Yao foul
I'm not sure, but I think Yao is trying
to indicate that he was fouled.

Tracy McGrady: You'd better sit down for this, because it's going to be quite the shocker: T-Mac left last night's game against the Thunder in the opening minute of the second half after hurting his left knee, which was sliced open during the summer to have "loose bodies" removed. And, even more shockingly, he didn't return.

Said McGimpy: "Tonight I went back to square one, even before surgery, is how my knee is feeling right now. I want to play, man. I want to play. Just to get off to this start, for me personally this is a bad start. To have to play your way through an injury that I've never had before and a surgery that was my first surgery is very frustrating. My game is really based on athleticism, and that's something that I don't have right now. I've never had any relief because I've just been trying to work my way into playing shape and strengthen my leg. I've never been 100 percent. I've just been trying to play, hoping that playing on it will take me over the edge and I don't have any more pain. It hasn't worked in my favor. It's sharp pain. It almost just seems like I never had surgery. I'm feeling the same pain."

Let me say up front that I know exactly nothing about Tracy's surgery or any rehab he's been doing since then, so I fully admit I'm talking out of my you-know-what here. But when I think about T-Mac, I can't help but compare him to Kobe. They're similar players with similar physical abilities and basketball skills. The big difference is that Kobe absolutely kills himself training to become the best player alive. This has been well-publicized. I've never read or heard anything about McGrady pushing limits or breaking personal barriers during the offseason. And, frankly, he doesn't strike me as that type of guy. If Kobe'd had loose bodies removed from his knee, I would imagine he'd bust his butt rehabbing and working out to make that joint stronger than ever. McGrady? I don't think he did that...which is why he's struggling now. I know I might be way off on this. But it's just a gut feeling.

Anyway, like I said last week...you can probably hold off on ordering those 2009 NBA Champion Houston Rockets t-shirts...

The Yao Watch: Egads. A second straight game without having one of his shots blocked. This is almost certainly the result of a reverse stat curse. However, Yao did suffer a left foot injury last night. And yes, that's the same foot he broke last season. It doesn't sound like it's serious...yet. But it sure makes me nervous.

The Oklahoma City Thunder: That's 1-10 now. In case you're keeping track at home.

The Phoenix Suns defense: They gave up 109 points to a Jazz team that was still missing two starters (Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur) and started Jarron Collins at center. So much for Terry Porter's "defense first" philosophy. Uh, Terry. If they're not defending or running, you might as well be coaching a lottery team. And there's a lot of season left, so that's not outside the realm of possibilities.

Shaq: The Big Cactus battled foul trouble all night and finished with 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting and one lonely rebound. Yes, you read that correctly. Shaq had just one board in almost 32 minutes of PT. (The only other time that happened was March 29, 1999, against the Vancouver Grizzlies. However, that was during Dennis Rodman's short stint with the Lakers...and Rodman grabbed 17 rebounds.) Said the Diesel: "I had two quick fouls, so I had to go to my finesse game." Here's the problem with that: Shaq never had a finesse game. And it showed. Even worse, Shaq had three shots blocked, including back-to-back swats by Andrei Kirilenko in the fourth quarter. You can watch all three blocks here.

Another quick note on Shaq. He was fined $25,000 for verbally abusing officials and not leaving the court in a timely manner when he was ejected Sunday for almost killing Rodney Stuckey. And as an anonymous commenter noted, this wasn't a first for the Big Flagrant. The last time the Suns faced the Pistons, last February, Shaq put Amir Johnson on the floor.

And let's not forget how, back in the 2006 NBA Finals, Shaq almost broke Jerry Stackhouse's nose (for which Jerry went after a little payback a game later). I guess Shaq really likes picking on guards. And Greg Ostertag.

Internal dissent: After last night's loss to the Jazz, Steve Nash said: "We don't really run that well. They're a good running team at home and we're not really a running team at the moment." This comment came just a week after Raja Bell complained about the team not running enough. And it wasn't the first time Captain Canada has sounded tepid on the Suns' new slow-it-down style. Last week, he noted that: "When Shaq plays (well) it's great. We're much more deliberate. I just hope we find the versatility and balance. When Shaquille isn't on the floor, we're not a team that's built for half-court basketball." Shaq, of course, keeps saying that championships are won "inside-out" (Translation: Get the ball to me). Terry Porter says he's fine with his team running...but that's not how he's calling the shots right now. This might just be transition pains as the Suns learn a new brand of ball. But if the team continues to be so inconsistent, you can probably expect continued grumpiness from the :07 Seconds or Less holdovers.

