So...McGrady's knees are already hurting after two games
and he may miss tonight's matchup in Boston. Shocking.
The Charlotte Bobcats: Chug, chug, chug, chug...can you hear that? It's the Clipper Train, baby! The Other L.A. Team is now 2-0 in their last two games. Who knew Drew Gooden and Steve Blake were the answers?
Well, okay, it helps to play a bad team (like the Kings) and then another squad that tends to dog it against "inferior" opponents (like the Bobcats). Remember: Charlotte has won three straight against the Cleveland Craboliers.
Said 'Cats coach Larry Brown: "Our biggest problem now is sometimes we don't realize that every game's a big game. We get up for certain games and not others. When you look at these teams that are winning a lot of games, they don't take nights off because their opponent is always bringing their A game. The good teams in this league have to play well every night because everybody's pointing to them. The teams that struggle don't realize that you have to play at a high level every night in order to be successful. And we haven't realized that yet."
Brown wasn't done: "I mean, who would have suspected us to beat Cleveland three straight? And last year, we beat the Lakers twice and still had a lot of bad losses. We have 27 games where we'll decide whether we deserve to be in the playoffs or not. So if we don't make it, it will be on us."
Larry is feeling pissy because after a 12-4 January, his Bobcats have gone 3-6 in January. What's more, 11 of their 28 defeats are against sub-.500 teams, which includes two losses against the 5-51 New Jersey Nyets, two losses to the Knicks, and losses to the Bucks, Pacers and Pistons.
Proof is in the pudding, and this is some poo pudding.
In all fairness to Charlotte, they were without three seven-footers -- Nazr Mohammed (back spasms), Tyson Chandler (sore left knee), and DeSagana Diop (sprained right knee) -- which might explain the 48-34 rebounding disadvantage. And on the bright side, if the Bobcats do end up making the playoffs, they're destined (read that: doomed) to be a low seed, which means they're probably end up playing the Crabs and Magic, which is a good thing since, in theory, they only get up for the bad teams.
Yeah, I know. I'm reaching.
Stephen Jackson: Captain Jack must have run into his own personal Davey Jones before the game, because he was turrible: 1-for-16, 5 turnovers, 6 fouls. Like I said a week or so ago, when Stephen Jackson is a team's second-most important player, that team is fundamentally flawed.
The Clippers' transition game: Did you know The Other L.A. Team's interim coach, Kim Hughes, is trying to implement an up-tempo offense? Well, he is. And yet the Clips had exactly zero fast break points last night. Way to get 'em runnin', Kim.
The Utah Jazz: The Mormon Musicians celebrated their 25-point comeback against the Frail Blazers in Portland on Sunday by losing to the Hawks in Utah on Monday. And get ready for this: it was the Atlanteans have won in Salt Lake City in 17 years. 17 years!!
I shit you not. The Hawks hadn't won in Utah since February 13, 1993, when The Human Highlight film dropped 43 points (15-for-25) in Atlanta's 121-112 win. (John Stockton led the Jazz with 32 points, 9 assists, 5 steals...and 8 turnovers. So close to a triple bumble!) That equates to a 15-game road losing streak to the Jazz.
Joe Johnson -- who knocked in 11 of his game-high 28 points in the decisive fourth quarter -- said: "It's about time. The last time our team won here, I was just a little kid watching Dominique and dreaming I might play in the NBA someday. ... The streak was brought to our attention before the game, so we wanted to come out early and establish ourselves. We wanted to make sure they knew it wasn't going to be the same type of game they are used to seeing out of us."
Utah's loss only adds credence to my "second night of back-to-backs" theory. Of course, the Jazz were also without their best player (Deron Williams) and (in theory) their best defender (Andre Kirilenko), the latter of which (along with the weary legs) could explain why the Hawks shot 54+ percent for the game. Plus, the Jazz just weren't crisp in the end game. Carlos Boozer followed up the previous game's Animal Style double-double (22 points, 23 boards) with a more modest double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) plus a season-high 8 dimes. BUT...he couldn't hit down the stretch and bobbled a ball out of bounds in the final minute on a possession in which the Jazz could have tied the game.
Said Kyle Korver: "You could tell we played an overtime game last night. In the end, we couldn't make shots, and we couldn't get stops and Joe Johnson just played really, really well."
The Indiana Pacers: Chug, chug, chug, chug...can you hear that? It's the Mavs Train, baby! The Mavericks are now 4-0 with Brendan Haywood as their starting center. Who knew Haywood (13 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks) was the answer?
Of course, it always helps when you play the Pacers.
It was an ugly-ass game, tho'. Dallas shot 38 percent and Indy hit 36 percent. The teams also combined to go 7-for-37 from beyond the arc.
Said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle: "We played a sloppy game. The ball movement wasn't crisp, and we had questionable shot selection. Defensively, we had too many breakdowns. We have to get better."
