The Golen State Warriors versus the Enver Nuggets: These two D-less teams are in a brutal dogfight for the title of "Worst Defensive Team in the League." The Warriors gave it their best shot by letting the Sacramento Kings score 122 points on 58 percent shooting, but the Nuggets hit first and hardest by giving up 136 points to the Pistons, who shot 60 percent from the field and from beyond the arc. The 1990-91 Denver Nuggets are officially getting nervous.

Marcus Camby: His Defensive Player of the Year award looks more and more ridiculous with every passing game. Rebounding and shot-blocking do not make you the best defensive player in the league. Let me put it this way: If you had to choose one defensive player to save your grandma's life, would you pick Camby or, say, Shane Battier? That's what I thought.

Detroit Pistons equipment manager: Who's that Hamiltion guy who was playing for the Pistons last night? Did they sign him out of the D-League on a 10-day contract or something? Wait, that was NBA All-Star Rip Hamilton? Oh, okay. I thought he looked kinda familiar. (Via Ball Don't Lie.)


Taurean Green: Mr. Green won the Mario West Award for least PT of the night, clocking in at a mighty 18 seconds.

Fun fact: Did you know that Taurean is the son of former NBA player Sidney Green? Well, now you do. Go here to download a Taurean Green widget.

Milwaukee Bucks: Way to choke one up to the worst team in the league, guys. And you get extra points for doing it at home. Said said Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak: "I don’t feel like guys have turned me off. People are still paying attention, but that’s a rough question to ask a coach." I hate to be the one to break this to you, Larry, but they started tuning you out a while ago.

Pat Riley: Is it just me, or does anybody else think Riley went a little crazy over his team's 12th win of the season? Either that, or he did a line of coke after the game, because insanity and drug use are the only plausible reasons I can come up with for why Riley comparied Jason Williams and Chris Quinn to Hall of Famers Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. And I really don't think he was joking, since basketball scientists have proven that Riley hasn't had a sense of humor since the early 1980s.

The New Jersey trade gang: Sure, Jason Kidd played like crap last night (see below), but that doesn't mean the Nets "won" in the blockbuster trade game. Devin Harris wasn't playing particularly well (4 points, 2-for-6, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 17 minutes) even before he left the game with an ankle injury. DeSagana Diop (4 points, 2-for-4, 5 rebounds, 1 block) did not inspire awe. And Trenton Hassell was 2 personal fouls and an unlikely assist away from a seven trillion.

Jason Kidd: Last night was the worst game of Kidd's second stint with the Mavericks: 1 point (0-for-3), 3 rebounds, 7 assists. He played so badly that Avery Johnson left him on the bench from 6:27 of the third to 5:51 of the fourth. Doesn't The Little General know you can't leave old guys on the bench that long? They get all stiff and useless. Or in Kidd's case, useless-er.

Dirk Nowitizki's unclutchtasticness: Yes, he brought the Mavs back from a 25-point third quarter deficit, but -- in the final seconds with the game on the line -- he bobbled an inbounds pass and ducked out of the way of an airborne Lamar Odom to put up a wild, off-balance three-point attempt that wasn't even close. Charles Barkley freaked out over this after the game, and with good reason. Because while refs are reluctant to call ticky-tac fouls at the end of close games, once you get your defender into the air, you need to go into him and force the whistle. Most of the time, the refs are going to make that call, even in end-of-game situations, and especially when you're playing at home.

Josh Howard: Okay, it's not all Dirk's fault. Howard threw that inbounds pass way too low for Dirk to get a clean catch. If Howard really considers himself an All-Star-caliber player -- and he does -- then he needs to learn how to put the ball into play when it really matters.

