Author's note: I received many great nominations and contributions over the holidays, but I was taking a few much-needed days off, so I didn't have time to sort through them all. Sorry 'bout that. But I still love you more than anyone else will ever love you. Know that.
The Chicago Bulls: It was a rather painful day-after-Christmas trip to Miami for the Bullies, who scored 77 points (their second-lowest scoring output of the season), shot 37 percent (their third-worst shooting effort of the season), had more turnovers (15) than assists (11) and managed only 13 points in the fourth quarter. It was their 13th loss in 16 road games. Oh, and according to the Yahoo! box score, Aaron Gray (12 points, 11 rebounds) was their top performer. And, uh, you're not going to get very far as a team when Aaron Gray is your top performer. I'm just sayin'.
Derrick Rose: The Great Poohdini scored 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting and finished with 5 turnovers to only 3 assists. Meanwhile, he got outplayed by his former college rival Mario Chalmers (16 points, 6-for-9, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) and current ROY rival Michael Beasley (who scored 8 of his 14 points in the decisive fourth quarter).
Meaningless "controversies": Miami was up 13 with 30.9 seconds left when Heat coach Eric took a 20-second timeout to pull Dwyane wade, Udonis Haslem and Mari Chalmers. And the Bulls were pissed about it. Said Andres Nocioni: "There was nothing good about calling that timeout. I feel it was out of place. That is something only done to disrespect the opponent." Added Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: "I don't know what they were doing. There's 30 seconds to go in the game. They're up 15 or 13 or whatever. But, whatever, we'll play them again."
Spoelstra, of course, tried to deflect the criticism. "That is a common practice in the NBA. I wanted to get our guys out, just in case something crazy would happen, and it allowed them to get their subs in, too. I don't know why they're all fired up. If they want to make a big deal about it, whatever." Two coaching quotes, two whatevers. So, you know, whatever. (For the record, video showed that the Bulls weren't trying to sub anybody in. Sorry Eric. Why not just admit you wanted your guys to get an ovation? It's okay. Basketball is entertainment and you were entertaining your fans. So what?)
The New York Knicks: The Minnesota Timberwolves got a late Christmas gift from the Knicks, who let the Wolves snap their 13-game losing streak and gave Kevin McHale his first coaching win of the season. In New York. It was the fifth straight defeat for the Knicks, who gave up 120 points and 51 percent shooting (54 from downtown). Minnesota had seven -- yes, seven -- players in double figures. Three of 'Wolves eclipsed the 20-point plateau and another almost did (Randy Foye had 19 points). And Mike D'Antoni made another point guard look like Steve Nash. Only this time, instead of Chris Duhon, it was Sebastian Telfair, who finished with a season-high 20 points and 8 assists for McHale's Navy. When asked what the Wolves did to catch fire, D'Antoni said: "Nothing really. They just stood there and took wide-open shots. We just were really bad defensively."
Kevin McHale, relief machine: Suffice it to say, McFail was pretty relieved to get that first win and break the losing skid. "The guys have been playing hard and we really needed this one. At the end of the game I said, 'Thank God,' and I meant it. Anything worth having in life takes some faith. And when that faith happens, it's a beautiful thing. And they've got to have faith that when they go out and play hard, good things are going to happen for them." Like you getting fired at the end of the season maybe...?
Sebastian Telfair, grammar machine: Regarding the status of his cousin, Stephon Marbury, Telfair said: "We all want our ending stories to be a certain way. I mean, he’s still healthy. I think this is a chapter in his book and hopefully he smartens up and creates his own ending and don't let nobody else create it for him." Yes. We could all use some smartening up, couldn't we, Sebastian?
The New Jersey Nets: The Bobcats got that elusive third road win of the season, and it's not surprising that it happened in New Jersey...where the Nets are now a sad-as-a-drowning-kitten 5-11 at the Izod Center. The Nets also fell a game below .500 with the loss and are now 3-7 since Devin Harris said: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team."
