The Philadelphia 76ers: And just like that, order is restored. The Sixers won, what, two games in a row after Allen Iverson was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team? Which caused a virtual avalanche of "A.I. deserves this All-Star spot because..." stories. Which were all crap, by the way.
The Cancer isn't an All-Star in the true sense of the word, and he serves as further proof that when "So and so made the All-Star team [however many] times" is used as an argument about that player's relative greatness, it should be dismissed with extreme prejudice. Iverson won a popularity contest. Good for him. And good for the fans, who will get to see what they want...I guess. But, seriously, let's not talk about his "team-first approach" or how he's made Philly a better team. Last time I checked, which I think was pretty recently, "better teams" don't choke up a double-digit leads and then lose by double digits at home to motley crews like the Indiana Pacers. But that's what happened to the Sixers.
Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not laying the blame at what I'm sure are the well-manicured feet of Allen Iverson. Not when Elton "The 80 Million Dollar Man" Brand went 4-for-10 for his 12 points, and certainly not when Philly couldn't put the stops on a team that ranks 27th in Offensive Efficiency. The reality is, the Sixers are a poorly assembled and poorly coached bunch of dudes.
Said Iverson: "At times, when we can put teams away, we go about it in a lackadaisical way. We're going to continue to struggle as long as we don't have that killer instinct that everybody's been talking about."
The Los Angeles Clippers: Well, they are who we thought they were, which isn't exactly news. What's more surprising is the play of...
The Boston Celtics: Generally speaking, you expect the Celtics to do better than winning 95-89 when the Clippers come to town, especially now that Kevin Garnett is back. And although Boston did hold The Other L.A. Team to 38 percent shooting, the Celtics still managed to let the Clips score 30 points in the fourth quarter. That's a lot of fourth-quarter points to give up when you're trying to close a game out. It's even worth noting that some of The Other L.A. Team's shooting woes were induced by a slippery floor rather than the Boston defense (more on that below). The Celtics further hurt their cause by missing 11 free throws.
How's KG doing? Well, he scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting and had a game-high plus-minus score of +15. But he also grabbed only 2 rebounds in 31 minutes. And this guy has been one of the greatest rebounders of his generation. I'm gonna go ahead and say the knee isn't 100 percent.
The parquet floor: Depending on the circumstances, a lot of moisture and wetness can be a good thing. A very good thing, even. But it's not usually an optimal condition for playing professional basketball, which is why last night's Clippers-Celtics game very nearly got called off. From the AP recap:
The first seven, eight minutes I didn't think we were going to even finish the game," Rivers said. "I was nervous, though. I really was."It's a good thing they tore down the old Boston Garden to build a better basketball arena.
The sometimes-slippery parquet floor forced the ball boys to mop one end while play was going on at the other for most of the game. Early in the game, a few players slipped, causing a brief delay with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
Rivers and Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy spoke about the conditions early in the game.
"Mike and I came together, if anybody else slipped in the next two minutes the game was going to be canceled," Rivers said. "We, at that point, were very close. Mike said the same thing, 'We can't afford to get a guy injured on this floor.'"
"It was wet," said Rondo, who shared a postgame podium with Garnett.
Dunleavy knew the floor was a problem before the start.
"Our guys complained about it before we even played the game, guys were at risk and you hate for that to be the case," he said.
"We kept having to go out and wipe it. There were three kids on each end trying to wipe it. It must have been better because I didn't see guys -- we had four guys in the first quarter slip."
Both teams shot under 37 percent in the opening 12 minutes.
"I actually slipped one time posting up Kevin, trying to go around him," Clippers center Chris Kaveman said.
Los Angeles forward Marcus Camby felt they waited a bit too long to address the problem.
"We were all slipping. It seemed like every Clipper was slipping, then when Ray Allen slips, they want to bring it in and address the issue, so that's what we were chirping about," he said. "It was kind of dangerous out there for both teams."
