Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Worst of the Night: January 25, 2011

sad cavs bench
The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers Team Photo.

The Washington Wizards Generals: Well, the Generals weren't on the road, but it was hard to tell based on the way they played. Washington was never really in the game and the visiting Nuggets strolled to a 120-109 victory despite a bad shooting night by Carmelo Anthony (8-for-20) and a 32-8 disadvantage in fast break points.

It's weird, too, because Washington isn't a bad home team (13-10) and Denver began the night with a 5-13 road record. Oh, well. At least Andray Blatche (25 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block) made a certain fantasy owner happy.

Next up for the Generals: A four-game road trip through Oklahoma City, Memphis, Dallas and New Orleans. Washington is 0-21 on the road this season.

Still, despite the woes his team suffers away from home, Generals coach Flip Saunders thinks the trip is a good thing: "I think our guys are looking forward to going on the road. Sometimes going on the road for a four-game trip is better than going for one game because you have the opportunity to bond a little bit."

True, Flip. Nothing brings people together quite like a good disaster.

Carmelo Anthony, quote machine: The trade saga continues:

"It took for me one day to get everybody together and let them know that despite everything that's going on, I'm still here," Anthony said. "I'm still going to go out there and give my all -- and I would like that in return."

"I don't know [what's going to happen]. I can't look that far ahead. I can't look into February."

"Regardless of what's going to happen, it's going to happen. If I decide to stay, if they decide to trade me, something is going to happen. Until then, the only thing I can do is to continue to go out and give my all on the court."

"I never thought it would get like this. I don't want to say it's tough, but it is because I'm the one who has to go out there and play my game."
The Cleveland Cavaliers: Kendrick Perkins' return from knee surgery was set for February 4. Then he and the team decided to fast forward his comeback so he could play at home against the Cavaliers.

It's just been that kind of year for Cleveland.

Paul Pierce scored 24 points in the first 24 minutes as the Celtics built a 22-point halftime lead. The game was pretty much over at that point...and Boston coach Doc Rivers emptied his bench midway through the third quarter. That's right: 18 minutes of garbage time in a 48-minute game.

The 112-95 loss left the Cavs to face the following sobering realities: 18 straight losses, 27 defeats in the last 28 games, and a new franchise record for consecutive road losses at 22.

Said Cleveland coach Byron Scott: "I don't care about all that. We'll have a breakthrough. I'm not looking at the number of losses and things like that. I'm looking at it game-by-game and seeing if we're improving on both ends of the floor."

You really expect us to believe you don't care about the number of losses, Byron?

Well, then, you must not care about this either: If the Cavaliers lose to the Nuggets on Friday, they will tie the franchise single-season record for consecutive losses set when the team lost their last 19 games in 1981-82. Oh, and the Cavs also lost their first five games in 1982-83, setting an NBA record with 24 losses in a row.

Tying that record is also in play.

Added Antawn Jamison: "It's human nature to think about how many we've lost in a row, and whatever record we've set. Losing is tough, in general. To be where we're at -- one of the worst records in the league right now -- that's tough. We've just got to worry about trying to find a way to fix it. That's about the only thing you can do."

Not one of, Antawn. The worst record in the league. Just sayin'.

On the bright side, J.J. Hickson set a new career-high in assists (5) and tied his career-high for blocked shots (4). And seven Cavs scored in double-figures. See? Bright side!

The Sacramento Kings: Kwame Brown.

That was not a misprint. Brown finished with 13 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. He also added 2 assists, a steal, a blocked shot and a game-high 10 free throw attempts to his haul.

Oh, and those 18 boards were one short of Kwame's career high, which was set on March 17, 2004. That game -- a 30-point, 19-rebound performance -- came against...the Kings.

Said Sactown forward Carl Landry: "He was a No. 1 pick, so I wasn't surprised. He did a great job of coming out and being aggressive. His impact on tonight's game was really special."

I love when Brown comes out of nowhere to have a good game against a team and then somebody from that team brings up the fact that he was a number one pick.

The Kings shot 36 percent from the field and went 1-for-12 from downtown.

Said Tyreke Evans: "We just couldn't hit shots, and it kind of messed up our offense a little bit. We barely got any fast break points. We just couldn't get a rhythm."

For the record, both teams finished with 14 fast break points.

The Kings (10-33) have the league's third-worst record and things aren't going to improve any time soon. Their next five games are on the road against the Lakers and at home against the Hornets, Celtics, Spurs and Jazz. That's probably another five losses...although...

