The Toronto Raptors: It wasn't that long ago that the Raptors were one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 6 straight games. Of course it didn't really help that they chose to wait till they were 21 games under .500 before embarking on said hot streak, but apparently they felt they still had a shot at the playoffs. However, like they say: too little too late. In any event, having since been eliminated from the playoffs they've now put together two poor losses: at home to the Knicks, and now at home to the Hawks (who were 14-24 on the road coming into this one). The Craptors actually led for much of this game, but apparently forgot to get a hand in the faces of the Hawks' perimeter shooters, and as a result Atlanta went 11-22 from three. Maybe Toronto can work on their perimeter D in the offseason, which for them starts in about a week.

The Philadelphia 76ers: We've seen this before. After losing the final four games of the regular season last year to limp into the playoffs, the Sixers seem poised to back into the postseason once again, following up their humiliating 29 point loss to the Nets on Sunday by losing last night to the lottery bound Bobcats after falling behind by 20. It doesn't get much easier for Philly as their remaining schedule is @ Chicago, at home against Cleveland, @ Toronto, at home against Boston and @ Cleveland. Maybe they'll get lucky and Boston and Cleveland will be resting some guys for a couple of those games, but it's not likely. Philly did rally from that 20 point deficit last night to actually have a three point lead with less than two minutes to play, but they allowed the Bobcats to end the game on a 6-0 run, and that was that. Philly might have been in better position to win if not for...

The Sixers' frontcourt: With Thaddeus Young out with an ankle injury, Philly needed the rest of their frontcourt to come up big, and that's exactly what they didn't do. Reggie Evans & Samuel Dalembert were the starting PF and C for the Sixers and only added in a total of 4 points in 41 combined minutes; and their replacements off the bench weren't much better, with Theo Ratliff, Maurice Speights and Donyell Marshall combining to chip in only 13 points and 10 rebounds in 56 combined minutes of PT. Young's absence may have mostly been felt on the defensive end, however, as Charlotte's Gerald Wallace was able to go off for 29 points and 11 rebounds.

The Miami Heat: Thanks in part to a Kobe-esque performance on the part of Dwyane Wade (32 points on 27 shots), the rest of the Heat starting five combined for only 15 points in last night's loss at home to New Orleans. Miami killed the Hornets on the glass 48-37, and even had a slight edge at the free throw line going 18-22 compared to New Orleans' 13-16, but it was all for naught as the Heat couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, shooting only 39% for the game (30% from downtown). The Heat also didn't help their cause by only putting up 30 first half points, including only 11 in the second quarter. Miami is lucky they're only battling the Sixers for the 5th playoff spot (see above), otherwise losses like this might actually cause them to slip in the seedings and force them to face Orlando or Boston in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade: In addition to the above mentioned poor shooting selection and/or selfishness, Wade missed one of two free throws at the end of regulation when the Heat were up two. That one miss allowed the Hornets to come down and tie the game on a last second 30-foot three which sent the game into OT. Then in OT with the Heat down two with 8 seconds to go, Wade dribbled the ball off himself and turned it over (his 6th of the game), then was ejected for arguing that the refs didn't bail him out like they did in the 2006 Finals that he was fouled.

The Hornets' bench: Tyson Chandler didn't play in this one, so that moved Hilton Armstrong into the starting lineup, but even if you include his stats along with the 2nd unit, good God were they awful. Officially the bench "contributed" 12 points, 10 rebounds and no assists, and adding Armstrong's paltry 4 points, 1 board and no assists to that total doesn't make the picture any rosier. I'm guessing the Hornets really could use James Posey right now, but he's probably out for a few more games with an elbow injury.

The Oklahoma City Thunder: I guess they don't really have much to play for at this point, having long since been eliminated from the playoffs, but a double digit home loss against a Spurs team they beat in San Antonio exactly a week ago is still not all that great. Nor is the fact that the Thunder have now lost 6 of their last 7. It's interesting to note, as is often pointed out here, how much worse the Thunder seem to play with top scorer Kevin Durant in their lineup. Going back to February 10th, the Thunder embarked on a 7 game losing streak which stopped with a win at Memphis in the first game Durant missed due to injury. Then while Durant was hurt the Thunder went on to win 5 of 7; yet OKC has managed to only go 3-9 since Durant returned from that injury.

