The Los Angeles Lakers: Maybe it was the fact that they were playing their fourth road game in five nights, but the Lakers were so gassed that the application of hands to faces was beyond them. Forget the 89 points on 43 percent shooting or the 3-for-19 brick-a-palooza from beyond the arc. L.A.' defense was apparently working on West Coast time, because the Lakers made the Bobcraps look like the model of offensive efficiency.
Mind you, Charlotte averages an Offensive Rating of 103.4, which is "good" for 25th in the league. Their eFG% of 48.2 ranks 24th. Against the Lakers, the Bobcraps finished with an eFG% of 56.1 and an Offensive Rating of 127.0. And that was with Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin combining to shoot 6-for-17.
Said L.A. coach Phil Jackson: I just have this to say: I'm very disappointed in our performance tonight. I'm embarrassed about what we did, and that's it." And that really was it. Press conference over. It's more than Kobe (8-for-20, 5 turnovers) said. According to the AP recap, Mamba "sneaked out of the locker room before addressing the press at all."
But, hey, he had aches and chills. And nobody can play through that...right?
The Lakers, however, are pretty much always sick against the Bobcraps for whatever reason. L.A. has lost eight of their last 10 games against Charlotte and are 5-8 all-time against them. The only other team with a winning record against the Lakers? The Boston Celtics (153-121). That's right, Lakers fans. Feel the knife twist.
Anyway, the last two games -- back-to-back blowouts -- continues a season-long trend for the Lakers: A series of strong games that make them look like a lock to repeat as champs followed by a cluster of head-scratching losses that make them look like a first round upset in the waiting.
Bonus stat that will probably piss off Lakers fans: According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Lakers are now 12-12 when Kobe takes at least 20 shots. They're 26-6 when he takes fewer than 20 shots.
Andrew Bynum, quote machine: "We can lose to anybody the way we're playing defense right now."
Derek Fisher, rationalization machine: Everything we do is obviously going to be compared to what we've done the last two seasons. But this is an entirely different team. Half of our roster is new, so there are still things we're learning about ourselves."
Paul Silas, dramatic overstatement machine: "This is probably the biggest, monumental win for the Bobcats and probably the biggest loss for them. It was huge."
The Detroit Pistons: If this was the mid-2000s, having Tracy McGrady lead your team in scoring would have been a good thing, unless it was a first round playoff game. But it's 2011, and Knee-Mac taking scoring honors is more like the dark omen of a lopsided loss.
Sure enough, the Pistons got clobberated at home by the Hawks. And it happened despite the fact that Detroit drilled its first six threes and built a 15-point lead. But, predictably, the Pistons iced over, as illustrated by their quarter-by-quarter scoring: 27, 24, 17, 11.
After leading by as many as 15, Detroit trailed by as many as 17 and lost 94-79. The Pistons shot 38 percent while the Dirty Birds converted a hands-in-their-faces-free 56.5 percent of their field goals. According to the AP recap, the home team got booed by the small crowd of 11,844 as they left the court.
Said Charlie V.: "I would have booed too. We were really good early on, but every team in the NBA makes a run, but we didn't have an answer when they did. We seemed like we got comfortable when we had the lead."
How does a team that's 16 games below .500 ever get comfortable?
John Kuester, master of simple math: "We had 14 assists at halftime and only ended with 20. That's a dramatic difference."
The Los Angeles Clippers: Whispers of "they are who we thought they were" are echoing through The Other L.A. Team's locker room. They snapped the Cleveland Cadavers' record-busting 26-game losing streak. They got slapped around by the Toronto Craptors. And now they've lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.
And what a loss.
The Bucks are a depressing mess on the offensive end of the floor. They rank 30th in eFG% (46.0) and the only team they're ahead of in Offensive Rating (101.2) are the Cadavers (101.1). And note that the margin of difference is only 0.1.
Yet, against the Clips, the Bucks looked like the next coming of Showtime. (Well, okay, that's a major exaggeration considering they finished with 2 fast break points, but bear with me.) Milwaukee compiled an eFG% of 59.6 and an O-Rating of 120.7. Carlos Delfino nailed a career-high seven three-pointers and the Bucks went on a 14-1 fourth quarter run while outscoring the Clippers 31-13 for the period.
Did I meantion that the Bucks were without Corey Maggette (back) and Drew Gooden (left foot)? Or that Ersan Ilyasova (right eye) went down early in the first quarter?
The Other L.A. Team is now 1-6 on their 11-game road trip.
Vinny Del Negro, coach of the year candidate: "When the game gets a little tight we don't execute as well. There is no miracle pill for it. There is no quick answer. It's just staying together."
I dunno, Vinny. There may be a miracle pill out there...
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love eked out a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) to extend his streak to 41 in a row. And that was pretty much the sum total of what went right for the Timberwolves last night. Beyond that, they were outworked and outplayed in pretty much every category that matters, falling arrears by as many as 17 points before losing 95-81.
