The Washington Generals: Henry Abbott was saying yesterday that there are three tiers of teams in the East: The Celtics, Craboilers and Magic are at the top, every other team in the East except Washington is in the middle, and the Wizards are alone on their own tier at the bottom. And last night's game was a prime example of why this is. For starters, the Wizards allowed Shaq to finish with a game-high 29 points despite it being the second night of a back-to-back for The Big Contract. Apparently Phoenix is beginning to realize they're in danger of missing the playoffs this year, so it looks like Shaq being able to take games off is no longer part of the game plan. On top of letting Shaq eat them up, after trailing by only two at home entering the fourth quarter, the Wiz made only 6 field goals the rest of the way, letting Phoenix outscore them 28-14 to finish out the game. The loss combined with the Thunder's win (see below) made them, officially, the worst team in the NBA. But, to be fair, you can't be expected to win many games when your starting point guard is...
Mike James: 36 minutes, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, zero points. Either Terry Porter's supposed commitment to D has turned Steve Nash into a defensive juggernaut, or Mike James is who we thought he was. I'm not sensing much seller's remorse from New Orleans on the trade they made to unload him awhile back.
The Big Cactus and Tough Juice Man Love: You just have to kiss a head that cute.
The Atlanta Hawks: Fresh off losing to the Suns the previous night, the Dirty Birds came out and laid an egg in Miami, trailing for all but 23 seconds of last night's game. After Marvin Williams hit a three-point shot to give the Hawks their only lead at 12-11 with 6 minutes to go in the first, Atlanta didn't hit another field goal till only 4:30 remained in the half, a span of over 13 minutes. That kind of futility can lead to some record lows, and that's exactly what happened last night as the Hawks set a franchise record for fewest first-half points with 27.
Mike Bibby: Apparently trying to one-up Mike James for Worst PG of the Night honors, Bibby put up a truly awful stat line for a point guard: 32 minutes, 5 turnovers, no assists, 2 points. And to think there's been minor rumblings about Bibby deserving an All-Star spot this year.
Joe Johnson, quote machine: "We just weren't playing hard." You know what? He's right. Here's a tip: Next game, try playing hard. I guarantee you'll give your team a better chance of success if you do.
The Houston Rockets: Yao missed his second straight game with a knee injury, thus depriving Nate Robinson of another chance to block one of his shots, so the Rockets were forced to play sans center yet again. Against a team like the Knicks that wants to do everything they can to lure you into a game of high-speed small ball, losing the one guy on your team who's taller than 6'9 can be a dangerous proposition (I know Mutombo is taller than 6'9, but he received a DNP-CD, most likely because he's roughly mummy age). Houston is a team that normally shoots fewer than 20 three-pointers per game, but last night they fell under D'Antoni's spell, firing up 33 shots from deep, bricking all but 10. The blame for this falls pretty squarely on...
Ron Artest, Rafer Alston and Tracy McGrady: Crazy Pills, Skip to my Lou and Knee-Mac fell right into the Knicks' trap and got suckered into bombing away, finishing the night a combined 5-22 from distance. The trigger-happy Knicks as a team only attempted 21 threes (hitting 6). I wonder if Kenny Smith is rethinking his prediction that Houston will win it all this year?
The Milwaukee M.A.S.H. Unit Bucks three-point Shooting: Losing your best shooter can really hurt a team's chances of scoring from deep. So can missing your starting center and his ability to let the team go inside out for open perimeter shots. Just ask the Bucks, who only shot 7 percent from downtown last night without Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut in the lineup. Richard Jefferson: With Bogut out for the 7th straight game with back spasms and now with Redd out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, Richard Jefferson is the lone Milwaukee player with a contract worth over $10m a year; but you wouldn't know it based on last night's game: 3-for-15 shooting (including 0-5 from beyond the arc) for 10 points in 34 minutes won't get it done. If the Bucks wanted that kind of production, they wouldn't have traded away Yi Jianlian.
The "Brand new" 76ers: Elton Brand made his return to the 76ers last night in New Orleans, and Philly responded by posting their lowest point total in three weeks. Brand was limited to zero points on three shots in 18 minutes of play, despite New Orleans missing both Tyson Chandler and David West. The 76er defense allowed New Orleans to shoot 14-31 from downtown, including a four-minute span from the end of the third quarter till early in the fourth when the Hornets hit 6 threes to push the lead from 3 to 16. Philly was clearly not learning by watching either, shooting only 2-14 from deep themselves.
