Geaux Hornets

Atlanta Hawks: For the Hawks, securing the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference came down to simple math: Win and you're in (assuming you win at least one more game or the Nets drop one), lose and face the possibility of not reaching the postseason at all. So of course they lost. Atlanta shot 37 percent (to the Pacers 51) and fell behind by as many as 29 points before finally dying softly, 112-98. See that, Hawks? It's your playoff grave. And that's Mike Dunleavy Jr. (28 points, 6 rebounds) holding the shovel.

Mike Bibby: The Bibster was 0-for-8 last night, and he's shooting 5-for-32 over the last three games. Did he get something in his eye? Like a beach ball?

Joe Johnson, quote machine: You can't pin this loss on Joe Cool. He was one of the few Hawks who brought the necessary playoff fire, scoring a game-high 30 points (13-for-24) to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. So, as you can imagine, he was mildly displeased with his team's performance. "[The Pacers] just play harder than us every time we play them. It's nothing they're doing. It's not the players they've got. We didn't play hard, so we get our ass kicked. Point blank." Hold on. The Pacers "play harder" than your team does, but "it's nothing they're doing." Not sure I quite followed that one. But you have to love it when a player manages to both criticize his own team and demean his opponent all in one fell swoop. That's insult efficiency is what that is. Maybe John Hollinger should create a statistic to measure that.

Jermaine O'Neal, quote machine: I'd like to note that the Pacers are not, despite what you may have read to the contrary, dutifully fading away. (Sorry, Henry. I couldn't help myself.) They've won three straight and nine of 12 to make an actual, honest-to-goodness run at a mercy killing by the Boston Celtics the East's final playoff spot. And it's safe to say that pretty much nobody expected it. have they done it? The Drain has the answer. "We're starting to take a disposition about ourselves on both ends of the floor." Alrighty, then. Thanks for the word soup, Jermaine.

Basketbawful: Back when the Pacers signed Flip Murray to help them make one final playoff push, I mocked them. My bad. My utter and total bad. Murray had 20 points and 10 assists last night to help the Pacers stay in the race. And if you check out his game log, you'll see that he's been pretty solid for somebody who was, essentially, an NBA castaway after the Pistons cut him loose. (He almost signed with the Clippers.)

Kareem Rush: I guess you could call him the anti-Flip Murray. The Pacers had high hopes for Rush when they signed him during the offseason, but he hasn't delivered. Last night: A five trillion.

Minnesota versus Charlotte: Neither team played defense (the 'Cats shot 62 percent while the 'Wolves hit at a 51 percent clip). Charlotte built an 18-point lead but then fell asleep and let Minny back into the game. Raymond Felton boned a couple freethrows with 13 seconds that would have given his team a three-point lead. But then Randy Foye let Felton off the hook by throwing the ball away on an attemped pass to Al Jefferson, and the T-Wolves were forced to foul. Matt Carroll hit his first free throw, but Charlotte coach Sam Vincent told him to intentionally miss the second with 1 second left. Of course, Minnesota got the ball back with 0.7 left on the clock, which gave them a chance to tie the game and force overtime. Of course they didn't, but still. I guess you could say it was an exciting game with a Three Stooges finish.

Chicago Bulls: Remember when several experts picked the Bulls to win 50 or 60 games and maybe make it all the way to the NBA Finals? No, really, they did. Yes, this season. What...what happened?! Man, I can't even put it into words. And as a Chicago denizen, I can tell you that the city has practically disowned this dysfunctional band of misfits and malcontents. I mean, nobody wants to even talk about the Bulls right now. Unless it's to say something like, "F***ing Bulls!" Last night was, without question, the nadir of a lost season, as the Bullies got mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by what was then a 13-win Miami Heat squad populated mostly by D-League players. In point of fact, it was D-League MVP Kasib Powell (18 points, 8-for-16, 6 boards) who did most of the damage. The dead horse has officially been kicked into mush. R.I.P, 2007-08 Chicago Bulls.

