Old Cuban
I might be totally imagining this, but the Mavericks' "defense"
seems to be aging Mark Cuban at an accelerated rate.

The Orlando Magic: "Vinsanity is back!"

You'll be reading that for the next couple days. At least until after the Magic play the Bulls in Chicago tomorrow night. And there's no doubt that Vince Carter had a throwback game, scoring 48 points on 19-for-27 from the field, 6-for-10 from downtown and 4-for-4 from the line. It was the third-highest point total of his career, behind only the 51 points he scored on February 27, 2000 for the Raptors against the Suns and the 51 points he dropped on the Heat while playing for the Nyets back on December 23, 2005.

And even though I really kind of hate VC, even I have to admit he looked pretty damn good last night. Step-back jumpers with a hand in his face, three-pointers while fading away over two guys, high-light reel-style layups over three guys. It was all pretty sweet...especially for a guy who shot 28 percent during the month of January. Carter also busted James Posey's ankles en route to a pro-hop layin.

You know a "but" is coming, right?

First of all, that performance was an abberation. Please undersstand this. Carter had what was, in essence, the third-best game of his career. And it's no coincidence it happened during a game that felt a helluva lot more like "Warriors versus Knicks" than "Chris Paul-less Hornets versus the Magic."

The final score was 123-117. Both teams shot over 50 percent: Orlando knocked down better than 54 percent of their field goal attempts while New Orleans hit nearly 52 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

This was not a defensive struggle, people.

And even though the Magic won, they fell behind by 17 points to a team without its best player and had to get a vintage scoring explosion from Vince Carter to eke out a six-point win at home.

Vince Carter, quote machine: Regarding his recent return from the icy grips of Basketball Death: "It's a new month. A new month brings new things. The past is the past, and it's going to be that. I've had rough months. That's just how it goes. And I know the expectations, and you work so hard to have an impressive resume, so it's expected each and every night. I understand that, and I don't have a problem with that. I don't mind being booed because I know what I can do. So I was just going to continue to play and shine through."

The _allas Mavericks: The slumping Mavericks outscored their opponent 37-19 in the fourth quarter to pull out a much-needed come-from-behind win. On the road, no less. And yet here they are in Worst of the Night.

That's because the opponent was the Gol_en State Warriors. And there were circumstances. And they were mitigating.

Calling the Warriors "injury plagued" is like calling Avatar "somewhat poorly written." They essentially played six men. Corey Maggette sat out with a finger injury. Devean George had flu-like symptoms. Vladimir Radmanovich missed the game with an Achilles injury. C.J. Watson (six minutes) and Chris Hunter (one minute) made token appearances. And Monta Ellis (27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) had to leave during the fourth quarter due to a right knee injury. So, you know, make it five men.

And yet the Warriors finished with 117 points.

Some people will tell you that the Warriors dropped 70 points in the first half -- the most points scored in a single half by an _allas opponent all season -- before the Mavs "cranked up the defense down the stretch." Right. I'm here to tell you _allas took advantage of a tired team that had no bench to speak of. Stephen Curry (25 points, 9 assists) logged 48 minutes. Anthony Morrow (career-high 33 points, 11 boards, 4 assists) played 45. Monta Ellis missed four minutes...and that was only because he got hurt. Anthony Tolliver (14 points, 11 rebounds) put in 37 minutes off the bench (the only Warrior reserve to get serious time) and freaking Ronny Turiaf ended up with 35 minutes.

Trust me: Turiaf would not be logging that much time unless absolutely necessary. So please, let's not try to claim the Mavericks shut anybody down in the end game.

By the way, the Mavericks have now rallied from a double-digit deficit in 11 games, the most of any team in the NBA. And while that sounds impressive, that only means they've had to come back from double-digit deficits 11 times. Plus they've had 10 one-point victories, which is also an NBA "best."

All of which means: When I look at their 32-19 record, it just seems a little fishy to me.

The Gol_en State Warrors: Injured? Yes. Tired? Also yes. But facts are facts. They choked away a 14-point lead, gave up 127 points on 52 percent shooting (including almost 55 percent from downtown) and lost their season-worst ninth straight game (including five in a row at home).

