Frail Blazer Defense
That's right. Chris Kaman is sandwiched between four Frail
Blazers...and not one of them is playing any damn defense.

The Atlanta Hawks: After last night's loss to the Heat in Miami, Atlanta's Mike Bibby said: "If we would've put a little more effort in, it would have been a different story."

A "little more effort," Mike? Really? Because this latest defeat -- the Hawks' fourth in a row -- looked kind of blowout-y to me. After all, your team lost by 17 points and while being held to season lows in points (75) and field-goal percentage (35.2). Joe Johnson (11 points, 4-for-15) was your only starter to score in double figures. That group -- which included you, Mr. Bibby -- shot 16-for-46 and had almost as many turnovers (6) as assists (8). And Mr. Bibby, despite being Atlanta's starting PG, you were out-assisted 0-1 by Miami's backup center Jamaal Magloire. Oh, and you guys got crushed on the boards too (52-30).

It's safe to say your coach doesn't quite share your optimistic appraisal. Said Mike Woodson: "Unacceptable, how we played tonight."

Newsflash: the Hawks are 2-6 since December 19. And this is the team's first four-game skid since, well, January of last season. Dismissed as coincidence.

Said Al Horford: "It happens. That's the way the season is. There are highs and lows. Right now, this is our low."

He's not wrong.

The Utah Jazz: What a Jekyll and Hyde team. The Jazz had beaten the Hornets six straight times in Utah -- all double-digit wins, by the way -- before last night's 91-87 loss. It looked like that trend might continue when the Musicians outscored the Buzzers 32-24 in the first quarter. However, the tide turned in the third when New Orleans outscored Utah 25-11, and the Jazz had their fourth-quarter rally stolen (literally) by Chris Paul, who pilfered a pass and drove in for the game-clinching layup with 27 seconds left.

That's three straight losses for the Jazz, who have lost five of six overall. Conversely, it was just the third road win for the Hornets this season and their first in Utah in almost four years (not to mention CP3's third win over Deron Williams in 14 career head-to-head matchups).

Devin Brown -- who laced his shoes for the Jazz back in 2005-06 -- had a classic revenge game by scoring a career-high 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting (including 5-for-8 from downtown).

Deron Williams: Remember that CP3 steal that led to his game-clinching layup? Go up three paragraphs if you don't. Anyway, that play came courtesy of a sloppy pass (intended for Andre Kirilenko) from Williams. Said Deron: ""He made a great anticipation. I should have thrown it up to Andrei high. He's a lot taller than Chris. It was a bad pass by me."

Indeed it was. And it killed what should have been a great night for Williams. Not only did he outscore (17 to 12), outshoot (6-for-11 to 5-for-15) and out-assist (11 to 9) Chris Paul, he passed the 3,000-assist mark for his career. (Only about 12,800 assists behind John Stockton!)

The Portland Trail Blazers: You think the Frail Blazers are looking a little thin in the frontcourt? They were dominated by the killer combo of Chris Kaman (20 points, 9-for-13, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and Marcus Camby (9 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocked shots) as the Clippers outscored them 44-32 in the painted rectangle. It was such an overpowering performance -- yes, I'm still talking about the Clippers -- that The Other L.A. Team won by 10 despite giving up 20 points off 20 turnovers.

The Clips also put the clamps on Brandon Roy (6 points, 3-for-12). Mind you, Roy had scored 20+ points for 15 straight games before running into the steel trap of the Clippers' defense.

Actually, defense was a problem for the Blazers...only it was their defense, and not the Clippers, that brought about their doom. The Other L.A. Team shot a ball-busting 58 percent from the field and over 61 percent from beyond the arc (8-for-13). Seriously, guys, can we get some hands for these faces or what? I know they're the Clippers and everything, but you still have to defend them.

Said Portland coach Nate McMillan: "We made it an offensive game, and we didn't establish that we could stop that team. So they got what they wanted and controlled the majority of the game." Later, McMillan added: "I think the whole league feels that if that team is healthy and together, they are a serious threat in the West."

Technically speaking, that's true. Only nobody in the league is all that worried about your team getting healthy, Nate.

Update! Chris Kaman: Yes, he put a hurtin' on the Blazers...but he also had a starring role in the 36-year-old Juwan Howard's first poster in, what, 10 years? Thanks to Drew for the link.

