Sorry if today's post doesn't have its usual snap. I'm suffering through a bout of flu-like sympots. No, the actual, honest-to-goodness flu-like symptoms. Really.
The Atlanta Hawks: Jesus Christ, Hawks.
Look, I like being right, and I labeled this team a pretender way before it was fashionable to do so. But holy wow. The Bulls were playing in Atlanta on the second night of back-to-back games and went absolutely apeshit on the Hawks in the first half, shooting nearly 74 percent from the field and 78 percent from downtown while setting season highs with 41 points in the second quarter and 72 points in the first half. Chicago led by as many as 47 and cleared their bench to start the fourth quarter. And fans in Philips Arenas started chanting "M-V-P!" for Derrick Rose (30 points and 10 assists).
I have one word for this: Damn.
Said Josh Smith: "This is starting to get embarrassing."
Starting? You've lost seven of 10 during a playoff seeding run, Josh.
Smith continued: "We didn't help each other, and when you don't help each other it gets contagious."
No kidding. And whatever's wrong with the Hawks is contagious like the the superflu virus in Stephen King's The Stand. Only it won't bring the Atlanteans the sweet oblivion of merciful death. Only repeated (and nationally televised) failure and humiliation.
The numbers are absurd. The Bulls finished with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 60.8 and an Offensive Rating of 135.4. They outrebounded the Hawks 40-26 and had an absurd Offensive Rebounding Rate of 32.3 despite the fact that they were scoring at will. Chicago outscored Atlanta 48-18 in the paint. And those numbers included a full fourth quarter's worth of garbage time. Some would say that, for the Hawks, resistence is futile. In this case, it was non-existent.
To me, the defining moment of this game came with 2:08 left in the third. With his team leading 91-55, Rose committed his only turnover of the game and, after Joakim Noah fouled Josh Smith to prevent a breakaway, Rose was cursing himself out. Despite being ahead by 36 points. Meanwhile, the Hawks were all blank stares and resigned looks. Except for Jeff Teague, whose 20-point outburst and undressing of C.J. Watson prevented a 40-point loss for his team.
Maybe they're just waiting for the playoffs?
Here are some fun facts about the Hawks. Did you know that they are the only winning team in the league with a negative point differential? Did you know that 19 of their 31 losses have come by double-digits?
Now stop and think about Joe Johnson's contract. This team is so screwed.
Joe Johnson: The line: 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting and the worst plus-minus score on his team (-32). By comparison, Luol Deng -- overrated and ovepaid, right? -- had 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting and a plus-minus score of +39. As always, I'm just sayin'.
Reality check: Joe's contract is on Atlanta's books until 2015-16, at which point he'll be making nearly $25 million a year. Based on his statistical decline from last season to this season, he might be declared legally deceased by 2015-16. Which is bad news for the Hawks...and amusing to pretty much everybody else.
Josh Smith, poster boy: Outta the way, Josh. Also, stop taking so many threes.
Vince Carter: Steve Nash continues to amaze -- he had 19 points and 20 assists last night -- but continues to be a victim of fate, circumstances, and his teammates. Although he may have reinvented himself in New York this season, I will never forget (nor will I forgive) when last May, in the most important game of his life, Amar''''''e Stoudemire managed only 2 defensive rebounds in 43 minutes and 17 seconds of playing time. And believe me, L.A.'s Offensive Rebounding Rate of 37.8 was the biggest reason the Lakers won that game.
And, of course, if STAT could have kept his ass on the bench back in 2007, Steve Nash might have some championship jewelry.
Enter Vince fucking Carter.
I hate Vince Carter. I have almost always hated Vince Carter. Well, at least since he jammed a double-edged knife in the back of the Craptors franchise. When he was traded to Phoenix to play alongside Nash, I went into full-blown denial mode. Even when he'd played like feces, I have refused to mention it, refused to acknowledge his vile, festering presence on a team I really, really like.
I can't do that today. I'm too pissed.
Vinsanity's stat line is so typical of this stiff that it should be engraved on his tombstone: 17 points on 7-for-23 shooting...2-for-13 from downtown.
PLEASE STOP SHOOTING THEM VINCE!!!!
If that stat line typified Carter's failed career -- do not come at me with his career stats...I'm warning you -- then the single play that represents all that I hate about this man happened with 24 seconds left in triple overtime. With the Suns trailing 137-135, Vince chucked up unlucky three-point attempt number 13. Forget that he was 2-for-12 at that point, or that, down by only two points, a three wasn't necessary. Instead of doing the dirty work, Carter bailed out and swung heavy for the homerun. Of course, this is the same jackass who flung a trey when the game was tied at 123-123 in the second OT. And did I mention he also missed a triple at the end of regulation?
