Ricky Davis: The Clippers signed "Get Buckets" as a free agent last July and former Vice President of Basketball Hell Elgin Baylor was totally sort of positive: "We believe he will be a good addition. His versatility and ability to shoot from the outside will spread the floor and help our low post players." Sadly, there's no such thing as a "good addition" when it comes to the Clippers, and "Grits N Gravy" is currently getting paid $2.3 million to sit out with a sore knee. As it stands, Davis has appeared in only 13 games and is averaging 4.3 points on 27 percent shooting. Mind you, Davis is only 29, which means that, in theory, he's in his prime.
But whatever. We all know "Mongoose Quick Rick" sucks. That's not news. What is news is Ricky's five-game suspension for violating terms of the NBA's drug program. Basically, he couldn't stay away from the ganja. (Josh Howard feels your pain, Ricky.) According to NBA.com, "The suspension will begin Tuesday night when the Clippers face Sacramento." So, whew, he'll be eligible to return to the Clippers' lineup as soon as January 8 in San Antonio. Which is great, since they Clips probably couldn't beat the Spurs without him.
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy's "team statement generator" said: "We've been informed of the league's action concerning Ricky Davis and we will comply with all terms of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement. Beyond this statement, we will have no further comment on this matter." We can only assume that by "Ricky Davis...will comply with all the terms of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement" he actually means that "Ricky will continue to toke up and we just hope he isn't caught again any time soon. But if he is, well, meh. Whatever."
He said / He said: As reported here yesterday, Stephen Jackson proclaimed to the world that Baron Davis allegedly wants to return to the Golden State Warriors. (Which would be a classic "out of the frying pan and into the fire" situations, but that's neither here nor there.) Of course, I also noted in my writeup that "Jackson is so nutty that he's as likely to have gotten that information from a sock puppet as the actual B-Diddy." Well, there might be some credence to that sock puppet theory, because Davis now says that he never said what Jackson said he said. Here's the clarification:
"No, I don't want out," he told The Times on Monday at practice. "I don't know what Stephen Jackson got from my conversation. That never came out of my mouth.
"I'm here. I'm here doing the same thing I did at Golden State. The first year I got to Golden State it was rough. It was a tough season. We were figuring each other out, figuring out the system. That transition year is always a tough year."
He did confirm some elements of Jackson's account.
"We talked about how I miss playing with him. When you see people, you miss what you had," Davis said. "Obviously, in no way shape or form am I ready to jump ship.
"That's not why I came here. That's not why I committed to come here. I'm committed here to turn this thing around. I like the talent on this team, I like the promise.
"The team is going to get better. My job is to continue to get better and make this year as positive and productive as we possibly can."
So there you have it. Captain Jack was just being Captain Jack. Please disperse. Nothing to see here. You'll notice, though, that his carefully chosen words were lukewarm at best, and there's nothing whatsoever in his comments to suggest that he's loving it in L.A. So let's just say I'm not convinced that B-Dizzle is going to retire as a Clipper.
Premature Expectations, Part I: The Atlanta Hawks just wrapped up an eight-game homestand in which they went 7-1, which upped their overall record to 20-10. According to the AP game recap, that means the Hawks have reached 20 wins before New Year's Day for the first time since the glorious 1987-88 season, when they went 50-32 and were good enough to lose in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in dramatic fashion. So now the talk is about Atlanta seeking their first 50-win season since 1997-98*. Said Marvin Williams: "I've never been on a 50-win team. The guys are really looking for it."
Here's the thing: Eight-game home stands are pretty rare. In point of fact, Hawks coach Mike Woodson couldn't remember another homestand that long in his 26 years as an NBA player and coach. Now the Hawks, who are 6-8 on the away from home this season and have lost three of their last four roadies, are entering a January stretch in which they have to play nine games on the road sandwiched between some pretty tough home games (including contests between Houston, Orlando and Phoenix). I'm not saying they can't continue their winning ways. What I am saying is that it's very early, and I've seen teams with a lot of early home games wilt and wither as the season progresses. I just don't think this is a 50-win team. I'm calling mid-40s.
*It astounds me that that '97-98 team won 50 games with a starting lineup of Mookie Blaylock, Steve Smith, Tyrone Corbin, Christian Laettner and Dikembe Mutumbo (and with Alan Henderson being their best player off the bench). Even more amazing is that their 50-32 record was only good for FOURTH in their own division, behind Chicago (62-20), Indiana (58-24) and Charlotte (51-31).
Premature Expectations, Part II: After Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points on 13-for-19 shooting on Sunday night, many people declared that 'Melo was back. But let's face it, folks: He did that against the Knicks, who wouldn't play defense even if you threatened to throw their grandmas into a pit full of cannibal lumberjacks. Mike D'Antoni teams are great for the padding of stats. Think back to when he was coaching Phoenix. It seemed like ever All-Star-caliber player (or even near All-Star-caliber player) had a season-high against that...and his influence is so powerful that's still happening. But I digress...