The Indiana Pacers: They lost yet another close game, this time to the Grizzlies after building a 17-point lead. It didn't help matters that Danny Granger -- who had 26 points on 9-for-16 shooting -- missed the final 10 minutes after getting a concussion...from colliding with teammate Jarrett Jack with 10:08 to play. "I tried [to return to the game], but they wouldn't let me come back. I got hit so hard, it was kind of black. I just stayed down. When I got up, I felt dizzy." Isn't that just so Pacery? If I had been asked before this game to vote on which team was most likely to lose their best player to concussion caused by teammates running into each other, it would have been the Pacers fo' sho'. Oh, and the D'Antoni like "efense" might be a problem: The Pacers are now 2-17 when opponents score 100 points or more.
The Detroit Pistons: It took an off-balance runner by Allen Iverson with 0.2 seconds left for the Pistons to notch a home victory against the 3-win Thunder. 'Nuff said.
The Houston Rockets: Their 79-point effort was highlighted by 15-point fourth quarter in which they shot 2-of-14 and didn't hit a field goal in the last eight minutes and 47 seconds. And it it was possible to double-highlight something, this game would have been double-highlighted by the combined 3-for-21 shooting of starting guards Rafer Alson and Tracy McGrady. Said McGrady: "I think we left [our offense] back in Houston."
The New Orleans Hornets: One day after losing to the Magic 88-68, they beat the Rockets 88-79. Ugh. And if you peruse their schedule, you'll notice a lot of similar scores. I kind of hate that this young, running team that should be lighting up the scoreboard is developing that icky "mid-1990's New York Knicks" feel.
The Philadelphia 76ers: They were up by 17 points midway through the third quarter of their game against the Nuggets in Denver...then fell apart down the stretch. They were outscored 37-22 in the fourth quarter. After giving up a go-ahead dunk to Kenyon Martin with 9 seconds left, Andre Iguodala got called for travelling. The Sixers were forced to foul to get the ball back but still would have been within 3 points with 2.9 seconds left -- assuming Chucky Atkins made both free throws, which he did -- but Andre Miller got T'd up and thus gave the Nuggets another free point that put the game out of reach. Miller admitted he was trying to delay Atkins free throws when the technical was called but then added: "I didn't do nothing or say nothing." And I think that double-negative pretty much says it all for you, Andre.
Nuggets coach George Karl provided the best postscript to the game when he said: "The thought that comes to my mind is, bad teams lose games they're supposed to win, and good teams win games they're supposed to lose." And nobody knows more about bad teams losing games they're supposed to win than coach Karl.
The Dallas Mavericks: The Jazz were missing their top three scorers and rebounders -- Carlos Boozer (quad), Paul Millsap (knee) and Mehmet Okur (back) -- and beat the Mavericks anyway, thanks to career-high scoring "outbursts" from Kosta Koufos (18 points, 8-for-11) and Kyrylo Fesenko (8 points, 4-for-5).
Dirk Nowitzki: The Fouling Dutchman got bounced with 9:48 to go after he kinda accidentally-on-purpose flailed one of his chicken wings into Matt Harpring's face after some jostling under the basket. As Fesenko put it: "I get the rebound. I maybe push [Dirk] in the back a little. Then probably Matt pushed him a little. I don't think it was something really brutal. It happens all the time." Here's a nice little breakdown of the action:
Update! Andrei Kirilenko: Okay. In all fairness to Dirk, I should add, in the first half, AK47 dropped like he got shot by an AK47. Which is pretty shameful. Ivan Drago does not approve.
The Sacramento Kings: They fell victim to Jermaine The Drain (36 points, 15-for-19) and dropped their fifth straight game. The Kings are now a Nets-like 5-10 at home. Oh, and they've not lost all 19 games this season in which they've led after three quarters. Seriously.
