Sorry this is late, folks. Even I need a holiday, apparently.
Spurs-Lakers Game 2
San Antonio Spurs: The seven-game series with the Hornets, that night spent sleeping on a grounded plane, the devastating choke job in Game 1 of this series, their age...it was like all of those things caught up with them at once in Game 2. The Spurs shot 34 percent as a team -- including 6-for-23 from three -- and they got slowly and methodically crushed in the second half en route to a 30-point rout. The champs were a step slow everywhere, especially on defense, where they allowed the Lakers to shoot 55 percent.
Manu Ginobili: Manu was San Antonio's worst player in the first game, and he was just as bad -- maybe worse -- in Game 2. Shoeless Joe Ginobili was 2-for-8 from the field, 0-for-4 from distance, and finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 2 fouls in 23 pointless minutes.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker: The other two members of the Spurs' three amigos were better than Ginobili...but not by much. Timmy had a double-double (12 points, 16 rebounds), but he shot 6-for-14, missed all four of his freethrows, and put on his invisibility cloak in the second half. TP finished with 13 points on 15 shots and had a game-high 4 turnovers. Like Duncan, Parker was a non-factor in the second half and he never figured out a way to crack L.A.'s interior defense.
Fabricio Oberto: I could easily include Oberto in every "Worst of" post based only on his various hair crimes against humanity. Seriously, is that hairstyle cool anywhere? Well, from what I saw on ArgentinaHair.com, I guess it is. Anyway, Fabulous Fabricio is here because of his team-worst +/- score of -26 in only 22 minutes of lack-tion (he grabbed only 2 rebounds in that time).
Robert Horry: The line: Zero points, 0-for-5, 4 rebounds in 14 minutes. Every time I see Cheap Shot play these days, I hear an egg timer going off. Translation: He's done.
Damon Stoudamire: Mighty Mouse finally got into a game, thanks to the glories of garbage time. But apparently, Damon can't even handle that; he scored zero points on 0-for-5 shooting and dished 1 lonely assist in 9 minutes. On the bright side, he outrebounded Oberto 3-2.
Detroit Pistons: After stealing Game 2 in Boston, the Pistons were in the driver's seat in this series. They then drove their playoff car directly into a tree, losing Game 3 at home 94-80. Detroit was 28-for-73 (38 percent) from the field and 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. They also got outrebounded 44-28.
Chauncey Billups: Mr. Big Shot continues to struggle, whether because of his gimpy hamstring or, as Flip Saunders has suggested, because he's out of synch from the missed games against the Magic and the layoff that followed. Whatever the case, Billups finished Game 3 with 6 points on 1-for-6 shooting and had the worst +/- score on the team (-25). At this point, I wouldn't blame Saunders for benching him in favor of Rodney Stuckey (17 points, 4 assists, 4 steals).
Tayshaun Prince: Prince or pauper? Tayshaun scored 4 points on 2-for-11 shooting, and his +/- score of -23 was barely worse than Chauncey's.
Amir Johnson: Since Aaron Afflalo got a DNP-CD, Amir stepped in to submit Detroit's nightly mario.
Boston Celtics: The Leprechauns probably would have won Game 3 by 30 had they not gone into the NBA-equivalent of the prevent defense for most of the fourth quarter. This allowed the Pistons to cut a 20-plus-point lead to single digits before finally succumbing. Why would Doc Rivers go away from what had been working? Instead of pushing the ball and trying to extend the lead, the Celtics started walking the ball up, dribbling 23 seconds off the shot clock, and then rushing up several forced shots that didn't have a prayer. It was ugly, and stupid, even if it did "work."
Rajon Rondo: He had more turnovers (5) than assists (4). Not good for a starting point guard.
Sam Cassell: Dude wasn't even letting the ground touch the ball. (From Odenized.)
Spurs-Lakers Game 3
ESPN Daily Dime: From Basketbawful reader PickNPop: "Today's poll in ESPN's Daily Dime jumped the gun on Stern's fairytale script of a Lakers/Celtics Finals by insinuating that the Lakers already won a game in San Antonio this series." Oops. But I'm sure it was just a semantic mistake.
