Haslem, O'Neal, and West watch the ball drop on New Year's

We're just hours away from 2010, and we've already got one NBA game underway, which of course sucks for those of us who are still stuck at work. Not to mention I'm still sick and will be going to bed early tonight because I haven't slept well in a solid week. So, um, what I said last night about the Celtics/Suns game compared to the Holiday Bowl? Forget it. Also, please forget the fact that I stat cursed the hell out of the Nyets and caused them to actually win a game. I feel so bad right now.

Your Quick NBA 2K10 Update
My series with the Lakers is now tied up 2-2. The third game was closely contested most of the way through, but my teammates really let me down in this one. Tim Duncan refused to take shots in the fourth quarter for some reason; he wouldn't post anybody up, and whenever I found him under the basket, he'd immediately kick it back outside no matter what. Virtual Gregg Popovich put me in at shooting guard to cover Kobe, and let Tony Parker run the point. And of course once he did that, we started giving up the rock. I had zero turnovers in the game. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili had three turnovers in the fourth quarter alone. Richard Jefferson also was content with throwing up bad jumpers everywhere, which didn't help any. I rarely got to touch the ball, and when I did, I wasn't getting open shooting looks, so I had to pass to someone for an open jumper, which they invariably bonked, or they just lost the ball and let the Lakers score on the fast break. Sad. At least my defense was solid -- I shut Kobe down and held him to only two points in the fourth, and that one basket was a lucky bounce I nearly blocked.

The fourth game was a close affair as well, but I played it differently this time. I didn't take many shots early on to help get my teammates more involved and hopefully get them on shooting streaks, but absolutely played my ass off on defense to make sure the score didn't get out of hand. Then in the second half, I absolutely took over and started scoring basically at will, and Tim Duncan was there for the easy assist if I didn't have a look. We also killed them on the boards and I caused a lot of late turnovers, leading to an easy 10 point win. Of course, I still think the biggest reason the Lakers dropped this game was because Adam Morrison saw significant playing time. (Maybe a full five minutes!) I don't care if he hit a three pointer during that time -- that's still instant death for your team's karma.

(For those curious, my numbers in those two games were 30+ points each, exactly 6 rebounds in each, 10+ assists in both, plus a couple blocks and steals each game, and very few turnovers. When do I get to sign a max contract, land a sweet shoe endorsement deal, and get made into a Muppet in commercials?)

Worst of the Night in Pictures

Andrew Bogut
This is one of the best players on the Bucks. Seriously.

Gerald Wallace slaps Chris BoshChris Bosh on the floor
Gerald Wallace and Chris Bosh recreate the "What did the five fingers say to the face?" moment from Chappelle's Show

Ellington/Williams man love
How about some nice man love to cap off 2009?

Milsap/Hollins man love
Oh, what the hell, here's one last display of 2009 man love

Vince Carter
Sad Vinsanity didn't get to participate in all the man love :(

Nationally Televised Games:
Heat at Spurs: The Spurs are on a 9-2 run right now, but we all know how they have fared this year against teams that are .500 or better. Four of their last five wins have come against the Clippers, the Bucks, the Knicks, and the Timberwolves. If only they had my NBA 2K10 doppleganger playing point in real life...

76ers at Clippers What possessed the NBA and TNT to agree on showing ths game on national television? Sure, the final score will probably be really close, but this is one of those games that's like watching a midget fight: it's fun at first, but then you just feel empty inside. But then you laugh again, and it's okay.

(Chris: And just to recap, this is the SECOND TIME IN SIX DAYS the Clippers have been on national TV, as their game against Phoenix got the nationwide feed on Christmas weekend. Has Bawful gotten involved in network programming for the Association!??!)

All The Other Games:
Bulls at Pistons: Vinny Del Negro vs. John Kuester. It's a battle of who will get fired first! It's not quite a Roman coliseum fight to the death, but it's close.

Mavericks at Rockets: Now, why isn't this game on national TV? I smell serious revenge game possiblities from Cuban and the Mavs. Remember their last game? (I'm sure Carl Landry's mouth does) Two ejections in overtime, seven technical fouls, and a protest. We could see a live decaptiaton this go-around. So, again, why isn't this game on TNT? Charles Barkley, can't you pull some weight over there and get things done? (Lord knows he has enough weight to pull.)

Jazz at Thunder: The Thunder have won four straight, and Kevin Durant has been on fire lately. He's been averaging almost 35 points per game the past five games. What does he have to say about that? "We're playing pretty decent right now. We can't get complacent." I like it. Now, if only we didn't have to deal with that whole Seattle-got-screwed aspect of this team, I could really like them.

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Seriously intense defense

Terrible officiating: The Atlanta Hawks really took it up the tailpipe in this one. Not only did they have to contend with a monster game from King Crab (48 points, 10 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots) and a game-breaking three-pointer from Anderson Varejao (?!), they were also the victim of some rather dubious officiating. Forget the fact that the Craboliers -- playing at home, of course -- had a 38-15 advantage in free throw attempts. The refs couldn't even handle resetting the shot clock. From ESPN's Daily Dime:

To review: Atlanta was ahead 99-98 when the Cavs missed a shot in the lane with about 16 seconds remaining on the shot clock. But the shot clock did not reset, and by the time point guard Mike Bibby dribbled up court and looked at the clock, it was ticking close to zero. Bibby passed the ball to Josh Smith in the lane, he had it stolen by LeBron James, and the Cavs came down court and scored for a 100-99 lead.

Woodson was apoplectic, arguing his case vociferously to the referees while also screaming angrily at the 24-second clock operator. But to no avail.

"I'm not going to comment on it at this time. We're just going to file a protest, without a doubt let the league review it at the two-minute mark, and then see what they think."

Did he see that as a game-changer?

"Well, we've got a one-point lead and with the ball going our way, and we're rushing to get a shot because the clock is not in our favor? You figure it out."
Remember: this is supposed to be the Era of NBA Officiating Transparency. Remember: David Stern is supposed to be winning back the public's trust after The Scandal. So the officials would explain this gaffe surely.

They didn't. And don't call me Shirley. More from the Daily Dime:

There is an NBA procedure for instances such as this. A pool reporter is permitted to question the lead referee about a rules interpretation, and the referee is obligated to answer so long as it does not involve a judgment call, and the pool reporter is obligated to share the referee's answer with all other media.

Pretty simple, no?

Well, lead referee Kenny Mauer would have none of it, relaying two words -- "no comment" -- when a Cavs public relations official informed him a pool reporter wished to question him about the play in question.

Mauer could have explained that he was acting within the rules as they are written, and that there is no recourse for going to a video review on a malfunction such as this.

"I think we should have won this game, and I think they know that, too," Bibby said. "I was bringing the ball up, and that's why I started to go because the clock was down. I didn't know, it was the middle of the game, I thought it was kind of quick. You look at the shot clock, you see the shot clock down, and you play."

Said Smith: "Malfunction? I thought one official was supposed to check the clock."

This is the second time this month that a lead referee has refused to explain a critical rules interpretation -- even though the league office has encouraged them (but not mandated them) to do so. A league spokesman said Mauer was within his rights to decline comment, and so all we have for an explanation this morning is the video of the play, the video of Woodson's ire and the pending protest (which seems almost certain to be turned down).
Let's face it: NBA fans will be doomed to deal with lousy officiating until the end of time. All we can do is accept it. Which, admittedly, will be tough for Atlanta fans to choke down today.

Mike Brown, verbal man love machine: Regarding King Crab: "It's amazing. You know how they say a young person has an old soul? Well, he's got an old game. It's athletic, powerful and energetic. The whole nine yards. It feels like he's been doing it forever." That's probably because the media shoves everything LeBron down our throats.

The New York Bricks: It was going to happen sooner or later. The New Jersey Nyets were not going to finish the season with only two wins. Some team -- some silly, mock-worthy team -- was going to lose to them. The West Coast squad most likely to be That Team was the Clippers. The East Coast club? The Bricks. And aye, lads, the Bricks came through. Big time.

Mike _'Antoni's _efense struck again, as the Nyets scored 60 first-half points on 62 percent shooting. New Jersey's lead eventually crested at 72-55 in the third quarter before they coasted -- that's right, coasted -- to a 104-95 win. And it could have been worse: the Nyets missed 11 fouls shots. The Bricks tried to make a run in the fourth quarter, holding the Nyets to only six buckets, but they scored only nine baskets themselves...along with seven turnovers. Comeback fail.

Said _'Antoni: "We were happy just scoring baskets and trading baskets. Hopefully it's a learning experience and we understand that we can't have lows like that. We can't come out soft and that's what we did." Added David Lee: "It's a tough game for us. ... They just outplayed us."