Jack Armstrong, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From Shayan of Time Intact: "I'm watching the Raptors-Kings match, and Jermaine O'Neal is having a hell of a game. Raptors tv analyst Jack Armstrong, talking about O'Nean's inside presence, says 'look at where he's doing it...DEEP! All those inside shots, talk about goin' to town!' Then within a minute, Raptors coach subs O'Neal to which Armstrong states 'Triano's giving O'Neal a blow.'" You just can't get that kind of stuff on nationally broadcast games. Unless Reggie Miller is announcing.
The Boston Celtics: One day after their Christmas day showdown with the Lakers, they built a 14-point lead against the Warriors before melting down in the second half and eventually losing 98-89. The C's were outscored 35-17 in the fourth quarter and looked like they were playing immediately after their fifth helping of Christmas turkey. (Which Big Baby Davis probably was.) Said Doc Rivers: "I was worried at halftime when I saw we were shooting 56 (percent) and they were shooting 39 and it was a 12-point game. I was completely concerned about it. ...Once they start making shots, it's tough to turn them off, and we couldn't make anything." From 19-0 to 0-2. That's the NBA for you...
Bulls-Heat: Yakhouba Diawara apparently is the Miami human victory cigar, racking +1 (a bricked three) in 4:28 of on-floor lacktivity.
Bobcats-Nets: Charlotte's Sean Singletary fouled twice, turning a near 3 trillion into a +2 in 2:59. Trenton Hassell put up a truly unimpressive performance as a starter for the Nets, only to avoid a massive payday of 19 trillion via one rebound and an assist (as well as one foul); his sleep-inducing stat line no doubt was one of the big factors in the Bobcats pulling out a victory.
Wolves-Knicks: Non-defensive basktball has been the name of the game for those dwelling in Mike 'antoni's Madison Square Garden, as witnessed by Anthony Roberson's +1 in a little over 1:25 - his bricked three attempt helping him to end up with a -3.
Thunder-Pistons: Kwame Brown did avoid an official lacktivity score, though it wasn't for lack of trying - one rebound helped him miss out on a potential 3 trillion fortune, in a game where Klahma almost generated enough offense to beat the Pistons (outscoring Detroit by a point in the final quarter, only to lose by two). Hey, wasn't Kwame a #1 overall pick once? Lacktion statistics and #1 overall picks usually don't mix, but in this very special case, we nearly got to see them combine in one gravity-defying black hole of fail.
Pacers-Grizzlies: Quinton Ross's team may have won, but the Grizzlies' conquest of the Pacers had very little to do with him - a full 11 minutes of lacktion generated +3 through a couple of bricks from downtown, and a personal foul.
Jazz-Mavericks: One night after the Mavs took over late in the 4th against the Blazers, Mark Cuban's personal basketball playset seemed to run out of energy, and two spectacularly bland performances from the bench were not positive factors: DeSagna Diop giving Dallas a 4 and a half trillion, and teammate Shawne Williams bricking a three for +1 in over a minute of lacktion.
Celtics-Warriors: In Boston's two-game holiday skid, the bench has not been particularly effective. Brian Scalabrine avoided a +1 in 4:07 through a rebound, but next to him on the pine, two Mario Brothers developed: 15 seconds each for Patrick O'Bryant and Gabe Pruitt.
Vince Carter, quote machine: After the Nets' 114-103 overtime win in Charlotte, Vinsanity said: "It's kind of an 'us against the world' mentality. Coming into somebody else's building and wanting to get some roadkill...it's good for us. Winning games like this, I don't care who the team is, will help." The Nets are now 10-4 on the road...and 5-11 at home. So methinks it's high time to focus on getting some homekill, Vince.