Los Angeles Lakers: I expected the Spurs to play better at home in Game 3 than they did on the road in Game 2, but I didn't expect the Lakers to totally self-destruct. But that's what happened. The L.A. defense got roasted from the field (where the Spurs shot 51 percent) and especially from distance (where the champs were 10-for-18). They also forgot how to pass the ball, which would explain why they had only 13 assists on their 35 field goals.
Lamar Odom: From Game 2 hero to Game 3 goat, Lamar shot 2-for-11 from the field, 3-for-8 from the line, and committed a game-high 5 turnovers. But I guess that's what happens when your last name is an anagram for "doom."
Sasha Vujacic: Remember all that great defense he was playing on Manu Ginobili? Didn't happen this time. Manu finished with 30 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 5-for-7 from downtown (although, to be fair, Manu was burning pretty much everybody). Sasha wasn't much help on the offensive end, either, finishing with 4 points on 1-for-5 shooting.
Kobe Bryant: The MVP scored at will (30 points, 13-for-23) but he set a bad precedent with his passing, which was equal parts stingy (1 assist) and errant (4 turnovers).
Damon Stoudamire: After his stunningly awful Game 2 performance, Matt Bonner got Mighty Mouse's garbage minutes in Game 3. Matt Bonner.
Charles Barkley: He thinks San Antonio is fat. Doesn't he know people in glass houses sink ships? Or something like that.
Pistons-Celtics Game 4
Boston Celtics: They went back into "Road Mode" for Game 4, shooting 31 percent from the field and 1-for-9 from The Land of Three. They also had more turnovers (14) than assists (12). Their defense also surrendered 51 percent shooting and forced the Pistons into only 7 turnovers. Oh, and they let Antonio McDyess (21 points, 16 rebounds) have his best playoff game in over ten years.
Ray Allen: After a brief reunion, Ray-Ray's jump shot has left him once again. Allen was 2-for-8, and he even boned two straight freethrows late in the game that killed what little hope the Celtics had left.
Rajon Rondo and Sam Cassell: Boston's two-headed point guard attack apparently needs a third head. Rondo finished with 4 points (2-for-8) and 4 assists, while Sam-I-Am had zero points (0-for-3) and zero assists.
Paul Pierce: The Celtic captain finished with 16 points and 8 boards, but he shot 3-for-14, missed all three of his three-point attempts, and committed a game-high 4 turnovers. Oh, and three of his shots got stuffed.
Eddie House and Tony Allen: They got put into the game for garbage time, and they each submitted a garbage-worth one trillion.
Kendrick Perkins: From Odenized: "At 0:20, Kendrick Perkins says, 'f*** these fools,' referring to the Pistons. Does Perkins act with too much cockiness or is his confidence his greatest strength?" Uh, I'm gonna go with the former rather than the latter.
Chauncey Billups: He did hit a big-time three in the fourth quarter to help finish the Celtics off, but that hardly made up for the rest of the game, during which he scored 7 points on 2-for-11 shooting. He and Ray Allen need to find a missing jump shot support group.
Tayshaun Prince: He played more minutes than anybody else on either team (40), but you could barely tell based on his line: 7 points, 3-for-12, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 fouls. Of course, he did play a big part in Detroit's stifling defense.
Flip Saunders: Yeah, it's hard to criticize a coach too much after his team wins a big playoff game by 19. However...Flip made a decision in the third quarter that still has me shaking my head. When Rasheed Wallace got into foul trouble, Saunders replaced him with the creaky Theo Ratliff (2 points, 2 rebounds) instead of the on-fire Jason Maxiell (14 points, 6-for-6). Why?
Stupid people: Look. For the love of all that's holy. Kobe didn't jump over a moving car, and he certainly didn't jump over a pool full of snakes. I mean, why do some people need to have this stuff explained to them. Enjoy the viral video for what it is, but come on...
Idle hands: From Basketbawful reader 80s NBA: "Looks like Steve Nash and Baron Davis need to find some better off-season hobbies." Well, you know, they aren't in the playoffs or anything...