Hey loyal Basketbawul readers! Toronto resident and faithful Craptors fan The Other Chris here with an eyewitness account of tonight's exciting lacktion - Craptors vs. Generals!The Chicago Bulls: I'll go ahead and refer you to my recap at By The Horns for all the grisly details of this massacre, but here are the lowlights:
Now, the last time these two teams played on November 17th, the Raptors had just come off of a Florida back-to-back where - despite their 1-7 record - they beat Orlando at home and gave Miami a good run. They then travelled to Washington, to play one of the worst teams in the NBA, on three days rest.. and got their asses handed to them like a turkey on Thanksgiving. I personally stopped watching said game in abject disgust. The Internet tells me that the corpse of Gilbert Arenas scored 20 points, with Bawful All-Star Andray Blatche dropping 22 and Nick Young chipping in 20. This is without #1 overall pick John Wall, by the way.
So the stage was set for a classic revenge game. Or more bipolar girlfriend play from the Raptors. Which team would show up - the one that beats Orlando and Boston, or the one that gets bitchslapped at home by Atlanta and Charlotte?
Well, the Raps and Wiz must have a prop bet about who can suck more on the road, because Washington started badly and went downhill. Then rolled off a cliff, smashed into the bottom, caught on fire, and exploded. After allowing the Raptors to score 72 points in the FIRST HALF, Washington "responded" by coming out after halftime and immediately turning the ball over three times for three layups. 28 point lead, game over.
Someone forgot to tell Washington that the game had started and it was time to do things like defend the rim, or defend at all, because the Raptors were running a layup drill all night. Let's see - 58% from the field, 55% from three. And that doesn't begin to reflect the beating the Dinos laid on the hapless Generals. Seven Dinos reached double figures; basically everyone who can throw it in the ocean was free to do so at will. Only the offensively limited trio of Amir Johnson, Joey Dorsey and Julian Wright (5 minutes) really failed to score.
Surprisingly for a team which that features Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee at the power positions, the Wizards also managed to rack up a -22 rebound differential. You know, in the same way it was surpising that Ricky Martin is gay. And this without Reggie Evans playing, a player who has no discernible NBA skills other than "getting every fucking rebound". Andrea "Allergic to Rebounding" Bargnani had 8 boards fer Chrissakes.
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, this game featured extended minutes for the likes of Alonzo Gee (starting - way to "blossom", Al Thornton), Cartier Martin, Kevin Seraphin, and Trever Booker. Protip: If when the announcer calls the names of your players checking in, and someone as NBA-obsessed as myself doesn't know who they are, your team is in a whole heap of trouble. Had I been drinking, I might have assumed that I had some sort of aneurysm and ended up at a D-League game in Idado by accident. The talent and energy the Wiz showed tonight - giving up 100 points by the end of the 3rd quarter - was certainly reflective of that.
Basketbawful correspondent The Other Chris signing off. Next up: Craptors and Nyets, Friday, Decemer 17th!
PPS. There is one play in particular which summarized the goings-on of last night. The ball was swung to Sonny Weems on the left baseline, in the first quarter. There was no one within a country mile of him. He began to aggressively drive towards the basket, but hesitated for a split second - you could see him thinking, "Surely someone is going to rotate over and challenge me?". Well, the closest defender to the unfolding baseline dunk was Future NBA 1rst team _efence Null Star Andray Blatche. He took about 1/10th of a halfhearted step towards the baseline, then gave up and went into his famed statue defence. Sonny drove from the 3 point line to the basket, soared in for a dunk, and there was still no one with 5 feet of him.
Forgot about hand in the face. How about some part of the body in some general vicinity of someone.
Also the list of groups attending the game included as the last one: Vandelay Industries. I don't know if you've heard, but they're in latex.
Despite all the good vibes from Chicago's first winning circus road trip since the Michael Jordan era and the return of Carlso Boozer, the Magic straight up owned the Bulls. They got whatever they wanted. They scored at will and finished with an Offensive Rating of 126. As in 126 points per 100 possessions. They totally dominated that shaded rectangle known as the paint, outrebounding the Bulls 44-21 and outscoring them 27-10 in second-chance points and 46-26 in the paint. The 26 points in the paint were a season low for the Bullies. Their 78 total points were also a season-low. And the 21 rebounds were a franchise low.
Chicago's worst rebounding game ever? Yep.
The previous low was 25 boards in a 102-80 loss to the Miami Heat on February 18, 2002. That particular Heat team won only 36 games. That Bulls team -- which featued a starting lineup of Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie, Trenton Hassell and "Baby Bull" rookies Tyson Chandler and Eddie Curry -- won only 21.