Louis Amundson: Basketbawful readers Garron and Jason K were quick to notice that the 2006 D-League Rookie of the Year had a 19-second Mario against the Jazz.

Jarron Collins: As noted above, he started at center for the Jazz. His line: 12 minutes, 0-for-2, 2 fouls, for a glorious suck differential of +4 (as noted by Basketbawful reader Filip).

The Los Angeles Clippers: They are now 1-9. And eight of those games have been at home. The Clippers have gone straight to suck. They did not pass GO. They will not collect $200. (But Baron Davis will get $65 million over five years.)

Speaking of B-Diddy, he could have tied it at the buzzer, but his turrible three-point attempt had as good a chance of reaching the moon as the basket. Said Davis: "Basically, we were trying to get like a misdirection and get me coming off the wing for a 3. But they read it right. And when I caught the ball, I had two guys on me and almost a second and a half to get a shot up with Tim Duncan -- one of the best defensive players -- standing in my face."

It was just another bad shot in a night full of 'em for the Clips. And coach Mike Dunleavy wants everybody to know that his players are chucking up some ugly ones. "We had some situations on turnovers that were careless turnovers, but the biggest factor to me was shot selection. We probably had 10 bad shots in this game. You can't give that many possessions away and expect to win. Until we get the discipline we need, as far as taking good shots and not making careless turnovers, we're going to struggle." Man...if only the Clippers had somebody to teach and instill discipline in the players. Who's supposed to do that again? Oh. Yeah. The coach.

The Fabulous Oberto: Caleb "the nailbiting Spurs fan of Brisbane" was not pleased by what he saw out of the Fabulous One last night: 14 minutes, 0-for-1 shooting, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 foul. Usually, it's a bad sign when your starting center doesn't grab a single rebound and is thoroughly outperformed by backup Matt Bonner (7 points, 4 rebounds and 1 blocked shot).

Steve Novak: He surpassed last Saturday's Mario with an 8-second Super Mario against the Spurs. You keep reaching for the stars, Steve!

George Karl: Yesterday, Denver Stiffs ran a post about how Karl -- surprise, surprise! -- had some rather unflattering thing to say about the recently-departed Allen Iverson: "There are less bad plays, more solid plays. I think the wasteful, cheap possessions that we used to have 10 to 15 a game, they don't exist very much anymore. We have contested-shot charts, bad-shot charts and cheap defensive possessions. I would say that when A.I. was here, we had most games in the teens of contested, tough shots, sometimes in the 20s. And I don't think we've had a double-digit one since (Billups has) been here." And more: "I don't think there's any question coaching a team for many minutes, without a passing and point guard mentality, is frustrating for a coach. Sometimes I saw something, but I couldn't get it done on the court because I didn't have a playmaker out there."

Reading between the lines isn't too had on this one: The team's failure wasnt MY fault, it was ALLEN IVERSON'S fault. So add A.I. to the list of players who have failed Karl, which includes Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Glenn Robinson. (Note that three of those players won championships without Karl.) I'm sure Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups will be added to this list some day.

The American legal system: From Yahoo! news: "A homeless man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison and ordered to pay more than $101 million for starting two fires, including one that burned more than 163,000 acres in California two years ago." I get the jail time and, in fact, think the duration is a little short. But, seriously, what's the point in sentencing a homeless man to a $100+ million settlement? What does it accomplish? You might as well force him to remunerate in Wonderflonium or Space Gold. Here's a little reality check, Judge Whoever. If that man could pay back even $100 -- let alone $100 million -- he wouldn't be living in a cardboard box and eating out of dumpsters. But I'm sure this steep sentencing will scare other transients from starting fires in the future. Anyway, on the subject of the American legal system...

Mark Cuban: The latest scandal -- accusations of insider trading -- probably has him yearning for those halcyon days when all he had to worry about was keeping bloggers out of his locker room. Of course, Cuban, as always, remains defiant.

Kobe Bryant: He drank the last cup of coffee without making a new pot. AK Dave: "IF YOU KILL THE JOE, YOU MAKE SOME MO!! YOU KNOW THAT, BABY!!!!"

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Blogger Cortez said...
Tracy McGrady = Mr. Glass.