Rasheed Wallace, quote machine: Nominated by Basketbawful reader nohandle: "Yeah, you know you can't put the brakes on when you want to because you didn't know if you're going to slip. You saw a couple guys slipping out there like Peggy Fleming (an American Olympic figure skater) tonight."
Chris Kaman: From Dan B.: "Chris Kaman played 38 minutes and did not shoot a single free throw despite playing in the paint."
The end of the world as we know it: From Basketbawful reader Mladen: "Two words: Zach Randolph. Did the guy drink a magic potion or something?! He outrebounded Dwight Howard last night, hit a crazy shot way behind the half court line, and his clutch play iced the game for the Grizz. WTF?!?! Of course, he did it all with a double-double. Did you reverse-stat-curse him?"
I'm at a complete loss to figure out what happened to Zach Randolph. His metamorphasis into a...a...superstar...(gak)...has to qualify for the top 10 list of history's greatest transformations, right up there with Bruce Banner to Hulk, Man to Wolf Man, Mario to Super Mario, Fat Jared to Jared the Subway Spokesman, Hulk Hogan to Hollywood Hogan, and Hot-ass Britney Spears to this.
That's why, as much as it killed me to do it, Z-Bo had to be removed from the Basketbawful banner. HE IS NO LONGER BAWFUL. I feel like someone who lost a dear friend to death by industrial cleaning agents.
The Miami Heat: Losing to the Crabs, even at home, isn't all that shameful in and of itself. Because, you know, the Heat aren't all that good. But losing by a single point (92-91) on two foul shots with 4.1 seconds left after going 1-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter is pretty sad. In fact, the Heat missed 12 freebies on the night (17-for-29). Like they said in Team America, freedom isn't free...
Dwyane Wade's second half: Pookie was nigh unstoppable in the first two quarters, when he scored 30 of Miami's 54 points. But he scored only 2 points in the second half. Worse, he bricked two freebies with 41.2 seconds left and then (after a spectacular block on LeBron) had the ball stolen by King Crab, who drove down for the foul and go-ahead free throws. Wade finished his ugly second half by clanking a potential game-winner versus LeBron's hand in the face.
The rest of the Heat in the first half: Pookie's teammates missed 15 straight shots over a 15 1/2-minute stretch, including 0-for-12 in the second quarter alone. Good luck keeping Dwyane in Miami, Pat Riley.
LeBron James: I know that fall had to hurt, but did he really need to writhe around like an earthworm sombody just poured a shaker of salt on for two or three minutes? When poor Kurt Rambis got dropped on his head in the 1984 NBA Finals, dude bounced back up like he was made out of Silly Putty. (And if you've seen Kurt's body circa the mid-80s, he very well might have been.) So it's hard for me to imagine someone has powerful looking as James looking like Jake "The Snake" Roberts just DDT'd him unless Jake "The Snake" Roberts actually DDT'd him.
The Charlotte Bobcats: Just when they get everybody all hot and bothered with six straight wins -- including a 39-point whupping of the Miami Heat -- they lose three straight. And before they win again to restart the excitement, let me remind you that Stephen Jackson is one of this team's most important players. What does that tell you?
The Phoneix Suns: Steve Nash finished with 15 points and 15 assists (which included the 8,000th dime of his career). Goran Dragic scored a career-high 32 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Channing Frye chipped in 21 points (8-for-15 from the field, 5-for-10 from downtown) off the bench. And the Suns -- after scoring 45 points in the second quarter and building a 17-point lead -- finished with 115 points...but lost anyway.
That'll happen when you can't rebound and don't play defense.
Utah scored the last 12 points of the third quarter and then outscored Phoenix 33-19 in the fourth to pull away for a 124-115 win. The Jazz dominated the inside, outrebounding the Suns 48-31 and outscoring them 58-36 in the paint.
"We were up 17. We've got to be able to maintain that," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said, pretending he hasn't watched his team do that about a dozen times this season. Seriously, isn't doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results the first signs of The Crazy? Well, that and having sex with patio furniture.
