Editor's note: Due to a Turkey-related coma-like condition, this is an abbreviated version of the standard WotW post. Also, Antoine Walker is about to make a comeback. In the D-League. It's like Christmas came on Thanksgiving.
The Milwaukee Bucks: Even though their season has been pretty disappointing so far, the Bucks have been able to boast a defense that ranks 1st in Opponents PPG and 2nd in Defensive Rating. Then the equally disappointing Pistons -- who are in the bottom half of the league in Offensive Rating -- went out and dropped 103 points on them on 56 percent shooting. I guess they were stuck in a 24-hour Turkey Coma.
Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We weren't sharp ... right from the beginning. I could see we were a couple of steps slow."
Shane Battier, quote machine: After going 1-for-9 in Houston's 99-89 loss to the Bobcraps in Charlotte, Batty said: "It's a make-or-miss league. By that, when you miss shots, the sky is falling down. When you make shots everything is honky-dory. Sometimes it is as simple as that."
Chris Bosh, quote machine: After the Heat barely managed to beat the 76ers (3-13) in Miami: "We're going to get teams' best. That's how it's going to be all season. ... If we had the answers to the test, believe me, we'd have used them a long time ago."
Dwyane Wade, quote machine: After the Heat barely managed to beat the 76ers (3-13) in Miami: "We've got to get away from worrying about how we get wins. We have to focus on getting wins."
LeBron James, quote machine: After the Heat barely managed to beat the 76ers (3-13) in Miami: "Guys just get up to play us. We just have to treat everybody ... like they're All-Stars."
Doug Collins, emo coach of the year candidate: After the Heat barely managed to beat the 76ers (3-13) in Miami: "They put so much work into this. It just rips at my gut that they can't taste a win. They just fought so hard. So hard."
The San Antonio Spurs: They had their win streak snapped at home by the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki was crazy-hot (12-for-14) and the Mavs shot 52 percent as a team. But the Spurs doomed themselves with a dreadful 2:45 stretch of basketball in the fourth quarter.
After George Hill hit a layup to put San Antonio up 88-86, the Spurs' next five possessions went: Tony Parker missed 9-footer, offensive rebound then turnover, Tim Duncan Turnover, Duncan missed 11-footer, Manu Ginobili turnover, Ginobili missed three-pointer. Nowitzki followed that Manu miss by nailing a 19-footer to put Dallas ahead 95-88 with 1:44 left. Game over.
Delayed Turkey Coma?
Said George Hill: "You can blame it on the little turkey or whatever. But it happens, it's been a good journey so far. The only thing we can do is focus on Sunday."
John Lucas / Tom Thibodeau / Chicago Bulls: On Friday night, the Derrick Rose-less Bulls were this close -- THIS CLOSE -- to knocking off the Nuggets in Denver. Chicago was up 97-96 with 24 seconds left. Knowing the Nuggets had to foul, Thibodeau put in his all-free-throw-shooting lineup, which included Lucas...who had been signed that very day. Lucas inbounded and Denver waited to foul until the ball had been passed back around to him. He stepped up to the line, missed 'em both. Surprise, surprise.
Of course, the Bulls still could've won the game. They forced Carmelo Anthony into a turrible shot, but the ball managed to roll past three Chicago players out of bounds. Denver still had possession with four seconds left. And despite knowing that the ball would probably get passed directly in to 'Melo for a jumper, the Bulls didn't deny the pass to Anthony. Then Luol Deng bit on a stutter dribble and backed up the half a foot 'Melo needed to launch the game-winner. Clutch fail.
Carmelo Anthony, quote machine: "See, I told you. I take that same shot, nine out of 10 times, I'll make it. Whether he contested it or not, whether he got a hand in my face or not, once I get a good look at the rim, I don't really think there's nothing nobody can do."
Free throws in general: From Basketbawful reader LotharBot:
This week has been one of the greatest anti-clutch free throw weeks ever. Bawful could run a "bricked free throws" feature and have plenty of material. I know of five games where bricked FT with under 2 minutes left changed the complexion of the game, and the bricking team went on to lose all five.The City of Los Angels: L.A. went 0-4 this weekend. The Lakers choked away a 19-point lead in a 102-96 loss to the Jazz in Utah before falling into a 15-point hole at home against the Pacers before losing 95-92. Mind you, Indy had lost 11 straight regular-season games to the Lakers on the road since its last win on February 14, 1999, shortly before Staples Center opened.
We had Trevor Ariza for the Hornets against the Clippers on Monday, down 2 with 21 seconds left and clanking both ft.
Then there was Evan Turner for Philly on Tuesday, with a 3 point lead and 8 seconds left against the Wiz, bricking both FT, which left the game close enough for John Wall to send it to OT.