But the 2010-11 Bulls surpassed them in rebounding ineptitude. Speaking of which...
Joakim Noah, Worst Player of the Night: Back on Thanksgiving night, Charles Barkley predicted the Bulls would win the Eastern Conference and reach the NBA Finals. Not in the future, mind you. Chuck said the Bulls would do it this season.
This prompted a strong response from Joakim Noah:
"Poison. We're not in the Finals yet. I love Chuck. I think he's great for the game. I love his honesty. He always tells you how he feels. But it's poison. ... I want to be in the Finals. But just because Chuck says it doesn't mean that we're there, ya know? We got a long way to go. We got a big game against Orlando. ... I love Chuck, but at the end of the day, it's one thing to talk about it, and it's one thing to actually live it."
Remind me to add "prophet" to his next scouting report.
Noah -- one of the NBA's premier rebounders over the past two seasons -- began the night as the NBA's second-leading board hauler-inner at 13.2 per game. And he finished last night's ass-kicking with...
Do you know when the last time Noah went an entire game without grabbing a rebound? It was December 27, 2008, in a 129-117 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. In that game, Noah logged five minutes and 35 seconds and finished with a five trillion. But there's a world of difference between the Joakim of then and the Joakim of now. Before last night, Noah had never gone rebound-less in games in which he'd played at least eight minutes. What happened?
I guess he was poisoned.
Said Noah: "It's frustrating. That's my job, to rebound the basketball, and I wasn't able to do that tonight."
Carlos Boozer: I know it was his first game back and all, and I realize that he's rather, ahem, slow afoot. But Rashard Lewis -- a guy I didn't even realize was physically capable of crossing over the three-point stripe -- walked right around him for an easy layup in the first quarter. That might have been Rashard's first layup since his Seattle days. Oy.
Update! Stan Van Gundy, quote machine: From Shrugz via ESPN's DailY Dime: "How'd the Heat do tonight? Was their chemistry good, did they all get along? Tomorrow, the only the thing that's going to be on ESPN is LeBron going back to Cleveland, right? Because ESPN only covers two stories -- Brett Favre and the Miami Heat. And then we have about five minutes for the rest of the sports world."
The Boston Celtics: Yes, the Celtics won their fifth game in a row to run their record to 14-4. And yes, the Frail Blazers lost their fifth game in a row and fell two games below .500. But Boston still earned a little stink eye for wasting a 57 percent shooting night not to mention a 96-80 lead by letting Portland go on a late 15-0 run to make it a one-point game with 42 seconds left.
It took a clutch three-pointer by Ray Allen -- who shot 3-for-12 and had been 0-for-5 on threes to that point -- to pull the C's fat out of the fire.
Mind you, this was a home game for the Celtics. But hey, giving up double-digit leads has been a trademark of this team for the past two seasons. So I guess everything went according to plan.
The Portland Frail Blazers: Yeah, well, there's that whole "two games below .500" thing to take into consideration.
Jermaine O'Neal: From the AP game notes: "Injured Celtics C-F Jermaine O'Neal told Rivers he hoped to begin working out again next week after being out with a sore left knee. O'Neal has played in just seven games this season."
The New Jersey Nyets: If a team was going to lose a triple-overtime game at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a night when Kevin Durant sat out with an injury...does it surprise you whatsoever that it was the Nyets?
Okay, maybe you'd expect it to be the Clippers, but still.
Believe it or not, the Nyets looked like destiny was on their side when Anthony Morrow sent the game to overtime on a running three-pointer at the end of regulation. But New Jersey couldn't hold onto a six-point lead in the first overtime and then, in the second overtime, they were leading by three with 4.6 seconds left when Stephen Graham fouled Jeff Green on a three-point attempt. Green sunk all three freebies, the game went to a third overtime...
...and, well, I'm sure you can guess what happened.
Actually, maybe you can't. Russell Westbrook -- who BLEW UP for 38 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals and might be surpassing Kevin Durant as the best player on the Thunder -- scored all 13 of his team's points in the third OT.
That's not to overlook Jeff Green's career-high 37 points. But damn.
Said New Jersey coach Avery Johnson: "THIS IS A GAME OF WAVES AND CYCLES. THIS IS PROBABLY THE GAME OF THE YEAR IN THE NBA, IT'S JUST TOO BAD WE'RE ON THE LOSING END. I TOLD MY GUYS THAT I'M AWFULLY PROUD TO BE THEIR COACH."
In related news, the Nyets are now 6-13 on the year and 4-5 at home.
The Charlotte Bobcraps: Michael Jordan's team fell to 6-12 on the year -- and just 3-7 outside of Charlotte -- after being held to 11 fourth quarter points and scoring a mere 73 total points against the New Orleans Hornets.