The Utah Jazz: The Lakers gave up 18 fast break points, 44 points in the paint, and an incredible 33 points off 18 turnovers...

...and beat the Jazz by 29.

It could have been worse, though. If, like, demons burst forth from the court and dragged the Utah players to the underworld for an eternity of torture.

I'm just sayin'.

The Jazz trailed by as many as 38 points en route to their season-worst fifth loss in a row. They struggled to locate the hoop (41.9 percent shooting) or life their hands past their waists as the Laker shot 62 percent for the game.

Deron Williams, who last season pulled a Starbury and named himself the best point guard in the league, tied Paul Milsap with a game-worst plus-minus score of -24.

Said Williams: "We've lacked chemistry and continuity on offense and on defense and we're not trusting each other. We thought we'd come out and put together a better effort, but we didn't. We couldn't execute and we couldn't get stops against teams with the worst records in the NBA, and coming in to play one of the better teams in the league, it got ugly."

Coyote ugly.

Added Raja Bell (1-for-7, 0-for-4 on threes): "I think we lost our swagger somewhere along the line. You start pressing and start trying to do everything so right that it backfires, and that's a tough way to play."

Do everything right? Start by doing one thing right, Raja.

Concluded Jerry Sloan: "It was one of those nights we couldn't get anything going. They shot the ball well, they passed the ball, they were just much more alive than we were."

A zombie is more alive than your guys were, Jerry.

Bonus stat: According to the AP game notes, the Jazz are 3-19 against the Lakers at Staples Center since the building opened in 1999.

Kobe Bryant, quote machine: On a Shannon Brown's blown dunk: "I found it funny. He was so high up. When you're on top of a building and you're throwing a pebble down on the street sometimes you miss the target."

And since we're at it...

Shannon Brown: His job is to hit open threes and dunk the ball. Well, he's shooting 21 percent from downtown this month, and...

The Los Angeles Clippers: Give the Clips some credit for playing the Mavs reasonably tough without leading scorer Eric Gordon (24.1 PPG), who missed the game with a sprained right wrist that has a chipped bone in it. He'll be out for a few weeks.

Still, there was a little "They are who we thought they were" going on as the Clips went from being up 15 to down 17. They shot nearly 56 percent from the field and went 10-for-20 from beyond the arc, but they managed only 2 fast break points, bricked 11 free throws and gave up 34 points off 23 turnovers. And, frankly, the Dallas D outmuscled and intimidated the Clippers in the second half.

Said Dirk Nowitzki: "They were all over us and got into us in the first half, pushed us around a little bit. In the second half ,we were the more aggressive team. That's how it is in this league, usually. The team that's more aggressive gets more calls, gets the benefit of the doubt. They were the team that got the benefit of the doubt in the first half, then we turned it around in the second."

Mmm...smell that home cookin'? Anyway, on the subject of fouls...

Brendon Haywood: And suddenly he's a tough guy? Last night, Haywood officially joined the "I Will Foul Blake Griffin Really Hard To Keep Him From Embarrassing Me" club:

Said Haywood: "Every play can't be a dunk-contest dunk."

You know, I think Kevin McHale once said the same thing...

The Other L.A. Team was down only four points when that foul occurred. Grif missed the start of the fourth quarter to get a protective sleeve on his arm...and the Mavericks immediately ripped off a 14-0 run. So there you have it.

It was just a chippy night all-around. Nowitzki got cut on the face, and Baron Davis got into it with Rick Carlisle after a pretty hilarious flop by J.J. Barea. Good times. All around.

Chris's Tuesday Lacktion Ledger:

Nuggets-Generals: Melvin Ely made one free throw and two boards in exactly 18 minutes, only to lose the rock thricely and foul four times for a 7:3 Voskuhl. For Washington, Kevin Seraphin earned one board in 8:44 but was short on positivity afterwards, fouling once and turning over the ball once for a 2:1 Voskuhl.

Cavs-Celtics: Ryan Hollins went 100% from the field (though 0% from the stripe) on one attempt and boarded twice, only to lose the rock once and foul five times in 19:33 for a 6:4 Voskuhl.

Clippers-Mavs: Dallas's Ian Mahinmi rebounded once in 9:16, yet fouled and turned over the ball three times each for a 6:1 Voskuhl.

Bobcats-Purple Paupers: Matt Carroll magically mushroomed into 35 seconds of playing time for a Mario.

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