Loose ball

Manu Ginobili: In today's NBA Closer column, I called Manu "Shoeless Joe Ginobili" because it sure seemed like he was trying to throw the game: 10 points, 3-for-13 shooting and 4 turnovers. And at least three of those turnovers came during critical stages of the fourth quarter. Manu kept running into traps or jumping into the air with nowhere to go and then just throwing the ball up for grabs. During the postgame press conference, Ginobili said: "There's no excuse for how I played today." He's not wrong.

Tim Duncan: If you checked Timmy's line in the box score -- 30 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocked shots -- and/or stopped watching the game with four or five minutes to go, you'd think he had a spectacular game. But Duncan was just as guilty of choking down the stretch as Manu was. Maybe it was fatigue, but the Lord of the Rings sure looked scared in those final, fateful minutes: Scared to attack Pau Gasol's defense, scared to take open jumpers, scared his team was going to give up their lead and lose the game.

Seriously, at one point Timmy passed up an open 15-footer to force the ball into Tony Parker underneath the hoop, only the Lakers came away with it and, naturally, scored off of it. This is the same guy who broke the Suns' will with a game-tying three-pointer in the first round? Really?

The San Antonio bench: Thanks for next-to-nothing, guys. Ime Udoka was the "best" Spur reserve, and he finished with 7 points (3-for-7), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 4 fouls in 25 minutes. Michael Finley played 21 minutes and had zero points (0-for-5), 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Brent Barry (2 points, 1-for-3), Robert Horry (zero points, 1 block, 1 foul), Kurt Thomas (2 points and nothing else) were next to useless. And Jacque Vaughn -- who notched a five trillion -- was completely useless. But I guess that's what happens when most of the guys on your bench qualify for the senior citizen discount at McDonald's. (Thanks to Charles and Paul from France for alerting me to Jacque's five trillion.)

Update! The Spurs and Basketbawful: Did I mention San Antonio's ginormous collapse? I didn't?! Gak. Well, good thing Silly Bitch was around to do it. "I would hate for someone to come across this site not having watched the game and assume that this was just an average loss by the Spurs. You completely forgot to mention how they blew the 20 point lead they had halfway through the 3rd quarter. I know the Lakers are good but 20 points?? That's like letting a fat kid steal your cake when all you had to do was run!"

Derek Fisher: He shot 1-for-9 and finished with more fouls (5) than points (4). At times, he made even the Spurs look young and healthy. Which I guess is a pretty big accomplishment, but still.


Lamar Odom: Did he leave one of his bags behind in Utah? Because if so, his shot must be in it: 8 points on 3-for-12 shooting for Lamar.

Fun fact: Lamar was named after the gay nerd from Revenge of the Nerds. (Okay, I can't back that up. But he totally was.)

Pau Gasol: His transformation into one of the Geico cavemen is almost complete.

Luke Walton: Everybody who's suddenly all up in Mitch Kupchak's jock should remember two things: First, David Stern made the Grizzlies give up Pau Gasol so there would be a Lakers-Celtics Finals. I will always believe that. And second, he signed The Son of Walton to a six-year, $30 million contract extension last summer. I'm just sayin'. (Luke played 10 minutes last night, missing both of his shots and scoring zero points. He did have three rebounds, but man...those are expensive rebounds.)

Update! Kobe Bryant, quote machine: Basketbawful reader Jimmy shared a nice out of context quote from the Mamba. "I can get off at any time. In the second half, I did that." That's...quite the handy ability there, Mr. Bean. I don't suppose you could, you know, teach me that?

Charles Barkley: On Inside the NBA, Charles said that Reggie Miller was the best shooter he ever played with (the two played together on the 1996 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team). Mind you, Barkley also played with Larry Bird and Chris Mullin on the original Dream Team. So, you know, I guess this is just Chuck's week for vast and drastic overstatements.

Reggie Miller: So much for humility. Rather than correcting Chuck's outrageous ignorance, he responded with: "I always said that only Drazen Petrovic had a better shot than me." Wow.

