The New Orleans Hornets: Well, then. Make it 3-9 since Hornets coach Monty Williams made his infamous "our record might be fool's gold" comment. And I think the ship be sinkin'. Of course, help might be on the way, in the form of four sub-.500 teams in their next five games (Paupers, Pissed-ons, Pacers and Nyets).
But for now, it was yet another offensive castration the Buzzing Bugs, who finished with only 84 points on 41 percent shooting. Other un-notables included their 1-for-13 three-point shooting and their nine-point fourth quarter.
New Orleans hasn't reached the 100-point mark since November 19. That's 13 straight games of pure scoring futility. Pretty soon, we're going to see Chris Paul dressed in a Santa Claus costume and ringing bells on street corners. Only instead of money he's going to be asking people to donate baskets. The Hornets freakin' need 'em.
Said Paul: "We need to get a win so we could see how it feels."
As for the Heat, they've won nine straight games, all by double digits. According to ESPN Stats and Information, that leaves them one win short of matching the NBA record. Which, for the record, is co-held by the 2007-08 Houston Rockets, the 2003-04 New Jersey Nyets and the 1946-47 Washington Capitols.
Also for the record, those three teams combined for zero NBA titles.
Chris Paul: A lowly 3-for-10 from the field and only 5 assists. And one eyeball pointed directly at New York. Or...anywhere.
The "rest" of the Heat: The Heat are going to continue to roll as long as Dwyane Wade (32 points, 8-for-13, 14-for-17 from the line), Chris Bosh (23 points, 11 rebounds) and LeBron James (20 points, 7 assists) do, well, pretty much everything.
Here's the sum total of what fellow starters Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Carlos Arroyo contributed last night: 9 points, 4-for-12, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 7 fouls. Meanwhile, the bench came through with 11 points (3-for-11), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and 10 fouls. Oh, and two DNP-CDs (Eddie House and Jamaal Magloire).
Note that, despite yet another double-digit win, Lebron (40 minutes), Wade (30) and Bosh (38) logged quite a few minutes. I think coach 'Spo knows that's too many, right?
One last thing: An anonymous commenter left this link. It gives the secret of Miami's recent success. This is great.
Especially because when Miami does give maximum effort, it is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Early in the season, when they were basically a .500 team, the Heat's defensive efforts varied nightly and it was a factor in their unsteady play.
So Spoelstra has come up with a deal. It is not an unheard-of proposition. In fact, it is right in the coach's handbook. But originality isn't important -- execution is. And during the Heat's winning streak, their execution has earned a solid A.
Here's how it works: If the Heat get a stop on defense, there will be no play call. In general, the players can just run, jump and play. Like good old recess.
But if they take the ball out of the basket, then they've got to look over at the bench for instructions.
"Coach has said if y'all get rebounds, y'all can do whatever you want," Wade said. "As players we enjoy that. When the ball goes through the basket then we have to do what he wants us to do."
Playing Defense + Rebounding = License to Chuck. You can't make this stuff up.
Still, at least 'Spo's laissez faire coaching is leading to plays like these. Thanks to Basketbawful reader kazaam92 for the link.
The Golden State Warriors: Speaking of ships that be sinking, how about the Warriors, who have lost seven straight games and 12 of their last 13?
Golden State gave up 18 points off 19 turnovers. Furthermore, the Warriors were outscored 50-26 in the paint and 24-11 on the fast break. They had 18 offensive rebounds...but they offset their advantage on the glass and some decent three-point shooting (11-for-25) by shanking 11 free throws.
Of course, the game was still reasonably close before Deron Williams went apeshit, scoring 11 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to help the Jazz run away with it.
Said Warriors coach Keith Smart: "That's what you pay players like that for. You pay them for fourth-quarter heroics, to take over a game and make plays and make big shots. That's why your team moves from one level to another level. "
I wonder if Smart was giving (16 points, 7-for-16, 7 turnovers) the stink eye when he said that.
By the way, Williams finished with 30 points (8-for-16, 4-for-8 on threes, 10-for-11 from the line) to go with 10 assists and 6 rebounds. And to think, as recently as the beginning of last season, a lot of people -- maybe even most people -- thought CP3 was the runaway winner in the "Who's better: Paul or Williams?" point guard debate.
The Portland Frail Blazers: ZACH SMASH PUNY BLAZERS!!
That's right. Zach was vintage Zach last night. Minus the crazy dribbling and air-balled threes. Z-Bo went all Animal Style on the Frail Blazers, going off for 25 points and 20 rebounds, as Portland looked softer inside than a chocolate marshmallow Santa Claus. Which I love and can get three for a dollar at Wal-Greens. But I digress.
Portland had won eight straight games in Memphis, a streak that had lasted nearly five years. But Randolph, who had his fourth 20-20 game with the Care Bears, proved that he doesn't read history books. Or anything else for that matter.
Said Zach: "I just try to be aggressive and hit the glass on both ends and play around the basket."
Keepin' it simple. I like that.
You know, usually holding your opponent to only 86 points on 38 percent shooting will get you a win in the NBA. Not for the Blazers, though, not last night.
The thing is, the Blazers had outscored the Griz 22-12 in the third quarter. Then they got outscored 25-9 in the fourth.
Said Andre Millier: "We had a bad fourth quarter. The most important quarter, and it killed us. That was the game right there."
By the way, that fourth quarter was Portland's lowest-scoring quarter of the season. What's more, the Blazers -- who scored 78 points against the Spurs on Sunday and then only 73 last night in Memphis -- finished with a season-low total for the second straight game.
