This photo was submitted by Basketbawful reader Nick. And here we thought last night's loss couldn't have been any more painful for Dirk...
Update! As anne points out: "Well apparently Chris wasn't too grossed out by touching it as he and Dirk had some serious man love going on after the game (from dallasnews.com). Ironically enough, my word verification was 'petyr,' hee hee."
Avery Johnson: The Little General has made many mistakes during his stewardship of the Mavericks. But his biggest mistake this season was pulling a "plug and play" after the team traded for Jason Kidd. Despite having one of the best passing point guards in the history of the league, not to mention one of the game's best transition players, Avery continued to run the same one-on-one, isolation-heavy offense he'd already been using. That's hardly the way to take advantage of a player like Kidd.
And while you all know I'm not a fan of advanced stats, Kidd's usage rate with Dallas (16.1) was easily a career-low (his career average is 21.0). Kidd is at his most valuable when the ball is in his hands, yet Avery's rather one-dimensional offense didn't put the ball there. Now, I realize it's not easy for a coach to change his team's offensive style on the fly, but I never got the feeling that Avery tried all that hard to do so. Nor am I confident that he can do so. His schemes look like a modified version of Nellie Ball with a little more discipline and (at times) a lot more defense. I'm not sure he knows any other way. I'm also not sure he should be given a chance to find out. It's time to move on.
Erick Dampier: The big lug played only seven minutes, recording 1 missed shot and 1 personal foul. Note that Ericka didn't grab a single rebound while he was on the floor. To put that into perspective, little Tyronn Lue played only 57 seconds, and even he grabbed a rebound. This seems as good a time as any to remind you all that Mark Cuban utilized the money he refused to pay Steve Nash to buy Dampier back in the summer of 2004. The chain reaction of that one event led the Mavericks to up on the young and up-and-coming Devin Harris and mortgage their future on the old and down-and-going Jason Kidd. Good call, Cubes.
Jerry Stackhouse: A few days after blasting Coach of the Year Byron Scott and saying he "was about ready to" beat up Scott during the second game of the series, Jerry blew his stack (get it?!) at the worst possible time. With 1:47 left and the Mavericks trying to claw their way back into the game, Stackhouse picked up his second technical foul for slapping the ball out of Chris Paul's hands well after play had been stopped. Yet another reason you can never totally believe in a team that's relying on Jerry Stackhouse for veteran leadership. Here's the video, courtesy of Odenized:
Josh Howard: He completed a disappointing series by scoring only 12 points on 6-for-14 shooting and tying Stackhouse with a team-high 3 turnovers. And like it or not, his poor performance will always be linked to his admission of marijuana use. But at least he'll be very relaxed about it during the offseason.
Hilton Armstrong: From Basketbawful reader Justin T. "Not only does he have the neck of a giraffe, but tonight, Hilton Armstrong achieved the always noteworthy three trillion. For those about to suck...Weeee saluuuuteeee yooouuuu!!" Does Hilton really have the neck of a giraffe? You be the judge.
Peja Stojakovic: Sacramento Era flashback!! Peja shot 2-for-12 in an elimination game. Somewhere Chris Webber is nodding his head and saying, "Yup, that's what I thought."
Samuel Dalembert: Dear merciful Zeus! Did Sam lose a bet or something? Why else would he knowingly make a damned fool of himself like this during the playoffs? Dalembert showed up for Game 5 in Detroit with a wide mohawk and the words "SD" cut into the side of his head. And those initials don't represent his name, either; they stand for "Strong Defense." Seriously. The Great Hair Adventure must have acted like a game-long stat curse, because Sam's man, Rasheed Wallace, scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Here's a new suggestion for the "SD": Silly Dumbass.
Willie Green: Not only did he shoot 3-for-10, it was his barber that carved the abomination on top of Dalembert's poor head. So if you live in Philadelphia and are about to get a haircut, make sure you aren't using Willie Green's barber before you let him trim a single hair.
The Philly defense: Apparently the Sixers watched an instruction video on defense by the Denver Nuggets prior to last night's game: Detroit shot a blistering 58 percent from the field. Too bad the Piston's hot shooting didn't burn the rest of the hair off of Dalembert's head.
Mike D'Antoni: This is from Basketbawful reader Andrei. "If anyone had any doubts about how incompetent Mike D'Antoni is, it should have evaporated tonight. I just caught one of those 'wired' segments and they showed D'Antoni kidding around with Tim Duncan in the first part of the segment. Would you ever see Popovich kidding around with the other team's star in an elimination game? This of course was followed by the capper: As Gordan Giricek runs into the game, D'Antoni tells him: 'Ugh...you guard Oberto, alright? Keep him off the boards.' Sounded like he was guessing and also asking Goran f***ing Giricek to rebound, good stuff. Also, sticking with Shaq as he clanks free throw after free throw was good too."
Remember early in the season when D'Antoni freaked the hell out over a few extra timeouts called by Phil Jackson? In retrospect, that's when Mikey Boy lost me. We all know about Phil Jackson and his stupid head games, but letting D'Antoni let Jax get to him in the late stages of a meaningless, early-season game. That's hardly the mark of a coach who can instill calm and confidence in his team.
He got mind-banged by Gregg Popovich all series long. Actually, Pop has checkemated him for the last four seasons. I really and truly appreciate what D'Antoni brought to the Suns -- fun, run, and winning -- but, as with Avery Johnson, it's well past time to try something new.
(Also, no offense to Grant Hill, but it's pretty obvious now that Boris Diaw would have been a much bigger asset throughout the season had he been the starter instead of the reserve. Yeah, it's 20/20 hindsight, but the coach probably should have noticed that. Plus, had Grant played fewer minutes, he might have been healthy for the playoffs. I'm just sayin'.)
Leandro Barbosa: The Brazilian Blur shot 1-for-7 last night. Which pretty much sums of his up-and-down season to a T.
Steve Nash: You know you're my boy, Steve, but you cost your team last night's game. The 4-for-16 shooting -- including 1-for-6 from three-point range -- I could have lived with. But the three turnovers in the final minutes? And let's face it: Those were bad passes in heavy traffic. And they broke the team's back at a critical time.
I have consciously avoided mentioning this all season, but I'm going to talk about it now. Nash took a step back this season. It was so tiny that, to a lot of people, it was almost imperceptible. But Captain Canada transformed from a superstar MVP-candidate to merely an All-Star-level player. Don't bother checking the numbers, because the evidence isn't there. John Hollinger won't be able to really explain it to you. Honestly, it's something you have to watch, to feel. Say what you will about Nash's two MVPs, but he earned them. He was dominant and he willed his team to a lot of big wins. But there was something different about him this season.
I tried to convince myself that Nash was taking a step back so that Amare could develop into a superstar. And later I told myself he was just trying to work Shaq into the mix. But what I knew in my heart is that Steve has begun that inexorable slide that all players must go through. It happened to Larry. It happened to Michael in Washington. It happened to Charles and Karl and Hakeem. The league is tough, real tough, and Bird said it best once when he observed that, "It's hard fighting your way to the top of the pile, but it's even harder to hold your ground."
For the first time since he arrived in Phoenix, Nash really couldn't hold his ground any more. He's getting passed by the younger point guards. He's aging. His body is breaking down. Slowly, maybe, but it's happening. And it's a bummer.
The Suns' freethrow shooting: They missed an unthinkable 17 freethrows in a 5-point loss. And, naturally, Shaq was responsible for 11 of those misses (although he did start hitting them in the fourth). So, yeah, okay, maybe the loss wasn't all Nash's fault.
Officiating: Don't get me wrong. The Suns definitely deserved to lose. But there were still two calls that really pissed me off. And of course they both happened in the final five minutes. First, Duncan tripped over his own leg and would have turned the ball over...had the nearest ref not called a tripping foul on Shaq. The Big Cactus had barely brushed Duncan's leg, and it happened a full step before Duncan tripped himself up. It was a bogus call, especially considering it was a hard-fought elimination game in which a lot of contact was being let go.