On Wednesday, Jason Richardson hit 1 of 2 with 5 seconds left in the first OT, leaving his Suns with only a 2 point lead. This allowed Derrick Rose to send it to 2OT (with an easy 2 rather than a difficult 3), where the Bulls ran away with it.
Today is Friday, and John Lucas III got 2 FT with 12 seconds left and a 1 point lead against the Nuggets. He bricked both. Then Melo missed a potential go-ahead bucket with 4 seconds left, but 3 Bulls combined to lose the rebound out of bounds, which let Melo hit the game winner at the buzzer.
Also today, Darren Collison and Brandon Rush each bricked a FT with under 2 minutes to go in OT, in a game that was tied at 102 with the Thunder. Those 2 points would've been nice to have when it was 106-103 and the Pacers had possession with under 24 seconds left. A one point game with a chance to win at the buzzer is very different from a 3 point game where you're taking a tough shot just to tie, and a miss and ft at the other end leave you down 5.
As usual, there's going to be a lot of talk about whether Kobe transforming into the Black Mamba and going into Hero Mode helped or hurt the Lakers. We know Kobe gave the Jazz and Pacers his own personal version of Anal Rampage...and we know the Lakers lost both games. Critics say Kobe going "LEEEEEEERRRROOOYYYY JEEENNNKIIIINNSS!!" killed the Lakers' offense. As Karc put it: "I know I'm not the only who saw that 14-point run and immediately said, 'Lakers are losing this game.'"
Defenders will say his teammates were playing like crap and Kobe's scoring outburts were the only think that kept L.A. in these games. Said Adam: "Actually Kobe going 'hero mode' had nothing to do with it. It was everybody else like Barnes, Fisher, Blake, and Brown bricking ill-advised three after ill-advised three and the whole team going cold after the first quarter."
Who was really at fault? Take your pick.
As for the Clippers, well, they fell behind by 25 to the Suns in Phoenix and eventually lost 116-108 and then finished off the weekend with a 109-97 loss at home to the Jazz. Make it 3-15.
After the Clips committed 18 turnovers and let the Jazz shoot 58 percent from the field, Eric Gordon offered: "They ended up playing good defense, but we stopped ourselves."
The Phoenix Suns: Their win against the Clippers was actually a cause for concern. They let a 25-point lead shrink to only four before closing The Other L.A. Team out. But check it: Eric Gordon had a season-high 32 points, Ryan Gomes scored a season-high 20, and Brian Cook added a season-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. That just gives you the defensive shivers, doesn't it?
Sure enough, on Sunday the Suns managed to score 133 points on 51 percent shooting...and lose. That's 'cause the Nuggets dropped 138 points on them. Without Carmelo Anthony. And despite missing 16 free throws.
Mind you, Denver's previous season-high in points had been 120. It was the team's highest point total since scoring 147 in double overtime at Seattle on April 6, 2008.
Said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry: "You can't win a game where you don't guard anybody. You got to guard one person. Even if we guard George Karl, we got to guard somebody."
The Suns are giving up 111.9 PPG. Yes, that's a league-worst.
Chauncey Billups, dubious compliment machine: "Without him, we're not as predictable. When Melo's in you go to him, let him orchestrate. I'm sure not having him out there made it difficult for [the Suns] to know what we were going to do."
The Portland Frail Blazers: Talk about your rough weekends. The Frail Blazers got Brandon Roy back in time to get dumped on their asses at home 97-78 by the Hornets. Portland shot only 39.5 percent and those 78 points were a season-low.
More Turkey Coma.
Apparently, Portland was still Turkey Coma-ized on Sunday night when they lost 98-96 to the Nyets in New Jersey. The Nyets shot 52 percent from the field. Now the Blazers -- that young, up-and-coming team that's been supposed to take over the league for, what, the last three or four seasons? -- is .500.
Said Wesley Matthews: "We don't feel like we're an 8-8 team."
And I don't feel drunk. But...
Avery Johnson, quote machine: Regarding the extra morning practice session he called between back-to-back games: "DON'T MAKE TOO MUCH OFIT OR IN THE MANNER OF HOW I CALLED IT. THEY KNEW I WAS DISAPPOINTED AND JUST NEEDED TO SEE THEIR FACES THIS MORNING. I COULDN'T SLEEP ANYWAY. I DIDN'T WANT TO RAISE MY VOICE TNIGHT. THEY GOT ENOUGH OF THAT THIS MORNING."
The Minnesota Timberwolves: During his first six seasons in the NBA -- all with the Miami Heat -- Dorell Wright averaged 6.3 PPG. And Pat Riley didn't even consider hanging onto him.
Now Wright is feeling "The Golden State Effect." And on Saturday, he drilled nine three-pointers on his way to a career-high 30 points against the Timberpoops, who apparently forgot the Warriors like to run 'n gun.
