Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Worst of the Night: November 30, 2010

westphal facepalm
Piece of advice: Enjoy Paul Westphal's facepalms while you still can.

The Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs were the first team to beat the Celtics this season. And, frankly, it probably had more to do with Boston overlooking a lesser opponent than anything Cleveland did. Still, Byron Scott had his battle plan ready:

The Cavs plan to try and exploit [Shaq] in tonight's game at Quicken Loans Arena.

"One of our reasons we were successful the first time: We got up and down the floor and put Shaq in a lot of pick-and-rolls," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "That won't change.

"If we do that, our guards will get wide-open shots. (We'll try to spread the floor) as much as possible and move it from one side to the other."
That strategy worked so well that Cleveland's starting guards -- Mo Williams and Anthony Parker -- went 8-for-23 from the field. The Cavaliers shot 39 percent as a team, got outscored 60-26 in the paint, fell behind by 20 and eventually lost 106-87. By the way, those 26 points in the paint were two points away from Cleveland's season-low.

Time for a new battle plan, Byron.

Anyway, whoever wrote the AP recap had a blast with this one. Check out these gems:

"It will be really hostile," said Cavs forward J.J. Hickson, who was held to one point by the Celtics. "It's no secret. He [James] is coming back to where he originally started. It's going to be a great environment. I'd be lying if I said it's a normal game."

When he was replaced with 4:04 left by Von Wafer, Rondo was applauded by everyone on Boston's bench and got a loving slap on the backside as he walked past Rivers.
And even though this line was removed -- probably by some eagle-eyed editor -- Basketbawful reader allison got a screen shot:

Celtics G Delonte West had successful surgery to repair his broken right wrist. Has a team ever reported an unsuccessful surgery?
In related news: No, I did not get a job with the Associated Press.

Byron Scott, quote machine: Regarding Boston's dominance around the basket: "It was like a layup drill."

The Portland Frail Blazers: When the Frail Blazers were beaten by the New Orleans Hornets last Friday, it was their fifth loss in eight games. But the Portland faithful told the naysayers to back up a step and look at the competition in those five losses: The Lakers, Thunder, Hornets, Jazz and Hornets again.

Well, the Blazers have now lost four in a row and seven of their last 10 games. They've fallen to 8-9. And their last two losses have been to the New Jersey Nyets (6-12) and, last night, the Philadelphia 76ers (5-13).

Portland managed only 79 points on 37 percent shooting. During the fourth quarter, they went 4-for-20 and got outscored 22-11. And Brandon Roy played more like the Ghost of Tracy McGrady, finishing with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting. Roy scored only 2 points in the final 24 minutes.

No word when Greg Oden will be back. Roy's knees will probably never get better.

Poor, poor Portland...the former Team of the Future. Now, when you hold up a Frail Blazers media guide to your ear, all you hear are creaking joints, snapping tendons and the sound of a thousand sad trombones.

Nate McMillan, coach of the year candidate: "You've got to take care of the ball, you've got to defend the ball and you've got to score in this league."

Doug Collins, quote machine: On Andre Iguodala's contributions: "He was our ace of spades tonight even though he did not score that many points."

Ace of spades?

The Detroit Pistons: Since their 90-79 road loss to the Magic wasn't that surprising, I'll let Tayshaun Prince write the epitaph to this loss...which dropped Detroit to 6-10 overall and 2-8 on the road: "We've had some success against them. They always know that when we play them we're ready to play, but in the fourth quarter, they were really ready for us this time."

Charlie Villanueva, delusion machine: "This is a game we could have closed out."

Mickael Pietrus, quote machine: "J.J. [Redick] and I are like brothers, even though I stay under the sun a little more than he does."

Tracy McGrady Watch: 3 points, 1-for-4, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a game-worst plus-minus score of -16 in 18 minutes. And the following quote, regarding whether he can now understand the injury problems Grant Hill suffered through:

"I still wouldn't understand because he went through like four years," McGrady said, shaking his head. "I couldn't imagine."

McGrady's Games Played
2007-08: 66
2008-09: 35
2009-10: 30
2010-11: ??
The New Jersey Nyets: The game was tied at 65. Devin Harris got hurt. The Knicks ripped off a 14-2 run. Game over.


So tough, in fact, that the Nyets didn't overcome it.

The game did provide a fun (if defenseless) battle between Brook Lopez (season-high 36 points on 14-for-24 shooting) and Amar''''''e Stoudemire (35 points on 13-for-22 from the field).

The Knicks-Nyets "Rivalry": From the AP recap:

Both will play in New York once the Nets move to Brooklyn in 2012, but for now their rivalry mostly exists off the court. The Nets put a billboard featuring owner Mikhail Prokhorov and part-owner Jay-Z near Madison Square Garden, and the Knicks responded by putting Stoudemire on an ad near the site of the Barclays Center will stand in Brooklyn.