Pat Riley, quote machine: After his team won their 14th game of the season and ended another long losing streak, Riles said: "These guys are just unadulterated." I have no idea what he could possibly mean. But far be it from me to argue with words of wisdom from a Hall of Famer.

Detroit Pistons: This is how the Pistons chose to honor their All-Time Team? By shooting 35 percent and losing at home to the New York Knicks? I know they don't have anything left to prove until the playoffs, but still. Or maybe this was just the team's way to honor Isiah before he gets fired. Mercy win? Sounds about right to me. And I'm sure that's what Pistons fans are hoping, too.

New Orleans Hornets: Watching that Jazz/Hornets game last night, it was hard to believe that New Orleans is fighting to hang on to the top seed in the Western Conference. I mean, 66 points on 36 percent home?! And against an awful road team, no less. Not good.

Chris Paul: Nobody should lose the MVP based on a single performance, but if they did, Paul would have lost it last night. He had 9 assists, but he was held to 4 points on 2-for-11 shooting thanks to some intense defensive pressure from Deron Williams (and some strategic lane-clogging by the rest of the Jazz). Williams (16 assists) also did a better job running his team's offense. It was strangely reminiscent of the way Hakeem Olajuwon manhandled David Robinson during The Admiral's MVP season.

Utah versus New Orleans: Okay, the teams both shot badly (43 percent for Utah, 36 for New Orleans) and combined for 41 turnovers. Final score: 77-66. For a little perspective, the halftime score of the Kings/Warriors game was 77-66. (Thanks, Joe.)

The Boston reserves: The Big Three played, built a huge lead, and returned to the bench for a little nappy time. Their nap was disturbed, however, by the fact that their roleplayers coughed up the lead and barely pulled out a 107-104 overtime victory. Hey, a win's a win, right? And it's better to pull one out on the road than lose to the Knicks at home.

Update! Andrew Bogut: Basketbawful reader Victor said: "I think Andrew Bogut deserves a mention. He got a cripple double last night: 15 points, 15 boards, and 10 turnovers." We call that a triple bumble around these parts, but you're absolutely right, Victor. You get a Tommy Point!

Doc Rivers, quote machine: Eddie House secured Boston's victory with a big three-pointer in overtime, despite the fact that he was 0-for-7 on the rest of his shots that game. And damn if that didn't make Doc proud. "That's a great lesson for all kids. If you're a shooter, you're a shooter. You can miss 20 in a row, but if you're open you shoot again." Yeah. Great lesson. Because more kids need to be remorseless shooters. (That sound you just heard was every high school coach in the country vomiting.)

Mo Williams: He's still out with penis problems.

Shaq: Hmm. The Big Coffee Breaker missed last night's game with a "right hip contusion." That's funny. And here I thought he had just come down with a bad case of the "restin' for the playoffs." My mistake.

Kwame Brown: DNP-CD. I think that's his "Out of the League" clock ticking. I really do.

Los Angeles Lakers: They had the perfect chance to make up ground on the Hornets in the race for the number one seed out West. And they failed. They have the maybe-MVP. Pau Gasol (21 points, 13 rebounds) looks pretty healthy. The Blazers have some injury woes and just lost Joel Przybilla for the season. So, uh, what's the excuse this time? I guess it must have been the devastating absence of Luke Walton. Yeah, I'm sure that's it.

Lamar Odom: From Odenized. Dude, that was totally unnecessary. What's with the aggression? Is everything okay at home?

Golden State Warriors: Yeah, yeah. I know they won. But I also know they gave up 132 points on 53 percent shooting to the Kings. In a critical game. At home. Hand in the face, guys, hand in the face. Said Don Nelson: "It's hard to be disappointed when you win and you score 140 points, but we're going to have to start guarding people a lot better than we did tonight." That's an understatement, to say the least.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
The poor D-leaguers for the Heat have to realize that this is the NBA. If you don't commit adultery you just can't compete at this level. Infidelity and bastard offspring are the life-blood that keep these athletes going 82 games a year.