The New Jersey Nets: This game was nowhere near as close as the 9-point margin would lead you to believe, as the Nets got their butts kicked up and down the floor for the first 40 minutes of the game, trailing by 28 with 7 minutes to play. Only a furious rally by New Jersey made the game look somewhat respectable, but you know it's bad when you outscore the opposition by 19 in the 4th quarter and still lose by 9. P.S. THEY WERE PLAYING THE THUNDER.
Vince Carter and Devin Harris: You might think a torrid New Jersey comeback would be fueled by the Nets' two All-Star hopefuls, but if you did you'd be wrong. Nope, neither of these players were even on the floor in the fourth quarter, with Lawrence Frank having long pulled the plug on this one (and who can blame him, down 28 to start the final 12 minutes). Being yanked early isn't why these two are being mentioned here though. No, it's because they combined to shoot 6--for-29 for 18 total points. That and the fact that they were -18 (Vince) and -25 (Devin) for the night, while Trenton Hassell, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Maurice Ager were +19, +21 and +11 off the bench, respectively.
Klahoma City fans: Their team stinks all year, and when they finally put on a clinic to become only the second-worst team in pro ball, a mere 5,000 people were there to see it due to bad weather. That faint sound you hear in the distance is the basketball fans in Seattle cursing in unison.
The L.A. Clippers: As always, the Clips were missing their four best players (Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman), as well as Mardy Collins (strained left calf) and Mike Taylor (broken thumb), but on the plus side, at least Brian Skinner seems to have recovered from the flu-like symptoms that kept him out of L.A.'s last game, so they had that going for them, which is nice. Nevertheless, the Clips at home had the game all tied up with less than 13 minutes go to before the wheels came off. Maybe with that patched-together group that Mike Dunleavy, Sr. had to throw out on the floor, 35 minutes of quality ball is all one can expect. Too bad the remaining 13 minutes were so miserable as the Blazers finished the game on a 42-17 run.
Ricky Davis: Looking through the Clipper lineup, it's tough to find too much fault with many of those guys. Most are rookies,second-year guys or fringe journeymen like Cheikh Samb. But not Ricky Davis. No, Ricky Davis is a basketball name that will live in infamy, and this game didn't help to clear any of the mud off his name. That he had no points on one missed shot with one turnover and one rebound are somewhat excusable since he only played six minutes. What can't be excused is that he only was able to get six minutes of playing time on such a depleted roster. In fact, outside of Steve Novak, the whole Clipper bench only played 19 minutes. Which brings us to...
Mike Dunleavy, Sr.: Hey Mike, if you're wondering why your team got outscored by 25 points in the last 13 minutes of the game, maybe it's because they were on the second night of a back-to-back and you decided to only go with a six-man rotation. Mike D'Antoni even thinks you didn't use your bench enough last night. Did you really need to give Eric Gordon and Fred Jones, a 20-year old rookie and a guy the clippers waived and then resigned three days later to a 10-day contract, 41 and 43 minutes last night? Surely Ricky Davis and Jason Hart could have contributed more than 14 combined minutes tonight, right?
The Portland Trailblazers: Shame on them for letting such a woefully understaffed Clipper team hang with them for 35 minutes!
NBA Marketing Geniuses: The NBA's online store is selling a Laker T-shirt in Celtic green, complete with a three-leaf clover on the sleeve. Who is more likely to want to own this: Laker fans or Celtic fans? Would fans of either team wear it? Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?
Kobe Byrant: Lord Mamba snuck into Luke Walton's house and short-sheeted his bed, then waited till Luke fell asleep and placed his hand in a bowl of warm water.
Update! Bonus Bawful: Here's some other Bawful tidbits from ESPN today:
- Ron Artest made only one of his 10 three-point field-goal attempts in Houston's loss to the Knicks on Monday night. It was only the third time this season than an NBA player took at least 10 shots from beyond the arc and made no more than one.
- The Rockets led the Knicks 80-74 at the end of the third quarter on Monday night, but New York rallied to win, 104-98. The Knicks had been 0-21 this season in games in which they trailed heading into the fourth quarter. Prior to Monday night they were the only team in the league that had not won a game in which it was behind entering the final period.
- Minnesota defeated Milwaukee 90-83 on Monday night, overcoming a rough night for Sebastian Telfair, who was 3-for-13 (.231) from the field, with six turnovers. Only one other player in Timberwolves history had such a low field-goal percentage (min: 10 FGA) and at least that many turnovers in one game. That was Christian Laettner, who was 2-for-13 (.154), with six turnovers in a loss at Orlando in April 1994.
About the author:Wild Yams is a frequent reader of Basketbawful and many other basketball blogs, and is just as much a pain in the ass here as he is on those other sites. Like LeBron James, he likes to refer to himself in the third person, but unlike LeBron James, he has not mastered the crab dribble.