The second atrocious call came a minute or so later, when Tony Parker drove to the hoop and got "fouled" by Amare Stoudemire. They showed the slow-mo replay, and Stat clearly tried to jump away from the contact, but Parker intentionally dropped like a stone and of course got the call. Revolting. Again, I'm not blaming the Suns' loss on these calls...but that doesn't make me hate them any less.
Gregg Popovich: After all his Hack-a-Shaquery in the Suns-Spurs series, I really, really hope missed freethrows come back to bite his team in the ass at some point.
Manu Ginobili and Kurt Thomas: Awful shooting: Manu was 2-for-11 and Kurt was 3-for-11. Way to come through in a big game. (Although Thomas did pull down 12 boards.)
Robert Horry: This isn't for anything Ben Gay Bob did last night, it's for the fact that -- as Basketbawful reader Lipsome123 pointed out -- Horry's Wikipedia entry feataures a photo of him aping the Duncan face. I can hardly imagine a picture more fitting.
Utah Jazz: I'm not even going to single anybody out. Everybody was equally terrible. Clearly the Jazz were suffering from a bad case of Wecanwinitathomeitis. And they probably can. But that lack of mental toughness bodes ill for them should they make it to the next round. Because the Lakers aren't taking any prisoners right now.
David Stern and the NBA: Here's an e-mail from Basketbawful reader Stephanie G. "So yeah, last year Stoudemire and Diaw got suspended for leaving the bench during an altercation and they were suspended for a critical playoff game. It's a stupid rule because it's so strict and they didn't actually do anything and they just wanted to see what was happening. But a rule's a rule, so whatever. This year, Kevin Garnett shoves a ref who is trying to restrain him and Kendrick Perkins and Marvin Williams step onto the court during an altercation in game four and the NBA doesn't suspend anyone. THE NBA IS FAAAANtastic."
And a little more from Vinny Gorgeous. "Let's not let the day go by without throwing David Stern into WotN, shall we? Regarding the non-suspensions of Perkins and Williams for Game 5: The best part of all this is that when the Suns suspensions went down last year, the media (not just the Phoenix media, either) was all over Stern asking why he couldn't show a little leniency. And his response was basically, 'The rules are the rules and there's absolutely no gray area or room for interpretation whatsoever here. Even though I'm the commissioner and thus responsible for making the rules in the first place my hands are tied.' This man is horrid. I'm a Spurs fan. I wish we could've shown we were the better team last year like we did this year, without help from the refs. But it doesn't change the fact that Stern is a flip-flopper of the highest magnitude and is capable of changing rules on a whim. I'm not saying that the walking on the court rule should be enforced, but if you're going to do it in one instance and make such a huge deal about it, you damn well better apply it to other teams as well."
Update! Yahoo caption writers: Here's some captiony fun from anne. "Hey Bawful, I was looking at the photos from the Suns/Spurs game, and noticed the caption on one of them: 'Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs congratulates Steve Nash #13 the Phoenix Suns after Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs as Tony parker #9 looks on at the AT&T Center on April 29, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.' So, just what is Timmah congratulating him for? For the five turnovers? For being incredibly good looking? (Ok that is just me doing that.)"
Chris Bosh might have been given an early vacation by the Orlando Magic, but the dude is a straight-up lovemeister. (I guess he's a lover, not a fighter.)
From eljpeman (who's too lazy to open his blogger account): "This could probably get into the man love series. I would have said that they will have a sweaty and passionate night later on, but i guess they are already having it now."
From anne: "There's a whole series of Bosh man love photos up today. I like this one in particular, as he looks like he's blowing in Superman's ear. What can you say, Bosh is a romantic."
Toronto Raptors: This is from Basketbawful reader Colin. "Pretty sure you are going to put them there, but after what I saw tonight I just wanted to make sure. The Toronto Raptors. (I'm a Raptors fan, hurts to say this.) Not only were they the FIRST team to be eliminated from the playoffs this season, but the ATLANTA HAWKS have done better than them in their series against a BETTER TEAM than the Raptors lost to. Thats not right."
Well, it's hard to fault the Raptors too much, because they clearly lost to a suprior team. However, I can't help but wonder why the Magic were superior. On paper, Toronto should have been a pretty equal match for Orlando, both in terms of regular season wins and in a playoff showdown. The glaring problems I can see are bad coaching, the point guard two-stepping, the highly inconsistent play of Mr. Former Number One Draft Pick, the lack of production from free agent acquisition Jason Kapono...you know what? Never mind. It's suddenly very obvious that the dinos have problems 'o plenty. It'll be interesting to see what Bryan Colangelo does this offseason.
Special note!! For those of you who misunderstood the previous paragraph, I was talking about the Raptors season as a whole. Not just the five-game playoff sample. So yes, Bargs sucked the entire series, but was inconsistent for most of the season. Kapono mysteriously showed up for the playoffs after not producing for most of the season. Is that clear enough?
Andrea Bargnani: After watching Bargs commit his second foul in the first half minute of the game, my very first thought was, "Oh boy, I'm going to be hearing about this from Shrugz." Sure enough, a few minutes later I had the following e-mail waiting in my inbox: "Bargnani 2 fouls in the first 20 seconds. HAHAHAHHAHA! Too funny." Bargnani ended up playing only 15 minutes and finished with 4 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 3 fouls and one badly missed three-pointer that missed the rim entirely. Amazingly, his replacement was even worse...
Rasho Nesterovic: Note that Rasho had been on fire for a month and a half until Toronto's soon-to-be ex-coach Sam Mitchell benched him for Bargnani. And that pretty much killed Rasho's mojo. He was used in relief last night and responded with zero points, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover and 3 fouls in just under 9 minutes of lack-tion.
T.J. Ford: Will T.J. still be the starter next season? Will he even be on the team? If the Raptors want to improve, the answer to those questions really should be "no" and "no." Ford shot poorly (6-for-14) and 4 of the team's 6 turnovers. He looks for his own shot too often, and he tends to force the action -- his action -- when the Toronto offense stalls. In retrospect, Jose Calderon's self-benching might have been the worst thing to happen to this team going into the playoffs.
Marcin Gortat: The Warlock didn't quite play four minutes (3:55), nor did he achieve a three trillion because he grabbed a single rebound. He even failed at failing. (Okay. I'll admit. I only included Marcin because I like typing his last name.)
The Atlanta Hawks Bandwagon: This is from Basketbawful reader Craig. "Mike Bibby the Hypocrite. Sure he can talk a big game about the supposed fair-weather Boston fans, but I would ask him this question: Atlanta was notorious for having very low attendance during the regular season the past couple of years. Now all of a sudden because they made the playoffs, the place is sold out and the fans are actually giving them a homecourt advantage. Where were all those closet fans during the rebuilding years and even this season? Next time you want to talk about another team's fans how about you look at your own first." The only correction I'd made to Craig's rant is changing "the past couple of years" to "the past couple of decades." Seriously. Half of the arena was empty even during the latter half of the Dominique Wilkins era.
The Boston Bench: This is from Basketbawful reader friesenth: "I've totaled the Celtics bench stats from nba.com, minus James Posey who actually contributed in a positive way. Cassell, Big Baby, House and Powe combined for an incredible 3 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 fouls, and 1 turnovers in nearly 40 minutes of total playing time. That's the spark you want off the bench. Maybe all those concerns about their depth are finally starting to come true." [Checks the box score] Ummm, uhhhh, ummm...
The Atlanta Bench: They provided a total of 4 points on 2-for-9 shooting, although they did contribute 12 rebounds and 2 assists. Although 9 of those rebounds and both of those assists were from Josh Childress. So were the 4 points. Take Josh out of the equation and the Hawk reserve corps had zero points, 3 rebounds, a blocked shot, and four fouls.
Shaky officiating: Look, I generally hate it when fans cry "foul" after their team loses. But the Celtics got hosed by the officials last night. Boston started out on fire, taking a 16-3 lead, and looked firmly in control of the game. Things started to fall apart when Josh Smith pulled off two amazing blocked shots on Rajon Rondo. So amazing, in fact, that they weren't technically legal. Smith fell on top of Rondo after the first block, and on the second block Smith got all ball and all body...and last time I checked, the body still isn't part of the ball.
