20110330-john-wall-zydrunas-ilgauskas"I must break you"

Spencer Hall posted a stunning piece of literature yesterday: Everything need to know about John Calipari, to the tune of Steely Dan's album The Royal Scam. Even speaking as a fan of Kentucky Wildcat basketball, I approve of this piece. Behold the power of Steely Dan. (Seriously, go listen to that album while you read this. Do it. Great album.)

My favorite quote of the day is related to the sale of the Pistons. Or rather their inability to sell the team:
"The Pistons are officially that beat-up Camaro at the end of the street that's been on the block for two months. The "For Sale' sign has faded with dust and things are starting to grow around the wheels."

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

20110330-vince-carterOh, Vince. What else can you do to make me hate you?

20110330-vince-carter-2Oh. That.

20110330-jay-trianoHey, if you saw your mascot faceplant while on rollerblades like that, you'd have a pissy look on your face too

20110330-mark-cubanI bet Cuban would get along really well with that one Nyets fan

Nationally Televised Games:
Celtics at Spurs, TNT, 8pm: Hey! Who wants to watch two injury-riddled teams limp through the end of the regular season on national TV? (meekly raises hand)

Mavericks at Lakers, TNT, 10:30pm: The Lakers are 15-1 since the All-Star Break. Quick, someone go invent a time machine so we can go back to earlier this year when they were kinda sorta struggling! Or at least let us go back to 2004-2005 when Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm, and Jumaine Jones were holding down the fort.


sad Minny bench

Rashan S. Michel: He attacked Dominque Wilkins?! Read on true believers:

The Atlanta Hawks say Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins was attacked by a fan after their victory over the Orlando Magic.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the attacker was a former NBA referee, Rashan S. Michel.

Michel, who was arrested and charged with simple battery, said Wilkins owed him money, Atlanta police told the newspaper.

Wilkins is a vice president with the team and serves as a television analyst. He had just finished working Atlanta's 85-82 victory Wednesday night from his customary spot on press row when the alleged incident occurred at Philips Arena.

Team spokesman Arthur Triche says the attacker was "promptly arrested and taken into custody by the Atlanta police department." Wilkins was not injured.
Bizarre. The first thing I thought when I read this was: "You know, 'Nique never even made it to a conference finals. What could he possibly owe a referee money for?"

The Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard shut down by lacktion specialist Jason Collins? But...but...I thought only Kendrick Perkins could do that. From the AP recap:

Collins went body-to-body with Howard in a bruising matchup, helping limit the Orlando star to 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

"I was just trying to play physical with him," Collins said. "I try to eye him up when he crosses halfcourt. I want to meet him early, before he gets close to the basket."

Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was impressed.

"That's the best defense I've seen all year on Dwight," Van Gundy said. "Against Collins, he didn't get a lot of good shots. I thought he did a great job on him. He's big and physical. He doesn't give you anything easy. Dwight had trouble getting good, on-balance shots."
Pumaman's struggles aside, I'm trying not to overreact to Orlando's loss in Atlanta, but it's hard. Their schedule is pretty light on quality wins, especially lately, even if they did beat Miami back on March 3. The Magic just feel like a team teetering on it last legs. Ditching Rashard Lewis and Vince fucking Carter were good things. Very good things. But the bold acquisitions of Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson haven't been complete failures...but they're pretty close.

As it is, the formula for beating Orlando is simple: Play Dwight physically and guard the three-point line. That's what Atlanta did last night (the Magicians were 7-for-23 from downtown). It worked. Barely. But it worked.

I could definitely see the Hawks upsetting the Magic in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, the Dirty Birds are a mess, too, so who knows? Neither team is advancing past the second round. I'll tell you that right now.

The Detroit Pistons: Another loss, their fourth in five games, and their ninth straight on the road. The Pistons 7-30 outside of Detroit this season and they haven't won on the road since February 9. In Cleveland. Just that kinda season for the Pistons I guess.

Said Greg Monroe: "It is something we are going to have to fix. We are going to have to bring extra energy on the road. We just have to match the other team's intensity."

Added Detroit coach John Kuester: "We're trying different things right now, trying to get something going so we can win that road game. But I'll tell you, our energy is so much better at home, compared to on the road."

Reality check: The Pistons are 22 games under .500. They go through starting lineups the way Charlie Sheen goes through crazy pills. What different things are left they haven't tried? Voodoo? Goat sacrifice? Fish oil?

The Houston Rockets: Their hopes for a first round postseason elimination got a little dimmer last night in Philadelphia, where they lost 108-97 and fell a full three games behind the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Don't feel bad, Houston fans. On the bright side: Lottery pick!

The Minnesota Timberwolves: The Bulls blew out the T-Wolves, blah, blah, blah. Same old story for the worst team in the Western Conference.

In honor of how much the Timberwolves bore me, and because Carlos Boozer rented his Beverly Hills mansion to Prince, I present this classic Dave Chappelle skit:

Heat-WizardsGenerals: This one sure got surprisingly ugly:

From the AP recap:

The 6-foot-4 Wall moved out to play tight defense on 7-3 center Ilgauskas near the 3-point arc. While protecting the ball, Ilgauskas appeared to elbow Wall in the face at least once. Wall responded by swinging his right hand at Ilgauskas.

"Got hit by the elbow and reacted to it. Disappointed in the way I reacted. I let my teammates down, let the organization down," Wall said. "It was two elbows. I got hit with the first one; I stopped and waited. And the second one, I got hit, and I just reacted."

As officials went to intervene, Wizards center JaVale McGee arrived to separate Wall and Ilgauskas and was pushed away by Heat backup forward Howard. At the same time, Wizards coach Flip Saunders left the sideline and stepped on the court to try to pull away McGee before exchanging words with Howard.

"We both just kind of asked where are we going to go out for dinner after the game," Saunders said.

McGee's take: "Ilgauskas tried to punk [Wall], hit him in the face with his elbow. Obviously, [Wall] wasn't going for it. ... I went over there to break it up, and Juwan Howard tried to come over and blindside, push me or whatever."

The game was delayed by more than 10 minutes while officials huddled around a TV to watch replays. Eventually, Wall and Ilgauskas were each assessed a flagrant foul-2 and ejected. Howard was called for a technical foul and ejected for escalation; McGee was called for a technical but allowed to stay in the game.
LeBron James, quote machine, Part 1: Regarding a foul committed against him by Maurice Evans: "I don't know if Mo Evans intentionally wants to be dirty. I watch a lot of basketball. I see a lot of basketball every day, and anytime when someone gets grabbed around the neck, it's an automatic flagrant-1. If I'm wrong, tell me I'm wrong. Sometimes it's unfair, because of how strong I am, you know. I can take the punishment of course, but at the same time, I think it's unfair sometimes."

LeBron James, quote machine, Part 2: On the MVP race: "Right now, statistically, it's probably one of the best years I've had. But we'll see. The media kind of controls it. You've got some guys here that have done their job also. At one point, I thought Dirk was also [worthy] until he got hurt. But Derrick Rose definitely has gotten a lot of the exposure and a lot of the media attention because of the work he's done. He's playing some unbelievable basketball."

The Toronto Raptors: A home loss in which they allowed the offensively challenged Milwaukee Bucks rack up an Offensive Rating of 121.7? Cue up the video:

That's five losses in a row and...however many of however many. Look, this team loses a lot, okay? The Craptosaurs are 20-54 and only five games better than the Cleveland Cadavers. I'm sorry, Toronto fans. I'm just so sorry.

Byron Scott, quote machine: No, I'm not giving the Cadavers a WotN entry because they lost by a point on a free throw with 14 seconds left on the road one night after upsetting the Heat. I will give coach Scott a quote machine entry, tho'. From the AP game notes:

Scott was still steaming over the officials incorrectly counting James' 55-foot buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter Tuesday following a clock error. "I used my initials. I told them it was BS," Scott said. "If they want to just give them the game, give them the game."
Most coaches aren't that bitter after a double-digit win over a much better team. But, hey, in Scott's defense, most people don't have to coach a team as lousy as the Cadavers.

The New Jersey Nyets: Remember the Nyets fan that went crazy when Deron Williams hit a big shot against the Celtics a couple weeks ago?

Well, he didn't get to go crazy last night, assuming he was watching the Nyets come up short against the Knicks last night. D-Will badly missed a potential game-tying 17-footer with four seconds left, went after the rebound and then dropped to the floor like a sandbag. I'm not saying I enjoyed seeing that. But after what happened in Utah this season, I kind of enjoyed seeing that.

I love this ESPN video called "Melo's Strong Defense Helps Beat Nets." New Jersey finished with an Offensive Rating of 119.3 while New York's was 123.4. So, uh, yeah. I don't think "the defense" was being played by anybody last night.