Embarrassing to see such rookie mistakes.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
That Laker loss last night was almost predictable (they never win in Portland for some reason), but the New Orleans loss was really unexpected. Deron Williams must have pictures of Chris Paul taped up all over his house as motivation or something. He goes into full Hulk mode whenever those teams meet. Conversely, Paul must have nightmares about Williams or something. Something to keep an eye on since that could be a 2nd round matchup.

Maybe it's just me but that Lamar Odom foul didn't look that bad on his part. I mean, it was definitely a foul, but he just jumped up with his hands up to make a play on the ball. Roy just landed real awkwardly, but it didn't look like Odom did anything out of the ordinary though. I'd actually be surprised if the league doesn't rescind that flagrant foul (which was a flagrant 1, not 2, as Odenized reported).

The Drain is probably the best nickname in recent years.

Blogger slyguy183 said...
I love the insult efficiency comment!

Here's the list of top IER (Insider Required)

1. Joe Johnson - 27.45 Insulting both teams with a just a few sentences? That's like a bench player coming in and getting 10/4/3 in 15 minutes and calling him a star.
2. Kevin Garnett - 26.73 Dominates the world of trash talk, is a lockdown insulter.
3. Kobe Bryant - 26.45 Right behind Garnett in belitting opponents and teammates (Andrew Bynum? Are you kidding me? We're talking about Jason kidd!)
4. Yao Ming - 25.19 Can't Fuckin' Stop Me
5. Stephen Jackson - 24.51 A surprise in the top five with his comment: "Don't make me take out my 45s and spray some warning shots!"
6. Shaq - 22.34 Has regressed from his larger than life personality and thinking he's twice as good as everyone when he's just twice the size. But he had one great game that really boosts up his IER. "No one is asking me to play with Chris Quinn and Ricky Davis." In other news, Quinn and Davis were seen taking a long shower together wondering what they did wrong in the locker room except there wasn't any water running.
7. Gilbert Arenas - 19.67 Amazing how he has only played two games and has such a high IER, but that happens when you write things like "Jose Calderon will never be an All-Star." Ouch.
8. Allen Iverson - 19.70 Practice? Practice?
9. Lebron James - 19.42 Come on, he's the king. He can say anything he wants.
10. Kwawme Brown - 17.52 Just being named Kwawme Brown is an insult in and of itself.

Blogger Ed said...
It's kind of ironic that the big knock on Lamar has always been that he's not aggressive enough. Maybe people should always add "on offense" just so he doesn't get the wrong idea.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I still think there's almost zero chance that Kwame Brown will be out of the league next year. Even if every other team in the league isn't willing to give him a dime, I'm convinced the Lakers would take him back for the vet min. They took a flyer on JR Rider for the vet min a few years ago, well after all his much-documented issues (although they did eventually leave him off their playoff roster that year, but he might have got a ring, I dunno), and they also signed Dennis Rodman for a couple weeks once (during the Kurt Rambis Era).

Considering Kwame Brown actually had sporadic periods where he flirted with real production with the Lakers in his 2+ years there, I don't think it's a stretch to envision him back in LA next year, holding down a chair near the end of the bench to make sure it doesn't go flying off into space if the Earth stops rotating.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Kareem Rush: I guess you could call him the anti-Flip Murray. "

The Flop Murray then?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anonymous -- And let's not forget the ability to fritter away extravagant amounts of money.

wild yams -- See, I thought this was where the Lakers would step up and try to establish themselves as The Team To Beat. I mean, we've been hearing from everybody about how unstoppable they would have been if Pau was healthy. Well, he's healthy now, right?

I love the Paul/Williams showdown. It's fun to watch to equally-matched players going head-to-head. Deron seems to relish facing Paul more than vice versa, though. However, it should be noted that Jerry Sloan used some suffocating team defensive schemes to help out on Paul.

It looked to me like Odom gave a little extra push after the foul to send Roy to the ground.

