mostly gone, are the personal details of his life and the real names of his friends and family. The writing becomes (or tries to become) a hybrid of straight news reporting and irreverent Generation Y-style humor. The blogger begins to look back at old posts and feels slightly embarrassed at how silly and amateurish they sounded, which leads him to edit some of them and delete others altogether. Conversely, the new posts are looked on with pride, and he deems that he is finally providing something of real value. When that paying job still doesn't come, the blogger may become disillusioned. But, if he has retained any confidence, he will move on to...

Stage 5 - Reluctant acceptance: The biting pain of realization has worn off somewhat. The blogger develops a new understanding and appreciation for his lot in life, and submits to the fact that it takes more than a few months of blogging to break into the six-figure sports writing business. And, in fact, that it takes more than a few months of blogging to even break into the three-figure sports writing business. Instead of churning out as much content has humanly possibly, he concentrates on a steady stream of focused, quality posts. Moreover, he actually learns to enjoy (for the most part) the process of blogging without the need for immediate "success." This stage can last anywhere from a few days to a few years, until it reaches the final stage...

Stage 6 - Surrender or Success: The blogger realizes that this isn't really for him, or he wants to try something else, or it's time to stop answering phones for the local brokerage firm and start looking for a job that pays well and provides some upward mobility. It's never easy to walk away from The Dream, but sometimes it's just time to move on. Or...

Eureka! ESPN/MSNBC/FOX Sports/The Homerville Gazette Weekly finally calls, and not only do they want the blogger to work for them, they want to pay him. Not in praise or free subscriptions to ESPN the Magazine, but in actual cash money. The blogger is now, officially, living the dream.


WotN - Doh

Memphis Grizzlies defense: Were they even trying to stop the Mavs last night? Dallas shot almost 54 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc, and they outrebounded Memphis 47-33. In Memphis. Look, I know it's depressing to play for the Grizzlies, but come on now. You're all professionals. Well, sort of.

Darko Milicic: The Serbian Scarecrow submitted a signature performance against the Mavericks: 2 points (1-for-4), grabbed 5 rebounds, and committed 4 personal fouls in 23 minutes. This probably isn't the last time I'm going to have to say this, but take note anyway: When people expect a player to have a breakout year for six straight seasons, chances are that player will never, ever have a breakout year. Well, unless he's Hedo Turkoglu.

Mike Miller: I didn't forget about you, Mike. The 3-for-10 shooting could maybe be overlooked, but the +/- score of -26 -- which is a team-worst, by the way -- sticks out like a sprained left pinky finger.

DeSagana Diop: This guy has just about fallen out of Avery Johnson's rotation. He played only 7 minutes last night, second fewest on the team next to Maurice Ager (see below). Even Devean George got more minutes. That's something worth crying yourself to sleep over.

Maurice Ager: Cha-ching! That's a one trillion for Mr. Ager.

Denver Nuggets defense: Defense? What's that? Yup, it's just waiting to get back on offense. The Nuggmeisters did their best to impersonate the French in WWII by surrendering 117 points on 50 percent shooting with nary a sign of defiance. Or defense. One problem was that the New Orleans Hornets are actually pretty freaking good. Another is that...

Marcus Camby: A lot of people are campaigning for Camby -- the reigning Defensive Player of the Year -- to be named as a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star team. He had a chance to prove he was worthy of the honor last night, particularly since he was facing off against one his his primary competitors in Tyson Chandler. Well, Chandler used Camby like a jock strap on his way to 10 points (4-of-5) and 16 rebounds (8 of which were offensive). Not only did Chandler outrebound Camby 16-5, he matched the output of the entire Denver front line. Meanwhile, Camby struggled on defense (1 blocked shot, no steals) and forgot how to score on offense (3 points, 0-for-5).

Tim Ducan's handles: TD singlehandedly kept the Spurs in the game last night, but somebody must have replaced his talcum powder with Vaseline. Because 7 turnovers (to 2 assists) in one game? That's kind of a lot. And whatever butter-finger disease Duncan contracted must have been contagious, because the Spurs turned the ball over 20 times and only dished out 11 assists. That's not the 2-for-1 ration you want.

Tony Parker: Eva Longoria finally admitted to something that everyone who follows the NBA already knew. No, not that Tony Parker has a very small penis (although that's true too). The dude totally fakes fouls and injuries. Gee, I'm so very shocked. Remember in last year's playoffs when Parker obliterated Steve Nash's nose with his bulbous head? I mean, Nash's poor beak freaking exploded, yet he just stood there and took it like a man while Parker was writhing around on the court in totally bogus agony. Last night, TP played like the little girl he is, scoring only 5 points on 1-for-7 shooting and committing 4 turnovers.

Michael Finley: These days, when Finley walks by, you can actually smell the formaldehyde. And I've gotta tell you, the rigor mortis is affecting his shooting: 2-for-8 last night and 19-for-54 in his last seven games.

Jarron Collins: This guy is like the Western Conference version of Jason Collins. Which I guess makes sense, since they're related or something. The seven-footer spent almost 10 minutes on the floor last night, yet failed to score a single point (0-for-1) or snare a single rebound. He did commit 1 foul though. Strangely, he had a +/- score of +9, which is yet another example of why I don't trust that stat.

Los Angeles Clippers defense: The Charlotte Bobcats prowled their way into the Staples Center and shot almost 57 percent (and 44 from three-point range). Not the Suns, the Bobcats. Mind you, Charlotte was 3-13 on the road heading into this game. Now, granted, the Clippers were without hideous center Chris Kaman, the league's third leading rebounder and shot ejector, but that's no excuse. The Clippers were just flat out bad. Hey, when Billy Crystal leaves the game early, you know something is very wrong. It's not like he's out filming City Slickers III first thing in the morning.

Brevin Knight: Aren't the Clippers just thrilled they signed this guy over the summer? Talk about your season savers! Knight played 15 minutes, scoring zero points (0-for-1), snagged a rebound, tossed out a couple of assists, and threw the ball away twice. I take particular delight in pointing this out because some dork actually emailed me in the offseason and said, I quote, "The Phoenix Suns would be just as good with any competant point guard. They'd win 60 games with Brevin Knight starting at point guard." Whoever you were, if you're reading this, can you please tell me how those words tasted? Salty? Bitter?

Tim Thomas: How can I criticize the guy, you ask? He totally stepped up his game in Chris Kaman's absence, scoring a season-high 29 points (13-for-23), grabbing a season-high 13 rebounds, and handing out 5 assists. Hell, he even blocked a shot! But this bothers me because Thomas could do this all the time. Okay, okay, not all the time. But he could bring a lot more to the table on a nightly basis than he does. Which has always been the case for him. But he only wakes up once or twice a season to submit a fantastic "What If" performance. What a waste.

Don't forget! There's more Basketbawfully goodness at Deadspin. Key word: NBA Closer.

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Big deal
The one on the right is Kobe. Trust
me, it makes sense. Sort of.

I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal. People know me. I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.

What am I talking about, you ask? Well, starting today -- and lasting until they pry it from my cold, dead hands -- I will be writing the NBA Closer column for Deadspin. (No, seriously, here's my first column.)

