The Milwaukee M.A.S.H. unit: Let me put this mathemologically: [The Milwaukee Bucks - (Michael Redd + Andrew Bogut)] < [The Indiana Pacers - Danny Granger]. Particularly when T.J. Ford is allowed to match his career-high with 34 points by a Bucks defense that even the Associated Press described as "standstill." And Milwaukee's handicapped defense managed only 99 points against a Pacers team that (as noted as recently as yesterday) surrenders more points than anybody other than the defenseless Kings and Warriors. In fact, this game represented only the fifth time since December 15th -- a span of 23 games -- that Indy held a foe below 100 points.
Kelvin Sampson: Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson used to coach the Indiana University men's basketball team. I say "used to" because he was fired after the NCAA busted him for the heinous and unforgiveable crime of making more than 100 impermissible phone calls. That's what I like to call...justice. Anyway, it was Sampson's first trip to Indiana since his infamous ousting, and the Pacers fans let him have it. Some of the attendees yelled "Kelvin, can you hear me now?" and Boomer, the Pacers mascot, walked behind the Bucks bench with a large, fake cell phone during a first-half timeout. It just goes to show: Hoosiers may forget, but they never forgive.
Sacramento Kings: One night after giving up 119 points and a career-high 43 points to Mo Williams in Cleveland, the Kings surrendered 117 points and a career-high 8 three-pointers to Eddie House in Boston. That's what we call "defensive fail" around these parts. House finished with a season-high 28 points and the Celtics hit 55 percent of their shots (despite the fact that Paul Pierce was 1-for-5 and Kendrick Perkins was zero-for-zero). Boston's bench scored 61 points on 21-for-33 from the field. Said Kings detainee Jason Thompson: "You're not going to win ballgames like that. You know, we can't let guys like Eddie come into the game and have a spark, have a night like that." Ouch. That's kinda rough on Eddie. But true.
Bonus facts: Sacramento has lost seven straight games, are 1-17 in their last 18 road outings, and last night fell to 0-20 against the East...making them the only team in the NBA that has been blanked by an entire conference.
The Boston Celtics: Apparently, the C's got the same "defense optional" memo that the Craboliers received before their game against the Kings. Boston fell into an early 10-point hole as the Sactowners put up 30 first-quarter points. The Celtics did deliver a little bit of a defensive knockout in the second quarter -- during which they outscored the Kings 40-19 -- but there D took it a little easy for the rest of the game (Sacramento scored 29 in the third and 22 during 12 garbage time minutes in the fourth).
Paul Pierce: So...the best player in the world, huh? Pierce finished with 8 points on 1-for-5 shooting. In the first quarter, he committed three personal fouls and got T'd up to boot. He did have 8 assists on the night, but still.
The Washington Generals: Another night, another blowout loss for the worst-in-the-league Generals. Dwyane Wade nearly had a no-sweat triple double (14 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) in only 29 minutes and Miami won by 22 despite shooting only 39 percent from the field. It helped that Washington shot 37 percent themselves in addition to committing 18 turnovers. The Heat Pine Riders outscored the Generals' bench jockeys 50-14, and Miami won the points-off-turnovers battle 26-2. Believe it or not, Washington stayed competitive for 24 minutes, even maintaining a lead for most of the first half. Then the Heat went on a 21-6 third-quarter run and it was all over but the crying. Said Antawn Jamison: "It's the same story for us. We do a pretty good job and we go through one stretch...that takes the air out of us."
The New Jersey Nets: Hey. Look. The Nets lost another game at home. What. A. Surprise. But this game gave me a little extra jolly, since it was against Vinsane's old team, the Raptors. I do likes me a revenge game. New Jersey's defense won't be winning any awards (unless the award has "suck" or "poop" in the title): The Raptors shot nearly 56 percent from the field and 50 percent (11-for-22) from beyond that arcy line. The Nets are now 9-15 at home and, better yet, only 9-18 since December 9th. That's when Devin Harris stat-cursed his squad by saying "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." Speaking of Devin, he clanked a wide-open 16-foot jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game, which led to...