...so after his "comeback game," Anthony scored 16 points on 4-for-17 shooting and had almost as many turnovers (3) as rebounds (4). And two of his shots were blocked. Said 'Melo: "The shots I made yesterday weren't going it. Just one of those days." Yeah, that'll happen when there's an actual hand in your face and stuff. Look, Carmelo is a fantastic scorer and all, but his elbow issue strikes me as one of those lingering injuries that can hamper a player for most of a season. So don't expect him to be truly "back" any time soon. (Sorry if you drafted him for your fantasy team.)
The New Jersey Nets: Okay. This is past sad and getting into pathetic territory. The Nets dropped yet another home game, this time to the Chicago Bulls, a team that had lost seven straight on the road (and 14 of 17 this season) and hadn't won in New Jersey since 2001 (which totals 13 losses in a row there). The Nets -- 5-12 at the Izod Center, the second-worst home record in the East behind Washington's 4-12 -- have now lost four in a row at home and seven of eight since Devin Harris' "We knew we were going to be a playoff team" proclamation. And they aren't dropping squeakers, either. During this stretch they've lost to the Wizards by 20, the Knicks by 12, the Raptors by 22, the Jazz by 11, the Rockets by 23, the Bobcats by 8 and now the Bulls by 13. You'll notice that four of those teams are sub-.500 (and three of them are VERY sub-.500). And the Bulls were without starters Drew Gooden and Luol Deng. Damn, man.
What does Vince Carter think about the New Jersey's home struggles" Said Vinsanity: "I try not to worry about it." Well, good. I'd hate for it to be weighing on his mind or anything. Nets coach Lawrence Frank said: "Mentally, we have to be more consistent at home. You can't let your guard down and lose your focus simply because you're home. You have to have the same spirit, energy and toughness you have on the road." That's...amazing insight, Larry. Look, can we all just admit that maybe, just maybe, Frank isn't that good of a coach. He couldn't win in the East with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. He can't get this year's team to win at home. He's now 183-193 since winning his first 13 games as New Jersey's head man. At best, Frank is a shining symbol of mediocrity. I'm just sayin'...it might be time for a new direction.
The Klahma City Thunder: The Suns lost Steve Nash (back spasms) only nine minutes into the game, but, of course, it didn't matter. The Thunder made The Big Geritol look like the Shaq of '93 as the big man went off for 28 points (10-for-12 from the field, 8-for-12 from the line), 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. This dropped them to 3-29 on the season.
The Phoenix Suns' Defense: Lost in fervor over Nash's injury and Shaq's turn-back-the-clock performance was the fact that Phoenix allowed the Thunder -- a team that, on average, scores 93.2 PPG on 43.7 percent shooting -- score 102 points on 53 percent shooting. So, you know, I'm glad to see Terry Porter's defensive mindset it taking hold in The Valley.
Shaq: He played great. He's having a very good season (16.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 59 percent shooting). Heck, he's even having his second-best season at the line (59.2 percent). He is a vital and important part of what the Suns are doing. However, he should not be the team's focal point on a nightly basis. In fact, he can't be. I mean, they rarely even let him play back-to-backs anymore. But, according to the Big Broken Record, coach Porter needs to call his number, you know, basically on every play.
"I've been telling them all year: 'When they get it to me and let me do what I do, I can still put up those numbers.' Just because I'm 35, sometimes they think that he's old, he can't do it. Guys were looking for me, and I was just doing what I do. I've been doing that my whole career and I think that's how this team should play, especially the way I'm shooting free throws now. It should be an inside-outside game. I've been in the league 15 years and I've been in (the Finals) six times, and that's the way you get there. I think once we do that and develop some consistency and stop turning the ball over, then we'll be all right."
Has there been a season in his career when Shaq HASN'T uttered some version or other of this particular monologue? About the only time I can remember was when he was in Miami and Dwyane Wade was constantly stroking his enormous ego. I guess that's all he really needs: Constant validation. Like my pet octopus.
The Memphis Grizzlies: Any team that loses to McHale's Navy gets a WotN mention. Particularly when they hold the Timberpups to only 8 points in the second quarter. Speaking of which...
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Sure, they won, but they won ugly. Real ugly. After starting 10-for-11 from the field, they missed 19 of their next 22 shots. They converted only one field goal in the second quarter, which -- you guessed it! -- set a new franchise low. Their 8 second-quarter points and 32 first-half points were both season lows. Oh, and they missed all 12 of their threes in the first half and finished a season-worst 1-for-15 from distance. As coach Kevin put it: "We sent basketball back to about 1952 in that second quarter." Yup. The only thing missing was a peach basket.