Added Steve Nash: "We just couldn't get into our offense. They pushed us out. We had no penetration and we were just jacking up jump shots or turning it over." While I don't necessarily disagree, I should also point out that when a team gets outscored 45-19 down the stretch, offense is only part of the problem. The other part is playing the kind of sloppy defense that would disgust Mike D'Antoni. In fact, here's the acting equivalent of Phoenix Suns defense:
The San Antonio Spurs: Remember when the Spurs won back-to-back games over the Lakers and Thunder? And how thousands of Spurs fans rose up with a single voice to scream, "SEE?! WE ARE TOO CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS!!"
If that's the case, then the Spurs should probably be able to win a home game versus a sub-.500 team, especially when that team is notoriously bawful on the road, and its star player is suffering from flu-like symptoms, and when its second-best player is limited to only 24 minutes due to a painful case of plantar faciitis.
Instead, the Bulls shot almost 54 percent from the field, Derrick Rose scored a game-high 27 points on 13-for-23 shooting, and Joakim Noah hobbled his way to a huge offensive board and putback with 36 seconds left and then sealed the deal by hitting three of four free throws in the final 13 seconds.
San Antonio is now 0-3 on their current six-game home stand.
Manu Ginobili: Manu earned WotN honors not so much for the 4-for-14 shooting, but for his last two misses, either of which could have saved this game for the Spurs. They were both driving layups, and on the second attempt Ginobili started flopping before there even a chance for contact. Had Manu simply gone strong to the cup without quivering like a wet pasta noodle, he might have actually converted the layup or drawn an actual foul. It's somehow fitting that, at least this once, the Spurs were the ones who got Ginobili'd.
Basketbawful (?): An anonymous commenter wrote: "I think you should seriously consider mentioning Basketbawful in your column for projecting the Bulls to go 0-7 on their current road trip after their losses @ the Warriors and the Clippers. The Bulls have gone undefeated since then and are playing their best basketball for the season."
Well, as everyone knows, I have a vested interest in the Bulls, so you can chalk up my prediction to a rather clever reverse stat curse. Yeah...that's it...thaaaat's the ticket...
Lacktion report: And now for Chris's magic mushroom-powered lackitvity update:
Crabs-Heat: Joel Anthony scorched yet another Voskuhl on his record, a 5:3 ratio in 17:58 by fouling four times and losing the rock once against three boards. Fellow fireman Mario Chalmers fouled twice and tossed two bricks for a +4 suck differential in 5:20.
Clippers-Celtics: Despite an assist keeping him from being straight up in the lacktion category tonight, Steve Novak spent 35 seconds examining the cartridge for The Incredible Crash Test Dummies in his second straight Mario! Fellow Clipper JamesOn Curry -- more known for his arrest in 2008 over urinating in an alley - (HT Dan B. on the link) -- powered Off his computer after 4 seconds of Mario Teaches Typing for a Super Mario!
Meanwhile, Bill Walker earned himself a pedestrian +1 via foul in 3:13.
Magic-Grizzlies: Marcin Gortat's back to lack, as he fouled twice, took a rejection, and heaved up one piece of masonry in 5:10 for a +4 that also counted as a 2:0 Voskuhl!
Hawks-Rockets: Randolph Morris pawed at a foul for a +1 in 1:06 (and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl) while THE Mario West collected enough royalties in that timespan from the Official Nintendo Seal for a 1.1 trillion payday!!!
Suns-Jazz: Ronnie Price fouled twice and bricked once for a +3 in 6:57, while CJ Miles distanced himself from contribution with a +4 via rejection, turnover, and two bricks (one from Temple Square) in 5:15.
Hornets-Blazers: Sean Marks continues to, um, make his mark on the ledger with a 2.2 trillion (2:12).
Nuggets-Bobcats: LotharBot writes...
In 20 minutes last night, Malik Allen ahd 5 rebounds, but offset them with 5 fouls and 3 turnovers for a True Voskuhl of 8:5. It was his second most productive game of the season. As a Nuggets fan, I cringe every time the guy gets on court when the lead is less than 20. (He was the key to the Clippers' 17-0 run back on November 20.)