Here's some bonus bawful, courtesy of Basketbawful reader Dmitriy:

The Boston Celtics: How fragile are Boston's championship aspirations? Forget their back-to-back road defeats by the Clippers and Warriors, or even their blowout loss in Phoenix. Let's instead focus on the fact that their two best players (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) missed the game with knee injuries. Going into the season, everybody said that the C's biggest obstacles would be Father Time and the injuries he can bring. Well...there you have it.

But despite the handicap, you'd figure the Celtics would at least put up a fight, right? Wrong. They basically rolled over and died, like a cockroach that just got doused in Raid. Amar''''''e Stoudemire went 9-for-10 from the field in the first quarter, Channing Frye scored a season-high 26 points while going 6-for-9 from downtown and grabbing 10 rebounds, and the Suns coasted New Jersey-style to a 116-98 victory. And it's not like Phoenix ran Boston off the court. The Celtics outscored the Suns 20-11 in fastbreak points. Chew on that one for a few minutes.

The Celtics finished their post-Christmas road trip 1-3, which has become something of a trend for them. They started last season 27-2 and then lost seven of 10 after Christmas. This year they started 22-5 and have lost three of four (so far) after Christmas. And check it: they have one home game (against the Craptors) before going on the road for another three-game trip (at Miami, Atlanta and Toronto) before coming back home to face the Hawks. Pierce will probably missed most of those games, and Garnett might miss a couple more. Losing only seven of 10 might be optimistic.

Said Doc Rivers: "The lesson that's learned on this trip is not from tonight. The lesson that we should learn on this trip is when you give away a game with the Clippers when you're healthy, then you do it again, then when you're injured you need those games back."

I love the fact that he singled out the Clippers and not the Warriors.

Rasheed Wallace: Remember: 'Sheed wasn't added only for extra depth. He was supposed to be KG insurance. As in, if Garnett got hurt, Wallace could step in and give the Celtics 75-ish percent of what KG would have. Yeah. Right. 'Sheed went 3-for-11 from the field (including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc) and finished with almost as many fouls (3) as rebounds (4) in 31 minutes.

Kendrick Perkins, momentum killer: Believe it or not, the Celtics were making a mini-run to end the first half...until Perkins got T'd up and killed his team's momentum. Said Rivers: "We cut it to nine points and then he gets a tech. I have no idea over what. He's got to grow up. He's got to get better."

The Milwaukee Bucks: Okay, so Scott Skiles throws a tantrum, benching his two best players (Andy Bogut and Mikey Redd), and then the very next game his team gets clobbered by 25 points after giving up back-to-back 38-point quarters to the Magic in Orlando.


Maybe. But on the other hand...look, I'm a Scott Skiles fan. Have been for years. He pushes undertalented to overperform by hustling and playing hard, and I love that. However, his hard-nosed, no-excuses style wears on his players after a year or two. That's when...things...start to happen. Things like players not giving it their all (at best) or going through the motions (at worst), strange coaching decisions (like the Bogut and Redd double benching), major defensive collapses (like giving up 76 points in the second half), and extended losing stretches (seven of the last eight at the moment).

Those are usually the first few flakes of the "Skiles gets Fired" snowball. Now, I might be reading too much into Milwaukee's recent struggles. The Magic are a pretty good team and could beat almost anybody the way they beat the Bucks last night. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see this trend continue...and for Skiles to be drawing unemployment later this year.

(Speaking of which, do you ever wonder whether NBA coaches sign up for unemployment after they get fired? Like, can you imagine going to the unemployment office and saying, "Yes, my last job paid me $5 million per year. What's the max I can get from the government while I'm looking for my next job? Like, 70 percent of that, right?")

Jameer Nelson: On a night when seemingly everyone played well for the Magic, Nelson did not, going 1-for-7 from the field and finishing with 4 points and 3 assists in only 23 minutes. You know, in the not-to-distant past, Nelson was being talked up as a potential All-Star. Then he got injured, then injured again, and now, well, former retiree Jason Williams (16 points, 5-for-5 on threes, and 7 assists in 25 minutes) is about to usurp his position as Orlando's starting PG.


For his part, Nelson claimed he was dealing with a "family issue" the night before and further complained that limited practice time (due to the time he has to spend rehabbing from his arthroscopic knee surgery) has killed his rhythm (10-for-35 from the field since returning to the team). But Stan Van Gundy sounds like he's losing his patience: "We're going to have to go back and evaluate where we are with Jameer," Van Gundy said. "There's medical concerns and people don't want him to get re-injured. I understand that we're trying to protect him. We've got to somehow find a balance. If he's not going to practice and we're going to use games like practice, I don't know how valuable that's going to be. Four days off and they don't want him doing anything in practice, that makes it very, very hard."

Uh oh.

The Los Angeles Clippers: The Frail Blazers (so named by Orlando C. Harn) were already without Rudy Fernandez (back), Travis Outlaw (left foot), Nicky Batum (shoulder), Greg Oden (so very, very old) and the Vanilla Godzilla (leg explosion)...and then they lost LaMarcus Aldridge to a badly sprained his left ankle six minutes into the game! As Portland coach Nate McMillan said: "This has gone past crazy. It's bad luck, or whatever, to continue to see our guys drop the way that we are. To walk into the locker room and see LaMarcus Aldridge in a boot -- not just a swollen ankle -- but a boot."

Past crazy is right.

The only good news for the Frail Blazers is that they were playing the Clippers when Aldridge got hurt, which meant that -- for one night at least -- the injury didn't matter. The Clippers -- in truth "They are who we thought they were" fashion -- got beaten by a cobbled-together frontcourt combo of the ancient Juwan Howard (10 points, 5-for-7, 9 rebounds, 2 steals), Jeff Pendergraph (8 points, 4-for-8, 14 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) and Dante Cunningham (8 points, 4-for-8, 3 boards and a block). Man...the Clippers couldn't even take advantage of a team that was missing its starting frontcourt and a full half of its rotation players. I mean, they just signed Shavlik Randolph for God's sake!

How Clipper-y is that?

Said The Other L.A. coach Mike Dunleavy Sr.: "In the first half, we spotted them 10 points and you just can't let that happen." Yeah, because no team has ever overcome a whole 10-point spread before...? Again I ask: how is he still employed?

Lacktion report: As he prepares to ring in the New Year, Chris provides some New Year's Eve's Eve lacktion:

Bucks-Magic: Charlie Bell clanged five bricks (three from Orange Avenue) along with a giveaway and two fouls for an Association-leading +8 in 7:41 - at least the top suck differential UNTIL the end of the Pacers game below!!!

Grizzlies-Pacers: Hamed Haddadi had himself a missed field goal and two fouls in 4:43 for a +3 and a 2:0 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, in a stupefying stint as starting forward, Mike Dunleavy took after his father by lacking up THE biggest suck differential in the Association so far - wasting away in 16:13 by bricking four times (once from the charity stripe and thricely from the Indiana Central Canal), losing the rock once, taking a rejection, AND fouling three times for a +9!!!!!!!!!!!

Heat-Hornets: Joel Anthony minted a 1.6 trillion (1:35) for Erik Spoelstra's firey squad tonight.

Celtics-Suns: Despite four boards in 23 minutes, Brian Scalabrine fouled out in addition to losing the rock once and tossing three bricks from Van Buren Street for a 7:4 Voskuhl - his third consecutive Voskuhl in three games!

Sixers-Kings: Jason Kapono witnessed the paupers' distribution of dumb defense from up close, accruing a 6 trillion!

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Don Nelson
It's another night of BAD. Sorry, but I'm still sick and miserable, so let's just keep things moving. I haven't even gotten to play NBA 2K10 the past couple nights. (Gasp!)

Worst of the Night in Pictures
Hey, Jordan Farmar, that trick only works if she's wearing a skirt.

John Kuester
Considering how bad his team stinks, I can't blame John Kuester for holding his breath

"So France is that way? Really?"

The Notorious VDN
(Tick, tock, tick tock...)
Believe it or not, The Notorious VDN won a game minutes before this

Lacktion Report:
As always, Chris is on top of the bottom of the Assocation.
Thunder-Generals: Dominic McGuire returned to form with a foul and brick in 3:06 for a +2 suck differential.

Crabs-Hawks: Joe Smith had a not-so-mighty 2:0 Voskuhl in 5:52 by negating an assist with two bricks, one giveaway, and a foul.

Hornets-Rockets: Marcus Thornton sharply missed one field goal to give the buzzers a +1 in 8:47.

Warriors-Lakers: Phil Jackson must've been pretty confident that Golen State's non-defensive play would show up in a timely fashion, as he brought out Josh Powell in the middle of the game (with the Lakers still having to fight their way back) for a 3.7 trillion (3:43) take that would prove celebratory!

