Editor's Note: I didn't have time to incorporate all the submissions for Worst of the Weekend due to some harsh deadlines at my Clark Kent job. So don't think it's because I don't love you.
Indiana Pacers: They had a 36-13 lead after one quarter of play. And lost. At home. "The NBA is a game of runs, and it's unfortunate to say you get up 20 in the first quarter and get nervous about it," center Jeff Foster said. Well, I can tell you this: Committing 19 turnovers (which the Sixers turned into 21 points) and giving up 20 offensive rebounds is enough to make any team nervous...and give them the "runs."
Andre Iguodala: Iggy shot 2-for-12 from the field. On the season, he's averaging 12.4 PPG on 37 percent shooting. Clearly he's having trouble adjusting to Philly's personnel change. Then again, he did sign that $80 million contract last summer...so we might be witnessing the standard Contract Year Phenomenon fallout.
Maceo Baston: He had a six-second Super Mario against the Sixers.
The Utah Jazz: The Jazzercizers were missing Deron Williams (ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (finger) and Mehmet Okur (with his sick father in Turkey), which pretty much explains why they shot 43 percent and had more turnovers (20) than assists (17) in a 104-96 loss to the (ugh) Bobcats. But still: A lousy performance is a lousy performance. Said Jerry Sloan: "When they put pressure on us, we went crazy a few times. That's when we either turned the ball over or took tough shots with no purpose." Pretty much, yeah.
Jarron Collins and Kyrylo Fesenko: They earned DNP-CDs despite how shorthanded the Jazz were. You know Jerry Sloan hates you when...
The Atlanta Hawks: Everybody has been talking about how Devin Harris scored 30 in his return, but Atlanta's real failure was letting rookie Brook Lopez go off for 25 points (11-for-17), 9 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. I'm pretty sure that "ability to stop Brook Lopez" is sort of a prerequisite for winning in the NBA.
Mario West: Our boy had a seven-second Super Mario against the Nets. It's worth noting, however, that West managed to grab an offensive rebound in his latest :07-seconds-or-less stint. He's trying. He really is.
The Washington Wizards: Okay. This team is really starting to depress even me. They fell to an Eastern Conference-worst 1-6 after getting steamrolled by the Heat. The Wiz scored only 77 points. They shot 40 percent, missed eight (of 18) freethrows, amassed only 12 assists and got pounded on the boards (52-33). Antawn Jamison (15 points, 10 rebounds) was the only starter to reach double figures...and he basically threw a tantrum about it. He said his team has "to have some pride." He also said: "This is something that is unacceptable and something we can't tolerate at all. We're going over what we need to do in the morning and we get out on the court and we don't do it. Nothing is missing. Nothing is missing at all. It's guys just not getting it done." So says the man whose stats -- and I man all of 'em -- have dropped off significantly since he signed a $50 million contract extension over the summer. Physician: Heal thyself.
Mark Blount: He got five minutes of PT against the Wiz and finished with...1 turnover. Period. That's like showing up to a company pot luck and only contributing the potato salad that gave everybody diarrhea. That's what Blount is at this point: Spoiled potato salad. He's making over $7 million this season, by the way, and he'll make almost $8 million next season. Which fills me with a red-hot rage.
New York Knicks: Sure, they won and thereby improved their record to a semi-unbelievable 6-3 -- somewhere Isiah Thomas is weeping, by the way -- but they still almost let the Oklahoma City Thunder come back from a 30-point deficit and steal the victory. Said Zach Randolph: "The way we play, uptempo, it can happen like that." Ah. Being intimately familiar with Mike D'Antoni-coached teams, I can tell you that "uptempo" is just a fun euphemism for "We wouldn't play defense if somebody paid us. And somebody IS paying us."
Kevin Durant: Last year's ROY shot 8-for-21 against a team that wouldn't play defense if you attached electrodes to their genitals and threatened to give them a deadly jolt every time the other team scored. He also grabbed only 2 rebounds...which is two fewer than the tiny Nate Robinson, who played eight fewer minutes but finished with 4. On the season, Durant and Robinson are averaging an identical 4.1 RPG. Durant is a full foot taller, by the way. Isn't it kind of sad that three of this year's rookies -- Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo -- are already better than last year's best rook? I'll go ahead and answer that afor you: Yes, it is.
