How bad is the swine flu pandemic? Well, you know it's pretty bad when the world's flu experts start breaking out words that 89 percent of high school seniors probably don't know. (Pandemic means "prevalent over a whole area, country, etc." by the way.) But how's this for perspective: Mexico is shutting down. The whole country. FOR FIVE DAYS. You can now join me in saying, "Holy sh*t!"
But let's not freak out too badly, okay? I mean, unless the world's governments are using this as a cover for a zombie apocalypse -- and I haven't ruled that out just yet -- then the swine flu isn't something we haven't faced before. And beaten. Like back in the 1970s, when the following super-awesome PSA was made. Now, normally I wouldn't give something like this its own post...except for its rather comical juxtaposition of race, which is totally basketball-related.
At the 14-second mark, we are introduced to two young black men, dressed in grubby-looking t-shirts and jeans, playing basketball in what seems to be a schoolyard. One of them takes a quick breather to say, "Swine flu? Man, I'm too fast to let it catch me." (You then see him in bed with a thermometer in his mouth, presumably near death.) Next we see a white man. Or should I say, The White Man. Older, well-spoken, suited up, obviously wealthy and powerful with a huge desk and big comfy office. And he doesn't play some poor man's (i.e., black man's) sport like basketball. He plays GOLF. Every weekend! That's right, GOLF. The rich man's game. The white man's game.
In the big scheme of things, it's not that big a deal. After all, a lot has changed since the 1970s. Disco is dead (except for in certain prominent gay dance clubs), bell-bottoms (dorky!) are now referred to as boot-cuts (cool!), a black man is the best golfer on the planet, and a black basketball player is President of the United States. So, you know, those people in the 70s might as well have been living on Pluto. Which, as it happens, was a planet in 1970 but has since been reclassified as a mere dwarf planet...and only the second-largest one of those in our solar system. But it's still pretty funny to see how laughingly backward our Plutonian forbears were just a few short decades ago.
If there is a God, and He reads Basketbawful, then I can only pray that He will one day grant me the opportunity to interview Ron Artest. Forget Shaq. Artest is the true MQE (Most Quotable Ever). In his latest oratorical masterpiece, Ron informs us that Brandon Roy is better than Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (even though "his defense is kind of suspect"), names "a guy from my hood from Queensbridge, a guy named Mike Chatfer, he went to jail a couple of years" as the best player he's ever played against, and states flatly that Charles Barkley was overrated ("He was a little small -- he didn't have no defense.") His crazy is much better suited to aimless talking than brawling. We need a Ron Artest reality show, immediately.
The NBA: I guess it wouldn't be the playoffs without a whole bunch of controversy surrounding the officiating, and just think, we're only in the first round! After Tuesday's debacles which had the whole internets all atwitter over the Dwight Howard elbow and Rajon Rondo slap/punch, and the way the refs blew both calls, potentially costing the underdogs in those series the games (and maybe the series); the NBA followed up the reffing snafu with a partial front office snafu. They correctly decided to suspend Dwight Howard for Game 6, sending the message that just cause you punch someone in the head with your elbow, it's still a punch, and still punishable with a suspension (if not an ejection). But then the league office followed that decision up by announcing that Rajon Rondo's foul was just a shooting foul and was not flagrant, sending the message that in crunch time be sure to knock a guy trying to hit a game winner in the head, because that's just smart basketball.
Now, I understand why the NBA felt it had to go this route with the Rondo play, because if they had upgraded it to a flagrant one, it essentially would have been like telling the Bulls "sorry, we blew that one, you probably should have ended up winning that game," and you know the NBA really didn't want to do that. On the other hand, if they'd upgraded the foul to a flagrant two then it would have been like saying "Sorry Bulls, you should have won that last game, but to make up for it, how bout we try to make up for it by unnecessarily suspending one of Boston's best players for the next game?" This is why nobody should be hoping and waiting for the NBA's league offices to clean up the messes a day after the refs make them. Just empower the refs to use instant replay at their discretion so we can avoid these kinds of costly errors.
OK, now on to why the NBA is up for last night's Worst Of. Clearly after this dog and pony show for the press and all us fans, you could tell that the NBA pulled the refs for tonight's game aside and told them to really bring the hammer down on any hard fouls. That's the only explanation for why some rather standard light pushing and staring down of players under the basket in the Heat-Hawks game resulted in four technical fouls, and why a rather innocuous block from Dwyane Wade resulted in a flagrant one foul. You can see the two plays for yourself below, the first one is at the 42-second mark and the second one is at the 59-second mark:
The Miami Heat: With the series tied 2-2 every game is huge, especially Game 5 which determines who is on the verge of advancing to the next round, and who is on the verge of elimination. With that as the backdrop, the Heat came out and got flat out embarrassed, allowing themselves to be outscored in the 2nd quarter 39-20 en route to a 23 point halftime lead that basically turned the second 24 minutes of the game into extended garbage time. The game was so out of hand in the second half that Josh Smith tried a between his legs dunk on a breakway fast break which missed so badly it barely drew iron. Michael Beasley and Dwayne Wade were the only Heat players which really came to play last night, and even they didn't play that great, as Beasley got his 18 points on 5-12 shooting and 23 of Wade's 29 points came in the second half when the game was already basically over.
Josh Smith: From Stotts Era: "Gotta, gotta, gotta give a WOTN to Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks...with the game well in hand for the Hawks, J-Smooth on a breakaway, does up for a dunk in which he passes the ball between his legs!! This is not the dunk contest, Josh. Anyways of course he bricks the dunk and Frattelo says "You wonder if he'll ever learn." Josh Smith, easily the most immature 5 year veteran ever." And here's the video. Go to the 1:30 mark.
Update! Hawks radio announcer Steve Holman of 790 The Zone: (From Larry Brown Sports Via Ball Don't Lie) Last night, Steve redefined homerism in a way that would make Bobby "The Brain" Heenan blush. Key quotes: "You can't foul me when I go to the basket, I have a hurt head. I'm Dwyane Wade. I do commercials." "Look, I'm Dwyane Wade, you can't call that!" and "Oh my goodness, the Heat have resorted to thuggery!"
The New Orleans Hornets: Doesn't it seem like it wasn't too long ago that the Hornets were considered one of the favorites to win the NBA title this year? How quickly things can change. Fresh off the worst playoff defeat in NBA playoffs history (at home, no less), the Hornets ended their season with their fourth defeat in the first round of 15 points or more, losing in Denver 107-86. New Orleans came out wanting to show the world that they hadn't quit, by playing the Nuggets to a tie through the first 30 minutes of the game. Of course, after that valiant effort, the Hornets then went ahead and quit anyway, letting Denver go on a 24-4 run which iced it. Including the playoffs the Hornets finished the year by losing 8 of their last 11 games. This is the first time Denver has advanced to the second round in 15 years and was the first 7-game series the Nuggets had won in almost a quarter of a century.
Chris Paul: It wasn't nearly as bad as the 4 points, 6 assists and 6 turnovers he had in Game 4, but with the hopes of his whole team riding on his back he needed to come up bigger last night than 12 points on 16 shots. He did chip in 10 assists and 6 boards in 46 minutes of play though, and honestly it's tough to fault Paul too much considering the amount of physical abuse he suffered this whole series. It's too bad Paul's team didn't have his back more with all the hits he took at the hands of the Nuggets.
Lacktion report: Even with only two games, Chris was wallowing in lacktivity.
Heat-Hawks: Jamaal Magloire racked up a brick and rejection for a +2 in 5:01, his second straight game with a suck differential!
Atlanta brought out multiple human victory cigars with varying results: Mario West ruined a potential eleven trillion with an assist, but Acie Law laid down a brick from downtown and a giveaway for a +2 in 4:59, while Randolph Morris took a foul and brick for his own +2 in 3:21 (that also notched a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl). And Thomas Gardner raked in a payday of 1.35 trillion!
Hornets-Nuggets: Lacktivity was in abundance in yet another thwacking by Denver, the conclusion to their first playoff series victory in 15 years. First off was Byron Scott's duo of dubiousness, as Julian Wright flew into the ledger with a brick-and-foul +2 in 3:57, while Ryan "Absolutely Not Bruce" Bowen saw his teammate's unproductivity and upped the ante by adding a rejection to his own identical stats for a +3 in 1:38.
Not to be outdone, George Karl sent out several walking embodiments of nicotine to celebrate his first series conquest as Nuggets coach. Jason Hart took one foul for a +1 in 1:37, while Renaldo Balkman scored a Mario 64 (not a true Mario, but a 64 second stint!) with one brick from the steps of the Denver Mint for +1.
The ESPN Playoff Ticker: Several of you loyal 'bawfulites pointed out a little problem with The Network's ability to track series standings. Unless, of course, the first round just got a whole lot longer and nobody told us about it.
Associated Press, unintentionally dirty headline machine: Basketbawful reader Joel P. drew my attention to perhaps the greatest headline in the history of Western Civilization: Girl beats off muggers with marching band baton. Said Joel: "I'm no editor, but unless the editor was living with Borat for the past 20 years, they should have caught this one...plus pondering exactly how one 'beats off' a mugger with a baton is going to occupy my brain for much longer than it should."
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.
