Terrible officiating: The Atlanta Hawks really took it up the tailpipe in this one. Not only did they have to contend with a monster game from King Crab (48 points, 10 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots) and a game-breaking three-pointer from Anderson Varejao (?!), they were also the victim of some rather dubious officiating. Forget the fact that the Craboliers -- playing at home, of course -- had a 38-15 advantage in free throw attempts. The refs couldn't even handle resetting the shot clock. From ESPN's Daily Dime:
To review: Atlanta was ahead 99-98 when the Cavs missed a shot in the lane with about 16 seconds remaining on the shot clock. But the shot clock did not reset, and by the time point guard Mike Bibby dribbled up court and looked at the clock, it was ticking close to zero. Bibby passed the ball to Josh Smith in the lane, he had it stolen by LeBron James, and the Cavs came down court and scored for a 100-99 lead.
Woodson was apoplectic, arguing his case vociferously to the referees while also screaming angrily at the 24-second clock operator. But to no avail.
"I'm not going to comment on it at this time. We're just going to file a protest, without a doubt let the league review it at the two-minute mark, and then see what they think."
Did he see that as a game-changer?
"Well, we've got a one-point lead and with the ball going our way, and we're rushing to get a shot because the clock is not in our favor? You figure it out."
Remember: this is supposed to be the Era of NBA Officiating Transparency. Remember: David Stern is supposed to be winning back the public's trust after The Scandal. So the officials would explain this gaffe surely.
They didn't. And don't call me Shirley. More from the Daily Dime:
There is an NBA procedure for instances such as this. A pool reporter is permitted to question the lead referee about a rules interpretation, and the referee is obligated to answer so long as it does not involve a judgment call, and the pool reporter is obligated to share the referee's answer with all other media.
Pretty simple, no?
Well, lead referee Kenny Mauer would have none of it, relaying two words -- "no comment" -- when a Cavs public relations official informed him a pool reporter wished to question him about the play in question.
Mauer could have explained that he was acting within the rules as they are written, and that there is no recourse for going to a video review on a malfunction such as this.
"I think we should have won this game, and I think they know that, too," Bibby said. "I was bringing the ball up, and that's why I started to go because the clock was down. I didn't know, it was the middle of the game, I thought it was kind of quick. You look at the shot clock, you see the shot clock down, and you play."
Said Smith: "Malfunction? I thought one official was supposed to check the clock."
This is the second time this month that a lead referee has refused to explain a critical rules interpretation -- even though the league office has encouraged them (but not mandated them) to do so. A league spokesman said Mauer was within his rights to decline comment, and so all we have for an explanation this morning is the video of the play, the video of Woodson's ire and the pending protest (which seems almost certain to be turned down).
Let's face it: NBA fans will be doomed to deal with lousy officiating until the end of time. All we can do is accept it. Which, admittedly, will be tough for Atlanta fans to choke down today.
Mike Brown, verbal man love machine: Regarding King Crab: "It's amazing. You know how they say a young person has an old soul? Well, he's got an old game. It's athletic, powerful and energetic. The whole nine yards. It feels like he's been doing it forever." That's probably because the media shoves everything LeBron down our throats.
The New York Bricks: It was going to happen sooner or later. The New Jersey Nyets were not going to finish the season with only two wins. Some team -- some silly, mock-worthy team -- was going to lose to them. The West Coast squad most likely to be That Team was the Clippers. The East Coast club? The Bricks. And aye, lads, the Bricks came through. Big time.
Mike _'Antoni's _efense struck again, as the Nyets scored 60 first-half points on 62 percent shooting. New Jersey's lead eventually crested at 72-55 in the third quarter before they coasted -- that's right, coasted -- to a 104-95 win. And it could have been worse: the Nyets missed 11 fouls shots. The Bricks tried to make a run in the fourth quarter, holding the Nyets to only six buckets, but they scored only nine baskets themselves...along with seven turnovers. Comeback fail.
