The Memphis Grizzlies: The Care Bears led 32-16 after 12 minutes and led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter...
...and still lost to the New Jersey Nyets anyway.
Screamed Nyets coach Avery Johnson: "RIGHT NOW THE SPIRITS OF OUR TEAM IS AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH, JUST IN TERMS OF ALL THE THINGS WE'RE TRYING TO IMPLEMENT AND TRYING TO CHANGE THIS CULTURE. WE'RE SEEING SOME OF THE PRODUCT OF OUR HARD WORK."
Reality check: New Jersey is 14-32 and trailed another sub-.500 team by double-digits for most of the night despite playing at home. I mean, it's great they won and all, but, well, yeah.
The difference of the game? Probably New Jersey's 56-12 edge in bench scoring.
From Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats and Information): "From Elias: The New Jersey Nets had three players score at least 14 points off the bench in their 93-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Anthony Morrow had 19 points, and Kris Humphries and Sasha Vujacic both added 14. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time since March 5, 1984 against the Utah Jazz, that the Nets had three non-starters score at least 14 points in a game they won a game by five points or fewer. (In that 1984 120-116 win over the Jazz, the three players who scored at least 14 off the bench for the Nets were: Otis Birdsong (18), Darwin Cook (17) and Albert King (16)."
Look, any time you can reference Otis Birdsong, Darwin Cook and Albert King in the same post, you do it. You just do it.
Said Zach Randolph: "We had the game and just didn't finish it out. We started out great but broke down defensively in the second half. I don't know if we got winded, but we didn't do anything different. We didn't make shots, not like we did in the first half. We had this game and gave it away."
Sasha Vujacic: He gave the Grizzlies a chance to force overtime by bricking a free throw with 7.3 seconds left. Damn. Why couldn't he have done that during the NBA Finals?
The Toronto Craptors: And here...we...go!
Exactly how bad is Toronto's defense? Let me put it this way: Marreese Speights scored 17 points in a single quarter against their zone.
It was easier than feeding frosting to a fatty.
Said Philly coach Doug Collins: "It's interesting how you watch tape some times. I was watching the Spurs-Toronto game and one of the sets [San Antonio] runs, we run and Toronto was struggling stopping it when they played zone. We ran that play almost the entire second quarter. Mo rolled to the basket and Jrue did a nice job finding him for those little pocket passes and scores."
Added Speights: "It was pretty easy. The zone wasn't really that hard to break."
Make it nine losses in a row for the Craptosaurs. In case you were wondering, that represents Toronto's longest fail streak since a 10-game crap-a-palooza that lasted from March 26 to April 12, 2006.
Advanced stat(s) of the game: The Toronto D "held" the Philly O to an Offensive Rating of 121.0 and an Offensive Rebounding Rate of 41.5. So not only did the Sixers hit half their shots, they rebounded nearly half of the shots they missed.
Andrea Bargnani: From the AP game notes: "Bargnani had to head to the locker room late in the first quarter after jamming his toe but soon returned after getting a protective cap put on it."
A protective toe cap. Well then.
Jay Triano, coach of the year candidate: "I thought our defense was very porous all night. They kind of got in to where they wanted to go."
The Detroit Pistons: As Dan B. pointed out in his BAD post, the Nuggets hadn't won in Detroit since March 10, 1995. They had lost 14 consecutive games in the Motor City. And as if the stat curse wasn't enough, Chauncey Billups erupted for a game-high 26-point revenge game against his old team.
Said the Artist Formerly Known as Mr. Big Shot: "I love getting the ovations and showing the people what they've missed. I never wanted to leave here. Everyone knows that. I wanted to retire here."
Thanks for that, Joe Dumars.
Speaking of which, from the AP recap:
Detroit dealt him two-plus years ago, hoping to speed the development of Rodney Stuckey while clearing salary-cap space for the future.And people were calling Dumars a genius not too many years ago. Well, as Forest Gump would say, stupid is as stupid does.
Stuckey hasn't turned into a dependable point guard and the millions spent in the summer of 2009 on free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva haven't paid off.
In related news, according to the AP game notes, the Pistons were valued at $360 million -- a 25 percent decline since last year -- in Forbes' annual evaluation of NBA teams.
I'm just sayin'.
Chauncey Billups, quote machine: Regarding the ongoing soap opera involving Detroit coach Johh Kuester and Rip Hamilton: "He's Pistons royalty. He's one of the greats, and his jersey is going up into those rafters, so he doesn't deserve to be disrespected like this."
