Miami Heat: Not only did the Heat (8-29) lose their 11th consecutive game, they cost me a complete set of mint condition Larry Bird porcelain dinner wear. (Damn you, Katchoo.) If Pat Riley thought the return of Shaq -- and a surprisingly effective Shaq at that (24 points, 10 rebounds) -- would alter his team's trancelike play, then he really didn't know his team. But I think it's finally sinking in that the Heat, the team he himself built, is wholly and inescapably awful. Said Riley: "That was as complete a loss as you can have. The team didn't quit, it's just bad. When you give up 126 points defensively at home and you've already lost 10 in a row, it's bad. I have now, tonight, at this moment, no answers for it."

The Bulls rank 23rd in the league in points per game (94.6) and dead-last in field goal percentage (42.3). Yet against the Heat, Chicago scored a season-high 126 points on a season-high 57 percent shooting. So the obvious problem the Heat are facing isn't offensive ineptitude (although they certainly aren't great on that front). It's complete indifference on the defensive end. And defense, it should be noted, is more about effort and concentration than skill and athletic ability (just refer to the Collected Works of Bruce Bowen for details). The team's will has been completely and utterly broken, as evidenced by Dwyane Wade's dispirited post-game comments: "We lose every time. We lose and it's a fact of life. It's not easy."

The Heat's lowest moment (and there were many) came in the closing minutes when the Bulls' human victory cigar Viktor Khryapa dunked on them. But not just any dunk. Khryapa shambled gracelessly under the hoop and threw down a reverse dunk. Hubie Brown, bless his mummified soul, tried to ignore this, but Mike Tirico simply couldn't help himself (and who can blame him?). Said Tirico: "When Viktor Khryapa reverse dunks on you, you know it's good night."

Miami Heat home crowd: Did I mention that this loss -- in which the Heat got blown out by a lowly, fragmented Bulls team -- happened in Miami? Maybe the Heat would have been a little fired up if more than five or six people had shown up at the start of the game. Seriously, there were more people on the Bulls bench than there were in the crowd. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but at least the Bulls bench was full. The crowd eventually filled out a little bit, but by then the home team was sleepwalking their way through another blowout loss, ensuring that pretty much everybody not wearing a Bulls jersey went home unhappy.

Chris Duhon: On a night when almost every other Chicago Bulls player was on fire, Du-Du shot 1-for-7 from the field. Furthermore, he's 15-of-69 (21 percent) over his last 11 games.

Sacramento Kings: The Kings had been playing their collective hearts out lately, winning three of four, including victories against Orlando (24-17) and Dallas (26-12). And with Kevin Martin, Mike Bibby, and Ron Artest all finally back from injury, the team was finally, at long last, back to full strength. The response was a 15-point shellacking by the Raptors. Kings coach Reggie Theus thinks his team was a little too selfish (19 assists, 20 turnovers). Said Theus: "Right now, everyone who catches the ball takes a look at the rim instead of swinging it. That's a technical thing that can be fixed right away but it's something they have to work out themselves." Maybe it's just me, but I think that defense might have been the real problem. Chris Bosh hit 11-of-12 shots, and Jose Calderon scored 17 points (7-for-11) and dished out 14 assists. Even Carlos Delfino hit 8-of-11. But hey, at least the Kings held Jason Kapono to 3-of-9 shooting.

Orlando Magic: The Bobcats, who have suddenly become the league's Giant Killers, crawled out of a 19-point third quarter hole to stun the Magic. Dwight Howard was awesome (24 points, 21 rebounds), but the Magic's careless ball movement was not (12 assists, 18 turnovers). And that, quite frankly, boggled the mind of Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "Our turnovers were mindless and mindboggling. You've got to be able to handle the ball. When you have a 19-point lead and a good veteran team that handles the ball solidly and makes solid plays and doesn't break down defensively, then you're probably going to win that game. But we didn't do any of those things. It's frustrating." It could be worse, Stan. You could still be coaching the Heat.

Golden State Warriors: There's a doctrine in pickup basketball that states: "Defense is just waiting to get back on offense." No professional team embraces that streetball concept quite like the Warrors, who allowed the Indiana Pacers to score 46 points in the fourth quarter for a dramatic come-from-behind win. Stephen Jackson, who was licking his chops in anticipation of a revenge game (of the "See what you gave up" variety), expressed his frustration in typically violent terms: "We didn't put our feet on their necks and finish the game in the first half. We let them stay around."

New Jersey Nets: Can anybody stop the Knicks?! The Nets certainly couldn't, despite leading by 15 after the first quarter and maintaining a double-digit lead for most of the first half. You know, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson are all healthy. Well, physically, anyway. Of course, we all know that Kidd wants out of New Jersey and Vince Carter stopped caring about anything beyond which headband he's going to wear during the game. It's pretty clear that the time for change is right now in Netsland.

Jamaal Magloire: Wasn't this guy an All-Star a few years ago? Last night he scored zero points to go along with one rebound and one personal foul. It was the 9th time he's gone scoreless in the 22 games he's actually been allowed to play. You know, he might actually be worse than Jason Collins.

Jake Voskuhl: He notched a three trillion against the Hawks last night. Whew. It's been a while since I've been able to hand out a trillion award.

Nick Collison: On Monday, he had a career-game against the Lakers: 24 points (10-of-14), 18 rebounds, 2 blocked shots. Well, somebody must have put bad ju-ju in his magic sauce, because he followed up that miracle performance by scoring 2 points (1-for-6) and grabbing 5 rebounds.

Morris Peterson: His team scored 123 points on 51 percent shooting, but not because of him. Mo Pete scored 3 points on 1-for-9 shooting.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think magloire's injury was worse than people thought....or he just sucked to begin with