The Chicago Bulls: The good: They shot 54.4 percent from the field and matched their season-high in scoring with 117 points. The bad: They also allowed season-highs in points (129), field-goal percentage (56), field goals made (49) and assists (33). Said Andres Nocioni: "It's personal, you know? Everybody needs to take the challenge. If we don't play 'D,' we will be out of the playoffs for sure. Today was terrible, terrible defense. We need to stop the ball one-on-one. Then nobody helps or crowds guys or takes a charge. So everybody can drive the basket or get offensive rebounds. It's energy. It's attitude. And that's it." The Bulls were outscored 56-38 in the paint. It's the 10th time this season that Chicago has allowed an opposing team to score 50 points in the painted rectangle.
Larry Hughes: You'll notice you can't spell "team" using any combination of the letters in "Larry Hughes." And with good reason. Hughes was aghast at not starting against the Hawks on Saturday (in place of the injured Luol Deng). Forget the fact that the guy who did start, Thabo Sefolosha, scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. That's not the point. Me, me, me is the point for Hughes. And he let people know about it after the game. ""I don't accept it, but I deal with it. I've said what I needed to say (to GM John Paxson and coach Vinny Del Negro]. Hopefully, it gets better moving forward. If it's justified, it's justified. But you can look at whatever you need to look at as far as production. I think it's in my favor. I'm not a spot-minute guy. I don't play well in that situation. If you want me to produce, I have to be out there. I can make a difference at both ends if I play." Yeah, well, thanks for that, Larry.
The Thunder versus the Wizards: From the AP game recap: "The Thunder entered with an NBA-worst 3-27 record, with the Wizards at 4-23. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there had never been an NBA game matching teams with individually lower winning percentages-.100 for Oklahoma City and .148 for Washington—and each squad having played at least 25 games." So it truly was the worst game ever. NBA action. It's FAN-tastic. As an aside, the Wizards got their fifth win of the season while the Thunder remained stuck on three wins. Said Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks: "It's no fun having three wins, but it's important we stay together and we continue to compete for one another. Not one guy in this locker room is a loser." I beg to disagree on that point, Scott.
Al Jefferson, quote machine: Regarding his team's 118-94 loss to the Magic, Big Al said: "I'm not going to say we lost focus. I just feel like we gave up. I think we felt a little fatigued and we just gave up on it." Telling the media you're team quit. That's Leadership 101, people. Look it up.
The Bucks' shooting: Brrr! It was a winter wasteland in Milwaukee, where the home team shot 30 percent from the field (24-for-79) and only 8 percent from downtown (1-for-12). Andy Bogut was 6-for-15, Michael Redd hit only 2-for-11 and Tyron Lue missed all seven of his shot attempts. It got so bad that Bucks coach Scott Skiles put in a lineup of Malik Allen, Joe Alexander, Tyronn Lue, Dan Gadzuric and Ridnour with 3:40 left in the third quarter...and left most of the starters on the bench the rest of the way. Said Skiles: "Because I'm putting the other guys in doesn't mean I'm giving up on the game. I still intend to win the game. It can be very confusing on certain nights of why certain guys just don't have it, but it does happen in the NBA." It's true. He wasn't giving up on the game. But he WAS sending a message to his starters. Play better or you won't play at all. And you know, that type of “motivation” works SO very well with pro ballers...
The Houston Rockets: For the second straight game, the Jazz were without their top three scorers and rebounders -- Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Paul Millsap -- and yet it still took two overtimes for the Rockets to prevail. At home. Sure, they were without McGrady and all, but that only meant they probably shot a higher percentage from the field.
The San Antonio Spurs: I'll let the headline from the AP game recap tell the tale for me: "Spurs need 2 overtimes to beat Grizzlies." And the game took place in San Antonio. Oddly, it was the third double-overtime game the Spurs have had this season. They've won them all.
Thunder-Wizards: Robert Swift was in a giving mood today, producing a 5 trillion -- not generous enough to give back Klahma's O's in a loss, but enough that Clay Bennett would be rather pleased with this determined acquisition of dubious earnings.
