The super-ultra-rare double facefist: When a double
facepalm just can't express all the wonderful misery.
Andre Iguodala: Glass half full: Iggy almost had a triple-double last night (22 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists). Glass half empty: He almost had a triple-bumble, too, thanks to his season-high 7 turnovers. Fortunately for Andre, his team was playing...
The Washington Wizards Generals: The Generals lined up for another loss, this time at the hands of the heretofore struggling 76ers, who snapped their four-game losing streak in Washington last night. And Generals interim coach Ed Tapscott was pissed. After the game, he said his team lacked "focus, concentration, effort and execution," emphasizing each failing by slamming his fist down on the lectern. He even suggested he might have to warm up with his team to shake them out of their funk. "If that means I'm out there on the floor in my sweats, we'll do that." Hmm. Ed Tapscott in sweats. I'm sure that'll be a real big motivator. Bonus stats: The Wizards had more turnovers (21) than free throw attempts (18).
The Memphis Grizzlies: Make it six in a row, as in games lost, for the Grizzlies of Memphis, who were beaten by the Danny Granger-less (and Mike Dunleavy Jr.-less) Pacers in Indy. More accurately, they were beaten by T.J. Ford, who scored 8 of his 20 points in the decisive fourth quarter despite flu-like symptoms! Seriously, the dude didn't start and almost didn't play. But even though he hadn't even been eating, he had enough in the tank to beat the Grizzlies. Of course, that sort of goes without saying, doesn't it? More bonus stats: The Griz lost despite shooting almost 50 percent and forcing 20 turnovers.
Rasho Nesterovic: From Basketbawful reader Junior:
2:36 IND - R. Nesterovic misses a layup 2:36 IND - R. Nesterovic offensive rebound 2:36 IND - R. Nesterovic misses a 3-foot jumper in the lane 2:36 IND - R. Nesterovic offensive rebound 2:36 IND - Team rebound 2:20 IND - R. Nesterovic misses a 17-foot jumper along the right baseline 2:18 MEM - M. Conley defensive rebound
Memo to Nesterovic: if you missed a 3-foot jumper, you will miss a 17-foot
The Chicago Bulls: Well, I'll give the Bulls this much: They didn't allow Devin Harris beat them with a 60-foot miracle shot as time expired. Instead, they let Harris shoot them down by scoring 19 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter. Devin shot 7-for-9 from the field, and four of those makes were layups of the "Hot damn he just blew by his guy!" variety. It was like Dr. Horrible zapped the Bulls with his Freeze Ray. (It's not a Death Ray. Or an Ice Beam...that's all "Johnny Snow.") Not that Chicago's problems were all on the defensive end. They entered the fourth with a 4-point lead, then proceeded to miss 10 of their first 11 field goal attempts and ended up shooting 7-for-25 for the quarter.
Ben Gordon, who "led" the Bulls with 17 points, was miffed afterwards. "We were doing stupid stuff the whole game and kind of shot ourselves in the foot. Stupid shots, stupid decisions, bad defense. We lost this one tonight, if you ask me. We shouldn't play like this, so it is definitely disappointing. This is a beatable team. We beat them twice already this season. The game was there. The game was there for us if we wanted it. We just didn't play the way we needed to." And the person primarily at fault for that is...
Vinny Del Negro: Was their any way to stop Devin Harris from hitting the Bulls in the eye with the NBA-equivalent of "the money shot"? Derrick Rose thought so: "Zone and trap; that's what I think you do when somebody is going off like that. Just trap him. But we didn't." Not that Rose could have participated in a zone-and-trap scheme against Harris, because HE WAS ON THE BENCH DURING CRUNCH TIME. AGAIN. Sorry for yelling, but COME ON. The Notorious V.D.N. sat Derrick for the final 4:52 because he apparently thought Kirk Hinrich would do a better job stopping Harris than Rose did. Mind you, Harris scored 9 of his fourth-quarter points against Rose...and 10 of them when Hinrich was Devin's primary defender. So that worked in a way that totally didn't. Like AK Dave pointed out the other day, Hinrich does his best defenive work against big, athletic guards like Dwyane Wade. He struggles against the quick guys like T.J. Ford and Harris. Hasn't Vinny figured that out? And yes: That question was completely rhetorical.
Vinny's clutch play calling -- if you can call it that -- was even worse. Rose only had one fourt-quarter shot attempt before he was exiled to the bench. One. Meanwhile, Tyrus Thomas took four jumpers -- two on on possession -- from from 18, 7, 20 and 16 feet out. And a couple of those came after timeouts! Are you telling me Vinny is writing up plays to get Tyrus "The Brick" Thomas jump shots out of timeouts? Say it ain't so! Please. I'm begging you.
Update! Larry Hughes:ghostlygerbils noticed this egregious oversight on my part: "How could you miss Larry '0' Hughes going 1-6 with no assists or rebounds and 3 fouls? The crowd at MSG was booing him by his second miss."