Shane Battier's critics: After the Rockets beat the Lakers on Sunday, some people -- including "NBA historian" Charley Rosen of FOX Sports -- blasted Battier for "face guarding" Kobe Bryant. But what Battier did, which was put a hand in Kobe's face to contest his jump shots, was perfectly legal. And Rosen, who often displays an utter disdain for people who don't know their stuff, should realize that. Kudos to the guys at The Dream Shake for doing their homework. (Via The 10-Man Rotation at Ball Don't Lie.) Update: Don't you just love it when people freak out about something and bombard you with lots of meaningless facts but have no idea what they're talking about? Blogger "Tom7" over at FOX sports -- could there be a Charley Rosen connection?! -- drones on for quite a while about face guarding, noting that it is explicitly outlawed in high school rules, NCAA rules, and FIBA rules. what? This is the NBA. Tom7 should go check out page 41 of the Official Rules of the National Basketball Association, which clearly states that face guarding (or "eye guarding") is illegal only when guarding the offensive player from behind. They're called books people. Read 'em. On second thought, don't read 'em. Ask me and accept my answer as gospel. That'll work out better for both of us. (Thanks to Basketbawful reader reuben for the link.)

Rockets critics: After the Celtics ended The Streak, I got a flurry of e-mails and a couple texts telling me I was "wrong" about the Rockets. Which is funny because I never said how long The Streak would last nor that it was anything other than a cool, fun, historic run by a tough, scrappy team. And saying the Rockets didn't play well last night doesn't address the fact that Boston's defense was absolutely overwhelming, especially in the second half. With all the talk about the Western Conference playoff race, I think some people have forgotten, or never realized, how scary good the Celtics are this season.

Joel Przybilla: Look, I know it's important to stand up to Shaq and play him physically, but the constant pushing, shoving, and jersey-grabbing was a little much. Of course, the officials have let Shaq's defenders get away with that stuff for years. And, in all fairness, The Big Elbow has gotten away with his fair share of rough play. But now that the refs are starting to blow the whistle when Shaq gets a little too free with his flailing arms, shouldn't they stop letting his defenders wrassle him around so much? And also, isn't it interesting how officiating changes over the course of a player's career?

Update! Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor: Sometimes the best way to draw attention away from your crappy stewardship of the crappy team your crappy GM assembled is to take a cheap shot at your former stuperstar player. That way you're not a bad judge of basketball talent, you're just an idiot. And boy oh boy did Taylor let his stuperosity take center stage when he suggested that Kevin Garnett laid down on the job last season. In responding to a reporter's suggestion that the T-Wolves had tanked last season, Taylor said: "I don't think that. I don't like that so much. I don't like that. It was more like KG tanked it (for missing the final five games of the regular season). I think the other guys still wanted to play. But it sure changed the team and didn't make us (as good)." Now, some people think that experts and fans baby Garnett, and maybe we a degree. But in this case, I'm going to let KG's intensity and work ethic speak for themselves. I mean, Garnett missed only 23 games in 12 seasons as a Timberwolf. Dude straight up brought it.

Kobe Bryant, quote machine: Basketbawful reader Mark submitted the best out-of-context Kobe quote of the week: "We got our hands on balls. We stretched them out offensively and we attacked them." I know this is from a while back, but still very much worth mentioning. Edit: I don't know why I didn't double-check that link. Mark point out that Kobe's quote was, in fact, in reference to the Lakers/Mavericks game on Tuesday night.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Przybilla has his reasons for his physical play against Shaq. Remember when the Heat where playing the Blazers? Shaq basically plowed him over and then, as Shaq is falling, he used the ball and Przybilla's face to break his 300 lbs fall.

I couldn't find a better video or picture, but here's a crappy youtube clip:

Happens at about 45 sec in. Replayed on big screen at about 1:13.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
victor -- I see what you're saying, and you do have a good point. I tagged Shaq with WotN honors for that move when it happened. Still, you've got to let that stuff go. Although, I also realize that Joel has managed to stay in the league BECAUSE he's so aggressive, so I guess it's a Catch 22.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Suns are a dangerous team right now. Yes, I am a Suns fan, but I can tell you right now that there is no other theam in the league that wants to play us in a 7 game series. The Shaq trade is strating to take its form, in that he does what the other Suns players did not do, protect the basket and getting the d-rebounds. Basketbawful, you have to admit that even though Shaq is 36, thats like 60 in basketball years, he is playing good ball right now. 16 points, 15 rebs, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks last night. Not too shabby.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
manic -- I'm trying really, really hard not to stat curse the Suns right now. But if I were allowing myself to speak of them, I would probably say I agree with one or more of your points.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Boston's still the team to beat
which everyone forgot about till you know yesterday LOL

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Serves you right for paying attention to a Fox blowhard like Charley Rosen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am a huge Kobe fan. He shot poorly against Houston, but face guarding is totally legal and, in fact, Kobe does it all the time, along with many other good defenders. Much props to S.B. for his Kobe defense. S.B. is a class act and a proven winner. The N.B.A. would be better off if there were more S.B's.