The Chicago Bulls: Last night's 106-104 overtime loss is what you'd call a "missed opportunity," but only if you were trying to keep from using really offensive language that might offend most women and frighten small forest animals. The Bulls had their hoof on the Leprechaun's throat. They were THIS CLOSE to stealing his lucky charms and enjoying those pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers, blue diamonds, purple horseshoes and red balloons...I'm getting all hungry just THINKING about it. But instead of stomping down with that hoof and crushing the life out of their injury-riddled and increasingly weary foe, they backed off and let the C's work their playoff magic.
It didn't help that Ben Gordon gunned his way to an awful 6-for-21 shooting performance. BG was playing bravely on an strained hamstring, but the last time I checked, that sort of injury shouldn't affect shot selection. Derrick Rose continued to struggle with the concept of holding onto the ball, and his 6 turnovers were a game-high. (He now has 20 turnovers in the last three games. Ouch.) Kendrick Perkins (19 points, 7 blocks) and Big Baby (21 points, 7-for-11 from the field, 7-for-8 from the line, about 29 brutal picks) dominated the paint. Vinny Del Negro refused to call for time until a Boston run had cut his team's 11-point fourth-quarter lead to just two. He also failed to capitalize on the absence of Ray Allen (who fouled out after only 26 minutes of airtime) to trap or even apply a little added pressure to Paul Pierce, who hit a 15-footer to force overtime and then knocked down three straight long jumpers in the extra session to stab the Bulls in the heart, El Matador-style.
But even after all that, the Bulls still had a chance to win, except for...
Iffy officiating: Matt Moore has asked us all to lay off the officials, and for the most part, I'm totally cool with that. But come on, now. Brad Miller got straight-up clubbed at the end of the game. The NBA’s official rule on flagrant fouls states: "A flagrant foul-penalty (1) is unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent. A flagrant foul-penalty (2) is unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. It is an unsportsmanlike act and the offender is ejected immediately." Well, Brad Miller was bleeding from the mouth, had a tooth knocked loose and looked like he would have had trouble spelling his name. Brad needed stitches to close the wound and, for all we know, he might have even thought he was the Batman. That sure sounds like "unnecessary and excessive contact" to me. But it wasn’t a flagrant. Also, notice the closed hand that looks almost fist-like.
It's funny. Back in March, Trevor Ariza hit Rudy Fernandez in the head from behind and got treated like some sort of deranged serial killer. But I guess that play was different because Rudy, who was airborne at the moment of contact, got injured, and because Ariza is bigger than Fernandez. In this case, Miller was the big man, and he's certainly not a threat to leave the ground unless launched from a very sturdy catapult. Oh, and the Ariza-Fernandez incident occurred during the regular season, whereas this is the postseason, which made Rondo's mugging of Miller just a good, hard playoff foul, right? Riiiiiiight. And I'm sure that seeing double at the line didn't affect Miller's free throw shooting, either. I mean, 80 percent career foul shooters usually wobble up to the line and shank their first attempt while putting it up cross-eyed. Happens all the time.
Look, I understand there's no guarantee that the game would have turned out any differently had the officials made the correct call. But still.
Kevin Garnett: Did anybody else notice KG tongue-lashing an impassive Ben Gordon last night (as beautifully illustrated below)? Way to stay classy, Kevin. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure there are rules prohibiting a player on the bench from verbally abusing an opponent who happens to be strolling by. But you know, the refs have a history of turning a blind eye to Garnett's "intensity" in Boston. Just ask Jose Calderon.
"I wanna eat you. I wanna skin you alive and eat you."
Stephon Marbury: Rough late-game sequence for the Artist Formerly Known As Starbury. Doctor Hank Pym explains: "First he fakes the wide open three, and gives it to Rondo, who promptly airballs a floater, then he plays such piss poor defense on Ben Gordon, who hits the easy jumper. Doug Collins is ripping on the guy, and rightly so! What the hell was the point of signing him if he's going to waste the perfect opportunity to shoot a wide open jumper?" I'm telling you, it's that upcoming alien invasion I've been warning everybody about. How much more proof do you people need that Marbury has been replaced by a poorly-programmed doppelganger?
Dwight Howard: He had a MAN-type game and finished with an "Animal Style" double-double (24 points, 24 boards). He also blocked two shots, shot 8-for-14 from the field and even hit eight out of 12 from the line. But Dwight was swinging a little free with the elbows. In fact, you could even say he tried to kill Samuel Dalembert with one:
That's a seriously dangerous play. If Howard had connected with that "Macho Man Randy Savage" move, Dalembert's remains would have been carried out in a bucket. Think I'm kidding? Just ask his teammate Courtney Lee, "who took an elbow to the head from Howard early in the first quarter and never returned. He was taken to the hospital for precautionary tests." And that swing Dwight took at Sam wasn't an accident. Like it or not, Howard has a history of "What?! I didn't do it!" elbow smashes. The Sixers have a legitimate beef, since the NBA rule book makes it fairly clear that Howard should have gotten the boot for that play. I wouldn't be surprised to see David Stern ask Superman to stay in the phone booth for Game 6 in Philly.
Cat Coach fights: Remember back in the 1990s when Phil Jackson and Pat Riley would verbally spar with each other in the press? Well, Tony DiLeo versus Stan Van Gundy is JUST like that...only 20 times wussier. After watching Howard pitch his tent (not THAT kind of tent, you sickos) in the paint, DiLeo said: "Dwight Howard had a great game, and he's a great player, but he just lives in the three-second lane on offense and defense. I'm just saying he's standing in the three-second lane on offense and defense. He's a great player, and he doesn't need any advantages."
Van Gundy, who's used to this sort of sniping, was quick to retort: "Am I supposed to come up here and talk about the game. Or am I supposed to come up here and lobby for the calls I want the next game? Is that what it's about now? We're supposed to lobby for the calls we want the next game? Let's just play the games. I guess that's the only reason Dwight's having success in this series. It has nothing to do with the fact that he's good."
Seriously, the minute one of these guys calls the other a poopy head, I'm done. (But not really. That would be awesome.)
Marcin Gortat: Nomination from Czernobog: "Marcin Gortat deserves a mention. Last Magic possession of the first half, Sixers ignore him on defense and Alston catches him with a cross-court pass under the basket, and he banks it in. Not a Sixer within the three point line, he's right under the rim, he's 6'11", you'd expect a dunk, wouldn't you? Lazy bastard." I love the beach. I always fantasize that, if I lived by the beach (in an always warm climate), I'd be there every day. But you always hear stories about how the folks who DO live by the beach rarely go because, well, it's always there. Likewise, I always imagine that, if I could dunk, I would ramjam (yes, I have seen The Wrestler, and yes, it rocks) the ball home at every possible opportunity. But there are an awful lot of giant white dudes who would rather lay it in off the backboard. Why? It feels like a cruel taunt every time I see it.
The San Antonio Spurs: Well, I kind of expected this series to be a one-sided affair, I just got the side wrong. Last night's 106-93 home loss made it official: The "They're always in the mix!" Spurs have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000...when they lost to the Phoenix Suns in a series in which Tim Duncan never even played (due to a knee injury).
The Manu Ginobili-less Spurs got 30 points out of Duncan (14-for-21) and 26 points (11-for-21) out of Tony Parker, but none of the support staff was able to reach double-figures. As TD put it: "They had more firepower than us. They played better than us. However you want to put it, obviously they were the better team this year. That's all you can say." He's not wrong. And, in fact, Dallas thoroughly outplayed San Antonio in this series that, at times, I actually wondered whether Ginobili's presence would make that much of a difference...which could mean bad news for next year's Spurs.
Note that, in addition to his game-high 12 assists, Parker also had a game-high 7 turnovers. (Only three fewer than the entire Dallas team, as a matter of fact.)
The Houston Rockets: It's not like they conceded the game or anything -- they fought back to take a small lead in the fourth before collapsing -- but from arch-supporting comfort of my desk chair, it sure looked to me like the Rockets had a bad case of letsjustfinishitathomeitis. How else can you explain the fact that Aaron Brooks led the team with 20 shot attempts, eight more than Yao Ming (who went 7-for-12) and 11 more than Ron Artest (who quietly faded away with a 3-for-9, 4-turnover performance). They also struggled mightily in getting to the charity stripe, as observed in the AP game recap: "The Rockets went to the free-throw line just 10 times in the game and made eight attempts. But coach Rick Adelman, earlier in the day fined $25,000 for criticizing the officiating during the playoffs, kept his silence."
Lacktion report: Chris weighs in with some phat lacktivity:
Bulls-Celtics: Lindsey Hunter aimed for the on-screen dog with his Zapper and sniped out his second consecutive Mario, a 45-second stint that strangely enough included a board. (This shout out to video gaming's greatest plumber is the first productive sub-minute stint in the Association this postseason).
Meanwhile, Eddie House resides firmly in the lacktion report tonight with a 9:39 stint that included one brick from the Tobin Bridge, one rejection, and a foul for a +3 suck differential.
Sixers-Magic: Royal Ivey put on a princely performance as the Sixers' key lacktator, fouling once and tossing a brick from downtown for a +2 in 5:53. On the other end of the court, Tony Battie went picking for fire-flowers with a 15 second Mario.