Look, I get it. David Stern was on hand for the game, and the Commish likes to see competitive series. In fact, he was interviewed during the game and you could tell -- despite his rictus-like grin -- that he's disappointed the Suns-Spurs and Nuggets-Lakers series are ending early (unless Phoenix pulls off a miracle tonight). And there's no question that, from the referees perspectives, it's better to "let them play," especially when a home team does something spectacular that gets the crowd on its feet.
But those two blocks not only killed the Celtics' momentum, it set a physical tone that clearly favored the Hawks, who got a little more benefit of the doubt from the refs (which resulted in a 33-18 freethrow advantage, although the final four FTs came from desperation fouls by the C's). I'm not saying Atlanta didn't play with heart and fire, and I'm not saying Boston didn't have a fair share of missed shots. But I can't quite shake the feeling that the zebras cast a shadow over this game.
Paul Pierce: He totally boned a layup in the final minute that would have pulled the Celtics to within two and given them a much better shot at stealing the game. Truth got free and just lost the ball on the way up...and his expression as it happened was totally comical, in that tragic "I just lost my team the game" kind of way.
Kevin Garnett: KG, angry and frustrated, hit Zaza Pachulia with an elbow and then tried to play it off as if he was merely trying to explain to a nearby official that he had been elbowed. C'mon, Kevin. We're not stupid. But that move was.
Zaza Pachulia: It's good that he didn't back down, but going face to face with Garnett? And even going so far as to butt heads with KG? That was almost as stupid as Garnett's elbow. Unless Zaza was trying to pull a Robert Horry. (And, in fact, it looked like Kendrick Perkins stepped on the court and might be suspended for Game 5.) It's telling that Garnett, while he didn't back down at all, also didn't escalate things. Maturity...or the fact that he knew he was in the wrong?
David Stern: His reaction to the Garnett-Pachulia showdown was priceless. I haven't seen an old guy in that much distress since watching my buddy's grandpa try to get out of a beanbag chair.
Mario West: He had 19 seconds in Game 4. [Cue the sad music.]
Denver Nuggets: When an eighth seed that barely made the playoffs waits until a first-round elimination game to finally give their all, good things usually don't happen for them (the Suns' Game 4 win notwithstanding). In retrospect, maybe things would have been different if 'Melo had called out his team a little earlier.
Carmelo's critics: It sure seemed like everybody and their brother wanted to label 'Melo's "We quit" rant as a lack of maturity on his part, while Kobe's decimation of his teammates and Lakers management over he summer was just "shaken' trees." Oh, and of course Larry Bird's denunciation of his teammates as "sissies" and "a bunch of women" during the 1984 NBA Finals is the stuff of legend. It's yet another case of the winning double-standard. If you are winning or have won in the past, you get a free pass to blast teammates or roast your team. But if you don't win...if you can't even get out of the first round...well, then, you're an immature malcontent who needs to shut his mouth.
But Anthony was right to do what he did, and his team responded with their best gamae of the series, even if they still lost anyway. It's too bad for them that 'Melo didn't speak up, say, 25 or 30 games ago. Maybe Denver would have solved some of their problems a little sooner.
George Karl, quote machine: "My wish would be that we had four games like tonight and we all could have been happier. I’ve said all along, when they play the right way, they're fun guys to coach." And if wishes were fishes, the world would be an ocean. But as long as you're having fun, coach, we're all happy for you. (But not really.)
Pau Gasol: Dude, I know you're all happy-as-kittens about finally getting out of the first round of the playoffs, but speaking for NBA fans everywhere, we don't want to see your doughy belly. Not even that man-woman in the bottom right of the picture.
Reggie Miller: Ah, Reggie. His awesomeness knows no human boundaries. Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm sent in this very enjoyable exchange between Reggie and Marv Albert from last night's Lakers-Nuggets game.
Reggie: "A lot of questions have been about the Denver Nuggets. This, so far, has been their best half of basketball."
Marv: "Although they have given up 62 points in this first half. And they were down by as man as 13. And are down 10..."
Matt (in absentia): "Definitely, Reg. Best half. Just try not to, you know, speak, Reg."
NBA.com historians: Basketbawful reader Dan from South Australia doesn't appreciate the fact that The League's official Web site is ignorent of its own history. "From this article: 'Toronto made the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2007. They were eliminated in the first round in three of their four postseason appearances. The only time they won a first-round series was in 2001, when they beat the New Jersey Nets in six games, and lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games.' History is fun, making up history is funner. The only first-round series win was in 2001, but they beat New York 3-2 and then lost to Philly 4-3 (the notorious Carter-needs-to-graduate-before-game-7 series...maybe NBA.com is trying to erase the VC years from memory too)."
Good stuff from Basketbawful reader anne: "This is a great photo of the aftermath of Jason Kidd's foul from the dallasnews.com site. They have a suck ass flash viewer or I'd link to it directly. It looks like they are running down the court to watch a breakdance duel between Jannero and Kidd. Either that or Jannero looks like he is attempting Booker T's old spinerooni move in the middle of the game."
Bonus points to Peja, who looks like he's thinking, "Your breakdancing moves could kill a large forest animal, my young American friend! Which is why I have soiled my underwear."
By the way: Thanks to everybody for their suggestions and submissions. I've tried to add everything applicable to Worst of the Weekend. Please forgive me if I missed something...I can't brain on Mondays.
Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm sent me the video (via Tom Ziller of AOL Fanhouse) with the line "Want me to make your day?" Usually those lines are followed by an empty promise to enlarge my penis to monolithic size. But this time, it truly delivered...courtesy of Masha Kirilenko.
Detroit Pistons, Game 3: Ah, the Pistons. After "proving" themselves in Game 2, they fell back into their "Teams should just roll over when they play us" mindset in Game 3. They shot 40 percent, committed a season-high 25 turnovers, and lost by 20. When a team wins 59 games and talks all season about how their only goal is to win a championship, then they probably shouldn't fall into a 2-1 hole against a 40-42 team in the first round of the playoffs. I'm just sayin'.
Chauncey Billups: Mr. Big Shot was front and center in Detroit's embarrassing Game 3 loss, scoring only 11 points on 2-for-11 shooting and committing 3 turnovers.
Rasheed Wallace: Let's not forget 'Sheed, who scored 2 points on 1-for-6 shooting and threw the ball away 4 times. You never know what you're going to get from this guy...and that's Guaran-sheed.
New Orleans Hornets, Game 3: They could never get over the hump, mostly because they were shooting like somebody squirted dish soap in their eyes. As a team, they hit only 37 percent of their shots, with Chris Paul (4-for-18) and David West (6-for-20) building most of the brick outhouse. If not for Jannero Pargo's 30, the Hornets probably would have lost by 30.
A little Dallas home homecookin', Game 3: A 38-to-13 freethrow advantage for the Mavericks? Really? I'm not saying they didn't earn most (if not all) of their foul shots, but they were being just as aggressive on defense as they were on offense. Chris Paul in particular was roughed up (and he responded by trying to clear Jason Terry out with a few hard elbows). As always, all I want as a fan is a little consistency. If the refs are going to "let 'em play" at one end, they shouldn't get all whistle happy on the other end.
Malk Allen: Game 3, three trillion. Fitting. (Fittingly sucky, that is.)
Phoenix Suns, Game 3: This is how the Suns respond to their championship window slamming shut? By sticking their collective necks in the way? The lack of focus and intensity they showed in Game 3 was shameful to them as a team and painful for their fans, who booed them lustily and then left early. I hope that Tony Parker and his career-high 41 points are burned into the Suns players' retinas for the rest of their lives. Especially Mike D'Antoni and his whole "let's just wait it out until they start missing" defensive strategy.
Here's a little postscript from reader Stephanie G, who said what I can't quite bring myself to. "You're going to get a lot of e-mails for this game I bet. In a surreal way I'm kinda happy the Suns got dismantled the manner they did. It feels like closure. I think I'd rather see it happen this way then them being close and just falling short like in game one or last year. This way there are no nagging questions or 'what-ifs' to wring your hands over. It's just a straight up mugging by the Frenchman. In the first half when the Spurs had a healthy lead Popovich was dressing down Oberto for making one defensive mistake that led to a lay up. That one moment sums up the difference between these two franchises. D'Antoni was in the huddle in the first quarter telling his guys how the Spurs couldn't keep hitting shots like they were and that things would turn around if they just waited it out. Nice call, Pringles dude. Did you ever hold a practice on how to guard a pick and roll? I would have loved to be a fly on the wall. I wonder what sort of future this team has. Maybe one more year of being able to 'contend'? Nash and Shaq are going to turn to dust and then in another couple years it'll just be Amare and some role players and journeymen. Of course this means they will win 60 games and get to the finals, right? That's how these things always turn out."