Blazers versus Hornets: You know, maybe it's just me, but when two up-and-coming teams stocked with young talent face each other, I don't expect to see an 87-82 brickfest where the two squads combine to shoot 9-for-32 in the fourth quarter. In the words of Bill S. Preston Esquire and "Ted" Theodore Logan, that's bogus.
Mike James: From CP3's primary backup to DNP-CD, just like that. Why? Well, coach Byron Scott provided a few hints last week: "In this offense, what [James] needs to do is really look to get everybody the ball. I don't know if he can do it or not. I think Mike has been programmed his whole career to be a score-first point guard. On this team, that's not what we really need right now. So he has to try and change his focus and do a better job running the team and getting guys involved. Obviously, the first seven games have not been the best for him."
Ouch. And here was James' response: "If I'm out there for two minutes or out there 20 minutes, I'm going to play my game. I'm just going to do what got my name and credibility in this league. I'm just going to be aggressive, make plays, score or pass. It's freedom of mind." With that attitude, Mike, it's going to be less "freedom of mind" and more "riding the pine." Good luck handing out Gatorade during timeouts, Mike.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: This rookie is turning out to be pretty darn good -- he had 19 points and 17 rebounds against the Grizzlies -- but he might very well have the worst NBA name ever. He needs a nickname, and fast. Anybody have any ideas?
Michael Redd: He, along with Deron Williams and Kevin Martin are killing my fantasy basketball season. Man, screw you guys. Sorry. Bitterness over now.
Austin Croshere: He finished 0-for-1 with 1 turnover for a suck differential of +2. And I should give the Pacers a retroactive Worst of the Ever for signing this guy to that ginormous contract back in 2000.
The Boston Celtics: The C's are learning what it's like to be the champs. Everybody gets fired up to play them, and every game feels like a playoff showdown. The Nuggets, for instance, weren't nearly as juiced in their previous game against the Cavaliers. But they sure brought it against the Celtics. Allen, Garnett and Pierce are still doing what they do, but the rest of the team is wilting under the pressure. Rajon Rondo had 7 assists and 7 steals, but his offense remains a liability (1-for-8, 2 points). Kendrick Perkins tries really hard, but his speed and mobility are sorely lacking; Perk was getting killed in his matchup against Nene (14 points, 7-for-10, 7 rebounds, 5 steals), who repeatedly took the Beast off the dribble and even stole the ball from him in a critical late-game possession when the Celts were only down 87-84. The bench, outside of Eddie House, was a disaster of 1987-esque proportions: Glen Davis had zero points and zero rebounds in 15 minutes; Tony Allen had 1 point and 2 fouls in almost 14 minutes; Leon KA-Powe had 1 point, 4 boards and 2 turnovers in 10 minutes; Patrick O'Bryant and Gabe Pruitt each had 45-second Marios; and Brian Scalabrine had a DNP-CD. The lack of bench production forced Doc Rivers to play Allen and Pierce 40 minutes each, and KG logged 35 minutes. That's not the optimum formula for a repeat.
The Dallas Mavericks: The Orlando Magic won in Dallas for the first time in a decade despite falling behind by 15 points early and trailing by 11 in the fourth quarter. The Mavs, on the other hand, managed to lose despite having the advantage in field goal percentage, rebounding, points in the paint and fast break points. Dallas is now 2-7...a full half-game behind the 3-7 Grizzlies. Their current five-game skid is the longest losing streak since a six-gamer they had from February 29 to March 9, 2000. And that was the last season the Mavericks failed to qualify for the playoffs. [Insert foreboding music here.]
Spurs versus Rockets: AAAAAHH!! Damn my eyes!!
Tracy McGrady, quote machine: "This was a game we should have won," said McGrady, who shot 2-for-12 and finished with 7 points. "We had it in our pocket. We didn't play any defense." Um, yeah. Look, Tracy. When your team holds its opponent to 77 points but scores only 75 on 40 percent shooting, I'm thinking defense isn't the problem. It was awfully nice of you, though, to pull a no-show to make up for the fact that you didn't get suspended for throwing Nash to the floor the other night. Very magnanimous of you.