This isn't going to be easy, since I'm following in the footsteps of J.E. Skeets from The Basketball Jones, and that crazy bastard moonwalks everywhere. And it'll mean less time flying around Chicago and protecting the city in my nuclear-powered robot suit, but this is about something much bigger than fighting crime. It's about me.

But never fear. I will continue to provide the same low-grade fart jokes and penis humor to which you are accustomed. And just to alleviate any fears that my work here may start to suffer under the increased workload, I promise to start hating Kobe three percent more than ever. That's a money back guarantee, folks.

Now go over to Deadspin. Read my stuff. Comment on it. Praise it. Then buy a bunch of cool stuff and send it to me.

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RPR - Wade
Dwyane Wade has the look of love suck in his eyes.

Just like a bad rash that won't go away no matter how many "herbal remedies" you order from illegal Mexican pharmacies, Basketbawful and Hardwood Paroxysm are back with another week of Powerless Rankings. This week, I'm walked into the Starbucks bathroom with a copy of War and Peace to take a long, hard poop on the East, while the men of the hard wood utilized their scatalogical skillz on the West.

1. Miami: Pat Riley was described as "joyous" after the Heat broke their 15-game losing streak. Pat, your team is 9-33. You should never feel joyous. As in, ever again.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Your mom could beat them. I'm serious. Your mom, with a competent power forward, could beat them. We're approaching "forfeit is an option" level, here.

2. New York: The Cloverfield Monster may have eaten the city, but the Knicks have done more damage to New York than ten of those monsters could have done.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Oh, cute, they're 6-4. Get your season tickets for next year, now! Good God, this team is dysfunctional. They're like the last season of "The Osbournes."

3. Philadelphia: The city of Philadelphia is home to the cheesesteak sandwich, water ice, soft pretzels, and TastyKakes. Oh, and the Sixers. But they won't tell you that.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: This team has lots of potential. Of course, as my father-in-law likes to say, "I'll never forgive you for marrying my little girl." Wait, wrong quote. "Potential only means you haven't done anything yet." Yeah, that one.

4. Milwaukee: I would rather watch old episodes of Laverne & Shirley than sit through a Bucks game. But only the episodes after Squiggy was introduced and before Shirley left.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Have you ever wondered what it would look like if acid rain were to melt an NBA defense? Watch a Bucks game. That should give you a pretty good idea.

5. New Jersey: I wonder what Vince Carter has been doing since he stopped playing basketball. Do you think he's got a new hobby or two? Maybe collecting plastic spoons or weaving macaroni baskets? Wait, what? He's still playing? Are you sure?

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Sometimes, God decides to reward us all by punishing one of his children who is a douchebag. In this instance, the Lord has chosen Vince Carter as the Douchebag of Happiness. It's kind of like the Bluebird of Happiness, only with Schadenfreude.

6. Chicago: Do you know why they call Chicago "The Windy City"? Because the Bulls really blow.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Next one to criticize Noah after the effort he's put in since the crappy suspension gets shivved. Oh, and they're injured. This should end well. They can just lean on "vaunted veteran leader" Ben Wallace for support.

7. Charlotte: Ever wonder why they're called the Bobcats? Well, according to Wikipedia, the Bobcats home is "marked with feces, urine scent, and by clawing prominent trees in the area." So I guess you have your answer.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: The basketball equivalent of "one step forward, two poorly timed Matt Carrol missed-three pointers back."

8. Indiana: According to the Indianapolis Star, the Pacers will be renamed next season to "The Indiana Streakbreakers." The only people who are happy with the Pacers right now live in Miami. In fact, the Pacers make me hate myself.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Danny Granger has overtaken Mike Dunleavy, Jr as the scoring leader of a professional basketball team. Our long, national nightmare is over. [Actually, check the stats: The nightmare continues. -- Basketbawful]

9. Atlanta: Remember that awesome seventh-game shootout between Dominque Wilkins and Larry Bird? Who knew that would be the Hawks' last great moment. And they lost. And it was 1988.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: When you realize that this team is looking to get annihilated in 4 games in the first round of the playoffs as a significant step up, it kind of makes you sad for Atlanta.

10. Toronto: Jose Calderon leads the team in assists, field goal percentage, freethrow percentage, and steals. People think he should be an All-Star. Teams want him. Have I been unconcious for a few years? What did I miss?

Hardwood Paroxysm says: "We can't beat good teams, but we can kick the crap out of bad ones. We're marginal. We're effective. We're Canada."

11. Washington: Everybody from here to Kazakhstan was talking about how great the Wiz had been playing on defense. I mean everybody. Even my great aunt Edna, and I'm pretty sure Edna died before I was born. Then, the very next game, Washington gives up 121 points on 56 percent shooting. Stat curse!

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Man, that Cavs loss should have rocketed them up in our rankings. Luckily for them, the rest of the East is so marginal, we can't justify punishing them any further.

12. Cleveland: You know what I never get tired of hearing? NBA broadcasters and analysts stating, with great conviction, that Lebron James is "a man!" In other news, the Cavaliers are "a basketball team," and they play in "short pants and jerseys," and I am "a dork."

Hardwood Paroxysm says: Sweet Mother of God, this team is one-dimensional. But that one dimension could kill you with it's pinky.

13. Orlando: After he got injured against the Timberwolves, Kevin Garnett said: "It felt like I got sniped from the rafters or something, you know." And I know the Magic were getting pounded in Detroit at the time, but Jameer Nelson wasn't traveling with the team. I'm not trying to make any accusations or anything, but I really hope that kid has an alibi.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: We'll just go ahead and call them the Bronze Magic, how about?

14. Boston: Every once in a while, I see a bug in the house and I squash it. But I don't celebrate. I don't ever celebrate. And the best team in the league should never celebrate when they beat the worst. Never, ever, ever. Rather, you should issue a public apology and take all your fans out to Chuck E. Cheese.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: "Yeah, we beat the world! We're world-beaters! No one has ever beaten the world like us! I play for Boston! the Boston Cetlics, yeah!"* Please note, * denotes where "world" is defined as "the Minnesota Timberwolves."

15. Detroit: Did you know that Rasheed was once engaged to a woman named Fatima? Nice name. She had two sisters, Uglyima and Dumbima, and a brother named Geoffrey. This Pistons team? Yeah, they're still pretty good.

Hardwood Paroxysm says: This team is like your big brother that lets you get some punches in and then slugs you, puts you in a cardboard box and then ships you to your creepy neighbor, via FedEx.


WotW - Pacers

Memphis Grizzlies (versus Memphis): The Griz got outscored 30-9 in the first quarter, which is a pretty deep hole to dig when you aren't any good to begin with. In the absence of Pau Gasol (sore back), Darko Milicic stepped down his game by shooting 3-for-9 and grabbing only 4 rebounds in 32 minutes.

Washington Wizards (versus Washington): Remember that 30-9 Washington lead I mentioned? Well, the Wiz let it shrivel to 6 points by the nine minute mark of the fourth quarter, thanks largely to sloppy play (20 turnovers). Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said: "Just a poor performance, but we won."