Said _'Antoni: "We were happy just scoring baskets and trading baskets. Hopefully it's a learning experience and we understand that we can't have lows like that. We can't come out soft and that's what we did." Added David Lee: "It's a tough game for us. ... They just outplayed us."
Here's some bonus bawful, courtesy of Basketbawful reader Dmitriy:
The Boston Celtics: How fragile are Boston's championship aspirations? Forget their back-to-back road defeats by the Clippers and Warriors, or even their blowout loss in Phoenix. Let's instead focus on the fact that their two best players (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) missed the game with knee injuries. Going into the season, everybody said that the C's biggest obstacles would be Father Time and the injuries he can bring. Well...there you have it.
But despite the handicap, you'd figure the Celtics would at least put up a fight, right? Wrong. They basically rolled over and died, like a cockroach that just got doused in Raid. Amar''''''e Stoudemire went 9-for-10 from the field in the first quarter, Channing Frye scored a season-high 26 points while going 6-for-9 from downtown and grabbing 10 rebounds, and the Suns coasted New Jersey-style to a 116-98 victory. And it's not like Phoenix ran Boston off the court. The Celtics outscored the Suns 20-11 in fastbreak points. Chew on that one for a few minutes.
The Celtics finished their post-Christmas road trip 1-3, which has become something of a trend for them. They started last season 27-2 and then lost seven of 10 after Christmas. This year they started 22-5 and have lost three of four (so far) after Christmas. And check it: they have one home game (against the Craptors) before going on the road for another three-game trip (at Miami, Atlanta and Toronto) before coming back home to face the Hawks. Pierce will probably missed most of those games, and Garnett might miss a couple more. Losing only seven of 10 might be optimistic.
Said Doc Rivers: "The lesson that's learned on this trip is not from tonight. The lesson that we should learn on this trip is when you give away a game with the Clippers when you're healthy, then you do it again, then when you're injured you need those games back."
I love the fact that he singled out the Clippers and not the Warriors.
Rasheed Wallace: Remember: 'Sheed wasn't added only for extra depth. He was supposed to be KG insurance. As in, if Garnett got hurt, Wallace could step in and give the Celtics 75-ish percent of what KG would have. Yeah. Right. 'Sheed went 3-for-11 from the field (including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc) and finished with almost as many fouls (3) as rebounds (4) in 31 minutes.
Kendrick Perkins, momentum killer: Believe it or not, the Celtics were making a mini-run to end the first half...until Perkins got T'd up and killed his team's momentum. Said Rivers: "We cut it to nine points and then he gets a tech. I have no idea over what. He's got to grow up. He's got to get better."
The Milwaukee Bucks: Okay, so Scott Skiles throws a tantrum, benching his two best players (Andy Bogut and Mikey Redd), and then the very next game his team gets clobbered by 25 points after giving up back-to-back 38-point quarters to the Magic in Orlando.
Maybe. But on the other hand...look, I'm a Scott Skiles fan. Have been for years. He pushes undertalented to overperform by hustling and playing hard, and I love that. However, his hard-nosed, no-excuses style wears on his players after a year or two. That's when...things...start to happen. Things like players not giving it their all (at best) or going through the motions (at worst), strange coaching decisions (like the Bogut and Redd double benching), major defensive collapses (like giving up 76 points in the second half), and extended losing stretches (seven of the last eight at the moment).
Those are usually the first few flakes of the "Skiles gets Fired" snowball. Now, I might be reading too much into Milwaukee's recent struggles. The Magic are a pretty good team and could beat almost anybody the way they beat the Bucks last night. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see this trend continue...and for Skiles to be drawing unemployment later this year.
(Speaking of which, do you ever wonder whether NBA coaches sign up for unemployment after they get fired? Like, can you imagine going to the unemployment office and saying, "Yes, my last job paid me $5 million per year. What's the max I can get from the government while I'm looking for my next job? Like, 70 percent of that, right?")