The Detroit Pistons: Eight. Eight losses in a row. Ah, ha, ha. Not that the Pistons didn't make a game of it against, because they did. But the end result was the same, another black mark in the loss column of the season standings. It's the team's longest slide into oblivion since 1995, a span of 14 seasons.
There was plenty of 'bawful, despite their valiant effort. The Not-Answer had to leave the game in the first quarter after aggravating a back strain. Rasheed Wallace got ejected with 7:55 in the fourth quarter after getting T'd up twice in 27 seconds. (More on that below.) And still the Pistons were down by only a point in the final minute, but David West grabbed two offensive rebounds on the Hornets' final possession, the second of which forced the Pistons to foul to stop the clock. Even then they could have tied it, but their final shot was a three-pointer by Walter Herrmann. And it's pretty hard for me to believe that that was the shot they wanted.
Bonus stats: Tyson Chandler had a season-high 17 rebounds. He and West combined for 13 of the Hornets 17 offensive boards. And their rebounding was the difference in the game. Who knew blocking out was such a lost art?
Rasheed Wallace: From ESPN's Daily Dime (via Wild Yams): "On Wed., the Pistons seemed poised to end their losing streak, leading the Hornets early in the fourth quarter, but Wallace suffered the kind of meltdown that's punctuated his career. With the game tied 71-71, Wallace gave up an offensive rebound to Hornets reserve forward Sean Marks, allowing New Orleans to score the basket that put them ahead to stay in a game they would win by just three points. After the Marks play, Wallace complained demonstratively to get technical foul No. 15, and shortly thereafter angrily knocked a towel from a Hornets ball boy's hand into the crowd for technical foul No. 16. He followed that by throwing a towel in the direction of his coach, Michael Curry, who had just seconds before removed him from the game. All of this raises the possibility that Wallace will face what would probably be the NBA's first-ever triple suspension -- the automatic suspension for his 16th technical foul of the season, a league suspension for knocking a towel into the crowd and a team suspension for his actions toward his coach. Or might the Pistons just release him now, with only 26 games remaining on his contract? In any case, Sheed's tenure in Detroit, which began in spectacular fashion in 2004 with an NBA title (remember his championship belt?), is reaching an ignominious end."
And in case you wanted to watch the towel incident...
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Due to the unfortunate absence of Al Jefferson, Kevin McHale has been forced to employ and uptempo offense so his team can, you know, score points...which is sort of what basketball is all about. But the downside of pushing the ball is that it allows teams to push back. Which is what the Jazz did last night: Utah scored 120 points on 53 percent shooting as seven Jazz players scored in double-digits. Said McHale "We just have got to get better defensively." Dude, seriously, your team can play offense OR defense, not both. So if they're going to lose anyway -- and they are -- you might as well let them entertain their fans by putting up points.
The Portland Trail Blazers: Man, these guys have been Odenized. And I don't mean that in a good way. Last night, they suffered a 15-point road loss to the San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker and his French Foreign Legion. Parker, forced to play without franchise cornerstone Tim Duncan (right quad tendonosis) and sixth man extraordinaire Manu Ginobili -- exploded for 39 points and 9 assists. It was Portland's second straight road loss to a playoff-bound Western Conference team. The Blazers shot 37 percent and had only 12 assists on 32 field goals...so you know the ball movement wasn't there. Of course, San Antonio's defense will do that to you. Fun fact: The Spurs just signed forward Pops Menah-Bonsu to a 10-day contract. That's a fun name.
Steve Blake: Here's a case of a reader with an offensive rebound off my miss. Brendan K said: "Steve Blake went 0-9 from the floor and 0-2 from the line last night. EPIC FAIL."
The Milwaukee Bucks: On January 21, Milwaukee beat Dallas 133-99. It was and is the Mavs' worst loss of the season. And you know what that means: Revenge game! The 116-96 retribution was highlighted by 53 percent shooting (including 50 percent from downtown) and a 51-25 edge on the boards. Dallas committed 22 turnovers and STILL won by 20.
Hawks versus Nuggets: So the Hawks lost for the fourth time in five games, with their only victory in that stretch being a 5-point win over the worst-in-the-league Kings. On the other hand, the Nuggets barely escaped with a 1-point home win over a depleted Hawks team -- starters Mike Bibby (flu) and Josh Smith (family matter) were both out and Zaza Pachulia STARTED -- when Flip Murray's 14-footer bounced off the rim at the buzzer. Said Chauncey Billups: "I was angry. I'm happy that we won, but I'm just disappointed in how we won. When you lose three games in a row, any kind of win is great. But I think the disappointment that we have in the way that we finished the game is just a sign of how good of a team that we are: We're happy with the win, but we're not happy with how we finished the game."
Speaking of long faces, Murray was all down on himself for missing a semi-gimmie that would have allowed his team to steal one. "It was a shot I should have made. I had a chance to win the game with my last shot and I short-armed it. But it was a shot I should have made. ... It was wide open, I should have made it. It was an easy little chipper and I should have made it." Okay, okay. We get it, Flip. You should have made it. But you didn't.