Devin Harris, quote machine: Basketbawful reader Sky Flakes sent in the following Harris blurb: "That's my go-to move, I couldn’t ask for anything more. You get that shot nine times out of 10, and I hit that shot like 98.6 percent of the time." Added Mr. Flakes: "Okay, he must have some problems in his arithmetic." What?! Oh, come on, Flakes. Devin is a master of [thumb snap] numberology! (Okay, does ANYBODY get my Boondock Saints references? And no, BadDave, you don't count.) This quote makes me wish I had a picture of Devin hiding his face...hey! Thanks to Shayan of Mediocre Forever -- A Toronto Raptors Blog I do!
Them's some mad math skillz, Devin.
The Atlanta Hawks: The Dirty Birds had their wings clipped by wee-tiny Nate Robinson's 20-point fourth-quarter thunderbolt. So, uh, yeah.
Atlanta's foul shooting, however, was the biggest culprit in the loss. The Hawks -- who entered the game ranked 26th in the league in free throw percentage (74.3) -- missed 15 freebies (17-for-32). Josh Smith, who connects from the charity stripe at a 63 percent clip, blew two in a row early in the fourth quarter (costing his team the chance to pull to within 2 points) and finished 2-for-10 from the line. Hawks coach Mike Woodson griped: "You got to step up and make free throws. You can't play a close game like this and miss 15 free throws. I mean, that puts you behind the eight ball." Bonus fact: The Hawks are now 6-9 since that eight-game homestand that made everybody immediately overrate them. (So, you know, I toldja so.)
The Denver Nuggets: So the Hornets were without David West, lost Mo Pete in the first half (sprained left foot), and Chris Paul was very not good (3-for-12 shooting and a game-high 5 turnovers). And yet the Nuggets STILL lost by 13 in New Orleans? Yup. It might have helped if they'd gotten a few digits in Peja Stojakovic's shot pocket -- Peja scored a game-high 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting -- but they guy who really murderized Denver was Devin Brown: D-Bo stepped in for Peterson and went 6-for-7 en route to 18 huge points. And, oh yeah, there was also the little matter of those 19 turnovers (for 20 points going the other way). Said Kenyon Martin: "We were throwing the ball all over the place. We've got to get it under control." Imagine: Mr. Neck Lips trying to get something under control.
The Memphis Grizzlies: The Bad News Bears seem intent on being part of the three-team potato suck race with the Kings and Generals. And I have evidence. Exhibit A: The 11-34 record (fifth-worst in the league!). Exhibit B: Their current league-high 11-game losing streak. Exhibit C: Last night's overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Yes! The Thunder finally earned their O's back!) Apparently, the Men from Memphis believe that "defense" is simply "waiting to get back on offense," since the Thunder connected on 51 percent of their field goals and 61 percent of their threes. Oklahoma City finished the game on a 14-0 run that, in many ways, perfectly symbolized the pitiful futility that is the Grizzlies' season.
And get this, people: The Thunder have a .500+ record since New Year's Eve. They leapfrogged the Generals earlier this week to escape "Worst Record In The NBA" status. Even more amazingly, the Kings' loss at Boston and the Clippers' loss at home to the Bulls (see below) mean that the Thunder no longer have the worst record in the Western Conference!
The Houston Rockets: Wait, wait. Let me get this straight. Tracy McGrady? Check. Ron Artest? Check. Yao Ming? Check. Playing at home? Check. Seems like Houston's stage was set for an important victory. Too bad Philly didn't read the script. The Rockets were held to 41 percent shooting and got beaten on the boards (48-40) as the 76ers bolted back from a 14-point deficit to win 95-93 thanks to Andre Iguodala's baseline jumper with 36 seconds left. Knee-Mac, who shot 8-for-20 and had his last-second three-point attempt partially blocked by Samuel Dalembert, said: "I really don't have an answer. We just got to keep on grinding, keep digging and find an answer for it. We've got to be better, a lot better." The Rockets have now lost three of four.
Yao Ming: There were the game-high 5 turnovers. And the two of his shots that got stuffed. And then, there was this...
No, that's okay, Yao. Don't bother jumping on your team's account. (Thanks to Wira for the video link.)