The Memphis Grizzlies: Did I mention they still lost despite Minny's ineptitude? Figured I should mention it at least twice.
The Houston Rockets: Um...wow? They lost to the Caron Butler-less (and still Gilbert Arena-less) Washington Wizards, a team that entered the game with a 5-23 record. And this happened in Houston. And yes, Yao, T-Mac and Ron-Ron all played. Although not well: The Medium-sized Three shot a combined 16-for-46 and committed 9 turnovers. McGrady, who played so poorly you would have thought it was a first round playoff game, said: "We just thought that we could turn it on in the fourth quarter and win this ballgame against a team that doesn't really show that they are as good a team. It really backfired on us." Well. That just goes to show you can never underestimate the lack of heart of a non-champion.
The Philadelphia 76ers: So much for my theory about the Sixers getting back to their running (and winning) ways with Elton Brand out. They've lost four in a row and have only scored 100 points once in that span. Now, in all fairness, they've been forced to play Boston, Denver and Utah in that stretch. But hey, losing is losing. Bonus stat: Philly was 1-for-9 from threeland.
Reggie Evans:The Nut Burglar got T'd up last night for spanking Kyle Korver. Oh yes he most certainly did.
Look, Reggie, it really would be best if you stayed away from your opponents' man regions. Thanks.
Kevin Fehr, Phil Robinson, Steve Javie: How is it that the three blind mice all missed this four-step travel by Thaddeus Young? HE TOOK FOUR FULL STEPS, GUYS. It wasn't even a close one. I mean, his first step was OUTSIDE the three-point arc. Don't take my word for it...
The Toronto Raptors: Another night, another loss, this time to the (at the time) 9-win Warriors. Of course, the Raptors are a 12-win team. Yikes. What a waste of talent. And Jose Calderon knows it. "We're getting closer, but we've got to start winning, too. We can't be getting closer every day and losing. It's good. We're going to keep working together for sure, but we’ve got to start winning games."
Jermaine O'Neal: He was limited to only nine minutes of lack-tion due to, yes, flu-like symptoms. One way or another, The Drain finds a way to miss PT.
Lacktion report:Chris has chimed in with another report on the night's most meaningless performances:
Nuggets-Hawks: While Denver's Chucky Atkins refused a 2.5 trillion treasure through one assist, the Hawks ran over Enver's lack of D and had enough time to give three players the chance at their own trillions, with one successfully attaining 14-figure wealth. Solomon Jones and Mario "The Mario" West each reached +1 (2:05/foul and 1:53/giveaway respectively) while Acie Law was Atlanta's breadwinner of the evening, notching up a 1.75 trillion.
Magic-Pistons: The Magic cooled off a bit in Auburn Hills, with Marcin Gortat notching key stats in ineffectiveness: In 4:50 of lacktion, he managed +5 via a missed shot, a block against, and three fouls -- averaging more than 1 SD marker per minute!
Suns-Thunder: Steve Nash's 9 minutes playing through pain nearly put him on the lacktion segment -- a +1 that was interrupted by 2 assists before he left the game. However, after a first quarter in which Klahma seemed to be working very hard at getting their O's back, they started to be the "almost" team the rest of the way, running out of steam gradually to the end. Speaking of almosts (and with the Suns playing, the reoccurrence of that word is no surprise), we had two near-sucky performances interrupted by brief productivity: Nash's teammate Robin Lopez negating a foul with a blocked shot in 3:11, and Klahma's Nick Collison getting one assist to cancel out 3 fouls in 4:36.
Grizzlies-Wolves: In the "OJ Mayo Trade Matchup," the inevitable mediocrity of this not-so-hyped battle showed up loud and clear in the box score. Greg Buckner (a familiar name in the lacktion recaps) had a rebound to cancel out two personal fouls in 9:13, but Memphis teammate Marko Jaric decided not to be so altruistic. Jaric channeled his inner Gordon Gekko and acquired for himself a cool 2 trillion! For Kevin McHale's Navy of unwilling conscripts, Brian Cardinal took a foul and bricked three times from downtown for a +4 in 6:04.
Sixers-Jazz: In late-game garbage time, Kareem Rush spent over five minutes working on a +1, only to end his shot at lacktion with a rebound and more productivity for the rest of his ten-minute stint.
Kobe Bryant: Mamba called Luke Walton at 4 a.m. and said in a silky-smooth voice: "Hey Luke, baby. It's me. Stacy. I just wanted to call to say you really suck." Luke repied: "Wha, what?! You know you're not supposed to contact me in any way!" To which Kobe responded: "Naw, dog, it's just. Me. I was kidding." Then Luke said: "Were you kidding about the sucking part too?" And Mamba said: "No."