Regarding Kwame: I know you're probably right. I mean, he's a seven-footer, and Greg Ostertag used that same resume padder to stay around for 11 seasons.

ed -- You know, every once in a while Odom gets testy like that. Maybe he bottles his frustration up into these little bursts.

Blogger Stephen Robbins said...
I watched the Lakers/Blazers game, and at first the Blazer announcers were very upset about the hard foul on Golden Boy Brandon Roy, but after watching the replay several times even they admitted that the foul wasn't that big of a deal. It looked bad mostly because Roy fell on his ass and appeared to be in pain, and everyone in Portland LOVES Brandon Roy. If someone like Jarrett Jack takes that fall, no one even notices.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Seriously, that was just a good hard foul. If you look at the comments on that youtube video, a majority of people are crying their asses off and insulting Odom like crazy because of a hard foul. I always thought coaches wanted to teach their players to never give up a lay-up and make them earn it at the line. I know I've seen PLENTY worse fouls than that and none of those were flagrants. Just because it's a Laker, it's blown out of proportion.

And that Mo Williams thing... ouch.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think Andrew Bogut deserves a mention. He got a cripple double last night: 15 points, 15 boards, and 10 turnovers.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful, IMO anyone who's been saying the Lakers are "the team to beat" hasn't been watching Boston lately. If there's ever been a team who appears to be rolling into the playoffs, it's the Celtics. I don't see anyone beating them this year unless the Spurs revert to being the Spurs again or if the Lakers magically have such good chemistry with a fully healthy lineup that two of the starting five can learn to play new positions with no hiccups in the playoffs while a third one comes off missing 3 months with no problems whatsoever. Boston should be the favorite by a lot.

I would say that if people are claiming the Lakers are the team to beat, it's not just because Gasol is now healthy (and he looks healthy to me), but because they'll also supposedly have Andrew Bynum in there. I think the Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Kobe lineup on paper is arguably the best in the league right now, but these guys have never played even one game together and are going to have to figure that chemistry out on the fly in the playoffs. If the Lakers pull off a title this year it'll be much more impressive than most people realize, I think. Their chances are definitely being overhyped right now, IMO. The horrendous defense the Lakers have played for the last couple weeks alone should have people thinking this isn't their year. Maybe Bynum and/or Ariza returning will help fix the defense, but boy does the Laker D look plain awful right now.

What I'm saying is that if Kwame Brown was registering those DNP-CDs for the Lakers instead of Memphis, then I'd think they were the team to beat, but alas I think that'll have to wait till next year.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@wild yams: so much about stat cursing the celtics, thanks.

And, I think the Mavs will go out quietly in the 1st round.
(you see what I'm doing, right, reverse stat curse rules, there you go :-) ).


Blogger Aldric said...
I don't know if I'd say the Jazz are an awful road team overall. If we're playing against a sub.500 team we are probably one of the worst teams in the league but I believe we have the best road record against playoff teams. Recent examples are the Hornets game and the Spurs game, before that we beat Boston at their place. We play up or down to the team we're playing on the road it's bad practice but overall we aren't an awful road team we're just a bad road team.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
the jazz are the only western team to win in boston and detroit. that's GOT to count for something.

although that still doesn't excuse losing to knicks, bobcats, heat, etc...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
goddamn i hate the blazer announcers, i thought stu lantz was biased toward the lakers, who do these guys think they are? "omg give him a flagrant 4!" that was just a hard foul, he went up with him and brandon roy's frail body couldn't handle it. it was body to body, odom's hands were up the entire time. nba kids need to hit the weight room before going into the lane. god i hate biased announcers

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Anon: yeah, I guess I may need to retract my statement about the Celtics rolling into the playoffs. They're still my pick to win it all though.

James, I completely agree on that Odom foul. I see it being talked a lot about around the web and I just don't get it. Roy fell awkwardly but it wasn't because Odom fouled him in some extra hard manner. He jumped into him with his hands up to make the block. He definitely fouled him, but there was nothing flagrant about it. Some people just love nothing more than to trash the Lakers I guess.