Nationally Televised Games:
Celtics at Suns: Okay, we finally get a "nationally televised game" that I really, really want to see... and it's on NBATV instead of ESPN? What? ESPN would rather show the "Pacific Life Holiday Bowl" instead?! Fuck you, college bowl season. That is all.

Okay, that's not all. I just read this article about the injuries the Celtics are dealing with right now, and I'm even less happy. Sigh.

All The Other Games:
Hawks at Crabs: We just witnessed the Hawks getting beaten down at home by the Crabs last night... and now they get to do it all over again on the road? Cruel scheduling, Mr. Stern.

Grizzlies at Pacers: Z-Bo continues to go insane on the stat sheets, but good God the Grizzlies look ugly on the road. Not only are they 4-11 away from home, but they're giving up 109.5 points per game away from Memphis. Are they exhausted from staying four-people-to-a-room at a Motel 6 whenever they're on the road or something?

Bucks at Magic: According to the Stats LLC preview, "The Magic are 20-4 when Howard attempts at least seven shots and 19-3 when he scores 13 or more." Hmm. Maybe taking a couple fewer bad threes per game and moving it inside more would be a nice start. Oh, and maybe if Superman had more than one post move in his arsenal. That too.

Bobcats at Raptors: You know that variant on the traditional facepalm where you rub the bridge of your nose between your forefinger and thumb while sighing? Take one good guess at what I did when I read this matchup.

Knicks at Nyets: Okay, you know what? I have nothing to add here other than sharing a link to ESPN's Worst Teams Tracker.

Heat at Hornets: I'm completely confused by this year's version of the New Orleans Hornets. They're dreadfully bad on the road, and almost unstoppable at home. There is no excuse in going 2-13 on the road when you're 11-3 at home, guys.

Jazz at Timberwolves: Speaking of teams I can't figure out... how in the hell has Utah managed to drop both its games against the Timberpups so far this year? That's just embarrassing. But, good news everyone! The T-Wolves are on the second night of a back to back!

Clippers at Trail Blazers: Mike Dunleavy on Chris Kaman: "[He] is an assist waiting to happen." And yet he isn't even leading the team in assists this season. I guess he's still waiting?

76ers at Kings: I'm not going to pretend I expected Tyreke Evans to be a ridiculous beast of a man in the NBA. All I can do is enjoy the ride and be amazed that our own Sac-town resident Chris actually has decent team to watch for the first time in ages.

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Groundhog Day
"It's happening again...isn't it?"

The Milwaukee Bucks: How bad were the Bucks last night? Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles was so pissed about the manner in which his team fell behind 22 points by halftime, that he benched his team's two best players. From the AP recap:

Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut never took off their warmups in the second half of the Bucks' 94-84 loss to the Bobcats. The team's second- and third-leading scorers were benched after combining to shoot 1-for-10 and play little defense in a one-sided matchup of teams that figure to contend for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.

"What do I need to say? We were 4-13 in our last 17 games, now 4-14 in our last 18," Skiles said. "Everybody has got to look at themselves right now."

Shocking? Yeah, I guess you could say that. Brandon Jennings could hardly believe it: "I was real surprised. I thought once we got it down a little bit, we were going to bring them back in, you know Bogut and Redd and them."


It's a classic Skiles move. He doesn't accept bullshit. He expects all-out effort every night...or else. As he should. But NBA players aren't machines, and with the money they make and the associated sense of entitlement they feel, they begin to resent being driven like horses all the time. Their effort starts to slip a little, especially on defense. And the harder Skiles tries to retake control, the worse his team will play. I saw it happen when he was in Phoenix. I saw it up close when he was coaching the Bulls. When these things start to happen, it's usually the foreplay to him getting effed over by his players...and fired by his bosses.

Said Skiles: "It's not so much producing. It's body language and the way we look out there. The bottom line: this is the NBA. You have to produce. It's what pro sports is. And we need more consistent production out of our key players."

I so totally agree with those sentiments. I do. And I'd probably be the same kind of coach. But, at least in the NBA, that kind of hard line attitude can and will cost you your job. Only Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Larry Brown could get away with being a ball buster to that extent. And even those guys are usually wise enough to pick their battles.

The New Jersey Nyets: Another night, another double-digit home loss for the New Jersey Nyets. Even Ji Jianlian's career-high 29 points could not save them. The Nyets actually kept things respectable until the fourth quarter, when they scored only 13 points on 6-for-18 shooting. Most of the Nyets' shots were long jumpers, and they got to the line only once in the final 12 minutes. The Thunder's defense got a lot of fluffing after this game, but come on, people. This is New Jersey we're talking about. They're 2-29 and have now lost 10 in a row for the second time this season. Shutting them down is a case of "dog bites man." Zzzzzzz...

Said New Jersey coach Kiki Vandeweghe: "I don't know if we ran out of gas or did they turn it up?" If by "if we ran out of gas" you mean "we suck," well, I guess that's your answer.

The Washington Wizards Generals: Losing to the Grizzlies doesn't earn an automatic bid for Worst of the Night anymore. They're actually...decent. (After they reach .500 or get over it, I'll dub them "halfway decent.") But Memphis was without Rudy Gay, their leading scorer (20.6 PPG). That should have evened things up, right? It sort of did. Washington forced the game into overtime. But we all them the Generals around here for a reason. You know why it went to overtime? Washington was actually up 102-100 with five seconds left. The Griz ran a helter skelter play in which the ball ended up in Zach Randolph ended up with the ball outside of the three-point line.

Now, Z-Bo is a great many things, but one thing he isn't is a three-point shooter. He's hit 28 percent of his treys over his career. And while I don't expect the Generals to know the exact percentage, I do think they should realize what shots you want Randolph to take. No, really. But instead, the defender crowded Randolph, which allowed him to slip past the defense for a drive on which he got fouled by Brendan Haywood with less than a second left. Z-Bo nailed 'em both, and it was onto overtime and another defining loss for the Generals.

Said Gilbert Areneas: "We just couldn't get a break." Indeed.

Speaking of Z-Bo, check out this factoid from today's Daily Dime: "Zach Randolph had 23 points and 13 rebounds on Monday and over his last five games he's scored 141 points and collected 91 rebounds. The last NBA player with as many points and rebounds in a five-game span was Shaquille O'Neal in February 1993, his rookie season."

Seriously....Zach Randolph for MVP?!

The Los Angeles Lakers: Earlier this season, I told Wild Yams in the comments section of a post that, when rested (i.e., not on the second night of back-to-backs), the Suns can play with anybody, and that they'll win at least one home game against the Lakers this season. Well, my thanks go out to the Phoenix players for making it happen in style. The Suns put a good old fashioned hurtin' on the Lakers, who are starting to look like the Fakers of old. It was 2006 all over again, as Phoenix outran, outshot and outhustled a bigger and more physical Lakers team.

But, really, that shouldn't have happened. Kwame Brown is long gone after all.

Derek Fisher went 1-for-7 against the vise-like defense of Steve Nash, Channing Frye (14 points, 11 rebounds) negated Andrew Bynum (14 points, 9 boards), and Amar''''''e Stoudemire (26 points, 11-for-17, 6 rebounds) outplayed Pau Gasol (13 points, 5-for-10, 5 boards), and Ron Artest was still out with a laceration to his head. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant took 16 more shots than either of L.A.'s big men on his way to scoring a game-high 34 points before sitting out most of the final quarter. Do you think the Suns would rather have Kobe shooting jumpers from all over the floor or get pounded inside by the Lakers' frontcourt? Let me put it this way: that strategy hasn't changed since 2006.

Phil Jackson gets it...even if he was powerless to stop it. "I wasn't comfortable with my starters or my bench. I didn't like either group. Guys didn't play right. We had the inside game going for us, yet we just didn't attack."

Added Kobe Bryant: "They played much better than we did, in a nutshell. That's all it was. They executed very well in transition, we didn't get back and it gave them a lot of easy opportunities, and that broke the game open." Uh, according to the numbers, the Suns scored only 11 of their 103 points on the fast break. I'm just sayin'.

The Lakers are now 6-6 on the season against teams that are .500 or better.

The Boston Celtics: You think the Lakers are in trouble? At least they're losing to good teams. The Celtics now have back-to-back losses to the (gak) Clippers and the (erk) Warriors. Losses in which they basically hit the snooze button on defense. I mean, the Clips shot better than 50 percent against them, and the Warriors came back from an 18-point first half deficit to beat Boston behind Monta Ellis' 37 points (15-for-26 from the field, 6-for-8 from the line).