The Sacramento Kings: The Suns were missing three starters -- Steve Nash (suspended), Matt Barnes (suspended), and Leandro Barbosa (his mother passed away) -- and the Kings still couldn't pull out the home win. Mostly because Shaq (29 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) and Grant Hill (22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) returned from the mists of time to lead Phoenix to victory.
Shaq, quote machine: "Back in the day when we had a rivalry going, it was much louder and we had the guy with the cowbell going. Come back guy with the cowbell." You heard the Diesel, cowbell guy. Time to step up.
The Los Angeles Lakers: Prior to the game, the broadcasters and sideline reporter were engaged in a gratuitous display of Laker butt-kissing, and the talk wasn't about whether L.A. could beat the Pistons...it was whether they were going to match the best start in NBA history (15-0). That discussion can officially end, though, since the Lakers weren't able to even make it to 8-0. Detroit controlled the entire game and showed us how the Lakers can be beaten. First off, as talented as they are on offense, the Forum Blue and Goldians can be stopped by a sound, fundamental defensive plan executed by a team with a few versatile defensive players. Also, while the Lakers certainly have a significant size advantage against most teams, their team speed is lacking. By a lot. I don't think there was a single L.A. player who didn't get taken off the dribble at least once on Friday night...even Kobe. This enabled the Pistons to basically get any shot they wanted (they hit almost 51 percent of their field goals on the night).
Furthermore, the Lakers' second unit -- which has been the prime mover of the team's strong start -- is also full of slow, limited athletes. They make up for their deficiencies with a swarming, gambling defense which generates turnovers and enables them to score a lot of easy transition baskets. But that sort of D -- which was employed liberally by the Nuggets last season -- isn't effective against teams (like Detroit) who can execute and take care of the basketball. And all that gambling and scrambling, when it doesn't work, leaves players wide open for easy shots.
Even more interesting was the play of Kwame Brown, the much-maligned former Laker who responded to boos from the L.A. crowd by going off for 10 points (4-for-5), 10 rebounds and 3 assists. He also did a good job on Pau Gasol, blocking one of the Spanish Marshmallow's shots and drawing a charging call against him in the fourth quarter. And, for one night at least, he was superior to Andrew Bynum, who finished with 8 points (3-for-7) and 9 rebounds. Said Phil Jackson: "He outplayed Andrew [Bynum] in a game that was essentially a matchup."
Kobe Bryant: He shot 12-for-30 and reverted at times to the Mamba of old, particularly when he tried to force his offense against Tayshaun Prince. It was another one of those situations where it seemed as if Kobe wanted to prove that, "Hey, I can score against this guy any time I want." He also fell into his old habit of trying to bring the Lakers back in the fourth quarter by dribbling around the perimeter and forcing up threes that everybody in the building knew he was going to take. Sure, he hit a couple, but he finished 2-for-7 from downtown...and that's not the way the Lakers win games. But he always seems to forget that when things aren't going their way.
The Los Angeles Clippers: They shot 39 percent on the way to getting blown out by the Warriors in L.A., falling to a pitiful 1-8 in the process. And undrafted rookie Anthony Marrow kicked them in the left groin with 37 points (15-for-20) and 11 boards. Say it with me: They are who we thought they were.
Marco Belinelli: My bologna has a first name, it's M-A-R-C-O. The Italian Stallion played 6 minutes and contributed naught but 2 personal fouls. That's a suck differential of +2.
Marcus Williams versus Steve Novak: You can file this one under "Epic Confrontations," folks. The Clips' Novak had his 19-second Mario matched and surpassed by the Warriors' Williams and his 26-second Mario.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: They completed a winless weekend in Philadelphia, where they connected on only 39 percent of their chuckers and lost by 25. Kevin Durant shot 6-for-18 and turned the ball over 5 times. Nick Collison missed all seven of his field goal attempts. Earl Watson had more turnovers (6) than points (4). Johan Petro and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 6-for-22 off the bench. The only bright side of Clay Bennett's superdickery, it seems, is that the people of Seattle aren't being forced to watch this truly dismal 1-9 team.
