The injury bug: Last night, the Orlando Magic lost not one but two starters due to injury. Jameer Nelson got knocked out of the game in the first quarter after getting hit in the jaw by teammate Dwight Howard, and Hedo Turkoglu left during the second quarter because of a sprained right wrist. I'm not saying that losing those guys is the reason Orlando lost to the Spurs, but it sure didn't help. The Magic took Nelson out of the game only as a precaution -- he's had two concussions in two years -- but he could play in the team's next game on Friday. Turkoglu will have an MRI and visit with a hand specialist today to determine the extent of his wrist injury.

Matt Bonner: He was in and out of the Spurs/Magic game in less time than it would take to reheat a slice of pizza in the microwave. His line: Zero-for-everything in 39 seconds of PT.

Jermaine O'Neal: Remember this guy? Yeah, he's still a Pacer, although I wouldn't fault you for forgetting that fact. The Drain has missed 31 straight games with a left knee injury, but he has been practicing -- we're talking about practice, man! -- and said he expects to be back soon. To which I say: Why?! My theory: To increase his off-season trade value. Indiana coach Jim O’Brien says Jermaine can return to active duty once his cardiovascular conditioning is good enough to play.

Los Angeles Clippers: Tank-a-palooza 2008 continued for the fake-injury-riddled Clips, who made the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks look like champions-in-waiting even without their reigning MVP. Josh Howard threw in 32 points, Erick Dampier became a real center -- for one night, anyway -- by scoring 19 points and gobbling up 17 boards, and Jerry Stackhouse put up 20 without even choking anybody. There's no better way to reheat your magic sauce than to play the Clippers.

Update! Dirk Nowitzki, play-by-play announcer: From the always-funny Odenized. It's almost six minutes long, but watch the whole thing. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Jason Kidd: While his teammates were lighting the house on fire against the hapless Clippers, Kidd maintained the sloppy, lackluster play that'll probably help Avery Johnson get fired after the season: 10 points on 2-for-7 shooting, 8 assists, and 7 turnovers. But he did have a +/- score of +15, so I guess he actually played really well. Thank the gods for advanced stats!

Juwan Howard: The wily veteran is still alive and capable of putting up big numbers. Last night, he put up three trillion of them.

Atlanta Hawks: You guys do want to make the playoffs, right? Then why did you lose to the Dysfunction-A-Bulls?

Mario West: The good news: Super Mario got into the game for a whole minute and 16 seconds. The bad news: He scored a one trillion.

Larry Hughes: Ew! What the hell did I just step in?! Oh, it's Larry Hughes' jumper! Is that...is that corn? [shudder] Anyway, Larry's shot has returned to its typically ugly form. Last night he scored 9 points on 3-for-10 shooting. He's 9-for-33 (27 percent) over his last three games.

Andres Nocioni: The ragin' Argentinian went on a towel-slamming, expletive-slinging rampage when he got benched on Saturday, but there's a reason he was riding the pine: He sucks. Right now, anyway. Last night, Chapu grabbed 4 rebounds and committed 3 fouls in 13 scoreless minutes.

Drew Gooden's huge, throbbing ego: Drew Gooden played like a man last night, scoring 31 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. It was Gooden's ninth double-double in the 16 games since he was traded to the Bulls. The million-dollar question, though, is can he keep this up? Said Gooden: ''Yes, I can. And I will continue to work to get better at it. This is something that's not new to me, but I've got to brush off some of the old tools and put them back into use. Because I have had a couple years [playing with LeBron James] where I was the guy that goes out, works hard and grabs rebounds and becomes a defender with offensive capabilities." In case you need a Gooden-to-English translation, that means playing with LeBron was holding him back, and not that it's easier to put up big numbers when you're on a lousy, lottery-bound team. But Gooden's mouth wasn't finished. Not by a long shot. "I possess the tools. I don't want to sound cocky, but I think I possess everything. I feel like I can pass, block shots, play great defense, play help defense, shoot threes." No, not done yet. There was more. ''I believe that I can do it all. And confidence is the number one factor when it comes to offense. I can score in the post; I can score with my back to the basket, face up.'' You go, Drew. I look forward to watching you win the MVP next season. Look out, NBA!

(Still...as well as Gooden has been performing lately, it does sort of make you wonder: Was playing with LeBron holding him back? John Hollinger didn't seem to think so, but Gooden's PER has skyrocketed from 12.6 to 18.9 since joining the Bulls. According to Hollinger's own reference guide, that change has moved Gooden from somewhere between the "scrounging for minutes" and "in the rotation" range to between "solid second option" and "borderline All-Star." Food for thought.)

C.J. Miles: Yet another one trillion award winner. Congrats, C.J.!