Blogger Ryne Nelson said...
Enough said: 23 games of rest in 12 years. An MVP. Countless All-Star Games. I can't even fathom saying anything remotely negative about the man who literally made Minnesota relevant for the past decade.

Blogger Unknown said...
Here is a link from one of the comment sections of a blog:

Blogger Unknown said...
Pronounced: Ham-ill-shun

The act of becoming more Hamill-like.

Reference photo

Anonymous Anonymous said...
mannn i agree with anonymous, im a huge kobe/laker fan but i think shane battier did a better defensive job than bruce bowen. battier completely committed himself to slowing kobe down and he did just that by playing solid defense without fouling. i really hope no scouts were there cuz it seems like face guarding (at least on that day) works the best against kobe.

i also use face guarding when i play pick up games and it's pretty effective, didn't know it was illegal in so many places though.

Blogger starang said...

That is what we here in phoenix like to call the Mark West curse.

Shaq has moved people with his elbows, scooted poeple with his enourmous ass, and in general just steamed rolled over entire teams FOR YEARS, on his way to 4 rings.

Yet the very second he sports a little purple and orange, no soup for you. I am unsure of why it surprises me or anyone living on Planet Orange anymore. What can I say, the comish just doesn't like the Suns for some reason.

As for the Mav's, I'm surprised Dirk was even in the game for the final shot...every last second shot seems to come from Terry for God knows what reason (on a slightly related topic, GO CATS). I'm glad to see that Dirk finaly stepped up to the plate for the shot, for me to poop on. Way to go bobble hands.

I cannot see KG bagging up a season, even if he were ordered too. He has too much pride from what I can see. But then again, who really knows...I don't know these guys personally.

I wish Kobe were as gay as the Kobe Lovers that write here, it would be easier to make fun of him.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I sure would like me one of them Hamiltion jerseys. He's my favourite. Way better than Kobe.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Actually, Glen Taylor claimed that Garnett "tanked it" not by saying that Garnett didn't go all out, but that he decided to sit out the last 5 games of the season. That's right, sit out 5 meaningless games at the end of the season when the Wolves were already out of the playoff hunt. Some really serious tanking going on there.

When the Heat and Dwyane Wade decided for Wade sit out the rest of this season, was it because the Heat were tanking the season? No, they suck, they're out of the playoffs, and there's no reason to put a still-recovering Wade out in danger's way for no good reason.

As you mentioned, Garnett only missed very few games in his tenure with the Wolves. He's known as super intense guy. Why would Glen Taylor, out of the blue, suddenly mention that he thought Garnett was tanking when history and common sense went against that idea? Last time I checked, if you're out of the playoffs with 5 games to go and you decide to take off for a few games after 77 games because you can afford to, it's called resting your body.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
shrugz -- I don't know how the best team in the league has been flying under the radar, but they have.

wormboy -- Yeah, you're probably right about that.

anonymous 1 -- I agree completely. Battier is one of my favorite players. He plays the right way.

ryne nelson -- So true. I have no idea why Taylor would take such a cheap shot. It's like somebody who broke up with his girlfriend, saw that she was dating a handsome, rich dude, then let it "slip" to somebody that he has herpes.

reueben -- Thanks. I updated the post.

flohtingPoint -- Hm. Perhaps that's a Word of the Day in the making...and that image made me spit up. Thank you.