The Sacramento Kings: Man, I don't know what to say about this team, other than they are retroactively erasing all the good memories I have of them from the C-Webb Era. It's like that movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I guess it's not all bad, though. At least I'll be able to forget (hopefully) that Game 6 against the Lakers. Anyway, here's a recap of Sacramento's ongoing 'bawful from the Associated Press: "It was another in a long line of lackluster games for the Kings, who have the NBA's worst record (12-47) and are on track to have their losingest season in franchise history. The Kings have lost three straight and 17 of 19. The game drew the smallest crowd (10,439) in the current arena, which surprised [Gerald] Wallace, who was accustomed to boisterous sellout crowds when he was a King. 'It hurts, it hurts real bad,' Wallace said. 'I was here in the glory days when the energy was totally different. It's upside down now.'" And now, the coup de grace:
The Boston Celtics: It seems fitting somehow that on a day in which the latest batch of Marbury-to-Boston rumors dominated the headlines, the Celtics -- without Kevin Garnett (muscle strain in his right knee) and Brian Scalabrine (neck injury) -- lost to the Los Angeles Clippers. The loss itself was highlighted by Paul Pierce dislocating his right thumb in the third quarter and then again in the fourth, while Gabe Pruitt's arrest for DUI -- in Hollywood, after 3 a.m. -- served as a dark epilogue.
So can we all just agree that The Marbury Effect goes beyond basketball and is bordering on the supernatural? The last time everybody started talking about Marbury becoming a Celtic, the team lost seven times in nine games. Now they're losing to the Clippers while stars are getting injured and a petty roleplayer is acting the fool. Starbury is walking chaos, a shadow of doom to everything he touches...nay, everything he looks at or is even associated with in passing. If Danny Ainge signs him, this season will not end well for the Celtics. Mark my words.
Baron Davis, quote machine: This one is from Basketbawful reader Colin G.: "Said Baron Davis after the Clippers beat Boston: 'It's good to start getting everyone healthy. That's going to help us be a threat as the end of the season approaches.' Threat? Clippers? ... LOL! The Clippers are as threatening as a pink plush teddy bear. The quote was so bad I thought it was a joke." It is, Colin. Unintentional jokes are still jokes. You know?
Lacktion report:Chris continues to hone the art form of describing lacktivity:
Magic-Knicks: New York's starting big man Jared Jeffries blocked one shot in 17:27 to avoid a staggering suck differential, but still provided so little of benefit to his statline that he ended up with a true Voskuhl of 5:0, his five fouls being rated against one brick from downtown. Jazz-Wolves: Jarron Collins took a board in an attempt to hide from the lacktion ledger, but his Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl in 4:56 (via foul) after a brick keeps him firmly in the lacktator's limelight. (And, somehow, the Worldwide Leader refuses to acknowledge this negative performance, according to their boxscore which assigned Jarron a DNP-CD.)
Bucks-Mavs: Joe Alexander - Milwaukee's most recent first-round draft pick -- gave up the rock once and took three fouls for +4 in 5:14.
Blazers-Spurs: Malik Hairston and Pops Mensah-Bonsu can now put on overalls and eat spaghetti together, as 34-second Mario Brothers for Greg Popovich! Pops, in his first NBA start this season, managed to string together a board in his unextended stint.
Hawks-Nuggets: Atlanta's Solomon Jones doesn't have to call his broker tonight, as a near six-and-a-half trillion was reduced to a mere +1 suck differential (in 6:33) due to a foul.
Bobcats-Kings: The Bobcats lacktivated Alex Ajinca off the bench, and he head-butted the question marks out of the way by nearly collecting a trillion in gold coins. Nearly, that is, because he instead tossed up a building block and once offered the leather sphere as a gift to the purple paupers. And because by skipping out on three extra seconds on the Arco Arena floor, he earned himself a 57 second Mario! That powerup mushroom also entitled him to a 1:0 Voskuhl, though he wasn't the only one honoring the centerpiece of Toronto's Little Three, as DeSagana Diop racked a Voskuhl of his own in 9:38, getting a ratio of 3:2 (three fouls against two rebounds and two bricks).
Celtics-Clippers: Emboldened by the recent need for a human victory cigar, Mike Dunleavy Sr. forgot that you need to be actually sure of a win before bringing one of those out. So in the midst of a nailbiter against the defending champs of the Association, Mike Taylor went to Staples and brought home a 15-second Mario! But that wasn't the end of the story.
Five seconds left in the game, TAYLOR GETS BACK OUT ON THE COURT! As his Mario gets more precious seconds added to it...the Clippers hang on for a dramatic win! So was Dunleavy clairvoyant...or, did he just fall plain into dumb luck? Actually, that's a rhetorical question.
Kobe Bryant: Mamba lured Luke Walton and Adam Morrison in the Lakers locker room by telling them he was starting a "secret team." Once they were alone, Kobe said: "Now, our operation is small, but there's a lot of potential for aggressive...expansion. So, which of our fine gentlemen would like to join the team? Oh! There's only one spot open right now, so we're gonna have [breaks a cue stick in half]...tryouts. [Throws one half in between Luke and Adam] Make it fast."