Washington Wizards: The Wiz followed up their ultra-impressive win over the Pistons by laying a huge, rotten egg against the Trail Blazers. Washington lost by 20 after scoring only 82 points on 35 percent shooting. The co-Grand Marshals of the Brick Parade were Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, who combined to shoot 9-for-33 from the field and 2-for-11 from three-point range.

Stingy statisticians: Basketbawful reader Sun Devil brought this to my attention: Joel Przybilla -- the newly dubbed Vanilla Godzilla -- was credited with 25 rebounds in Portland's not-so-pretty 83-72 win over the Los Angeles Clippers last Saturday. For VG, it was a career-high. But wait! The NBA ruled that Przybilla's career-high was even career-highier: He was shorted one offensive rebound during the fourth quarter of that game, which means he actually grabbed 26 rebounds instead of "only" 25. This moves our Vanilla Godzilla into a tie -- along with with Bill Walton and LeRoy Ellis -- for the most rebounds in a regulation game in Trail Blazer history. Note: Przybilla grabbed 17 rebounds against the Wizards last night. Man, he's treating the backboards like the real Godzilla treated Tokyo...he's destroying them. Roar!!

Derrick Coleman: Coleman -- whose NBA career was limited and cut short due to laziness, character issues, a giant fat ass, and, of course, injury problems -- got injured again, only this time it happened while filming an episode of the TV show Pros vs. Joes. DC was participating in a rebounding challenge against some "average joe" when he came down from a jump and landed awkwardly, hurting his always-troublesome knee. This means that Coleman has the dubious distinction of being the first Pro to ever get injured during battle with a Joe. [Hat tip: TrueHoop.]

Charley Rosen: Hopefully this is the last follow-up entry to Face-Guard-Gate. Rosen finally admitted that NBA rules don't prohibit face-guarding. However, he also said, "Even though this is true, my point remains valid, i.e., that refs used to call face-guarding fouls and no longer do so." Actually, his original point -- which was "...it must be noted that Battier face-guarded Bryant on virtually every jumper. The last time I looked at the rule book, face-guarding was illegal." -- was without question not valid in any way, shape, or form. But I guess Rosen, who's just a wee bit on the arrogant side, can only concede so much at one time without his head exploding. But then, that's pretty much what I've come to expect from a man who once said, "A note to long-suffering Cavaliers' fans: Don't get caught in the LeBron James pipe dream. The best King James can ever be is an average NBA player." Good call, Charley.

(And a final note: I would really like to see some video evidence of those routine face-guarding "toots" that Rosen says referees used to make. His claims just don't jibe with the 20 years of NBA action I've watched. Take that classic Blazers/Celtics double-overtime thriller on March 15, 1992. Buck Williams face-guarded Larry Bird the entire game -- Buck even told Mike Fratello in an interview that his defensive strategy against Bird was to "get a hand in Larry's face" -- yet he wasn't once whistled for it. If anybody was ever going to have a face-guarding call go their way, it was Larry Legend playing at the Boston Garden. Hey, I'm sure face-guarding has resulted in many fouls over the years, but typically only when the defender made or seemed to make contact with the offensive player, not because the officials were trying to stomp out the face-guarding menace.)

Brandon Marshall: The Denver Broncos' wide receiver could miss up to four months of offseason training after mutilating his right forearm in a bizarre at-home accident. According to the Associated Press: "Marshall has acknowledged [the accident] was the result of horseplay with family members and a misplaced fast-food bag. He said he slipped on the bag Saturday while wrestling with family members at a Florida resort and put his right arm through a home entertainment center." According to Steve Antonopulos, the Broncos head athletic trainer, Marshall "sustained right forearm lacerations to one artery, one vein, one nerve, two tendons and three muscles. All have been repaired, and his right forearm and elbow will be immobilized for six weeks. Rehabilitation will begin in six weeks. Full recovery is expected to take three to four months." This incident definitely qualifies for the Brian Griese Memorial Bonehead Injury Award, thus named because Griese once tripped on a steep driveway at a friend's house and was knocked unconscious, then later sprained his ankle when he was run over by his dog. (Said Griese: "I was walking down the stairs and my dog came barreling down the stairs after me and clipped me, and I kind of twisted my ankle on the stairs.")

J. Jonah Jameson says: Help end the menace of Spider-man by reading my guest NBA Closer column at Deadspin.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
i hate to be a stickler for spelling/grammar but it's actually "whose" and not "who's" in your first sentence about DC (i hated that guy)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
did anyone catch that ESPN article on "role models?"

some of those comparisons are horribly idiotic. take this one on Joakim Noah and Dirk for instance, "Nowitzki has two great assets that Noah should study in order to bring his game to a new level: First, he's the world's best shooting big, of course, and he can do it off the dribble or anywhere in his face-up game. Noah's struggles as a shooter are obvious, so all he needs is Dirk's 17-foot-and-in game -- the 3s can come later. Second, Dirk's inner drive, so evident last year without being demonstrative (often), would be good for Noah, too. While Noah's passion is great, over an 82-game season, as a starter, I think he'd wear down some."

am i the only one that think Noah's jumper is a lost cause? the picture used in the article helps me case.