Mavs-Spurs: Ryan Hollins finishes out the first round the same way he started: by putting on the plumbers' overalls for a Mario, in this case taking 32 seconds to celebrate the Mavs' escape past the first round for the first time since 2006.
Rockets-Blazers: Houston's Brian Cook and James White tossed spiky shells at each other for 54 seconds as synchronized Mario Brothers! (Cook actually made one shot and also garnered a board in only the second overall productive Mario so far.)
And despite Portland defending its home court to force a sixth game, Nicolas Batum provided ineffective play as a starting forward by giving up the rock once in 5:47 for a +1, his second suck differential in the series.
This damn recession: Want to hear a sad story? Well, here you go (via Chris): "Now a little piece of that victory is up on the auction block. In a testament to the far reach of the recession, former Bulls guard and assistant coach to the Sacramento Kings, Randy Brown, has declared bankruptcy, and his three championship rings will be for sale to the highest bidder via online auction at WestAuction.com. ... These hard financial times have impacted everyone, and Brown is no exception. 'It's a tough situation,' says Dennis West, of West Auctions, the company charged with auctioning the rings. 'Randy seems like a really good guy, and he was a great player. However, these are tough times for a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds. People are making difficult financial decisions, and for some that means bankruptcy.' With bankruptcy rates rising rapidly across the nation, you can expect many more auctions in the future."
The New Orleans Hornets: I don't have a Ph.D. in Wordology, but I'm still pretty sure the phrase "great googly moogly" was invented for games like this. This truly was a history-making debacle. And who could have seen it coming? I mean, Denver had looked like the better team through three games, sure, but I never expected the Hornets to play Alderaan to the Nuggets' Death Star. This was the most brutal, one-sided rout I've seen since Megatron killed all those Autobots during the Instruments of Destruction scene in Transformers: The Movie. (Which, by the way, remains the best after-school-cartoon-to-movie motion picture of all time.)
Okay, enough with the cutsie analogies and onto the nitty-gritty. The Hornets lost by nearly as many points (58) as they scored (63). They were never in the game, falling behind by 21 after one quarter, 22 after two and 39 after three. The 121-63 loss matched the largest margin of defeat in NBA Playoff history. The Minneapolis Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks 133-75 in 1956. Think about that: No playoff team in 53 years has been beaten as badly as the Hornets got pummeled last night. And this was, gulp, a HOME GAME.
More numbers of woe: New Orleans shot 31.5 percent (17-for-54) and committed a franchise playoff-high 27 turnovers (which gave Denver 41 bonus points). Think about that: The Hornets finished with 10 more turnovers than field goals. New Orleans also notched all-time playoff lows in points, field goals made, field goals attempted, assists (10) and second-half points (24). And those 121 points the Nuggets scored set an all-time playoff high for a Hornets opponent. This is 'bawful beyond the ability of human words to articulate. So, after much thought, I can only compare this drubbing to the death administered to the skateboarding assassin in Hard Ticket to Hawaii:
Yep. I think that pretty much sums it up. But here are some reader comments anyway. Eric, who attended the game, said: "If there was any more indication of how badly the Hornets played, the highlights of the 1st half they put up on the Jumbotron included two shots from timeout entertainment: The three-pointer a guy made to win his section 7-Up and the dunk of a six-year-old."
More dogpiling from Justin: "I'm sure you're getting plenty of emails on one of the extravaganza of humiliation in New Orleans tonight. All I have to say, as someone who watched two quarters of this turd, is this: no photograph from the game will ever properly convey the sheer size and density of the facepalm that was this loss. So I give you this. Use it wisely. Although, what I was really looking for was this guy. It's just that he makes me kind of nauseous."
And finally, from Dr. Hank Pym: "In tomorrow's WotN, make sure to mention how much of a ripjob Rick Kamla and Steve Smith, the commentators for NBATV's broadcast of the Nuggets/Hornets game, put on the Hornets. At some point in the beginning of the fourth quarter, Rick and Steve were so bored they were going off-topic, and when it was near the end of the game, they were ROOTING for the Hornets to not score anymore points! Kamla said something along the lines of 'If we have to sit through 48 minutes of this, we may as well make it a record night.' And Steve Smith was actually chanting 'Defense!' during a Hornets possession, hoping they would break the record for biggest playoff blowout. Man, they were just cracking so many jokes and just not caring at all about the game, it was completely hilarious, yet so sad at the same time. Wasn't this the team that was supposed to be a legitimate competitor to the Lakers this year?"
Chris Paul: The Hornets may lack depth, but they were pretty much expected to win the point guard battle. Like, by a lot. However, except for Game 3, Chauncey Billups has been by far the best point guard in this series, and maybe the Western Conference Playoffs. And Paul? Well, he crashed and burned, big time, in the fourth game: 4 points (2-for-7), 6 assists and 6 turnovers in 36 minutes of...of...LACKTION. Yes, CP3 was a lacktion superstar in this one. It was one of the worst games of his career, and certainly his worst-ever playoff game: It was, after all, the first time Paul has ever scored fewer than 14 points in a playoff game. Said Nuggets coach George Karl: "I'm pretty sure Chris Paul is not 100 percent." When the opposing coach is pulling out the "Injury Excuse" for you, that's a seriously bad sign.
Carmelo Anthony, Captain Obvious: "I wouldn't have thought that we would win by 58 points. I never thought anyone could win by 58 points in the playoffs." 'Melo truly is the Large Hadron Collider of NBA Playoff insight.
The Miami Heat: The Heat were probably thankful that the disaster in New Orleans distracted from their homecourt fail against the Hawks. Instead of putting Atlanta into a playoff headlock, then moving into DDT, Miami came out and played like it was the preseason: 37 percent shooting, more turnovers (12) than assists (12), AND they got owned by Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 18 rebounds, 2 steals). It was like a night at Harry's Chocolate Shop, as the Heat went ugly early and never recovered. From the AP recap: "The Heat shot 5-for-23 in the first 21 minutes, digging a 21-point hole. At one point, Miami nearly had as many fouls (15) as points (19), Wade had four airballs (arguing he was fouled on two), and the Heat were unraveling." I suppose you could point at Dwyane Wade's 9-for-26 shooting (including 1-for-8 from downtown) and game-high-tying 4 turnovers, but a large share of blame goes to...
The Miami Heat "bench": The one thing that could have made this group failure truly complete would have been for a tumbleweed to blow forlornly by them. They combined to score 2 points (on 0-for-7 shooting) and 9 fouls in about 48 minutes of daylight. When Zaza Pachulia BY HIMSELF is nearly 45 times better than your entire bench, well, you know...SAD TROMBONE.
The Utah Jazz: Maybe next year, huh?
Carlos Boozer: In what likely will be his final game in a Jazz uniform, the Boozeman went 3-for-8 from the field, finishing with 10 points and a plus-minus score of -11. That's not Karl Malone lite. That's not even zero-calorie Karl Malone. That's Karl Malone's jock strap on a bad day. It's been a fun couple years, Carlos. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, okay?
Andre Kirilenko: Dan. B sent in this pic, and I just had to include it.
"The ball...it's like a piece of iron."
The Los Angeles Lakers' killer instinct (or lack thereof): From Karc: "Wow, I do not think I have ever seen a series where a team wins after blowing a big lead late in each game. But the Lakers did it. Seriously, L.A., take a cue from Cleveland. Up by 20 in the fourth quarter, you finish that game and win by 25 or 30. You do NOT let the lead get down to 6, mostly due to your 'star' player getting three turnovers to spark a run by the Utah bench. I laughed when Phil Jackson benched Kobe Byrant, not because he wanted to rest him as a reward for his play in the series, but because he sucked on the court. Geez, it seems like everybody but the Lakers was ready to call it a day, as Boozer and Williams weren't even in the game. I was hoping the Jazz would break 100 so that the Laker fans could boo this team for another collapse that cost them free tacos. Maybe then they would get the message. Good luck trying that nonsense against Denver or Cleveland. Hint: it's not going to work. Because those two teams are likely to look at a 20-point hole in the second half and think 'Hey, we have this thing won.' Which normally would be insane. Against the Lakers, though, it's the truth. Just ask Boston."
Lacktion report: From Chris: "What an appropriate time to work on the lacktion report -- on my TV in the background is Food Network's Good Eats, and Alton Brown's doing the episode on...CRABS! Ahh...memories of Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson still fresh in my mind. (And of course all eyes in the next round will be on Tarence Kinsey, who is in a serious slump towards semi-useful ball!) Now to the non-contributors of this playoff night."
Hawks-Heat: Solomon Jones wisely played the role of human victory cigar for Atlanta, staying sharp with a foul in 3:26 for a +1 suck differential and a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl.
Erik Spoelstra saw home court spoiled tonight despite the brave efforts of two of his top lacktators. Joel Anthony negated a board in 4:26 with two fouls for a 2:1 Madsen-level Voskuhl, while Jamaal Magloire did one better by avoiding any positive play with a brick and two fouls in 1:52, a +3 that also counted as a 2:0 for his second Voskuhl in three games!
