kobe finger

The Cleveland Cavaliers: Remember all that scrappy, can-do attitude the Cavaliers began the season with? They were .500 after 10 games and even had a win over the Celtics. After 16 games, they were still a not-too-depressing 7-9. Then the Celtics administered a 106-87 bitchslap in a classic "You never should've beaten us that last time" game. Then LeBron returned to Cleveland to perform a 118-90 castration. Those two games were a one-two knockout that began a brutal stretch in which the Cavaliers (8-23) have lost 14 of 15 games to take their rightful place as the fourth-worst team in the league, ahead of only the Kings (5-23), Wizards Generals (7-22) and Timberwolves (8-24).

The latest spanking -- a 110-95 home loss to the Magic -- was actually a one-point game going into the final quarter. With Dwight Howard on the bench with foul trouble, the Cavs should have had a slugger's chance. If only they'd put some hands in faces. But with the way Orlando shot the ball -- 7-for-10 on threes during the fourth quarter and 19-for-31 for the game -- I can't help wondering whether the Cavaliers have any hands left.

Ah well. You can't expect a beaten team to play defense.

Byron Scott, coach of the year candidate: "They have a lot of firepower, There's no doubt about that. We don't have as much as they do. There's no doubt about that, too."

The Indiana Pacers: So let me get this straight. The Celtics were already without Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West. Then Nate Robinson gets cut on the head and leaves for good after only 24 minutes and Shaq fouls out in only 16 minutes of PT. Sweet damn, the Pacers must have...

...shot like shit (37 percent) and lost by double-digits at home (95-83). Of course.

Danny Granger: Indy's franchise guy went 5-for-21 and scored only 2 points in the fourth quarter...during which his Pacers went from up a point to down 12. I'm just sayin'.

Said Doc Rivers: "We just crowded him. He just missed some good shots, too. He's just a tough cover. You really want to just fight him off his spot and make him take tough shots."

Don't you love it when a coach is being diplomatic?

The New York Knicks: Hey, credit them for making a game of it, but spotting the Heat a 22-point lead won't lead to many wins.

Said Amar''''''e Stoudemire: "Tonight was a measuring stick game for us and we feel we played well despite the first quarter."

Yeah. About that first quarter. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 12 points and 9 rebounds in the first eight and a half minutes. Mind you, Big Z had only scored 12+ points once this season. The Ilgauskas Explosion helped Miami build a 34-15 first quarter lead that basically defined the game. And you know who was defending Zydrunas during that quarter...?

Amar''''''e Stoudemire: See above.

Erik Spoelstra, quote machine: "I told the guys, a 22-point lead against the Knicks is similar to a seven- or eight-point game against a normal team."

The Milwaukee Bucks: Here's some background: The Bucks were without three key players due to injury (Brandon Jennings, Drew Gooden, Carlos Delfino) and one due to suspension (Earl Boykins). They rank 30th in both Offensive Rating (99.7) and PPG (90.3). Oh, and they had gotten blown out at home by the Hawks the night before.

So what happened to the Bucks in Chicago? They shot a season-low 32.1 percent from the field and lost 90-77. The only reason they were even in the game was their rebounding: 19 offensive boards for 18 second-chance points.

Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We didn't play very well at the end. We weren't able to get anything going offensively. Somehow we hung in there. We couldn't score enough baskets. We couldn't find ways to score."

Pretty much sums up the season, Scott.

Andrew Bogut: Last season, Bogut lit up the Bulls, averaging 21.7 PPG on 52 percent shooting over three games. Last night he finished with 4 points on 2-for-12 shooting. He was 2-for-9 at the rim and attempted only two foul shots...both of which he bricked.

What happened? Dude was straight up locked down by the Corpse of Kurt Thomas.

Said Carlos Boozer: "Let me tell you, Kurt Thomas did a phenomenal job. That's their go-to and they go to him quite a bit. Obviously Kurt played there last year so he know his moves, but Kurt did a great job on him and he basically took their best player out of the game by himself."

The Dallas Mavericks: Boy, if anybody wanted to make the case for Dirk Nowitzki winning the MVP award, this game would be all the evidence they'd need. The Mavs -- playing at home and essentially tied with Boston for the league's second-best record -- went out and laid an egg so big their collective asses will be stinging for weeks.