Look, I'm as big a Reggie Miller fan as anybody, but, yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree all the way around. But, you know, Reggie has been going a little crazy these days.

Update! Reggie Miller, Part II: An anonymous commenter left the following golden nugget of awesome. "How about the latest Reggie-ism? Last night he said something like 'It's amazing how well the Spurs played in lieu of their flight delay...' That's twice I've heard that -- someone needs to tip him off."

Update! Yahoo: Rob from Upside And Motor noticed something amusing from our good buddies at the Y. "The Yahoo! Sports basketball NBA front page has the following headline: 'Bulls likely to draft Rose or Beasley." Groundbreaking stuff coming from the newsrooms of AP and Yahoo these days." I know what you mean. I was pretty shocked to read that the Bull were likely to use the number one pick on one of the two guys who are considered to be the consensus first and second picks in the draft. My world is freaking rocked. If they want to report some real news, they should mention how John Paxson is likely to screw this one up by once again passing up on a scoring big man for a speedy, shoot-happy guard. Because I personally would love to see a starting lineup of Kirk Hincrich, Chris Duhon, Ben Gordan, Larry Hughes and Derrick Rose.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
too bad you couldn't find a picture of Bowen complaining about a non-call WHILE jumping backwards 10 feet after a Kobe Drive and shoot in the fourth I believe.

(I don't have Tivo or anything so I couldn't get a picture)

Blogger Silly Bitch said...
I would hate for someone to come across this site not having watched the game and assume that this was just an average loss by the Spurs. You completely forgot to mention how they blew the 20 point lead they had halfway through the 3rd quarter.

I know the Lakers are good but 20 points?? That's like letting a fat kid steal your cake when all you had to do was run!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe ginobili played bad because he drove the wrong ball...

another of those crotch grabs that nba players seem happy to do haha

Anonymous Anonymous said...
How about the latest Reggie-ism? Last night he said something like "It's amazing how well the Spurs played in lieu of their flight delay..." That's twice I've heard that- someone needs to tip him off.

Also, was Reggie taken off the play-by-play with Marv for being such a doofus? Was there even any face-saving reason offered?

Blogger Nathan said...
In lieu of Reggie's comments, someone should enroll him in the Tim Legler Memorial School for Remedial English. (and I do mean in lieu of- I'd rather he be somewhere else so I don't have to listen)

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful, I gotta take umbrage with something you said in your Deadspin piece (thanks for linking to it, btw, you need to do that more often so we know where else to go to read your stuff): you're comparing the Lakers to the big, rolling boulder? Come on, clearly they're Belloq (or as they call him in Cairo, "Belloosh"). The Spurs go through all that nonsense with their plane and with the quick turnaround after Game 7, they seemingly have the idol well in hand and then who swoops in and takes it? Not the damn boulder, that's for sure. Reportedly after the last buzzer sounded Kobe was overheard telling Bruce Bowen that he could guard him if only he spoke Hovitos.

OK, serious question here: what did you think of the officiating last night? Relatively even, or did you think it was lopsided in one team or the other's favor. I don't have an ax to grind, I'm just genuinely curious to hear what you think; cause honestly I didn't give it too much thought last night while watching it and I don't know if that means I'm biased and overlooked all the bad pro-Laker calls or if it was just fairly called all around.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
A few uick observations:

Jeff Van Gundy, Hubbie Brown, and Doug Collins are the 3 best play by play guys on tv, and in that order.

Kobe Bryant is so good it has become silly. Seriously, dude is able to score at will against the defening champs and not even really break a sweat? Are you kidding? This post season has put Bryants name up there with the all time greats. If he wins a title this year he is right there with Bird, Magic, and Jordan.

The Spurs have no chance of winning this series.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
In all fairness to Luke Walton, he played great and was a huge contributor to the team's success down the stretch. Come playoffs he has turned into a foul to give off the bench, kind of like a homeless man's Rick Fox. What happened?