Matt Bonner: One has to wonder how much longer the Red Rocket will be starting when he puts up stat lines like the one he had last night: 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists in 18 minutes of PT. His starting slot looks extra shaky when you consider that his sub off the bench, Drew Gooden, had 20 points and 4 boards last night. Maybe with Ginobili done for the season though Popovich will want to make sure there's still some kind of scoring punch coming off the bench for SA.

The Portland Trailblazers: They got the win in Memphis last night, but beating a Grizzlies team which is 22-55 by only 3 points is not so great, especially considering they had to overcome an 18 point deficit to do so. Portland continues to be extremely shaky on the road this year, and barely getting by one of the league's worst teams last night is further proof of that. If the Blazers want any shot of making it out of the first round of the playoffs this year, they're going to have to secure home court advantage. Otherwise I don't give them much chance at all of advancing. Portland might have had an easier time last night if not for...

The Blazer point guards: It's tough to win anywhere when your starting and second string PGs combine for 6 points and 4 assists in 48 minutes of PT. I'm just sayin.

The New York Knicks: The Knicks' slide into oblivion continued last night as they lost their 11th game in their last 13, this time to Chicago in front of a Bulls crowd which featured Mr. Bawful (no word yet on which chants he helped start). New York actually played some defense for a change, holding the Bulls to only 43% shooting for the game, even though they still allowed Chicago to score 110 points. But the Knicks didn't help their cause by turning the ball over 18 times and only shooting 57% from the free throw line. The refs didn't help New York's cause much either, and instead served up a little home cookin' for the Bulls to the tune of 30 free throw attempts as compared to only 14 for the Knicks. The Bulls' faithful also got a look last night at an old friend...

Chris Duhon: 2 points in 28 minutes of PT is not a good way to show your former team what they're missing. Oh well, at least he wasn't the least productive starter for NY. No, that honor goes to...

Jared Jeffries: The line: 0 points in 21 minutes as a starter. You're not going to win many ballgames when two of your starters combine for only two points. Just a tip.

The Orlando Magic: Desperately needing to keep pace with the Boston Celtics so they won't have to play them on the road in the 2nd round, Orlando came up small in losing to Houston last night in Rafer Alston's return after being traded to the Magic back in February. It was also Carl Landry's return to the Rockets' lineup after being shot in the leg three weeks ago, which was bad for the Magic as Landry contributed 8 points and 5 boards in 20 minutes for Houston. The game was an all-defense brickfest, with the Magic only shooting 38% from the field while Houston didn't exactly light it up themselves, shooting 43%. All those misses led to a combined 97 rebounds for the two teams. The bad shooting wasn't confined to the field either, as both teams missed 8 free throws apiece.

Dwight Howard: He didn't have an awful game exactly, but he did get completely outplayed by Yao Ming, who seemed to serve notice that he's the best center in the league still, rather than Howard (I'm guessing Shaq would throw his name into that conversation, but we all know better). Howard had only 13 points on 5-11 shooting along with 10 boards, but allowed Yao to go for 20 & 16. And many thanks to Basketbawful reader nick, who sent in this image of Dwight getting his chicken smothered by Yao.
Super Smother Chicken

Dikembe Mutombo: Fresh off of getting a technical in a game he didn't even play in, the rotting corpse of Mt. Mutombo finally got off the bench to make a contribution, and he certainly made the least of it. Playing in only his 8th game of the year, Mutombo showed why his stat lines nowadays usually read 'DNP-CD' by checking in with no points and two fouls in 7 minutes of PT.

The Sacramento Kings: The last time the Lakers made the trip to Arco Arena the Kings handed them one of their worst losses of the season, winning by 12, and last night started off looking like it might be a repeat of that game as the Kings took a 12 point lead early en route to 37 first quarter points. But then the Kings showed why they've got the worst record in the league and the Lakers showed why they've got the 2nd best record in the league, as the Lakers went on a 56-26 run after falling behind by those dozen points. Sacramento fell behind at home by as many as 24 before eventually losing by 18, and were so bad they seemed to breathe life into a Lakers bench which has been downright miserable lately. The Lakers got 42 points off the bench to go with 15 assists, 17 rebounds and 6 steals. How bad did the Kings look last night? They got posterized by Sasha Vujacic. Seriously:

The Los Angeles Clippers: They only scored 77 points against the Al Jefferson-less Timberwolves and ended up losing by 10 points. At home. Let me just say this: they are who we thought they were. Already missing Marcus Camby (ankle), Ricky Davis (knee), Al Thorton (shoulder), Mardy Collins (right foot) and Chris Kaman (flu-like symptoms!), the Clips were forced to go into battle without their leading scorer and pre-eminent NBA SWAC, Zach Randolph, after Z-Bo was suspended for two games for being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving on Sunday. With all those players out, Mike Dunleavy, Sr. was forced to roll the dice by starting the questionable pair of DeAndre Jordan and Steve Novak. Unfortunately for the Clips the gamble did not pay off as the pair went 0-12 for zero points for the game. The Clippers predictably got creamed on the boards in this one, by the outrageous margin of 62-34. I say "predictably" since virtually every Clipper player with any size at all wasn't playing in this one. Of note in this game: Minnesota managed to pull off the win despite future ESPN halftime analyst Mark Madsen recording a DNP-CD (Madsen will probably have a blog entry up about it soon).

Baron Davis: With most of the Clippers team sidelined for various reasons, you would think Davis might have taken last night's game as a chance to step up and carry an extra share of the load. However, if you thought that you'd be wrong, as Baron continued his season-long quest to mail it in, showing up with only 12 points on 16 shots to go with 4 assists and 4 boards. Reportedly his production company and friendship with Kate Hudson are both going well though, and that's really what's important.

Kobe Bryant
: After the game last night he pulled Sasha Vujacic aside and told him no one was impressed with his dunk because it was only against the Kings.

Lacktion report: Chris says: "Nice to be covering the pros again, the folks who get paid to do nothing while the rest of us are stuck at our Clark Kent jobs!"
Hawks-Raptors: The Air Canada Centre proved a great breeding ground for Atlanta's lacktators to do their thing, anchored by Acie Law willing himself to a 6.2 trillion settlement! A little further down the bench, Thomas Gardner and THE Mario West put on their plumbers' overalls as 18-second Mario Brothers!

Hornets-Heat: Hilton Armstrong had 30:33 to close the minibar in the penthouse, but instead received a bill of a slight 6:5 Voskuhl (five fouls and one giveaway against two field goals and a board).

Sixers-Bobcats: Juwan Howard gave the latest inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame a 3.25 trillion gift. And teammate DeSagana Diop may have had five blocks in 9:45, but he also had three fouls and a turnover for a 4:1 Voskuhl (against a board and brick).

Spurs-Thunder: George Hill's stint on the floor was reminiscent of Konami's Double Dribble, as he only spent 57 seconds of his life on court for a Mario!

Knicks-Bulls: In 21:20, Jared Jeffries provided Mike 'antoni a Voskuhl of 6:4 despite three assists, racking four fouls and two giveaways against four boards and five bricks (one from the charity stripe).

Lakers-Kings: The Lakers' Adam Morrison impressed the Maloofs in their home building by earning a 3 trillion!
About the author: Wild Yams is a frequent reader of Basketbawful and many other basketball blogs, and is just as much a pain in the ass here as he is on those other sites. Like LeBron James, he likes to refer to himself in the third person, but unlike LeBron James, he has not mastered the crab dribble.

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Anonymous Shrugz said...
Dwight Howard also says he didn't get any calls.....well shoting 3-9 from the foul line I don't think that'd help his team that much anyways

Anonymous Grandma said...
word verification: betfixed

i think it speaks for itself: Colangelo got an insane amount of money on the Raps not making the PO, and are turning them into a capital injection for a spending spree on the marvelous FA-market!

Anonymous hellshocked said...
Yao usually outplays Howard. Dwight is a poor 1-on-1 defender so Yao has his way with him on offense and on the other end of the court Superman has no post moves so Yao's length gives him fits.

No mention of Ginobili being out for the season? This is the way the Spurs' title window closes shut. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Blogger chris said...
hellshocked: Don't forget Bruce Bowen's return to lacktion, which signifies just how different the Spurs are now that their roster is starting to get the same AARP newsletters as Portland's most fragile center.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
hellshocked - Read it again, I put a link to the news of Ginobili's season ending injury in the comment about Matt Bonner's poor performance last night.

In any event, I don't think the Spurs' title window has closed. Sure, they're not gonna win it this year (though I didn't think they would even if Ginobili was 100% healthy), but who's to say what tweaks they could make in the offseason? There's gonna be a ton of quality players out there on the FA market this summer and there will be few teams if any who will be willing to offer big contracts, so you never know where some players might go, and how well they might mesh with certain teams. It's entirely possible that someone like Rasheed Wallace or Shawn Marion could sign with the Spurs this summer for the MLE, and that combined with a rehabbed Manu & Duncan would probably have the Spurs right back in the thick of things.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Love the pic. I believe Noah is screaming "Squeal like a pig!"

