Is...is Zydrunas Ilgauskas even awake? It's time for Erick Dampier!
The Miami Heat: When the Heat opened the season at 6-4, the experts were quick to point out that their losses had come to the Celtics (twice), Hornets and Jazz.
Sure, Miami was only beating bad teams -- but we were told that beating bad teams matters. That, in fact, bitch-slapping crap teams is "the second-most predictive attribute of 'final four' success." In other words, beating the hell out of the Clippers and Timberwolves actually increases a team's chances of making it to the Conference Finals or NBA Finals.
Assuming the math is correct -- and math never lies -- what does it mean when the crap teams start beating YOU?
That's what we need to start asking about the Miami Heat. Two days removed from a 97-95 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis, the Heat got their asses straight up whupped 93-77.
By the Indiana Pacers.
And get this: Danny Granger, Indy's best player, was 6-for-21 from the field. For the game, the Pacers shot only 41 percent and had a 38-13 disadvantage in free throw attempts. That's right: Miami got 25 more free throw attempts...and lost by 16.
Again, the whole "no inside presence" thing killed Miami. The Pacers outrebounded them 48-39 and outscored them 38-18 in the paint. And according to TrueHoop: "Miami’s big men scored a season-low 18 points in the paint and grabbed just 14 percent of missed shots on the offensive end, both of which were well below their season averages entering the game."
I'm not done: The Heat shot 38 percent from the field, went 4-for-20 from downtown, bricked 13 free throws and gave up 23 points off 22 turnovers.
Those are Clippers numbers, people.
To highlight Miami's struggles from beyond the arc: LeBron James (2-for-8), Eddie House (0-for-5), Dwyane Wade (0-for-4), James Jones (0-for-1).
But wait, there's more: Udonis Haslem needs surgery to repair a torn foot ligament and be out indefinitely. And according to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, "It's time for Erick Dampier."
This is what it's come to? Miami's season is on the line and their best option is a 34-year-old center who was limited in his best days and last season compiled a playoff PER of 3.7?
Here's even more of a reality check from Wild Yams:
- Dampier is only 40 days younger than Big Z
- Dampier has actually played in 76 more NBA games than Z has
- Z has been in two All-Star Games while Dampier has never been in one
- Last year's stats for the two players: Z - 7.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, .8 bpg Dampier - 6.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg
That sound you just heard was the pained cries of Heat fans everywhere. It sounded kinda like this...
The most bawful sequence of the night was transcribed by Basketbawful reader Paul in last night's BAD comments:
At one point in the third quarter things got really weird for the Heat.
Dwade gets a tech for arguing a call. And you could see it, He was PISSED.
A couple of possessions later, he is wide open waiting for a LBJ pass, LeBron instead looks for Ilgauzkas but his pass gets intercepted.
One possession later Ilgauskas turns the ball over and on the following possession Wade is --again-- open waiting for LeBron's Pass, again LeBron gives the ball to Ilgauskas on the elbow for a missed 18-footer.
At this point you could see it. Dwade was in FUCK THIS SHIT mode. One possession later Wade has LeBron open but he jacks up a contested 3 instead.
On the next possession LeBron takes the FUCK THIS SHIT to a whole new level and retaliates by launching three consecutive 3 pointers.
The whole sequence was kind of surreal, it was my dream come true. Watching the Heat destroy itself against a sub-par team!
This description missed a few possessions here and there, but it hit the salient points. These guys are not in synch. Two Alpha Dogs and an Alpha Dog wanna be without a strong coach that can force them to get their shit together. Speaking of which...
...Basketbawful reader kazam92 wants me to advertise the Fire Erik Spoelstra Web site and participate in voting. I can do the first but not the second. This is way too much fun.
And now I present the Miami Heat-related Rant of the Night by stephanie g:
The refs tried really hard but the Miami cheat sucked too bad even for their usual extra bench to be of much use. LeFraud Shames and D-Whistle are just unintelligent clowns who don't know how to play basketball -- maybe they lost out on their HGH connection? LeCrab's "goto" move is an offensive foul. He's one of the biggest front runners ever. STD Wade is hurt I guess. But if he's that off why is he playing? He looked like he didn't even care. Maybe LeBrick's winning attitude is rubbing off?
And is Bosh really gonna chuck 20 footers and look like a wounded giraffe all season long? If so, that's a flagrant foul against the game of basketball. Too bad LeBron never developed a post up game, huh? Or off ball movement. Or a pullup game. Or...well, anything that doesn't involve him holding the ball for half the shot clock and sponging stats from his team.