The Chicago Bulls: Vinny Del Negro "earned" a little short-term job security by "coaching" his team to a four-game winning streak. Too bad for Vinny that streak ended last night, as the Oklahoma City Thunder owned the second half against his Bullies, outscoring them 51-33 in the final 24 minutes. And let me tell you, it was a real defensive bitch-slapping. Here's part of what I said about it at By The Horns:

What many people may not yet realize about this young Thunder squad is that they have become a top-notch defensive unit. Seriously. They rank 9th in Forced Turnovers Per Game (15.3), 8th in Defensive Efficiency (101.3 Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions), and 4th in Blocked Shots Per Game (6.0). Moreover, their opponents convert only 59 percent of their shots at the rim. That’s the 9th best mark in the league, which is especially impressive since their opponents attempt the fourth-most shots at the rim per game (29.4).

I bring all this up because the Thunder won last night by shutting the Bulls down in the second half, holding them to only 33 points in the final 24 minutes. The key was the third quarter, when Oklahoma City outscored Chicago 32-14. And they did that by protecting the rim. Like, with a vengeance. The Bulls were getting into the paint at will, but they could not convert. Chicago missed an astonishing 13 layups and tip shots in that third quarter alone, five of which were blocked.

For the game, the Bulls missed an astounding 29 of 53 shots at the rim. The Thunder basically built a brick wall around the basket. And the Bulls ran face-first into it.
Of course, it might have helped if Chicago's bench had contributed, well, anything at all. Instead, they shot 5-for-27 from the field. For those of you who enjoy simple math, that's 18 percent accuracy (or, if you prefer, 82 percent inaccuracy). Speaking of the Bulls' bench...

Tyrus Thomas: T-Time had been playing great in the four games since he'd returned from forearm surgery...but that ended last night as Tyrus "Jump Shot" Thomas made his not-so-triumphant return. He went 3-for-12 from the field while earning only one lonely free throw attempt. Nine of his 12 shots were jumpers, seven of which came from 16-23 feet out. He had two layups stuffed in Oklahoma City's third-quarter run, and on one rare foray to the basket, he attempted an awkward stutter dribble and got picked clean by Nick Collison.

I hope you were man enough to hide your face in shame. Oh, good.

Towel Time for T-Time

Jose Calderon: Could No-Way Jose be the key to Toronto's historically bawful defense? John Hollinger sure seems to think so...and he has the damning numbers to prove it:

Calderon, by all accounts, had been horrid on defense. He hurt his hip two games after the Atlanta disaster and has played only seven minutes over the past 13 games, a stretch that coincides with the Raptors' best defensive effort of the season ... As bad as Toronto has been on defense this year, it has been orders of magnitude worse with Calderon playing. The Raptors are 11.2 points per 100 possessions worse with Calderon on the floor than when he's off it -- roughly the difference between Golden State and the Celtics on defense. Subjective evaluation backs up the numbers -- he's been beaten off the dribble as easily as any other point guard I've seen this season, and that's been the case ever since he tore his hamstring early in the 2008-09 campaign. Of course, Calderon's supporters will argue that part of the reason his on-court versus off-court numbers are so bad is that he has been out of the lineup when his teammates have finally started defending with some zeal. And it might be a fair point: As bad as he's looked, it's extremely unlikely that a single player could have an impact as profound as Calderon's on-court versus off-court numbers imply. We should get a better answer soon. Calderon is scheduled to return to the lineup Wednesday for the Raptors' game against Orlando.
Lacktion report: Chris completes our nightly recap with the lacktion report:

Hawks-Heat: In the rematch of the Least Interesting Seven-Game Series Ever, Joe Smith blandly batted down an assist with two fouls for a 2:0 Voskuhl in 5:19, while fellow dirty bird Jason Collins blinged it up with a 3 trillion (3:01)! In the same time period that Collins struck it rich, Jeff Teague bricked once from the Jewelry District for a +1 suck differential.

Hornets-Jazz: Ronnie Price collected a +6 in 10:06 by giving Utah a rejection, a foul, a giveaway AND three bricks!

Blazers-Clippers: The solidly sucky Steve Novak provided some celebration for Mike Dunleavy's squad with a two-brick +2 in 1:52.
Gilbert Arenas: Oooooooooooh...he was just kidding around (via TrueHoop)!