Nuggets-Hornets: When George Karl's squad nearly scored twice as many points as New Orleans did, it's understandable that the Nuggets' lacktion faction got some rest from avoiding contribution, with Johan Petro even making a few shots! So the Hornets' failfest becomes the story of the evening, first with starting center Tyson Chandler (who as we all recall, nearly got traded to the Thunder earlier this season), who chose to pay tribute to Toronto's buffoon of a big man for the second consecutive game.
Chandler did take two boards and two assists in his 12:46 from the opening tip, only to miss two shots and get charged with fouls four times for a Voskuhl ratio of 4:2. The news only got better for Byron Scott -- better that is, if Scott is a fan of lacktivity -- with Hilton Armstrong checking into the ledger tonight after a 12-minute stint, with a field goal and board (plus two steals) negated by four giveaways and three fouls for a 7:3 Voskuhl of his own, tying the lodger with Kwame Brown for the worst playoff Voskuhl ratio so far. Ouch.
Derek Fisher is seeking a temporary restraining order against a woman who he says is stalking and harassing him.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard, who is playing in Game 5 of the NBA playoffs against Utah, filed the paperwork with the Los Angeles County Superior Court earlier Monday.
He claims that the woman, Symone Fisher -- no relation -- has been harassing him since 2001 but that the situation has gotten worse over the past few months. Fisher claims that the woman has been showing up at his place of work and at his private residence.
In the restraining order, he also asked for protection for his wife, Candace, and four children.
A Los Angeles County detective investigating the case recommended that Fisher get a restraining order after looking into a number of unsolicited e-mails, internet messages and letters sent from Symone Fisher suggesting that the two were married.
So add two cases of stalking to the thousands of cases of unhealthy Kobe obsession. What is it about the Lakers, exactly, that causes people to become mentally unhinged? Also, Wild Yams noticed something about that writeup that I also noticed: "From the article about Fisher's stalker: 'Fisher claims that the woman has been showing up at his place of work and at his private residence.' OK, showing up at his house is definitely a bad sign, but there are lots of people who routinely show up at his 'place of work.' They're called 'season ticket holders' or possibly even just 'basketball fans.'"
Editor's note: If you haven't voted for Basketbawful in the Basketblog Header Finals yet...what are you waiting for? A warning from the Surgeon General?
The Detroit Pistons: They took their best shot at actually winning a game in this series, holding the Crabs to 41 percent field goal accuracy and limiting them to 9 third-quarter points. They were also aided and abetted by a Cleveland team that shanked 11 free throws and missed 18 of their 22 three-point attempts. Sadly, the Pistons connected on only 38 percent of their own shots, and they weren't able to contain LeBron (25 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) or even Joe Beast, who had a career playoff-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. And now Detroit, a team that has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for six straight seasons, is on the brink of being swept away like stale breadcrumbs. Said The Phantom of Auburn Hills: "This is killing me. I can't even lie. ... It's killing me -- just the simple fact -- how great we were, being down 0-3, being the eighth seed and watching them celebrate shot after shot."
Rasheed Wallace: His lifeless, "I really don't give a f*** anymore" performance was best summed up by this line from the AP recap: "The 34-year-old Wallace scored just five points, looking past his prime, banged up and uninterested." 'Sheed does realize it's a contract year, right?!
Detroit fans: From the AP game notes: "Between the third and fourth quarters, an altercation led to one fan landing the hardest punch at The Palace since the infamous 2004 brawl in which the Indiana Pacers tussled with the Pistons and their fans." Happy times in the Motor City.
LeBron James: I can't find YouTube of this, strangely enough, but King Crab got his junk stuffed by Kwame Brown. Kwame Brown!
The Orlando Magic: Letting the Sixers shoot 52 percent for the game was bad enough, but check out this end-of-game defense on Thaddeus Young's game-winner:
First off, why were they playing chest-to-chest on that guy? He was 2-for-7 for the game and hadn't even attempted a three-pointer. The Magicians also seemed to forget that Young is a lefty. Bad stuff, man. And shouldn't the newly crowned Defensive Player of the Year be able to protect the rim in the closing seconds of a critical playoff game? Of course, Orlando would have been in a better position if they hadn't fallen behind by 17 points. Said Stan Van Gundy: "We were badly outplayed for 30 minutes. We're lucky to even be in the situation we're in. They had no trouble scoring on us and other than Dwight, we didn't do much offensively." No kidding. The Magic shot 42 percent from the field...and that number drops to 33 percent if you subtract Dwight Howard's 12-for-16 performance.
The Orlando Magic broadcasters: From Basketbawful reader Rahul: "Dude, you have to include this. It just happened. Commentator said: 'Tony DiLeo is not happy with the penetration he is getting right now.' I am ok with the increased access nowdays the media has, but this is just too much information."
The Portland Trail Blazers: Yao Ming finished with more turnovers (3) than field goals (2) and scored only 7 points...but the Blazers still lost 86-83 to fall behind two games to one in their best-of-seven series with the Rockets. Their big guns seemed to be shooting with blinders on, as Brandon Roy (who was harassed relentlessly by Ron Artest and Shane Battier) went 6-for-18, LaMarcus Aldridge was 6-for-15 and Travis Outlaw finished 2-for-11. If it wasn't for the nine three-pointers they got out of Rudy Fernandez and Steve Blake, Portland probably would have been blown out.
Yao Ming: The Blazers have poked a few bricks out of the Great Wall, reducing the nine-foot giant to the third or fourth-best player on the team. Said Yao: "Tough for me. Almost like a sandwich." Mmmm. Yao sandwich. Just, uh, hold the mayo, okay?
Adam Morrison versus Sasha Vujacic: Even the 'Stache hates Douchacic. Seriously:
During Lakers' practice on Friday, Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic shoved one another with Morrison threatening over and over, "you grab my shirt one more time..."
"You should have seen it when I used to go at it with Shaq," Kobe Bryant said afterward.
Phil Jackson found the Morrison-Vujacic altercation amusing, according to witness Frank Isola.
Saturday lacktivity report: Chris continues to prove that the playoffs really aren't complete without lacktion.
Cavs-Pistons: As the Pistons are starting to look as devastated as an average neighborhood on Woodward Avenue, the Crabs' Sasha Pavlovic was given the opportunity to claw onto a Power Pad for an 18 second Mario!
Magic-Sixers: Marcin Gortat spent 3:26 firmly in the penalty, fouling twice for a +2 suck differential that also notched up a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Blazers-Rockets: Portland's Nicolas Batum just posted the longest postseason stint of pure non-contributory lacktion so far with a 10:16 run as starting forward that provided a mere brick from downtown for a +1.
Denver versus New Orleans: Talk about your hack-a-paloozas. At one point, I felt like I was watching a Heat-Knicks game from the late-90s. The officials called 58 personal fouls -- 29 on each team -- and four players fouled out (David West and Tyson Chandler for New Orleans, and Nene and Kenyon Martin for Denver). But Chris Paul didn't seem to mind getting pounded like a B-list porn star: "This is the fun part of the playoffs, all the contact, all the flagrant fouls. You never want anyone to get hurt, but after it's all said and done, you smile about it because that's the nature of the sport."
Byron Scott, bitch and moan machine: James Posey got tagged with a well-deserved flagrant on Chris Andersen. Posey didn't go for the ball, and he gave the Birdman's arm a strong tug of the "I'm gonna see if I can get away with throwing you to the floor" variety after the whistle. And after the game, Scott was all up in arms about the call: "It was a terrible call. Chauncey Billups' (flagrant) foul on Rasual (Butler), if it would have been James Posey, they probably would have thrown him out of the game. Posey didn't do anything. He tried to hold (Andersen) up on the foul. It was a good hard foul, but to get a flagrant on the foul, you have to almost throw the guy down as well. It was a terrible call." Since I'm fairly certain Byron hasn't suffered a head injury any time recently, I'll go ahead and assume he didn't see the tape. I mean, if he wants to argue that the league has been totally wussified, I'd agree with that. But that call was pretty consistent with the pansy way David Stern wants his league run.
Playoff intensity: Thanks to Basketbawful reader gpq for sending in this pic. Talk about "Guys who don't look like they should be in the NBA"...
The San Antonio Spurs: They held the Mavs to 38 percent shooting. Tony Parker scored 43 points on 18-for-29 shooting. Tim Duncan almost had a triple-double (25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists). And they still lost. Blame the 12 missed free throws -- including seven bonks by Duncan -- and the fact that the bench combined to shoot 4-for-14. The Spurs are just running on empty right now. When the starters not named "Duncan" or "Parker" shoot 2-for-14 your reserves finish with more fouls (14) than points (10), you know you're in serious trouble. As Tony Parker put it: "They have a lot more weapons than us." Sing along with me kids: "It's the end of the Spurs as we know them..."
In addition to all that drek, Basketbawful reader Mike T. was wagging his finger at San Antonio's clutch-time execution:
I know that the Spurs have already cemented their place in Worst of the Weekend after their second straight face plant in Dallas, but I would like to nominate them specifically for their end-of-game decision making. Down by 5 with 3:30 left in the game, the Spurs proceeded to go 1-for-8 from the field. I can live with 1-for-8 if they are getting decent shots that just aren't going in, but included in their 1-for-8 shooting was 1-for-8 from the three-point line. That's correct. In the last 3:30 of a 5-point game (that remained a 5-point game until the very end), the Spurs took eight three-pointers and zero two-pointers (to go along with zero free throws).