If you're looking for culprits in this crime against the sport of basketball, look no further than starters Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer and Wesley Johnson. After all, those three guys combined for one point, zero rebounds, zero assists and 6 turnovers. Man...starters aren't supposed to lacktate...are they?
No wonder the Minnesota fans were as excited as fresh corpses.
Said Martell Webster: "It would be really nice to hear these great fans be a little bit louder out there because we feed off their energy as well. It's kind of tough when you come in here and all you hear is echoes from the basketball hitting the floor," Webster said. "They might be waiting for us to make something happen. We want them to be loud, I'll tell you that."
And they want you to win, I'll tell you that. So I guess everybody gets to go home disappointed, Martell.
Brandon Roy: This season, the Frail Blazers are 10-13 with him in the lineup...and 21-11 without him. In related news, Portland is 31-24 without Greg Oden.
Update! Kevin Love's face versus a basketball: From Basketbawful reader Joseph:
I can't stop giggling. I'm so immature.
The New Jersey Nyets: The Nyets set the bawful bar so unreasonable low last season that a 102-85 home loss to the Spurs this season barely registers on my radar. A quick statistical rundown: New Jersey shot 34.8 percent while getting outrebounded 50-39. However, they did outscore the Spurs 11-10 in fast break points. Moral victory!
Part of the problem may have been that Sasha Vujacic, who can score 20 or 30 points any time he wants, finished with only 8 points on 2-for-9 shooting. I guess he didn’t want.
Screamed Nyets coach Avery Johnson: "THIS IS A TERRIFIC TEAM WE PLAYED. THEY HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE FOR A REASON. THEY DON'T BEAT THEMSELVES."
And if there's anything the Nyets are good at, it's beating themselves.
The _enver Nuggets: The Rockets scored 121 points and finished with an Offensive Rating of 128.1. They scored 39, 30 and 33 points over the final three quarters. They hit 14 three-pointers. They matched their season-high with 31 assists. They hit their highest point total highest point total since dropping 129 points in Minnesota on January 24.
And comparing _enver's _efense to Minny's seems pretty fair right about now.
Their offense had it's share of problems in the third quarter, during which the Nuggets scored 14 points and had more TOs (6) than FGs (4). And 'Melo -- fresh off his "I think it takes a strong-willed person, a strong-minded person, to deal with the stuff that I deal with and still go out there and go to work every day and perform on a nightly basis" speech -- managed only 16 points on 4-for-14 shooting and sat out the fourth quarter after a collision with Luis "Apparently Made of Stone" Scola.
Said Anthony: "I think they said I've got a deep bruise, a shoulder contusion or something like that."
I can understand his confusion. That's a lot of information to keep track of.
Carmelo Anthony, quote machine, Part 1: "We were up 12 or more than that in that first half, and you blink and then the Rockets were up 12. So it was one of those crazy games."
Carmelo Anthony, quote machine, Part 2: "As far as [being traded to the Rockets] or anything like that, I don't control that. Y'all got to talk to my management about that."
ESPNBoston: Basketbawful reader Alexandru B. brought this to my attention: ESPNBoston's "Editor's Picks" features an article about who's the better point guard, Rajon Rondo or...Jalen Rose. Like Alexandru, I'm gonna have to go with Rondo on this one.
Random goodness: Steve Nash Valentine's Day E-Card.
Also, a Valentine's Day message for Captain Canada from back in 2007.
Also, Steve's V-Day Tweet: "Happy Valentines Day to All the mothers and daughters out there. You make the world what it is."
Chris's Valentine's Day lovely lacktion report:
Lakers-Bobcats: Sherron Collins celebrated a win over the defending Association titleholders with two bricks from the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and a turnover in 3:40 for a +3!
Spurs-Nyets: Matt Bonner rocketed into the report tonight by reconsidering his two assista and three points in 1:51 with four fouls for a 4:3 Voskuhl.
Hawks-Pistons: Atlanta's Jeff Teague trotted out a piece of masonry in 87 seconds, along with a turnover and rejection, for a +3.
Chris Wilcox patrolled Oakland County for two rebounding opportunities in 13:40, only to lose the rock twice and foul once for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Clippers-Bucks: Rasual Butler served up a brick for Donald Sterling to earn a +1 in 1:51.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova forged a foul in that same exact duration of time for a +1!(Chris: Ilyasova's lacktion canceled out due to injury)
Frail Blazers-Wolves: Joel Pryzbilla procured four boards and a free throw in 20:04, yet also pilfered four fouls and two turnovers for a 6:4 Voskuhl. Luke Babbitt targeted the Duck Hunt dog in just 12 seconds for a celebratory Mario!
For the pathetic pups, it's telling when the hometown paper's recrap of your game notes how much two starters lacked it up!
In tonight's case, Corey Brewer and Jonny Flynn made Minnesotans melt down in frustration. Brewer missed twice in 13:21, lost the rock thricely, and gathered up a foul for a +6, while Flynn bricked three times himself (twice from the Mary Tyler Moore statue) and turned over the ball twice in 12:48 for a +5!!!