Sam Rami should sue for copyright infringment.

Blogger Big Man said...
Thank for you that note about George Karl.
Didn't George Karl have Steve Blake and Andre Miller, two prototypical point guards in the past?
And didn't his team lose in the first round?

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Here's the official SEC report on Cuban, with further links. He was playing Big Papi for Mamma.com

And quite frankly, Marion Jones has ruined all public apologies. No amount of sincerety and denial from a professional athlete will ever clear doubts in my mind after her. Cuban's post sounds more like "everyone does it but they're just after me" type whining.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Also, if there's something 4chan's useful for, we need Anonymous to spam his blog with "Call me pls ASAP" messages.

Blogger Cortez said...
Shouldn't Billups technically be on the "won without Karl" list already?

Anyway, from a basketball perspective Karl is right. I wouldn't put too much stock in the fact that those guys won championships without him.

Doesn't say much about his leadership/motivational abilities though.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Question: What does Sam Raimi have to do with Mr. Glass?

I think the contrast between Kobe and McGrady in terms of their health is an interesting one. Kobe has had off season knee surgery before (Eagle Colorado, anyone?) but it has never affected his play and no one even really even questions his durability. I think that having the proper work ethic and devotion to the sport helps not just in developing your game, but also in making sure to do the proper rehab and treatment for the injuries and ailments that pile up over the years. People talk a lot about how Kobe is an "old" 30 because of all the games he's played, but considering the dedication he has to staying prepared it will be interesting to see how long he can stay at the top of his game.

The Suns this year really do seem to be built around Shaq, for better or for worse. That's kind of the problem with Shaq, in that he's not really the kind of player that can just be a complimentary player and does need to be the focus of the offense if you're going to have them in there. The reason is because he doesn't have a finesse game and he isn't willing to do the blue collar "dirty work" unless he's also getting rewarded on offense. As such, as goes Shaq, so go the Suns. He's had a couple really surprisingly good games this year, but he's just woefully inconsistent at his age. When he's on the Suns are gonna be one of the tougher teams in the league, but when he's off they're horribly flawed.

I have to be honest, I knew the Clippers weren't gonna be a playoff team this year (I even bet a co-worker they'd miss the playoffs, despite feeling like I was almost robbing him by doing so); but I didn't think the Clippers were gonna be 1-9 bad. I think this bad start bodes extremely poorly for the Clippers, since it makes it more likely that Baron Davis misses time with an "injury", and it also means that the shaky chemistry they've assembled with guys like Ricky Davis and Tim Thomas will lead to a very sour locker room atmosphere. I also can't help but wonder how long Donald Sterling will put up with a third straight horrible year from his team before looking to make Mike Dunleavy the fall guy.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
That's Dr Yao to you, Bawful.


Blogger XForce23 said...
I would also like to add that Deron Williams is also single-handedly ruining my fantasy ball team too (along with Caron Butler). I feel your pain, Bawful.

Blogger Ben said...
Hey Hey,

Love the work, just thought I'd be an ass for the sake of it.

"which includes Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Glenn Robinson. (Note that three of those players won championships without Karl.)"

It should actually be 4 players that won championships. I know that no one remembers Glenn Robinson on the spurs team of 2005. But nope, he does have a ring to prove it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...



Blogger Cortez said...
"Question: What does Sam Raimi have to do with Mr. Glass?"

Nothing. I made a mistake.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
cortez -- At least some glass is shatterproof. T-Mac's like Mr. Paper Mache.

big man -- True. But the only thing I'll give Karl is that when the Nuggets traded for A.I., he bemoaned having to give up Miller and said the team still needed a point guard. So at least he's consistent.

anacondahl -- Sadly, I have to agree with you on the Marion Jones thing. That made me sad.

cortez -- Did the Nuggets need a true PG? Yes. Does Karl need to throw his former players under the bus? No.

wild yams -- Yeah. I think Kobe will have the same kind of longevity Karl Malone enjoyed because he, like Karl, keeps his body as fit as humanly possible. And that's just desire. I don't think Tracy has that kind of desire. Which is a big part of why he's never been out of the first round.

You're dead on about Shaq. But he has a good game about once out of every five (or so) contests at this point...and "good" doesn't mean "the dominant Shaq of old." But Kerr and Porter want to remake the Spurs, so you know they're going to force a Shaq-centric offense on the Suns.

