Brian Cardinal...doin' what he do...

Dwight Howard: Pumaman dominated the Knicks with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Of course, he went 8-for-19 from the field -- which included seven misses at the rim against New York's awesome interior defense -- bricked 5 free throws and committed a team-high 5 turnovers. But those reasons aren't why he's getting WotN treatment.

Dwight got tagged with his 12th technical foul of the season. Not only does that number lead the league, but Howard will be suspended for one game if -- sorry, make that when -- he reaches 16. Then he'll miss an additional game for every two technical fouls after that. Mind you, the Magic have played only 33 games so far...and there are 49 to go.

Of course, Dwight's coach thinks his player is getting the 'Sheed treatment.

Said Stan Van Gundy: "I don't think he's any harder on officials than anybody else in the league. I don't think even think he's one of the hardest guys on officials, quite honestly. I could probably give you 20 guys who are a lot harder on officials than he is. Why he's been the guy to get all the technicals, I don't know. But there are a lot of guys around the league who are a lot harder on officials, yell at them, swear and everything else and get away with it."

Whaaaat? Swear at an official? Who would do something like tha...

Huh. Never mind.

Amar'''''e Stoudemire, excuse machine: Chris Broussard's choice for early season MVP was limited to only 32 minutes due to foul trouble. He was productive during his PT, scoring 30 points on 12-for-22 shooting and blocking 4 shots. Sure, he finished with three fewer rebounds than Orlando shooting guard Jason Richardson, but STAT's job is to score...not rebound. Not to suggest that the Magic's 51-35 rebounding advantge -- which included 17 offensive boards -- had any impact on the game or anything. I was just sayin'.

At any rate, Stoudemire said: "If I didn't get in foul trouble, it would have been a different game for sure."

I love the "what if" games that get played by players on a losing team. If I was Amar''''''e, though, I might say something like, "If I could pull down contested rebounds against talented big men, it would have been a different game for sure."

By the way, Sun Tzu also had a shot the rim.

Raymond Felton: You know what else would have made it a different game? If Felton hadn't been playing with a dolphin flipper for a shooting hand. Ray Boom Boom went 6-for-22 from the field, including 1-for-7 from downtown, and committed a game-high 6 turnovers.

The San Antonio Spurs: Yeah, they won, and sure, they have the best record in the league. But the the Mavs had to start Brian Cardinal in place of the injured Dirk Nowitzki. I dunno. Seems like the Spurs should have won by more than just six points, you know?

Said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich: "We don't take too much out of the win. We didn't show very much. We didn't improve as a team, that's for sure."

Pretty much.

The Utah Jazz: Damn. I guess the Frail Blazers just have Utah's number.

I kinda figured this game would be a gimme for the Jazz, considering that, before the game, Portland shut down Brandon Roy indefinitely because the dude has an incurable case of Oden's knees. Instead, Wesley Matthews -- who played for the Jazz last season -- matched his career-high by scoring 30 points on 9-for-16 shooting. Matthews dropped 16 of those points in the third quarter. This kid just owned the Jazz. About the only thing missing was a Byron Russell for Matthews to push out of the way.

Mind you, the Jazz didn't help themselves by missing 10 foul shots. Or by giving up 26 points off 18 turnovers. Or by coming out totally flat. Which does tend to happen on the second night of back-to-backs, especially on the road.

Said Raja Bell: "It was poor effort, all the way around. You can talk it up all you want, but I thought we have to be tougher than that. That's just my personal opinion."

Bell then clotheslined Ronnie Price.

Oh well. At least Deron Williams gave us a nice highlight...

...even if some people think he traveled.

Rudy Fernandez:


NBA-related shotgun tragedies: Oh no. Not again.

Chris's Lacktion Report:

Knicks-Magic: Despite two assists in exactly 6 minutes, Ronny Turiaf fouled twice for a 2:0 Voskuhl.

Spurs-Mavs: For San Antonio, Ime Udoka and Chris Quinn spent 10 seconds arguing over which Game Genie codes were allowed on the hardwood tonight - resulting in their status as Mario Brothers!