The Atlanta Hawks: That 6-0 start seems so very far away. On Saturday night, the dirty birds lost their third straight game, with the latest loss being a double-digit booty-smacking by the Nets. New Jersey scored 119 points on 55 percent shooting and got an incredible 43 points off their bench. Said Atlanta coach Mike Woodson: "We've lost some of our defensive swagger, intensity or whatever you want to call it." Whatever I want to call it? How about flibbertigibbet? Can I call it that, coach? Hm. Maybe...maybe the Hawks are who we thought they were, after all?
Maurice Ager: The line: 3 fouls and 1 turnover in two and a half minutes. That's a +4 suck differential, which might be the season-high since we started tracking that stat.
Devin Harris, quote machine: After dropping 33 and 10 on the Hawks, Devin was feeling a little full of himself. "I'm in attack mode, commanding the paint." Pretty ego-tastic for somebody who got chumped by a guy in a sweater vest a couple months ago...
Jerry Sloan, quote machine: Considering the fact that they were still missing Deron Williams, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring, the Jazz put up a pretty good fight on the road against a surging Cavs team. But Jerry Sloan got pretty riled up over his team's winless weekend and their "defense" on LeBron James, who scored 16 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter. "We didn't even get close enough to guard him at times. You have to compete against the guy. If you say, 'I'm not going to touch him,' you'll be saying that 20 years from now. You might as well get an autograph and go home." Wicked. When asked if his players backed down a little bit in guarding James, Sloan said: "A little bit? It was like we were afraid to even touch him." You know, Jerry's been around for such a long time. I wish he would just open up and tell us what he really thinks.
Sasha Pavlovic: He played only four minutes against the Jazz, going 0-for-1 and stealing the ball once. He has now gone eight straight games without hitting a single shot. In fact, he hasn't converted a field goal since going 3-for-6 in the season opener. He's scored 11 points this season.
LeBron James: The King admitted that he has Barry Manilow on his iPod. No, really. Now, "Mandy" and "Copacabana" I can understand, but "I Am Your Child"? Way to go, LeBron. You have earned -5 cool points.
Ike Diogu: He barely escaped having a Super Mario by notching a whole 11 seconds against the Grizzlies. Man, the president of my high school math team got more action than this guy.
Cedric Simmons and Lindsey Hunter: They each had a 58-second Mario against the Pacers. But whereas Lindsey was 0-for-everything, Simmons managed to grab a rebound and squeeze off two shots in his less-than-a-minute stint. Oh, and one of those shots was blocked.
Tyrus Thomas: The "Coulda been LeMarcus Aldridge" Kid logged only 6 minutes against the Pacers, going 0-for-3 for zero points, 3 rebounds and 2 fouls. He's this close to being out of the rotation. I'm sure the fact that he's shooting 28 percent has something to do with that.
Derrick Rose, quote machine: "They are giving it to me. I'd be a fool not to shoot it. My teammates want me to shoot and if I don't, they yell at me or tell the coach probably to get me out of the game." Be warned, rest of the NBA. The kid is going to shoot.
The New Orleans Hornets: This team is having trouble scoring. They've been in the 80s in four of their last five games. On the season, they're averaging only 93.7 PPG on 44.7 percent shooting. Against the Rockets, they scored 82 on 40 percent shooting. Chris Paul was 2-for-10 (0-for-5 in the first half). Mo Pete was 3-for-8. Tyson Chandler had only 4 rebounds. Peja was 1-for-5. And then there was...
Mike James: The Amityville Scorer -- yes, that's his actual nickname -- had his second straight DNP-CD on Saturday. Uh, how's that "freedom of mind" working out for you, Mike?
Ron Artest: Ron-Ron had 7 assists and zero turnovers, but he also shot 3-for-10 from the field. He's currently hitting 32 percent of his field goals, and he's shot 50 percent exactly once this season.
The Yao Watch: It was a bad weekend for TYW. Ming attempted 21 shots over two games and none of them were blocked. Huh. I must have reverse stat-cursed him.
Celtics versus Bucks: Overtime games are supposed to be exciting, but this one? It was exciting in the same way that following the World Bridge Games is "exciting." The teams combined for 90 missed field goals, 74 free throws, 62 personal fouls, nine technicals, four foul outs (Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, Luke Ridnour) and one ejection (Andrew Bogut). Watching this game made me hate myself a little bit. Actually, make that a lot.
Kobe Bryant: Trimmed his toenails in the Lakers locker room and left the clippings on the floor in front of Luke Walton's locker.