As I have said before, I had kept the four unloaded handguns in my house in Virginia, but then moved them over to my locker at the Verizon Center to keep them away from my young kids. I brought them without any ammunition into the District of Columbia, mistakenly believing that the recent change in the DC gun laws allowed a person to store unloaded guns in the District.

On Monday, December 21st, I took the unloaded guns out in a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate. Contrary to some press accounts, I never threatened or assaulted anyone with the guns and never pointed them at anyone.

Joke or not, I now recognize that what I did was a mistake and was wrong. I should not have brought the guns to DC in the first place, and I now realize that there’s no such thing as joking around when it comes to guns -- even if unloaded.
Awh, it's okay, Gil. I'm sure I speak for everybody everywhere when I say we've all pulled unloaded guns on co-workers as a joke before! Am I right? Hey, speaking of irresponsible gun use...

Jayson Williams: Just when you thought accidentally killing your driver and trying to cover it up, then getting tasered by cops for acting "suicidal" and "violent", then getting arrested for passing out knuckle sandwiches in a bar fight was rock bottom...Jayson Williams apparently got drunk and ran his car into a tree. How many wrecks can a train get into before it gets decommissioned?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Don't worry all - I already have an inspection team searching Bawful's basement for body pods. We all know he doesn't actually cite Hollinger unless he's going to argue with him.

Blogger Cortez said...
"Because this latest defeat -- the Hawks' fourth in a row -- looked kind of blowout-y to me."

Just a few short weeks ago people were posting comments about how the Hawks had risen to some sort of extra special status.


Blogger chris said...
That juxtaposition of Jayson Williams and Agent Zero is gold, I tell you.

And for the record, as long as it's the Little Engine that Could, I guess Jayson's trail of fail will keep on chugging! (literally in this case)

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Damnit, stuff like this always happens when I'm on vacation, and I'm late to the news party.

Kokomo sheriff tracks down drug dealer in Canada via World of Warcraft. Yay Indiana!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Just a few short weeks ago people were posting comments about how the Hawks had risen to some sort of extra special status.

And people mocked me for doubting them...

That juxtaposition of Jayson Williams and Agent Zero is gold, I tell you.

Williams' DUI/car crash could NOT have been more timely. Unless he actually hit Agent Zero with his car instead of a tree.

Kokomo sheriff tracks down drug dealer in Canada via World of Warcraft. Yay Indiana!

Holy shit! I saw that headline (sans the Kokomo part) and told myself I'd click on it later...then forgot. I now have a new favorite story ever.

Blogger chris said...
Bawful/AnacondaHL: With the tracking ability demonstrated therein, it makes you wonder why Agent Zero honestly thought he could hide his, um, "joke" in obscurity.

With witnesses present.

Blogger Will said...
If he crashed his car into a tree in brooklyn, someone could have written a play about it.

Blogger Hilary said...
Jayson Williams' timing is so good it's suspicious. Maybe David Stern offered to use his ultimate power to help Williams out if he agreed to provide a timely example to current players of "bad things that wouldn't have happened if you weren't reckless with your gun?"

I know this is from yesterday's post, but can someone explain to me why Jane Eyre = Twilight?

Blogger chris said...
Meanwhile, ESPN's Daily Dime provides us its own dose of bawfulness -

1. Pointing out John Salmons's lackluster stats last night:

John Salmons, Bulls: The guy who dropped 35 points on the C's in the playoff last year manages three points on 1-for-8 shooting in a 98-85 home loss to OKC. The Bulls are 2-8 when Salmons fails to reach double digits in scoring.

2. This poll question, self-explanatory:

Will the Clippers finish above .500?

3. And a fun stat regarding Kevin Durant:

Kevin Durant's streak of seven consecutive games with at least 30 points ended on Monday night when he was held to 25 in Oklahoma City's win at Chicago. But Durant committed five turnovers in the game and that continued a different pattern. He has turned the ball over at least five times in five consecutive games, tying the longest streak by any NBA player over the past two seasons. Stephen Jackson had five or more turnovers in five straight games in February 2009.

Blogger chris said...
Nice little writeup on Marky Mark in the big D at ESPN...

Tee hee:

What about the battles with referees and the league office?