Bobcraps coach Larry Brown -- who's probably already looking around and wondering which teams are going to have coaching vacancies this season -- said: "It's the same old, same old. We didn't match their intensity. They have a couple of finishers. West and Chris Paul took over. They defended great. They made every play and we didn't."
Stephen Jackson: The Bobcraps sure could have used Stephen Jackson during last night's fourth quarter meltdown. Too bad he was suspended.
The Los Angeles Lakers: Allow me to quote the opening line of the AP recap: "
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost four straight for the first time since April 2007." And now allow me to state a possibly significant fact: None of Phil Jackson's 11 championship teams have ever lost four games in a row.
I...I think I just got goosebumps!
The Lakers sure did look invincible during the first few weeks of the season, when they were playing mostly at home against sub-.500 teams. Now the defending chumps have lost four in a row, with the last two losses coming on the road against sub-.500 teams. And as Pat Sullivan of The Dream Shake noted, "Falling Sky" has been added to the list of natural hazards currently plaguing Los Angeles.
So what happened last night? The Lakers' defense "held" the still Aaron Brook-less and Yao Ming-less Rockets to 109 points on 50+ percent shooting and "shut down" Shane Battier, holding him to a mere 11 points in the final three minutes. And who was "defending" Battier during that stretch?
Yep. As Basketbawful reader Bing pointed out, L.A. got beaten by this guy. Let's watch Battier dominate Kobe and the Lakers...shall we? Of course we shall.
And Kobe was pissed. So pissed, in fact, that I couldn't even read the Bucks-Nuggets recap without seeing his unhappy face. Which, naturally, made me very happy.
Said Kobe: "How do you know how good we think we are? We're fine. Are we going to win a three-peat today? Probably not, but the [expletive] is not played today. We've got to do a better job," he said. "Houston shot 50 percent tonight ... that's unacceptable for our defense. We're slow. We're slow on rotations. It looks like we're kind of running in quicksand a little."
On the subject of the Black Mamba, Kobe's having an interesting season. He's the NBA's second leading scorer at 26.7 PPG. Yet he's having his second-worst year shooting the ball -- or his worst-ever year if you go by eFG% -- and he's somehow managing to lead the league in shot attempts (leading second-place Monta Ellis 400-351) and Usage Percentage (leading second-place Kevin Durant 35.9 to 32.2) despite playing the fewest minutes per game (33.5) since his rookie season.
L.A.'s recent woes when Kobe takes 20+ shots have been well-publicized. Last night, he went 10-for-24. In fact, Basketbawful reader draftaraujo offered up this:
New formula ifOkay, almost done. Despite the presence of the game's "best closer," this graphic from ESPN Stats and Information illustrates how anti-clutch the Lakers have been this season:
X = Kobe Bryant,
Y = Shots taken
X+Y > 20 = Fail
Update! Ron Artest: From Dan B: "Unreal. From Deadspin: Ron Artest called into a Rockets post-game show pretending to be Luis Scola. Of course he did."
The San Antonio Spurs: When the Spurs opened the season with an NBA-best 15-2 record -- including 8-0 on the road -- did anybody think they'd lose to the Clippers? Anybody? Bueller?
No. Of course nobody thought this would happen. I mean, the Clippers had lost 18 straight games to the Spurs and owned the league's worst record at 3-15. And yet, against all reason, The Other L.A. Team has now beaten a team with the NBA's best record for the second time in 10 days thanks to last night's win against the Spurs and their recent victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
It...makes the kind of sense that doesn't.
Said Eric Gordon: "Yeah, we play well against teams that have a good record. We just have to compete like that all the time. Our offense was good, and we didn't have any letdowns during the game. We just have to be consistent."
It helps when the veteran team you're playing against is on the second night of back-to-backs and ends up shooting 35 percent.
Said Tim Duncan: "We played badly, bottom line. Nobody played well. I played awful. The ball wouldn't go in the hole. On top of that, Blake played great, Eric played great and they kept making shots down the stretch. ... Our defense gave us a chance, and we got to that threshold where a 3-ball or any made shot would have got us right in it, and we couldn't get the ball to go down."
Added Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "You have to give the credit to their defense and to their energy, so I'm happy for them. It's the NBA, and anybody can beat anybody at any time."
I guess so.
Bonus bawful stat: San Antonio was outscored 56-34 in the paint despite the fact that Chris Kaveman missed his 11th straight game with a sprained ankle.
Bonus bawful quote: From the AP Recap: "When Duncan fell to the court holding his foot in the second quarter after drawing a foul on an apparently clean block by DeAndre Jordan, a fan near courtside screamed: 'We know bad acting, Tim Duncan. This is L.A.!'"