Man, I'm telling you, if Dumars was still running this team, he'd never let Kuester...oh...wait...
The Atlanta Hawks: The Bucks are the worst offensive team in the league. Easily. By far. They rank 30th in PPG (91) and FGP (42.3). And, as if that wasn't bad enough, they were missing Milwaukee Brandon Jennings (left foot), John Salmons (right hip) and Drew Gooden (left foot).
But the Basketball Gods said, "Let there be Offense!" And there was.
During the fourth quarter, Milwaukee went 11-for-18 from the field and 5-for-7 from downtown, outscoring Atlanta 34-15 and earning a 98-90 victory.
Seriously. The Bucks scored 98 points. The end is nigh. Somebody hold me.
Earl "Motherfucking" Boykins -- who dropped 11 of his 20 points in the final 12 minutes -- said: "That's foreign territory to us. We looked like a hell of an offensive team. It's so much of a different game when you make shots and put pressure on the other team. When you miss, they don't have to score."
There's an important lesson for all you basketball scholars: Scoring is important.
Again, as Dan B. pointed out in BAD, the Hawks hadn't lost on the road since December 31. Stat curse, baby.
Atlanta coach Larry Drew referred to his team's choke job as a "total collapse" and went on to say: "We cannot allow the snowball effect in the fourth quarter -- especially when we have played so well and are right there and then to have a total collapse. We gave up 34 points in the fourth quarter. There is a high probability that we won't win many games giving up that point total in any quarter."
Coach of the year candidate, folks.
Added Josh Smith: "We couldn't buy a basket in the fourth quarter."
Smith knows what he's talking about. He couldn't buy a basket ball night, going 6-for-20 from the field and 1-for-5 on threes. But at least he committed a game-high 4 turnovers.
The Utah Jazz: The Jazz have 12 comeback victories this season. In those comebacks, they've overcome deficits of more than 15 points seven times. And last night, Deron Willaims scored 17 of his season-high 39 points as...
...Utah lost at home to the Spurs. It was the team's sixth straight loss. Their average margin of defeat during this streak is 15 points.
Said Deron Williams: "We played better. We played harder. But, still, a loss tastes sour."
Huh. I thought it tasted like chicken. Sour chicken.
Bonus stat: The Jazz shot 54.7 percent. And lost.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Oh those poor Timberwolves. Only they could score 117 points and lose. Okay, okay, the Suns could do it, too. But still.
Kevin Love had another Animal Style double-double (31 points and 21 boards) and Michael Beasley nearly finished with a triple-double (30 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists), but Kevin Durant put up career highs in points (47) and rebounds (18) despite missing nine of his first 14 shots.
And poor Kevin Love was shell-shocked by it.
From the AP recap: "All I can say is Durant is incredible," Love said, a glazed look in his eye. "He's incredible."
Random funny quote from the AP game notes: "In the second quarter, Love and Darko Milicic were fighting for the same rebound, and Love relented. He then looked at the bench and winked, his charity done for the day."
Oh, I wouldn't say his charity was done. I mean, his defense was pretty charitable, and he missed a hook shot that would have won the game at the end of regulation. Speaking of which...
Kevin Love, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "When it left my hand, I said, 'That thing's in.' I was about to run back to the locker room right away. That thing went in and out."
The Los Angeles Clippers: Poor Blake Griffin. With Eric Gordon out of the lineup, he's pretty much the go-to everything on his team. People are fouling him left and right any time he beats them on a move. And, as if all that's not enough, the Rockets unleashed Chuck Hayes on him last night.
And we all know what Chuck did to Amar''''''e Stoudemire last week.
Blake still had a double-double (14 points and 11 rebounds)...but he shot 5-for-16 and spent 37 minutes and seven seconds wearing a Chuck Hayes-shaped straightjacket.
Said Hayes: "I'm a fan of what he's doing. From a fan standpoint, I'm entertained, just like everybody else. As a competitor, I'm telling myself, 'He's not doing that on me.' ... It's unbelievable what he's doing. At the same time, as I'm watching it, I'm also scouting him. I know exactly what not to let him do. ... If I keep my body on him and go strength-for-strength, muscle-for-muscle," Hayes said, "I have a chance."
Dude's a freaking bulldog.
The Clips finished with only 83 points on 36 percent shooting. It was only the third times Houston has held an opponent under 100 points since December 22. The Other L.A. Team committed 15 turnovers and missed 15 of their 18 three-point attempts. They were also outrebounded (50-44) for the first time in eight games.