I would say Dunleavy won't last the season, but look at how long Sterling kept Baylor around. So who knows?

czernobog -- Yes, yes you are right, sir.

kevin -- That makes us Pain Brothers, then. Yeah, I figure I'm basically conceding the first couple weeks. Hopefully I can come back strong when Deron returns. (*sob*)

ben -- Basketbawful has yet to offcially recognize Glenn Robinson's 2005 championship piggyback performance.

ak dave -- Exactly what I was thinking about.

Blogger Unknown said...
Deron Williams is also killing my fantasy basketball team as well along with Tony Parker, Greg Oden, Mehmet Okur. I love this game!

When's George Karl gonna man up and sign Coby Karl to start at the 2 for the Nuggets, we are all waiting for it.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Sorry, I just had to mention that, even before the google video link, that Terry Tate was EXACTLY what I was thinking too when I read today's Kobe line.

In fact, if this entire week you could just use Kobe lines that would make Terry Tate angry (Kobe made a long distance phone call from an office line), that would really brighten up my busy week at my Clark Kent job.

Blogger Barry said...
Clips are still throwing those balls into the opposition's hands; it's like they don't even want it.

Either they are still trying to get accustomed to each other or they are just....the Clippers and they really suck.

Blogger XKrNxBallarX said...
I've never been one to bash on Tracy McGrady, because he's still a great to me. After coming to the realization that Tracy McGrady is Paper Mache.. I'll say... hes quite the pansy.. no one should bash on his talent though.. He needs harder work ethic... like ive been saying the past 3 season.. DAMNIT TMAC.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
TTT- pure genius.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
So Kobe spends four hours a day working out, everyday, DURING the season? I'm normally a Kobe hater but damn, that is seriously intense. Mucho respect to the Kobster.

Blogger Austen said...
You know, I'm all for dumping on Collins for being the crap-tastic player he is (I could actually hear the audience groan when he went up to take those couple shots he missed), but he actually played good defense on Shaq in the time he played. Hell, first possession of the game he drew a charge on Shaq and bothered his shots all night. It doesn't show in the stats, but Sloan made a good move putting Collins in to start against Shaq. Apparently, squaring off against Shaq is all he's good for.

Definite Worst of the Night honors to Okur for missing the game after re-injuring himself sitting in a chair for 17 hours. Apparently, he aggravated a lower back injury on the flight back from Turkey.

Blogger Unknown said...
My 2 cents about the Clippers.

-Signing Baron Davis is still a good move, you can't turn down a top 5 caliber PG in the league who wants to sign for your laughing stock franchise especially at a relatively decent price of 13M/yr

-Elton Brand leaving was a good thing, Elton Brand and Baron Davis have completely different play styles this would've given them 2 huge long contracts involving players that don't mesh. Not to mention he would've stunted Kaman's growth.

-Chris Kaman is a legit good player, he's got above average post offense and can rebound very well, he gets the job done.

-Missing out on Azubuike really hurts, he would've been a real good starter at the 2 spot cutting back Mobley's minutes to around 20 and eliminating Ricky Davis.

-They should've drafted Jerryd Bayless with their draft pick, not Eric Gordon, if Jerryd Bayless was on the team he would not be riding the pine, he'd be out there 15-20 minutes of game, his slashing penetrating style would be wonderful addition to the Clip's 2nd unit.

I still think there is hope for the Clips in the Baron era but it requires similar personnel and a new coach who isn't as controlling.

Blogger Clifton said...
The Suns' bench played fine in Shaq's absence in the Detroit game, but pulled a vanishing act when The Big Crap-tus was ineffective vs. the Jazz.

However, it's worth noting that Detroit was pretty ragged at the end of a grueling road trip, and then the Suns were playing the back end of a back-to-back at altitude in SLC. Perhaps why they looked great in the 1st quarter and went steadily downhill thereafter?

I don't know. There's obviously two different fces of the offense; the with-Shaq look and the without-Shaq look. When Shaq's on (two 29-point performances recently), they look great. When he's resting or not firing (see Bulls game, Jazz game)... ehhh.

Btw, I hear Kobe puts Chuck E. Cheese tokens in the Salvation Army donation kettles at Christmastime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
I liked what you said both about t-mac and what wild yams said about shaq. I cant see it any other way. When I saw shaq had a 29 13 and 6 game I was like WOW! Soon after I see a 9 and 3 game...uhhhh

and its sad but nash is officially declining. He's putting up his early dallas numbers now. He can still shoot lights out based on his percentages but this offense just isn't him. his general shot attempts and assists are way down. He's just not a dump it to the shaqtus and wait kind of player. the all star appearances are done for him.