Okay, so get this. The Craptosaurs -- sans leading scorer Andrea Bargnani (21.2 PPG) leading rebounder Reggie Evans (12.1 RPG), Sonny Weems and Peja Stojakovic -- just flat-out embarrassed the Mavericks. Dallas scored only 76 points on 41 percent shooting. They went 5-for-22 from downtown. They gave up 20 points off 18 turnovers. They were outscored 25-9 on the fast break and 48-24 in the paint. Oh, and Toronto outrebounded them 42-35.

And did I mention that rookie Ed Davis lit 'em up for a career-high 17 points and 12 boards?

Said Tyson Chandler: "We've got to get used to playing without the big fella for a while. We had a tough time adjusting. Our defense held them to 84, but offensively we had nothing."

Saying they had nothing offensively doesn't even do justice to just how much nothing they really had. The Mavericks scored 13 points in the first quarter and only 17 in the fourth. I'm looking down the roster and seeing Shawn Marion, Caron Butler, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry...these guys have played offense before. Right?

On the bright side, Brian Cardinal scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. See? All he needed was some PT.

The Portland Frail Blazers: It's just been that kind of season for the Frail Blazers. One night after a hope-lifting win over the Jazz in Utah, they get hammered 95-77 in Denver by the Carmelo Anthony-less Nuggets.

Those 77 points were a seaon-low by a Nuggets opponent.

In all fairness to the Blazers, they were playing the second of back-to-back road games. And -- SURPRISE ALERT!! -- they were minus Brandon Roy (resting his sore knee) and starting center Marcus Camby, who had sprained his right ankle against the Jazz.

Said LeMarcus Aldridge: "We just never really got going. It was just one of those nights where it was tough for us to get in a good a rhythm. It's a tough back-to-back. No excuses, but I think last night took a lot to win in Utah, which a lot of teams don't ever do."

No excuses, but...excuses.

The Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant was pissed after the Heat thrashed his Lakers in L.A. on Christmas day. So pissed that he vowed to "kick some [butt] during practice." What followed were reports of a "feisty" practice. And yet...don't you kinda get the feeling that Kobe's teammates don't appreciate him calling them out in the press?

Said Lamar Odom: "I think everybody is on the same pag. We don't need shoutouts in the media. We know our jobs. This is a team that's been to the Finals three [years] in a row. We know what big games are and games everybody looks forward to."

Added Ron Artest: "You gotta pay attention to the whole surroundings." Whatever that means.

But Kobe is Kobe. He said: "We haven't really been pointing at anything, that's been one of the problems. We don't really get too excited about anything anymore. I'm excited about this game. I'm excited about the challenge of it and hopefully the rest of the guys are too."

Just like that, the Lakers became Kobe and The Rest of the Guys. And they sure played like it.

Before the game, I said to myself, "Self, I bet this is going to be one of those classic 'Kobe Goes Down With Guns Blazing' games." Man, I wish I could pick lottery numbers with that kind of accuracy. Kobe took 27 shots in 31 minutes while the rest of L.A.'s starters combined for 30 in 123 minutes. Mamba was 3-for-7 from downtown and also committed a game-high 5 turnovers. And 1 assist. At one point, Bryant missed 13 shots in a row. It was a lucky number.

For the Spurs.

Said Kobe: "I'm just [mad] at myself. [Mad] I didn't play well."

Why can't the AP used the word "pissed"? I always wonder that.

Anyway, the Spurs had their way with the defending chumps, and they did it despite bawful games from Tim Duncan (1-for-7, 2 points, 4 rebounds) and Manu Ginobili (3-for-12). That was because Tony Parker went wherever he wanted (23 points on 10-for-18 shooting) and DeJuan Blair owned the interior (17 points, 15 rebounds). L.A. got outscored 17-8 on the fast break and 42-28 in the paint. The Lakers finished with 82 points on 35 percent shooting.

Rough going for the Lakers. They've lost three in a row, all blowouts, two of which were at home. Remember, they went through a stretch in which they had lost five of eight -- with the three wins coming against the Kings, Wizards and Clippers -- before winning five in a row after Andrew Bynum's return. Of course, those five games were versus the Nyets, Wizards, Pacers, Sixers and Craptors. So maybe this shouldn't be as surprising as it is. But it is surprising...to everbody. Including Derek Fisher.