And did I mention they're now tied with the Minnesota Timberpoops for the title of Worst Team in the Western Conference?

The San Antonio Spurs: For the first time this season, the Spurs are completely healthy. The Lakers, on the other hand, were without Kobe Bryant (bum foot) and Andrew Bynum (bruised hip cranky vagina). Should have been a gimme for San Antonio, right?

Sorry. These aren't your older brother's Spurs.

Pau Gasol (21 points, 18 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocked shots) not only outplayed Tim Duncan (16 points, 14 boards, 4 blocks), he also kinda proved that he -- and not a certain Black Mamba -- is L.A.'s foundation player. The Lakers really struggled without Gasol earlier this season. Yet in two games without Kobe Bryant, L.A. snapped a five-year losing streak in Portland by blowing out the Frail Blazers on Saturday, and last night they notched a double-digit home win over the Spurs.


The Lakers are now 55-33 all-time when Kobe sits out. Of course, Kobe apologists will be quick to point out that they're 19-23 in 42 games without him since the 2003-04 season. BUT...10 of those losses happened during the 2004-05 season. For the record, that was the first post-Shaq season. You know, the year Rudy Tomjanovich bailed on the team and and Kobe struggled with injuries down the stretch, forcing the Lakers to go to war with a starting five of Caron Butler, Chucky Atkins, Devean Goerge, Brian Grant and Luke Walton.

So, again, mitigating circumstances.

But as much as I love to bust on Kobe, the real victims of this entry are the Spurs. And here's what stands out most about this loss: The fact that nothing really stands out. They shot poorly (42 percent), but so did the Lakers (43 percent). They finished with three fewer rebounds and three fewer assists. They committed 13 turnovers, but L.A. scored only six points off those miscues, whereas San Antonio scored 12 points off 10 Lakers turnovers The Spurs outscored L.A. 48-46 in the paint.

When you come right down to it, the Spurs just...they just got outplayed. The Lakers were the better team. Without Kobe. Without Bynum. With Shannon Brown going 3-for-13 in 37 minutes while starting in Byrant's place.

If you're a San Antonio fan, that's gotta be pretty depressing. In related news, the Spurs are now involved in a legal battle over George Hill's genitals. And no, I'm not kidding.

The Nobel Peace Prize nomination process: Nominated? The Internet. Seriously. [H/T AnacondaHL.]

Lacktion report: Chris maintains his love affair with lacktion:

Hornets-Magic: Emeka Okafor bricked and fouled four times against two boards to earn a 4:2 Voskuhl in 9:01. Sean Marks also got into the Voskuhl category with a 3:1 ratio in 6:28, negating a board with three fouls. Meanwhile, former Clipper Jason Hart tossed a turnip in two seconds for a Super Mario!!!

Mavs-Warriors: The Oracle may have seen 244 points from both teams in 48 minutes, but such expansion on the scoreboard certainly did not prevent lacktivity from occurring!

In a snoozer of a start performance, Eduardo Najera subbed for Erick Dampier and can now participate in insider trades with team owner Mark Cuban, due to his 3.15 trillion (3:10) check! And speaking of Cuban, his "virtually untradeable" pet project (http://espn.go.com/blog/dallasmavericks/post/_/id/4665553/cuban-beaubois
-is-pretty-much-untouchable), Rodrigue Beaubois, earned himself a +4 suck differential in 1:49 via a pair of both fouls and giveaways.

For Team Nellieball, CJ Watson also earned a +4 in 6:18, via a trio of fouls and a singular loss of the rock. Also collecting wealth (enough to make Oracle founder Larry Ellison proud) was Chris Hunter, who earned a 1.05 trillion (1:03).

Spurs-Lakers: DJ Mbenga can now buy a home in Beverly Hills after collecting a celebratory 1.3 trillion (1:18)!

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Anonymous Geert said...
Can we get a WotN for those ass-ugly New Orleans jerseys? What was their clothing department thinking!? "Yes, purple and green is a good combination." "Let's go for green, so we look like the Celtics, only not as good so let's also look like the Kings with a purple back!" Sjeez.