They must have caught whatever the Hornets have.
Said Portland coach Nate McMillan: "I think the [starting] five, those guys are gassed. I think they have played some heavy minutes. We need the bench to give us a breather. In the fourth quarter, down the stretch, we [are] not able to score late in ball games."
Brandon Roy: 38 minutes. 16 shots. 7 points. At this point, he's barely a shadow of Wesley Matthews. This is getting sad. And ugly.
Greg Oden: Whenever the Blazers get stomped on by an opposing frontcourt player, do you ever find yourself wondering, "What if Greg Oden had a normal human body not made out of used tin foil and scraps of soggy cardboard?" I know I do.
In fact, here's a quick production by position update from 82games.com. You know, in case you were wondering what frontcourt players were doing against the Blazers:
Tony Allen, quote machine: "It ain't Chinese algebra. If you get stops, and you execute on offense, normally that teams wins."
"It ain't Chinese algebra" is now my new favorite phrase ever.
Rudy Gay, quote machine: "Defense wins games. It's the oldest saying in the book."
Rudy Gay...talking about defense?! Mental note: Time to check Gay's basement for Body Snatcher Pods.
The Dallas Mavericks: Back on November 19, Dallas lost at home to the Bulls and then ripped off a 12-game winning streak. A streak that ended last night. At home. To the Milwaukee Bucks.
I guess the Central Division is the Mavericks' Kryptonite or something.
Mind you, we probably should have seen this coming. On Saturday, Dallas blew a 25-point lead against the Comeback Jazz before eking out a close win. Last night, they went up by 20 points (42-22) in the second quarter and then hit the snooze button.
Said Tyson Chandler: "This was a game we should have won, a game we clearly had under control. We let them back in it."
Memo to Tyson: Milwaukee scored 52 points in the paint. Protecting the paint is your very specific duty. As always, I'm just sayin'.
Added Mavs coach Rick Carlisle: "This kind of slippage we've seen all too often."
I'm sure Dallas fans are nodding vigorously at that one.
Carlisle continued: "I've got to coach harder, the players have got to be more conscientious, we've got to do better than we did tonight."
More conscientious? I don't think helping old ladies across the street is going to help. But, hey, I'm not an NBA coach. What do I know.
But seriously, the Mavericks are going to look back at this one and wonder what the hell happened. Two Bucks starters went scoreless (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders) and Milwaukee's big three offseason signings (Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden and John Salmons) went 7-for-21 from the field.
Bonus stats that might mean something: The Mavericks went 5-for-20 from beyond the arc and bricked seven free throws (0-for-4 by Brendan Haywood).
The Indiana Pacers: Can't fault the Pacers too much for this loss. After all, they had to play on the road against a hot team -- the Bulls have now won six straight for the first time since 2006 -- without Danny Granger. And they actually hung in this one until the Stags ripped off a 19-4 run to finish the game.
And yet...Indy has gone 2-5 since back-to-back road wins over the Lakers and Kings gave them a 9-7 record. They're playing good D (9th in Defensive Rating) but their O is bad (21st in Offensive Rating) and devolves into jump shooting by the end of most games. It's amazing that a team that ranks 8th in Pace could be 18th in PPG. But there you have it.
With all due respect to Rudy Gay, it takes defense and offense to win games. I know, I know. It ain't Chinese algebra.
Antoine Walker and Mario West Watch: From Basketbawful reader Benjamin Grenier:
The Red Claws host Antoine Walker and the Stampede on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m.), while also sandwiching a visit to Springfield Friday night. Keep an eye on this space for more on Walker's return later this week.
I live 45 minutes from Portland, Maine, you can be sure I will be going to one, maybe both of these games.
also in the same article
"Maine also announced that Jan. 6 will be Mario West Bobblehead Night, with the first 1,000 fans receiving the collectible courtesy of Wright Express.
'In addition to being a fan-favorite and one of the hardest working players on the team, Mario West’s name will forever be in the Red Claws’ history books as the first player in team history to earn a call-up to the NBA,' said Red Claws president and general manager Jon Jennings. 'We wanted to do something that, not only the fans would enjoy, but that would honor Mario’s unique place in Red Claws’ history.'"
Benjamin, on behalf of everybody who follows this site, we demand a book report if you attend either (or both) of those games.
Chris's Lacktion Report:
Hornets-Heat: Aaron Gray went 100% from the field AND from the stripe in 10:43, totalling an impressive 4 points for the insects from Louisiana...only to lose the rock twice and foul five times for a 7:4 Voskuhl.
Pacers-Bulls: Omer Asik provided the heifers with one assist in 2:35...and one giveaway for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Frail Blazers-Grizzlies: Nioclas Batum barged into the ledger tonight by bricking twice in 8:36 (once from the Peabody Hotel) for a +2 suck differential, while Sean Marks negated two boards in 4:56 with a trio of fouls for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Bucks-Mavs: Steve Novak is BACK for Dallas once more! 10 seconds of trying to find Wario's gold coins resulted in a Mario.
Warriors-Jazz: Charlie Bell rang up a brick from Pioneer Park for a +1 in 5:09, while Dan Gadzuric countered one made free throw in 8:44 with two fouls for a 2:1 Voskuhl. Jeremy Lin and Ekpe Udoh can now afford the cost of living back in the Warriors' Bay Area abode, after 1.35 (1:21) trillion for Mr. Lin and an exact 1 trillion for Udoh!