Blogger slyguy183 said...
Wow, Charley Rosen deserves the worst of the night retrospectively for all the night up to and including the day he said LBJ would be average.

Great blog btw, love it

Blogger Flud said...
that role model article was one of the crappest things I've ever read. Basketbawful forever!!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anonymous -- Thanks. Fixed.

carlo -- Dear lord, that article sucked. And it was way too long/complicated for me to even make fun of. I actually drifted off while trying to think up some good fart jokes, and that never happens. Oh, and I definitely think Noah's jumper is a lost cause, in addition to being a menace to women and children across the country. Not only should it be outlawed, his arms should be removed so that he's never tempted to unleash it upon the world ever again. Okay. I'm done.

james -- Yeah, great call by Rosen. He also wrote another entire article about how James was going to suck as a pro. I might have to award him a Basketbawful Lifetime Achievement Award for that one.

flud -- It was bad, and almost entirely useless. I love the NBA and couldn't stand it. Yeech!!

Blogger Ryne Nelson said...
I never thought I'd hear about Mr. Coleman again, but I'm glad I did! This man got injured pulling down rebounds?! Nothing funnier!

Blogger Wild Yams said...
OK, here's a question for you in light of Drew Gooden's comments: if LeBron James definitely makes his teammates better, how come his teammates are widely regarded as being profoundly shitty? Steve Nash always got the "he makes his teammates better" label, and you could at least make a great argument there just by looking at how good his teammates were. Is the implication that LeBron's teammates are so bad that they shouldn't even be in the league and that the only reason they're still playing in the NBA is because they have him to make them just good enough to be borderline NBA level talents?

Maybe you really never can know whether one guy was making his teammates better till you see how they do after they're no longer teammates. Look at how former Jordan/Pippen teammates like Jud Buechler and Luc Longley fared after the Bulls broke up as evidence of how their games were raised by being teamed with that duo. You could even make the argument that the belief that Kobe Bryant doesn't make his teammates better is incorrect. After all, Smush Parker averaged 11/3/3 in two seasons with Kobe while Kwame Brown averaged 8 & 6 in his two full seasons as a Laker, yet their future in the NBA beyond this season has to be in serious doubt, don't you think?

There's got to be more to making your teammates better than just racking up good assist numbers or high scoring totals. For instance, Stephon Marbury hovered between 8 & 9 assists/game for most of his career (this fell off dramatically in his last 3 seasons), but I doubt anyone ever really considered him the kind of player who made his teammates better. Do people think of Carmello Anthony as someone who raises the games of his teammates because he's such a scoring threat?

First we have DeShaun Stevenson saying LeBron is overrated, now Drew Gooden is somewhat throwing him under the bus. Is there fire behind that smoke? Watching LeBron play, I'm inclined to say those guys are nuts, but being that they actually play the games, who knows?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
wild yams -- Having watched an inordinate amount of Cavs games this season, I have two very distinct feelings regarding LeBron and his relative ability to make his teammates better.

1. I do genuinely think that LeBron is a team-first player who makes the game easier for his teammates.

2. Here's the BUT. The Cavs have a skeletal offensive scheme, and that's probably being generous. A lot of times, it seems as though 50 percent or more of their possessions devolve into "Give it to LeBron and let him make something happen." I just don't think that system - if you can even call it that - provides the supporting players with the room necessary to grow and contribute to their fullest capacity.

The great thing about the old Bulls teams and the Lakers team now is that Kobe doesn't really have to make his teammates better. The Triangle Offense keeps guys active and involved, and I would say that a big part of the increased productivity of the Buechlers and Parkers was due to that "equal opportunity" system (to borrow Jordan's words).

I mean, look at how well the 1993-94 Bulls coped in their first full season without Michael Jordan. They won 55 games (only two fewer than the previous season with Jordan) and were a couple of questionable calls from downing the Knicks and potentially going to the NBA Finals (assuming they got past the Pacers). That's pretty incredible when you think about it. The reality is, the team didn't suffer a real post-Jordan dropoff until Horace Grant left the team prior to the 1994-95 season.

The reality is, it usually takes a great player AND at least a good system working in conjunction to make players better. Even if they had the exact same personnel and everyone was healthy, I promise you the Lakers would not be as good without the system they're running. Phil Jackson's greatest genius as a coach is using the Triangle, because it provides even marginal players with a decent chance to succeed. And when they realize that - and that they can actually get the ball if they make hard cuts and get in the proper position - they actually kill themselves to do it (unless they're a malcontent like Glen Rice or Isaiah Rider).