Casey Jacobsen (versus Washington): The Grizzlies' guard-forward scored a four trillion in this game. Did you know this kid wears number 23? Should somebody this bad be allowed to wear that number? The NBA needs to establish a rule about this. Let's give the kid Scott Hastings' old number, how about that?

Shawn Marion (versus Cleveland): The Matrix shot 1-for-4 against the Cavs. The good news is that his one field goal turned out to be the game-winner (which he hit with 1.1 seconds left). But why's Marion getting frozen out of the Suns offense? He's only taken seven shots in the last two games. Seven field goal attempts in 65 minutes of playing time seems weird for a guy who's averaged 18 PPG over his career. Ultimately, I doubt it's a big deal, but still seems worth mentioning.

Steve Nash (versus Cleveland): Did somebody replace Nash’s anti-bacterial hand soap with french fry grease? Because dude had some serious trouble handling the rock (7 turnovers).

Drew Gooden (versus Phoenix): The Cavs powerless forward had zero points (0-for-3), 2 rebounds, and 3 turnovers. Remember when everybody thought he was almost as good as Carlos Boozer? Turns out "almost" means "not anywhere close."

Ira Newble (versus Phoenix): Thanks to the absence of Sasha Pavolovic (out 6 weeks with a sprained foot), Newble got a rare start for the Cavs. He took a huge dump on coach Mike Brown's faith by going scoreless (0-for-1) in 12 minutes of action.

Lebron James (versus Phoenix): He had a good game (36, 7, and 5), but he shot only 6-of-16 in the second half of the 2-point loss. Then, on his way back to the locker room, the King took out his mad on an innocent trash can. Maybe instead of kicking it over, he should have looked inside it. Maybe his jump shot was in there.

Milwaukee Bucks (versus Toronto): Scoring 11 points in the third quarter (compared to 32 points for the mighty dinos) pretty much decided the game. During that third quarter, the Bucks were eating popcorn while the Raptors went on a 19-0 run. Milwaukee only managed three field goals during the period, by the way. Said Raptors coach Sam Mitchell: "When you only give up three field goals in a quarter, you are going to win a lot of basketball games." Now that Sam Mitchell has given up the key to winning "a lot of basketball games," expect other teams to make it point to hold opponents to only three field goals in the third quarter.

Jason Kapono (versus Milwaukee): The Raptors' sniper showed up with an empty clip, shooting 1-for-7. He didn’t even attempt a three-pointer.

Boston Celtics (versus Minnesota): They have the best record in the league, but they barely beat the team with the worst record in the league. At home. Sure, it's a win, but it sure felt like a loss to me.

Kevin Garnett (versus his old team): He returned from an abdominal strain and made a big defensive play in the final seconds -- stealing the ball from Sebastian Telfair -- to preserve the C's 1-point victory. It was a great moment for him, but he pissed all over it by acting the fool, pulling up his jersey and pointing vigorously at the "Celtics" name, letting everyone know that he is, in fact, a member of the Celtics. I guess he was taking a shot at his former team, who cruelly abused Garnett with consecutive $100-million contracts.

Marco Jaric (versus Boston): His stat line: 4 points (1-for-5), 2 rebounds, 1 assists, 30 minutes.

Philadelphia 76ers (versus New York): Picking on a 16-28 team for losing is kind of like making fun of a homeless man with broken broom handles for legs. But they lost to the Knicks. That warrants an automatic mention in Worst of the Weekend.

Julian Wright: He scored a one trillion against the Clippers, and then he followed up that performance by scoring zero points (0-for-1) in three minutes against the Spurs. Blink, and you probably missed him. Which is good for you.

Phil Jackson (versus Dallas): After his team fell to the Mavs, he (typically) blamed the officiating: "The coach gets on the referees. There's a lot of that with the organization and so there are a lot of fouls and that changes the flow of the game." Mind you, his team got 40 freethrow attemps -- 21 for Kobe Bryant -- on the road, four more than the home team. I'm sorry, but the "Mark Cuban and the Mavericks intimidate the officials" excuse wore out years ago. Find a new excuse, Phil.

DeSegana Diop (versus the Lakers): The Senegal Assassin scored zero points, grabbed one rebound, and commited one foul in almost 6 minutes of "action." What happened, did he suffer a major head wound in the offseason and just forget how to play basketball?

Chicago Bulls (versus Charlotte): The Bulls were missing leading scorers Ben Gordon (sprained right wrist) and Luol Deng (sore left Achilles'). The bigger problem, though, is that they've been missing their hearts all season. Listless, lifeless, hopeless. That’s your 2007-08 Chicago Bulls.

Sacramento Kings (versus Jazz): And the honeymoon is over. After losing by 26 to the Clippers, the Kings gave up 127 points and 57 percent shooting to the Jazz en route to a 14-point loss that felt like twice that.

New Jersey (versus Denver): 38 percent shooting + 18 turnovers = 8 losses in a row.

Jason Collins (versus Denver): Yet another scoreless game for Collins (0-for-2). But he did grab a rebound and commited a couple fouls, which is nearly double his usual production.

Denver Nuggets (versus New Jersey): As badly as the Nets shot, the Nuggets were worse (36 percent). Good thing that they had a 43-19 freethrow advantage. Ah, the sweet smell of home cooking.

Portland Trailblazers (versus Houston): They shot 35 percent, had more turnovers (16) than assists (14), and lost the rebounding battle 48-30. At home. It was the team’s second straight double-digit loss. That's five Ls in the last eight games. Not a reason to hit the panic button, but it’s starting to look like teams are taking them more seriously.

Seattle Supersonics (versus Atlanta): The Sonics are now the proud owners of the league's longest losing streak at 13 in a row. Hey Seattle, that hot breath you feel on the back of your neck is the Timberwolves gaining on you…

Mario West (versus Seattle): West hit a new low, playing 3 seconds. His last four games are as follows: 14 seconds, 18 seconds, 6 seconds, 3 seconds. And 1 foul.

Indiana Pacers (versus Miami): Last week, I predicted that the Heat would end their losing streak against the Pacers. In fact, I said: "If there's a team that can sink to the occasion faster than this Heat team, it's the Pacers." Sometimes I really hate being right.

Matt Carroll (versus Philadelphia): He dropped a 1-for-9, 5-foul stink bomb on the Bobcats.

Casey Jacobson (versus the Clippers): Remember his four trillion against the Wizards? He followed it up with a two trillion against the Clips. That's a sum total of six trillion for the weekend. That might be some kind of record for uselessness and futility. Well, second maybe to Mario West’s four-game, 41-second stretch.

Brian Cardinal (versus no one): Cardinal had a front row seat for Jacobson's six trillion weekend. That's right; Jacobson earned enough time to do nothing at all in six minutes while Cardinal couldn' even get off the bench. Ouch. "You know you suck when..."

Yahoo box scores: Shaun Livingston hasn't played a game since his knee exploded last year. Yet the folks at Yahoo have him listed as playing –6 minutes against the Grizzlies.