And these were not wide open attempts that the Mavs were giving the Spurs. The Spurs took hand in the face 3's to the point that on one possession Tim Duncan was wide open under the basket TWICE on one play and Matt Bonner missed him the first time so that Michael Finley could force a contested 25 footer the second time. Tim Duncan even broke out a new version of the Tim Duncan face on the play to express his disgust. To top it all off, coming out of a timeout the Spurs ran a set play for Bonner to shoot a contested 3 from the left corner, which is his worst place outside of the arch according to NBA.com Hot Spots.
I thought 900 games of combined playoff experience was supposed to give the Spurs some kind of mental advantage.
The Atlanta Hawks: I'm really biting my tongue right now. The last thing I want to do is stat curse the Heat. So I'm going to hold back the "I told ya so’s" until after the Hawks are actually eliminated. But their 107-78 loss in Miami felt pretty damning, didn't it? The Dirty Birds scored 29 points in the first half and finished with almost as many blocked shots against (12) as assists (13). They also got battered on the boards (48-35) and shot a miserable 36 percent. AND they continue to make Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal (22 points, 10 boards, 3 blocks) look like an All-Star center. I'm not saying Atlanta can't win this series, but can we all just agree that they aren't this great team everybody was making them out to be after those two long home stands they had this season?
The Miami Heat bench: You'd think the would have played great in such a terrible blowout...but they did not, putting up 5-for-22 group effort.
Al Horford, quote machine: The man-child getting abused by The Drain said: "No more excuses. We're going to have to bring it fuego on Monday." BRING IT FUEGO, BABY!
The Utah Jazz: Turns out their Game 3 victory was more of a lucky break than a series-changing turnaround. The Lakers bounced back from a sloppy, listless effort to set the Jazz up for a Game 5 knockout by beating them 108-94 in Utah. L.A. scored 40 points in the second quarter and then held the Jazz to 16 points in the third take total control of the game and the series. Utah got double-doubles out of Deron Williams (23 points, 13 assists) and Carlos Boozer (23 points, 16 boards), but they couldn't stop the Lakers (51 percent shooting) or hit their free throws (22-for-32). Now the only drama left in this first-round matchup is how quickly the Jazz will go down in the fifth and final game.
Deron Williams, hope springs eternal machine: After his team got its collective ass handed to it on Saturday, Deron said: "The series is not over. We've still got a little hope. We know it's going to be tough to win 3 in a row against these guys, but we should be playing free and loose." That's like telling the hangman's noose "This isn't over yet...my neck isn't broken and I can still sorta breath..."
Saturday lacktivity report: Chris brings you a super-lacktive Saturday...and a special announcement.
We're starting to see a postseason dominated by that elusive but critical element every championship team has had - lacktion. So all four of Saturday's games got love in the lacktion report:
Nuggets-Hornets: Despite a field goal and three boards in 17:43, Tyson Chandler fouled out and gave up the rock twice to fry up a Voskuhl of 8:5!
Spurs-Mavs: Matt Bonner rocketed his way to mediocrity this afternoon with a 21:55 stint so bawful, only one board away from a seemingly unprecedented +9 suck differential. That board however did not negate his bad play enough to avoid his second Voskuhl of the postseason, a ratio of 5:1 via four fouls, one turnover, and four bricks (three pieces of masonry from downtown). Bonner's non-performance also so far has set the mark for the lengthiest bawful big man showing in these playoffs.
James Singleton has now lacked it up in 3 of 4 playoff games so far for Mark Cuban's squad, this time running in place with the Speedboard NES accessory for a NINE SECOND SUPER MARIO - the second tribute to the Mushroom Kingdom that Mr. Singleton has procured this round!!!!
Heat-Hawks: THE Mario West got a second opportunity in a row to lack it up and contributed so little for so long that a Wii memory card wasn't enough to hold it all. His 3.6 trillion required the assistance of a financial broker or two!
Lakers-Jazz: Josh Powell turned on his Konami LaserScope for 20 seconds and fired off a Mario in his second straight lacktive game! Matching Powell's consecutive games of non-contribution streak was Utah's Brevin Knight, who crowned himself the court jester via two bricks and two fouls for a +4 in 2:18, the second-highest suck differential in the postseason so far.
And Andrew Bynum continues to pay tribute to the leader of Toronto's Little Three of Lacktivity, with his second straight Voskuhl (a 4:3 ratio this time around) via two fouls and two giveaways against a field goal and board in 6:57.
The Chicago Bulls free throw shooting: As I noted at By the Horns, I was ready to dub this baby "The Free Throw Game." As in, "Missed free throws cost the Bulls the chance to tie this series at two games a piece." It wasn't just the nine misses (26-for-35). It was when some of those misses occurred. You know, at the worst possible times. First, Tyrus Thomas shanked a foul shot with 16 seconds left in regulation that could have given the Bulls a four-point cushion. Ray Allen responded by drilling a cold-blooded three-pointer to force overtime. Then, with 26 ticks left in the first overtime, Kirk Hinrich blew a freebie that could have tied the game at 107. After Paul Pierce pushed Boston’s lead to 108-106 (although he too missed a free throw), Ben Gordon got the whistle but was able to hit only one of two at the stripe, thereby failing to tie the game with nine seconds to go in that first OT. Joakim Noah had to foul Allen, who knocked down both of his foul shots to give the Celtics a 110-107 lead.
The Bulls got redeemed by Ben Gordon's crazy-ass shot, but if they'd lost, it would have been on the free throw shooting. Oh, that and...
Chicago's end-of-game defense: Basketbawful reader KC Deco writes: "WotW honors goes to Chicago. As the old cliche goes, 'the most dangerous guy is the guy in-bounding the ball.' Especially if that guy is Ray Allen, who killed the Bulls in Game 2. So nice job by the Bulls on the defensive fail that let Ray Allen get wide open to tie the game with a three with less than 10 seconds to go. I mean, the second that went up, was there a single person watching that did not say 'that's in?'"
Ben Gordon: More from KC: "Oh, and Ben Gordon grabbing his crotch after his big three in the first OT? That's just gross. It was like he was trying to do the 'big balls' dance, but was aware of the curse, so he went for something less subtle. It worked, though, so more power to him." Maybe he just...had an itch...down there? Yeah. I'm sure that's it.
The Boston Celtics: Bad day for the C's. They shot poorly (42 percent), committed 21 turnovers, gave up 24 points off those turnovers, got next to nothing out of their "bench," and their Suns-like defense allowed 121 points. In fact, every single Chicago player that got into the game scored in double figures. Every. Single. One. But Boston still had a chance to pull out the victory, and they might have, if they would have committed a foul before Air Gordon got off his game-tying three-pointer. That would have forced Chicago to shoot two free throws and then immediately foul. But even though Doc Rivers said that was the gameplan, Gordon was allowed to hit that bomb...and the rest is history. Based on the outcome, it's likely that turning the final 10 seconds into a foul shooting contest probably would have been a better idea than playing Gordon roulette.
Derrick Rose: He played great (23 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists), BUT...he had his second straight 7-turnover game. That hurts.
The Detroit Pistons: And thus ends Detroit's woeful 2008-09 campaign, with a 99-78 home loss and a 4-0 first-round playoff sweep by a team they once mocked. But hey, this was all part of Joe Dumars plan! This summer, Joe has $20 million in cap space to rebuild this team immediately. They could be a contender again as soon as next season! Right...?!
Update! Allen Iverson: Totally ripped by ABC Sports (from NBA Fanhouse via Ar). The Not Answer has officially hit rock bottom and started to dig.
Update! Rasheed Wallace: This is for david's benefit. In 'Sheed's final game as a Piston, he went scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting and finished with nearly as many fouls (4) as rebounds (5). It's almost like 'Sheed's heart was included in the Iverson trade, only nobody every told us.
The Pistons' "home court advantage": Didn't it seem like half their crowd was pro-Crabs? It sure did to me...and the Associated Press: "When James joined his teammates for warmups before Game 4, Cleveland fans seemed to outnumber Detroit supporters and he waved his arms in the air to encourage them to be even louder. 'It's great to be in Cleveland,' Cavs radio broadcaster Joe Tait joked."
The Philadelphia 76ers: They needed only 10 seconds worth of defense to put the Magic in a 3-1 series stranglehold. But they didn't get it.
Does Philly emply scouts? Did anybody watching that game think The Turkish Assassin was going to do anything BUT launch a three? I mean, seriously.
The Portland Trail Blazers: They're the West's best chance of stopping the Lakers, right? Yeah. Well, I guess the folks in Cleveland better start practicing their "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" chants.
Ron Artest: Let's see...12 points on 20 shots. That's some serious efficiency. But that didn't stop him from grandstanding. The only thing missing was Rick Derringer singing "Real American."
Tracy McGrady: Could any player look (and probably feel) any more anguished than Knee-Mac did while watching his team take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their first-round series? I wonder if, should the Rockets actually win this series, Rick Adelman will let Tracy suit up and just walk onto the court for the final seconds of the deciding game just so he can say he finally made it out of the first round. That would probably be the one and only example of first-round piggybacking in NBA history...and I would love it.