The Portland Frail Blazers: Ruh roh, Raggy. The David West-less Hornets capitalized a big game by Carl Landry (21 points), Willie Green's 10-point fourth quarter and Portland's 9 second half turnovers to earn a 95-91 win and overtake the Blazers for sixth place in the West.

Willie Green!

The biggest TO of the game was when Andre Miller coughed up the ball on a drive when the Blazers were down only 91-88 with 13 seconds left.

Said Portland coach Nate McMillan: "It was turnovers. They were huge. You can't have those mistakes going down the stretch."

Added Gerald Wallace: "This one hurts, especially a game that we feel like we controlled for the first quarter-and-a-half. In the second half, they kind of took control and forced us to play back on our heels."

Willie Green, quote machine: "It was good to get up there and dunk. I'm going to laugh and talk with my teammates about it. They were a little caught off guard. I was a little caught off guard. I don't dunk that much."

The Gol_en State Warriors: After his team's 110-94 loss in Memphis -- in which the Grizzlies shot 56.5 percent from the field and finished with an O-Rating of 126.1 -- Warriors coach Keith Smart said: "I think because we are a team that is still growing, you have to understand how to win on the road and how to win in tough buildings and tough environments. And how to win when you are tired and banged up at this time of the year. This is all a learning stage for us."

Huh. I wonder where "fire head coach after yet another disappointing season" comes in the learning stage?

Lionel Hollins, quote machine: "[The Warriors] were dragging a little bit. It's late in the season. I always say when you start putting pressure on teams that are near or out of the playoffs, you tend to find out if they'll fight, and most nights they don't. They didn't have enough fight. It's a long season, and they were losing and tired from a game [Tuesday] night. We just did what we had to do."

The Sacramento Kings: Yeah, yeah, the Kings lost. More interesting is that the Nuggets continued their crazy run...they're now 13-4 since the 'Melo trade.

The Phoenix Suns: After the Suns were outscored 37-25 in the fourth quarter of last night's 116-98 home loss to the Thunder -- their fourth loss in a row -- Marcin Gortat said: "It was a bad night for us. We played terrible defense. We played with no toughness or physicality."

What do you expect on a night when Vince Carter leads the team in scoring?

The Los Angeles Clippers: Talk about crippling sequences. Mind you, I suspect the Clips were losing this game no matter what, but they were down only 89-80 with 6:01 remaining when Mo Williams (19 points, 9-for-9 from the line, 5 assists) got called for a foul against J.J. Barea. Mo wasn't happy and bitched his way into two techs and an ejection. Dirk Nowitzki hit the technical free throws and Barea knocked down the freebies from Mo's foul. When Chris Kaman threw the ball away on L.A.'s next possession, Dallas ran down and got a three-pointer from Barea. And just like that, The Other L.A. Team was down 16. They made the final score respectable...but that was pretty much the game.

Said Eric Gordon: "We lost control of the game when we had all those technical fouls. That gave them a good run and those were free points we gave them. They just got a lot of calls."

And the Clippers just are who we thought they were.

Chris's Mighty Lacktion Ledger:

Magic-Hawks: Malik Allen made himself a rectangular piece of masonry in 1:24 for a +1, while Jeff Teague added a foul to his own brick in 2:54 for a +2.

Rockets-Sixers: Mike Harris and DeMarre Carroll had 52 seconds of clearing out the sewer systems for the Rockets, leading to a stint as MARIO TWINS!

Bucks-Craptors: Welcome back to lack, Sonny Weems! Mr. Weems rollerskated into riches with an exact 7.7 trillion (7:42)

Heat-Generals: Jamaal Magloire marred a made free throw with a turnover and a run-in with King Koopa in 48 seconds for a non-lacktive Mario.

For the professional opponents from the District, Kevin Seraphin stiffed two boards in 8:43 with two fouls, one turnover and no shot attempts for a 3:2 Voskuhl. Hamady N'Diaye went statless in the same time period as Magloire to be an opposing-team Mario Twin.

Warriors-Grizzlies: Jeff Adrien bricked twice in 2:16, fouled once, and took two rejections for a +5! Memphis's Ishmael Smith gained enough in 66 seconds to hold a celebratory treasure worth 1.1 trillion.

Frail Blazers-Hornets: Quincy Pondexter had exactly half a minute to compose a tune in Mario Paint, while Patrick Ewing Jr. chewed on a gold bar worth 1.6 trillion (1:37)!

Thunder-Suns: Nate Robinson rolled in the dough with a 1.1 trillion (1:05).

Mavs-Clippers: Eric Bledsoe bottled up a foul in 1:40 for a +1.



The Miami cHeat: As Basketbawful reader Aaron said: "The Heat can only beat bad teams" is no longer true!

Despite LeBron's big night -- 27 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 20,562 boos and a three-pointer that shouldn't have counted -- the lowly Cadavers beat the mighty cHeat in what may be the greatest underdog story since Peter La Fleur's misfits from Average Joe's defeated White Goodman and his Globo-Gym team at the American Dodgeball Association of America tournament in Las Vegas.

I know what you're probably saying: Something like "Pffffft!!" or "Buhwhaaaaaa...?!" And not just because Globo-Gym wins in the alternate ending to Dodgeball. The idea that the worst team in basketball could defeat the Nazgul is nearly beyond belief. But I promise you: It's not a misprint. Not a typo. We're still two days away from April 1, so this isn't an April Fool's Day joke. Cleveland straight up took it to Miami despite the fact that (USELESS STAT ALERT!!) King Crab became the first (and only) player since Wilt Chamberlain to have a triple-double against a team he had won an MVP with.

So...how'd it happen?

From ESPN Stats and Information: "The Heat came into Tuesday's game ranked second in opponent field goal percentage. On Tuesday they allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 55.6 percent, giving up more than 12 percent on their season average. The Heat, who were outscored by 11 in the second quarter, allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 5-for-6 from outside of 15 feet including four 3-pointers in that quarter."

The Clevelanders finished with an eFG% of 62.7 percent and an Offensive Rating of 115.9. Miami could do nothing with J.J. Hickson (21 points and 12 rebounds) or Anthony Parker (20 points on 7-for-9 shooting).

Not only were the Cads red-hot, they held the cHeat to 42.3 percent shooting and outrebounded them 44-30. Cleveland led by as many as 23 points and held off a Miami rally to win by double digits. Speaking of which...

From ESPN Stats and Information: "Despite LeBron's historic effort, the Cavaliers beat the Heat by 12 to earn their first double-digit win this season. Every other team has at least four wins by 10 or more points. Should Cleveland not win one of its nine remaining games by double-digits, the Elias Sports Bureau says the Cavaliers would be just the second team ever to have fewer than two double-digit wins in a season. Cleveland would join the 1997-98 Raptors (one)."

I know, I know. Wow.

Said Anthony Parker: "The first time we played them here, we were embarrassed and they took a little from us. This is the night that we wanted to get that back, for us, but more for the fans. That was great getting it back for them."

Added cHeat coach Erik Spoelstra: "The majority of time in this league you get what you deserve and we got exactly what we deserved. They played harder than us. They came out with much more desperation and sense of urgency. This pattern started two games ago, and we're a little confused what our identity is."

Confused what our identity is? That's a weird statement.

But Coach Spo' is right about the Cads playing harder. Especially Ryan Hollins. I mean, damn, son. He would not be denied. And he would not be intimidated, no matter how butthurt D-Wade was feeling:

And Ryan wants the Boshtrich to know something: NOT IN MY HOUSE!!

Hollins' performance (13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 12 free throw attempts and a plus-minus score of +33) focused the camera of shame both on Bosh's soiled panties (10 points, 5-for-14, 4 rebounds, a game-worst plus-minus of -24) and the extreme suck generated by Miami's bench (6 total points on 3-for-12 shooting). Yeah, we all know that Chris' nuts tend to shrivel when he encounters brute force and John Hollinger's "revelation" that the Heat reserves blow rocked our minds about as hard as that recent study that said open shots are better than contested shots...

...but I can't help but think back to the Miami teams from 2004-05 and 2005-06. You know, when they added Shaq, and guys like Damon Jones, Christian Laettner, Jason Kapono and James Posey started playing great. I mean, it's just weird, isn't it? The hallmark of great players is usually how they enhance the performance of their teammates. And while the Nazgul are surrounded by a bunch of stiffs, some of these stiffs have been servicable roleplayers on other teams. Why isn't playing with two MVP-caliber players making these guys any better?

Random statistical anomoly: Joel Anthony (0 points, 0-for-2, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 2 fouls) was the only Miami player with a positive plus-minus score (+13).