San Antonio Spurs (versus New Orleans): The Emperor got depantsed by the Hornets, losing by 24 points at home. Considering how the Spurs have been playing the last month or so, the loss wasn't much of a surprise to me, but it shocked the hell out of Tony Parker: "We were going the right way [before Saturday's game]. We were playing good basketball. We won in Charlotte, then L.A., and then in Miami." Uh, Tony, beating Charlotte (17-27) and Miami (9-33) is not a sign that you've been playing "good basketball." It's barely the sign of "registering a pulse."

Brian Scalabrine (versus Orlando): It's a strange day when the words "Brian Scalabrine is starting for the best team in the league" are totally true. I'm not saying he didn't try hard and everything, but 1 point (0-for-1) and 1 rebound in almost 22 minutes? He didn't even commit any fouls.

Gabe Pruitt (versus Orlando): Doc Rivers gave him his chance: 15 whole seconds of PT. And he didn't do a think with it. He has nobody to blame but himself, and of course the cruel fates that made him so much worse than everybody else on the team (including, gak, Brian Scalabrine).

Carlos Arroyo (versus Boston): Some players really bring it when they're facing one of the league's best team. Carlos is not one of those players: 2 points (1-for-5) and 6 turnovers.

Dwight Howard (versus Boston): Hey, I know it's was a tough, competitive game between two of the league's top teams. But why'd he try to kill Rajon Rondo with an elbow late in the game? Rondo's, like, five feet tall. That's not the Christian way, Mr. Howard.

Chicago Bulls (versus Phoenix): Well, shooting 34 percent from the field and compiling more turnovers (16) than assists (11) is pretty much par for the course for this team. So's losing.

Jerry Reinsdorf: "Hey, we didn't fire Scott Skiles, okay? Scott Skiles fired himself. I swear. Also, I am the DC Comics superhero known as Black Vulcan. Again, I swear."

Boris Diaw (versus Chicago): Don't let the 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists fool you. The French Frankfurter also shot 2-for-11 and committed 4 turnovers. So, yeah, he still sucks.

Kobe Bryant (versus Cleveland): If years of watching professional wrestling taught me anything, it's that you never trust a snake. After a perfect first half (6-for-6), the Black Mamba shot 4-for-15 in the second, including a dreadful 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter. So much for him being the "best closer" in the NBA, huh? He also clunked a couple freethrows and failed to put the clamps on Lebron James, who hit the go-ahead jumper right in Kobe's cocky mug.

Derek Fisher (versus Cleveland): That 3-for-11 line tells me that Fish really misses those double-teams that Andrew Bynum used to draw.

Staples Center roof: Do they make make Depends in "stadium size"?

Jeff Van Gundy: The coach-turned-ABC broadcaster unleashed a "new" term on the basketball watching public: verbal flop. But...you know...that sounds so familiar. Oh, yeah. I was all over that a couple years ago. I'll cut Van Ghouly some slack, though, since he used it to mock Kobe.

Drew Gooden (versus the Lakers): He needs to check his mammoth beard for ticks, flees, and his offensive game: 1 point (0-for-4) in 31 minutes.

Oleksiy Pecherov (versus Milwaukee): The Wizards 12th-man center played two minutes, scoring zero points (0-for-1) and committing a turnover. So little is known about this Ukrankian giant that I won't bother to try to look anything up.

Mario West (versus Portland): Not-so-Super Mario does it again! His 18-second stint against the Blazers gives him 59 seconds of playing time in his last five games.

New Jersey Nets (versus Minnesota): If Jason Kidd didn't want to be traded before, then he does now. The Nets fell to the worst team in the league not named "The Miami Heat," thanks, in part, to giving up a career-high 40 points (along with 19 rebounds) to Al Jefferson.

Bostjan Nachbar (versus Minnesota): That was one mean 5 seconds he played against the T-Wolves. Who does he think he is, Mario West?

Denver versus Dallas: Hey, this was supposed to be a 135-133 shootout! Instead, we get a 90-85 clunkfest. Don't these teams know they aren't supposed to play defense?

The Mavs' supporting cast (versus Denver): They had three guys who didn't score a point: Eddie Jones (0-for-3, 5 fouls, 28 minutes), Erick Dampier (0-for-0, 16 minutes), and Jose Juan Barea (0-for-4, 7 minutes).

C.J. Miles (versus Houston): Utah's Dallas-born dreadnaught scored a one trillion to go along with his vast collection of DNP-CDs.

Kevin Durant (versus Sacramento): Can we suspend all ROY talk until he gets his shooting percentage up to 40 percent? The Sonics might have ended their losing streak -- which is now up to 14 games of pure sorrow -- had Durant not clanged 15 of his 20 shots. He also committed 5 turnovers.


WotN - Udo

Jamaal Tinsley: The Pacers were without their starting point guard for what seems like the bajillionth time over the last few years. In this instance, the problem was a sore knee. Which, strangely enough, is what's been keeping Jermaine O'Neal in street clothes. That's how not durable Tinsley and O'Neal have become; they can actually catch injuries from each other like they're passing a bad head cold back and forth. I think it's about time to change this guy's name from Tinsley to Paper Machesly.

Marquis Daniels: In the absence of Tinsley, the Pacers really needed Daniels to step up his game. What they got instead was a Larry Hughes-like 1-for7 shooting performance. But what can the Pacers reasonably expect out of this guy? I mean, they got him in a trade for Austin Croshere. That should tell you all you need to know about Daniels' relative worth.

Awvee Storey: The undrafted guard out of Arizona state got off the Bucks' bench for a grand total of four seconds, going zero-for-everything. What, did Larry Krystkowiak put him in by mistake or something?

Miami Heat: From "15 strong" to "15 in a row." Losses, that is. Painful, humiliating losses. The Heat actually played their asses off last night -- Mark Blount scored 23 points! -- but suffered yet another fourth quarter collapse, letting what had been a 10-point lead transmogrify into a 1-point final deficit. The Spurs, as they're known to do, started turning the screws in the final stanza, limiting Miami to 8 points over the final eight minutes and 50 seconds. Are the Heat just plain cursed? Well, let's put it this way: Early in the first half, Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright accidentally knocked a defensive rebound into the basket, thereby scoring two points for the Spurs. And the Heat lost by one. You do the math. Said Haslem: "Once again, we just didn't get the job done." And once again, you sucked.

Manu Ginobili's three-point shooting: Somebody needs to check Ginobili's basement for dead bodies, because the man has no conscience. One night after shooting 2-for-7 from the land of glory, Manu hit only 1-for-7 from beyond the arc against the Heat. At some point, when you're obviously cold, you stop taking them, right? When asked why he's allowed to chuck 'em at will, Gregg Popovich no doubt said: "Because he's Manu Ginobili." Speaking of Pop...

Gregg Popovich interviews: Before the start of the second quarter, Craig Sager -- who was dressed like the friggin' Joker -- interviewed Popovich. After abusing Sager's bizarre purple sports coat/tie combination, Popovich answered a question about why he decided to start a "big" lineup with a classic Popovichism: "Just wanted to try something different." I'm telling you, his face doesn't even move when he answers these questions. His mouth just opens and closes like an old Speed Racer cartoon. Can we be absolutely certain that the Spurs don't have a special robot they use solely for interviews? Like maybe a Teddy Ruxpin doll in a Gregg Popovich mask?