Prime time announcers: Stephanie G. pointed out this was a rough weekend for some of our favorite announcing dart boards:
During the half time show of game 3 of the New Orleans-Denver series Avery Johnson had extreme difficulty pronouncing Sasha Vujacic's name. Sasha Vuyaches? Eh, close enough. It also sounded like he kept saying Lamar Oden.
In the first quarter of San Antonio-Dallas Game 4 Reggie Miller was reviewing why the Spurs got blown out in game 3 and was lamenting that Tony Parker wasn't "attacking the basketball" like he was to start the series.
As a woman I'm embarrassed by Doris Burke and I demand she apologize for causing ugly waves of women hating across basketball forums for her shallow commentary, grating voice, and the fact that she is essentially a female Mark Jackson who, like her counterpart, sounds like she wants to bed Kobe Bryant. She even used his lines at one point (momma, there goes that man!). To cap off an already bad game she somehow confused Bryon Russell with Craig Ehlo in a completely butchered attempt to compare a Kobe shot to MJ's last shot as a Bull. Besides being needless and insulting the shots were nothing alike. Also, if she could stop trying to sound hip by using '80s lingo ("he shot it right in his grill") I would be much appreciative.
Sunday lacktivity report: Chris brings a weekend of intense lacktivity to a close:
Celtics-Bulls: Two teams with storied championship histories know the importance of lacktion to a successful run to the top - even in a double-overtime special where contribution is dangerously easy! Boston's Tony Allen once again graces these paragraphs with a giveaway for a +1 suck differential in 3:07 - his third lacktive appearance this postseason, and the first two-time sucker so far - while Lindsey Hunter pointed the Laserscope briefly at the jumbotron for a 15 second Mario.
Cavs-Pistons: The team from Auburn Hills saw its hopes and dreams crushed by the Crabs' claws this afternoon, and Walter Herrmann finished up his postseason with a +2 via bricks in 6:28. Dishonorable mention has to go out to Rasheed Wallace, who narrowly avoided a Voskuhl in a four-foul, one-turnover and seven-brick showing by getting five non-game-changing boards.
In celebration, Mike Brown had a seafood trio of Sasha Pavlovic, Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson, and Tarence Kinsey storm the court for 2:07; however, only Mr. Jackson successfully executed non-contributory play with a +2 via brick and rejection, making it three games and counting living up to his moniker.
Magic-Sixers: Mareese Speights laid some sweet rhythm on the Donkey Kong Bongos for a 22 second Mario.
Blazers-Rockets: Greg Oden's attempts to "guard" Yao Ming have left him firmly in a rocking chair, as despite three boards in 10:46, he also bricked and gave up the rock once each and committed five fouls for a 6:3 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Oden's much younger teammate Channing Frye bricked twice in 2:47 for a +2.
Clutch the Bear watched his charges take a firm grip on this first round series, with Chucky Hayes logging in an adorable +1 via foul in 4:05, his second lacktive stint this postseason.
Okay peeps. Thanks to your strong show of support, Basketbawful made it into the Basketblogger Header Finals. Go vote for us and I promise to continue making sweet, sweet love to your basketbrain until large, bloody chunks of my body start falling off.
And now, the man love, courtesy of Murcy, who said: "Wow. I'm sure some people have already sent this in, but damn, this is hot. Alridge is not only hugging Yao, but whispering some REEEEEALLY nasty things into his ear. Dirrrrty." Who knew LaMarcus had the Yellow Fever?
Today's three Game 3's featured a triple play of bawful. So in a Bill Simmons-esque manner, I shall hand out awards to these NBA games based on the defining trilogy of our generation.
EPISODE IV: The Adventures of Luke SkyRondo
The "I have a very bad feeling about this" Award: To David Stern, for gracing Chicago with his Emperor's presence. In a 2nd quarter interview, David Aldridge brought up some questions about the collective bargaining agreement and revenues. Stern kept his smiley composure, saying he has "no problem with whatever Billy [Hunter] says," and is "looking forward to negotiating with him this summer", in addition to his preparations to look at the "numbers" and do a "shall we say, data dump". Stern also mentioned he found the Union's lack of faith disturbing. Not shown was Stern force-choking Aldridge post interview.
The "I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home" Award: To Chicago's bumblefingers, racking up a 2-meter wide's worth of nine 1st quarter turnovers, ending the game with 22.
The "Perhaps she would respond to an alternative form of persuasion" Award: To the "Rose" ROY ceremony, for an outstandingly bad pun made a physical reality, by literally sprinkling rose petals all over the stadium. I really wish they would have done this if Kevin Love or Rudy Gay had won the award. No one was around to rescue him however, as Rose finished with almost as many TOs (7) as points (9).
The "I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine" Award: To Kevin Garnett, shown at the Celtics' practice running some drills with Perkins and stuff. In other words, kinda like he was coaching. In other words, kinda like he was doing Doc's job. In other words, I'm pretty sure Garnett's angry spirit will be back for a re-mastered Game 7, and may punch Hayden Christensen in the face.
The "I knew there was more to you than money!" Award: To the rest of the Celtics, who once again let Rondo be the leading rebounder on the team with 11. All three games now. He's a little short to be a stormtrooper.
The "I sense something; a presence I've not felt since..." Award: To the Where Amazing Happens commercial showing Kobe nailing the fadeaway on the Suns, followed by his midcourt fist celebration. Thanks for drilling home the point.
EPISODE V: Joe Crawford Strikes Back
The "Where did they get the funds to build a second Death Star?" Award: To ATDHE.net and justin.tv for providing the Spurs-Mavs game live and streaming from NBATV over the Internet. I don't know how they're doing it, as far as I know every streaming video business model is currently fail, so enjoy it while it lasts. Ah, the Internet. Giving me access to TV channels that would be stupid to pay for, so I can watch two teams I utterly hate.
The "I don't believe it." Award: To the Spurs' halftime score, courtesy of a 0-seconds-remaining floater, an astounding 30. Included in this scintillating show was 13-43 shooting (30.2%), 1-9 bricks beyond the arc, and 4 missed free throws.
The "That is why you fail." Award: To the Spurs starters, who were all pulled early 3rd quarter in the face of yet another sub 20 pt quarter.
The "Never tell me the odds" Award: To the Spurs' final score of 67, beating their previous bawful of 70. Their hyperspace calculations bounced them straight into a supernova, since unlike last time they had Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for this game.
The "Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me" Award: To Erik Dampier. After his well publicized boasting that he would put Tony Parker "on the floor", how did he respond? By picking up his first foul just 1:12 after the start of the game, and doing practically nothing else. He finished the 1st quarter with 1 rebound and 0 points, while Tony Parker grabbed 4 rebounds and scored 10 of the Spurs' 16.
The "I've just made a deal that'll keep the Empire out of here forever" Award: To Joey Crawford for filling the obligatory role as character with confusing intentions. Total number of egregious facepalm calls noticed without rewind or pause before I stopped watching the game at halftime: 2.
The "Well, I guess you don't know everything about women yet YOU'RE BROTHER AND SISTER" Award: To this commercial. Honestly, because I watched that SuperBADge thing yesterday, I wasn't as shocked when this commercial came up. But luckily, YouTube provides the full version of the song:
The "No. I am your father" Award: To the Where Amazing Happens commercial featuring Manu Ginobili running around the Shaq Suns, then kicking it to Duncan for the improbable 3. Seriously, [word that KG mouths on the sidelines] you.
EPISODE VI: Return of the Jazzi
The "Your overconfidence is your weakness" Award: To the Utah Jazz, with a loud home crowd and a 43-35 halftime lead, managed to give up 33 in the 3rd almost throwing away the game.
The "Your faith in your friends is yours" Award: To the Lakers, for letting the crowd get back in it so the Rebel scum could stage their comeback. Also to Yahoo! Box Scores, for confusing me in my sleep deprived state by having incorrect values in their box scores (the halftime score was 43-39, and the Lakers scored 29 in the 3rd).
The "Break off the attack! The shield is still up!" Award: To Kobe, who was 20 points away from surpassing Hakeem as 8th on the NBA playoffs scoring list. How did he respond? With 5-24 shooting, scoring 18. Enemy ships appeared in sector 47 soon after.
The "That blast came from the Death Star! That thing's operational!" Award: To Carlos Boozer, who continues his contract year phenomenon with some animal stylin' tonight (23 points, 22 rebounds).
The "If you will not turn to the Dark Side... then perhaps she will..." Award: To Andrew Bynum, for "fouling out", according to TNT, in Oden-esque fashion. However, once again crappy box scores everywhere show only 5 fouls in 7 minutes
The "Han will have that shield down. We've got to give him more time!" Award: To Kobe Bryant, who got to increase his game-winning shot percen-...oh wait, what's that? Oh, OOPS. My bad. Special mention to Pau Gasol, for simply letting Boozer walk by him for the morale-saving dunk. But my favorite moment at the end of this game were the replays, first when Deron's shot was in the air, they showed the camera on the Utah bench and you can see Matt Harpring raise his hands in celebration earlier than everyone else. When Kobe's shot was in the air, they showed the bench and it was Jordan Farmar and Bynum celebrating early, and then having to awkwardly recover.