Let's face it. We all know how well the Celtics can defend when motivated. Having an 18-point lead against Gol_en State should have been more than enough. The absence of Paul Pierce doesn't not explain that kind of defensive collapse. Early in the season, Doc Rivers complained that his squad had developed a tendency to relax against lesser teams, which is something they hadn't done in the previous two seasons. Is that the Rasheed Wallace Effect? Because, seriously, that's what 'Sheed's Detroit teams always used to do. Think about it.

The Portland Ail Blazers: I pumped these guys up in my Worst of Christmas Weekend post, and then they lay an egg at home against the Sixers? Well, the injuries were bound to catch up to them. You think the Blazers expected to be giving significant minutes to frontcourt players like Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph? And by "significant" I mean "any."

As if by coincidence, Elton Brand exploded off the bench for a season-high 25 points on 11-for-16 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds. Oh, and in case you care, Allen Iverson played and shot a surprising 7-for-11. Maybe he's finally becoming an efficient player...

The Denver Nuggets: Yes, the Nuggets were still Chauncey Billups-less, but the Kings were Tyreke Evans-less, which should have more than evened things up...right? And maybe it would have, if the _enver _efenders had remembered to put a hand in the face of one Andres Nocioni. Noc went 6-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-5 from downtown. He finished with a team-high 21 points, including 7 in the decisive fourth quarter.

The Nuggets have now lost six consecutive road games, where they score 14 fewer points per contest than they do at home. Since it seems doubtful they're going to have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, that could be a problem. Said Aaron Afflalo: "At the end of the day we're going to have to get a win on the road. We need some more practice time to regain our focus on whatever it may be at the end of the day we have to do to get a win."

Seriously? More practice is the answer?

Lacktion report: As usual, Chris is on the case - not even the newest of Association members can hide from the ledger!!!

Bucks-Bobcats: Charlie Bell rang up four bricks (twice from Discovery Place) in 7:31 for a +4 suck differential! Meanwhile, Larry Brown and Michael Jordan had Acie Law wager one rejection and brick each for a +2 in 1:50.

Thunder-Nyets: Oklahoma City's Byron Mullens (who's taking a cue from Tim Duncan and denying his own status as big man) got off the Greyhound from Tulsa and made his Association debut tonight by mopping up some Goombas in a 40 second Mario!!!!

Generals-Grizzlies: DeShawn Stevenson fouled once for a +1 in 1:16.

Lakers-Suns: Earl Clark crunched out a brick, rejection, and giveaway to give Phoenix a celebratory +3 in 1:55.

Sixers-Blazers: Jrue Holiday vacationed in the land of lacktion tonight by bricking and losing the rock twice each, adding a foul and rejection to the itinerary for a +6 in 11:05. Fellow Philadelphian Jason Smith took a foul and giveaway himself to earn a +2 in 4:17 that also counts as a 2:0 Voskuhl.

Celtics-Warriors: As Gol_en State somehow played enough D to halt the C's, Don Nelson ended up in the rare position of bringing out a human victory cigar at the Oracle, lighting up Chris Hunter for a foul and turnover in 2:06 that scored a +2 as well as a 2:0 Voskuhl. Earlier, Doc Rivers attempted to stem the tide by having Brian Scalabrine foul once in 6:22 for a +1 that doubled as a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl - his second straight game within the realm of bawful big men!!!

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Scott Brooks
Scott Brooks brings us his best Saturday Night Fever impression

Welcome to your first post-Christmas BAD. We're in that odd lull between Christmas and New Year's where nobody really feels in-synch, and it's hard to get motivated to do any real work. Also factor in that I'm currently down for the count with a nasty sinus infection (I lost my voice last evening, and barely can speak right now), and I just really can't put that much effort into today's post. So, apologies in advance for mailing this one in like a team tanking the rest of this season hoping to win the John Wall Sweepstakes.

Your Quick NBA 2K10 Update:
After winning the final several games of our regular season, we slotted into the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets the first round. I was not happy about this, since Chauncey Billups has been known to light me up from downtown, and he's an extremely quick defender in this game, which makes it difficult to roll around him. However, I did a good job of deciding when to pass and when to shoot, and played some tough defense and we rolled through them. I averaged 38 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game, and hit a ridiculous buzzer-beater three to get 50 points in the deciding game. I also got some help from a monster game from Tim Duncan where he shot 100% from the field and scored 40 points in the penultimate game.

Now, the next round is against the Lakers. I have played two games so far. We handily won the first game -- I put up an unholy defensive effort and held Derek Fisher to going 2-13 from three point range, and I put up another 38 point game, but this one was more about hitting jumpers and finger-rolls than taking it aggressively to the hoop. The next game, however, was one of those "Fuck You, You Aren't Winning This Game" type of losses. I actually quit after the third quarter and tried again four different times (something I almost never do) simply because the game was SO obviously out to get me.

My teammates hit a grand total of four 3-pointers in those four attempts, and bricked a ton of other jumpers, and did NOT bring down rebounds. On the other end of the court, the Lakers shot 80% from the field one game, and in the others, Fisher, Gasol, and Kobe all shot lights out even if you got a hand in their faces. Finally, I just decided to play through and take the loss the game was determined to give me. I managed to single-handedly lead us back from a 12 point deficit to take a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter. But then the game went back into F-U mode, and Sasha Vujacic WENT OFF and drained three-consecutive treys while my teammates and I all went absolutely ice-cold from the field for five solid minutes, making only one basket in that entire stretch. We went on to lose by a dozen points. Ridiculous. When Sasha Vujacic kills you, what can you do?

Hopefully Game 3 at home goes better...

Worst of the Weekend in Pictures:
20091227-dirk-nowitzkiUmm... Dirk?

Rick Carlisle
Rick Carlisle's response to Nowitzki's anticts

Z-Bo wants to share his Dampier Man Love experience with Jason Kidd

If you were the Pacers coach, this would be your default expression as well

If you had a name as awesome as "Kiki Vandeweghe," this would also be your default expression

Nationally Televised Games:
Wizards Generals at Grizzlies: Okay, seriously, who is this doppleganger claiming to be Zach Randolph, and what have they done with the real Z-Bo? Maybe Jean Claude Van Damme is branching out into other sports?

All The Other Games:
Bucks at Bobcats: Despite their strong start, Milwaukee has now dropped 15 of 17, and Brandon Jennings is only shooting 34.7% during that stretch. That's a little closer to what I expected before the season started.

Thunder at Nyets: The Nyets continue to average under 90 points per game on offense in their quest to be the worst team ever. Disgusting. They get the Basketbawful Game of the Night by default.

Lakers at Suns: Kobe is averaging 38 points per game in his last three trips to Phoenix. Defense? Anybody? Oh, right, it's the Suns. Nevermind.

76ers at Trail Blazers: After seeing that decidedly-incomplete graphic of Ail Blazers injuries this season, I still have no idea why they continue to win basketball games. Insane. I am in awe.

Nuggets at Kings: Now, speaking of injuries, isn't it amazing how much Chauncey Billups means to this Nuggets team? Sacramento could very well win this one. And that is just depressing.

Celtics at Warriors: After losing to the Clippers (the Clippers!!!), I have no idea what to think about this game. Can somebody please teach Rondo how to shoot a freaking free throw? Can't he learn anything from Ray Allen and his .921 FT%?

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Heat-Knicks: Talk about a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking. This game was uglier than elf-on-elf butt sex. It featured 30 turnovers versus 24 assists (including a season-low 11 for New York) on 64 field goals. The two teams also combined to shank 33 of their 40 three-point attempts (which included the Bricks going 2-for-16 in the first half). It was so bad that, in the first quarter, New York fired up two air balls...on the same possession. If we find out Santa hung himself on Christmas day, it'll probably be because he watched this pathetic Festival of Fail.

Mike D'Antoni and Danilo Gallinari, Co-Captains Obvious: After the Bricks scored only 87 points on 32-for-78 shooting (including 5-for-28 from downtown), D'Antoni said: "[The Heat] do play good defense and you've got to give them credit. But at the same time I really thought we had a lot of wide-open shots and we just missed and you are going to miss some."

Gallinari added: "I think we missed a lot of shots that were open shots. I think we just missed them."

This excuse doesn't cut it when you "miss" any "open shots" in the company bathroom. Just so you know.

Nate Robinson: Make it 11 straight DNP-CDs now. Mind you, the Bricks offense was declared legally dead at one point during the third quarter and Nate still wasn't invited to join the fray. I'm betting Nate wishes he had stuck up for Starbury last season...