WV: urgsm. Orlando-fans got a onetime urgsm from a vintage Carter.

Anonymous NarSARSsist said...
Yesterday was a great day for Gasol, except for the blocks against. Not only was he sent back by Duncan, he had his shot swatted by the 6'6" Manu and the 5'11" DeJuan Blair. (Seriously, look how Blair shuffles around under the basket and does underhanded layups. He also gets out of position to go for steals. That man is a Parker/Iverson-type point guard!) The man did give as good as he got though, not only returning the favor to Duncan, but blocking Blair 4 times. Poor DeJuan must have as rejected as the girl who got ditched over a Sidney Crosby poster.

I'm really confused by the closing stretch. What was the point of the Spurs playing their starters minus an ineffective RJ when they weren't even trying to win? They were able to score 8 points to pad their final numbers, but they allowed four relatively easy baskets.

Blogger chris said...
Ah, thank you Nellie and Coach Clothesline for presiding over two teams that are amazingly worse than the purple paupers!

Blogger Unknown said...
NarSARSsist: And not only was Pau having a lot of his shots batted around, many of his normal "gimme" shots just weren't falling in the first half. He was either too soft and they bounced off the rim, or they just didn't fall. I'm surprised he had the monster game he did by the end. The dude was two assists away from a triple double for Pete's sake.

I also can't express how happy I am that with Kobe out, the team tended to stick with the game plan and feed the ball to Pau as much as possible. Pau tends to get most of his shots on passes from Kobe so I was worried that the team would spend most of the time chucking up jump shots.

It's not so much Pau being the foundation player as the combination of Kobe and Pau. With Kobe out, the rest of the team had to recognize that and keep the other half of the combination busy.

Anonymous Lucas said...
Anthony Morrow's career high is actually 37, which he scored on November 15, 2008, against shockingly, the Clippers.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Well as an unproud VC fantasy owner, I can say I saw hints that something like this would happen. During his poor shooting run, he actually collected some steals and blocks, and had a few flashes of stat stuffed games.

Anonymous Ray said...
From Truehoop :

Hilarious Video on Juwan Howard :D


Blogger Andrei said...
Anaconda, I too have Carter on my fantasy team and I'm glad that he finally had a good game. This is especially so since Kobe's on the team as well and he's currently out. However, watching the game I know that he's just setting us up for continued sucking. He didn't change his shot selection, his crazy ass shots just happened to drop this game. It's the Jamal Crawford approach to scoring. Carter managed to take only 4 free throws and that's where effective players get points without killing my team's field goal percentage.

Blogger Cortez said...
"Vinsanity is back!"


That crossover was rather routine also.

Blogger chris said...
How many people had Vinsanity on their fantasy team again? Is that some sort of cosmic rule, that if a million people happen to have him on their roster, he suddenly turns into Mid-90s VC?!?

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
It's because of the trade, he was available in the 3rd or 4th round I forgot, so I rolled the dice.

Then again I'm the same guy that rolled the dice on Elton Brand over Josh Smith...ugh...

Blogger Dan B. said...
AnacondaHL -- Your avatar is highly appropriate on that post. Just sayin'.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
DanB: Oh it doesn't stop there. Although I got studs like David Lee late, I technically drafted Ben Gordon, Nate Robinson, Kevin Love, and Tracy McGrady. I have no idea how my team is dominating in 1st place.

Blogger chris said...
AnacondaHL: If picking up wasted talent is an effective strategery, why aren't the purple paupers dominating the Association!?!??!

Blogger chris said...
BTW...'irk Nowitski's sleepy eyes in that photo really represent the Mavs' serious lack of attention on backcourt play, don't they.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
It's amazing (not really) how much more effectively the ball moves when Kobe Bryant is out of the lineup. They fed the ball to Gasol plenty of times but it was a balanced attack that did the Spurs in. La seemed to have an extra hop in their step from the first quarter and pretty much everyone but Adam Morrison contributed meaningfully at some point. Gasol's 20 shots led the team but more than a few off them were generated by offensive rebounds (he had 8).