The "I know. Somehow, I've always known EVEN WHILE I WAS KISSING YOU IN THE LAST MOVIE" Award: To Bennett Salvatore, for confirming what everyone already knows. It's like he has a quantum whistle, that takes both forms of being swallowed and inexplicably blown simultaneously. Help them take this mask off. Just for once... let the refs... look on fouls with their own eyes.
The "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed [shoots lightning from fingertips]" Award: To Charles Barkley and the TNT studio, for plugging the upcoming X-Men movie by making it sound like an Inside the NBA halftime conversation. Kenny thinks Gambit is the toughest member of the X-Men and Sir Charles thinks it's Wolverine, and it all sounds normal until Barkley literally grows a pair of Wolverine claws to prove his point.
The Phantom Menances report: Lacktion so mysterious and steeped in pseudo-intellectual political drama you might not even get it...courtsey of Chris:
Spurs-Mavs: Ryan Hollins's one assist and steal in 13:53 were not enough to overcome some truly bawful miscues: one brick, one giveaway, and four fouls for a 5:0 Voskuhl, his second Voskuhl of the postseason!
(Oh, and in a sign that the Spurs are in trouble...Fabricio Oberto was the leading scorer for San Antonio. Ouch.)
Lakers-Jazz: In a game decided by a clutch Deron Williams shot, you'd think that lacktivity would be far from the minds of Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson - two coaches who have met before in the NBA Finals!
And you'd be very, very wrong.
For when you have the personnel to lack it up, and theoretically rest up contributors a few seconds or more...sometimes you just have to go with a championship-winning formula. So when it looked like the Lakers were ready to negate Utah's home court, Coach Zen brought out Josh Powell, who snookered himself at the rim once in 1:47 for a +1 suck differential. He also watched as Andrew Bynum - who is rumored to be hobbled with injury issues - provided a decidedly crippling performance at center in 7:08, negating two boards, a field goal, and two free throws with five fouls and two giveaways for a slight 7:6 Voskuhl.
Earlier in the match, the Jazz confidently trotted out Jarron Collins as a starting big man, and he successfully failed to deliver despite the obstacles of a made free throw and one board. Three fouls in 7:07 provided the impetus for a Madsen-level 3:2 Voskuhl, when the Jazz looked great in that first quarter.
Even though the Lakers had a serious chance to blow the game wide open, Sloan never lost faith and trotted out a human victory cigar in Brevin Knight. Brevin crowned himself the richest lacktator of the night with a 2.95 trillion take!
Kobe Bryant: He convinced Leia to kiss Luke to make Han jealous. And then he ate an Ewok.
About the author:AnacondaHL is the Chief Internet Media Relations and Security Officer for Basketbawful and a grizzled Internet veteran who watches in despair as the NBA constantly reminds him that his favorite team, the Phoenix Suns, are not in the 2009 playoffs. When not wasting time at his Clark Kent job to read BasketBawful, he can be found playing the Internet computer game du jour, watching animes about robots playing basketball (serious. ly.), wondering why the Diamondbacks have seven team colors, using quotes from Star Wars discreetly in conversation, and browsing other obscure things on the Internet. He hopes someday to learn four languages, name the largest number in the world after himself, and to eat a crab grown in Akron.
The Orlando Magic: The Magicians pulled out the victory, but you can file this under "Losses That Aren't As Good As Others." For the second straight game, Orlando built an 18-point lead over the Sixers. And for the second straight game, Philly came back, pulling to within 5 points late in the fourth quarter. And man, was the home crowd quiet. I'm talking "you could hear a mouse pee on cotton" quiet. The Magic held off the rally, thanks to some late-game heroics by Rashard Lewis (in particular his offensive rebound and put back with less than 30 ticks to go). But they gave the Sixers reason to be really, really confident going into Game 3 in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia 76ers: Sure, the successful comeback and the near-comeback were pretty inspiring and could qualify as confidence builders...but consistently falling behind by almost 20 points isn't exactly a proven formula for playoff success. Solid advice for the Sixers: Stop spotting your opponents a ginormous lead.
Dwight Howard: Superman fouled out with 3:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. Yes, it's always a great situation to be without your superstar, MVP-candidate and recently named Defensive Player of the Year down the stretch of a tight, must-win playoff game. Plus, even before he received his walking papers, Dwight was having a pretty average game: 11 points (4-for-6, 3-for-7 from the line), 10 boards, 2 assists. He did have game-high 4 blocks, though, but still, this game was the NBA-equivalent of Lois Lane being forced to defeat General Zod at the end of Superman II.
Samuel Dalembert: Now that he's gone assist-less in Philly's first two playoff games, his assist total for the past 31 games stands at 2. That's 0.06 APG. Yinka Dare is smiling down on you from Basketball Heaven, Sam.
Update! More on Dalembert from an anonymous commenter: "In addition to Sam Dalembert's assist numbers, it's also worth noting that he picked up 4 fouls (and a tech!) in nine minutes last night. Oh, and he was left on the bench so Theo Ratliff (who is, in fact, 36 years old) could defend Dwight Howard." More from Basketbawful reader bizarro: "He was totally crucified by ESPN journalists in their "extreme behaviour" section in Daily Dime: 'WEDNESDAY'S WORST -- Samuel Dalembert, Sixers: Philadelphia knew it was going to lose the starting center matchup against Dwight Howard, but this is ridiculous. Dalembert had just two points and no rebounds." Looks like ESPN is starting to like the bawful narrative style too. way to go bawful!" The takeover has begun. You've been warned.
Magic announcers (?): Basketbawful reader jj said: "One of the Magic announcers just called Theo Ratliff "one of the greatest shot blockers of all time". Dikimbe Mutombo is rolling over in his hospital bed." Well...Ratliff ranks 18th on the all-time list with 1902 career blocks. He's also 11th in BPG with 2.53 per. AND he's currently 3rd all-time in block percentage (an estimate of the percentage of opponent two-point field goal attempts blocked by the player while he was on the floor) at 7.25*. So, you know, by the numbers, Theo is up there...although it's worth noting they didn't track blocks back when Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were playing.
*Look at this murderer's row of a Top 5 in block percentage: Manute Bol (10.17), Shawn Bradley (7.83), Ratliff, Greg freaking Ostertag (6.97) and Mark Eaton (6.92). That sound you just heard was the wailing cry emanating from the Stilt's grave...
The Atlanta Hawks: Boy oh boy, the Heat looked seriously de-flamed after scoring a season-low 64 points in Game 1. That brutal defeat seemed to solidify the notion that the Hawks could not be beaten in Atlanta. I mean, hey, the Celtics weren't able to do it last season, and that team went on to win the NBA title. What hope did a crummy fifth seed have? Well, they had one big one named Dwyane Wade, who shook off whatever icks he had in the first game to score 33 points (11-for-20) to go along with 5 boards, 7 assists 2 blocks and (typically ) 5 turnovers. Wade hit six of his 10 three-point attempts, including one late-gamer that he accidentally banked in with the shot clock heading toward expiration. Said Wade: "I didn't call 'bank.' Just like everybody in the building, I'm not going to tell a story, I was shocked, too."
It was just that kind of night for the Hawks, who found themselves inexplicably down by 18 points in an arena where they thought they were invincible. They closed to within 5 points late in the fourth, but that was as close as they could get it before finally losing by 15. Atlanta's defense was dreadful: Miami nearly 56 percent of their shots (40-for-72), including almost 58 percent of their threes (15-for-26). Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal lit 'em up for 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Daequan Cook added 20 while going 7-for-12 from the field and 6-for-9 from downtown.
Bonus commentary from AnacondaHL: "Goodness Bawfulness! Not only was Al Horford, center, the leading assist man for Atlanta (5), but they allowed Jermaine O'Neal to become a presence on the inside. I repeat: Jermaine O'Neal was a key factor to Miami's win. Can we please just get to the LAL-CLE Finals already?"
The Hawks' real-life mascot got a little flying time during the playoffs.
"Spirit," an actual hawk that flies down from the rafters during the pre-game introductions, decided to hang around for the start of Game 2 against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
The bird was perched atop the scoreboard at tipoff, refusing to go to his handler. Then he swooped around the arena while the game was going on, landing on a railing in the lower deck before he settled on the top of the basket at the Hawks end of the court.
When the players spotted the bird, they refused to go on. The game was halted with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter until the handler finally arrived, luring Spirit to his arm and carrying him out of the arena to cheers from the crowd -- and several players.
Wait a tick. The PLAYERS refused to go on? You mean those big, bad millionaires were afraid of a hawk attack? Memo to NBA players everywhere: Hawks don't eat people. According to this story, hawk attacks are pretty rare and there's a better chance of getting harassed by MOCKINGBIRDS than hawks. Of course, the story lead is about a girl who WAS attacked by a hawk...and ended up with a concussion. Said even assumed that she had been hit "with a log or something really hard and heavy." Wait, what?! Who assumes they've been hit with a log??
Update! Bonus bawful from Mladen, who sent in a few lines from the AP recap: "The players weren't to eager to play the game with a bird of prey staring down at them. Atlanta's Josh Smith and Al Horford looked more shaken than anyone. 'You see Al Horford duck and run, I was like, 'Let me run for cover as well,' Wade said. 'It was kind of weird having the hawk fly around. It's hard to play with your back to that hawk on the backboard.' Turns out, the real hawk showed more aggressiveness than any of the players wearing Hawks across the front of their jerseys..."