Jamario Moon: He lost his starting job to Andrea Bargnani. That's gotta be like getting picked last in high school gym class. You know, after the Special Ed student and the fat kid.
Dwight Howard: Not only did the Charlotte Bobcats -- yes, the Bobcats -- manage to shut him down (4 points, 0-for-3), they also fouled him out in just under 26 minutes of lack-tion. That's less like Superman and more like Elastic Lad.
J.J. Redick: He finally got some PT! Sadly, all he did was turn the ball over once in nearly three minutes. I'm really looking forward to the day when I hear the words, "Hello! I'm former NBA star J.J. Redick! We don't serve hamburgers here...we serve STEAKBURGERS!"
The New York Knicks' defense: That's it. From now on Mike D'Antoni is just Mike 'Antoni. His Knickerbockers gave up 124 points and season-highs to both Dirk Nowtizki (39) and Josh Howard (31). At this point, Zach Randolph would probably just hand over his wallet, without complain, if you just politely suggested it. Oh, note also that 'Antoni is establishing his typical seven to eight-man rotation where three or four guys play 40+ minutes. Of course, it's easy to save energy when you only play at one end of the court.
Jason Kidd: New York doesn't D anybody up and he STILL shot 1-for-7?
The Detroit Pistons: They followed up Friday's smackdown of the then-undefeated Lakers by getting skewered by the Suns...who got less than a half out of Shaq (see below). Detroit couldn't shoot (39 percent), couldn't get a stop (almost 57 percent for Phoenix) and they spent most of the game looking up at a double-digit deficit. It's probably worth noting, however, that this was the Pistons' fifth game in eight days and the last of four straight road games (and the third in four nights). So, you know, they might have been a little gassed.
Shaq the Detroyer: He was called for a flagrant 2 foul and ejected after nearly killing Rodney Stucky. The Big Excuser tried to explain it away (see below), but seriously, this foul would have gotten Shaq charged with attempted manslaughter in some states. (But remember, you can't have "manslaughter" without "laughter"!) Actually, this play kind of reminds me of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline, only if McHale was a giant gorilla and Rambis was a frail midget.
Shaq spent a few minutes strenuously objecting to his dismissal, and after the game the Big Rationalizer said: "The laws of physics say that a body in motion stays in motion. So if you have two objects meet in the air, the smaller object is going to fall much harder. I've never been the type of player to take anybody out, so I obviously went to the ball. The little guy ran into a brick wall." Hm. Brick walls don't usually come flying at you with flailing arms. But whatever. I typically avoid arguing with men who could turn me into a bloody smear on the wall with one clubbing blow.
Update! Rip Hamilton and Will Bynum: The Phantom of Auburn Hills had a layup swatted by Steve Nash, and Bynum got a jumper stuffed by Goran Dragic. Those are two men who should never, ever block your shots, unless you're playing in a wheelchair.
Rodney Stucky: Seriously, kid, I know you're fearless and stuff. But that's sort of what you get for trying to dunk on Shaq. The Surgeon General warns that's freaking hazardous to your health.
Referee Ken Mauer: Yeah, he got the Shaq call right, but he also gave Suns assistant Alvin Gentry a technical for asking, "Who is the foul on?" That cannot be the worst thing anybody has ever said to him.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: They held their opponent, the Denver Nuggets, to 33 percent shooting. And lost. "The way that we've been losing, we know that things can turn around and eventually we will get a win," Jason Collins said. "We have to get things rolling from there. It starts at one." Yeah. Good luck getting that one, Jason.
The Denver Nuggets: I might have already mentioned this, but they shot only 33 percent against the Minnesota Timberwolves. And sure, they won, but that's the kind of win you should give back...like when you beat your 5-year-old niece at Candyland. "I don't know how many games in the league are won by 33-percent shooting," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Maybe less than five probably all season long." I was thinking less than one, but whatever.
Kurt Thomas and Ime Udoka: They Spurs are seriously (and obviously) undermanned right now...yet both of these players received a DNP-CD against the Kings. I'm sure Kurt was being embalmed or something, but what's Ime's excuse? Oh. Right. He sucks.
Kobe Bryant: While eating a large plate of nachos, he wiped his greasy fingers on the couch cushions when nobody was looking.