Bonus bawful video and memo to the NBA: If you see Blake Griffin running toward you...GET OUT OF THE WAY.
I can't find video of Griffin posterizing Matt Bonner, but I can give you this quote from Basketbawful reader Andrei: "Not only did Matt Bonner get posterized by Griffin tonight, but his name is censored by twitter: '@jadande Wow, Matt ***** came this close to getting Mozgoved.'"
I'm pretty sure Basketbawful readers know what "Mosgoved" means, but just in case...
The Milwaukee Bucks: John Salmons broke out of his slump by scoring 21 points. Corey "Bad Porn" Maggette added 17. Freaking Larry Sanders had 14 points, 10 rebounds and a crazy 8 blocked shots. And Carmelo Anthony was ejected with 2:40 left in the third quarter for bitching at the refs about a no-call.
None of it mattered. The Bucks -- now 6-12 -- lost anyway.
Said Maggette: "They had their best player out with Melo getting thrown out of the game. We really should have capitalized on it but we didn't. We just didn't do the things we needed to do while they continued to execute."
For the game, the Bucks shoth 32-for-80 from the field and gave up 41 free throw attempts while bricking nine of their 32 freebies. Milwaukee actually led by as many as 11 points...then lost by double-digits after falling victim to a 'Melo-less onslaught.
The Detroit Pistons: The Heat found their easy button. It was the Pistons.
The Indiana Pacers: Indy began the day yesterday with a surprising 9-7 record and an even more surprising third-place ranking in Defensive Rating.
One game against the Jazz -- during which Utah scored 110 points and had 29 assists on 45 made baskets -- and the Pacers dropped to 7th in D-Rating. It didn't help that Indy scored only 88 points and gave up 26 points off 18 turnovers.
The Jazz are now 15-5 and a far cry from the discombobulated team that opened the season with a 110-88 loss to the Nuggets and then a 110-94 defeat by the Suns. Deron Williams had 26 points, 16 assists and zero turnovers. Al Jefferson (17 points, 10 boards, 2 blocked shots) has Utah fans saying "Carlos who?". And the Jazz look pretty darn tough.
Said Jerry Sloan: "We could have exploded early in the season. Guys could have gone south. But they stayed together."
As for the Pacers -- playing on the second night of back-to-backs and in their third road game in four nights -- they had no legs...as evidenced by Utah's dominance on the boards. The Jazz outrebounded Indy 46-32, including 19-7 on the offensive glass. During the first quarter -- when Utah outscored the Pacers 35-17 -- the Jazz had a 14-3 rebounding edge.
Al Jefferson, jump shooting quote machine: "I always had a jumper. I just never had to use it. I was always greedy. I like that paint. In this offense, you got to be able to hit that jumper."
Andre Kirilenko, broken english quote machine: "It's ups and downs in the NBA. You remember in preseason we won eight in row, then the beginning of the season we went down, then the road trip we went up then, home games we've been sloppy. Now we're up again. I hope we can stay up a little bit more."
Chris's Lacktion Report:
Grizzlies-Hawks: Zaza Pachulia didn't get wealthy in 11:59 after taking down three boards, but did get a 4:3 Voskuhl after three fouls and a turnover.
Thunder-Nyets: Royal Ivey struck a vein of gold coins and criminis in just 26 seconds for a Mario!
Generals-Raptors: Kevin Seraphin segued into the Association tonight with a 100% field goal percentage (on one shot) in exactly 13 minutes...only to counter that and a board with 4 fouls and a turnover for a 5:3 Voskuhl.
Frail Blazers-Celtics: Sean Marks made himself known for Portland tonight not by earning a board in 7:58, but by bricking thricely, losing the rock twice, and coming one foul away from leaving the game in a 7:1 Voskuhl!
For Boston, Von Wafer has continued to establish himself as the Association's premier lacktator after a 3 second Super Mario!
Pistons-Heat: Erick Dampier celebrated his presence in South Beach by reacting to a board in 8:11 with three fouls for a 3:1 Voskuhl.
Magic-Bulls: Jason Williams searched for Princess Peach in 18 seconds in a Mario, while for Chicago, Kurt Thomas bricked once in 1:49 for a +1 suck differential.
Wolves-Mavs: Lazar Hayward tossed two pieces of masonry (once from Pioneer Plaza) for a +2 in 3:43.
Bucks-Nuggets: Gary Forbes opened up an early Christmas present of the Lost Levels cartridge in 44 seconds for a Mario.
Pacers-Jazz: Francisco Elson treated Utah fans to a 2:1 Voskuhl in 7:51 after garnering two fouls against a board.