Jameer Nelson: On a night when seemingly everyone played well for the Magic, Nelson did not, going 1-for-7 from the field and finishing with 4 points and 3 assists in only 23 minutes. You know, in the not-to-distant past, Nelson was being talked up as a potential All-Star. Then he got injured, then injured again, and now, well, former retiree Jason Williams (16 points, 5-for-5 on threes, and 7 assists in 25 minutes) is about to usurp his position as Orlando's starting PG.
For his part, Nelson claimed he was dealing with a "family issue" the night before and further complained that limited practice time (due to the time he has to spend rehabbing from his arthroscopic knee surgery) has killed his rhythm (10-for-35 from the field since returning to the team). But Stan Van Gundy sounds like he's losing his patience: "We're going to have to go back and evaluate where we are with Jameer," Van Gundy said. "There's medical concerns and people don't want him to get re-injured. I understand that we're trying to protect him. We've got to somehow find a balance. If he's not going to practice and we're going to use games like practice, I don't know how valuable that's going to be. Four days off and they don't want him doing anything in practice, that makes it very, very hard."
The Los Angeles Clippers: The Frail Blazers (so named by Orlando C. Harn) were already without Rudy Fernandez (back), Travis Outlaw (left foot), Nicky Batum (shoulder), Greg Oden (so very, very old) and the Vanilla Godzilla (leg explosion)...and then they lost LaMarcus Aldridge to a badly sprained his left ankle six minutes into the game! As Portland coach Nate McMillan said: "This has gone past crazy. It's bad luck, or whatever, to continue to see our guys drop the way that we are. To walk into the locker room and see LaMarcus Aldridge in a boot -- not just a swollen ankle -- but a boot."
Past crazy is right.
The only good news for the Frail Blazers is that they were playing the Clippers when Aldridge got hurt, which meant that -- for one night at least -- the injury didn't matter. The Clippers -- in truth "They are who we thought they were" fashion -- got beaten by a cobbled-together frontcourt combo of the ancient Juwan Howard (10 points, 5-for-7, 9 rebounds, 2 steals), Jeff Pendergraph (8 points, 4-for-8, 14 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) and Dante Cunningham (8 points, 4-for-8, 3 boards and a block). Man...the Clippers couldn't even take advantage of a team that was missing its starting frontcourt and a full half of its rotation players. I mean, they just signed Shavlik Randolph for God's sake!
How Clipper-y is that?
Said The Other L.A. coach Mike Dunleavy Sr.: "In the first half, we spotted them 10 points and you just can't let that happen." Yeah, because no team has ever overcome a whole 10-point spread before...? Again I ask: how is he still employed?
Lacktion report: As he prepares to ring in the New Year, Chris provides some New Year's Eve's Eve lacktion:
Bucks-Magic: Charlie Bell clanged five bricks (three from Orange Avenue) along with a giveaway and two fouls for an Association-leading +8 in 7:41 - at least the top suck differential UNTIL the end of the Pacers game below!!!
Grizzlies-Pacers: Hamed Haddadi had himself a missed field goal and two fouls in 4:43 for a +3 and a 2:0 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, in a stupefying stint as starting forward, Mike Dunleavy took after his father by lacking up THE biggest suck differential in the Association so far - wasting away in 16:13 by bricking four times (once from the charity stripe and thricely from the Indiana Central Canal), losing the rock once, taking a rejection, AND fouling three times for a +9!!!!!!!!!!!
Heat-Hornets: Joel Anthony minted a 1.6 trillion (1:35) for Erik Spoelstra's firey squad tonight.
Celtics-Suns: Despite four boards in 23 minutes, Brian Scalabrine fouled out in addition to losing the rock once and tossing three bricks from Van Buren Street for a 7:4 Voskuhl - his third consecutive Voskuhl in three games!
Sixers-Kings: Jason Kapono witnessed the paupers' distribution of dumb defense from up close, accruing a 6 trillion!