james -- You have to laud what Shane did against Kobe, not only because Kobe is such a fantastic scorer, but because he did it on the up and up. I've seen other players try to beat Kobe by grabbing his jersey, elbowing him, taking cheap shots (a-HEM, Bruce Bowen). Battier just played aggressive, fundamentally sound defense. I also "face guard" in pickup hoops. I mean, I was coached in high school to get a hand in the shooter's face. Everybody from my high school coach to Hubie Brown preaches that.

starang -- Well, to be fair, some of those calls started to go against Shaq the last couple years, when he was on the Heat. You know how it is. Once a superstar starts to decline, the whistle blowing tends to change.

ben -- You know, it kind of reminds me of NBA Live 1993 (I think) where they couldn't get the rights to use Jordan's likeness so they made him "Player Number 5." I knew some guys who actually started wearing number 5 jerseys for that reason.

anonymous 2 -- Agree completely.

Blogger Iron Unkind said...
Enver? Oh, I get it. Very clever. It's like Ason Kidd (only that one's accurate).

Remind me again why Denver is supposed to be a poor team defensively? Last I checked they were the 6th best team in basketball in terms of points allowed per 100 poss. Denver sucks, but their defense is not the problem.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
iron unkind -- Ooo, Ason Kidd. I like that one. Mind if I use it?

Why are they a poor defensive team? Well, first of all, their own coach seems to think they least some of the time. And I've watched this team as often as possible. It's pretty clear from my own personal observation that they're trying to outscore their opponents most of the time.

I would cite the fact that they give up the 5th most points in the league (105.4) and that they're only ahead of the Pacers, Grizzlies, Sonics, and Warriors in that regard. But you seem to prefer more advanced statistics.

Now, I just checked Knickerblogger and the Nuggets are ranked 8th, not 6th, but that's just nitpicking. But here's my problem. That puts them several spots ahead of Boston (ranked 13th), and the Celtics are pretty clearly a superior defensive team, ranking first in points allowed, FG% allowed, and 3PT% allowed. And from watching both teams, I can tell you that the C's are, indeed, vastly superior on the defensive end.

So while defensive efficiency is worth throwing into the discussion, it's not the end-all be-all, and at times I simply don't trust it as an accurate indicator of actual defensive performance. I mean, everything I see tells me the Celtics are a better defensive ball club than the Nuggets, not several notches below them.

Hey, it's hard to quantify what I see happening. But that's how I feel.

Blogger stephanie g said...
It boggles my mind that anyone besides 14 year old Kobe worshippers could seriously complain about face checking. Did they think that the phrase "get a hand in his face" was a metaphor? Do they ever watch NBA games?

Basketbawful, I'm surprised you didn't take this opportunity to rag on the player we all love to hate. I mean come on, 11-33? That's Durant-like.

Blogger GP said...
It appears that we agree on the Celtics, but disagree on our source for statistics.

There is a big discrepancy between knickerblogger and ESPN. The World Leader has the top 6 for Def. Eff. as Boston, Houston, San Antonio, Detroit, LAL and Denver, respectively. Not sure if that will change your opinion of def. efficiency, but it should.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Denver's two biggest problems were its inconsistent level of effort and poor jump-shooting.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'd say don't use Knickerblogger's stats- he's usually very good, but here he's wrong. ESPN's numbers (INSIDER'D!!) have Denver at 6, and Boston at a far-and-away #1 in the league- about 6 and a half points better than Denver. The teams between them are Houston, SA, Detroit and the Lakers in that order.

The key to Denver's defense, as Kevin Pelton pointed out a bit back at Basketball Prospectus, is that they play an odd brand of defense- they force a ton of turnovers, which compensates for the fact that they're not a great collection of man and shot defenders. That's part of what makes their defense hard to recognize- they play at a very fast pace which inflates their per-game numbers, and also "seems" to make each turnover they cause matter less.

That's why defensive efficiency is the right stat to use here- it takes the pace issue out of the equation, and lets you get away from the frustration of watching all the open jumpers teams hoist against them and see how well what they do works overall. Basically, they're defensively a team of extremes- when it works it REALLY works, and when it doesn't, it really doesn't. Overall they're a good team, but on any given play have a pretty decent chance of looking clownishly bad.