Some fun nicknames for Laker players:
Lamar Odom: Lamar Latrell (good call there)
Sasha Vujacic: The Sewer Rat (just look at the way he runs. With the hair and playing style it all fits)

Blogger The Third Heat said...
"Jeff Van Gundy, Hubbie Brown, and Doug Collins are the 3 best play by play guys on tv, and in that order."

Except none of those guys do play-by-play commentary. I get what you're trying to say though. However, Hubie isn't quite good enough to make up for the insufferable Mike Tirico (god, he better not be calling the Finals).

Blogger Wild Yams said...
OK, if we're gonna talk about the commenters, we've got to mention Marv Albert's toupee-helmet and $5 hooker makeup job. He's almost as scary in high def as Hubie Brown (who looks a lot like Jeff Goldblum in the last third of The Fly). I can't look at Marv anymore without wondering how long he spent in the makeup chair before the game and how many people he had working on him. At least Hubie seems to accept that he looks like a burn victim and doesn't try to dress it up at all. Let it go, "Marvelous".

Does anyone else in the league have self-given nicknames or are Kobe ("Black Mamba") Bryant and Sasha ("The Machine") Vujacic the only two? I think my all time favorite nickname was Anthony "Pig" Miller simply because he really did look like a pig and he insisted on people calling him that. One would generally think that if you looked like a pig you'd try to downplay that, so kudos to Mr. Miller for taking it and running with it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
you forgot rasheed wallace: the quote machine. last night during 'inside the nba' on TNT, they were previewing the celtics/pistons game. They interviewed rasheed and 'sheed said something like "including myself, we took some poo-poo shots." it wasn't exactly an 'awful' quote but it was an entertaining sheed-ism nonetheless.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I always thought one of Indiana Jones' more endearing traits was being useless in a fistfight, but even he could've beaten up the Spurs in the fourth quarter.

Sigh, at least I have that dashing archeaologist to help distract me from that debacle last night.

Blogger Doug H. said...
I don't know, its not as if Beasley wouldn't fit right in the line-up of underachieving forwards alongside Deng, Nocioni, Gooden, and Thomas.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Charles Barkley said last night:

"The Spurs are like cockroaches- they don't die, you got to KILL 'em"

It sure looked like they laid down and died last night. Very un-Spurslike. Manu and Timmy looked scared in the last 4 minutes and nobody stepped up when they had the lead and/or the ball.

And I agree with anonymous above: IF the Lake show wins it all this year, you HAVE to mention Kobe in the same breath as Michael or Larry... I know that really scares a lot of people (*cough cough Basketbawful*), but I can't argue against it and I'm no Kobe fan myself.

HUGE game for L.A.- but this series isn't over.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great first picture! I was hoping somebody would have a picture of this. It appeared to me in the closing seconds of last night's game as Ginobli dove for the ball, that Robert Horry was up to his old antics, tackling Lamar Odom. This shot proves what my eyes saw. It is more than coincidence that this guy is always involved in these sort of "coincidences".

Blogger geremy said...
great first game. over time though i've learned never to count the spurs out, no matter how badly they play at first.

just ask the hornets.

also, basketbawful, i'm aware this is off topic, but did you ever get any responses to your "find other teams flopping" challenge you issued after being labeled biased? just curious.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- A few quick thoughts about the officiating. I thought it was pretty even throughout most of the game, with a little extra benefit of the doubt to the Lakers in the final half of the fourth.

For instance, there was a critical play in which Tim had his hand on Pau's back while the rebound was coming but clearly didn't push. However, Pau flopped forward and yelped and, naturally, got the call (and a couple FTAs). I guess the Spurs sometimes live by the flop and die by the flop...

Then there was a silly makeup call, where Pau whacked Tim across the arm, causing the ball to go out of bounds, and the refs gave the ball to the Lakers. Then, in the next sequence, Manu got shoved by Pau and then knocked the ball out of bounds. The ref gave it to the Spurs when, in reality, it either should have been a foul on Pau or out of bounds to the Lakers. But whatever.