Honestly, if they're ever going to be better than a 50(ish) win team, they need a new coach. I'd say that Mike Brown could stay if he'd just develop a better offensive system, but I don't think he has the cajones to stand up to LeBron and make it happen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Are my ears screwed up or does Dirk blurt out "short bus" when one of the clippers players misses a jumper at the end of that video. Thats word of the day material right there.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Well let me ask you the flip-side of this then: does the triangle offense actually take away from the individual greatness (at least statistically speaking, and maybe otherwise) of the best players on the teams who employ it? Is this the reason for Jordan's dropoff in production following the first 5 or so seasons of his career (note that he "dropped off" to a level still basically far above everyone else, but he wasn't getting 37 ppg anymore)? Would Kobe possibly be putting up greater individual stats if he played for someone like Mike Brown who employed an offensive strategy akin to "give it to Kobe and let him make something happen"? Would LeBron's individual stats take a hit if he played for Phil Jackson in the triangle?

I think you're probably right in what you said above, just curious to hear if there is a statistically negative impact on the stars who play in the triangle to offset the statistical boost that the triangle seems to give the role players. Note that I'm not talking about the impact the triangle may have on the team's success while using the triangle (hard to argue with 9 rings), but more just wondering about how the numbers are distributed.

I will say I've long thought that people who turn to Kobe's assist numbers as some evidence that he doesn't make his teammates better is misleading specifically because Kobe plays in the triangle offense, where really no players have ever had great individual assist numbers. Jordan and Pippen both averaged around 6 assists each in the triangle and that's pretty much what Kobe has done. It's an offense designed so that everyone shares the ball and keeps it moving, rather than having one player dominate it (the way Nash has in Phoenix, Paul has in NO or LeBron has in Cleveland).

Back to Drew Gooden on LeBron though: I think you're absolutely right to include him in today's worst after saying what he said. My guess is he's going through a statistical anomaly right now and will soon come back to earth, despite not having LeBron there to "bring him down" anymore.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey I have an idea
an annonymous poster (I beleive can't remember)
said something about Lebron being like the super hero "rogue" LOL you should do an entry on that seems like something AWFUL if Lebron (the BEST player on the planet) sucks the PER,FG%,PTs etc etc out of all his teammates

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Pros vs Joes deserves more of a mention on here. Coleman was terrible. But so was Thunder Dan and Nick V-E. I can't figure out if I like that show or not.

RE Lebron: Has he really ever played with a guy who was legit second option? A Lamar Odom, Rasheed Wallace or Pau Gasol? I guess Gooden could be considered one or maybe Larry Hughes, but to me, it seems like he has only had the opportunity to play with superstars on Team USA (which he did well with) or mediocre and below players (which he has done decent with). In this case, I'll go with the case that Lebron just doesn't have a great supporting cast. Sorry for the run-on sentences.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
sonofjorel -- DUDE!! You're right! That IS gonna be a Word of the Day. God bless you, Dirk.

wild yams -- I think the Triangle actually enhances individual greatness - I really believe it made both Jordan and Kobe better players - just not statistically speaking. Jordan was initially horrified about what the Triangle would do to his stats, and the 1990-91 season was an 82-game battle of wills between Jax and Jordan over how the offense should be ran: Through the Triangle or through Jordan. But once Jordan saw the results, he stuck with it...while developing a plan to still get his numbers, a plan he explicated to Kobe a few years back, in terms of when and how to buck the system long enough to get his points without getting everybody else off track. And Jax, to his credit, recognized Jordan's and Kobe's needs to get theirs, and so gave them enough freedom to satisfy their lust for stats so long as, most of the time, they did it mostly within the context of the offense.

(If you don't think Kobe obsess over his stats, just look at the way he responded to some reporter telling him about LeBron's numbers a few weeks ago. Kobe's response: "Imagine what I'd do in the East.")

But to answer your question, I do think their's a slight statistical impact for great scorers in a Triangle system, maybe two or three points a game (or more, if they're total gunners).

Also: Drew already came back down to earth. It took ONE GAME.

shrugz -- Heh. That is a good idea...

sun devil -- You know, I might do some Pros vs Joes stuff over the summer when the NBA ends. I think Larry Hughes could have been a legit second option, and I think Z-Man could be as well. But I don't think the Cavs have a system that can help those guys become the second options they could be, you know? People forget this, but Larry Hughes worked pretty well in Washington's free-flowing system. The problem is, people think players are just interchangeable, like, if a guy scores 20 PPG he should be able to do it anywhere. But it doesn't happen that way. Hughes is a rhythm player, and it's hard for him to develop a rhythm when Lebron dominates the ball and turns him into a spot-up shooter.