Editor's note: I didn't get my usual weekend recap finished. Sorry.
The Los Angeles Lakers: So far this season, we've seen the Knicks do it to the Bulls. We've seen the Pacers do it to the Nuggets. Heck, we've even seen Matt Bonner do it to the Thunder (see below). And the Suns did it to the Lakers.
A hot-shooting blitzkrieg.
The Lakers had a 49-33 rebounding advantage -- including 20-10 on the offensive glass -- and outscored the Suns by 40 points in the paint. And lost. At home. Hey, you don't win many games by giving up 121 points. And especially when you let your opponent hit 22 three-pointers...the second-most by a team in as single game in NBA history.
Hey, I don't want to take anything away from the Suns. Steve Nash (21 points, 13 assists), Jason Richardson (35 points, 13-for-20 from the field, 7-for-10 on threes) and even Channing Frye (20 points, 7-for-12) were kinda awesome. But Phoenix can't really count on knocking down 22 treys every time they play the Lakers.
That said, L.A.'s defense was turrible. Hands were not deployed anywhere near opposing faces. And there's no excuse for that, unless the Lakers don't have hands. It's like not opening an umbrella in a rainstorm. Or walking straignt into oncoming bullets. At times it looked like the Lakers were just kinda waiting for the Suns to start missing...which is a crazy strategy. Seriously, I was waiting for Kobe and Pau to fist bump and then say, "Aim for the bushes."
For the record, the Lakers currently rank 15th in Defensive Rating. That puts them behind the Pacers, Warriors, Knicks and Nyets. I'm just sayin'.
Lamar Odom: From Basketbawful reader Karc: "And thumbs down to Lamar for getting that T after getting the Lakers to within 2 late. Of course Nash hits the free throw, then Hedo burns them with a three after the timeout. Game over. I hope Khloe withholds sex as punishment. Then again has anyone seen her recently? It actually isn't that hard to withhold much of anything."
Said Odom: "It looked like Turkoglu was trying to foul me on purpose, I thought. Actually Ronnie [referee Ron Garretson] was in on the play and I turned to Ronnie [and said] 'And one!' and the ref off the ball called it. ... Probably it looked a little more demonstrative [to him] because my back [was turned to him]. You can't see me. It's hard to control a normal reaction. ... He could tell me to get my damn hand down, or 'What are you doing?' or something, only because it was at that point in the game."
Uh, let's look at the video and be honest...it was a little more than just saying "And one!"
Matt Barnes called the tech "ridiculous," Kobe said it was "disgusting" and added, "It's a bad, bad rule. It's a bad rule. Yes they should [drop the rule]. I mean, it's a bad one."
Said Phil Jackson: "[When] you stop the game and change the game around at a critical point in the game like that, [it] is just not the way we want the game to be played. It will even out. People will have better judgment."
Steve Nash, quote machine: "You see Pau against us, it looks like he's playing with a nerf hoop on the back of someone's bedroom door."
Phil Jackson, quote machine: "These things even out over time, but they didn't tonight. The real issue is those other 80 points that come in the paint."
Fact check: According to the box score, the Suns scored 28 points in the paint.
Matt Barnes, quote machine: "They stayed hot and had to hit 22 3s to beat us. Whether or not they're going to keep hitting them, you got to get a hand in their face."
Shannon Brown, quote machine: "We could've got out there and contested a lot more. They hit a lot of open ones."
[nods some more]
The New York Knicks: I want to point out that Amar''''''e Stoudemire wanted this. He wanted his own team. He wanted to be The Man. More accurately, he wanted to be The 100 Million Dollar Man. Well, he got what he wanted. And, on top of all that, he got booed. At home. Only 10 games into the season.
As always, be careful what you wish for.
On the same night his old team was drilling the defending champs, his current team was falling to 3-7, including a 1-4 mark at home. And oh, what a weekend for the Knicks. On Friday, they blew a 21-point lead in Minnesota while getting absolutely beasted on by Kevin Love (31 points, 31 rebounds!!). Then on Sunday, they bricked their first eight shots of the fourth quarter and fell behind by 19 points before eventually losing 104-96.
To the Yao Ming-less and Aaron Brook-less Rockets.