Update! Dwight Howard: Does he get favorable treatment from the refs? Basketbawful reader and Raptors fan Sabertooth thinks so: "Also for Worst of the weekend, more evidence of the complete unfairness when it comes to Dwight along with his blatant parking under the hoop and not being called for three seconds...it's maddening, but not the reason why we're down in the series."
Andrea Bargnani: What a Game 4! He had 5 points (1-for-7), 2 rebounds, zero assists. Can somebody tell me why he replaced Rasho Nesterovic as the starting center?
Jose Calderon: I guess he and Andrea were having a suck-off contest, because Jose shot an identical 1-for-7. Which made T.J. Ford's 6-for-16 look great by comparison.
Marcin Gortat: The Polish Polecat put got 10 minutes of PT in Game 4, rewarding Stan Van Gundy with zero points, 1 rebound and 2 fouls.
Update! Joey Graham and Kris Humphries: TheGiantSquid corrected my mistake: "Hey, if you're gonna call out Marcin 'the Warlock' Gortat, at least give mention to the two(!!) Raptors who posted a 1 trillion each: Joey Graham and Kris Humphries." Done.
Denver Nuggets, Game 3. They quit. Players one through 12 and even the coach. They all quit, gave up, surrendered. And at least Carmelo Anthony had the balls to admit it. "Yeah. We quit. Everybody. From the coaches to the players, we quit. And I said it. I'm not blaming anyone. I'm not pointing the fingers at nobody. I didn't play worth a (expletive) tonight, and I can accept that. But as a competitor, there's no way that I should lay down and quit and lay down on my team like we did tonight. You could just sense it. I'm saying 'we,' because I'm part of this, too. I'm saying I quit. We all just gave up."
George Karl: 'Melo's words didn't sit too well with his coach. Said Karl: "Well, I don't think I quit. In the fourth quarter, I tried to find some answers. I don't think that's a fair, I think 'Melo's emotional right now, he's frustrated right now, as we all are." That's the kind of defensive reaction you expect from a guy trying desperately to hold onto his job. Why not challenge your team? Why not call them out? The Nuggets need a wakeup call. Anthony tried to giveth, while Karl tried to taketh away. Can you imagine how the 1984 NBA Finals would have turned out if Celtics coach K.C. Jones had responded to Larry Bird's "We played like a bunch of sissies tonight" speach by saying, "Well, I don't think I coached like a sissy! Larry's just being emotional."?
Update! Reggie Miller: Here's a tummy-tickler, courtesy of Rob from BigDiction.net: "Another quality Reggie Miller moment, after a Kenyon Martin dunk Saturday: "And Kenyon Martin is really getting this crowd out of its feet!"
Boston Celtics, Game 3: Wow. They sure came out flat in Game 3. And suddenly there's a chink in the Celtics' armor. Great teams should come out and crush their first round opponents without remorse. I'm okay with them saving a little intensity for the later rounds, but they need to take care of business now, too.
Al Horford: The rook has been on fire against the Celtics, averaging around 15 points and 11 rebounds. Moreover, he's been the most fearless Hawk of all. Still...he needs to do a better job of controlling his youthful stupidity. Because giving Paul Pierce the business? Not a good idea. Especially after bashing Kendrick Perkins' nose. I have a feeling things are going to get a lot tougher for the rookie in Game 4.
Acie Law: After a great Game 2, he notched a four trillion in Game 3. Which I guess means that Mike Bibby's job is secure for a little while longer.
Mario West: He played only 8 seconds in Game 3. I really feel sorry for this guy, and I'm almost completely heartless.
Botched calls: From Basketbawful reader Dave: "Obviously you watched the game last night. I was to caught up in the moment to rewind and watch the play, but upon further investigation tonight it is perfectly clear that Carl Landry CLEARLY stepped out of bounds (1:24 into the video, or 3:12 left in game time). Thought it was worth mentioning after the whole city of Houston was up in arms after the Scola/Kirelinko incident in Game 2. Granted is doesn't matter much because the Jazz won anyways, but it also goes to show that one single call does not a game change."
Tracy McGrady: Another great game (23 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists), and another fourth quarter disappearing act (only 4 points). Through Games 1 through 4, T-Mac has scored a total of 12 points...and 7 of those came in Game 3.
Deron Williams: He bricked two freethrows with seven seconds left that would have iced Game 4. Fortunately for Williams and the Jazz, Mehmet Okur rebounded the second miss, got fouled, and this hit both of his freethrows.
Bobby Jackson: The Rockets didn't shoot well as a team (36 percent), and Bobby Jackson was holding the baton and leading the brick parade (1-for-10).
Carlos Boozer: The Mailman is not impressed. Boozer shot 3-for-13 in Game 4. Hey, Booz, the basket's that way!
DeShawn Stevenson: You'd think he would have learned to let sleeping dogs lie. Instead, he continues to take shots at LeBron, and in Game 4 he delivered his blow Jackie Chan-style. The result? King James went off and the Cavaliers went on a 13-0 run. It's obvious the Locksmith isn't going to learn his lesson.
Also, note that Jay-Z has added to the James-Stevenson rivalry. But DeShawn is thrilled about it. "He's worth $500 million, and he's writing songs about me. What does that say about DeShawn Stevenson? Ballin'!" He really doesn't get it, does he?
Update! LeBron James:Carlo won't forgive King James for mangling the King's English, no matter how many blows on the head he's taken. "I hate DeShawn Stevenson...but with that said, what's up with LeBron's English and his third-person talk? 'If we was on the park, something definitely would have escalated. But, you know, I guess that's what they want to do. They want to hurt LeBron James this series. It ain't working.' 'If we was'...really, LeBron? You've been hangin out with Jay-Z too much."
Phoenix Suns, Game 4: Where was this intensity and physical aggression in Game 3? Or, for that matter, Games 1 and 2? Why can't the Suns play like this every game?!
San Antonio Spurs: The officials let the Suns rough them up a bit, but instead of responding the Spurs did what the Spurs do: Flopped, complained, and rolled around on the ground in mock pain over and over. In the first quarter, Manu Ginobili took a dive on a Boris Diaw post up in which he was never touched. They play smart basketball, and they win, and I admire all that. But the rest of their antics make me ill.
Gregg Popovich: His consistent use of Hack-a-Shaq might be strategically sound, but it makes me hate him. Well, hate him more.
Bruce Bowen: He played 20 minutes, missed three shots and committed one foul. And yeah, I know you can't measure everything Bowen does by his statistics, but come on.
Andre Iguodala: He's Philly's leading scorer. Well, he was until the playoffs. He's averaging about 10 PPG on 22 percent shooting. And he doomed the Sixers in Game 4 by scoring only 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting. C'mon, Iggy! Your team needs you!
Arron Afflalo: He wins the Mario West Award for playing only 5 seconds against the Sixers on Sunday.
Update! Jarvis Hayes: Basketbawful reader Josh said: "You forgot about Jarvis Hayes on Worst of the Night. He played 2:59 for the Pistons and was able to come up with nothing but 2 fouls. Compare that to what probably would have happened if he was still on the Wizards...hmm...." Okay. I'll let Jarvis sneak in this time. But I'll expect worse things from him in the future.
Dallas Mavericks, Game 4: Ah, sweet Dallas...finding new ways to collapse every season. The NBA Playoffs just wouldn't be the same without them failing in some major way.
Josh Howard: I'm not going to touch the subject of his admitted marijuana use. But it sure seems to have distracted him from his game; he scored only 6 points on 3-for-16 shooting yesterday. Rikes, Raggy!