Don't you just love it when the winning coach gets all grumpy about the way his team just won? Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that the Mavericks play the Lakers in Dallas on Wednesday. The way they played against the Pacers won't cut it against L.A. And I mean regardless of whether Kobe plays.
The New York Knicks: Well...huh. Maybe the Knicks should have traded for an old priest and a young priest before the deadline, because these dudes still have some bigtime demons to exorcise. But hey, everybody should have seen this coming, right? In New York's last game -- the first with their new players -- David Lee was fantastic, Eddie House scored a season-high, and Knee-Mac had his best game in a very long while. And the Bricks lost that one.
Things definitely de-improved last night.
At halftime, the Bricks celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1970 NBA championship team. Willis Reed was there. Walt Frazier was there. It was good times...good times...
But not for the 2009-10 Knicks. They came out and scored only 26 points in the second half, finishing with a grisly 67 points on 33 percent shooting. It was New York's worst offensive output in more than two years. You know, back in the Isiah Thomas era. Man, it's a good thing the Knicks brought in Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni!
"I don't want to make too many excuses," said Bricks coach Mike D'Antoni, who then went on to do just that, "but obviously we weren't familiar with what we're doing and with each other. The first night, we ran on a lot of adrenaline and kind of got us through. I just thought we just didn't really have a lot of pop down there. The ball didn't really move and stopped. Guys were hesitating. They seemed lost."
Isn't that how this team has seemed all season? I mean, weren't you guys 18-35 before the trades, Mike? And you guys were pretty familiar with each other, right? I mean...right?
And right on cue, Knee-Mac banged knees a couple times...and he might not play tonight in Boston. Well, that was fast. Said McGrady: "Hopefully it's not sore tomorrow," he said. "I may lace them up and play tomorrow, but we'll see."
David Lee: Okay, seriously, I don't care about all his double-doubles and whatever. The dude got spit-roasted by Andy Bogut (24 points, 20 boards, 5 blocks). Maybe he's just been drinking too much of 'Antoni's poisoned Kool-Aid, but Lee plays no defense. None. Not even by accident. He's like a superhero who can become intangible to avoid contact with his enemies and then does it all the time.
The Chicago Bulls: Uh oh...
That's right. And the Bulls walked right into it. With little more than a halfhearted effort, Chicago built a 56-46 lead over the seemingly hapless WizardsGenerals Bullets...and, frankly, it felt like the lead could have been 20. But it wasn't, and the Bulls paid for letting Washington hang around. Sure enough, the Bullets outscored Chicago 31-16 -- including a ball-busting 14-0 spurt -- in the third quarter as the Bulls shot 7-for-21 from the field.
From that point, Washington was in control. And you can lay a lot of the blame for that cruddy quarter at the sensible shoes of...
Vinny Del Negro: First off, here's what the Bulls managed to accomplish out of Vinny's well-concieved timeouts. Yes, that was sarcastic. Anyway: 1st timeout: Jannero Pargo turnover; 2nd timeout: Luol Deng made 16-footer; 3rd timeout: Kirk Hinrich missed 19-footer; 4th timeout: Rose made jumper (Hinrich assists); 5th timeout: Brad Miller missed thee-pointer; 6th timeout: Flip Murray missed three-pointer; 7th timeout: Miller missed three-pointer.
So to sum up: After seven called timeouts, the Bulls were 2-for-6 from the field (including 0-for-3 from downtown) with a turnover. And you'll notice every shot was a long jumper...which means that, coming out of their timeouts, the Bulls didn't get a single high-percentage shot.
You know what else was damning about those timeouts? Not a single one was called during Washington's 14-0 game-breaking run. As By The Horns reader Tony C. put it: "VDN's time out selection was also quite poor. Notice that when the Wzard's went on a 14-0 run, VDN sat with his hands under his ass. When the Bulls went on a (later) mini-run, Flip Saunders called an immediate time out to stop the momentum. This is coaching 101; why hasn't VDN figured it out yet?"
Bucks-Knicks: Toney Douglas can now party it up with the Dolans after a 3.5 trillion (3:31) investment matured!
Pacers-Mavs: Jose Juan Barea continues his streak of non-contribution with a stunning set of stats in 5:02 - 2 fouls, 2 rejections, and a trio of bricks (once from the West End Historic District) for a +7 suck differential! Also sucky tonight was Matt Carroll, who missed twice for a +2 in 2:51.
Hawks-Jazz: Joe Smith boringly made 100% of his shot attempts (once!) and also garnered a singular board in 11:18, only to foul four times for a 4:3 Voskuhl. Jeff Teague bricked once and fouled once for a +2 in 3:16. And Mario West can now afford to get his Virtual Boy fixed, after collecting a 1.6 trillion (1:38)!