The Indiana Pacers: If the Pacers hadn't been outscored 41-19 in the first quarter, fallen behind by as many as 24 points, or shot 6-for-23 in the fourth quarter, they might have actually beaten the cHeat last night.
The worst part is, I'm being completely serious.
Despite some truly bawful first half play, Indy actually went into the fourth quarter with a one-point lead. They were still up by three points when Chris Bosh tied the game by nailing a triple with 9:15 left. It was Bosh's sixth trey of the season...and a dark omen for the Pacers because they went flat broke after that shot.
Said Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "I'm proud of our guys. This is what I'm talking about when I talk about smashmouth basketball, blood and guts, never quitting. All heart, all hustle."
All heart, all hustle, no victory.
In related news, Dwyane Wade (41 points and 12 boards) scored 31 in the first half. That tied the Miami franchise record for most first half points set by...Sherman Douglas. Didn't see that comin', did ya? Well, unless you read the game recap, of course. Anyway, Douglas set that record on December 27, 1990, against, who else, the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets.
Imagine my complete and utter lack of surprise.
Anyway, as exciting as it is that the Nazgul combined for 90 points, it simply underscores the fact that the cHeat got a combined 6 points from starters Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mario Chalmers and only 14 points off the bench (9 from Ericka Dampier and 5 on 1-for-7 shooting from Eddie "In Da" House).
I mean, even if you go only by PER, Miami (according to the handy-dandy PER reference guide) is surrounding the Big Three Poopyheads with a bunch of players who rank between "In the rotation" and "Scrounging for minutes."
Pat Riley will probably be able to fill out the roster next summer (assuming there isn't a lockout). But the lousy supporting cast will likely haunt this team in the playoffs. Well, that and the fact that King Crab and the RuPaul of Big Men tend to have their balls drop off during the postseason.
Dwyane Wade, quote machine: Emphasis mine: "With the caliber players that we have, especially myself and Chris and LeBron, we're able to run the full-court offense, get good shots, high percentage shots."
Roy Hibbert, quote machine, Part 1: "We got smacked in the mouth pretty hard, repeatedly."
Roy Hibbert, quote machine, Part 2: "The rest of the season, we're coming," Hibbert said. "We're not backing down. We're not having any lackadaisical games. We're on the prowl. We're hungry."
The Utah Jazz: Channing Frye scored a career-high 31 points. He had 19 of those points in the first quarter, during which he went 7-for-7 from the field, including 5-for-5 on threes.
Apparently, when Jerry Sloan resigned, he took Utah's defense with him.
In all fairness, the Jazz were without the Russian Rifle (sprained right big toe), Raja Bell (strained left calf), Ronnie Price (sprained right big toe) and Mehmet Okur (strained lower back). Still...the only thing that stopped Frye was the fact that the Suns stopped going to him. And what was up with that anyway?
Said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry: "I guess I've got to do the playground thing and tell them when the guy is hot, we need to try and find him."
The "playground thing"? Uhm, Alvin, that's called the "coaching thing," and I suggest you give it a try next time Frye is burning off eyebrows.
In related news, the Suns have won seven of their last night games and moved a game above .500.
Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Price: Sprained toes? Really, guys?
Deron Williams: Freed from coach Sloan's restrictive and smothering flex offense, D-Will went 2-for-11 and got lit up by Steve Nash (20 points and 14 assists). Speaking of which, Nashty moved into seventh place on the all-time career assists list and into 10th place on the made three-pointers list.
Channing Frye, advice-taking machine: [Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov] kind of challenged me and said, 'We pay you to make shots.' I said, 'All right,' so I went out there and just shot."
The Philadelphia 76ers: It was a first quarter knockout last night in Memphis. During the first 12 minutes, the Care Bears outscored the Sixers 26-10.
Said Philly coach Doug Collins: "They just rocked us in the first quarter and got us on our heels. They did anything they wanted to."
Credit Doug and his team for clawing their way back into the game and pulling to within a couple points (77-75) by the end of the third quarter. But turnovers -- 17 in all -- undid the Sixers. Mind you, they're second in the league in fewest TOs per game (14). They got more than halfway there (8) in the first quarter.
Said Collins: "Then we made three bad plays [to start the fourth quarter]. That's what happens when you're fighting uphill. We get it to two, and then they get on a run."
Actually, here's how Philly opened the fourth: Thaddeus missed 21-footer; Jodie Meeks shooting foul on Zach Randolph; Young missed jumper; Young turnover (stolen by Tony Allen); Evan Turner missed 21-footer; Meeks shooting foul on Mike Conley; Lou Williams lost ball (stolen by Conley).
By the time Conley ripped the ball from Williams and converted a fast break lay up, Memphis was up by 10 points and preparing to cruise.