Don Nelson: The inventor of the infamous Hack-a-Shaq strategy unveiled a new policy especially for last night's game against New Jersey: Hack-a-Boone. The Warriors intentionally fouled the Nets' Josh Boone six times in less than two minutes of the third quarter in an attempt to change the game's momentum. But Boone, who came into the game shooting 34 percent at the stripe, hit six of 12 freethrows. So the tactic backfired, sort of.

Josh Boone: Did I mention the kid came into the game hitting only 34 percent of this freethrows? Look, the Hack-a-Whoever strategy might be sad and pathetic, but it wouldn't happen if the "Whoever" didn't suck at the line. The dude even airballed a freethrow last night. Gak. Kudos to Boone, though, for making the best of a bad situation: He scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. And he even his almost 50 percent of his freethrows (7-of-15).

Golden State Warriors defense: Going into last night's game, the Nets were next to last in the league in points per game. After playing the Warriors, they "jumped" to fourth from last (94.0). The 119 points scored by New Jersey was, of course, the most they've scored in a single game all season. I have absolutely nothing to back this up with, but I bet that the Warriors lead the league in giving up season highs in PPG to opposing teams. And since they're only 13-18 when their opponents score 100 points or more, that most definitely is not a good thing. (P.S. They're giving up 107.4 PPG, worst in the league. Uh oh.)

New Jersey Nets defense: It's not just that they gave up 121 points on 50 percent shooting. That tends to happen when you're playing the Warriors. But they also got brutalized by a 22-to-nothing run in a stretch of less than four minutes in the fourth quarter. To put that into perspective, if the Warriors had scored at that pace the whole game, they would have scored over 260 points.

New Jersey Nets offense: Yeah, I know they scored 119 points, which is like double their regular season average. But playing offense against Golden State is like shooting in an empty gym using a five-foot Nerf hoop. Yet the Nets got reamed by that 22-0 run I mentioned, and they went five and a half minutes without a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Golden State Warriors defense: Yes, they get two entries in today's Worst of the Night. After all, they blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead by letting the scoringly challenged Nets drop an 18-4 run on them and take a 112-111 with a couple minutes left. Dudes, it's called a hand in the face. You just raise your arm straight up in the air and put your hand somewhere in the shooter's field of vision. It's that simple.

Jason Kidd: Yes, he can run a mean offense. But he has almost none of his own. Last night, he shot 2-for-11, which is barely below averge for him. He's shooting 36 percent from the field this season, which ranks him 45th in the NBA amoung point guards...45th! And look, can we just stop calling him one of the best point guards in the NBA (like Magic Johnson did on the TNT pregame show last night)? Sure, he racks up a lot of assists, and he's a triple double machine, but the Nets are one of the worst scoring teams in the league despite the presence of Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson. I'm not saying it's all Kidd's fault, but right now at least, his ability to lead his team is very much in question.

Vince Carter: Speaking of not everything being J-Kidd's fault, did anybody else notice that Half Man, Half-A-Lazy got shuffled in and out of the lineup in the final minutes? Isn't he supposed to be their go-to scorer?

Darrell Armstrong: The decomposing wiley veteran got a whopping 10 seconds of playing time, and actually managed to dish an assist. At that rate, he was on pace to dish out 6 assists per minute, which is like 288 assists over the full 48. Impressive.

Marco Belinelli: His stat line from last night: 1 minute, 4 personal fouls, and a +/- score of -3.

Fire hazards: The Warriors set another attendance record with 19,596 fans in Oracle Arena. Jesus. What are they doing, just stacking fans on top of each other?

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free taco excitement
"Free tacos?! Hell yeeeeeeeah!"

free taco excitement (fre tah'-ko ek-sit'-muhnt) noun. The (slightly irrational) enthusiasm that the crowd feels in the late stages of a live basketball game when the home team is close to reaching an activator on the back of the ticket that will provide the fans with free fast food. In many cases, this will rouse the crowd into a chanting, foot-stomping frenzy, even in the late stages of a meaningless regular season blowout.

Usage example: With only a few minutes left, the game was pretty much decided. But the fans were still on their feet cheering. Not to support their team, though. It was just free taco excitement.

Word history: The term was coined by Craig Kwasniewski of The Association. In his words: "Simply put, Laker fans get wild and crazy for two things: Sick buzzer beaters by Kobe Bryant and free tacos. The promotional staff gives out free coupons whenever the Lakers win and hold their opponents under 100. What you get is the entire Staples Center in a playoff-level frenzy chanting 'We want tacos!' and 'Defense...Defense!' during garbage time. The Milwaukee Bucks actually tried to foul the Lakers at the end of one game to avoid getting 'taco'd,' drawing boos from all around. We're talking $1 tacos and hours of indigestion, and the place was rocking like when Kobe beat the Suns in Game 4 back in 2006. It was also very funny seeing Linas Kleiza scrambling to get the Nuggets over 100 for the 'taco block.' DJ Mbenga hacked the [poop] out of the guy, but no foul was called. I guess Dick Bavetta wanted some tacos."

Free taco excitement is a big deal to the hometown fans, but opposing players sometimes take it as an grevious insult and sign of disrespect. If, you know, they're insane and/or retarded. You might remember how last season certain Knicks players (most notably Steve Francis and Jerome James) almost started a brawl in Chicago when the Bulls tried to score a couple extra points that would have rewarded their fans with a free Big Mac. Mind you, one greasy fatburger can't begin to repay fans for the pain and anquish of sitting through an entire game involving the Knicks, so I'm not sure what the problem was.

The bottom line is: Fans loved themselves some free stuff. Who doesn't? And it's not like the local businesses make it hard to "win." Take this coupon on the back of a Phoenix Suns season ticket (thanks to the astonishing LooseChange for the scan).

Free tacos Suns

Two free tacos when the Suns score 99 or more points? Yeesh. They might as well just be giving them away for free. Which I guess is exactly what they're doing, but, well, you know what I mean. Never one to be outdone, McDonalds is also getting in on the act:

free fries Suns

Mmmmm...free large fries every time Phoenix wins at home. The Suns are 110-32 at the US Airways Center over the last four seasons, so that's a lot of oily goodness being slathered around the Valley of the Sun. If you think about it, with all this crappy food being handed out, the Suns actually constitute a serious health risk to the entire city. If Steve Nash doesn't retire soon, Phoenix is going to be entirely populated by sloshing ham beasts. A truly scary thought.

Update: Thanks to Ben Q Rock from Third Quarter Collapse for providing a link to this press release from Dunkin Donuts, which states that when the Magic win, it means free donuts for anybody and everybody in central Florida. And all you have to do is "mention the Magic won the previous evening." That's it. No tickets or coupons are necessary, the Magic don't have to score a certain number of points or hit a half-court three-pointer or anything like that. If they win, whether at home or away, people get a donut. Now that, my friends, is truly FAN-tastic.

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WotN - Kirk
Kirk Hinrich says: "Matt Damon!"