Jason Kidd: He played badly (3 points, 1-for-6, 3 assists, 2 turnovers) and then got himself ejected for nearly beheading Jannero Pargo. Kidd tried to play it off as a "hard foul," but watch the video: Kidd clearly pulled down on Pargo's neck well after the intial foul. That was pure, dagnasty evil. [From Odenized.]
Doug Collins: According to Basketbawful reader Nate, Doug is currently attending the Reggie Miller School for Unintentionally Hilarious Commentating: "Doug Collins just referred to Dirk Nowitkzi as 'a very erect player.' I feel like Basketbawful needs to know about any potential man love between the likes of Doug Collins and Dirk, as disgusting as that idea may be." Nate, if you were trying to make me shudder in revulsion, then misery accomplished.
TNT statisticians: This is from Basketbawful reader Paul: "I don't know if you caught this or not on TNT this evening, but they were showing some bogus statistic across the screen over and over again that I just couldn't wrap my head around...check out the attachment. Supposedly, Dallas has sold out 314 consecutive post season appearances. Even before looking it up, I didn't think that could be at all possible. Even if Dallas went to a game seven of the finals every year and each series went to a game seven, that's only be 16 home games a season, and only if Dallas had the home court advantage every year. That'd take Dallas 19 years to get 314 consecutive games. Even if you counted games at home and away, you'd still get only 28 games a season and it'd take 11 years. In the end, I found this link that says Dallas only has a 62-71 playoff record all time meaning they've only played in 133 post season games EVER. Maybe it was just a typo?" It probably was a typo. But a very dumb one.
Update! TNT's Closer promos: Basketbawful reader rhymenoceros said: "It's not quite basketball-related, but it's something we all have to suffer through on TNT, also. The insane amount of "Closer" commercials is driving me crazy. I don't know what's going on, but they're shoving this crap down our throats at what seems like every single commercial break, sometimes twice. I don't know if I've ever hated Kyra Sedgwick more...." Hmm. If Kyra ends up dead anytime soon, I guess we all know who to blame/thanks.
Update! NBA.com: Basketbawful reader Milan noticed that the league's Web site couldn't quite tell the difference between Dirk and Tim Duncan this weekend. Check out the text next to Dirk's mug...
Go ahead and put this creamy dollop of man love on top of your Monday morning NBA sunday, courtesy of Lipsome123: "This is on ESPN's NBA page right now, with the caption 'David West's big-game effort put the Hornets one win away.' I wonder how he feels about Devean George's big-game? Oh that was too easy."
Jimmy P. added the following: "It looks to me like Devean George is WAYYYYY too happy being groped by David West. And check out Bonzi Wells in the background, he can't believe what's going on!"
(Rahim gave me the head's up on this one as well. Thanks, everybody.)
I guess this must be the week for uncovering unintentionally hilarious Larry Bird commercials from the 80s. Check out this spot for the American Heart Association starring Larry Legend and the creepiest heart doctor you'll ever see. Who knew working on alternatives to bypass surgery could win you a place on Bird's pesonal All-Star Team.
Jameer Nelson and Maurice Evans: I've said over and over this season that guard play was going to doom. Well, after the first two games of the Raptors-Magic series, I was left enjoying the salty taste of my own foot. But no more. Nelson (6 points, 2-for-8, 5 fouls) and Evans (zero points, 0-for-3, zero assists, 3 turnovers) finally lived back down to my expectations. Even worse, they got burned by T.J. Ford (21 points, 7-for-11) and Jose Calderon (18 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists).
Rasho Nesterovic: The Yugoslavian Terror has been on fire since March -- and I have proof -- but he still got exiled to the bench and played only 10 minutes last night. His line: 2 points, 1-for-3 shooting, 1 turnovers, 4 fouls. Why the reduced role? Some say that putting Jamario Moon back in the starting lineup rejuvenated a listless Raptors team. Me? I think Bryan Colangelo got Rasho's Contract Year Phenomenon vibe and told Sam Mitchell to sit him. That way he'll be cheaper in the offseason. See, as a GM, you've always got to be thinking ahead...
The Cavaliers' butterfingeritis: The Wizards put the pressure on Cleveland, and the Cavs responded by turning the ball over 23 times. Those turnovers translated to 30 points for Washington. Ouch.
LeBron James: With the Washington crowd chearing "OVER-RATED," LeBron chuckled and then boned a freethrow. If I was a Cleveland fan, I would have preferred to see King James adopt a look of steely-eyed determination, sink the freethrow, and then go off on the Wizards. But that didn't happen, which kind of surprised me. Maybe the presence of an angry Soulja Boy took LeBron out of his game.
Wally Szczerbiak: The line: 6 points, 3-for-9 shooting, no three-pointers, 2 rebounds, 3 assists. And while Wally World struggles, the Cavaliers are still waiting for the guy who was supposed to be such a big upgrade from Larry Hughes to show up.
Ben Wallace: Can somebody -- anybody -- tell me how having Big Ben (5 points, 2-for-4, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnovers, 2 blocked shots) for $15.5 million is better than having Drew Gooden for $6.4 million? Since I haven't picked on him in a while, I am morally obligated to once again point out that John Hollinger said of the Chicago-Cleveland trade "This one works, big time (for Cleveland)."
Daniel Gibson: I said he was going to need to step up and hit some big threes for the Cavs. He didn't (0-for-3).
Devin Brown: Amazingly, he was Cleveland's second-best player last night (10 points, 8 rebounds), yet he shot 2-for-8 from the field. That's the kind of night it was for the Cavaliers. Speaking of which...
Dwayne Jones: He was a mere two seconds shy of achieving a seven trillion. Even at six, it's still the highest trillion of the playoffs so far.
Gilbert Arenas: On a night in which almost everything went Washington's way, there was one little cause for concern: Agent Zero reinjured his surgically-repaired left knee. The Wizards claim that Arenas only has a bone bruise and he's listed as day-to-day. But still...it feels a little ominous, doesn't it?
But here's a question. What exactly is up with Stevenson's hand gesture? Caseta said: "Here's some material for your WotN: the announcers of the Cavs-Wizards game. Stevenson kept doing the 'can't feel my face' thing, and they kept talking about how no one can see him. They were thinking his gesture meant he was hiding or something. Quite annoying. especially after all the talk during the past couple of weeks. I wonder what they think Mutombo's wagging finger means...perhaps 'do you want to smell my finger ?'"
And this was Mike's response: "Actually, and I'm getting quite annoyed at this, the Hand-Waving-Infront-Of-The-Face gesture is 'You Can't See Me' started by one John Cena of WWE and The Marine fame. He started using it as part of his gimmick about two, two and a half years ago now. Those announcers were actually spot on. Everyone else who thinks that it means that he can't feel his face or he's cooling off his hot hand is just plain wrong."
Can we get a ruling on this? Has Stevenson ever explained it? Does anybody know?
Mehmet Okur: He had a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds), but he also missed 10 of his 13 shot attempts. And his bricklaying did not help Utah's cause.
Andre Kirilenko: He is Utah's X-Factor. When the Russian Rifle is on his game -- scoring, rebounding, passing, playing defense, doing all the little things -- the Jazz seem unstoppable. The only problem is, you never know which Kirilenko is going to show up: The do-everything defensive ace, or the can't-to-anything moper? Last night he was more or less the latter: 5 points, 2-for-7, 2 rebounds, zero assists, 2 turnovers, 1 blocked shot, and 4 fouls. How can such a useful guy be so useless in such a big game? Update! Dunpizzle had this to add: "More AK47 WotN - he had the audacity to try to win a 2nd straight game with a flop." Oh my stars and garters, he did. How did I miss that?! Have...have I become desensitized to Andre's flopping??
Some random Jazz fan: Memo to front row spectators everywhere: Bob Delaney will not tolerate your potty mouth. [From Odenized.]
However, another anonymous reader begged very much to differ: "Uh, not based on what I see. Sure he brought the Rockets close, but he almost bricked the game at the end as well. It was Carl Landry's drawn foul that gave the Rockets a 93-86 lead (opposed to 92-86). Tracy's screwup offensive foul allowed the Jazz to to pull within 93-92 (opposed to 92-92). Then Landry's block saved the lead for the win (no OT). It's annoying that most media members just blindly give McGrady a free pass, other than maybe Tony Kornheiser on Pardon The Interruption. That's 'why y'all hatin' on T-mac so much,' because at some point seven first round exits has to mean something."