Rajon Rondo has been selected to be a part of NBA All-Star Weekend's HORSE competition. I'm struggling to come up with a worse possible choice. Ben Wallace? Shaq? Pryzbilla? At least it would be fun to watch those guy give it a shot.

Blogger Silva said...
Are the Hornets considering any trade before the deadline?

I'm struggling a bit in my Live 2005 season since they got rid of Armstrong (in Live 2005 height is very important) and Devin Brown.

I could really use a scorer. Or some kind of center. I have to play with Songaila at center during Okafor's bench time. It's terrible.

Should I contact the Hornets GM with my problem?

Blogger chris said...
Hellshocked: So the "H" shot will be at the free throw line, thus putting Rondo at a huge disadvantage, right?

Er, it's not "HORSE", it's "GEICO." So, it's the "G" shot.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
[Calling the Warriors "injury plagued" is like calling Avatar "somewhat poorly written." They essentially played six men. Corey Maggette sat out with a finger injury....]

Proof that Bad Porn is better than no porn.

@Hellshocked - I think it would be more apropos if the All-Star Weekend included Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides.
Starring Antoine Walker and Larry Hughes, it's about how many ATTEMPTS you can do in a minute.

Chris - that's not sleepy. That's the first signs of the Zombie Apocalypse.

[to Dirk] "Any regrets?"


[solemn nods]

Blogger chris said...
Oh yeah, the All-Star Celebrity Game is coming up this Friday, and will shockingly be televised.

We need to create our own Bawful "Celebrity" Game in response. I already told Dan and Bawful that Gary Coleman HAS to be in that lineup!!!!!

Blogger Charlie said...
True it wasn't the best defensive game ever; but I think Vinsanity deserves a lot of credit. He was covered by Posey for most of the game; who is a pretty formidable defender. If the magic were playing Golden State I would say it was a fluke; even jennings scored 50 on those winners. If they were playing GS Vinsanity would have dropped like 60 on them last night. I guess I'm just happy because he's on my fantasy team. I'm a C's fan but I think if the Magic are firing on all cylinders LA is the only team that can stop them.

Anonymous NarSARSsist said...
We need to create our own Bawful "Celebrity" Game in response. I already told Dan and Bawful that Gary Coleman HAS to be in that lineup!!!!!

How about Charles Barkley? Seeing the Round Mound in action again? The idea rocks, it rocks.

Blogger The Dude Abides said...
Okafor not only was a major lacktator, but it was his wide-open missed dunk that started Orlando's comeback in the 3rd quarter from a 17-point deficit. Okafor caught an alley-oop about three feet from the basket and tried a difficult dunk while still in the air and too far from the basket, when he easily could have just caught it and laid it in. The miss created a long rebound, which turned into a transition three by Rashard Lewis. So instead of a 19-point lead and a momentum pile-on for the Hornets, the lead was only 14 and the Magic had new hope.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Jerry Stackhouse on Vince Carter, from TrueHoop:

“I got the scoop on that when we played them [February 2 in Orlando] and I’m glad we got to that, because I asked him. I was like, ‘Man, what’s going on? Is it the team? Kind of being close to home? What is it?’ He’s like, ‘Stack, man, my knee isn’t right. I’m basically not able, I’m able to play but ...’ I think he kind of has a number in his mind of how long he really wants to continue playing because of all of the pounding and jumping that he has on his knees, and that’s what he told me, so I think that maybe that’s some of it. Hopefully he can find a way to weather that or strengthen it and be able to at least turn it on for them in the playoffs. But him playing at the level that he’s playing right now, I don’t see them really getting back to the Finals. They need him to be that guy, they need him to be that closer because they don’t have a bona fide closer on that team. Rashard Lewis has won some games for them late but you can’t really throw the ball down to [Dwight] Howard late because if he goes to the free throw line, [there’s] a good chance of having an empty possession with that. So you’ve got to have Vince Carter, who is a guy that has been a closer for the most part of his career, to step up and be that closer for them. And, I think, as far as he’s concerned, his body might not allow him to do that.”