Washington Wizards defense: After his team held the Dallas Mavericks to 41 percent shooting, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said, "We are being nastier and grittier defensively." Well, the Wizards' defense certainly was nasty last night, but not in the way Jordan meant it. They "held" the Cavaliers to 121 points on 56 percent shooting while getting ravaged on the boards 53-29. The Washington D was at it's utter worst during the third quarter, when Cleveland shot 70 percent and outscored the Wizards 43-17. The Associated Press article actually says that the Wiz "stood around like department store mannequins on defense." Wow. It's pretty rare for the Associated Press to editorialize that way. But it's also true. At one point, Larry Hughes just strolled in and dunked while not one, not two, not three, but four Wizards just stood there and watched. Speaking of Hughes...

Larry Hughes: On a night when the rest of his team had it going on, Hughes had one of his typical 2-for-8 shooting nights. And, as noted, one of his two field goals was an uncontested dunk. I can tell you one thing: 33 percent shooting is not what the Cavaliers had in mind when they decided to pay him $12 million a year. Good thing Danny Ferry locked him up through 2009-10!!

Washington Wizard offense: I should probably note that the Wizards offense was pretty bad, too. They scored 85 points on 39 percent shooting, giving fans a bitter taste of what it was like to watch the New York Knicks in the mid-90s. The Washington O was so bad that Yahoo lists Darius Songaila as the team's top performer...with 8 points on 3-for-8 shooting.

Gordan Giricek: His line against the Pistons: 4 minutes, 0-for-2 shooting, 1 assist, 2 personal fouls, and a +/- score of -8. I bet Giricek never thought he'd miss Salt Lake City this badly.

Eddie Jones: The empty husk of Eddie Jones shot 1-for-6 against the Bobcats. In its previous two games, it shot 1-for-3 against the Wizards and 1-for-4 against the Sonics. So the thing might be creepy, but it's still good for at least one field goal a game, and that's something. I guess.

Jose Juan Barea: The Mavs back-up to the back-up point guard scored a two trillion. According to Barea's official Web site, "Barea is regarded by many Northeastern followers as the most exciting player ever to wear a Husky uniform." He also enjoys going to the beach and watching television. Now when you speak of me, never let it be said that I don't provide information to enrich your life.

Boston Celtics defense: The Green are ranked first in the league in both points allowed (88.1) and field goal percentage defense (41.9). For this reason, one can only assume that the C's simply chose not to play defense last night, since the Raptors scored 114 points on 58 percent from the field and 71 percent from three-point land. Five traffic cones could have forced more misses than that. Doc Rivers needs to order up some Inflatable Defenders, pronto.

Boston Celtics clutchability: They have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. For those of you who enjoy counting, that's three superstars. So why are they having trouble closing out games? They suffered a come-from-ahead loss to the Raptors last night after getting outscored 30-21 in the fourth. In their last loss, to the Wizards, they were outscored 29-20 in the fourth and lost by 5. In their next to last loss, also to the Wizards, they were outscored 25-13 in the final stanza and lost by 7. In their December loss to Detroit, they got outscored 26-20 in the fourth and lost by 2. Mind you, I know they've only lost seven games, and they're still a very strong team. But they've surrendered fourth quarter leads in all but one of those seven losses. Shouldn't a team with that much star power be able to, you know, finish? And why oh why did they go to Eddie House with seconds remaining and the game on the line? Speaking of House...

Eddie House: When they write the book on Eddie House, it will be one sentence long, and that sentence will be: "He's not afraid to shoot, even when he's shooting badly." Like last night, when he was 2-for-9. It's like terrorists have kidnapped his wife and plan to kill her if he doesn't shoot the ball every time he touches it.

Chris Bosh's buttery fingers: If the Raptors hadn't pulled out that win over the Celtics, Bosh and his 7 turnovers would have been a big reason why.

Pat Garrity: Ring up a two trillion for the Magic's 12th man.

Darko Milicic: Just 1 rebound in 23 minutes for a 7-foot, 275-pound starting center? That's very not good. Even for Darko.

Phoenix Suns: At 7-34, the Minnesota Timberwolves are clearly the worst team in the NBA. Yet two of those 7 wins have come at the expense of the best team (record-wise) in the Western Conference. Oh, wait, thanks to this loss, the Suns gave up the conference lead to the New Orleans Hornets. My bad. The Suns shot lights out (56 percent) but got absolutely obliterated on the boards 48-26. And 22 of the Wolves rebounds were on the offensive end. Marco Jaric had more rebounds (8) than anybody on the Suns. Marco Jaric! The thing is, their win over the Lakers last week proved that the Suns can play defense when properly motivated to do so. I just have no idea what motivates them these days. And neither does Mike D'Antoni, apparently.

Amare Stoudemire: As the Suns starting center, it's Stoudemire's job to protect the paint and clean the glass. But not only were his 6 rebounds two fewer than Marco Jaric had, Stoudemire's man, Al Jefferson went off for a career-high 39 points and had 15 boards, 8 of which were offensive. That's right. Jefferson's offensive rebounding count was higher than Stoudemire's rebounding total. It's called "blocking out," Amare. Try it some time.

Mike Dunleavy Jr.: Boy, just when you think it's finally safe to annoint him a legitimate NBA player, he lets loose with a 2-for-12, 4-turnover stinkbomb against a lousy team. The Pacers may need to rethink their reliance on Dunleavy. Oh, wait. Even after a game like that, he's still the team's best player. Uh oh.

Mario West: One game after his 18-second, 1-foul performance against the Trailblazers, he put in a 5-second, 0-for-everything game against the Nuggets. Mind you, two games ago against the Raptors, not-so-Super Mario put in only 14 seconds. At this rate, why is Mike Woodson bothering to play him at all? What could he possibly expect Williams to do in less than 20 seconds on the floor?

Gregg Popovich interviews: He may be a great coach, but he gives a lousy interview. Right before the start of the fourth quarter, the ESPN sideline reporter asked Popovich why Manu Ginobili was able to give the Spurs a third-quarter spark. Without altering his expression in any way or moving even a single facial muscle, Pop said: "Because he's Manu Ginobili." Then he shambled off like a zombie looking for fresh brains.

The Return of Mr. Bryant: Kobe's performance on Monday night against the Nuggets threatened to undo everything I've ever said about him. After that game, I actually referred to him as "Magic Bryant" to my buddy Craig over at The Association. I had to take a long, hard look in the mirror and admit that maybe, just maybe, Kobe had finally matured into greatness. But Gott in Himmel, he has not. And it's not that Mamba shot 12-for-27, or the fact that he took 13 more shots than any other Laker, or that he had only 1 assist in the second half, or even his NBA season-high 9 turnovers. It was his complete reversion to form. After a stellar first half that seemed like a natural extension of the Denver game, Kobe started to force the action against stiff defense and stopped passing to his teammates. Gregg Popovich seemed to manipulate events by leaving Ime Udoka on Bryant for most of the fourth quarter. It's like Pop knew that Bryant's titanic ego would compel him to try to score against Udoka every time. Well, planned or not, the strategy worked to perfection.

Steve Novak: I didn't see the game, but I would love to know why Rick Adelman put Novak in for 3 seconds. Was his mom in the crowd?