It should be noted that McGrady scored 7 points in the final 3:29 of the fourth, and those were very important points. However, the win wasn't all Tracy, as Lipsome123 pointed out: "I keep seeing things about T-mac being great in the 4th quarter...really?! 2-8 shooting, bad fouls, leaving Okur wide open for a three is good? He was saved by his teammates." Keep in mind too that the win hardly absolves McGrady of several seasons worth of big game disappearances. As JR commented -- fairly or unfairly -- "T-Mac is just a real life exhibition of learned helplessness. I think its gotten to the point where we have to recognise T-Mac as the bizarro Kobe." Personally? I'd like to see Tracy put an end to all that. Just not against my Jazz, please.
ESPN caption writers: Basketbawful reader Quinton sent this in an email: "Big Q here, lover, fighter, die hard rockets fan. Thought you'd be interested in ESPN mislabeling not one of our role players, but our star shooting guard as a center." He's not wrong. Here's ESPN's caption for the lead picture of today's WotN post: "Houston Rockets center Tracy McGrady loses the ball as he heads against Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer (9) during the first quarter of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 24, 2008, in Salt Lake City." Center? So what, does that mean Yao is out of a job when his foot heals?
After enduring the umpteen-millionth criticism for his teams' fourth quarter collapses and his many and sordid playoff failures, Tracy McGrady has officially admitted what we all already knew: He's to blame.
"It's my fault. It's my fault we missed free throws. It's my fault we lost both games. Blame me. It's my fault we fouled to tie the game up. That's my fault. It's my fault they get easy layups. It's my fault we're not executing well on the offensive end. It's my fault a couple people in the stands ordered Heinekens and they got Budweiser. It's my fault. I'm sorry."
T-Mac can't be serious....can he?
"I am serious. It's my fault. Everything is my fault. It's my fault. It's T-Mac's fault. Everybody's blaming me. The Suns (for being down 2-0 to the Spurs). I mean, everybody. That's what it seems like. It's my fault. I'm out there by myself."
But, but, but...wouldn't things be totally different if Rafer Alston and Yao Ming hadn't gotten hurt?
"That's another one of my faults: That Rafer got hurt and Yao got hurt. It's my fault. I'm sorry."
Wow. Well, apology accepted. For the record, we're all sorry for you too, Tracy. And two games from now, we'll be really sorry for you.
This just in: RJ White, Editor of The City Desk, pointed out in an email that the Philadelphia 76ers have convinced Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to sign a proclamation renaming Philly's Schuylkill Expressway in the team's honor.
According to the proclamation: "The Philadelphia 76ers need the rallying support of everyone in the Greater Philadelphia Region as the team faces the Detroit Pistons in the final round of the Eastern Conference. To raise awareness of the Philadelphia 76ers quest to 'Run With Us' in the postseason, I, Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hearby proclaim I-76 (a.k.a. the Schuykill Express) as 'I-76ers' for the time the Philadelphia 76ers are competing in the National Baskeball Association post season."
So, okay, it's only for a few games. But still. Also, Governor Rendell obviously doesn't know much about the NBA. I mean, "as the team faces the Detroit Pistons in the final round of the Eastern Conference." Not only is that wrong, it doesn't make much sense. Oh well. Just goes to prove that politics and playoffs don't mix.
Andre Iguodala: Philadelphia's leading scorer (19.9 PPG) has a total of 20 points on 5-for-24 shooting in two playoff games against the Pistons. In last night's blowout loss, he managed only 4 points on 1-for-9 from the field. In my preview for this series, I said: "In the two (regular season) games Philly won, Andre Iguodala scored 22 and 25 points...Iggy's got to score for the Sixers to stay competitive." And what do you know? Last night he didn't score and they couldn't stay competitive. Dismissed as coincidence. Seriously, though, Iguodala needs to become more aggressive and really take it to the Pistons in Game 3. This means more drives and fewer jumpshots (seven of his nine FGAs last night were jumpers). Which should be easier, since the Sixers will be at home (which always curtails the opposing team's hands-on defense).
Andre Miller: He did decent job scoring the basketball (14 points, 6-for-11) but not passing it (3 assists, 3 turnovers). I also noted in my series preview that: "Andre Miller has to keep the offense running." He's much more valuable to his team as a playmaker than as a scorer (although his scoring his important too). He can't let Detroit turn him into more of a scorer than a setup man.
Philly's defense: I know they ran into a buzzsaw, because the Pistons were determined to redeem themselves after losing Game 1. But still...no club should be allowed to shoot 55 percent as a team in the postseason. This is the playoffs, man. The playoffs.
Mike Bibby: Bibs played pretty poorly in Game 1 -- 5 points, 2-for-10 shooting, 1 assist, 2 turnovers -- much to the raucous delight of the Celtics' home crowd. His response? Well, Bibby uncharacteristically fired a few volleys at the Boston faithful: "They are fair-weather fans if you ask me. They were kind of loud in the beginning (of Game 1), but a lot of those fans are bandwagon jumpers trying to get on this now. I played here last year, too (with the Sacramento Kings), and I didn't see three-quarters of them. They're for the team now and they might get a little rowdy, but that's about it."
Those were stupid words delivered at the worst possible time, and Boston center Kendrick Perkins couldn't believe it: "He said what? Coming off a 2-for-10 night shooting, you'd say something like that, too." Of course, Bibby -- already on a roll -- couldn't let that one go: "I don't know where (Perkins) got this tough streak from. His stat line was worse than mine. Anybody else, I might take a little (bit differently). Until he does something in his career, for him to come at me like that, it kind of upsets me."
Was he ever. Mikey-boy was so troubled by Perkins and his unfair comments that he went out and shot 2-for-7 and had 1 lonely assist. That'll teach that loser, Mike! Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo out-veteren-ed Bibby for the second straight game (12 points, 6-for-11, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals). It got so bad that Atlanta coach Mike Woodson to replaced Bibby with bench monkey Acie Law IV. (And it should be noted that Law hit as many field goals in 21 minutes as Bibby has in Games 1 and 2.) The Boston Bandwagoneers noticed this, of course, and not only cheers for Bibby's return ("Whe-eres Bib-ee?") but also let him know where he ranks in the point guard food chain ("Ron-do's be-tter!" )
And you know what? Bibby still wouldn't shut up.
After the game, Bibs again went after both Perkins ("I thought he tried to hit me a couple of times, but I didn't really feel it.") and Celtics fans ("They know who they are. If they took offense, they must be part of it. I guess they are all bandwagon jumpers."). Keep talkin', Mike. Just keep on talkin'...
Josh Smith: Smith certainly played poorly enough to warrant WotN consideration -- 3-for-13 shooting, 5 turnovers, 5 personal fouls -- but the real reason he's here is because of something that happened less than a minute and a half into the game. Smith committed a hard foul on Paul Pierce in which he took Paul Pierce down, landed on him, and then rolled over his head. And I'm sorry, but you cannot tell me that occurred purely by accident. Pierce had to leave the game for a while, but it didn't effect the outcome. We'd probably have heard a lot more about this play if it had.
Joe Johnson: The Hawks' captain scored 11 points -- about half of his regular season average -- on 4-for-10 shooting, and he had 5 turnovers to only 1 assist. Now he knows how the captain of the Hindenburg felt.
Update! Mario West: Basketbawful reader friesenth gave me the following reminder: "You forgot to mention Mario West and his 31 seconds of zero-for-everything lack-tion." Indeed I did. Sorry.
Tony Allen: The low point last night for the Celtics was Allen's three trillion.
The Enver Nuggets: The Lakers scored 122 points on 50 percent shooting. Kobe went off for 49 points and 10 assists. And the Nuggets' defense -- which relies on ramble-scramble action and forced turnovers -- took the ball away from L.A. only 11 times. I said this over and over and over during the regular season: Enver uses a gimmick defense that cannot work consistently against disciplined teams. Which the Lakers (and most other playoff teams) are. And yet all sorts of people wanted to argue with me because they Nuggets ranked in the top ten in defensive efficiency. So...where are all those people now? Hello? Anybody out there? And for the record: According to Hollinger's latest stats, the Nuggets rank next to last in defensive efficiency during the playoffs (ahead of only Dallas). That sound you just heard was checkmate.