LeBron James: Skipping player introductions to avoid boos? Really? Cleveland took its medicine. You can take yours.

The New Jersey Nyets: Not sure what to say about this one: The Deron William-less Nyets fell behind 34-21 after 12 minutes, trailed by as many as 26 points and lost 112-87. At home. It was their third fail in a row and the seventh in eight games. Make it two straight seasons with at least 50 losses.


The Gol_en State Warriors: Kevin Durant broke out of his self-described slump by scoring 39 points on 13-for-23 from the field, 3-for-5 from downtown and 10-for-12 from the line. It was the Durantula's highest scoring output since dropping 43 on the Hornets back on February 2.

And, hey, it happened against the Warriors! We are not surprised.

Minor Controversy Alert! The Thunder were down 111-109 when Durant used the so-called "rip" move that's become so popular among the league's perimeter scorers (Kobe does this a lot). You know, the one where the offensive player whips the ball and his arms up through the defender's outstretched arm, drawing a cheapie foul. Which Durant did. He went on to drain all three freebies to put OKC on top.

Gol_en State coach Keith Smart wasn't happy. How could he be? I mean, his team got penalized for finally playing some defense.

Said Smart: "That shouldn't be a call because defensive players, you're trying to tell your guys to get up on a good player. If the player's going to bait you into a foul -- and I understand it's a rule, so there's nothing we can do about it -- but ... who has the right to the space? We've got to come to a conclusion."

Apparently, we (and by "we" I mean "the league") have come to a conclusion, and conclusion seems to be that the offensive player has the right to that space.

The Phoenix Suns: Christ.

I really believe that triple-overtime loss to the Lakers was the death of the Suns' playoff hopes. Past that, the loss to the Hornets was the funeral and the loss to the Mavs was when they buried the coffin. Last night's loss to the Kings? That's was like a random homeless guy stumbling by and peeing on the grave.

The Kings?!

Said Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "You have to play your way into the playoffs. Right now, the way we're playing we don't deserve to be in the playoffs. All the teams we are chasing are really good. And we are not. We are still alive in the playoff race, but we are basically on life support."

It's true Phoenix hasn't been mathematically eliminated, but that says more about the failure of math than it does about the Suns' realistic chances of actually reaching the postseason. Besides, I'm not sure watching Vince Carter bricking contested three-pointers in a four-game sweep would make me feel any better about the way Robert Sarver is ruining the end of Steve Nash's career.

The Maloofs: From the AP recap:

Early Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to approve a $75 million financial package to lure the Kings from Sacramento. The council also voted 5-0 to pay for the Kings' relocation.

Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli, who manages the Honda Center where the Kings would play, will finance the deal himself, while the city is issuing the bond package. Officials at the Honda Center announced Tuesday that they will be creating a waiting list for fans who have inquired about NBA tickets for next season.

At a press conference, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star in Phoenix, said he's resigned to the Kings moving to Anaheim but expects the Maloof ownership group to pay its $77 million loan to the City of Sacramento.
From AnacondaHL: "The various Suns players and affiliates on Twitter were repeatedly mentioning that this could be the last time the Suns play in Sacramento, and then Channing Frye reveals the picture on the ticket which includes a fan holding up a picture that says 'I heart the O.C. #18.' Wow indeed."

kings ticket

Chris's Sad Lacktion Ledger:

El (Oh El) Heat-HAPPY Cavs: Erick Dampier gathered just one board in exactly 12 minutes as starting center, only to lose the rock twice and foul thricely for a 5:1 Voskuhl.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas bricked and lost the rock once, and fouled twice for a +4 and a 3:0 Voskuhl.

Eddie House bricked and fouled once each in 5:28 for a +2.

Meanwhile, for the WINNING Cleveland team, Joey Graham wired himself 3.1 trillion (3:05).

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kg headpalm
Pretty much sums it up, right?

The Boston Celtics: Memo to the Celtics: Get over your angst about the Kendrick Perkins trade, mmkay? It's time to wake the hell up and start playing the basketball again. You realize Perk only played with you for 12 games this season, right? You actually won games and played defense without him. You certainly didn't play any D last night. The Pacers -- who are 11 games below .500 and got blown out at home by the Kings last Friday -- finished with an Offensive Rating of 119.2.

Now, admittedly, they could have used Perkins last night. Shaq, The Drain and Troy Murphy were all out. Then, due to foul trouble, Nenad Krstic (17 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (25 minutes) spent more time on the pine than they did on the hardwood, and Roy Hibbert went berzerk (26 points on 12-for-17 shooting).

Said Doc Rivers: "Kevin and Nenad were in foul trouble, and tonight, we need that extra big body. Tonight, the foul trouble just killed us. It crushed us today."

Countered KG: "We became a great team because we were known to do it for 48 minutes. We seem to be missing that right now."

As a Celtics fan, I'm more concerned with the latter than I am the former.

Paul Pierce, quote machine: "In the most important part of the game, the fourth quarter, we couldn't get a stop right there. It's a weird time to be talking about this, when there are nine games left in the season."

Frank Vogel, quote machine: ""One day, probably when I'm old and gray, I'll try to figure out what was wrong with us -- why we can beat Boston, but lose to Sacramento and Detroit."

The Chicago Bulls: Late defensive stands and clutch play by Derrick Rose covered up for the fact that the Bulls didn't play particularly well against the Grizzlies and Bucks last weekend. Last night, the Windy City Stags again came out sluggish, trailing 27-13 at the end of the first quarter and 48-25 with just over four minutes to go before halftime. Their fourth quarter rally was busted up by Spencer Hawes, who hit back-to-back-to-back jumpers from 20, 20 and 17 feet. The comeback was also busted up by...

Derrick Rose: The Great Poohdini had a pretty sweet game -- 31 points, 12-for-24 from the field, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and a blocked shot -- but turned the ball over 10 miserable times. The kid also learned a valuable lesson: Being a superstar and MVP candidate doesn't mean you get the call every time you drive into contact. Rose had been earning whistles at will over the last few games. Last night, the refs swallowed their tweets, which led to missed shots and some of those turnovers.

The San Antonio Spurs: Eh, you expect a loss when Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all sit out with injuries, but the Spurs have lost four in a row and their seemingly insurmountable lead in the West has shrunk to 3.5 games. Time for all-out panic? No. Time for some serious, chin-rubbing concern? Yes, I believe so.

The Milwaukee Bucks: Faced with a critical, must-win game against a struggling team, the Bucks...

...missed their last 11 shots and went scoreless in the final 3:52 of their one-point loss to the Bobcraps. That's the kinda season it's been for these Buckaroos.

Brandon Jennings, who went 2-for-12 in the fourth quarter, said: "It was a must-win game and we came up short. We had chances to do it and I take it on myself that I should have came up down the stretch and made big plays. But I didn't."

In the fial 15 seconds alone, Jennings missed two layups and a three.

The AP recap mentions that Andrew Bogut "was scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting in the fourth despite a huge size advantage." To which I say, uhm, if he had such a huge size advantage, why did Brandon Jennings take 12 shots to his two? Because the last time I checked, Jennings was shooting 38 percent for the season.

Oh, and the 'Craps were without centers Kwame Brown (personal reasons), Joel Przybilla (knee) and DeSagana Diop (Achilles' tendon). Give it to your big man, Brandon!

But what do I know?

Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "With 11 seconds left to go in the game, if you say you are going to get two layups and a wide-open 3 to win it and you don't even have the ball, you would take that. We just couldn't make that."

The Orlando Magic: Look: We all knew this was coming. At some point, the Knicks were gonna dig in their heels and beat a good team. The Magic were unlucky enough to be that team. But, hey, it happened on the road in overtime, and Orlando was missing Jameer Nelson, Quentin Richardson and J.J. Redick. So, you know, circumstances. But still, you never wanna be the team that let's another team off the hook, you know?

Kudos, though, to Dwight Howard for fouling out and earning a technical when his team was only down two points with 1:16 left in OT. Should knocking the ball off the backboard have been at tech? Maybe not. But Dwight has to know his constant barking and complaining have made the refs extra senstive to, you know, his barking and complaining.

Said Howard: "There's nothing you can do about it now. I just went for the rebound. I think that should have been a delay of game. Every time you roll the ball down the court, they usually call a delay of game, but it's cool, you know. I'll try to get it rescinded. If not, I'll just have to continue to play."

Added Gilbert Arenas: "I mean 99.9 percent when you throw the ball down the other side, it's a delay of game warning. They've got to call it how they see it. You can't put too much on what they do. They're human, too. The calls they see is the calls they're going to make."

Let me get this straight...both guys thought it should have been some kind of call...just not a technical. Here's an idea then: DON'T DO THAT.