Bulls-Hawks: Joakim Noah and Cedric Simmons became the latest captains of industry, each giving Chicago quite a bit of wealth (Noah with 5.5 trillion and Simmons with 4 trillion). Lindsey Hunter's bricked three gave him a +1 in 5:16, creating a trio of lacktivity for the Windy City. On the other side of the court, THE Mario West avoided his namesake by actually making a field goal in 38 seconds of floor time, while Solomon Jones averted his own Mario through one steal in 50 seconds (negated by a turnover, but still).
Grizzlies-Spurs: Memphis's Greg Buckner earned a +3 in a full 11:54 of lacktion (brick, rejection, foul) -- and in a game decided by 3 points in double-overtime (with Popovich's squad gaining the upper hand), Buckner's on-court mediocrity probably wasn't what the Griz needed to pull off the upset.
Raptors-Blazers: Jake Voskuhl for the dinos had only 18 seconds of lacktion and a +1 (foul) midway through the game - and lo and behold, it would stay that way all night. Just when it seemed he'd be the only one for Toronto mentioned in this here segment, Kris Humphries stepped onto the hardwood in some final-stanza garbage time, contributing a 35 second Mario to the mix.
The New York Knicks: They followed up getting torched by the Timberwolves by getting lit up by the Nuggets: Denver shot 57 percent and scored 117 points. Carmelo Anthony came out of his offensive coma to score 32 points on 13-for-19 shooting...which, obviously, is much easier to do when you're wide open all night. It was only 'Melo's third 30-point game of the season. And, get this, after the game, Mike D'Anonti was talking about -- are you ready for it? -- defense. "We've got to play defense. There's no doubt about it. I know I joke around a lot about it, but the only way we're going to win is to get better at it. I've always felt like we're going to score no matter what. I don't care who's on the floor, we're going to score. So now we've just got to find a way how to stop people." Sounds like a broken record to me. Sounds like a broken record to me. Sounds like a broken record to me...
The Los Angeles Clippers: Facing the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavs at home...the Clippers lost by 22. They are who we thought they were. Mind you, the Clips were without Zach Randolph (bruised knee), Chris Kaman (left arch) and Ricky Davis (bwahahahaha!). And they want you to know that's what was up. Said Baron Davis: "We need our team to be 100 percent healthy to play at our highest level." Added coach Mike Dunleavy: "This really shows the absence of our low post game, with Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph both out. Many of our shots were forced, and that may have been due to the lack of conditioning from the time off." So it's not anybody's fault. Just so you know.
The Indiana Pacers: If you follow this blog, you've probably noticed an ongoing theme in which the Pacers lead most of the game only to lose it at the end. Well, I hate to shock the hell out of you, but it happened again against Hornets. Indy were up by as many as 12 points early in the third quarter before choking up the lead. Still, Danny Granger (34 points, 12-for-23) tied the game by hitting a couple free throws with 27.8 seconds left. But then David West hit a 17-foot fadeaway jumper with 2.5 seconds to doom the Pacers to yet another come-from-ahead loss.
The Yao Watch: Oh! We might be making a comeback! Czernobog caught what I missed: Dr. Yao had five of his shots blocked by the Jazz! And let's not forget about this block by LeBron that happened while I was "getting a blow":
The Sacramento Kings: Okay. So we know the Celtics were angry about losing two in a row, including that Christmas day loss to the hated Lakers. But they beat the Kings by 45...IN SACRAMENTO. "Ouch" doesn't begin to cover it. More like, "OH GOD! OH GOD! IT HURTS! KILL ME...PLEASE!" The Kings shot 28 percent for the game and hit only 19 field goals. That's the fewest shots made by the Kings in the shot-clock era and the second fewest allowed by the Celtics. The 45-point margin of victory matched the sixth biggest by the Celtics, who also pounded the Knicks by the same margin last season. The last time the C's spanked somebody worse than that was a 153-107 smackdown of the Baltimore Bullets on November 27, 1970. It was Sactown's sixth straight loss and 16th of 18 overall. Said Bobby Jackson: "This is frustrating going through things like this. We can't keep making excuses. That's just it. I'm embarrassed. I hope everybody else is embarrassed, too. That was just ridiculous the way we came out and competed tonight. I wouldn't even say competed. We didn't even show up."