Kenyon Martin: This is what I wrote in my NBA Closer column today: "Assume that you're on a team that barely squeaked into the playoffs. Further assume that your team is perhaps hopelessly overmatched no matter what you do. Now assume you're facing off against the opposing team's best player, and that player is Kobe Bryant. Do you a) Pull a Shane Battier and work your butt off on D while quietly hoping for the best, b)Clothesline his arrogant ass, or c) Talk some smackity-smack to get him mad? Of course, the right answer is a, the righter answer is b, and the idiot's answer is c. Guess which one Kenyon Martin chose?" In other news, Kobe scored 49 points and the Lakers routed the Nuggets. But speaking of Kobe...
Kobe Byrant: Warning!! Kobe lovers should turn back now, or skip ahead to the next entry. If you are a Kobe lover and can't help but read the following criticisms, then please answer the embedded questions before going off on your own diatribe.
Leave it to the Mamba to use a brilliant game as an excuse to exude arrogance and classlessness...again. This was Game 2 of a first-round series. I repeat: Game 2 of a first-round series. Great players on great teams don't freak out about playing well in the first round, particularly in non-deciding games. I mean, other than Michael's crazy jumping-in-the-air celebration after hitting The Shot over Craig Ehlo in Game 5 of Chicago's first-round series against the Cavaliers, can you ever remember Jordan getting all smug about crushing some hapless eighth seed? And even in that example, Michael was at that time a five-year pro who had only ever won a single playoff series. Kobe's a 12-year veteran who's been on three title teams.
Yet there was Kobe, doing his fist pumps, flexing his biceps Hulk Hogan-style, blowing smoke off his fingers like he was poppin' caps, and screaming in primal rage. He also popped his jersey about 40 times after a made shot. Seriously. Watch the video. I know he's excited and everything, but is all that crowing really necessary? Does a (potential) MVP need to act that way? I mean, has any other NBA legend -- Bird, Chamberlain, Hakeem, Jordan, Kareem, Magic, Malone, Oscar, Robinson, Russell, Stockton, West -- ever rubbed a spectacular performance in his opponents' noses this much during an early game of a first round series? That's the exclusive province of guys like Chuck Person. You kind of don't expect that crap from an MVP candidate. Well, unless that candidate is Kobe.
Update!Doc posted the following comment to this post: "Those are fair criticisms of Kobe. But why not weigh in against Garnett as well? He spent the fourth quarter pulling the same moves (screaming into the air, raising his arms to the crowd, shaking his head threateningly) against a sub-.500 playoff opponent that the Celtics were beating by 20. This is after Garnett had been shooting around 36% from the field. Kobe at least turned in a dominating all-around performance against a 50-win team, who were within 5 at one point of the fourth quarter. Can't argue with you that he has a real hard time exhibiting class, but those standards should be applied across the board, especially when the other guy in question is your MVP choice."
Those are good points, Doc. I'm slightly abashed to admit that I stepped away from the fourth quarter of that game to do a few things...so I didn't see KG's antics. For the record, I wouldn't have appreciated them. There is one caveat, though, which is tha Garnett has acted that way for most of his career: Winning, losing, up 20, down 20, in big games, in meaningless games. It's part of that whole intense "wildman" persona he uses to amp up his game. It just seems more like a natural behavior -- like a tea kettle letting off steam or a dog humping your leg -- than what Kobe did. You get the feeling that KG can't contain his freakosity; when Kobe does it, he's clearly trying to show his opponents up.
Update! George Karl: Once again, my oversights are corrected by a reader. Rob Mahoney from Upside and Motor had this to say: "Wait, you put Kenyon Martin and the Nugs on Worst of the Night, but no mention of George Karl? No love for the mastermind who decided Martin and Edward Najera were good covers for Kobe? I honestly think his Karlness would be offended that you wouldn't feature him in a post about the worst of the NBA." Far be it from me to offend somebody who took the "D" out of Enver.
Steven Hunter and Ira Newble: One of the hidden subplots of the Nuggets-Lakers series is the duel between lousy roleplayers. Hunter and Newble each had a one trillion last night.
Reggie Miller: Rob S. let us know that Reggie continues to give color commentary lessons in the Knave's English: "I'm just watching the Lakers-Nuggets game and there's about 4 minutes left in the third and Reggie Miller just said, 'Kobe garnishes a lot of attention,' like Kobe is a sprig of cilantro or something. One might suspect he meant to say Kobe GARNERS a lot of attention, but at this point I really don't think Reggie even knows what he means to say. Awful." As a long-time Pacers fan, I officially have no comment. (Although my unofficial comment is, "Gak.") Update! Another Miller-related tidbit from Austen: "How about an extra 'Worst of the Night' bit for Reggie Miller for that idiotic bit during the Nuggets-Lakers game regarding the Celtics/Lakers Finals Matchups. He went through three minutes worth of stats only to have his final point be 'so as you can see, having that #1 Seed is a real plus!' No s***, Sherlock!"
Update! ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, and ABC: More from Austen: "Another Worst of the Night should go to ESPN/TNT/NBA TV/ABC for completely ignoring the Jazz/Rockets series once the Jazz won that first game. Ever since then (and I noticed this last night), whenever the commentators would remind everyone of the games coming up the next couple of days, the next in the Jazz/Rockets series would be conveniently left out. The commentators wouldn't mention it, and there wouldn't be a line of text about it on the screen, either. I know the Jazz have this series sewn up and the league despises the Jazz in general for being a small market team knocking out big market teams, but this series still has 2 games left! I wonder if this is as insulting to Rockets fans as it is to this Jazz fan."
Roger Mason is six feet, five inches tall and weighs in at around 200 pounds. He is by no means an imposing figure. But he must have been bitten by a radioctive spider as a kid, because just look what he did to LeBron during the first quarter of Game 2 of the Wizards-Cavaliers series.
Unless my eyes are deceiving me -- which would certainly explain the weirdos I ran into on my way to lunch -- Mason is brushing the mighty King James aside like a shoulder full of flaky dandruff. That's pretty impressive. Now I know Wizards coach Eddie Jordan has denied that his team is trying to lay the wood on LeBron, but we all know better. So Eddie, if you're going to rough up somebody who rumbles downcourt like a runaway choo-choo train, you might as well use the one player on your team who apparently has superhuman strength. Just a suggestion.
Michael Flatley better watch himself. It looks like NBA referee Bob Delaney is after his job. Although the effect is diminished somehwhat by the absence of tights and the manly expanse of pecs. Also, is just me, or is Jameer Nelson telling him the exact same thing?
Avery Johnson: His Mavs got treated like a pair of large, dangling testicles at a nutshot convention by Chris Paul in Game 1. Since the Little General likes his nuts the way they are, he opted to double-down on Paul at every possible opportunity. And it sounded like a good idea at the time...until CP3 disregarded the double-teams and rained fire on all those who dared oppose him. Paul finished with 32 points (10-for-16), 5 rebounds, 17 assists and 3 steals, thus becoming (I think) the first person in NBA history to record at least 30 points and 10 assists in his first two career playoff games. More importantly though, the Hornets delivered a 127-103 colon-blasting to the Mavericks.
The Dallas defense: I doubt it was all Avery's fault that his team couldn't have stopped a corpse (or even Greg Ostertag) from scoring the basketball. New Orleans shot 60 percent from the field, almost 56 from beyond the arc, and they had 30 assists while committing only 6 turnovers.
Jason Kidd: He was supposed to be The Difference, the final piece of Mark Cuban's championship jigsaw puzzle. Now he's being spit-roasted and eaten alive by Chris Paul. Unless something radically changes, this is going to be a series-long ego-ectomy for J-Kidd.
Dirk Nowitzki: What's wrong with this guy? Remember his tempter tantrum after Game 5 of the NBA Finals, when he couldn't even bully a helpless stationary bicycle? Well, last night we got more of the same, with Dirk grumping all over the court and screaming into thin air a couple times. Look, if my team consistently let me down and failed to live up to expectations, I'd be pissed too. But MVPs do not -- cannot -- act like that. That sort of behavior does not evoke confidence from your teammates. Which sort of explains why Jason Terry never seems to totally trust Nowitzki down the stretch...