Erik Spoelstra, All-Star Gift Giver: According to the game notes section of the AP recap: "Spoelstra gave his players two Christmas presents: a word-a-day calendar to improve their vocabularies. and 'The Energy Bus,' a motivational book by Jon Gordon." No word on whether he also sent them a Christmas e-mail with a link to this video:

The Orlando Magic: Talk about a timely gift for the Magic: a Christmas day home game against the Paul Pierce-less Boston Celtics. Too bad the C's decided to play Grinch to Orlando's Cindy Lou Who. Boston's defense held the Magic to first half season lows in both field goal percentage (25.0) and points (27), which included a 9-point second quarter. The Celtics also forced 18 turnovers, which mostly offset their season-high 21 ball bumbles. Between the TOs and the fouls (47 personals and 3 techs), this game was almost as ugly as Heat-Knicks. And no player played any uglier than...

Dwight Howard: He was, as usual, a beast on the boards, grabbing a game-high 20 to go with his 4 blocked shots. But his offense must have gotten left in Santa's sack, because Howard finished with 5 points on 1-for-7 shooting while committing 7 turnovers. And that was against single coverage.

Said Kendrick Perkins: "You've got to play him physical. You watch other teams around the league, they pretty much let him set up shop. You've just got to go in and be prepared to go to war. You've got to fight him first, hit him first. He likes to be physical, but he doesn't like anyone to be physical with him."

Did...did Perkins just call Superman a big, flapping vag? I mean, that's what he just said, right?

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy tried to deflect Kendrick's "pussy" allegation by claiming Dwight's performance was a coaching issue: "We have not been able to establish him in the post against them, and it's frustrating because we should be able to. I have to find an answer to that. I'm not frustrated with Dwight, I'm frustrated with myself. But obviously, not a lot of offensive efficiency there."


The Los Angeles Lakers: Talk about a timely gift for the Lakers: a Christmas day home game against the Craboliers. There's no better time to catch a talented rival than after they've been forced to travel and play on the road on the biggest holiday of the year. Only the Lakers went all "Habitat for Humanity," building houses from bricks thanks to their 36 percent shooting (compared to 54 for the Crabs). L.A. went down, came back a little and then went down again -- I know that reads like the script to a porn scene -- ultimately getting pounded 102-87. Merry fucking Christmas, huh?

Cleveland's big men (Shaq, Big Z and Sideshow Bob) pretty much negated L.A.'s vaunted frontcourt duo of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (15 points on 6-for-16 shooting combined), Kobe shot the hell out of the ball (11-for-32 from the field and 12 free throw attempts), and the Lakers' bench pretty much played like they have all season (i.e., lousy). Oh, and nobody could do anything with Mo Williams (28 points, 8-for-13, 6 boards, 7 assists).

It's funny. The Lakers have been at the top of almost every power ranking pretty much all season long despite the fact that their schedule has been front-loaded with home games (a league-best 19 to be exact) and very few back-to-backs. As ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin pointed out: "The Lakers are 6-5 on the season against teams that had better than .500 records as of Dec. 25."

And what about their record against division leaders? After getting their asses whupped at home by the Cleveland, the Lakers are 1-3, which includes a home win over the Hawks and blowout losses Mavs (94-80 at home), Nuggets (105-79 on the road) and now the Crabs. And against Cleveland, it was the same old story from the 2008 Finals: the Lakers got man-handled and the best they could do was whine about it to the officials. Not a great showing for the Purple and Gold. Although even that doesn't excuse the behavior of...

Lakers fans: Really, Lakers fans? Really?! I know it's frustrating to see your team lose, but they're still defending champs and have one of the best records in the league (23-5 after the loss)...and you throw foam fingers, water bottles, and wet peanuts (?!) during the game? Jesus river-dancing Christ.

It was a stunning display by a crowd that regularly shuffles in late and then sits through most of the game in a near-catatonic state. Said Phil Jackson: "I've never seen an L.A. crowd react like this before. I like their enthusiasm. I don't like their demonstrative manner. ... It wasn't a well-refereed game, it wasn't a very well-played game, so I think it was a reaction to that."

Cleveland coach Mike Brown was apparently scared out of his pants by the terrifying shower of foam and plastic: "It'll be interesting to see what happens in the future with the NBA, where that can't take place. I don't know what the rules are. When water bottles start flying, does it mean it's a tech, or what? But it's a scary thing when water bottles and other objects start coming on the floor like they did today." I peed myself just thinking about it. In other news, Mike Brown is a big, flapping "Dwight Howard."

The Los Angeles Clippers: It had been 17 long years since The Other L.A. Team was featured on Christmas day...and they responded by losing by 31. How Clippers-y is that? Very.

Said Baron Davis: "We just stopped playing." Pretty much, yeah.

Grant Hill: This is just wrong. Grant Hill drinks Sprite, people. GRANT HILL DRINKS SPRITE!!

The Denver Nuggets: Apparently, somebody forgot to tell the Ail Blazers that all those injuries were supposed to sink their season. As AnacondaHL pointed out: "Ahaha, did you guys see the graphic on Portland's Injuries? They couldn't even fit all of the injuries on one picture, notably missing Przy and McMillan."

Despite all the player and coach games they've lost to injury, Portland has won 8 of 12, including the last four in a row. Mind you, eight of thsoe 12 games were roadies, which included a double OT loss to the Bucks and a narrow defeat by the Crabs. As for the Nuggets...are we really sure they're an elite team? I mean...really?

Gilbert Arenas: Agent Zero had unloaded firearms in his locker. I know what you're thinking: he was afraid for his life after stealing that $111 million from the Wizards organization. But that's not it. He just wanted to get rid of the guns and he thought bringing them to work was the best way to do it. Seriously.

Ron Artest: According to the AP: "Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest has injuries to his head and left elbow after falling at his home. Artest didn't travel with the Lakers to Saturdays game at Sacramento after tripping over a box and falling down a flight of stairs at his home on Christmas night, the team said in a news release."

The best/worst part? I wasn't surprised in the least. In fact, I decided to make a list of potential Artest stories that probably wouldn't surprise me. They include:
1. Ron Artest strangled by pet octopus

2. Ron Artest's private plane lost in Bermuda Triangle

3. Ron Artest finds Bigfoot

4. Ron Artest discovers the Higgs boson

5. Ron Artest battles Hitler's-brain-in-robot-body

6. Ron Artest eats seven kittens

7. Ron Artest returns to his home planet of Z'Xoorantus IV.
Allen Iverson Tracy McGrady: Knee-Mac left the Rockets...over a lack of playing time. The saga continues...

Mariah Carey: I have to agree with AnacondaHL on this one: "You know I was a big Mariah fan, I always defended her hotness. But these commercials are just sad, or unnerving at best. Like a Photoshop disaster. Combined with her trying too hard, like a stripper that's been in the business for a few years too long who operates on experienced wit and traps."

Friday lacktion report: Chris is the gift that keeps on giving...lacktion, that is.

Celtics-Magic: JJ Redick flew two fouls, one rejection, AND four bricks (three from Church Street Station) for a stunning +7 in 18:07, one of the longest stints of lacktion so far this season! His suck differential score is tied with Joel Anthony for 2nd-highest in the Association, behind Chase Budinger of the Rockets.

Crabs-Lakers: You know "Coach" Mike Brown wanted to really stick it to the other half of the puppet show tonight, and mid-game human victory cigars on their Wiis (Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson with an 11 second Mario and Daniel "Boobie" Gibson mushrooming to a 7 second Super Mario) speak for themselves!!! Jawad Williams then powered off his NES by jumping the flagpole for a game-closing 22 second stint, creating a trio of Mario Brothers for the Crabs!!!!!!

Clippers-Suns: Robin Lopez laid an egg in the points column for Phoenix, but did get two boards in 10:05. Despite that, he added two fouls and one giveaway to three bricks for a 3:2 Voskuhl.

The New Jersey Nyets: The Nyets' weekend actually started on Wednesday when they lost at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves...thanks in part to a late video review that went against them. That defeat meant Minny swept New Jersey in their season series, which officially confirmed the Nyets' "Worst Team in the League" status, regardless of what John Hollinger thinks.

Next up was a home loss to the Rockets...their ninth consecutive loss. It dropped their record to 2-28, which is tied for the worst 30-game start in NBA history. And, for the record, it's worst than the 30-game start of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers team that went 9-73. (Pssst. That's the worst record in league history.) I am tingling in anticipation.

Ji Jianlian: Yi was earned a technical foul for hanging on the rim with 2:26 remaining after pulling the Nyets to within 90-88. Really, Ji?! And of course the Rockets nailed the technical freebie. Just call it reason #1,049 why New Jersey is so bawful this season.

The Washington Wizards Generals: And you thought the Generals could sink no lower...FOOLED YOU!! Washington suffered a double-digit loss in Minnesota despite the fact that the Timberpups shot 37 percent from the field. The Generals countered that crappy shooting by committing 18 turnovers and giving up 22 second-chance points off 19 offensive rebounds for Minnesota.

Memo to the Generals: There is no try. Do...or do not.