[cue banjo music...and fade]

Blogger Wild Yams said...
BadDave - Actually, the AP caption for that photo was equally funny: "Chicago Bulls Aaron Gray, Joakim Noah, and Brad Miller, pat the New York Knicks Al Harrington on the back after losing the ball out of bounds during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 7, 2009, in Chicago."

Blogger chris said...
OT: Bawful's Voskuhl article once again gets some props!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Sash with the vicious slam. I'm dying of later right now.

Blogger JR said...
This was my favorite miscellaneous Kobe bawfulness yet.

Anonymous hellshocked said...
Wild Yams: Sorry. Read Matt Bonner and zoned out.

The Spurs as currently constructed aren't going to win a title. Ginobili's best years are behind him. Finley, Bowen and Thomas are less than shadows of their former selves and the only quality young player they have is Mason. Duncan is also playing his age so the team can no longer rely on a consistent inside-outside "surround Duncan with shooters" halfcourt scheme and they don't have the horses to continually run with TP either. I'm pretty sure this season was the big three's last hurrah together.

Given that Duncan is still the team's anchor and Parker is in the early portion of his prime I think it would be wise for the team to trade Manu. It pains me to say it as a Spurs fan, particularly since Ginobili is one of my favorite players, but he can probably still fetch some quality offers next year. They need more young perimeter players capable of creating their own shot and a burly rebounding/shotblocking type. Then again, what team doesn't? And yes, Rasheed Wallace would also be a perfect fit. Not sure about Marion.

On a completely unrelated note, I'd love to see Ginobili in Utah. There are no odds of that happening, but it is a fanboy's right to dream.

Blogger lordhenry said...
Nice job, Yams, as usual. I was halfway down the page before I even realized the bawful one wasn't behind this! I think you have almost mastered his sarcastic style of prose! And by the way, I saw the argument about Scott Pollard yesterday and I agree with you. Even with cheryl's ebonics-laden retorts, I thought Pollard came off like a douche, since he is PAID to show up for the broadcast, and he made light of not showing up and acted like he simply didn't care.

Blogger Cortez said...
"I saw the argument about Scott Pollard..."

The "argument" wasn't about Scot Pollard in any significant way so which part do you agree with?

(a) The racial conspiracy or (b) the need for a regular rotation guy (sans Jamal Mashburn, Kenny Smith, Jalen Rose, Greg Anthony etc...) to give analysis?

"...since he is PAID to show up for the broadcast, and he made light of not showing up and acted like he simply didn't care."

You must have missed the part when he said the NETWORK told him to fly in the day of the broadcast and that the plane had mechanical issues.

As for not caring...well, I assume he didn't. As if I was a multi millionaire I wouldn't give too much of a shit either about a mishap I had zero control over.

Miller's issue seemed to be centered around the fact that the NETWORK made her fly in two days prior.

Tough shit.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
hellshocked - I definitely disagree with you regarding the Spurs, specifically that Ginobili and Duncan are somewhat washed up. Both guys were hurt this year, and so they've been somewhat limited, but neither one is ancient or anything so I would assume some rest and rehab this summer could have them both back playing some top quality ball next season. Then if the Spurs could add someone like Sheed or Marion to the team along with maybe some other decent pickups (RC Buford & Pop tend to have a nose for such players), I don't see why the Spurs couldn't be a top contender again next year. Also, you don't think Shawn Marion would be a great fit in San Antonio? I think he'd be a perfect complementary player there, and he could take over that Bowen-esque role of being a defensive stopper who mainly spots up in the corner, but with the added dimensions of being someone who could get rebounds and who could run the break with Parker and Manu. Anyway, that's my take on all that, but it'll be interesting to see how the offseason plays out and what direction the Spurs decide to go in.

lordhenry - Thanks for the compliment. I do try to mimic Bawful's style, mainly so that when he takes a day off from doing those there isn't much of a hiccup and so it hopefully helps provide some semblance of the entertainment he provides when he does them himself. I don't think I'm anywhere near as informative or funny as he is, but I am pretty long winded, so at the very least hopefully it takes a couple minutes to read it all :)

As for my racial tirade the other day, that was mainly just to have something controversial to discuss on a day after which there had been no games played (I need something to get me through the day!). I don't really care who does analysis, it was just an observation I had. I do fully expect that Mark Madsen has a job at ESPN or ABC waiting for him though :)