An ad ran during MSG Network's telecast of the Knicks' victory at Detroit on Sunday advertising this game by telling the Nets, "You can walk like us, you can talk like us, but you ain't never gonna be like us."

The Nets fired back in an e-mailed statement from Prokhorov on Tuesday that read: "I don't think we want to be like the Knicks. I think we'd more like to resemble the Lakers."

But both D'Antoni and Johnson dismissed the idea of a rivalry until it involves postseason meetings between the teams.

"You don't really get a rivalry unless you're in the playoffs," D'Antoni said. "It doesn't work during the regular season when you're [saying], 'Oh boy, we knocked them out of ninth place."
D'Antoni's got the right idea. The Knicks haven't had a winning season in a decade. Then again, the Nyets won only 12 games last in comparison New York's standard 30-35 wins would probably feel like when you wash your sheets and then go outside and hang them out, and the sun dries them.

By the way, before everybody gets all excited about New Yorks 10-9 record, I will remind you that 1) this team had a six-game losing streak earlier this season and 2) check out the murderer's row of teams they've beaten during their recent "hot" streak: Kings (4-12), Warriors (8-10), Clippers (3-15), Bobcraps (6-11), Bobcraps (again) Pistons (6-12) and Nyets (6-12). Hey, kudos to them for taking advantage of a soft stretch in the schedule. But the schedule has a way of catching up to teams...

...just sayin'.

The Sacramento Kings: Here's the first line of the AP recap:

Slumped over in his chair, staring aimlessly at the locker room floor Tuesday night, Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers had little energy thanks to a nagging case of the flu.
Forget that it sounds like the first line of a high school angst poem...Granger was apparently pretty sick. But not too sick to drop a season-high 37 points on 12-for-19 from the field and 10-for-11 from the line.

That's what it's like these days in Sacramento: Feeling bad? The Purple Paupers will make you feel better. Meanwhile, the Kings have dropped five straight and 10 of their last 11.

And check it: Of Sacramento's five starters, only Tyreke Evans reached double figures (16 points on 4-for-14 shooting). That unit's plus-minus scores: Evans (-18), Jason Thompson (-14), Donte Green (-12), Sammy Dalembert (-12) and Luther Head (-11).

Said DeMarcus Cousins: "I'm mad and I'm frustrated about losing. My own opinion is I think different strategies should be used in the game. But I was playing selfish and it [the practice incident] was a good lesson for me. I learned from that."

What practice incident you ask...?

DeMarcus Cousins: Apparently, Cousins is trying to steal the "Big Baby" nickname from Glen Davis. But for all the wrong reasons.

Recently, Cousins got yanked from the starting lineup and fined because of an argument with the team's strength and conditioning coach. Then on Monday, he got booted out of practice by coach Paul Westphal. Reason: Unknown.

Said Westphal: "It was a necessary move in our continued attempt to help him develop. I'm not going to get into details. He was asked to leave early."

Paul Westphal, coach of the year candidate: "DeMarcus isn't the first player who has been dismissed from practice and he won't be the last."

Consider yourselves warned, Kings players.

The Gol_en State Warriors: Seven Spurs players scored between 12 and 27 points. Tim Duncan (18 rebounds, 15 points, 11 assists) had his third career regular season triple double, and his first RSTD since March 14, 2003. San Antonio had 31 assists on 42 made field goals, scored 30 fast break points, converted 16 forced turnovers into 20 more points, and committed only 11 turnovers themselves despite playing a fast-paced game in which they attempted 91 field goals and 31 free throw attempts.

And just like that, the Warriors have lost eight of their last 10 games.

Said David Lee: "When you don't play your best ball against an experienced team like San Antonio, there's a reason their record is the way it is. They don't necessarily do it with all athleticism and power and length. They do it with smarts and they take advantage of any mistake that you make."

And in the Warriors' case, there are lots of mistakes...

The Los Angeles Lakers: According to the AP recap, the defending chumps had "Get back on track" written on the board in their locker room. And that's exactly what they did...if you consider being punked by the Grizzlies -- L.A.'s third loss in a row -- getting back on track. I guess it was like one of those train tracks you find in the movies, you know, the ones that run right to the edge of a steep cliff for no discernable reason.

The Lakers killed it on the boards, outrebounding the Care Bears 42-29 overall and 13-5 on the offensive glass. They were also +9 in made free throws. But L.A.'s shooting -- "led" by Kobe's 9-for-25 night -- was pretty bawful: 43 percent from the field and 31 percent from downtown.

Speaking of Kobe's shooting, here's what ESPN Stats and Information had to say:

The Los Angeles Lakers might have to learn that a little less Kobe Bryant may go a long way this season.

On Tuesday, Bryant scored 29 points but it took him 25 shots to get there in a 98-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. During the Lakers current three-game losing streak, Bryant has attempted at least 20 shots in each game and has averaged 26.3 FGA per game.

This season, the Lakers are 2-3 when Bryant attempts at least 25 shots in a game, compared to 11-2 when he attempts fewer than 25 shots.