After his current squad lost to his former squad -- a.k.a. the second-worst team in the league -- Randy Foye said: "This is terrible. We feel as though we're much better than this." Really, Randy? Then maybe you should check out this little sniglet: You are one of seven Washington players and coaches with significant ties to the Timberwolves organization.

And suddenly everything that's wrong with the Generals makes sense...

Gilbert Arenas, truth machine: "We can call them the worst team in the West, but it's not like we've got that many wins over them. Right now we are one of the worst teams in the East until we can prove ourselves. Right now, we win two, we lose four."

The Associated Press: This is actually a case of "basketbawsome" by the AP writer in charge of the WAS-MIN writeup. After that last Arenas quote, the write penned: "Timberwolves West 1, Timberwolves East 0." I love it.

Flip Saunders, Coach of the Year candidate: As his Generals were getting pushed around during the game, Saunders Saunders "repeatedly made dismissive gestures toward the court." The explanation: "I was frustrated. It's like I told our players, as coaches, I'm not going to change what we do, a coverage defensively or something, just because we don't do it hard or do it right. When you don't do it hard or do it right, no matter what you do, it's not going to work."

Way to inspire the troops there, General.

Randy Foye, revenge machine: "We're going to get them back. We play them after the All-Star break. We'll get them back pretty good when they come to Washington." This is where I note that Foye had the worst plus-minus score (-17) of the night.

The Philadelphia 76ers: I pretty much expect crappy teams to get blown out by the Jazz in Utah, so in most ways, Philly's 97-76 loss is rather routine. What makes this one a little extra special is that the Sixers managed to stay reasonably close through three quarters before going nine minutes without scoring in the fourth. Philadelphia went scoreless from Royal Ivey's trey with 50 seconds left in the third until Thaddeus Young made a layup with 4:05 remaining in the game.

Here's a recap of that nine minutes of fail: Young missed a 9-footer; Andre Iguodala missed an 18-footer; Jrue Holiday missed a 21-footer; Elton Brand missed a jumper; Marreese Speights grabbed an offensive board and missed the follow-up; Iggy lost the ball (steal by Mehmet Okur); Brand missed a 19-footer (blocked by Okur); Speights missed a 21-footer; Iggy missed a jumper (blocked by Paul Millsap); Speights lost the ball (stolen by Wesley Matthews); Iggy missed a 25-foot three-pointer; Brand grabbed the offensive board, after which Lou Williams missed a 25-foot three-pointer; Speights missed a 5-footer; Williams missed three-pointers on back-to-back possessions; Iggy had his layup blocked by Andrei Kirilenko; Young missed a three-pointer; Holiday missed a three-pointer.

So, basically, the Sixers either jacked up a long-range shot, got a shot stuffed, or turned it over. Way to run an offense, boys. Said Philly coach Eddie Jordan: "In the fourth quarter we didn't put any sort of rhythm or flow together. Their defense was good. We missed some open shots and we didn't execute as well as we would like."

The Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers "bounced back" by needing two overtimes to beat the Kings. L.A. got outscoured 54-48 in the paint and gave up 28 points off 18 turnovers. But hey, they have the best record in the league, so I'm sure everything is just fine.

The Phoenix Suns: Normally when a team scored 127 points on 53 percent shooting, they win the game. But apparently the Suns can't play defense in back-to-back games, because they let the Warriors shoot 57 percent and score 133 points. To make matters worse, Phoenix gave up 35 points off 21 turnovers.

Said Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "You give up 132 points, you're not guarding anybody. We had guys that played well ... but the bottom line is that they played harder than we did. We won't beat anybody in the Pac-10 if we turn it over for 35 points." That's a pretty good point, particularly since the Warriors have basically ben a Pac-10 team for most of the season.

By the way, Phoenix hasn't won back-to-back games since November 27-29. Hmm.

Saturday lacktion report: And keeps on giving...

Grizzlies-Mavs: DeMarre Carroll took a fairytale journey through the Mushroom Kingdom for a 24 second Mario!

Hawks-Pacers: Atlanta's Randolph Morris and Othello Hunter each scripted themselves a +1 suck differential in 2:39, Morris via brick and Hunter via foul! Meanwhile, Indiana's Josh McRoberts negated a board and assist with two fouls and a brick in 3:35 for a Voskuhl ratio of 2:1.

Hornets-Bulls: New Orleans benchwarmer Bobby Brown punched out two bricks in 6:04 for a +2.

Sixers-Jazz: Rodney Carney clubbed a brick at Temple Square and a foul for a +2 in 3:02. Kosta Koufos cashed out with a 1.9 trillion (1:54) for Jerry Sloan.

Lakers-Kings: As the purple paupers once again ran out of gas in overtime against a good team, Phil Jackson called on Josh Powell to cable him some cash - in this instance, 3.1 trillion (3:08)!

The Houston Rockets: Their 108-83 bitch slap by the Crabs in Cleveland proved that a plucky, can-do attitude only takes you so far...especially on the second night of back-to-backs. By the third quarter, it looked like the Houston players were wearing cement shoes.

Said Rockets coach Rick "Addled Man": "Watching some of our guys, we ran out of gas. We didn't have anything left to respond. I think the energy was really gone at that point." Added Trevor Ariza: "We don't make excuses, but I never played a back-to-back game where you play at 7:30 the night before and play at 6 o'clock the next day. It shows the NBA is getting creative with their scheduling, which is kudos to them." And by "kudos" he obviously means "Fuck you, NBA schedule makers."

The Denver Nuggets: Remember what I said before about them maybe not being as good as people thought? Well, yeah. I know they were without Chauncey Billups, but still.

Carmelo Anthony: Speaking of Billups, what does it say about 'Melo's MVP-ishness when the Nuggets can't win without Mr. Big Shot in the lineup? Isn't that when MVP candidates are supposed to take over? Instead, Anthony had 16 points on 5-for-19 shooting before fouling out.

The Boston Celtics / Rajon Rondo: Okay, so let's get this straight: the Celtics followed up a big road win against the Magic with an even bigger road loss to...the Clippers?! Yep. Yep, it happened, all right.

Sure, the C's are missing Paul Pierce, but Tony Allen played reasonably well in his place (10 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals). Boston even got Big Baby back (8 points, 5 offensive rebounds). But their defense wasn't what it should have been, as The Other L.A. Team shot over 50 percent, which they normally can't even do in an empty gym.

The "Goat Award," though, goes to Rajon Rondo, who drew a foul with 1.5 seconds left and the game tied at 90-all. Rondo -- who's barely hitting over 50 percent of his foul shots this season -- shanked 'em both. But things might have been okay if Rajon had been able to play defense for those 1.5 seconds that were left. Only...he couldn't.

Sunday lacktion report: And just keeps on giving...

Pistons-Raptors: Austin Daye donned a Tanooki Suit to give Detroit a 3 second Super Mario, while Toronto's Pops Mensah-Bonsu was taught typing past some Koopa shells in a mere 34 seconds for a regular Mario!

Celtics-Clippers: Brian Scalabrine countered a block and assist in 10:27 by garnering two fouls, leading to a 2:0 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Mike Dunleavy shockingly had the opportunity to bring out the human victory cigars against an elite squad, with Mardy Collins losing the rock twice for a +2 suck differential in 4:18, and Ricky Davis giving the Christmas present of a Game and Watch to Steve Novak to give the Clips a pair of Mario Brothers!!!! Davis spent 1400% more time on the court than Novak, rescuing Pauline from Donkey Kong in 14 seconds, as compared to Steve Novak's stupdendously short 1 second SUPER MARIO!

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Take off!

Merry Christmas everyone! (And to those who do not celebrate Christmas, happy every-other-day!) Get ready for an abbreviated WOTN, plus the usuals.

Oh, and sorry, but I'm getting lazy on the previews for this weekend's games. Consider it a Christmas gift to myself. You are still more than welcome to stop by all weekend and post in the comments section though! We'll be around.

Your Quick NBA 2K10 Update:
My improved play has helped carry my Spurs onto a nice winning streak, and we recently added victories against the Nuggets and the Timberwolves (who are much better in my game than they are in real life, since they traded for a magically healthy Greg Oden). The Nuggets game was tough -- their guards are some of the quickest in the game, and it made driving the lane difficult. I had a very poor shooting performance, but dropped dimes like a madman, and blocked their last-second shot attempt to seal the game. And we just blew the holy hell out of the Timberwolves after I scored 18 first quarter points and ended up shooting over 80% for the game (two blocked shots under the basket, made every other jumper and layup). I spent most of the second half playing the perimeter and racking up assists, so I didn't really score many points, but it was enough to win by 25 points.

The best news of all? There's only one game left in the regular season, and we've already clinched a playoff spot.