Interesting factoid from ESPN Stats and Information: "It appears the Knicks play to the level of their competition. While Carmelo and Company are just 1-8 against teams with losing records, they are 7-4 vs teams .500 or better with the defense allowing more than 6 points fewer than against sub-par competition. Four of the Knicks eight remaining games are against teams over .500."

So the Knicks are good against good teams...and bad against bad teams. Well, you know what they say: Ninety percent of the game is mental, and the other half is physical.

The Utah Jazz: Well, the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings are safe. They will continue to be the only team in league history to go 1-40 on the road. Sacramento may lose their team...but they'll always have that. Thanks to the frickin' Jazz, who missed 11 free throws in an overtime loss, by the way. Man, I'm glad Jerry Sloan isn't around to deal with this crap. Oh, and check this out, from the AP recap:

Still, the loss gave Washington a series sweep. The Wizards won, 108-101 on Jan. 17. At the time, few realized it was the beginning of the end for the Jazz.

They were 27-13 going into that game, but have gone 9-26 since to fall out of the playoff hunt.
Giant, slapping facepalms, Batman.

Chris's Lacktion Report:

Celtics-Pacers: Sasha Pavlovic bricked once from the OneAmerica Tower in 2:08 for a +1.

Magic-Knicks: Malik Allen derailed Link's adventure in 11 seconds for a Mario.

For the Knickerbockers, Shelden Williams fathered three boards in 15:51, only to brick and lose the rock once each and foul out for 7:3 Voskuhl. Jared Jeffries was perfect from the field (on one attempt) in 22:11 and also had a board, but fouled four times for a 4:3 Voskuhl.

Sixers-Bulls: Marreese Speights spoiled a board in 5:28 with a brick and three fouls for a 3:1 Voskuhl.

Generals-Jazz: Hamady N'Diaye celebrated the silencing of the tabernacle choir with a 3.3 trillion gift (3:20).


20110327-mark-cuban"Heh. Hehe. Haha. Haha! HAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

Not much time to work with today. However, that doesn't mean I don't have time to post this GIF (via David Matthews):

Get that weak shit out of here, Pokey!

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

20110325-demar-derozanWhen both the NBA and NFL are locked out next year, DeMar DeRozan will make some extra money as a punter when the NFL resorts to using replacement players

20110325-stan-van-gundy"Why the hell did we get Turkoglu again??"



20110325-ron-artestI may not like Ron Artest, but damnit, he makes my life more interesting

lolMike D'Antoni and LOL Guy: Separated at birth?

Nationally Televised Games:
76ers at Bulls, NBA TV, 8pm: Can we all just agree that discussing the MVP-worthiness of Derrick Rose is just plain getting old? Next topic, please!

All The Other Games:
Celtics at Pacers, 7pm: Please please PLEASE tell me Rondo's going to come back from his finger injury and break out of his scoring slump. Watching Rondo play this poorly is leaving me feeling as depressed as the characters in this cartoon.

Bucks at Bobcraps, 7pm: Speaking of depressing, neither of these teams could score if the rim was the size of Shaq's, Oliver Miller's, Charles Barkley's, and Tractor Traylor's combined asses. And yet they are both fighting to make the Leastern Conference playoffs. Sigh.

Magic at Knicks, 7:30pm: When I look at the Knicks' stats and see they are 1-9 in their last 10 games, I have to check the calendar to make sure I haven't accidentally traveled back in time to the golden age of Isiah Thomas destroying that organization.

Frail Blazers at Spurs, 8:30pm: Duncan's banged up, Ginobili's hurt, the Spurs have dropped three straight... I know, they're deep, Pops is a great coach, they're a smart and efficient team, but still, anyone else getting a little nervous?

Wizards Generals at Jazz, 9pm: The Generals have lost damn near every game on the road this year, and have a 1-9 record in their last ten games. What's Flip Saunders' professional analysis of the situation? "We're not good enough." Okay then.

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Julian Wright logged the first DNP-PD of the season. Way to not play, Julian!

Editor's note: I spent the weekend sick as a dog. Finally starting to recover. I almost pulled a Julian Wright and benched myself for Worst of the Weekend. But then I pulled a Leandro Barbosa and forced myself to perform. There's no need to thank me. Actually, scratch that. There's every need to thank me.

The New York Knicks: Prepare to be shocked out of your mind: On Friday night, Mike _'Antoni's Knicks let Brandon Jennings erupt for a season-high 37 points while also allowing the Bucks to explode (by their crappy-crap standards) for 102 points on 50/50 shooting. Hands were literally fleeing from the faces they were supposed to be in.

Said Amar''''''e Stoudemire: "We've got to fight more. We've definitely got to put a lot more effort out there on the court, play with a lot more energy. We've got to definitely want these games, I mean we haven't done nothing yet. We're not in the playoffs right now. I mean we have the seventh seed, but the way we're going, we're declining."

Added Carmelanoma Anthony: "We're going to try to figure it out as a team and you know when it happens them times will be fun. Basketball will be fun again. We won't have to worry about losing eight out of nine, or seven out of eight, or something like that. You know everybody is going to be smiling again and be happy. Right now, you know is hard to smile right now when you're losing games, I can tell you that."

That may be one of my all-time favorite quotes. Wow.

It's safe to say the Knicks didn't "figure it out as a team" by Saturday night. The Bobcraps -- who rank 29th in scoring at 93.1 PPG -- blew up for 114 points. Meanwhile, the Knicks shot 39 percent and trailed by as many as 20 before a fourth quarter rally that made the score look more respectable than it should have.

Six losses in a row. Nine of 10. A record of 7-12 since trading for 'Melo.

Three games below .500.

Said Carmelanoma: "For the most part, these are teams we should be beating. We talk about that among each other -- that some of these teams shouldn't even be on the court with us. But they're winning games and it's just something we have to figure out."

You know, that attitude may be part of the problem, 'Melo.

Added Chauncey Billups: "We've got a lot of talent, but as you know, talent isn't everything. Camaraderie and cohesiveness and being a good team beats talent every day of the week. When we get to a point where we get that, combined with the talent, we're going to be a very dangerous team."

The other 29 teams are shaking in their hightops, Chauncey.

Bonus stats: According to ESPN Stats and Information, 'Melo has been shooting 40 percent and has a plus-minus score of -24 during the fourth quarter of New York's last 10 games. During that same stretch, STAT has been shooting 37.9 percent and has a plus-minus score of -43.

Maybe when Billups said they were going to be a dangerous team, they meant dangerous to the hopes and dreams of their fans?

The Indiana Pacers: Reminder: This team is (in theory anyway) fighting to hold onto the last playoff spot in the East. That being the case, how do you explain a winless weekend, let alone one that included a 17-point home loss to the Soon-To-Be-Anaheim Kings followed by a double-digit road loss to the Shrinking-Detroit Pistons? No, really. How do you explain that?

Said Danny Granger: "We just gave away two games in the last two nights to two teams that wanted it more, and just let other teams right back in the hunt. We have to step it up and if we don't we will be out of the playoffs."

Well...yeah. That pretty much sums it up. But how'd it happen?

Said Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "It was our offense -- we didn't execute well and we are just struggling with our rhythm right now. Maybe we are tired from the month of March, but it is no excuse. We have to play to win every game."

Reality check: On Friday, the Kings scored 110 points against the Pacers, which is about 10 points more than their season average. On Saturday, the Pistons shot 51.3 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from downtown while finishing with an Offensive Rating of 111.3. I'm not sure offense is the problem.

The Detroit Pistons: They had a nice bounceback win over the Pacers, but any team that loses to the Cadavers is going to earn a WotW entry, especially when they get finished off by a clutch shot from Baron Davis.

Speaking of which, I loved Byron Scott's quote about B-Diddy's game-breaker: "As soon as he took the ball over to the right side, I knew he was going to shoot."

We all did, Byron. We all did.

The Minnesota Timberwolves: Well, if they weren't winning with Kevin Love, should we really expect them to win without him? Probably not, although they get a unicorn sticker for keeping their weekend games against the Thunder and Celtics close. That said, this is their third seven-game losing streak of the season. They also have a couple of six-gamers.

Still, the Celtics game seemed like a moral victory, right? They came back from 25 points down and almost stole it.

Said Michael Beasley: "I feel like we showed a lot of character. We could've just let them beat us by 60 points. But we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win the last two minutes. Of course we wanted to win, but it didn't turn out that way. A lot of guys played well, and we learned a lot from this game."

Added Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis: "I loved the way that they got themselves back in the ballgame. They fought, they scratched, they clawed, they gave themselves a chance to win, and I was really proud of how they were able to do that."

Concluded Anthony Tolliver: "That was resiliency I haven't really seen all year,"

I expect the afterglow of this "almost win" to last until the Bulls visit the Target Center on Wednesday. At which time I expect it to be crushed with extreme prejudice.