Sacramento Kings: The Sacramento revivial got run through the wood chipper last night. The Kings "best players" were all back in the starting lineup last night, and the result was a 26-point drubbing. By the Clippers (13-25).

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You can tell Tim Duncan was really fired up for this commercial. And Manu? Well, all I can say is that if you were wondering what to get him for his next birthday, I'd go with balloons.

The Gunn people knew following up that commercial was going to be hard. I mean, what could be better and funnier than Manu Ginobili? Why, two Manu Ginobilis of course! This is the same theory that says that if one Leprechaun movie was good, six Leprechaun movies would be Princess Leia in the gold bikini good!

Oh, and apparently, Manu likes brisket too. Enough to bring a little beef to the team huddle. And no, that wasn't a double entendre.

Also, did you know that Manu has a creepy puppet? Well, he does.

Lastly, how about a little mouth harp from Manu? Now that Heath Ledger has tragically passed away, I think we've found his replacement for Brokeback Mountain II.

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WotN - Vince
No caption. I just love the look on Vince Carter's face.

Mike D'Antoni: Last week, I said: "I really hope that coach D'Antoni keeps playing [Brian Skinner]...but my guess is that once Grant Hill gets back, Skinner's going back into cold storage." Well, Hill came returned from organ removal last night and played 27 minutes. Skinner played five minutes. Now, I know Skinner's abilities are limited, but I tend to think the Suns need at least one player who likes to bang and do the dirty work. And nobody else is doing it.

Boris Diaw: Yeah, Diaw played well against the Lakers and Nets, but let's not pronounce him "back" just yet. Last night he shot 2-for-6 and had a team-high 4 turnovers. Yet he got 24 minutes and Brian Skinner got five. Why? You'll have to ask the coach.

Mo Williams: The Bucks starting point guard missed last night's game against the Suns due to injury. What kind of injury, you ask? A sprained left pinky finger. Seriously. Don't laugh. I once sprained my left pinky. It was terrible. Never healed right, either. Now I have a little baby arm. True story.

New Jersey Nets: Another night, another brutal beating for the joyless Nets. They've now lost seven of their last eight games. And the lone win in this latest stretch was against the Sonics, so that doesn't really count. The Nets average margin of defeat: 17 points. They were lethargic on offense and absolutely lifeless on defense (the Kings shot 57.5 percent and pounded them on the boards 41-29). All that and Vince Carter, not Jason Kidd, led the Nets in assists (he had 8). As New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank put it: "Just a dismal performance. We are simply playing very poorly."

Jason Collins: Scoreless again. And in the 10 minutes he played, he contributed nothing beyond a pair of hard fouls. But Collins wasn't the only inept New Jersey roleplayer; Josh Boon (0-for-5), Bostjan Nachbar (1-for-5), Marcus Williams (1-for-7), Jamaal Magloire (0-for-2) all sucked pretty hard, too. Another sad note is that little Darrell Armstrong (6'1") outrebounded Collins (7'0") and Magloire (6'11") 2-to-1 in oly four minutes (compared to their combined 16 minutes).

Shaq: The Big Injury out again, for at least two weeks. Speaking of Shaq, here's a look at The Big Spender's monthly expenditures: $1,500 for cable TV, $110,000 for vacations, $17,000 for clothing, $26,500 for babysitting, and $23,000 at gas stations. Man, I need to quit my job and get hired on as Shaq's nanny. That has "hit sitcom" written all over it.

Larry Brown: The former Knicks coach thinks that management had spies "throughout the arena" to keep in eye on him. Sure, Larry. Look, I know conspiracy theories are a lot of fun and all, but it didn't take a spy to see that the team sucked and your players hated you. A 90-year-old woman watching from home could have come to the same conclusion. Let it go.

Peter Vecsey: I've never really liked Peter Vecsey. He's not quite important enough to enter into the Rogue's Gallery of Basketbawful Villains, but he is a douchebag of the highest order. He's arrogant, imperious, looks like he should be managing a professional wrestler (think Jimmy Hart, but not as cool), and his "witty insults" usually sound like a bunch of nonsense (like when he said that Mike Bibby went to Wendy's to figure out why he was shooting poorly; don't ask, just read it).

But my biggest problem with Vecsey is his history of blatant inaccuracy. How many of his trade scoops* have actually happened? He spent five or six years publishing "100 percent true" trade rumors concerning Karl Malone (to the Knicks, to the Mavericks, etc.), and yet Malone was never traded. I know I make mistakes from time to time, but this is a not-for-profit blog. Hell, I may actually be operating at a loss. But Vecsey gets paid to do what he does. Shouldn't he do some fact-checking? Take this article, for instance. In it, Vecsey criticizes Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson's misuse of Mike Dunleavy Jr. prior to his trade to the Pacers. And while that's totally true, Vecsey goes on to say: "It should be noted, in 28 years of coaching some exceptionally talented teams, Nelson's brilliance has yet to shimmer on a single conference final."

*I call them "trade poops." Mostly because I think poop is funny.

There's one problem with that statement. Nelson's Milwaukee Bucks made it to the Western Confernece Finals in 1978. (Yes, the Bucks were in the Western Conference back then, along with the Bulls, Pistons, and Pacers.) The Bucks also made the Eastern Conference Finals in 1983, 1984, and 1986. Furthermore, Nellie's Dallas Mavericks went to the Western Conference Finals in 2003. Now, I'm no arithmeticologist, but I still have fingers to count on. And that looks like five conference finals appearances for Don Nelson, which is five more than the zero Vecsey claimed. So Peter, next time you feel the need to bust on somebody, could you at least make sure you know what the hell you're talking about first? Thanks.

George Bush: According to a new study conducted by two nonprofit journalism organizations, George Bush and top administration officials "issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks." Furthermore, the study "counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both." Turns out none of that was true? Really?! That's one seriously cutting edge study. Anyway, you know you're a big, lying jerk when a bunch of poorly paid journalists spend a few years tabulating your lies for free.

WotN - Yi
Yi says: "NBA action really is FAN-tastic!"

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wounded tiger
The Wounded Tiger is on the prowl.

Wounded Tiger Theory (woond'-ud ti'-ger thir'-e) noun. The theory that a basketball team (or any other sports team) tends to play harder and (at times) perform better despite the loss of one or more key players.

Usage example: The Phoenix Suns did everything they could Wednesday night to validate Dick Motta's old Wounded Tiger Theory. They came within a couple possessions of the fairy tale that the NBA's justice department was secretly -- but surely -- wishing for as much as the fuming locals waving those "Dirtier Than Dirt" signs, wearing "Stu Sucks" T-shirts and fully blaming the league for this predicament. [From Marc Stein's article For Suns, everything but a W.]

Word history: The term was coined (for use in basketball-related commentary) by Dick Motta. According to this Jimmy Burch article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Dick Motta, former coach of the Dallas Mavericks, loved to invoke the Wounded Tiger theory any time his team suffered a key injury or played an opponent missing a pivotal starter. Motta's theory, in a nutshell, suggests that the wounded tiger fights hardest, making it the most difficult jungle cat to subdue."