Worst of the Worst of the Night:
The New Jersey Nyets: As noted in the comments by The Dude Abides:
Good God, the end of that Minny-Jersey game was epic. But only on the Jersey side, as Minny made their free throws.

Jersey with the ball, about 22 seconds left, down four: they go for a quick two, but the Minny defender cuts off Harris, who passes out to the 3-pt line. One more pass around the arc and there's about 12 seconds left. You would think that at this point, the Nets would realize that you can't go for a quick two anymore. But Yi gets the ball and tries to drive, gets cut off, then passes back to Dooling beyond the arc, who pump fakes, tries to draw a foul, gets off balance, then passes while in the air to Yi for the corner three. There are now three seconds left. It's taken 19 seconds to get to this point. Yi shoots the corner three, and it hits the top corner of the backboard and caroms all the way back out to Dooling (or whoever is standing at the wing), who tries and fails to get the shot off before the final buzzer.

Even if he had managed to make a three before the final buzzer, the Nets still would have lost by a point. Hilariously epic fail.

The Detroit Pistons: John Kuester's team got a golden opportunity to turn things around by playing against the NBA's second-worst defense. And they pissed away that golden opportunity in a golden shower of failure. The Raptors were more like the Tyrannosauruses (Tyrannosaurii? I hate pluralizing words like that), and the final score ended up being an embarrassing 94-64. The Pistons shot 27.9% from the field, and made only one trey. By contrast, the Raptors shot nearly 54%, and drained 8 from downtown.

John Kuester, Self-Blame Machine: "That was a terrible, embarrassing loss. I'm taking the blame on myself, because we didn't look prepared, and that's my job." Keep losing games like that, and it won't be your job much longer.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:
Carmelo rocking a Snuggie
I made a Snuggie joke yesterday... Does Carmelo read our blog???

John Kuester
The face of scoring 64 points in a game

Devin Harris
Devin "We knew we were going to be a playoff team" Harris despair
(Playoffs??? We're talking about playoffs???)

Don Nelson
Don Nelson despair

Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks despair

Michael Redd recoils in horror as Nick Young sharts all over himself

Man Love
Ron Jeremy Stan Van Gundy approves of this public display of man love. Speaking of which...

Stan Van Gundy
The Hedgehog shows his team his "manual stimulation" technique.
(Hey, as soon as Ron Jeremy jokes stop being funny, I'll stop making them)

Tim Duncan, The Extra Terrestrial
When did Tim Duncan switch bodies with ET?

LeBron subtly hints that he wants a Viewfinder for Christmas

Nationally Televised Christmas Friday Games:
Heat at Knicks: The Knicks have won three of their past five games. Those opponents? Bobcats, Bulls, Clippers, Bobcats again, and Bulls again. Really? Really?? It's not quite playing the Nyets and 'Wolves every game, but it's pretty damn close.

Celtics at Magic: Paul "I'm the best player in the world" Pierce will miss this game after having his knee drained. I wonder if he was taken away on a wheelchair after that procedure?

Crabs at Lakers: Finally, the puppets face off! Wait, this game will be played by actual people and not puppets??? Oh, darn.

Clippers at Suns: Well, I hear that Blake Griffin is only three weeks away from resuming basketball activities. That's nice. I wonder if the Clippers can reacquire Shaun Livingston and give his knees another shot? He needs the work.

Nuggets at Ail Blazers: Here's a quick "nugget" of knowledge (bad puns are awesome, sorry) for you: JR Smith went off for 41 against Atlanta on Wednesday. In doing so he attempted 17 three pointers. That's about as many as he attempted in the previous four games combined.

Nationally Televised Saturday Games:
Wizards Generals at Timberwolves: Again, why does the Basketbawful Game of the Night get national TV coverage?

All The Other Saturday Games:
Grizzlies at Mavericks
Hawks at Pacers
Rockets at Nyets
Hornets at Bulls: How long can the Notorious VDN hang on?
Bobcats at Thunder
Spurs at Bucks
76ers at Jazz
Lakers at Kings
Suns at Warriors: Holy lack of defense, Batman! This has all the makings of a 130-110 final score, EXCEPT the Suns are on the second night of a back-to-back, and might wear down in the second half.

Nationally Televised Sunday Games:
Spurs at Knicks: I can't believe I actually think the Knicks have a very good shot of winning this game.

All The Other Sunday Games:
Pistons at Raptors: Could the Pistons repeat their 64 point offensive output from their last game against the Raptors? I hope to God not, just for the sake of preventing mass suicides.
Rockets at Crabs
Pacers at Heat
Mavericks at Nuggets
Celtics at Clippers

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The 70s were a different timeWow, that's some bad attire, 1975 Larry Brown.

Speaking of bad attire, put on your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Snuggie, because it's time for Wednesday Night "Two Days Until Christmas" BAD! No ESPN games tonight, and no games at all tomorrow. However, we get a full freaking day of nationally televised games on Christmas Day, so it's all good. Kinda like this picture.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Anthony Morrow

Okay, this is taking man love to a whole new uncomfortable level.

Elton Brand

This reminds me of something...


I was going to make a Kobe rape trial joke here, but, eh, too easy.

Bobcats National Anthem

The Bobcats had the Maytag Repair Man sing the National Anthem. You can't make this stuff up.

Joakim Noah (son of tennis pro Yannick Noah) and John McEnroe. Wow. (h/t Chris)

Pau GasolThe Gasol Brothers always have the best facial expressions

Nationally Televised Games:
Rockets at Magic: Vince Carter is now on a 28.6% shooting streak over the past four games. Okay, here's my theory: the even-more-insane Stephon Marbury has convinced Vinsanity to start eating Vaseline like Starbury, and his hands are so slippery afterwards that it makes it hard to shoot. Plausible, right?

All The Other Games:
Raptors at Pistons: Okay, the Raptors have somehow won two straight, but one of those wins was against the Nyets. Speaking of which...

Timberwolves at Nyets: Oh sweet merciful crap, this is a bad, bad game. Kill it with fire! Do I need to say it? Your Basketbawful Game of the Night, everyone!

Jazz at Heat: You know, I can't figure out exactly why, but the Jazz are having trouble winning on the road this year. (Checks Internet) "Sloan's team is 5-8 on the road, averaging 96.5 points. The Jazz average 105.3 at home." Oh. Well, there you go.

Warriors at Hornets: Gol_en State is 3-13 on the road. New Orleans is 10-3 at home. Well, I think we can all see where this game is heading...

Wizards Generals at Bucks: This stat really surprised me. The Bucks are averaging 98.0 points per game, and giving up 97.3 per game. And yet they are only 12-14? That's what happens when your record in games decided by 3 or fewer points is only 2-8.

Ail Blazers at Spurs: Thanks to the Curse of Walton, Portland doesn't have Oden, Vanilla Godzilla Przybilla, or any true centers to protect the rim. If Tim Duncan decides to go off and have a monster night, I won't be the least bit surprised.

Hawks at Nuggets: Poor Denver. George Karl is probably calling and texting Chauncey Billups every five minutes asking if he's feeling ready to play yet.

Thunder at Suns: The last time the Thunder won a game in Phoenix (a 152-149 double OT game in 2006), they were still the Sonics, and Nick Collison is the only player from that roster still with the team.

Crabs at Kings: King Crab versus the Kings! I just like how that fits together. At least it's the most interesting thing about this blowout-in-the-making. And our own Chris will be there!

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Oh damn it not Vanilla Godzilla
Nooooooo!! Not the Vanilla Godzilla too!!

The Chicago Bulls: I'll give the Bulls credit for flipping the script: instead of building a huge lead and then failing to close out in epic fashion, they fell behind by a lot and then staged a comeback that fell just a wee bit short.

I appreciate the fact that they can keep the whole losing thing fresh.

Were the Bulls suffering from an emotional hangover after their epic failure against the Kings on Monday night? Well, let me put it this way: the Knicks entered Tuesday night's game ranked 22nd in Defensive Efficiency (106.5 Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions), and yet the Bulls staggered through a first quarter in which they scored only 12 points on 6-for-21 shooting while committing four turnovers. Chicago finished the first half with a point total (31) that was hardly bigger than their deficit (22).

To make matters worse, they managed to get within a point (80-79) on (gulp) one of Noah's deadly Earthballs with 1:40 left, but that was as close as they could cut it. On New York's next possession, Chris Duhon missed a layup, but David Lee snared the offensive board and got fouled by Joakim. The situation was eerily reminiscent of Jon Brockman's offensive rebound that led to Tyreke Evans' game-breaking 22-footer the previous night. Lee knocked down the foul shots and then it was a race against the clock. A race the Bulls lost.