OK, OK, I'm sorry. That wasn't very adult of me. But seriously, they had a 38-13 FT advantage. And we just clobbered them despite the fact Hibbert only played 21 minutes because of foul trouble, Collison didn't play much because of his injury, and Granger went 6-21 (played some nice D though). The Cheats had the game gift wrapped for them and they STILL wilted.
I might be enjoying this Frankstein experiment a little too much, especially if they do somehow end up turning it around. But you have to admit, this could potentially be an ALL TIME bawful story. I mean, LeBron and Wade are (supposedly) premier talents, but they just disappeared this season in their prime. They may as well have died in car crashes, as far as Stern is concerned. Well, I guess everyone will be tuning in to root for whoever they're playing, so maybe he doesn't care.
Dwyane Wade, Worst Player of the Night: From TrueHoop:
After missing one game with a sprained wrist, Dwyane Wade suffered through the worst shooting night of his career, missing 12 of 13 shots (7.7 percent) from the field and finishing with just three points.
Not only was it the worst performance of his career, his line (1-13 from floor, 1-5 on free throws) was also one of the worst in NBA history.
Only one other player took at least 13 shots from the floor and attempted at least five free throws, and made one or fewer of each: On November 27, 1951, Max Zaslofsky of the Knicks was 1-13 from the floor and 0-5 from the line in an 83-81 loss at the Philadelphia Warriors.
Said Erik Spoelstra: "A tough night for Dwyane. But we've been around him long enough. He always finds a way to bounce back. Getting his health is the priority, first of all. But secondly, we know that he's very introspective as a professional athlete. That's the way I want all of our guys in the locker room to be."
One assumes Spoelstra said this while thumbing through the "Help Wanted" section of the Miami Herald.
LeBron James, quote machine, Part 2: "What we're lacking are two things: That is fun and a little bit of swagger right now."
The Atlanta Hawks: The Boston Celtics were coming off back-to-back losses to the Kevin Durant-less Thunder and the Toronto Craptosaurs. Rajon Rondo was out with a leg injury, and Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins are still on the shelf. So The C's were a vulnerable team, right? This was a chance for the Hawks to prove they're for real, right?
Instead, the Dirty Birds fell behind 39-13 after 12 minutes, trailed by as many as 33 points and eventually lost 99-76.
The game was in Atlanta, by the way.
During that first quarter blitzkrieg, the Celtics shot 18-for-25 while the Hawks were going 4-for-17. Atlanta coach Larry Drew called three timeouts. He would have called 20 if he'd had 'em. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the pen for his dry erase board probably ran out of ink. After all, nothing else was working.
And here's the reality check time: The Hawks are 8-6. But check it. Their eight wins have been against the Grizzlies, Sixers, Wizards, Cavaliers, Pistons, Timberwolves (twice) and Pacers. Their losses have been to the Suns, Magic, Bucks, Jazz, Mavericks and Celtics.
But hey, at least Atlanta is beating bad teams. That matters.
Joe Johnson: When the Hawks signed Joe Cool to that six-year, $119 million contract last summer, we all knew they'd regret it. We just didn't know it would be this soon. After last night's 2-for-10 shooting performance against the Celtics, Johnson is 15-for-48 over his last four games.
Larry Drew, coach of the year candidate, Part 1: "This was very embarrassing. Very, very embarrassing. Very embarrassing. If I had one word to sum it up: embarrassing."
Larry Drew, coach of the year candidate, Part 2: "We're not coming out ready to play. I'm not seeing any urgency. I'm not seeing any passion. We're not playing like we want it. We're not playing hard enough. It's very, very disturbing."
Larry Drew, coach of the year candidate, Part 3: "I don't know what we're doing the night before the game. But something is going on that is not allowing us to play with energy or passion. I'm going to find out what it is."
Larry Drew, coach of the year candidate, Part 4: "Everyone is getting their rest. I don't think that's an issue. We've just got to get back to sharing the basketball and playing together."
Kevin Garnett, quote machine: "I wish we could bottle this and put it on the shelf or something."
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Damn. Minnesota just can't catch a break. First the Vikings fire Brad Childress about two years too late and then both Kevin Durant and Jeff Green returned to the Oklahoma City lineup in time for a home game against the Timberwolves.