In other words, it was a strong performance all around.
Vinny Del Negro, coach of the year candidate: "We just couldn't put the ball in the basket."
The Golden State Warriors: The Hornets have been streakin', so the loss, in and of itself, isn't all that remarkable. But here's where I remark that the Hornets rank 22nd in Offensive Rating (105.3), 26th in PPG (94.6) and hadn't scored more than 110 points all season...and even that happened in an overtime game against a Rockets team that gives up 104.7 PPG and ranks 24th in Defensive Rating (109.5).
Well, last night the Hornets scored a season-high 112 points and finished with high marks in O-Rating (115.9) and eFG% (65.5).
Ah, that Golden State defense.
Said Warriors coach Keith Smart: "The NBA takes two things: effort and toughness. And if you've got effort and you have toughness, you're going to have a chance to play against any team in the NBA. If you don't show any of that against the good teams, they're going to force their will. And we didn't force our will early in the game."
Anyway, speaking of bad defenses...
The Phoenix Suns: The Charlotte Bobcraps rank 25th in Offensive Rating (102.6) and 28th in PPG (93.2). They had reached 100 points only once in their last nine games...but they finished with 114 points last night against the Suns. The only other time this season they had finished with more than 113 points was on November 20, when they scored a season-high 123 points...against the Suns.
Charlotte shot 50 percent from the field and 53 percent from downtown. They swept the Four Factors and finished with an insane O-Rating of 134.8. And that was despite Stephen Jackson going 7-for-20.
What a waste of another great performance by Steve Nash (27 points and 15 dimes).
Stat of the game: The Bobcraps had a 29-10 advantage in free throw attempts, including 16-0 in the second half.
Said Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "We have to do better at finishing games."
Vince Carter -- who took 17 shots but didn't have a single field goal attempt at the rim or inside 10 feet -- added : "We have to will ourselves to win."
Why don't you will yourself to the basket instead of chucking up jumpers, you lazy f**k? Sorry.
The Indiana Pacers: Going into this game, I was thinking, "If Roy Hibbert can just slow down Dwight Howard a little..."
Hibbert was powerless against Pumaman (19 points and 16 boards) and the Magic went 16-for-34 from three-point range. Why is that second stat a big deal, you ask? The 16 treys are the most ever made by a Pacers opponent. They nailed seven of those threes during the second quarter, which they won 38-27. Orlando went on to build a 23-point lead and never looked back.
Said Pacers coach Jim O'Brien: "They absolutely had their way from the 3-point line. We had lapses on the perimeter that we shouldn't have. Sometimes, you have games where you are not focused on the little things, and that's what happened tonight."
Danny Granger, Indy's franchise player who went 6-for-19 from the field and (ugh!) 3-for-11 from long distance, added: "Defense really is a thing where you've got to know rotations, you've got to know assignments, you've got to know coverages. More often than not, we're missing our assignments, we're missing coverages. We're sliding right now, and if we don't stop it soon, we'll be out of the playoff mix. It's do or die right now for us."
Yeah. I'm gonna go with "die" on this one.
Amar''''''e Stoudemire, stupid quote machine: Yep. He said it: Nobody's afraid of the Miami Heat."
Really, STAT? You mean the same Heat team that castrated your squad in New York? You're not afraid of those guys? Well, you play them tonight, and as Yoda might say...
Chris's lacktion report:
Magic-Pacers: Chris Duhon stared at a tossable onion for 6 seconds for a Super Mario!
Grizzlies-Nyets: Hamed Haddadi wore a Tanooki suit for 24 seconds to earn a Mario.
Nuggets-Pistons: DaJuan Summers spent four seconds lost in the monochrome world of the Virtual Boy and garnered a Super Mario for Auburn Hills.
Clippers-Rockets: Ishmael Smith took up one board in 45 seconds, only to blast his way through a Dr. Mario diagnosis in that time.
Bobcats-Suns: Eduardo Najera baked a brick in 3:42 for a +1 suck differential.
Spurs-Jazz: Tiago Splitter divided his 6:41 between a steal and the negatory nature of a foul and brick for a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl, while Utah's Gordon Hayward had a 34 second sax solo in Mario Paint.
Hornets-Warriors: DJ Mbenga scratched out a rebound in 5:13, yet fouled thricely and lost the rock twice for a 5:1 Voskuhl. Fellow insect Quincy Pondexter gathered up an exact 2.6 trillion (2:36) in celebration.