Blogger ponderguy said...
As a Portland fan, this would be a dream come true... http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yhcnstb

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What a bust of a season for the Spurs. So much excitement going into it. At the end of the day, the team lacks a good set of defenders. Keith Bogans is a homeless version of Bruce Bowen (and that's putting it nicely) and Duncan, while still a solid defender, isn't 2003 level TD. Also, Pop has shot blockers in Theo Ratliff as well as an athletic 6-10 big in Ian Mahinmi, yet resorts to playing Michael Finley and Richard jefferson at the 4 spot. Too much small ball has killed the Spurs. They lack chemistry and are stuck with a highly overpaid, unmovable player in Jefferson. Next year Jefferson can be used as a large expiring contract, at least.
As arguably the biggest Spurs fan who reads this site, I am telling you guys now:

It's over.

Time to root for my 2nd favorite team: Anyone who plays the Lakers or Mavs

Oh, and how about this gem of a quote from Popovich at the beginning of this season:

"If we don't win it, I should probably be fired"

That should be included in WOTN


Anonymous Kyle P. said...
two superstars to the nets and they only win 4 more games?


Blogger Matt Rafat said...
Am surprised no one has mentioned the upcoming Reggie Miller documentary:


Or did I miss something?

Blogger chris said...
Amandus: I especially love how that does NOT affect Portland's winning percentage in any way, shape, or form!!!!

Blogger LotharBot said...
Remember early season how everyone complained about how easy of a schedule the Lakers had, in terms of home/away games?

The Spurs have had an easier schedule: 29 at home, 21 away. And that's 4 games into a road trip! At the start of the trip it was 29/17, or 12 extra home games.

Also, for those wondering about the Jazz "rolling", they've had 28 at home and 21 away. Since January 1, they've played 12 at home and 5 on the road (only 2 b2b's in that set.) They have won in some tough arenas, but the record is at least a little bit inflated by being home-heavy.

Blogger Ash said...
Here's a little chart showing points per possession vs. number of possesions used.

Note how Kevin Durant and LeBron James are, and should be, the ones taking all the shots on their team.

Note how (for all you Maggette haters) Corey scores MORE points per possession than LeBron or Durant. (Also check out how poorly Monta fares on this... guess the offense should really go through Corey!)


Anonymous NarSARSsist said...
chris - Damn! You beat me to it!

"If we don't win it, I should probably be fired"
On the other hand, Timmeh's about to retire, so Pop will likely be joining him. Why put your perfectly good winning record and all the accolades as a great coach in jeopardy?

Anonymous kazam92 said...
Say what you want about these two but Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol working in unison is poetry in freakin motion. How fair is it that the two best passing big men in the league are on the same team?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Say what you want about these two but Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol working in unison is poetry in freakin motion. How fair is it that the two best passing big men in the league are on the same team?

Let alone on a team where another player tends to dominate the ball. Odom is 10th on the Lakers in Usage Rate, btw.

Anonymous NarSARSsist said...
Say what you want about these two but Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol working in unison is poetry in freakin motion. How fair is it that the two best passing big men in the league are on the same team?

Immortal passers like Jeff Pendergraph and Etan Thomas are livid at the fact that you glossed over them for consideration.

Blogger Boris Tilov said...
That Vince crossover on J Po looks like a couple of 48 year old gym rats.

I hate Dwight Howard's game.

And finally, if Vince would not have had a statistical fluke of a night, that game would have been the Hornets. They looked so good. Down the stretch killed em, I know. But they were completely deflated, especially with Emeka on the bench. What an effort from those guys on the road.

If I were SVG, I would have looked at that like a loss.

Blogger stephanie g said...
Cranky vagina is a bad way to start the day.

It makes sense that VC has some semi-serious injuries because even if he doesn't care it's kinda weird to go from a top 5 SG to bottom 5 in one year. And look what happened to the Nets after he left.

Blogger Bing said...
Apart from the fumbling dribble, you know what shits me about that drive to the hoop? VC's shake of the head afterward. It's like he was saying: "I can turn it on whenever I want."
But he barely ever does.

Anonymous Adrià said...
I have a poster of VC, his dunks were amazing... What a disappointment. BTW, I agree Dirk's face in the picture has awesomeness and suckness at the same (extremely high) level.