You say tomato, I say zucchini: Bill Simmons' Ewing Theory is probably an offshoot of Motta's Wounded Tiger Theory. The basic tenets of the Ewing Theory are identical to the Wounded Tiger, and it was created several years after Motta first explicated his doctrine (and it seems improbable that Simmons, a diehard sports zealot, would have been totally unaware of it). The main divergence in the two theories is that Motta believed that the team played better despite the missing player(s), while Simmons' theory seems to hold that the team improved because the missing player(s) received too much media attention, ruined team chemistry, or were vastly overrated to begin with.

Famous Wounded Tigers: You can read Simmons' Ewing Theory article for an expansive list of teams that qualify for Wounded Tiger status. But his list has one glaring omission, a team I would rank as the greatest ever example of the Wounded Tiger Theory: The 1993-94 Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan retired (for the first time anyway), but the Bulls inserted Pete Myers into the lineup and barely missed a step. That team won 55 games -- only two fewer games than the previous championship season -- and they were a couple questionable calls away from heading to the Eastern Conference Finals. And the team that beat them, the New York Knicks, eventually made it all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost a tough seven-game series to the Houston Rockets. When you think about it, it's not a huge stretch of the imagination to say that that Bulls team could have made it to the Finals, and could have competed with the Rockets, and even could have won it all (since they wouldn't have had to overcome John Starks' dreadful 2-for-18 shooting performance in Game 7). Nobody, and I mean nobody, expected that much from a team that replaced Michael Jordan with Pete Myers. And all the idiots who claim that Jordan did won all by himself -- yes, I'm talking to you, Chris Broussard -- really need to go back and review that season.

Wounded Tigers of Today: Take note, my friends. There are some Wounded Tigers roaming the NBA this season. Take the Portland Trailblazers, for example. They're missing Darius Miles. Sorry, I couldn't resist. But seriously, most people (myself included) wrote them off after Greg Oden's knee injury, but now they're breathing fire and leading their division (ahead of favorites like the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets). The Wizards of Washington have also shown a lot of spunk, and some seriously determined defensive intensity, in winning without Agent Zero. And make no mistake, at 22-17 they're nipping at the Magic's heels for the divisional lead. And if last night's dismantling of the Nuggets was any indication, I think there might be a Wounded Tiger on the prowl in L.A.

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WotN - Randy
"That was a wonderful call! You're doing a
great job! Can I buy you dinner after the game?!"

Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace: The Bobcats' duo combined to shoot 10-for-28 and commit 8 turnovers. You're not going to beat the Spurs when your big guns are shooting you in the foot.

Dallas Mavericks offense: The Mavs' Jekyll and Hyde season continued last night against the Wizards. Dallas shot 41 percent and had more turnovers (16) than assists (15). For those of you keeping track at home, this is the first time the Wiz have swept their season series with the Mavericks since 1996-97. In all fairness to Dallas, though, the Wizards have been going at it on the defensive end like Scooby-Doo going after a Scooby Snack.

Jason Terry: His line against Washington: 4 points (2-for-7), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 3 fouls, 27 minutes. You know, I think Terry would be a better player if Avery Johnson only played him the last two minutes of every quarter.

Boston Celtics' mouths: The Celtics travelled to New York for a basketball game and a debate broke out. The Boston players couldn't keep their traps shut, and that diarhea of the mouth got Paul Pierce ejected and earned Kendrick Perkins a technical. If the Celtics really want to contend for a title, they can't let crappy teams like the Knicks drag them down into the gutter.

Philadelphia 76ers foul shooting: The Sixers missed 13 freethrows. Those are a lot of misses, especially in a seven-point loss. Who's their freethrow coach? Chris Dudley?

Gordon Giricek: He scored a two trillion against the Pacers. And just to rub a little salt into that wound, let's not forget the Jazz are 8-2 since launching Giricek out of Utah.

Jermaine O'Neal: A potentially season-ending injury? No way! But he's usually so durable...

Luis Scola's shooting eye: His 2-for-11 night against the Spurs was bad, but his 0-for-6 performance against the Sonics was worse. Don't get me wrong; Scola's doing a lot of other little things to help the Rockets win. But I'm guessing Rick Adelman would like his big man to shoot better than zero percent.

Quinton Ross: The Clippers' starting 2-guard was 0-for-3 against the Jazz. It was Ross' sixth consecutive scoreless game. He's gone 0-for-13 during that stretch. Look, I know the Clippers are bad, but why is this guy still starting? Oh, yeah, because Mike Dunleavy's looking down the bench at Brevin Knight. Never mind.

Andre Kirilenko: The Russian Rifle was uncocked by foul trouble. He scored zero points in the nine minutes he managed to stay on the floor. Jerry Sloan might be playing nice, but when you sit one of your starters for the last quarter and a half of the game, you're sending a message. Probably something along the lines of "Stop sucking."

Golden State Warriors: I've always said that their style of play -- chaotic, undisciplined offense meets non-existent defense -- means that they can beat anybody and also lose to anybody. But a home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had lost 16 straight road games? Not only did they let the lowly Wolves score 109 points and shoot over 50 percent, they pulled up some comfy seats and munched on popcorn while they watched Ryan Gomes score a career-high 35 points. And Marco Jaric almost had a triple double (16 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists)! Said Don Nelson: "We laid an egg tonight. What can I tell you?"

Chicago Bulls: Another poor shooting night (36 percent) was masked by another lackluster defensive effort (the Grizzlies shot 52 percent). And all those good feelings generated by their win over the Pistons gets blown the hell away thanks to another loss to a 12-29 team. It's gotten to the point where I can't watch the Bulls play without grinding my teeth. Someday soon my mouth is going to explode. People will die in the blast. Mark my words. Anyway, the Bulls are now 2-4 since their team-unifying player suspension of Joakim Noah.

Detroit Pistons bench: Remember all that talk about the Pistons' improved bench? Forget it. Last night, outside of Jason Maxiell, there was no Pistons' bench.

Miami Heat: That's 14 in a row, despite Dwyane Wade's 42 points. And it looks like The Big Grandpa re-injured his aching hip. The Heat's next four games are against the Spurs, Pacers, Celtics, and Magic. In other words, they really need to beat the Pacers to avoid surpassing their all-time longest losing streak. And, strangely enough, if there's a team that can sink to the occasion faster than this Heat team, it's the Pacers. I can't wait!

Denver Nuggets defense: Get a hand in the face of the shooter. It's Basketball 101. But the Nuggets failed to remember that as the Lakers rained fire on them during a 39-point first quarter. Denver's D picked up after that, but the tone was set, and once Carmelo Anthony went down, the Nuggets were pretty much finished.

[Update] Mario West: As some exceedingly astute readers have pointed out, Mario West played a grand total of 18 seconds against the Trailblazers, contributing a single personal foul (and a +/- score of -3) before getting a quick hook. As TrueHoop put it: "Atlanta's Mario West just checked into the game to guard Brandon Roy for the last few seconds of the half. He was whistled for a foul before the ball was even inbounded. Then he was taken out of the game. That's zero playing time, and one foul. Has to be some kind of historical footnote." Hmm. I didn't see the game, but that 18 seconds had to come from somewhere. Maybe he got some time in the second half?

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