Then Kobe got a little ticky-tac foul while driving baseline. Which wouldn't have been that big of a deal -- there was, after all, contact -- but Tony and Manu weren't getting the same treatment when they drove. I mean, Fish was bumping the hell out of Tony, and Sasha was slapping Manu around like a cheap whore.

Look, all I ever want out of the refs is consistency. If Kobe can't be touched on his drive, fine. Then Fish and Sasha shouldn't get to be so hands-on on the other end, you know?

Hey, it was only four or five minutes. But it was a critical four or five minutes.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
geremy -- No, none. Which is what I expected. I mean, the whole point of the challenge is that I was criticizing a very specific case of egregious flopping, not just singling out the Spurs. To my knowledge, I've never seen a cluster of five offensive "flop" fouls in a couple of minutes that got the opposing team's two best players in foul trouble on the road in the midst of a competitive (at that time) playoff game.

Blogger geremy said...
thanks. i was really hoping to see something.

i guess you'll just have to live with being right again. must be tough...

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I totally agree with you about just wanting consistency so that neither team has an advantage from the refs. Call it close or let em play, just be sure you call things the same both ways. Like I said, I didn't really notice the officiating at all last night, good or bad, and that's generally a good thing. I just wasn't sure if that was just me or if other impartial fans thought the same thing. I've seen a few Spurs fans upset about a couple things, but you generally can't trust the opinion of anyone who is strongly biased one way or the other.

In any event, when one team gives up a 20 point lead and there aren't a mountain of free throws to point to, I think ultimately you gotta blame one team for just folding. The Lakers stepped up their aggression and the Spurs just wilted. You really don't expect the Spurs to do that. They'll lose games here and there, but not usually like that, by falling apart down the stretch.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
geremy -- It's hard, but if I'm not always right, who will be??

Yams -- Yeah, exactly. And my comments were, really, just small nitpicks. Which is a hell of a lot better than I've seen from most of the playoff games this year.

I was stunned -- stunned I tell you -- at how the Spurs folded. Duncan didn't make a single aggressive offensive move in the fourth quarter. Most of the time he'd catch it, turn to face Gasol, and just stand there while the Lakers set their defense. It was totally anti-clutch, which, yeah, I wouldn't expect from Duncan and the Spurs.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Pau being gifted to the Lakers as proof of a Stern conspiracy to make them a title contender again? You bet. I'm on that conspiracy train all the way.

But of course, I also believe KG was shipped to Boston by the very same reason.

And I also expect "Cigarrette Man" Stern to have LeBron in a Knicks uniform by 2010.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
The first two games of this conference finals round have truly produced some bizarre things. First Detroit plays no defense and then the Spurs choke miserably in the clutch. What's next? Ray Allen sets the playoff record for made 3s in a game?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
4th picture down: is Ginobili actually playing basketball? He looks like he just burst from the stands and snatched the ball, and will now take off down the floor with a maniacal, determined grin and a death grip on his souvenir.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
i dont know if heard it during the lakers spurs game yesterday. the camera focuses on anthony kiedis of red hot chili peppers, then the tv announcer says, steve nash is here in staples center (or something to that effect!) hope somebody finds that video grab!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Indy1024 - You have bumped your head. Indiana Jones can't fistfight? Bullcrap. He won some EPIC fights. The huge kraut (sorry mein freunds) in the desert? Howling hordes of nazis in the castle? Howling hordes of Arabs in the streets?

Look, Jones is different because other people actually punch him once in a while, and he's human. But I'll take Jones in a fight over most characters, including Arnie. Jones knows the dirty tricks, and isn't going to get taken down by some punk with shot glasses to the knees.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Can't believe no one mentioned the double flop near the end of the game when Ginoflop ran into Gasol on a loose ball. They both dove is seperate directions so fast i thought someone on the A team lobbed a granade out on the court.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Can't believe no one mentioned the double flop near the end of the game when Ginoflop ran into Gasol on a loose ball. They both dove is seperate directions so fast i thought someone on the A team lobbed a granade out on the court.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dude, it's 'Ben Gordon'. No 'GorDAN'.