Editor's note: I spent the weekend sick as a dog. Finally starting to recover. I almost pulled a Julian Wright and benched myself for Worst of the Weekend. But then I pulled a Leandro Barbosa and forced myself to perform. There's no need to thank me. Actually, scratch that. There's every need to thank me.
The New York Knicks: Prepare to be shocked out of your mind: On Friday night, Mike _'Antoni's Knicks let Brandon Jennings erupt for a season-high 37 points while also allowing the Bucks to explode (by their crappy-crap standards) for 102 points on 50/50 shooting. Hands were literally fleeing from the faces they were supposed to be in.
Said Amar''''''e Stoudemire: "We've got to fight more. We've definitely got to put a lot more effort out there on the court, play with a lot more energy. We've got to definitely want these games, I mean we haven't done nothing yet. We're not in the playoffs right now. I mean we have the seventh seed, but the way we're going, we're declining."
Added Carmelanoma Anthony: "We're going to try to figure it out as a team and you know when it happens them times will be fun. Basketball will be fun again. We won't have to worry about losing eight out of nine, or seven out of eight, or something like that. You know everybody is going to be smiling again and be happy. Right now, you know is hard to smile right now when you're losing games, I can tell you that."
That may be one of my all-time favorite quotes. Wow.
It's safe to say the Knicks didn't "figure it out as a team" by Saturday night. The Bobcraps -- who rank 29th in scoring at 93.1 PPG -- blew up for 114 points. Meanwhile, the Knicks shot 39 percent and trailed by as many as 20 before a fourth quarter rally that made the score look more respectable than it should have.
Six losses in a row. Nine of 10. A record of 7-12 since trading for 'Melo.
Three games below .500.
Said Carmelanoma: "For the most part, these are teams we should be beating. We talk about that among each other -- that some of these teams shouldn't even be on the court with us. But they're winning games and it's just something we have to figure out."
You know, that attitude may be part of the problem, 'Melo.
Added Chauncey Billups: "We've got a lot of talent, but as you know, talent isn't everything. Camaraderie and cohesiveness and being a good team beats talent every day of the week. When we get to a point where we get that, combined with the talent, we're going to be a very dangerous team."
The other 29 teams are shaking in their hightops, Chauncey.
Bonus stats: According to ESPN Stats and Information, 'Melo has been shooting 40 percent and has a plus-minus score of -24 during the fourth quarter of New York's last 10 games. During that same stretch, STAT has been shooting 37.9 percent and has a plus-minus score of -43.
Maybe when Billups said they were going to be a dangerous team, they meant dangerous to the hopes and dreams of their fans?
The Indiana Pacers: Reminder: This team is (in theory anyway) fighting to hold onto the last playoff spot in the East. That being the case, how do you explain a winless weekend, let alone one that included a 17-point home loss to the Soon-To-Be-Anaheim Kings followed by a double-digit road loss to the Shrinking-Detroit Pistons? No, really. How do you explain that?
Said Danny Granger: "We just gave away two games in the last two nights to two teams that wanted it more, and just let other teams right back in the hunt. We have to step it up and if we don't we will be out of the playoffs."
Well...yeah. That pretty much sums it up. But how'd it happen?
Said Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "It was our offense -- we didn't execute well and we are just struggling with our rhythm right now. Maybe we are tired from the month of March, but it is no excuse. We have to play to win every game."
Reality check: On Friday, the Kings scored 110 points against the Pacers, which is about 10 points more than their season average. On Saturday, the Pistons shot 51.3 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from downtown while finishing with an Offensive Rating of 111.3. I'm not sure offense is the problem.
The Detroit Pistons: They had a nice bounceback win over the Pacers, but any team that loses to the Cadavers is going to earn a WotW entry, especially when they get finished off by a clutch shot from Baron Davis.
Speaking of which, I loved Byron Scott's quote about B-Diddy's game-breaker: "As soon as he took the ball over to the right side, I knew he was going to shoot."
We all did, Byron. We all did.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Well, if they weren't winning with Kevin Love, should we really expect them to win without him? Probably not, although they get a unicorn sticker for keeping their weekend games against the Thunder and Celtics close. That said, this is their third seven-game losing streak of the season. They also have a couple of six-gamers.
Still, the Celtics game seemed like a moral victory, right? They came back from 25 points down and almost stole it.
Said Michael Beasley: "I feel like we showed a lot of character. We could've just let them beat us by 60 points. But we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win the last two minutes. Of course we wanted to win, but it didn't turn out that way. A lot of guys played well, and we learned a lot from this game."
Added Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis: "I loved the way that they got themselves back in the ballgame. They fought, they scratched, they clawed, they gave themselves a chance to win, and I was really proud of how they were able to do that."