The Boston Celtics: Ugh. Ugh I tell you. On Friday, the Celts went up by 13 points in the fourth quarter and then totally choked the lead away. The Bobcraps -- who had lost four in a row and 10 of their last 12 -- outscored Boston 30-15 in that final quarter (including a 16-0 run at one point) to win 83-81. One assumes this happened because the Celtics players were otherwise occupied...probably by adding Evanescence's "My Immortal" to the "We Fucking Miss You Perk" playlist on their iPods.

And Doc Rivers was pissed.

Said Doc: "The way we're playing shocks me. Our attitude shocks me. I just think we've become very, very selfish, not just as far as trying to get our own [shots], but everything is about how we're playing individually, instead of how the team is playing. A guy struggles, he pouts, he moans. Everything is me, me, me on our team right now, feeling sorry for themselves instead of giving themselves to the team and playing."

Countered Ray Allen: "It's not about making excuses, but I think the chemistry with the new guys is still being built."

Actually, that's the textbook definition of "making excuses," Ray.

As for Sunday's game against the T-Wolves, letting the second-worst team in the league come back from a 25-point deficit to take a brief fourth quarter lead before eking out an 85-82 victory didn't exactly reestablish my confidence in the C's.

The Toronto Craptors: Man. After a 38-point loss to the Warriors (who had lost six in a row going in) followed by a loss to the freaking Clippers, the only thing missing was Darth Vader's voice saying: "Now their failure is complete." Of course, no failure by the Craptors is complete without this:

Stepping back a second, here are some numbers from that loss in Gol_en State. In the first half, the Warriors scored an NBA season-high 84 points while shooting 68 percent from the field and 77 percent from beyond the arc. During that first 24 minutes, GSW had 20 assists and outrebounded the Craptorsaurs 20-12. The Warriors led by as many as 47 and finished with 138 points on 61 percent shooting.

Imagine 48 minutes of this play.

The best part? Toronto coach Jay Triano tried to sub Julian Wright into the game...and Wright flat-out refused.

Said Triano: "We were six deep already at the wing spot. I asked him to go in, he didn't go in. That's fine. I just went back with Leandro."

Everything's okay, though. Wright apologized.

Said Wright: "The best way to put it is this was not characteristic of me. That's why I think this is (now) a thing of the past."

So far in the past, in fact, that Wright earned a DNP-CD against the Clippers.

Phoenix Suns: How to Not Qualify for the Playoffs by the Phoenix Suns. First, have a miserly owner who is determined to swallow the souls of his entire fan base. Next, let him manage the team into chaos and disaster. Then watch as an injured Steve Nash tries to make sense of his team's roster and a cruel fate that betrays him at every turn. Eventually, see a critical loss to the David West-less Hornets that may have been the result of Marcin Gortat destroying his nose on the back of Nash's head...which is apparently made of granite.

Follow that up with a nationally televised loss to the Mavericks in which a roster shakeup (Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley replaced Robin Lopez and Vince Carter in the starting lineup) led to improved defense (the Suns held Dallas to 38 percent shooting) but Jason "Jumpshot" Kidd gunned Phoenix down with back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter. It's just been that kind of season for the Suns.

Said Gortat: "After this game I don't think we're going to be talking about playoffs this year anymore."

I can't wait to see how Sarver messes up the team's lottery pick. Maybe he'll sell it for cash or something. You know, like the picks that became Andre Iguodala/Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo.

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan may not be having his greatest season, but his absence is apparently a pretty big deal. I'm guessing that, had Duncan been around, the Spurs wouldn't have gagged up a 96-90 lead in the final 1:21 of their game in Portland on Friday night. And I sincerely doubt it would have come down to this:

As for Sunday's loss to the Grizzlies, well, shit. No Timmy. Manu Ginobili left the game with a left quad contusion. Gregg Popovich left the game with an ejection. The Grizzlies shot 54.5 percent, scored 58 points in the paint and outrebounded the Spurs 40-27.

But hey. It was a close loss.

The New Jersey Nyets: A winless weekend? Well, yeah, but with Deron Williams sidelined by a wrist injury, their starting backcourt includes Jordan Farmar at the point and Sasha Vujacic at the two. I challenge any team to win with that trash starting at the guard positions. The Lakers didn't even trust those guys to be backups.

The Washington Wizards Generals: Another winless weekend. Two more major failures on the road: A 114-94 loss in Denver followed by a 114-104 loss in Gol_en State. Make it 1-35 outside of Washington.

Even the Warriors' "Curse of the Career Highs" couldn't save the Generals. JaVale McGee had a career-high 28 points and tied his career-high with 18 rebounds...to no avail.

Said Washington coach Flip Saunders: "We're not good enough. That can be frustrating. But that's like if I run you in a race I'm going to probably beat you all 10 times because you're not as fast as me. Same thing right now. We're just young and not as talented as the teams we're playing."

Way to rally the troops, Flip. Damn.

The Philadelphia 76ers: There's been some buzz building about the Sixers, and it's worth noting that they're exactly one game over .500. They'd be three games over .500 if they hadn't lost an overtime game at home to...

...the Soon-To-Be-Anaheim Kings?!

Yes. Outplayed and outworked by a Kings squad that outrebounded them 58-36. Again, this happened in Philadelphia, people. The defining moment came when former Sixer Sammy Dalembert iced the game by hitting two free throws with 12 seconds left in OT.

But, really, it was rebounding that finished Philly.

Said Sixers coach Doug Collins: "They're huge. There's no question. Elton [Brand] had three rebounds in 39 minutes. Evan [Turner] had one in 20 minutes. Thad [Young] had one in 18."

And there ya go.

The New Orleans Hornets: Sunday's game against the Lakers was a potential first round playoff preview. In which case, the Hornets can go ahead and start planning their post-sweep vacations.

Chris's Mega Weekend Lacktion Report:

Nyets-Magic: Quinton Ross bricked and fouled once each in 3:52 for a +2, while Stephen Graham was perfectly aiming (once) in Paperboy...in just 42 seconds for a non-lacktive Mario!

Bobcats-Celtics: Eduardo Najera fouled and lost the rock once each in 5:50 for a +2.

Sixers-Heat: Andres Nocioni notched a foul and brick for a +2 in 5:02.

For the Twotles, Joel Anthony earned a 3:2 Voskuhl in 9:48 by negating two boards with a brick, two fouls, and a turnover - the same statline that Jamaal Magloire gathered in 3:06. Juwan Howard powered up his arcade Donkey Kong cabinet in 48 seconds for a graybeard Mario.

Bucks-Knicks: Jon Brockman took a monster rejection and tossed a brick in 4:43 for a +2.

Meanwhile, the latest members to the Madison Square Garden season-ticket-holder base were Jared Jeffries and Roger Mason Jr., each gathering up 2.35 trillion (2:21)!!!

Grizzlies-Bulls: Kurt Thomas towed two rebounds in 12:27, only to foul thricely for a 3:2 Voskuhl.

Wolves-Thunder: Cole Aldrich collected a board and rejection in 1:15 for a +2, while in three fewer seconds, Royal Ivey earned the same suck differential via turnover and...a miss from Bricktown.

Generals-Nuggets: Othyus Jeffers made contact with a Koopa Troopa in just 3 seconds for a foul that gathered a +1, and a SUPER MARIO!

Hornets-Suns: Jason Smith surrendered a rejection and two misses in 4:54 for a +3.

Phoenix's Robin Lopez laid another egg on shot attempts, and countered a board with four fouls and a turnover in 3:54 as starting big man, earning a 5:1 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Garret Siler slid into a spiky zone in 56 seconds for a foul that led to a +1, a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl...and a Mario!

Spurs-Frail Blazers: THE Steve Novak went back to lacktion today, losing the rock once in 1:27 for a +1.

Nyets-Hawks: Damien Wilkins went +1 via brick in 6:24.

Knicks-Bobcats: Roger Mason Jr. fouled and bricked once each for a +2 in 4:47.

Mavs-Jazz: DeShawn Stevenson bricked once from the ZCMI store for a +1 in 5:26, while Brian Cardinal produced a payoff of 3.7 trillion (3:44).

The Purple Paupers Who Are Somehow On A THREE GAME WINNING STREAK While Gavin Maloof Gets A Direct Hotline To Mayflower Vans-Sixers: Pooh Jeter fried a portobello in 54 seconds for a Mario, while former pauper Andres Nocioni bricked once and fouled twice in 2:20 for a +3.

Hawks-Sad Cadavers: Hilton Armstrong rented an assist in 1:40, but was billed a foul on his final bill for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Manny Harris handily bricked from Burke Lakefront Airport for a +1 in 1:57, the same timespan Joey Graham fouled in for the same suck differential.