Regarding his team's defensive apathy, Minny coach Kurt Rambis said: "You could see that blank look on their face for the majority of the ballgame."
Way to inspire the troops, coach!
By the way, Wright and fellow Heat refugee Michael Beasley combined for 58 points. Riles needed role players to support the Nazgul. Little did he know he was actually sitting right on top of them. Speaking of which...
The Miami Heat: When the Heat played the Mavericks in Dallas on Saturday night, Zydrunas Ilgauskas started at center and scored zero points. Carlos Arroyo started at the point and finished with zero assists. The Miami bench was outscored 39-22. And here are the point totals for the four Heat centers: Big Z (0), Erick Dampier (0), Joel Anthony (0), Jamaal Magloire (DNP-CD).
Huh. I thought great players were supposed to make their teammates better. The Heat have two and a half great players. Something's fishy here, don't you think?
Here's some more Heat-themed vomit from ESPN Stats and Information:
The Heat are 0-4 on the road against opponents with winning records.The bottom line is: Dallas put Miami into a 19-point hole. The Heat almost climbed out, but almost only counts in horseshoes and Stan Van Gundy fitting into his pants.
Miami's Big 3 combined for 67 of the Heat's 95 points as they each scored 20-plus for the second time this season. However, they also combined for 13 of the Heat's 15 turnovers.
The Mavericks outscored the Heat 48-26 in the paint. Coming into the game, the Mavericks were the only team in the NBA averaging fewer points per game in the paint than the Heat.
The Heat are 2-7 against teams with a .500 record or better this season and have dropped four straight road games.
The Heat are now 9-8. Last season, without King Crab or Chris Bosh, they were 10-7 after 17 games. Cue Countdown to Failure.
After the game, Miami held a players-only meeting. Regarding that meeting, D-Wade said: "We felt like we needed it. Sometimes it's a feel. We haven't had a team-only meeting. We're playing like 9-8 and we needed it. This is a new team, a new group of guys. Guys need to understand each other and hear each other talk. We all feel better after the talk we had. It's tough because I know the potential of this team, the vision I had when this team was put together."
Added LeBron: "It was a well-needed team meeting where everybody had a chance to get off whatever they had on their chest or in their head about us figuring things out. Right now we are a 9-8 team and we have to own up to that. Does our record speak of the quality of team we can become? I don't think so. But right now we're 9-8 and we're playing like that."
Speaking of owning up to stuff...
LeBron James: As many of you aleady know, he bumped coach 'Spo.
As Basketbawful Original pointed out, that wasn't exactly a first:
Now, the obvious question is: Did His Supreme Crabbiness do it on purpose? I have to agree with SPORTSbyBROOKS...it didn't happen by accident. Forget just walking off a basketball court. LeBron James walks through crowds just to reach his own bathroom. He knows how to avoid bumping into people when he needs to. And this time he didn't. The reason why he did it is something that's harder to ascertain.
Is he searching for a fall guy to explain away why his presence has actually made the Heat worse than they were without him last season? Maybe. As Adrian Wojnarowski put it a couple weeks ago:
When things don’t go well for the Heat, there's one guarantee: James will never take responsibility. Here’s a man who quit in the middle of Game 5 to the Celtics a season ago, stopped playing in a conference semifinal and still wanted Brown and his supporting cast blamed like in the past. Here's a man who needed Nike to make some kind of half-baked commercial apology that only came within the context of pushing his shoes. James knows only how to be about James, and he'll sacrifice anyone to protect himself.It's true. And now, LeBron doesn't have anywhere to hide. Before, he could hide behind a historically bawful franchise and "bad" teammates. Now he has to explain why he -- last season's ordained Best Basketball Player in the World -- can't win with D-Wade and Chris Bosh backing him up. This isn't the easy way out he had in mind. Which makes this a perfect time to run Michael Jordan's supposed "response" to LeBron (which is in reality just a commercial mashup...but totally on the money):
The Sacramento Kings: Facing a Bulls team that was 1) dealing with various injuries to key players, 2) playing on the second night of back-to-backs, 3) on their fourth game in five nights, and 4) finishing up their seven-game circus trip of horrors, the Purple Paupers built a 57-44 lead after two quarters -- the team's very first halftime lead of the season! -- and then lost 96-85.
Their 28-point second half included a 9-point fourth quarter.
Said Paupers coach Paul Westphal: "I thought that in the second half our defense was good enough for us to win the game, but our offense was something that was out of some horror book. Two turnovers in the first half and 16 in the second half, it's just unbelievable. Running the same plays, only not executing them."
The Kings have now lost four straight and 10 of 11.
Tyreke Evans: The ankles be broken.
The New Orleans Hornets: They went up by 17. They fell behind by 17. They lost 109-95. At home. To the Spurs. Can you say "exposed"?