Blogger Lord Kerrance said...
You know when you've done something really stupid after someone told you not to do it, and you realize you have to tell them you did it and ask forgiveness before they find out and either get mad or laugh in your face?

Bawful, I believed in Bargnani. But I now know that's a stupid thing to do. 23 minutes, 5 points on 2-for-9, three defensive rebounds. Not sure who he was guarding (had a pickup game tonight) but since all five of the Magic's starters hit double digits I can assume he did a poor job.

Please forgive me.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anthony -- How funny. I also have Mehmet. And by "funny" I mean GODDAMNIT!

anacondahl -- Hm. I must might have to do that...

barry -- Well, uhm, yeah...they're the Clippers. It's in their NBA DNA.

XKrNxBallarX -- I'm not saying Tracy isn't great, after a fashion. But I have a lot of "What Ifs" about him.

ak dave -- That's one commercial series I wish had never ended. In fact, Evil Ted did a video that mimicked the Tate series for last year's office party. It was a riot.

anonymous #1 -- Yeah. It's pretty hard core. I may not be a Kobe fan, but I'm in awe of his work ethic.

austen -- No, it's true. I should have noted his D on Shaq.

anthony -- Agreed. They have parts and potential. But that's been true of a lot of past Clipper teams...

clifton -- Well, I did mention that Pistons' road weariness. As far as the Suns' team identity, I have no idea what they're going to become. Other than much less fun than they used to be.

kazam92 -- I really think much of Nash's slowdown this season is the offense. I really do. Really.

lord kerrance -- Forgiven. Hey, I'm a Pacers fan from waaaaaay back. I never gave up on Chuck Person, or Greg Dreiling, or, my God, even Ron Artest...until the very end. Fandom is a lot like love. It makes you stoopid.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Suns homer here. Did any of you see that Jazz/Suns game? That was the worst game I've seen in years. I would say that even if the Suns had won by 15. No energy form the Suns, Jazz mucked it up with 22 seconds off the shot clock, way too many fouls... just awful, awful boring basketball.

Blogger Ignarus said...
There were basically two things the Suns did well back in the day - they shot lots of transition threes and played an unstoppable pick and roll with Nash and Stoudamire. Shaq is probably taking up Nash's paint space now, since he used to dribble in down low and kick it out a lot.

Man I still hate that trade. It puzzles me that Steve Kerr didn't see that the Suns needed three point shooters.

Blogger Ignarus said...
I don't know about Karl's previous complaining history, but I genuinely felt bad for him about that move. AI had basically nothing on his CV that team needed to take the next step and they lost their point guard and cap flexibility in making it happen.

I wonder if they ever would have done it if not for the Melo-Backpedal incident...

It also didn't help that they've had awful luck with Nene and K-Mart's health over the last few years.

Blogger Ignarus said...
T-Mac's had some rough injuries recently, but I have to wonder as well how much of that is dumb luck and how much could be prevented by getting in awesome shape.

I mean, Kobe is obsessed with all the little things - he trimmed off 20 pounds of muscle a year ago to get quicker and does stuff like special order his shoes with thinner soles to improve the foot-to-floor touch-off speed.

Out of curiosity, I wonder if there's a drug-testing policy that's in place to cover guys who might take steroids or hGH to speed up injury recovery times. That, much more than bulking up, would be very useful to guys who play 100 games a season + off-season international ball (which is why Yao is playing badly = the dude's never had an offseason!)

Blogger Ignarus said...
Don't lose hope with Bargnani! It took me several seasons of NBA 2K7 to make him awesome, but in the end, you've got a 7 foot tall slasher/three-point threat who can play post defense, rebound, block shots and get at least three steals a game without forcing it!

TOTALLY worth the three seasons of benching him while bringing his awful defensive stats up to speed...

And don't think the Raptors aren't going to take advantage of making his contract super-long and front-loaded so he'll end up costing you about 3 million a year by the end of it!!

(If you want, I can also tell you why Leandro Barbosa is pretty much the perfect starting point guard after a year of working up his defense - I'm assuming that's why Steve Kerr ran out Mike D and brought in Terry Porter)