Random Dallas players: The suck bong was being passed around liberally by the Mavericks last night, wasn't it? Kidd shot 3-for-10. Ditto for Josh Howard. Jerry Stackhouse was 4-for-10. Malik Allen played 11 minutes and contributed 4 fouls and 1 missed shot. Eddie Jones played 10 minutes, scored 3 points on 1-for-3 shooting and committed a couple fouls. Antoine Wright got 7 minutes of PT and had 1 rebound and 2 turnovers. Then there was Juwan Howard, who got into the game for 3 minutes to miss 1 shot, bone 3 freethrows, commit one foul, and finish with 1 point.
Mike James: Two seasons ago, he was scoring 20 PPG for the Toronto Raptors. Now he can't even get off the Hornets' bench in an obvious blowout. Oh how the "mighty" have fallen.
Toronto's starters (except Chris Bosh): No wonder Bosh doesn't trust his teammates. Anthony Parker scored zero points (0-for-4) in 38 minutes. T.J. Ford shot 1-for-8 and had 4 turnovers in 24 minutes. Rasho Nesterovic -- who's been on fire lately -- played only 5 minutes. (I guess the alien overlords returned the real Rasho.) Andrea Bargnani scored 9 points (4-for-9), grabbed 1 rebound and committed 4 fouls.
Jamario Moon: He finally looks like a rookie again: 3 points (1-for-7), 5 rebounds.
Sam Mitchell and/or Chris Bosh: The Raptors actually had a chance to steal this game, which ended with a 19-foot desperation jumper by Chris Bosh. That's the best play Sam could draw up? Seriously? Of course, it might have been Bosh going rogue. Bosh had been pretty clearly fouled on his previous drive to the basket but got no whistle, and after the game he indicated that was why he chose to fire it up from outside. "The time before I drove the basket and I didn't get a call. I didn't want to put it in the referee's hands. I wanted to get a clean look -- I felt like I did a decent job. I got a decent look and just missed the shot." Good choice. [/dripping sarcasm]
Hedo Turkoglu: Now, now, Hedo. Don't give us the Duncan face. We all saw that little push you gave Bosh after the foul. You're not fooling anybody. [From Odenized.]
Grant Hill: Well, we all knew it was too good to be true. Hill made it through the season only to fall victim to a nagging groin injury. And so the story goes. Hill played last night, but you could hardly tell it: 19 minutes, zero points (0-for-1), 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 foul. This man was absolutely critical to the Suns' playoff hopes...and he's clearly moving at half speed. That's bad news for Phoenix.
Leandro Barbosa: He's supposed to be the X-factor, right? The Brazillian Blur...speed and scoring off the bench...running the offense when Steve Nash needs a rest. Epic fail. Last night's line: zero points, 0-for-7 from the field, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in 23 minutes.
Mike D'Antoni: I have lost all faith in him. I honestly don't know what else to say.
Tony Parker: Man, I hate Tony Parker. I can't even pretend to be objective about the tiny Frenchman. He is such a huge, flapping vagina. I'm sorry; that's an insult to huge, flapping vaginas everywhere. Remember in last year's playoffs how Parker's head destroyed Steve Nash's nose? Yet Nash barely flinched while Tony flopped to the court and writhed around like he'd just been shot in the head.
Now watch him do the exact same thing after running into Shaq last night. Same fetal position, same agonized clutching of his head. For God's sake, Tony, grow a pair, okay? Your wife already told us about your fake flopping tactics. And speaking of Mrs. Longoria, Tony had a special but impossible for anybody else to understand message for his wife last night. It's official: He has become Doug Christie.
Epilogue: Despite the fact that he crumpled like a wet paper bag the split second he hit Shaq, Parker turned all tough guy after the game. "He was trying to play physical. But that's not going to stop me." Oooooo...scary.
NBA.com: First off, congratulations to Kevin Garnett for being named Defensive Player of the Year. It was well-deserved. But would you like to know the real secret to Boston's defensive magic? According to NBA.com's official DPoY announcement, Shane Battier is a secret Celtic. I was as shocked as you are. (Thanks to Basketbawful readers Charles and Arjun, who were all over this.)
Don C. Kalant Senior: [Frivolous Lawsuit Alert!!] This "prominent" dentist from Naperville, Illinois is suing the Chicago Bulls mascot, Benny the Bull. Apparently, Benny gave Kalant a crippling high-five during a February 12th Bulls game that hyperextended Kalants drilling arm. As a result, Kalant has been unable to work since the incident. And he apparently won't be able to spot-check for cavities again until sometime in May. Not to belittle a man's brave fight against the injustice of fate, but if you're so incredibly fragile that a high-five from a man dressed in a furry bull costume can take you out for five months, then you have no one to blame but yourself. What are you doing at a Bulls game? Or even leaving the house, for that matter? I suggest that you cover yourself in a few thousand layers of bubble wrap, fill your home with packing peanuts and lost of nice, soft pillows, and never go outside again.
Basketbawful reader Jesse provided a nice little follow-up to the Duncan face post. The following video proves that the Duncan face is, in fact, a contagious disease...and all the Spurs have it. Hmm. It might be time to quarantine the greater San Antonio area before this thing spreads.
And just to prove I'm a good sport -- and an equal-opportunity cynic -- here are a few Duncan face copycats:
1. The "Gah! A giant spider is eating Shaq!" face. Because that foul was pretty freaking blatant, and now I have to watch a mutant insect crush Shaq in its enormous mandibles. [Also from Jesse.]
2. The "Don't you know who I am?!" face. Because I'm LeBron James, bitch! [From Shrugz.]
3. The "Du verdammter Arschficker! Ich bin ein Berliner!" face. Because I really am a jelly doughnut, complete with a thin, doughy outside and a thick, gooey inside. [From anne.]
Duncan face (dunk'-uhn fas) noun. A look of incredulous, googly-eyed mock surprise that is directed at a referee by a player any (and every) time a call does not go that player's way. Note that the Duncan face can be enhanced by raising the hands in an "I didn't do it!" gesture and should be followed up with a steely-eyed glare.
Usage example:On to my frustration: The Spurs are huge babies. This applies to Popovich, Duncan, and seemingly every other player on the court. Duncan has his Duncan Face everytime he doesn't get a call. [By "Isaac," via TrueHoop.]
Word history: It's impossible to pinpoint exactly when this term was invented, but it's been popular for at least the last three or four seasons, during which time the Duncan face has become a parody of itself. I mean, how can the officials possibly take Duncan -- or any player who utilizes the Duncan face -- seriously anymore? If I was an NBA referee, I would make one call or non-call against a player for each time he used the Duncan face. (This could quite possibly be the reason I am not currently employed as a referee.)
Great Duncan faces throughout history: In addition to the standard or "classic" Duncan face shown above, there are several other Duncan faces that can be used when the situation warrants it:
1. The "Dear God, it hurts!" face. Because that foul could have killed me, man!
2. The "Holy crap ref, you cannot be serious!" face. Because, damn it, you totally would have made the right call if you'd seen what I saw.
3. The "I saw that shit was wrong from the bench!" face. Because I saw that shit all the way from over here.
4. The "I'm gonna make a sarcastic face!" face. Because you, Mr. Referee, are an idiot.
5. The "But I'm Tim Duncan's teammate!" face. Because I really am Tim Duncan's teammate! (Starring Manu Ginobili as himself.)
6. The "Get yer filthy hands off me!" face. Because seriously, ET TU, MANU?! [From Basketbawful reader Phenominal Cosmic Power.]
7. The "Why is my life so damned hard?" sad face. Because you all know I didn't do it, so why do you have to make me cry? [From Black Jesus Disciples.]
8. The "Cheaters really do prosper" goofy grin face. Because it feels sooooo good to cheat and win. [From an anonymous Spurs fan.]
Contribute to the cause! If you know of a Duncan face that I forgot and have photographic evidence to prove it, forward the info to me and I'll use it to update this post...with credit to you, of course.