I'm convinced: Vince Carter is trying to kill me one jump shot at a time.
Of course, Vince shouldn't have even been in the game at the end of the third overtime session. And he wouldn't have been except for two whistles that went against Grant Hill in a 12-second span of a single Lakers possession. Were they by-the-books fouls? Possibly. But the refs had been letting an awful lot of physical play go to that point. Then, suddenly, they're calling body contact. Of course, it helps that the body contact was committed against Kobe, a.k.a. The Master of The Verbal Flop and the Baseline Dive.
To further put Carter's shame into perspective, only four Suns players finished with negative plus-minus scores: Channing Frye (-1), Nash (-4), Robin Lopez (-5) and Carter (-20). Anything standing out there? Is one of these things doing it's own thing? Oh, and I haven't even touched on Carter's vomit-inducing defense:
Let's not forget how his "helpless" defense left Ron-Ron wiiiiiiiiiide open for a critical three-pointer (vid from Marylander):
Somewhat ironically, Vince played over 40 minutes and finished with a STAT-like 2 defensive rebounds. And, of course, L.A.'s 18-10 advantage in offensive rebounds were the behind-the-scenes story of the game.
More on this debacle from chris:
MAN. Hardwood Paroxyism -- repping Memphis -- is just ON FIRE with his series of angry tweets in the wake of the crushing Laker win - another day of sunshine for the big markets, another reminder that Small Markets Not Named San Antonio are second-class citizens. I'm just going to quote these. This is pure gold.Lamar Odom, quote machine: "I'm tired. I want to go home. I'm in the mood for pancakes."
"How awesome must it be to be Lakers fans? To nearly constantly feel the thrill of victory? Must be a lot better than us small market chumps"
"I just think it's awesome that the Lakers prove that there are people who win in this world and people who don't."
"Until the Lakers get their next superstar(s). Because that's what winners do."
"@PrausNichols I know! And the Smush years were way worse than most fans who wait entire lifetimes and never see any significant wins."
"@loverofsports Why do you say that? It's true, right? There are winners and there are losers. winners like Kobe and losers like Nash."
"@Smooth_Operatah That's what happens when you root for a loser. When he winds up in a big market he'll be healthier."
"@ColinZvosec Winners win and losers lose, bro. pick your train and riiiiiiide"
@ColinZvosec LA won because they're better, period. When it counts, winners win. It counted tonight. Had they lost, didn't count.
"Reality? Lakers are from Awesomeville, population: no losers"
"(brief departure into reality: the fact that games like tonight largely embody Steve Nash's career is slightly crushing) CAUSE HE'S A LOSER"
"Look at Pau Gasol. Those Memphis fans (ARE THERE MEMPHIS FANS? AMIRITE, LOL) never appreciated him. Because he wasn't a winner. Now he is."
@ValleyoftheSuns Best players are only on winning teams. Like the Lakers.
"@loverofsports Oh, yeah. How many times is Minny on TV? Does Minny have a Randy Newman song? Does Flea come to their games? DON'T THINK SO"
"poor Sasha Vujacic. He went from a 1.8 ppg winner to a 10.8 ppg loser in the same season."
"Matt Bonner? Scalabrine? Both redheaded and WINNERS! (redundant adjectives, I know)"
Kobe Bryant, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From multiple readers: "We did some good things, got our hands on balls."
Said John Wall: "They got whatever they wanted. It was like we weren't even out there."
It's gotta be surreal to have the "Clippers rookie" experience in Washington.
Update! Jordan Crawford and the Worst Pass in NBA History: Man, I must have been sick to miss this one. Fortunately, Basketbawful reader Gökhan had my back:
Kevin Johnson, quote machine: The former Suns great and current Sactown mayor on the possible relocation of the Kings to Anaheim: "The slow death is almost over. It's painful."
Basketbawful lacktion reporter chris, quote machine: "With Mayor Kevin Johnson sounding even more dejected than ever, let's just say I am on Mayflower Watch right now."
rbiegler, quote machine: From a fan post at Sactown Royalty: "The Maloofs are fucking idiots. Half-wits. Fat, tan, sweaty, party shirted douche bags. ... Do you people realize that for over a decade the fate of our franchise has been in the hands of middle aged men who frost their hair and wear Affliction t-shirts?"