Concluded Anthony Tolliver: "That was resiliency I haven't really seen all year,"
I expect the afterglow of this "almost win" to last until the Bulls visit the Target Center on Wednesday. At which time I expect it to be crushed with extreme prejudice.
The Boston Celtics: Ugh. Ugh I tell you. On Friday, the Celts went up by 13 points in the fourth quarter and then totally choked the lead away. The Bobcraps -- who had lost four in a row and 10 of their last 12 -- outscored Boston 30-15 in that final quarter (including a 16-0 run at one point) to win 83-81. One assumes this happened because the Celtics players were otherwise occupied...probably by adding Evanescence's "My Immortal" to the "We Fucking Miss You Perk" playlist on their iPods.
And Doc Rivers was pissed.
Said Doc: "The way we're playing shocks me. Our attitude shocks me. I just think we've become very, very selfish, not just as far as trying to get our own [shots], but everything is about how we're playing individually, instead of how the team is playing. A guy struggles, he pouts, he moans. Everything is me, me, me on our team right now, feeling sorry for themselves instead of giving themselves to the team and playing."
Countered Ray Allen: "It's not about making excuses, but I think the chemistry with the new guys is still being built."
Actually, that's the textbook definition of "making excuses," Ray.
As for Sunday's game against the T-Wolves, letting the second-worst team in the league come back from a 25-point deficit to take a brief fourth quarter lead before eking out an 85-82 victory didn't exactly reestablish my confidence in the C's.
The Toronto Craptors: Man. After a 38-point loss to the Warriors (who had lost six in a row going in) followed by a loss to the freaking Clippers, the only thing missing was Darth Vader's voice saying: "Now their failure is complete." Of course, no failure by the Craptors is complete without this:
Stepping back a second, here are some numbers from that loss in Gol_en State. In the first half, the Warriors scored an NBA season-high 84 points while shooting 68 percent from the field and 77 percent from beyond the arc. During that first 24 minutes, GSW had 20 assists and outrebounded the Craptorsaurs 20-12. The Warriors led by as many as 47 and finished with 138 points on 61 percent shooting.
The best part? Toronto coach Jay Triano tried to sub Julian Wright into the game...and Wright flat-out refused.
Said Triano: "We were six deep already at the wing spot. I asked him to go in, he didn't go in. That's fine. I just went back with Leandro."
Everything's okay, though. Wright apologized.
Said Wright: "The best way to put it is this was not characteristic of me. That's why I think this is (now) a thing of the past."
So far in the past, in fact, that Wright earned a DNP-CD against the Clippers.
Phoenix Suns: How to Not Qualify for the Playoffs by the Phoenix Suns. First, have a miserly owner who is determined to swallow the souls of his entire fan base. Next, let him manage the team into chaos and disaster. Then watch as an injured Steve Nash tries to make sense of his team's roster and a cruel fate that betrays him at every turn. Eventually, see a critical loss to the David West-less Hornets that may have been the result of Marcin Gortat destroying his nose on the back of Nash's head...which is apparently made of granite.
Follow that up with a nationally televised loss to the Mavericks in which a roster shakeup (Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley replaced Robin Lopez and Vince Carter in the starting lineup) led to improved defense (the Suns held Dallas to 38 percent shooting) but Jason "Jumpshot" Kidd gunned Phoenix down with back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter. It's just been that kind of season for the Suns.
Said Gortat: "After this game I don't think we're going to be talking about playoffs this year anymore."
I can't wait to see how Sarver messes up the team's lottery pick. Maybe he'll sell it for cash or something. You know, like the picks that became Andre Iguodala/Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo.
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan may not be having his greatest season, but his absence is apparently a pretty big deal. I'm guessing that, had Duncan been around, the Spurs wouldn't have gagged up a 96-90 lead in the final 1:21 of their game in Portland on Friday night. And I sincerely doubt it would have come down to this:
As for Sunday's loss to the Grizzlies, well, shit. No Timmy. Manu Ginobili left the game with a left quad contusion. Gregg Popovich left the game with an ejection. The Grizzlies shot 54.5 percent, scored 58 points in the paint and outrebounded the Spurs 40-27.
But hey. It was a close loss.
The New Jersey Nyets: A winless weekend? Well, yeah, but with Deron Williams sidelined by a wrist injury, their starting backcourt includes Jordan Farmar at the point and Sasha Vujacic at the two. I challenge any team to win with that trash starting at the guard positions. The Lakers didn't even trust those guys to be backups.
Even the Warriors' "Curse of the Career Highs" couldn't save the Generals. JaVale McGee had a career-high 28 points and tied his career-high with 18 rebounds...to no avail.