No offense to the Hornets. They're a great early season story. But after starting the season 8-0, they've gone 4-4, including three losses in their last four games, to the Clippers, Jazz and Spurs. Don't get me wrong. The Hornets are good. Just not as good as everybody was starting to think.
And you know, some of that may be coaching...
Monty Williams: At halftime, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made adjustments, which included some defensive switching and a small lineup. Then, over the final two quarters, the Spurs shot 60 percent, drilled seven treys, and outscored the Hornets 65-34.
Said New Orleans coach Monty Williams: "The bottom line is I got outcoached. Coach Popovich made a great move, going small, and I didn't make the immediate adjustments to put us in position to hang on. ... It was just an old-school whipping from a coaching standpoint."
Chris's Mega Weekend Lacktion Report:
Rockets-Bobcats: Jared Jeffries jacked apart a treasure chest for a 1.25 trillion (1:15).
For Charlotte, Sherron Collins brought home a Castlevania cartridge to His Airness in just 24 seconds for a Mario, while THE Kwame Brown provided the man who picked him #1 overall with four bricks (twice from the charity stripe) in 6:08 for a +4 suck differential!!!
Raptors-Celtics: Von Wafer can now afford the toll in the Ted Williams Tunnel after a 2.2 trillion (2:13)!
Bucks-Pistons: Yep. KNEE-MAC gave the Motor City a mediocre +1 in 6:09 via brick. I think my work is done here.
...but I can't stop keeping track of lacktivity, so on we go...
Sixers-Heat: Philly's Andres Nocioni notched three bricks in 7:20 (twice from Biscayne Boulevard) and a foul and giveaway each for a +5!
Thunder-Pacers: Nick Collison smashed into the ledger a bit tonight by countering two boards in 9:25 with 3 bricks and 4 fouls for a 4:2 Voskuhl. BJ Mullens mired himself in two fouls and a turnover in 5:03 for a +3 and a 3:0 Voskuhl, and Royal Ivey was declared King Koopa after just 8 seconds in a SUPER MARIO!
Lakers-Jazz: Derrick Caracter once again revealed his true colors with a one-foul +1 and 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl in 3:06.
Warriors-Grizzlies: Despite an assist in 7:54, Dan Gadzuric returns to the world of Voskuhl ratios with a 4:0 via two fouls and two giveaways; fellow Warrio Charlie Bell barely rang up a Mario in 59 seconds which included a brick from the Peabody Motel.
Hornets-Blazers: Luke Babbitt bricked once from the US Bancorp Tower in 1:16 for a +1.
Hawks-Knicks: Andy Rautins will now be able to put a deposit on some MSG seats after a 1.85 trillion (1:52).
Warriors-Wolves: Rodney Carney raised up a pair of bricks (once from the Mary Tyler Moore statue) in 6:49 for a +2, while Kosta Koufos lost the rock once and tossed up his own piece of masonry in 1:54 for a +2 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Heat-Mavs: In the Highly Unanticipated Rematch of the 2006 Association Finals, Brian Cardinal flew into 8-bit territory with a 2-second Super Mario! Also lacking it up for Dallas was Ian Mahinmi, who fouled and lost the rock once each for a +2 in 3:28, and a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Brendan Haywood put Mark Cuban's team on the ledger a third time (appropriate, as the South Beach Three incurred ANOTHER loss) by countering two boards in 7:58 with four fouls for a 4:2 Voskuhl.
Bobcats-Bucks: Sherron Collins took a rejection as well as a brick (from downtown Milwaukee) in 3:03 for a +2, while fellow Air Jordan purveyor Derrick Brown also bricked once from (downtown) and fouled twice for a +3 in 5:34.
For Wisconsin's team, Earl Boykins turned on his NES for 38 seconds for a Mario.
Bulls-Kings: Omer Asik banished an assist away in 9:04 with two fouls for a 2:1 Voskuhl.
Bobcats-Bucks: Sherron Collins took a rejection as well as a brick from the Pabst Theater in 3:03 for a +2, while fellow Air Jordan purveyor Derrick Brown also bricked once from Schlitz Park and fouled twice for a +3 in 5:34.
Knicks-Pistons: Timofey Mozgov made the most of another appearance for Mike D'Antoni, downing a pair of boards in 8:22 with a brick, three fouls, and three turnovers for a 6:2 Voskuhl. Roger Mason Jr. joined the ledger with a brick from the Ren Center in 8:10 for a +1.
Jazz-Clippers: Jarron Collins constructed a Voskuhl ratio of 5:1 in a 13:35 stint by negating a board with four fouls and a turnover.
Frail Blazers-Nyets: Luke Babbitt bobbled a brick in 2:35 for a +1.
Pacers-Lakers: Derrick Caracter coined 2.4 trillion (2:24) in pure gold!