But wait, there's more! Mladen also had a close encounter of the lacktive kind last night:
I just had to share this with you.
I will never wash my hand again (actually, I'm lying - I washed it about 15 times by now), because it shook the hand of a lacktion superstar!
You see, I live in Serbia, and have already seen my share of NBA "stars" (in fact, I had a pretty weird stare down moment with Darko "Embarassing my own country beyond belief" Milicic at a local club men's room...). I've even had a chance to check out Michael Beasley before he was drafted, when he was playing in the U19 World Championship in my city. (Team USA got schooled by Team Serbia.)
It's really not weird for me to see African-American athletes around town, so I wasn't really phased when, last night, I went out with a friend who hangs out with the two American players that have had the pleasure and privilege of playing (and mostly losing) for the local team. So, the guy comes up to me, introduces himself, and we shake hands. I couldn't hear his name, so I asked my friend, and she said "Hassan Adams".
I spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out why does that name sound so familiar. Yep. That's right. I hung out with THE Hassan Adams. The guy that averaged a trillion at one point in his stellar carrier. I could almost cry...I'm only sorry that I can't provide pictures, but I'm sure you'll believe me. On the other hand, I can provide a very interesting fact: Hassan's stats with the ladies here are just as bawful. (According to a relieable source.)
Oh, Mladen, you CANNOT drop such a brutal tease on us and then not give up a little of the, ahem, juicier "advanced statistics" on our boy Hassan. If you don't want them to appear on the main page, we do have a comments section...
Jamaal Magloire: The former all-star center -- I swear, it happened...he even had 19 points, 8 rebounds, a steal and a block in the 2004 All-Star Game -- logged 11 minutes and 16 seconds without scoring a single point, collecting a single rebound or blocking a single shot. He did commit a couple fouls, tho'.
The New Orleans Hornets: And to think, people were calling this team "great" as recently as earlier this season. But last night they suffered their second straight double-digit loss in Denver to fall behind 2-0 in their best-of-seven first round series with the Nuggets. And -- get this! -- Chauncey Billups is killing Chris Paul. KILLING HIM. Billups, who scored 36 points and went 8-for-9 from beyond the arc in Game 1, scored a game-high 31 points while going 8-for-15 from the field, 4-for-6 from three and 11-for-11 from the line. Meanwhile, CP3 scored only 14 (5-for-11) and had a game-high 5 turnovers...nearly equaling the output of the entire Nuggets team. And to think, I said Paul was going to make Chauncey look old in this series. What a boner!
On the subject of TOs, New Orleans committed 17, which led to 23 bonus points for the Nuggets. Denver, on the other hand, bumbled the ball away only 6 times, giving up a single point. The playoffs are all about ball control...and the Hornets are way out of control.
George Karl, "What the hell is he SAYING?" machine: Regarding the rather amazing play of Mr. Big Shot: "I do want to kind of apologize. I said he's a player without skills (after the series opener). He's very skilled. But he plays the game without skills a lot. He plays the game with a brain, and a teamness, a point guard leadership. Then he figures out when to put the skills in the game. I'm happy he's putting a few more skills on the court lately. It's pretty cool." That's nice...I think?
Joe Dumars: In addition to the scoring and leadership, here are some other fun Billups facts: This is the first time Billups has had consecutive turnover-free playoff games in the same year in his career. His dozen three-pointers are a Nuggets franchise best for any playoff series. And he's knocked down 57 straight free throws overall. Meanwhile, his trading counterpart, Allen Iverson, was banished from Detroit for the betterment of the Pistons as a team. I would be willing to bet that there's a lot of throwing up in one's own mouth going on in the Dumars household right about now.
Lacktion report: And back at the Hall of Justice, Chris consults the Bat Computer for the latest lactivity updates...
Sixers-Magic: Samuel Dalembert did make a field goal and blocked a shot in 8:56, but four fouls left him with a 4:2 Voskuhl.
Heat-Hawks: Jamaal Magloire had one assist in 11:16, only to contribute little else except a pair of fouls for a 2:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
THE Mario West gets his first mention in Nintendo Power Magazine this postseason with a 30-second Mario!
Hornets-Nuggets: Hilton Armstrong reserved a place in the lacktion report tonight with a +3 in 4:23 via brick, rejection, and foul.
Denver's Jason Hart circulated enough just enough copies of Metal Gear to score himself a 59 second Mario, also recorded as a +1 via brick.
The Chicago Tribune: You want to know one big reason why newspapers are failing? I'm glad you asked:
While the Chicago Tribune laid off more than 10 percent of its news staff Wednesday, the paper's corporate overlords sought bankruptcy court approval of a plan to pay $13 million in bonuses to top managers.
Tribune Co., operating under Chapter 11, said in court documents that the bonuses are essential for executives who provided "extraordinary contributions during an exceptionally difficult year" in 2008. They would be shared by 700 managers throughout the company, excluding its 10 top officers.
The average bonus would be $18,273, which the company noted is down sharply from prior years. In its filing, it said 16 percent would get more than $30,000.
Meanwhile, newsroom employees at the media giant's flagship had their own morale issues as managers conducted the biggest one-day purge since real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell took over the company. The layoffs are a response to declines in advertising revenue, a fate shared by media companies across the country.
(From print edition only) Tribune Co. said managers deserve bonuses for masterminding cuts that bolstered cash flow. It said that in 2008, the company cut 13 percent of its jobs, or 2,400 positions.
So, to recap, a major metropolitan newspaper undergoing bankruptcy proceedings just axed 10 percent of its news staff while asking the government for special permission to dole out $13 million in BONUSES to executives who brilliantly MASTERMINDED firing people who made much, much less money than they do. That's just...great.
After suffocating her lover, Nicole Abusharif hid Becky Klein's body in the trunk of the couple's 1966 Ford Mustang, DuPage County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Hours later, Abusharif gave another girlfriend a present to show how serious she was about her: a car key.
"It was the ignition key to the Ford Mustang where Becky's body was lying entombed," prosecutor Joseph Ruggiero told jurors as Abusharif's murder trial opened in Wheaton.
Abusharif, 28, is accused of using duct tape and a plastic bag to smother her long-term partner on March 15, 2007, at their Villa Park home. After the murder, she allegedly dumped Klein's body in the car, which was parked in a garage at their house.
Abusharif, Ruggiero said, left after the slaying to meet the woman -- whom she had been seeing for a year -- in a Palos Park bar. She brought her back later that night to the home she had shared with Klein.
"Within an hour of killing her life partner, what did the defendant do? She went out with her new girlfriend," he said. Abusharif faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
I once watched a video about lesbian suffocation, and it wasn't anything like this. But...perhaps I've said too much.
A man witnesses said was dressed like a ninja used a sword in an attempt to rob a dry cleaner on Main Street, police said.
The man, wearing a ski mask and a sword in a sheath on his belt, walked into the Tedeschi convenience store at 1039 Main St. around 8 a.m. Monday, Sgt. Richard Fuller said.
"All the witnesses said he was dressed like a ninja," Fuller said. "He was in all black including the black ski mask. And they said it was a 'ninja sword' (he was carrying)."
A clerk, alarmed by the man's appearance, called police. When the man noticed her, he pulled his mask off and asked if she was calling about him, Fuller said.
When she said she was, the man left the store and walked into nearby Galaxy Cleaners.
There, Fuller said he pointed a sword at the register and asked a clerk to give him all of the money inside. She told him she couldn’t open the drawer, and the man left the scene, Fuller said.
Said Henry: "My favorite part of that whole thing is that he went to a Dry Cleaners. Any real ninja looking for some extra cash would have the decency to knock over a gun shop or a biker bar or something." I agreed, and further suggested that no self-respecting ninja would perpetrate a crime that would leave fewer than 20 horribly mutilated dead bodies in its wake.
Now, I'm not saying for certain that Weymouth's mystery ninja is in mortal danger from real ninjas seeking retribution for his attack on their honor. After all, 100 percent of everything we actually know about ninjas is just pure guesswork, so artful and cunning are they in hiding their existence from the world at large. (To date, forensic experts have been unable to uncover even a single piece of biological evidence to prove ninjas are real. This is mostly because they are hairless, skinless, and they neither poop nor pee.) But I will tell you this: If somebody at some point finds this man's lifeless body riddled with Chinese throwing stars that disappear in the twinkle of an eye, leaving no trace that they ever existed, forcing authorities to explain the death away as "natural causes" even though it seems as though he might have died of pure fear...well, I won't be surprised.
Charley Hill: Never heard of him? I'm not surprised. He's the 19-year-old boyfriend of Linda Bollea...a.k.a., Hulk Hogan's wife. As Basketbawful reader Axel Foley said in response to yesterday's post: "Who the hell bones the Hulkster's wife? What a dick. I would definitely be willing to deliver a beating on Hogan's behalf." I agree. And I'll probably just do that if I ever run into him. There are certain things nobody should do, like poop in Santa's hat, dress like gay Tron and do the dirty with Mrs. Hulk. Of course, note that Linda had to find a boyfriend who was young enough to probably not have an incurable case of Hulkamania. A Hulkamaniac would punch himself in the genitals until death before defiling Hogan's wife.