Joakim Noah, quote machine: Noah wants to win more than just about anybody else on the Bulls, so when he talks about the state of the team, it actually means something. After Chicago fell flat in New York, Noah said the Bulls "definitely have a lot of soul searching to do" and added: "If you were my friend, I would tell you a lot of things, but I feel like if I say something, it's just going to make things really bad. I'm not in a position as a player to really talk on that. We're really going through hard times and I don't want to make it even tougher."

Translation: The owner sucks, the coach sucks, the team sucks. Help me. HELP ME.

Vinny Del Negro, quote machine: The Notorious VDN sounded like he hit a "repeat" button from Monday night's press conference: "We can't play just a half of basketball. We’re not that good of a team to do that. We have to play consistently the whole game and we haven't done that the last couple of nights and you usually get what you deserve, like I always say."

Vinny had better hope that’s not true. For his sake. Otherwise, he might end up with a pink slip for Christmas. It can go right next to the lump of shit coal in his stocking.

The Philadelphia 76ers: After ending their 12-game losing streak by blasting the Warriors, then keeping it close against the Crabs, and then beating the Celtics in Boston, it was tempting to believe the Sixers were turning their season around. Well, tempting if you're a sucker who loves disappointment.

Philly followed their mild surge by losing at home in overtime to the Clippers and then got upended on the road against the Washington Wizards Generals. It actually looked like the Sixers might leave D.C. with a win...before a fourth-quarter fail fest that saw them get outscored 33-19. Said Philly Eddie Jordan: "We had a horrible defensive fourth quarter. Horrible. Horrible." And remember: Eddie used to coach the Generals before they fired him. So he knows what horrible defensive fourth quarters are all about.

Bonus Bawful From the AP recap: "This wasn't exactly a showdown between league powers; Philadelphia is 7-21, and Washington is 9-17. The only Eastern Conference team with fewer victories is New Jersey, which is an NBA-worst 2-26."

Elton Brand, quote machine: "If we're going to not box out, not rebound, not play 'D,' then you shouldn't be out there. We need games right now. We need to be hungry." So says the man who has epically failed to live up to the $80 million cap-killing free agent contract he signed with the Sixers a couple summers ago.

The Detroit M.A.S.H. unit: You can hardly blame this team for losing on the road to the Bobcats, what with Richard Hamilton (hamstring), Tayshaun Prince (back) and Ben Gordon (ankle) all sitting out. And now Charlie Villanueva is struggling with a sore foot, and he limped his way to only 4 points on 2-for-8 shooting. That's almost $40 million of Detroit's $61 million dollar payroll suffering from various aches and pains. Given that, it's actually kind of amazing the Pistons are as competitive as they've been.

The Indiana Pacers: Kevin Garnett was out with a thigh bruise, Paul Pierce missed his first 10 shots, and the Pacers built a 15-point halftime lead behind some stellar play by Troy Murphy (who finished with 24 points and a season-high 18 rebounds). Everything was going their way...until it wasn't.

They're still the Pacers.

Boston outscored Indiana 35-20 in the third quarter and then Paul Pierce exploded for 16 of his 21 points in the fourth to put Indy away. If you think about it, the Pacers are the Clippers of the Midwest: they are who we thought they were. As Indiana coach Jim O'Brien explained: "They have three All-Stars on the court. They're a very talented team. That's why they came back. We don't have any All-Stars."

T.J. Ford: As Basketbawful reader zyth pointed out yesterday, Ford is 1-for-28 from three-point range this season. That means he's hitting 3.6 percent of his treys. Ruh roh, Raggy.

The Minnesota Timberwolves: Speaking of teams who are who we thought they were...the Timberpups got whupped at home by the Atlanta Hawks, who tied Dominique Wilkins' 1986-87 team for the best 27-game start. As my buddy Craig at The Association might say: time to drop a banner! Seriously, who makes a big deal out of things like "best 27-game start"? Teams that never win anything, that's who.

But I digress. This is about the T-Wolves, who fell to 5-24 and have now lost seven games this season by at least 23 points.

Kevin Love -- who scored 15 points and matched a career high by grabbing 19 rebounds -- said: "[The Hawks are] kind of the example of a team that got its players young. They played together. They stuck together. They grinded out wins together. They had high points. They had low points. But they stuck together. ... That's something I hope I can be a part of one day."

Yeeeeeah. Probably not gonna happen, Kevin. Sorry.

Signs of the Apocalypse: The Grizzlies beat the defenseless Warriors 121-108, yada, yada, yada. As the AP recap pointed out, Gol_en State had only nine players available: Kelenna Azubuike, Raja Bell, Brandan Wright and Speedy Claxton were on the inactive list. Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf were on the bench in street clothes, and Mikki Moore recently had surgery for bone spurs in his right heel. Oh, yeah, and they sucked anyway.

Here's what's crazy. Zach Randolph continued his crazy-dominant play by scoring a season-high 33 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. This is the same Z-Bo who had 32-24 against Denver on Sunday and 26-16 against the Pacers last Friday.

Zach Randolph...for MVP? I mean...could it happen?

[Sounds of me violently throwing up in my own mouth]

The Dallas Mavericks: An 85-81 home loss to the Ail Blazers? Really, Dallas? Really?!

In case you missed it, Portland lost center Greg Oden for the season with a left knee injury. Travis Outlaw (left foot), Nicolas Batum (right shoulder), Patrick Mills (right foot) and Rudy Fernandez (back pain) are all sitting on the shelf. And then, on top of all that, Joel Przybilla -- our beloved Vanilla Godzilla -- ruptured his right patella tendon and dislocated his patella with 3:12 left in the first quarter. Joel will be out indefinitely.

But despite the ongoing Curse of Walton, the Ail Blazers held the Mavs to 38 percent shooting despite the return of Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 9 rebounds, zero collisions with other players' teeth). Other than the third quarter -- during which they scored 32 points -- Dallas could not put the ball in the basket. They had 14 points in the first quarter, 19 in the second and 16 in the fourth. On top of that, they missed 10 of their 22 free throws and lost by four points. You do the math.

Shawn Marion: Zero points on 0-for-7 shooting in 25 minutes. Remember how much he hated earning the most money on the Suns despite being the third option on offense? I love bringing that up.

The Los Angeles Clippers: Carl Landry returned from having his mouth blown the fuck up by Dirk Nowitzki's elbow to score a career-high 27 points in Houston's 108-99 win over The Other L.A. Team. Something about the Clippers just brings out the best in their opposition. Must be how terrible they are.

To sprinkle on a little historic fail onto this loss, the Rockets have now won 10 of their last 11 games against the Clippers. Moreover, the Clips haven't won in Houston since December 23, 2006, back when they were rocking a starting lineup of Tim Thomas, Elton Brand, Shaun Livingston, Cuttino Mobley and Chris Kaman.

Speaking of Kaman, he dropped a career-high 29 points but was still sucking a lemon after the game: "It doesn't matter at all. It's very frustrating to lose. We played a decent game but we didn't finish at the end. I thought we could do it but Houston made good plays at the end and we turned the ball over. It hurts to lose, it's not fun."

How has this man survived being a Clipper?!

The Clippers' bench: Houston's bench outscored The Other L.A. Team's reserves 62-12. Damn.

The Laker halftime show: I'm not going to say anything about the Lakers' 39 free throw attempts against the Thunder. But I am going to ask: what the eff is up with this halftime show? I will forgive the socks/legwarmers/whatever only if they are topless behind those fans.

Lakers girls

Stu Lantz, unintentionally dirty quote machine: According to Basketbawful reader Kelly P., Lakers color commentator Stu Lantz had this to say after a third-quarter fastbreak: "Kobe takes it and rides it up then rides it down." Steamy!

Lacktion report: Chris is still glowing from Sacto's epic comeback against the Bulls, but he took time away from smoking cigarettes and going over every detail of what happened to deliver another lacktion report:

Sixers-Generals: Philadelphia's Jason Smith negated an assist with a foul in 3:54 for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.

Hawks-Wolves: Oleksiy Pecherov fouled and bricked once each in 1:58 for a +2 suck differential and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl for Minnesota.

Blazers-Mavs: Tim Thomas bricked thricely (once from Fountain Place) for a +3 in 6:04.

Clippers-Rockets: Brian Skinner took a foul and gave up the rock once for a +2 in 3:39 which also earned a 2:0 Voskuhl, while fellow Clipper Steve Novak booked a 21 second stay at Hotel Mario! Clutch the Bear's starting center Chuck Hayes made one field goal in 10:43, only to counter that and two boards with four fouls and a turnover for a 5:4 Voskuhl.

Thunder-Lakers: Nick Collison made one board and one free throw in 12:22 - but bricked a field goal and another charity stripe shot while ultimately fouling out, resulting in a 6:2 Voskuhl!

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