Rockets-Hornets: Eddie House tossed FIVE bricks (twice from Interstate 95) for a +5 in 5:46!

Spurs-Grizzlies: James Anderson had 27 seconds to turn on his Game Boy for a Mario that went non-lacktive with one board, while THE Steve Novak had 35 seconds of lighter-than-air life with Kirby for his own purely lacktive Mario!

Celtics-Wolves: Minnesota's Wayne Ellington fouled once and baked three pieces of masonry (once from St. Anthony's Falls) for a +4 in 6:54.

Hornets-Lakers: Jason Smith missed once for a +1 in 4:07, while Los Angeles's Joe Smith climbed a few ladders in 26 seconds for a Mario.


Ryan Hollins recoils in fear that he might accidentally make a contributory basketball play

While discussing Byron Scott's head-scratching move to start Ryan Hollins in consecutive games, DocZeus noted "I guess its cool that we now know how a person with no discernible basketball skills would play like if they were suddenly tall." A lightbulb went off! There's the answer. Ryan Hollins is starting for the Cavs because Dan Gilbert has a $1 bet with a mad scientist that he can make some random scrub into a successful basketball player just by making him tall. It's like a sci-fi version of Trading Places with a little Big mixed in for good measure.

Link I absolutely must share: what if Gus Johnson gave us his commentary on great moments in history?

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Tony Allen, huge Monty Python fan

Tony Parker and Danilo Gallinari, huge fans of Ghost

"Why isn't anyone using a picture of me for that 'Come at me, bro!' meme??"

Pops has had just about enough of this shit.

All The Games:
Timberwolves at Mavericks, 8:30pm: The Mavs are looking to win 18 of their last 19 games. The Timberpoops are missing Kevin Love. What's the point in even previewing this game? Oh, that's right, I have a good reason. I need to share this stat: "The Timberwolves have been outscored by 19.5 points during their skid while committing 20.3 turnovers per game, raising their league-leading average to 17.2." Damn, people. You do realize you're supposed to pass it to the guys wearing the same color jerseys as you, right?

Hornets at Jazz, 9pm: Remember just a couple months ago when the Jazz were a playoff caliber team? Man, that seems like it was so long ago... Damn you, Devin Harris! I'm sure it's all your fault somehow.


Contact Merriam-Webster. We have a new picture for their "Pissy French Guy" entry.

Still battling flu-like symptoms, so bear with me.

The New York Nueva York Knicks: Jump into the WABAC machine, Sherman. We're flashing back to January 11, 2011. With a 100-86 win in Portland, the Knicks had won four of five (including a victory over the league-leading Spurs) and were a full seven games over .500 for the first time since the 2000-01 season when the team featured a starting lineup of Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell and Mark Jackson. Landry Fields looked like the draft steal of the century, Mike D'Antoni looked genius-y again, Amar''''''e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton looked like a legitimate NBA duo and the Knicks became one of the league's most talked about teams.

After that, there was all sorts of crazy talk going on, like Fields being a "much better guard" than Derrick Rose (according to advanced metrics) and therefore more deserving of an All-Star nod. STAT for MVP stories were all the rage and Stoudemire was even hearing "M-V-P!" chants at MSG. For the first time in more than a decade, New York fans were enjoying some actual positive mojo about their basketball team. Finally, it looked like the horror of the Isiah Thomas era was behind them.

Then enter...Isiah Thomas.

As much as the Knicks had improved, there was still a sense that they needed to add another superstar to compete with the Celtics, Heat and Lakers. Some early talk about a trade for Carmelo Anthony was seemingly quashed because Donnie Walsh and D'Antoni liked the roster and STAT was happy, maybe for the first time in his career, because he was finally The Man. But then rumor had it Isiah was pushing for a 'Melo trade behind the scenes. The Knicks denied it and we may never know the full extent of Isiah's possible involvement (or, as it may be, his non-involvement). All we know for sure is that Carmelo became a Knick...

...and things have gone to hell. Relatively speaking.

Let's return to March 23, 2011. After a 111-99 home loss in which they were outscored 32-21 in the fourth quarter -- and yes, there were boos -- the Knicks fell to three games below .500 since the 'Melo trade (7-10) and one game below .500 on the season (35.36). Anthony played reasonably well (24 points, 6-for-12, 9 assists), but Stoudemire had one of his worst games of the season (13 points, 6-for-20, 1-for-3 from the line). New York shot 40 percent, got outrebounded 49-35 and had only 8 fast break points.

It's safe to say things are not going according to plan.

Said Carmelanoma (nickname by stephanie g): "We just need to relax. I think it's, we put too much pressure on ourselves. We're losing games that we know we should be winning and we're just putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. I think we're playing too tense out there on the court, everybody just needs to relax. Just have fun."

As for STAT, he's just, you know, tired.

Said D'Antoni: "Amar'e's tired. We've worn him down a little bit and it showed tonight."

Funny. He didn't look all that tired before the 'Melo came to town. Wasn't the presence of another big-time scorer supposed to take the pressure off him?

Said Stoudemire: "I think we're all somewhat getting the fatigue factor setting in. It's been a crazy, crazy month for us so far, a lot of games in few nights. And so we played great in the first half, we applied so much energy, in the second half we just kind of run out a little bit there. But we'll be OK."

Yeah, but, Amar''''''e, you scored only 4 points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half. You didn't play the day before. Are you saying you started the game tired?

The reality is: It ain't working. None of it. The pairing. The offense. The chemistry. The Knicks weren't great before the trade. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But they were better than this.

Is there a fix? I guess we'll find out.

The Boston Celtics: Remember: The Celtics are supposedly competing with the Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. To do that, they really need to come through in the "should win" games, like last night's home matchup with the Grizzlies. Memphis, as you may already know, just found out that Rudy Gay is out for the season. You'd think the Celts could have used that downer to their advantage.

But they did not.

Boston never could put the hammer down. The game was close all night, with Memphis playing ahead for much of the fourth quarter. Bottom line is: The C's couldn't score buckets when they needed them, with both Kevin Garnett (3-for-9) and Ray Allen (4-for-10) feeling frigid. But nobody on the team was colder than...

Rajon Rondo: He had 11 rebounds, 11 assists and 7 steals...good numbers. Damn good numbers. But he shot 2-for-12. And his last miss was his worst: With the Celtics trailing 88-87, Rondo rebounded Zach Randolph's miss, took it the length of the court and chucked up a one-handed floater that obviously didn't go in.

It's worth noting that Rondo is known for his decision-making and passing...not his clutch shooting. That's Paul Pierce's job. And, to that point, Pierce had 22 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field, 2-for-3 from downtown and 8-for-8 from the line. Boston coach Doc Rivers didn't call timeout, trusting his point guard to know what was what, with "what" being "run a play that will get the ball in Pierce's hands."

Instead, Rondo clunked it and the Celtics lost.

Said Doc: "It's so easy to second-guess it now. I just think your best offensive player should always touch the ball on the last possession."

Ya think?

Pierce did get a chance to tie the game. But with only four seconds left and the aggressive defense of former Celtic Tony Allen, his three-point attempt was pretty far off the mark. Probably shouldn't have come to that, tho'.

At any rate, you don't want Rondo shooting in clutch situations. In fact, you don't really want him shooting at all these days. Ball don't lie. Splits don't, either. In the month of March, Rajon has converted 40 field goal attempts while missing 77. That gives him a 34.2 percent "success" rate on shot. In that stretch, he's attempted only 17 free throws and missed eight of 'em (52.9 percent). Not good.

Marc Gasol: With his team leading by three points with four seconds left, The Other Gasol Brother had the chance to ice the game at the free throw line. All he had to do was hit one of two. Just one of two. The results: Brick. Brick.

But I hear he makes 'em in practice.

Troy Murphy: Remember how excited the Celtics were about signing Murphy? Not only did they add a key frontcourt piece, they kept the Heat from getting their grubby paws on him. Win-win, right?! Wrong. Last night, Murphy would have ended up with a four trillion if not for his two turnovers. Meanwhile, former Celtic Leon Powe -- whom Danny Ainge could have picked up off waivers instead of signing Troy -- exploded off the Memphis bench, shooting 5-for-6 and scoring 13 points in 17 minutes. He also had a game-high plus-minus score of +12.

Said Doc Rivers: "Leon Powe was the baddest man on the planet tonight."

I guess that makes Murphy the bawfulest man on the planet.

Tony Allen, quote machine: On former teammate Paul Pierce: "He is one of those prolific-type dudes."