"Oh, no. That was fun," Cuban said. "That was fun, because I knew I was doing the right thing that would be best for the league. I wasn't just spitting in the wind. I truly believed that it would be better for the league as a whole, and it was my job as a partner. I think it has benefited the league as a whole."

Blogger Wormboy said...
"Moreover, their opponents convert only 59 percent of their shots at the rim. That’s the 9th best mark in the league, which is especially impressive since their opponents attempt the fourth-most shots at the rim per game (29.4)."

Meaning that opponents are getting to the rim a lot, right? Where percentages are high even against the best rim-defending team? I'd accept the defense described as good, but not "top notch."

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
Chris Kaman got dunked on by the calcified remains of Juwan Howard last night. I think that qualifies for worst of the night/week/month. Has Juwan ever dunked on anyone before?

Blogger Glenn said...
Looked like Juwan Howard is the most scared of Kaman. ha ha


Blogger Basketbawful said...
Looked like Juwan Howard is the most scared of Kaman.

Well, Kaman is so pale, maybe Juwan thought he'd seen a ghost.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Miller is playing defense by deftly placing his elbow in Kaman's area. It doesn't appear to be working, though.

Bawful, should I answer Hilary's query about Jane Eyre, or do you want to take it?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Davros -- It's all yours.

Blogger chris said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hilary - Both Tweelite and Jane Arrggh are poorly written, hackneyed depictions of hopelessly unrealistic "love" affairs designed to appeal to people with little or no knowledge of how a relationship really works. Kind of like WoW for the distaff set.

And many of us were forced to endure Jane Eyre at some point in school(because it's chaste and moralizing) which just ramps up the hate for it.

That's enough Masterpiece Theatre, let talk about the games.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
chris -- So THAT'S where my hunger goes when I eat a Snicker's bar...

Blogger Clifton said...

I think the two-identical-headed lacktion monster of Jason and Jarron Collins should be in the early running for Lacktioneer of the Year. Can they campaign together? They ought to at least get a special nod for being the most lacktionny siblings in the league this year.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Emeka Okafor is German?

Davros - this is a sports blog. Complex words like "hackneyed," "distaff," and "chaste" have no meaning here. But I'll give you credit, you were much nicer about it than I anticipated.

Blogger chris said...
Clifton: If only their combined performances were as sucktackular as frontrunner Steve Novak, who just keeps on providing the paltry stats!!!!!!!

BadDave: Chris Kaman is "German" too!!!

Davros: I bet you it'd be better in Monsterpiece Theatre though...

Bawful: You mean it doesn't start and end with Patrick Chewing?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Okay, "distaff" may not carry much weight in sports, but I'll bet "chaste" has more meaning than many here would admit, and to say "hackneyed" and blogs don't go together, well that's just full goose bozo crazy (present company excepted of course).

Besides, my local NBA teams are the Paupers and Gol_en State, so I need a hobby to keep my fingernails away from my own jugular.

Blogger Hilary said...
Davros: Thanks for the explanation.

Blogger chris said...
Davros: At least you can enjoy 46 minutes of solid Purple Pauper basketball before two minutes of royal ineptitude!

Blogger chris said...
And Rafer Alston has just been paroled from his indefinite sentence in the Nyets Gulag.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hilary - You're welcome.

chris - But I've been watching them since they were red, white and baby-blue exiles from Omaha with a Burger King crown in their logo (in the old Arco). That brief bust of competence around 2000-03 was merely a brutal ploy to raise our hopes then destroy them, like bunnies tossed into a stump grinder.

And everybody knows the Warriors are even worse cockteasing schmiels.

Blogger chris said...
Davros: At least the Burger King crown looked better in the River City than it ever did in the one year it was used in Cincy...

I really wish I could find more photos of the Madhouse on Market Boulevard (the first Arco Arena), other than seeing it as an office building with a large, arena-sized parking lot as it is today.

And hey, the Warriors won a title in the last year the Kings were in OMAHA! That's only 24 years less of a drought than what, Sacramento has.

Blogger chris said...
Great. Tyreke the Freak is hurt. AGAIN.

Blogger chris said...
Okay, #13 is back on the court and life is good again for now. whew.

Blogger chris said...
Tyreke stealing the ball from Steve Nash: smooooth.

Blogger chris said...

Despite tying up the game TWICE towards the end...

Sacramento is now 1-6 since The Comeback, after 5 moral victories. :(