The Golen State Warriors: Defense. It's not just something Hubie Brown talks about during NBA broadcasts. But don't tell that to the Warriors. It might break their offensive-minded hearts. The Oakland Suck Raiders provided little (read that: no) resistance as the Mavericks gunned their way to 117 points and a 53-38 edge on the boards. Meanwhile, the Warriors were held to 38 percent shooting by the suddenly resurrected Dallas D. Said Nellie (as he was no doubt contemplating a post-game beer): "I was disappointed with our play, but so be it." Now that sounds like a man with some strong feelings. Just not about his team.
Got a funny email from Basketbawful reader Callum regarding this game: "It must be noted that in the horrific rout of Golden State by Dallas, the only player to register a positive +/- was the inspirational Rob Kurz, who during his epic seven minutes on the court saw the team reach heights not seen the entire game. It must have been his three missed shots, his three fouls and his telling defensive rebound that lead to the +1." Memo to Don Nelson: ROB KURZ NEEDS MORE MINUTES.
The Charlotte Bobcats: Considering that, one night earlier, they beat the Lakers in L.A. in double-overtime while also losing Gerald Wallace to a partially collapsed lung, losing to the Trail Blazers in Portland isn't too shaming. But, hey, I'm not about cutting people breaks. The 'Cats fell behind 32-18 after one quarter and never got back to within single digits. Said Raja Bell: "As hard as we tried that first quarter, it just wasn't clicking. Our bodies weren't ready to go. It took us a while to warm up, and they exploited that." Catsploitation. It's just wrong.
Update! Adam Morrison: I got this late-breaking email from Juan P.: "I thought for sure someone would be all over getting this quote to you from last night's Bobcats-Blazers game. The Portland CSN broadcasters are your typical local hucksters, but this drunken/senile/corpse guy Mike Rice uncorked a low-key yet devasting insult late in the first quarter:
Mike Barrett: 'That's Adam Morrison's second foul and he'll be headed to the bench.'
Mike Rice: 'And that's bad news for the Blazers. If you're a Blazer, you want Adam Morrison out there on the court.'
"The NBA ain't Gonzaga. There was a minor uproar in Portland when the Blazers chose LaMarcus Aldridge over Pasty Stache. I think that was during the height of the ironic mustache fad in Cooltown. The consolation prize from a NW college that year was Brandon Roy." Not a bad consolation prize. Kinda sad for Adam, though.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Go to By The Horns for full coverage. No, seriously, go over there and pump up my page counts. Leave comments. Please. I'm begging you. Ha, ha, just kidding. But really, do it. Anyway, the Clips got Baron Davis and Marcus Camby back from injury. Know what that changed? Absolutely nothing. B-Diddy went 1-for-10 and The Camby Man was outscored 9-6 by Aaron Gray. Yeah. And despite the psychological advantage of getting two of their best players back from injury and the fact that they were playing a slumping team -- the Bulls had lost five in a row and are 6-13 in their last 19 games -- they still lost by 20 at home. That'll happen when you consider defense to be something reserved for other sports, like football and backgammon.
The game was actually competitive in the first half, but L.A.'s Other Team got outscored 26-9 in the third. Said Clippers non-coach Mike Dunleavy: "This wasn't one of those good efforts. I was really disappointed. We came out and laid an egg in the third quarter." Uh huh. Look, you might be tired of hearing this, but facts are facts: They are who we thought they were.
Texas Department of Transportation: TDoT became the unwitting victims of what has officially become My Favorite Prank of 2009: Chris Lippincott, director of media relations for the Lone Star State's Department of Transportation, confirmed that one or more enterprising pranksters hacked into a portable traffic sign at Lamar Boulevard and West 15th Street, near the University of Texas at Austin, during the early hours of January 19. The new message? Zombies Ahead. Seriously.
Ha, ha! Just kidding! There aren't any
"zombies" ahead. As far as you know...
Hopefully this incident really was a prank and not some sort of government cover up. Because if a World War Z-style zombie apocalypse is going to happen, I'd really like to have some time to fill my basement with shotguns and bottle water. Oh, and I'll need to kidnap Gwen Stefani. (Thanks to longtime buddy Big Bad Carter for the head's up.)
Update! Kobe Bryant: Mamba dumped a bottle of ammonia in Luke Walton's fish tank. Then, at practice the next day, he made sure that Luke overheard him talking about "some dumbass who couldn't even keep his fish alive."