The Chicago Bulls: Let's look at the facts.
The Bulls were playing the second night of back-to-backs and their fourth game in five nights...which started after a stretch of five games in seven nights. Chicago is without their second-best and third-best players (Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah). Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson all logged 40+ minutes the night before. Thanks to all the frontcourt injuries, poor Deng is averaging 40 MPG in January and 39+ on the season.
And did I mention that Kurt Thomas (ancient) and Keith Bogan (awful) are currently starting for this team?
Under the circumstances, last night's homecourt flameout was actually fairly predictable. Minus Boozer, the Bulls couldn't get anything going inside and couldn't protect the paint, hence Charlotte's 65 percent conversion rate at the rim (15-for-23) and 46-28 scoring advantage in the paint. Mind you, on the season, the Bobcats rank 25th in FGP at the rim (59.8).
The Bulls looked tired and were a step slow all night. They shot poorly (39 percent as a team) and couldn't take care of the ball (14 turnovers in a slow, low-possession game). What's more, Chicago gave up 25 points off turnovers, which accounted for 30 percent of the 83 points the Bobcats scored.
Some of the turnovers were just plain stupid. Guys leaving their feet and then passing with nowhere to go, or driving baseline and trying to deliver a pass through heavy traffic. Ugly stuff.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: "You can't turn the ball over against this team. If you do, you put them in the open floor and they score easily. We created our own problems."
Outside of D-Rose (14-for-28) and Ronnie Brewer (6-for-11), the Bulls couldn't have lobbed a beach ball into the ocean.
Luol Deng went 2-for-11. Taj Gibson was 2-for-7. Kurt Thomas shot 2-for-6. Keith Bogans had his usual 1-for-3 performance. Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and Omer Asik were a combined 3-for-11. Mind you, two of their clutch-time shots were 1) a three-pointer by Deng, who to that point was 2-for-10, and 2) a layup attempt by Kyle Korver, who was standing underneath the rim at the time (and his shot was, not surprisingly, swatted out of bounds by Tyrus Thomas).
And don't even get me started on the idiotic "and 1!" fouls the Bulls committed or the way they let 15 seconds run off the clock while down a point with 25 seconds left and Charlotte in possession of the basketball. You know what, just go read the Top 10 Things I Hated About This Game.
Charlotte's three-point shooting: From Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN Stats and Information: "From Elias: The Bobcats took 13 3-point FG attempts, and MADE ZERO. They are just the 4th team in NBA history to take at least 13 3-point field goal attempts, miss all of them, and still go on to win the game. They are only the 2nd team to accomplish the feat on the road."
Tyrus Thomas: Huh. I guess this is why he shoots so many jump shots...
Officiating: Here's one of the worst back-to-back officiating sequences you're likely to see any time soon: D.J. Augustine travels on a breakaway layup in full view of a referee who's no more than 10 feet from him and then Derrick Rose gets called for an offensive foul that couldn't have been more non-existent if it had been named "The Easter Bunny's Pet Unicorn."
By the way, check this out, from the AP game notes: "Former Bulls forward Charles Oakley is one of Silas' assistants. He amused himself during the first half by grabbing the shorts of Chicago's Taj Gibson on an inbounds play and holding on when Gibson tried to run down the court."
I'm pretty sure that's not legal. Nothing got called, tho'.
The Miami cHeat: It's official: The cHeat will not win 70 games.
I would like to thank them, however, for reaching this point with half a season to go. That way we don't have to deal with all the suspense.
What led to Miami's fourth straight loss? A brick festival by King Crab and Pookie.
From ESPN Stats and Information:
Playing without Chris Bosh for the first time this season, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined to go 19-of-50 from the floor in the Miami Heat's 93-89 overtime home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The 50 field goal attempts are the most that Wade and James have combined to take in a game this season.So there you have it: The cHeat can't win without Bosh. Who knew?
James took a season-high 30 field goal attempts, but shot just 36.7 percent from the floor. It was the 26th time in his career that James attempted 30 field goals in a game; however, it was the third-worst shooting percentage of his career in a game in which he took at least 30 shots.
Without Bosh on the floor, James also hoisted a season-high 10 three-point field goals, connecting on just two. This season when Bosh is on the court, James has made 40.2 percent of his three-pointers, and just 29.9 percent when Bosh is not on the floor.
The Heat also missed Bosh in their half-court offense. Miami had been shooting a respectable 44.7 percent from the floor (including 49.3 percent by Bosh), but against the Hawks on Tuesday they shot just 34.8 percent (24-69).
In all seriousness, we all knew the supporting cast was a problem. The three starters not named "Wade" or "James" combined for 2 points. Joel Anthony grabbed 16 rebounds but went scoreless in 43 minutes. Eddie House (12 points) and Mario Chalmers (10 points) scored in double figures off Miami's bench, but Mike Miller and Erick Dampier -- supposedly key pickups for the Heat -- both laid goose eggs.
In all, the Heat shot 36 percent as a team and gave up 25 points off 16 turnovers. And how's this for weird: Despite having two of the league's greatest players teaming up, the Heat are now 1-7 in games decided by five points or fewer. And they're 0-2 in overtime when playing at home.
Equally puzzling was LeBron's decision -- despite being icy cold -- to chuck up trey from 28 feet out at the end of regulation. Really? LeBron and D-Wade on the floor and that's the best shot the Heat could get in a tie game at home?
Oh, but 'Bron wasn't done. With the cHeat down 91-89 with seven seconds left in overtime, James again hoisted from 28 feet away from the rim. Brick. And, essentially, game over. Of course, LeBron had hit a three on Miami's previous possession. So he was hot, right?
Said James: "I had a week off and that is what happens sometimes. We had everything going and when you have a few injuries it takes the chemistry out, it takes the rhythm out of a team."
So, uh, why take all the threes, then?
Bob Rathbun, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From the Hawks broadcaster, as supplied by Basketbawful reader StottsEra: "Atlanta back doors them to death and it's a stuff for Josh Smith!"
The LeBrons: At a time when LeBron's popularity has never been lower...he and his people decide to release a Web-based cartoon starring his four alter-egos. Yeah. That should work.
This is where I bring up ProStars, a failed Saturday morning cartoon (back when kids watched cartoons on Saturday morning) that starred Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky at the height of their popularity. If a cartoon with Michael Jordan rescuing children from burning buildings with the help of his rocket shoes didn't make it, The LeBrons don't have a chance.
Rashad McCants' post-NBA career: Are you ready for this? Probably not, but here goes anyway: McCants is co-producing a new Web series in which he acts alongside former underage porn star Traci Lords as...the bisexual, cross-dressing leader of a shoplifting ring. No, I am not making any of those words up, and I'm kind of hurt that you thought I was.
All I can say is: It's gonna get real muthafuckin' mythological in this muthafuckin' piece. Believe dat. As beautifully stated in the trailer. Which is NSFW. Consider yourself warned.
Update! Amar''''''e Stoudemire, quote machine: The Wisdom of Sun Tzu (via AnacondaHL): "Ladies keep them legs close, an them books open. I'm telling yall this because I care. We have to become a smarter generation."
Chris's Lacktion Report:
Hawks-El (Oh El) Heat: Josh Powell pushed away a block in 3:21 with one turnover for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl, while Jordan Crawford went all-air once from the Georgia-Pacific Tower to earn a +1 in 2:16.
For Miami's currently-freezing basketball squad, Erick Dampier took a rejection and tossed one brick in 4:40 for a +2.
Bobcats-Bulls: Matt Carroll had two seconds to ruminate over Laikatu's cloud in a Super Mario!