- Brendan

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Przybilla just was letting Shaq know that he ain't no punk, for he is the "Vanilla Gorilla"!!!!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
stephanie -- Hey, good to hear from you. I was starting to worry about you and Starang, now I get comments from both of you in the same post. I can relax now. I couldn't bring myself to dis Kobe for his 11-for-33 shooting performance if only because Battier's defense was THAT stifling. Plus he got good help when he needed it. I would just as soon expect Kobe to put his head through a brick was as hit a high percentage against that D. Although he probably could have taken fewer shots...

gp and anonymous -- What? Man, I've been using Knickerblogger for a while now. Well, crap. That's some poorly-used brain juice I'll never get back.

I would rate their poor outside shooting and lack of inside presence as their biggest problem, or at least Big Problem 1A. But I'm still not convinced by their defense, efficiency rating or no. Because as Brendan correctly points out, they tend to use ball pressure (which results in high turnovers) as their primary defensive mode. However, this can tragically backfire against efficient teams that take care of the ball (such as Detroit, as evidenced last night). As a team, they tend to take too many gambles for my taste: Iverson plays the passing lanes looking for steals, and Camby tends to forget his man to go for the shot block. And while they have a pretty good success rate using those tactics, especially against lesser teams, they seem that much more vulnerable to an opponent who plays smart and takes care of the ball.

That said, I'm going to keep an eye on them very closely for the remainder of the season, and monitor their defensive performances. See how they stand up to game-by-game scrutiny. If I'm wrong, I'll post a mea culpa.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
A couple comments:

1. Shaq has been refereed for the same way for years and years. If there was a change in how the refs began to officiate his game, it happened somewhere around the Lakers 1st title with him. So many people who are basketball fans and have watched him forever were oblivious to this just because they were so blinded by their hate for the Lakers that they wanted Shaq called for offensive fouls on every single possession, or they are now blinded by their love of the Suns that they think he should never be called for offensive fouls. Nothing has changed except your perception of what is being called based on what jersey Shaq's worn. People forget crucial playoff games, even in the Finals, that Shaq fouled out of while a member of those championship Laker teams (it probably has something with refusing to want to give Kobe any credit for those 3 rings, so they blocked those games from memory).

Shaq fouls a lot, just accept it; and if you still wanna cry about it, you should realize he's averaged less fouls per game since he joined Phoenix than he was earlier this year with Miami (his average fouls per game by month were 3.7 in November, 4.4 in December, 4.5 in January and then 3.0 in February and 3.3 in March with Phoenix).

2. People are giving Battier too much credit for his defense on Kobe: the whole Rockets team deserves it more than any one player. Battier did a great job on Kobe, don't get me wrong, but not so good a job that he should suddenly be the leading candidate for DPOY. Kobe burned Battier a number of times on Sunday only to quickly be met by the entire rest of the Rockets' defense. Kobe was probably in something of a panic mode w/o Bynum or Gasol there to give the Lakers a legit low-post threat (and Turiaf was in foul trouble for most of the game), so Kobe predictably went into high-volume scorer mode and the Rockets were waiting for him. For reference, check the game Kobe had immediately following Andrew Bynum's injury where he had 44 shots in a narrow OT win over Seattle - this is exactly what Kobe did on Sunday in the game immediately following Gasol's injury. Kobe panicked and thought he had to become 04-06 Kobe and go for 50 to give the Lakers a shot, but unlike Seattle the Rockets were ready for this and had a good/great defender in Battier to put on him who could usher him into the teeth of the defense, which was waiting in the totally unoccupied (by Laker post players) paint.

Anyone who has watched the Lakers much this year knows that Kobe rarely does this anymore, and usually gets his teammates going instead when teams focus on him like that (check his game-high 7 assists and only 23 shots last night against Dallas in an improbable win). People expecting Battier or Bowen to completely neutralize Kobe in the playoffs haven't been watching very much. Once the Lakers' 2nd and 3rd best players return from injury, shutting down the Lakers won't be as simple as putting one defender inside Kobe's jersey.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hmm... either you are all sizzle and no steak, or else you dropped out of your Sylvan reading course too early.