Said Kobe: "We're all moody. Fish got a tech today and he's the basketball version of Barack Obama. Everybody's a little moody right now."

Go figure.

Bonus stats: From ESPN Stats and Information:

The Spurs shot 42.5 percent from the field, 28.1 percent from 3-point range, and 66.7 percent from the line. A quick check of Basketball-Reference.com shows they hadn’t won a game with that sort of statistical combination since beating the Phoenix Suns in November, 2005.

How did they win? It took a great effort from Tony Parker (San Antonio is 21-1 when he scores at least 15 points) and their defense. Los Angeles shot 35.4 percent from the field, the third time they've shot that badly against the Spurs in the 49 regular season games that Kobe Bryant has played against them. Bryant missed 13 straight shots, which according to Elias, is the worst run of misses he's had in any game in his career.

The Lakers have dropped three straight games by at least 15 points, one shy of their longest stretch ever, done in November 2007.
Kobe Bryant, worst player of the night: Mamba barely edged Shannon Brown (1-for-11). Said Basketbawful reader Karc:

Early nomination for Worst player of the Night has to be Kobe Bryant. In addition to the godawful shooting (8-27) and the game high for turnovers (5), he gets yet another technical, this time for arguing with George Hill. I guess in Kobe's head, he thought he was Bruce Bowen in disguise or something.

BTW, for fun, I did a quick search on all George Hills. Turns out there's one for basketball, driving, and football. There are some other notable ones, but they'll all dead. Like the Lakers, whose "potent offense" could only cough up 38 points in the second half after leading by two at the break.

Wake me when the Lakers beat a .500 team on the road. Or when they score 90 points again. If ever...
Chris's Lacktion Report:

Magic-Cavs: Ryan Hollins can now write ultimatums in Comic Sans with Dan Gilbert after earning himself a 4.9 trillion (4:55), while Manny Harris handily lost the rock once in 1:57 for a +1 suck differential.

Celtics-Pacers: Jermaine O'Neal drained three fouls despite two boards in 11:55 for a 3:2 Voskuhl, while Solomon Jones smarly countered a trio of boards in 11:40 with three bricks, three fouls, and two giveaways for a 5:3 Voskuhl.

Knicks-Heat: Ronny Turiaf took it to the basket on two free throws, and earned himself a pair of boards...but in the rest of his 15:08, fouled four times and had two turnovers for a 6:4 Voskuhl. Fellow Knickerbocker Bill Walker crawled into the ledger with a foul for a +1 in 4:33.

Lakers-Spurs: Tiago Splitter sunk two freebies in 7:21 and garnered a board...but also fouled four times for a 4:3 Voskuhl. Chris Quinn mightily defeated Jerry Buss in a hand of poker worth 2.15 trillion (2:09)!

Frail Blazers-Nuggets: Renaldo Balkman successfully mined the hardwood at the Pepsi Center, as evidenced by a haul of 4.3 trillion (4:17)!


Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Spurs are for real this year.

Blogger Rogue said...
Don't know what's up with Lakers but I am pretty sure Spurs would collapse late in the season while entering playoffs. They need 100% Duncan to make it to the Finals and I really doubt it that he is the old Duncan.

Blogger Will said...
Amar'''e couldn't guard the Piltdown Man.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Why do people keep saying the Spurs need 2003 Duncan to win it all this year? That's where the team having such a strong balance helps. Duncan and Ginobili combine for 11 points, and yet the Spurs beat the Lakers by 15. The Spurs will most likely win the West this year. None of the starters play more than 34 MPG. That's insane for a top team.

Blogger Wormboy said...
"That was because Tony Parker went wherever he wanted..."

Alas, that is what Brent Barry discovered.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's Dirk doing the commentary, part 1 of 14 or so.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Spurs offense is no longer running through Duncan, they are not even waiting for him to make it down the floor to run a play. Why do people have such trouble accepting he is not as important to the team as in years past?

Blogger Preveen said...
"That was because Tony Parker went wherever he wanted..."

Alas, that is what Brent Barry discovered.

Ouchie, right in the nads! Sure made me laugh!