Said a "visibly dejected" STAT: "I don't understand why we're not playing with the urgency. I'm not used to that. We don't have that sense of urgency. It's almost as if it doesn't matter. That's something I'm not used to. I try to instill the fact that we have to play with sense of urgency. It's not like we won four games in a row, we lost four games in a row. We just still are not having the sense of urgency. We're not showing that we really want it."
This is as good a time as any to remind Stoudemire -- and everybody else -- that he was good for 20.6 PPG (on 47 percent shooting), 9.0 RPG and 53 losses in Phoenix the season before Steve Nash arrived. His coach for that season of dread? Mike D'Antoni.
This season, again under D'Antoni's offensive free-for-all, STAT is averaging 20.8 PPG (on 46 percent shooting) and 8.1 RPG. And it looks like he's heading for another 50-loss season.
I'm just sayin'.
Leaders lead. Finishers finish. Nash is the former. Stoudemire is the latter. That's why a team built around Amar''''''e is never gonna work. Not unless they can bring in somebody who can actually make his teammates better.
Bonus egoectomy from the AP recap: "Former lottery pick Jordan Hill, traded by the Knicks to the Rockets in a cap-clearing move as part of the Tracy McGrady deal, raced by the Knicks for two fast-break dunks in the second quarter."
Mike D'Antoni, quote machine: "Obviously nobody wants to lose and everybody is pressing. The reality is we're 3-7 and we've got a game on Tuesday. So you just try to figure out what's going wrong, how can you get a little bit better, who to play in the rotations and hit it on Tuesday. At this point that's all we can do."
Chuck Hayes, quote machine: On the Knicks: "It happens to every team. You get frustrated. Everybody starts pointing fingers. Once you get a team like that, you have them with their backs against the wall, you want to keep them like that."
Shane Battier, quote machine: On Houston's continuing injury saga: "Welcome to my life the last five years as a member of the Houston Rockets. We have not been blessed with health. So you get a certain sort of mentality when you come here and you learn real quick that there's not a lot of excuses or pity when guys get injured or go down. Next man in line and you better perform."
The Atlanta Hawks: Well...they managed to avoid a five-game losing streak. Barely. And not before the Timberwolves -- specifically Kevin Love (22 points, 17 rebounds), Michael Beasley (25 points, 10-for-16) and Sebastian Telfair (18 points, 8 assists) -- put the fear of God into them. The Dirty Birds were saved by the combo of their 39 free throw attempts and the 21 turnovers committed by Minnesota.
Said Telfair: "They outhustled us. They got second-chance points and rebounds and stuff like that. But our problem tonight was, between me and Kevin and Beasley, we had 15 turnovers. And we're the guys that have the ball in our hands the whole game. That shouldn't happen. Not for us to win."
Replied Jamal Crawford: "Right now we just have to take it any way we can get it."
Darko Milicic: Last night's Manna from Heaven: 20 minutes, 1-for-7 from the field, 0-for-2 from the line, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls. But his Offensive Rating has jumped to 70 points per 100 possessions. HE'S ON FIRE.
Kurt Rambis: Sorry, but I really have to ask this again: What the f**k took you so long to start giving Kevin Love big minutes, Kurt?
The Sacramento Kings: Oh, those poor Purple Paupers. Since their surprising 3-1 start, the Kings have lost five in a row...including four straight in Sactown. Last night's home court flameout came against the "surging" Pistons, thanks in no small part to Ben Gordon's Ben Gordon-y three-pointer with 23.9 seconds left to put Detroit up 99-94.
Said Gordon: "That's where I've made my money -- in the fourth quarter. On the 3-pointer, Tayshuan [Prince] posted up and my man went to help and turned his head. That left me open for a split second and I hit the shot."
Little Ben scored 16 points on six shot attempts. Not bad.
Added Gordon: "We thought we could have won all five of those games [that the Pistons have lost this season]. Now we're finishing games out like we know we can."
Reality check: The Pistons have won four out of five. But those four wins have come against the Bobcats (3-7), Warriors (not as good as their 6-4 record), Clippers (1-9), and Kings (now 3-6).
Tyreke Evans: Starting point guard. 21 shot attempts. 1 assists. Just sayin'.
Paul Westphal, coach of the year candidate: "We had open 3s for really good shots and went 2 of 18. Sometimes that is the difference in the game in the NBA. You like to think the difference is always how well you take care of the ball, how well you rebound, getting to the line more than the other team, and all that stuff. We didn't make shots. It was discouraging."