Contrary to your headline, Tom7 on foxsports doesn't criticize Shane Battier at all.

Why would make as if he did?

Also, Tom7 quotes page 41 of the NBA rule book as well.

Why would you infer otherwise?

Interestingly, the point of his article is the VERY same point you are making: that face guarding isn't enforced in the NBA the way it is everywhere else in basketball.

Why would you ridicule him for saying what you are saying?

Is it because he advocates that the NBA should changes its rule book to conform to the rest of the basketball world and you disagree?

If you misunderstood the article, then come clean about it.

If you disagree with it, then be honest about it.

But don't lie and claim he wrote something he didn't.

After all, some of us might actually go read the article for ourselves, and with your credibility diminished, think much less of your other opinions as well.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
GP said - "There is a big discrepancy between knickerblogger and ESPN. The World Leader has the top 6 for Def. Eff. as Boston, Houston, San Antonio, Detroit, LAL and Denver, respectively. Not sure if that will change your opinion of def. efficiency, but it should."

You heard him bbawful. ESPN said it. Not just that, ESPN Insider! Lordy lordy, it must be absolute fact in that case.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
they usually do that when the opposing player is a SG/SF and just give him all the credit even if it was a team effort

Anonymous Anonymous said...
please mention the pathetic booing/restless attitude of the raptors fans when they realize they not getting pizza

embarrassed to be known as a raptors fans with people like this

Anonymous Anonymous said... need to check the yahoo boxscore for the heat/raptors game tonight...brilliant

Blogger Mark said...

Thanks for the frontpage shout-out! This blog has quickly become my favorite go-to for everything but box scores.

One thing: the out-of-context Kobe quote was from last night's LA/Dallas AP wire recap, not from back in Oct.

Here's a ref:

Blogger Basketbawful said...
wild yams -- The way in which Shaq has been officiated has been WILDLY inconsisten for years and years. But my feelings toward the way Shaq has been officiated the last few years has nothing to do with my love for the Suns, since he was on the Heat most of that time. Shaq no longer gets the superstar treatment because he's not longer a superstar. That happens. Which is not to say that the refs didn't tag him back in his heyday, only that they tag him a lot more now. If you don't believe that superstar treatment occurs, or that it changes over time as a player's skills diminish, then I guess you simply won't agree with my point. 'Cause I believe it does.

Chris -- ESPN is always right, right?

Shrugz -- Ooops. I'll add this to today's post.

anonymous -- Seriously.

mark -- My bad, my bad. I'll fix the post, thanks!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
tom7 -- Are you...talking in third person or are you a different tom7 than the FOX Sports tom7? Just curious.

Here's some steak with your sizzle. Here's the full and unedited conclusion to FOX sports Tom7's post:

"So, in summary, face guarding is illegal and has been since 1913. It is illegal at all levels of basketball from high school, to college to professional basketball. Face guarding is explicitly mentioned in high school rules, NCAA rules and FIBA rules, but while the NBA rule book contains provisions for penalizing players for face guarding, its lack of conformity with the rest of the basketball world leaves the issue open for debate."

His remarks are entirely untrue, since face-guarding is most definitely NOT illegal "at all levels of basketball, from high school, to college, to professional basketball." The NBA rulebook does not prohibit it. So his conclusion and thus his entire diatribe is rendered false.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@ manic up at #3--

...who said: "Yes, I am a Suns fan, but I can tell you right now that there is no other theam in the league that wants to play us in a 7 game series."

I am a Hornets fan and I can tell you right now that there is.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think he makes a good point about the face guarding though, since it IS dangerous and you could poke an eye out, literally lol

Blogger starang said...
"@ manic up at #3--

...who said: "Yes, I am a Suns fan, but I can tell you right now that there is no other theam in the league that wants to play us in a 7 game series."

I am a Hornets fan and I can tell you right now that there is."

So you play for the Hornets now? When did you start speaking for the team? Interesting. What number do you wear?

Plain and one in the West wants to play anyone in the West. Its just a wildly tough conference, one to go down in the history books.