The Golden State Warriors: After their inspired effort against a drained Boston team, the Warriors let the Lakers score 130 points on 51 percent shooting. Way to build on success, Warriors. Said Stehpen Jackson: "Our defense wasn't even close to what we had against Boston and it definitely showed. We didn't approach the game the same way we did the Boston game. We had more intensity, were up for that game and we weren't today." How bad was it? Sun Yue played more than six minutes. Oh yes.
Kobe Bryant: After the game in the Lakers' locker room, Mamba turned away from Lamar Odom to address Luke Walton. Said Mamba, gesturing to Odom. "He doesn't like you." Luke tried to apologize, but Mamba went on: "I don't like you either. You'd better watch yourself. I have the death sentence on 12 systems." Luke replied: "I'll be careful." To which Mamba said "YOU'LL BE DEAD!" and slapped him. Then Luke cried.
Mavs-Clippers: Dallas's Antoine Wright dominated garbage time lacktion in negative statistics through a +6 (three bricks, one shot blocked, and two personal fouls) in a whole 10:14; for the home team, Steve Novak shows up again with nearly 1.5 trillion.
Celtics-Kings: Now that I'm back in Sactown after Christmas, I got a chance to peruse the local broadcast of what turned out to be some severe bawful. Kenny Thomas accrued a 21 second Mario for the home team. (Donte Greene had a +2 in 1:21 but then got three more minutes of playing time late in the 3rd, making a shot, ultimately ending up with 7.) As the failfest at Arco continued during the 3rd quarter (where Suckrament was outscored 25-14), the commentators on Comcast Sports California had enough:
"You think it can't get any worse...but it's worse"
"We've been doing this for a long time, I don't recall the Kings ever being down 40 at their home floor."
"The Celtics are a good team, but STILL, they shouldn't be up by 40."
Radio guy Gary Gerould and the TV commentators now telling prattle tales about Michael Phelps showing up as the celebrity guest de jour.
Now early in the 4th -- with a full 10 minutes left -- Brian Scalabrine is already in as the world champs celebrate yet another easy victory (which is a huge relief after two straight tough losses). He would end the night having played out the rest of the period, actually racking up 3 rebounds and a steal.
Cameraman now focuses on Phelps not even paying attention to the snoozefest. That's the best thing they can show us? Hell, he's dominating the "images of the game" segment. Wow.
Game over at 108-63, a 45 point loss; the Kings just set a record for futility with only NINETEEN made field goals for the night, with John Salmons' 11 points (only 2 of 9 on field goal attempts) serving as the team lead, nobody else in double digits. Not just that, Suckrament managed a high of a mere 17 points in both the first and second quarter, following that up with not-so-high-powered numbers of 14 and 15 points each in the final half.
Earl Boykins: Basketbawful reader Your Favorite Sun left this in a comment, from the Eurobasket news:
"It wasn't without consequence Christmas game for Virtus Bologna. Earl Boykins (168-G-76, college: E.Michigan) was scoreless in 17' with only a field goal attempted. The pointguard, in the past days, asked to come back home for 4 days to have some Holydays, but the team denied his request. So, his bad performance, was seen like a kind of strike. Boykins - started likewise to the Usa after the game - and Virtus Bologna will part away in the next days. When agents and team staff will find a deal."
Take your pick -- awful because of:
(a) Earl's lackluster performance,
(b) It may have been intentional retaliation for not being allowed to go home for Xmas, or
(c) The Babel Fish translation?
Hey, YFS, you forgot (d) All of the above. And my answer is most definitely "d."