Said Young: "This is one of the most aggressive teams we've played just because the lineups they put in the game are so strong. They try to outmuscle you and out-quick you to everything. Those guys just outhustled us."
Don't forget outplayed, Thaddeus.
The Sacramento Kings: The Oklahoma City Thunder scored 68 points during the first two quarters. That was a season-high for a half. They finished with 126 points. That was a season-high for a single game. They won by 30. That was a season-high for margin of victory.
Need I say more?
Said Paupers coach Paul Westfail: "They jumped on us right from the start and we could never get back in the game. It was a great performance by them. We couldn't stop them. We couldn't score."
Couldn't stop them and couldn't score. But other than that, Sacramento played great.
On the bright side, DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 13 rebounds, proving he should always get into a fight on the team plane and then get suspended for a game before every game. Wait, let me think about that one again...
The Kings have lost six of seven and are 13-39. Only four wins better than the Cleveland Cadavers.
The New Orleans Hornets: They're good! They suck. No, wait, they're good! No, wait again, they suck.
Which is it? I have no idea.
New Orleans opened the season 11-1 in their first 12 games. Then they went 10-15 in their next 25 after coach Monty Williams made his infamous "Looking at our record, it might be fools' gold" comment. Then they won 10 straight. Now they've dropped eight of 10, a stretch that has included losses to the Kings (13-39), Timberwolves (13-42) and Nyets (17-39).
The Hornets went ahead by as many as 15 points and then trailed by as many as 20. Chris Paul was 4-for-4 and scored 11 points in the first nine minutes of the game. Then he shot 0-for-8 and was held scoreless over the final 39 minutes.
Said Paul: "They were all easy shots, shots that I should have made. It was nothing they did."
The "they" CP3 was talking about were the Warriors. And if Paul doesn't want to credit Gol_en State's _efense -- which held the Hornets to 89 points -- then what's the other alternative?
Oh, right. That the Hornets just suck. You know, when they're not good.
Did I mention that Vladimir Radmanovic scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting?
The Charlotte Bobcraps: In my Bobcats-Bulls preview at By The Horns, I wrote: "According to TeamRankings.com, Charlotte is 4-12 on the second night of back-to-back games, and they rank 27th in both Win Percentage (25.0) and Point Differential (-7.8). The only teams below them in Win Percentage are the Cavaliers (23.5), Wizards (15.4) and Nets (14.3). The only teams below them in differential are the Pistons (-8.0), Wizards (-9.5) and Cavaliers (-9.9)."
Sure enough, one night after giving the Lakers their worst beating since last season, the Bobcraps traveled to Chicago, lost by 12 and fell to 4-13 on the second night of back-to-backs.
Frankly, the 'Craps looked gassed. Gerald Wallace finished with 6 points on 3-for-9 shooting. D.J. Augustin had 5 points on 1-for-4 shooting. Stephen Jackson didn't even have enough left in the tank to pick up a technical foul.
Said Charlotte coach Paul Silas: "My starting guys just didn't have it tonight."
That was most evident on the defensive end. The Bulls had an Offensive Rating of 119.7 and lit it up from the outside. Kyle Korver did his best Mr. Perfect impression (5-for-5 from the field, 3-for-3 from downtown, 2-for-2 from the line) and finished with 15 points in 15 minutes. Chicago was 7-for-14 from downtown and 12-for-22 from 16-23 feet. The Bobcraps conceded outside shots...and the Bulls hit 'em.
Chris's awesome lacktion ledger:
Bobcats-Bulls: Sherron Collins conjured a pair of bricks (once from the Sears Tower) in 1:43 for a +2, while the Bulls' James Johnson and Brian Scalabrine went 55 seconds on the Excitebike as MARIO TWINS! (Johnson also tossed one piece of masonry for a +1)
Sixers-Grizzlies: Xavier Henry had himself six seconds of fame for a Super Mario.
Purple Paupers-Thunder: Yep. Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson has been a key acquisition for the royal retreads, tossing FOUR bricks (twice from the stripe) and gathering up one foul in 6:12 for a +5!!!
Oklahoma City's Nick Collison notched three boards in 15:13, but also fouled four times and bricked twice for a 4:3 Voskuhl.
Jazz-Suns: Trio of Voskuhl ratios here...
Kyrylo Fesenko fumigated a board with two fouls and a turnover in 6:57 for a 2:1, while Francisco Elson earned the Madsen-level 1:0 by countering two assists in 7:49 with a brick and foul.
For Phoenix, starting big man Robin Lopez laid an egg on rebounds, and negated a field goal in 11:27 with two lost rocks and a foul for a 3:2.
Hornets-Warriors: David Andersen abdicated the positivity of three boards in 11:52 with six bricks (twice from the charity line), two fouls, and two turnovers for a 4:3 Voskuhl.