Look even deeper and you will see that all five of the Lakers losses have come when Bryant has at least 20 shots. When Bryant attempts fewer than 20 shots, the Lakers are 7-0.
Regarding Kobe's shot-jackery, Phil Jackson said: "I think he felt like he had to carry a little bit of the load. Kobe's going to come out there and attack if no one else is aggressive enough. He's going to test the defense, and the other guys are going to have to step in."

In related news, Mamba is 41-for-97 (42 percent) over his last four games. In fact, he's shooting 42.8 percent on the season. It's the lowest mark since his rookie campaign...when he shot 41.7 percent. What's more, his Effective Field Goal Percentage (46.4) is a career low.

Of course, the real story of this game might be the one shot Kobe didn't take. Specifically, the final shot of the night. Down 98-96 with time running out, the Lakers got lucky when Mike Conley lost the ball in a collision with Pau Gasol. L.A. recovered, but Jackson didn't call time. Kobe brought the ball up, and...

Said Kobe: "I went middle and I had the shot that I wanted, but I lost the handle on the ball while I was going up, so I kicked it to Ron. Ron took a dribble and shot."

Make that: pump fake of nobody, dribble and a shot. When Artest received the ball, he was wide open. Coulda just been a shot. But it wasn't. And that gave Rudy Gay the opportunity to stuff Ron-Ron. Game over.

Said Artest: "It was well-executed. I learned something from that today. That was great execution. His close out was perfect. ... He closed out, chopped his feet a little bit. Stayed low, didn't go totally for the head fake and recovered."

Ironically, this happened one day after the following article was published at SLAM ONLINE:

Trouble began to brew late Friday night in Utah, as Ron Artest dribbled around aimlessly in the fourth quarter before hoisting up an awful shot. Artest again made a few questionable decisions on the offensive end last night, as the Lakers lost in dramatic fashion to the Indiana Pacers at home.

Phil Jackson was unimpressed to say the least, and for the second consecutive game, he pulled Ron-Ron aside to discuss matters. Jackson wouldn’t divulge details of the chat, but Artest was more than happy to share.

Fox Sports has the quotes:

"He told me I should have called timeout when we got the offensive rebound," Artest said. "Kobe wanted the ball. Kobe was going to hit a three. When I saw Kobe, I was going to give it to him. I asked (Jackson), could everybody else on the court call timeout since I had the ball? And he said yes." Artest paused and then smiled. "He forgot to address it with everybody," he said. "But that's OK."

Jackson declined to detail what he said to Artest, preferring to keep it private. Artest said he was comfortable with his role, but noted that his feelings were irrelevant. "I listen and I take in the good, what can help me. But then I've also got to be like I made it this far for a reason," said Artest, whose 3-pointer brought the Lakers within 89-86 and got the crowd on its feet. "How do I not be selfish but at the same time listen? I'm sure he didn't want me to take that last three tonight. It’s all about playing and trying to figure out a way. We’ll be OK."

Last season, Jackson routinely criticized Artest’s decision-making in the triangle offense, and during some heated moments during the Playoffs, he flat-out instructed his team not to pass him the ball.

It's very early in the season, but worth noting that Ron Artest is averaging career lows in both points and minutes.
Anybody hear that? Sounds like somebody just opened a bottle of Crazy Pills.

Meanwhile, Pau Gasol (15 points, 14 boards, 4 assists, 4 blocked shots) had another long night (45 minutes). As AK Dave said in the BAD comments: "That's too many minutes. I think coach 'Jax knows that."

Chris's Lacktion Report:

Celtics-Cavs: Von Wafer has firmly established himself as Boston's best human victory cigar since Brian Scalabrine, tonight bricking once from Euclid Avenue and adding on a foul for a +2 suck differential in 4:04!

For Cleveland, Jawad Williams also earned a +2 via brick and foul, but in 2:46.

Nets-Knicks: Stephen Graham cracked open a care package from Mr. Prokhorov and found 2.95 (2:56) trillion in unwrapped ruble notes!

The Dolan Family's finest provided one turnover for Shawne Williams in 1:37, giving him a +1. Timofey Mozgov made one shot in 8:53 along with a rebound, but also fouled four times and lost the rock once for a 5:3 Voskuhl.

Lakers-Grizzlies: Hasheem The 2nd Overall Dream Thabeet pulled two boards in Memphis's victory over Team Mamba...but in his 9:36, he fouled an Oden-like four times for a 4:2 Voskuhl. Tony Allen added three bricks and a foul in 4:29 for a +4.

Spurs-Warriors: Dan Gadzuric was game enough to go 100% (on one shot) in 6:34, but three fouls and a turnover led to a 4:2 Voskuhl. Jeremy Lin, the man who has been tasked with saving the Warriors franchise all season long, tossed three bricks (twice from the charity stripe), lost the rock once, AND took a rejection for a +5 in 3:34!!!!

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