You forgot about the "defense" part, Paul. After all, Detroit shot 54 percent.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: I warned everybody this was going to happen. Young teams that have a good season by sneaking up on the competition often find that life is a little harder when teams are gunning for you while the fans and experts are expecting you to become a truly dominant team.
Sometimes that can make a team's collective sphincter clench.
To wit: On a night were Tim Duncan played only 23 minutes, finishing with 6 points (2-for-7) and 4 rebounds, and backup point guard George Hill went 1-for-10, the Spurs still went into the Thunder's house and laid a 117-104 smackdown on the home team.
And to think, San Antonio missed nine of their first 10 shots.
Oklahoma City is now 5-4 on the season and a mere 3-3 at home.
Telling stat: OKC went 4-for-13 from three-point range. Matt Bonner went 7-for-7.
Hand in the face? Anybody?
Scott Brooks, coach of the year candidate, Part 1: "They were just getting to the basket at will and making shots from the perimeter. That's a deadly dose of offensive basketball."
Scott Brooks, coach of the year candidate, Part 2: "We over-helped, and that wasn't the game plan. We talked about that: Stay at home. The bottom line is we gave them the openings. All it takes for him is just a half a second. He's a knockdown 3-point shooter. We didn't do a good job on him."
LeBron James: I've been pointing out for years how LeBron James regularly inserts a size 15 foot into his gaping hole of a mouth. But it didn't seem that bad before, mostly because he was putting up mind-bending numbers for a perennially depressing team.
Now that he's stacking the deck? Not so much.
I'm sure you've probably heard about or read this quote, but here's what King Crab had to say after the Heat suffered a home court loss against the Comeback Kids of Utah:
"For myself, 44 minutes is too much. I think Coach Spo knows that. Forty minutes for D-Wade is too much. We have to have as much energy as we can to finish games out."Yep. That's why they lost. Because the coach can't manage his superstars' -- I mean, superdivas' -- minutes. Nice.
Of course, Crabby was asked to clarify his statements. And he tried. I think:
"It got blew up out of proportion, saying that I told coach Spo [Erik Spoelstra] that he's playing me too much and he's a bad coach. You kind of understand sometimes what Randy Moss was talking about when he said, 'I will not be answering any more questions.' Because every time I say something, it gets turned out of character."And that's where we're at, people. LeBron James -- the so-called greatest basketball player in the world -- just played the Randy Moss card. By way of defending himself. Also, "it gets turned out of character," LeBron? Really?
But wait. As always, there's more:
"You never want to get to a point where you say something, and it catches you from behind, or the coach says something and you say, 'Wow, I didn't know nothing about that.' That's something that me and coach had talked about two days before the Boston game, and it's something we will figure out as a collective group. The open form of communication is always important in this game, because you don't want to get to a point where you're talking through the media."I like how LeBron put it like "...or the coach says something and you say, 'Wow, I didn't know nothing about that.'" As if coach Spo was the one who said something to the press that surprised James and not the other way around. Also, "as a collective group," LeBron? Really?
This Super Friends of South Beach thing is turning out to be bawfuler than I could have ever imagined. I...I think I just peed myself a little.
Chris's lacktion report:
Wolves-Hawks: David Kahn's Manna, er, Darko Milicic, did get two boards and one field goal in 20:21 - but also bricked six times, lost the rock twice, took two rejections, AND fouled four times for a 6:4 Voskuhl.
Spurs-Thunder: Alonzo Gee of San Antonio and Oklahoma City's Morris Peterson went to the ATM together for a 1.55 trillion payout (1:33). Meanwhile, the Spurs' Chris Quinn tossed one piece of masonry in that same time period for a +1.
Suns-Lakers: Surprisingly, a competitive battle like this one spurred tons of lacktivity!
For Phoenix, Robin Lopez negated a block in 5:39 with a brick and two fouls for a 2:0 Voskuhl. Garret Siler shooed a Koopa Troopa away after only 14 seconds for a Mario.
The Lakers brought a pair of lacktators of their own - Devin Ebanks with a two-brick +2 in 3:35, and Derrick Caracter with a brick, rejection, and foul in 2:34 for a +3 that also netted a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.