The Atlanta Hawks: The Dirty Birds had a solid chance to redeem themselves for a humiliating home loss to the Bulls the night before. And, for most of the game, it looked like they were gonna do it. Atlanta went up by six at the half and led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter. But, you know, they were playing the second night of back-to-back games on the road. So it's not all that surprising the Hawks were outscored 31-20 in the fourth and lost 105-100.

But still.

Said Josh Smith: "They went on a run just like that. I don't know if we relaxed or what."

Atlanta coach Larry Drew -- who actually told the press his team was "a little fragile right now" before the game -- said: "I felt for three quarters, we played how we wanted to play on the road. They got on the run and we just didn't recover."

The Hawks have now lost 14 of their last 21 games. And they're only 2.5 games ahead of Philly for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Larry Drew, coach of the year candidate: On the second night of back-to-backs, Drew played only two guys off the bench (Jamal Crawford and Zaza Pachulia) and forced a lot of minutes onto starters Joe Johnson (44), Smith (42), Kirk Hinrich (38) and Al Horford (37). And his team ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. Hmm...

Joe Johnson: In 44 minutes, the 119 Million Dollar Man managed only 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting (1-for-5 from downtown) and had more turnovers (4) and personal fouls (5) than rebounds (2) and assists (4). Remember: The Hawks will be paying him almost $25 million in 2015-16.

Nyets versus Cadavers: Both teams shot in the 30s and neither of them reached 100 points even though the game went to overtime. Bawful Game of the Night? Bawful Game of the Night. Moving on.

The Charlotte Bobcraps: Whoa. Pacers coach Frank Vogel nearly got an early induction in the Basketbawful Hall of Shame for calling last night's matchup in Charlotte an "elimination game" for the Bobcats in the one-legged potato sack race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. That's some serious bulletin board material right there.

The 'Craps were so inspired they went out and lost 111-88...wasting a 16-point, 9-rebound night from Kwame Brown.

Said Roy Hibbert: "We just wanted to put the nail in the coffin and move up in the race for the eighth spot. I think we did a good job. I look forward to representing the Pacers in a first round elimination."

Okay, I might've tweaked that quote a little.

Boris Diaw: Check out this snippet from the AP recap:

Diaw, Charlotte's third-leading scorer, was yanked in the third quarter after passing up a shot in the lane for a behind-the-head pass that was intercepted and led to Kareem Rush's 3-pointer at the other end.

Diaw never returned, playing 24 minutes and not attempting a shot.

"I just told him in all my 40 years in the NBA, I've never seen anyone do that -- not take one shot in 24 minutes," Silas said. "That's something that I've never, ever seen."
That is pretty strange.

Paul Silas, coach of the year candidate: But seriously, Paul, benching your third-leading scorer in a critical game?

The Detroit Pistons: The cHeat trailed by as many as 10 points and entered the final 12 minutes down 81-75. I can only assume that, during the stoppage of play between the third and fourth quarters, Erik Spoelstra walked into the team huddle and said something like, "Ahem, guys. We're playing the Pistons. Go out and, you know, do what you do."

Detroit didn't score for the first 5:40 of the final quarter. In those final 12 minutes, they managed only 13 points on 4-for-19 shooting. Miami, on the other hand, scored 25 points and won 100-94.

Said Pistons coach John Kuester: "We went through that spurt where all of a sudden we get nothing in the post when we were posting the ball. We weren't getting anything out of our set plays where we were getting guys coming off of screens."

If only someone was coaching this team...hey wait...

LeBron James, quote machine: "There's drama here, too. There's drama at every road game I play."

The Milwaukee Bucks: Two nights after losing by 40 points in Chicago, the Kings beat the Bucks in Milwaukee. This has officially gotten so sad I can't even bring myself to make a "Fear the Deer" joke.

Said John Salmons: "It's a shame. That's all I'll say, it's a shame."

I haven't even mentioned yet how critical this game was for the Bucks. This loss, coupled with Indy's win, puts the Bucks a full three games behind the Pacers for the East's final playoff spot with only 12 games left to play.

Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We just didn't have the type of intensity and focus you'd like to see and understanding the enormity of the game, we were kind of passive. It hurts for sure."

It's worth mentioning that these Bucks -- whom many predicted would win the Central Division outright -- were built around Brandon Jennings (2-for-7) and John Salmons (3-for-14), and their key offseason acquisitions included Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden...both of whom didn't even play.

The Utah Jazz: Last night's loss to the Thunder in Oklahoma City dropped them to .500 and, even worse, a full four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West. Not that anybody wants to see this Jazz squad make the playoffs. That would just be kind of sad. So, you know, bright side and all that.

By the way, Devin "Playoffs, baby" Harris missed the game with a strained hammy.

The Gol_en State Warriors: The Curse of the Career Highs continues for the Warriors, as Chuck "Wagon" Hayes had his first-ever career triple-double (14 rebounds, 13 points, 11 assists) and the Rockets won 131-112.

But Dorell Wright had a career-high 34 points!

Said Gol_en State's soon-to-be-fired coach Keith Smart: "This is a painful time we are in. Houston is fighting for a playoff spot. We're obviously not going to any dance this season. A young team has to learn to step up as a team, not an individual."

Oh. Okay, scratch that "Dorell Wright" part.

The Toronto Craptors: There, quite literally, could have been no better time for the Craptosaurs to play the Suns in Phoenix. After all, the game took place only 20 hours and 21 minutes after the end of the Suns' brutal triple-overtime loss to the Lakers in L.A. And Phoenix lost Grant Hill to flu-like symptoms and Mickael Pietrus to a sprained right knee during the first quarter. So this shoulda been a win for Toro...

...nto. Oh, hell, never mind.

Jay Triano, coach of the year candidate: "We shoot a better percentage than them, we out-rebound them and they made 3-point shots, and that's what this team does."

The Wizards Generals and/or Clippers: I honestly don't know what's worst: That the Generals fell to 1-33 on the road or that it took two OTs and a monster triple-double from Blake Griffin (33 points, 17 boards, 10 assists) for the Clippers to win a home game against a team that's 1-33 on the road.

Washington now has only seven chances left to avoid tying the worst road record in NBA history (1-40), set by the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings. And the Clippers are, well, the Clippers.

The San Antonio Spurs: This was a rough, aggressive game with lots of physical play, charges, flops, hacks and holds. It was two teams going all out to win. No Tim Duncan. Two unpredictable leading scorers -- Al Harrington (27) and Gary Neal (25) -- and late-game heroics from Wilson Chandler (who hit the go-ahead trey with less than 30 seconds left).

But bawful aside, it's hard not to point out that the Nuggets just beat the Spurs and are now 11-4 since shipping 'Melo to the Big Apple. Amazing.

Chris's Uncanny Lacktion Ledger:

Nyets-Sad Cadavers: Sundiata Gaines shined down the south shore of Lake Erie with a turnover and brick in 4:46 for a +2.

Grizzlies-Celtics: Nenad Krstic was perfect from the stripe in 21:22 as starting center and added two field goals and two boards...only to lose the rock four times and nearly foul out for a 9:8 Voskuhl. Troy Murphy made two giveaways in 3:41 for a +2 and a 2:0 Voskuhl; Avery Bradley rolled the dice on Nintendo DS Yahtzee in just 2 seconds for a Super Mario, and Sasha Pavlovic gathered up a 2.45 trillion (2:28).

Heat-Pissedons: Joel Anthony fouled twice and turned over the ball once in 6:31 for a +3 and a 3:0 Voskuhl.

Jazz-Thunder: Francisco Elson found a copy of The Legend of Zelda after 17 seconds of searching for a Mario, while Kyrylo Fesenko fetched 1.4 trillion (1:24).

Warriors-Rockets: Jeff Adrien added another controller to his Famicom in 54 seconds for a garden-variety Mario, while Houston's Demarre Carroll celebrated with a gift of 3.05 trillion (3:03).

Generals-Clippers: In Yet Another Staples Center Overtime (Watched By 1% Of Those Watching Last Night's)...

Washington's Kevin Seraphin somehow made two boards and a field goal in 8:12, only to lose the rock once and take five fouls for a 6:4 Voskuhl. Fellow professional opponent Hamady N'Diaye had himself a 2.65 trillion (2:40).

For the Team That Always Remains Who We Thought They Were, Ike Diogu fouled a Goomba in 47 seconds for a +1 and a Mario!


sad Hawks bench
The Hawks will be paying Joe Johnson nearly $25 million in 2015-16. Uh oh.

Sorry if today's post doesn't have its usual snap. I'm suffering through a bout of flu-like sympots. No, the actual, honest-to-goodness flu-like symptoms. Really.

The Atlanta Hawks: Jesus Christ, Hawks.