Believe it or not, Kevin Love hit a layup to give Minny a 105-104 lead with 1:20 left in the fourth. But the final score (117-107) pretty much tells you how things went from there. Not to steal the Clippers' thing, but the T-Wolves are who...well, you know.
Last night, Beastly went 7-for-20 (including 0-for-3 from downtown), committed a team-high 5 turnovers, and pulled a Harry Houdini down the stretch. Way to prove Artest wrong, Mike.
The Houston Rockets: Steve Nash returned to the Phoenix lineup in time to drop The Daryl's Rejects to 3-10 on the year. That includes a 1-4 mark in Houston.
The Suns shot 54 percent from the field and three-point land...and even earned 38 free throw attempts to only 15 for the Rockets.
Said Kyle Lowry: "We have to find a way to keep our heads up. We are 3-10, but we are not a 3-10 team. We are way better than that."
Hm. 28th in Opponents PPG, 27th in Defensive Rating...I dunno, Kyle. I think those are the hallmarks of a 3-10 team. Although, in all fairness, the Rockets are without Aaron Brooks (sprained left ankle) and Yao Ming (slowly crumbling body).
The Phoenix Suns: Way to make this game more exciting than it needed to be by giving up 40 points in the fourth quarter, Suns. You also got outrebounded 51-33 and outscored 62-42 in the paint. No wonder you're the most underachieving team in basketball. Congrats!
The Orlando Magic: Well, huh. Maybe the Spurs are for real.
The Sacramento Kings: Let's see: 35 percent shooting, seven missed free throws, -8 in turnovers, -13 in points off turnovers, -16 in points in the paint, -14 in fast break points. The final score (94-83) makes this game look reasonably close, but Utah led by as many as 25 and the Paupers had to outscore the Jazz 27-16 in the fourth quarter to make the outcome look semi-respectable.
That's eight losses in the last nine games for the once 3-1 Kings. Sorry, Chris.
Matt Harpring, unintentionally dirty quote machine: Regarding Krylo Fesenko via Basketbawful reader Austen: "He really clogged up the Middle and got his hands on a lot of balls."
The Golden State Warriors: Six games ago, they were a surprising 6-2 and generating a little buzz. Now? They're 7-7 and the only buzzing is from the flies circling the corpse of their impressive start. And what can you say? This team is ranked 26th in Defensive Rating and only 21st in Offensive Rating.
They just aren't that good.
The New Orleans Hornets: After the Hornets beat the Kings on Sunday night, New Orleans coach Monty Williams said: "At this point in the season I don't even look at the standings. I had no idea we would have this kind of record. Looking at our record, it might be fools' gold."
I copied that quote into my notebook knowing full the Hornets were playing the Clippers in L.A. the very next night. It felt like prophecy.
Sure enough, the Clippers beat the Hornets.
I said "the Clippers beat the Hornets."
I said...never mind.
I don't know what's weirder. That the Clips snapped a nine-game winning streaks by beating one of the league's best teams, or that they managed to pull off a rare victory despite bricking 17 friggin' free throws. Total chaos. Ultimate bawful.
Trevor Ariza: From Basketbawful reader LotharBot: "Trevor Ariza is clutch for the Clippers tonight! (Yes, I typed that correctly.)"
Explanation: With 21 seconds left and his team (the Hornets in cased you missed LotharBot's sarcasm) down 90-88, Ariza stepped to the free throw line for two shots.
Blake Griffin: Watch that potty mouth, Blake. You never know when one of Bill Simmons' kids might be in the crowd.
Chris's lacktion report:
Wolves-Thunder: Wayne Ellington sounded a single turnover in 7:26 for a +1 suck differential while Lazar Hayward and Kosta Koufos shared a portobello in two seconds as SUPER MARIO BROTHERS!
Magic-Spurs: Ryan Anderson took ten seconds to power up his Famicom for a Mario, matched by San Antonio's Tiago Splitter, making them Mario Brothers From Different Mothers.
Kings-Jazz: Kyrylo Fesenko found a way to forget about a field goal and a pair of boards in 14:36, by fouling four times and losing the rock once for a 5:4 Voskuhl. Gordon Hayward then cashed in his valuable Cannonball Adderley vinyl rarities collection to the tune of a cool 4.3 trillion (4:17).
Hornets-Clippers: Jason Smith sired four fouls against a board and field goal in 13:57 to buzz into Voskuhl territory with a 4:3 ratio; Pops Mensah-Bonsu had a triplet of fouls in 1:17 for a +3!