Said Washington coach Flip Saunders: "We're not good enough. That can be frustrating. But that's like if I run you in a race I'm going to probably beat you all 10 times because you're not as fast as me. Same thing right now. We're just young and not as talented as the teams we're playing."
Way to rally the troops, Flip. Damn.
The Philadelphia 76ers: There's been some buzz building about the Sixers, and it's worth noting that they're exactly one game over .500. They'd be three games over .500 if they hadn't lost an overtime game at home to...
...the Soon-To-Be-Anaheim Kings?!
Yes. Outplayed and outworked by a Kings squad that outrebounded them 58-36. Again, this happened in Philadelphia, people. The defining moment came when former Sixer Sammy Dalembert iced the game by hitting two free throws with 12 seconds left in OT.
But, really, it was rebounding that finished Philly.
Said Sixers coach Doug Collins: "They're huge. There's no question. Elton [Brand] had three rebounds in 39 minutes. Evan [Turner] had one in 20 minutes. Thad [Young] had one in 18."
And there ya go.
The New Orleans Hornets: Sunday's game against the Lakers was a potential first round playoff preview. In which case, the Hornets can go ahead and start planning their post-sweep vacations.
Chris's Mega Weekend Lacktion Report:
Nyets-Magic: Quinton Ross bricked and fouled once each in 3:52 for a +2, while Stephen Graham was perfectly aiming (once) in Paperboy...in just 42 seconds for a non-lacktive Mario!
Bobcats-Celtics: Eduardo Najera fouled and lost the rock once each in 5:50 for a +2.
Sixers-Heat: Andres Nocioni notched a foul and brick for a +2 in 5:02.
For the Twotles, Joel Anthony earned a 3:2 Voskuhl in 9:48 by negating two boards with a brick, two fouls, and a turnover - the same statline that Jamaal Magloire gathered in 3:06. Juwan Howard powered up his arcade Donkey Kong cabinet in 48 seconds for a graybeard Mario.
Bucks-Knicks: Jon Brockman took a monster rejection and tossed a brick in 4:43 for a +2.
Meanwhile, the latest members to the Madison Square Garden season-ticket-holder base were Jared Jeffries and Roger Mason Jr., each gathering up 2.35 trillion (2:21)!!!
Grizzlies-Bulls: Kurt Thomas towed two rebounds in 12:27, only to foul thricely for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Wolves-Thunder: Cole Aldrich collected a board and rejection in 1:15 for a +2, while in three fewer seconds, Royal Ivey earned the same suck differential via turnover and...a miss from Bricktown.
Generals-Nuggets: Othyus Jeffers made contact with a Koopa Troopa in just 3 seconds for a foul that gathered a +1, and a SUPER MARIO!
Hornets-Suns: Jason Smith surrendered a rejection and two misses in 4:54 for a +3.
Phoenix's Robin Lopez laid another egg on shot attempts, and countered a board with four fouls and a turnover in 3:54 as starting big man, earning a 5:1 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Garret Siler slid into a spiky zone in 56 seconds for a foul that led to a +1, a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl...and a Mario!
Spurs-Frail Blazers: THE Steve Novak went back to lacktion today, losing the rock once in 1:27 for a +1.
Nyets-Hawks: Damien Wilkins went +1 via brick in 6:24.
Knicks-Bobcats: Roger Mason Jr. fouled and bricked once each for a +2 in 4:47.
Mavs-Jazz: DeShawn Stevenson bricked once from the ZCMI store for a +1 in 5:26, while Brian Cardinal produced a payoff of 3.7 trillion (3:44).
The Purple Paupers Who Are Somehow On A THREE GAME WINNING STREAK While Gavin Maloof Gets A Direct Hotline To Mayflower Vans-Sixers: Pooh Jeter fried a portobello in 54 seconds for a Mario, while former pauper Andres Nocioni bricked once and fouled twice in 2:20 for a +3.
Hawks-Sad Cadavers: Hilton Armstrong rented an assist in 1:40, but was billed a foul on his final bill for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Manny Harris handily bricked from Burke Lakefront Airport for a +1 in 1:57, the same timespan Joey Graham fouled in for the same suck differential.
Rockets-Hornets: Eddie House tossed FIVE bricks (twice from Interstate 95) for a +5 in 5:46!
Spurs-Grizzlies: James Anderson had 27 seconds to turn on his Game Boy for a Mario that went non-lacktive with one board, while THE Steve Novak had 35 seconds of lighter-than-air life with Kirby for his own purely lacktive Mario!
Celtics-Wolves: Minnesota's Wayne Ellington fouled once and baked three pieces of masonry (once from St. Anthony's Falls) for a +4 in 6:54.
Hornets-Lakers: Jason Smith missed once for a +1 in 4:07, while Los Angeles's Joe Smith climbed a few ladders in 26 seconds for a Mario.