Look, I like being right, and I labeled this team a pretender way before it was fashionable to do so. But holy wow. The Bulls were playing in Atlanta on the second night of back-to-back games and went absolutely apeshit on the Hawks in the first half, shooting nearly 74 percent from the field and 78 percent from downtown while setting season highs with 41 points in the second quarter and 72 points in the first half. Chicago led by as many as 47 and cleared their bench to start the fourth quarter. And fans in Philips Arenas started chanting "M-V-P!" for Derrick Rose (30 points and 10 assists).

I have one word for this: Damn.

Said Josh Smith: "This is starting to get embarrassing."

Starting? You've lost seven of 10 during a playoff seeding run, Josh.

Smith continued: "We didn't help each other, and when you don't help each other it gets contagious."

No kidding. And whatever's wrong with the Hawks is contagious like the the superflu virus in Stephen King's The Stand. Only it won't bring the Atlanteans the sweet oblivion of merciful death. Only repeated (and nationally televised) failure and humiliation.

The numbers are absurd. The Bulls finished with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 60.8 and an Offensive Rating of 135.4. They outrebounded the Hawks 40-26 and had an absurd Offensive Rebounding Rate of 32.3 despite the fact that they were scoring at will. Chicago outscored Atlanta 48-18 in the paint. And those numbers included a full fourth quarter's worth of garbage time. Some would say that, for the Hawks, resistence is futile. In this case, it was non-existent.

To me, the defining moment of this game came with 2:08 left in the third. With his team leading 91-55, Rose committed his only turnover of the game and, after Joakim Noah fouled Josh Smith to prevent a breakaway, Rose was cursing himself out. Despite being ahead by 36 points. Meanwhile, the Hawks were all blank stares and resigned looks. Except for Jeff Teague, whose 20-point outburst and undressing of C.J. Watson prevented a 40-point loss for his team.

Maybe they're just waiting for the playoffs?

Here are some fun facts about the Hawks. Did you know that they are the only winning team in the league with a negative point differential? Did you know that 19 of their 31 losses have come by double-digits?

Now stop and think about Joe Johnson's contract. This team is so screwed.

Joe Johnson: The line: 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting and the worst plus-minus score on his team (-32). By comparison, Luol Deng -- overrated and ovepaid, right? -- had 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting and a plus-minus score of +39. As always, I'm just sayin'.

Reality check: Joe's contract is on Atlanta's books until 2015-16, at which point he'll be making nearly $25 million a year. Based on his statistical decline from last season to this season, he might be declared legally deceased by 2015-16. Which is bad news for the Hawks...and amusing to pretty much everybody else.

Josh Smith, poster boy: Outta the way, Josh. Also, stop taking so many threes.

Vince Carter: Steve Nash continues to amaze -- he had 19 points and 20 assists last night -- but continues to be a victim of fate, circumstances, and his teammates. Although he may have reinvented himself in New York this season, I will never forget (nor will I forgive) when last May, in the most important game of his life, Amar''''''e Stoudemire managed only 2 defensive rebounds in 43 minutes and 17 seconds of playing time. And believe me, L.A.'s Offensive Rebounding Rate of 37.8 was the biggest reason the Lakers won that game.

And, of course, if STAT could have kept his ass on the bench back in 2007, Steve Nash might have some championship jewelry.

Enter Vince fucking Carter.

I hate Vince Carter. I have almost always hated Vince Carter. Well, at least since he jammed a double-edged knife in the back of the Craptors franchise. When he was traded to Phoenix to play alongside Nash, I went into full-blown denial mode. Even when he'd played like feces, I have refused to mention it, refused to acknowledge his vile, festering presence on a team I really, really like.

I can't do that today. I'm too pissed.

Vinsanity's stat line is so typical of this stiff that it should be engraved on his tombstone: 17 points on 7-for-23 shooting...2-for-13 from downtown.


If that stat line typified Carter's failed career -- do not come at me with his career stats...I'm warning you -- then the single play that represents all that I hate about this man happened with 24 seconds left in triple overtime. With the Suns trailing 137-135, Vince chucked up unlucky three-point attempt number 13. Forget that he was 2-for-12 at that point, or that, down by only two points, a three wasn't necessary. Instead of doing the dirty work, Carter bailed out and swung heavy for the homerun. Of course, this is the same jackass who flung a trey when the game was tied at 123-123 in the second OT. And did I mention he also missed a triple at the end of regulation?

I'm convinced: Vince Carter is trying to kill me one jump shot at a time.

Of course, Vince shouldn't have even been in the game at the end of the third overtime session. And he wouldn't have been except for two whistles that went against Grant Hill in a 12-second span of a single Lakers possession. Were they by-the-books fouls? Possibly. But the refs had been letting an awful lot of physical play go to that point. Then, suddenly, they're calling body contact. Of course, it helps that the body contact was committed against Kobe, a.k.a. The Master of The Verbal Flop and the Baseline Dive.

To further put Carter's shame into perspective, only four Suns players finished with negative plus-minus scores: Channing Frye (-1), Nash (-4), Robin Lopez (-5) and Carter (-20). Anything standing out there? Is one of these things doing it's own thing? Oh, and I haven't even touched on Carter's vomit-inducing defense:

Let's not forget how his "helpless" defense left Ron-Ron wiiiiiiiiiide open for a critical three-pointer (vid from Marylander):

Somewhat ironically, Vince played over 40 minutes and finished with a STAT-like 2 defensive rebounds. And, of course, L.A.'s 18-10 advantage in offensive rebounds were the behind-the-scenes story of the game.

More on this debacle from chris:

MAN. Hardwood Paroxyism -- repping Memphis -- is just ON FIRE with his series of angry tweets in the wake of the crushing Laker win - another day of sunshine for the big markets, another reminder that Small Markets Not Named San Antonio are second-class citizens. I'm just going to quote these. This is pure gold.

"How awesome must it be to be Lakers fans? To nearly constantly feel the thrill of victory? Must be a lot better than us small market chumps"

"I just think it's awesome that the Lakers prove that there are people who win in this world and people who don't."

"Until the Lakers get their next superstar(s). Because that's what winners do."

"@PrausNichols I know! And the Smush years were way worse than most fans who wait entire lifetimes and never see any significant wins."

"@loverofsports Why do you say that? It's true, right? There are winners and there are losers. winners like Kobe and losers like Nash."

"@Smooth_Operatah That's what happens when you root for a loser. When he winds up in a big market he'll be healthier."

"@ColinZvosec Winners win and losers lose, bro. pick your train and riiiiiiide"

@ColinZvosec LA won because they're better, period. When it counts, winners win. It counted tonight. Had they lost, didn't count.

"Reality? Lakers are from Awesomeville, population: no losers"

"(brief departure into reality: the fact that games like tonight largely embody Steve Nash's career is slightly crushing) CAUSE HE'S A LOSER"

"Look at Pau Gasol. Those Memphis fans (ARE THERE MEMPHIS FANS? AMIRITE, LOL) never appreciated him. Because he wasn't a winner. Now he is."

@ValleyoftheSuns Best players are only on winning teams. Like the Lakers.

"@loverofsports Oh, yeah. How many times is Minny on TV? Does Minny have a Randy Newman song? Does Flea come to their games? DON'T THINK SO"

"poor Sasha Vujacic. He went from a 1.8 ppg winner to a 10.8 ppg loser in the same season."

"Matt Bonner? Scalabrine? Both redheaded and WINNERS! (redundant adjectives, I know)"
Lamar Odom, quote machine: "I'm tired. I want to go home. I'm in the mood for pancakes."

Kobe Bryant, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From multiple readers: "We did some good things, got our hands on balls."

The Washington Wizards Generals: The Generals got obliterated in Portland -- trailed by as many as 38, lost 111-76 -- and fell to 1-32 on the road. Shocking to...absolutely nobody.

Said John Wall: "They got whatever they wanted. It was like we weren't even out there."

It's gotta be surreal to have the "Clippers rookie" experience in Washington.

Update! Jordan Crawford and the Worst Pass in NBA History: Man, I must have been sick to miss this one. Fortunately, Basketbawful reader Gökhan had my back:

Kevin Johnson, quote machine: The former Suns great and current Sactown mayor on the possible relocation of the Kings to Anaheim: "The slow death is almost over. It's painful."

Basketbawful lacktion reporter chris, quote machine: "With Mayor Kevin Johnson sounding even more dejected than ever, let's just say I am on Mayflower Watch right now."

rbiegler, quote machine: From a fan post at Sactown Royalty: "The Maloofs are fucking idiots. Half-wits. Fat, tan, sweaty, party shirted douche bags. ... Do you people realize that for over a decade the fate of our franchise has been in the hands of middle aged men who frost their hair and wear Affliction t-shirts?"