Also joining the Mario party, albeit in a non-lacktive fashion, was the spectacular Steve Novak of Dallas, who managed 100% from one shot along the Stemmons Freeway...but also ran into King Koopa once for a foul in 51 seconds.

Jazz-Frail Blazers: Sean Marks notched a board in 6:35, but also earned a brick, three fouls, and a giveaway for a 4:1 Voskuhl. Fellow financier of fraility Armon Johnson collected 1.15 trillion (1:10), and in that same timespan, Luke Babbitt earned a +4 via a trio of bricks (twice from the charity stripe) and a rejection.


That silly Dwyane Wade... Always on the cutting edge of fashion with his crazy accessories!

If you haven't already done so, go read Bawful's stuff over at TrueHoop from today.

Quick complaint: Tomorrow is the annual rivalry grudge match between the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky basketball teams. So of course it's at noon on a weekday when I'll be at work since New Year's Eve is only a kinda sorta holiday. Great planning there, guys.

Here's an interesting NY Times piece on the "Mark Price Shooting Lab." The money quote from the article:
“I can’t think of a single guy who hasn’t improved working with us,” Kreutzer said.

Betterment cannot always be measured statistically. The season after Rondo’s graduation, his 3-point shooting declined 10 percentage points and his free-throw percentage by 2 points. His 2-point number rose by almost 2 percentage points.

This year, Rajon’s field-goal figures are improved. But his free-throw shooting has plunged to 43 percent, suggesting he may need a checkup.
So you can't measure how much better someone's shooting is by their shooting percentage? I think we need to reconsider the defintion of "better" shooting.

The best part about Tyreke the Freak's half-court buzzer beater? Check out Donte Green's reaction. He KNEW that shot was going in. What does this mean? We finally have proof that Donte Green is the real-life version of Biff Tannen. I wonder how much he wants for his copy of Gray's Sports Almanac...

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Nets Thunder Basketball
"Don't let that beard touch me, man! It's like 180 grit sandpaper!"

"God, this is worse than watching an episode of That 80s Show"

Hornets Lakers Basketball
The sadness, it is overwhelming!

Nationally Televised Games:
Knicks at Magic, TNT, 7pm: I don't know about you, but after yesterday's video, I plan on watching Stan Van Gundy's face whenever Hedo shoots a jumper. Guaranteed entertainment!

Spurs at Mavericks, 9:30pm: Dallas is one of the few teams who have cracked the code to beating the Spurs this year. Unfortunately for them, Dirk is still banged up and will not play tonight. As far as MVP talks go, doesn't Dirk need to be pretty high on that list? The Mavericks look just godawful without him most of the time.

All The Other Games:
Jazz at Frail Blazers, 10pm: File this one under "things that make no sense and threaten to destroy my brain (or at least the parts of it I still use)" -- the Utah Jazz are 6-2 on the second night of back-to-backs this season. And you could make that number 7-2 if they win tonight. DOES NOT COMPUTE. This goes against everything we've ever been taught as basketball fans.

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...because I'm busy filling in for Henry Abbott on TrueHoop today.
62905387Mike D'Antoni prepares to play the Cowardly Lion in the team's production of The Wizard of Oz

Ready for another night of terrible games? Yeah, me neither. Let's watch embedded videos to ease the pain.

A big thank you to the guys at The Basketball Jones for sharing this clip someone submitted to them with the world. This is one of the greatest videos ever. Stan van Gundy hates Turkoglu!


Want to see the best thing Rick Reilly has done in a decade? Watch as he dunks on a Pop-a-Shot.
It's like the world's lamest episode of Jackass

Something I learned today from this article on Yahoo! about bogus celebrity health tips: Alex Reid is fantastically misinformed.
One of the highlights for SAS was a tip from cage fighter Alex Reid, who told The Sun tabloid newspaper in April that he "reabsorbs" his sperm to prepare for a big fight.

"It's actually very good for a man to have unprotected sex as long as he doesn't ejaculate. Because I believe that all that semen has a lot of nutrition. A tablespoon of semen has your equivalent of steak, eggs, lemons and oranges. I am reabsorbing it into my body and it makes me go raaaaahh," he said.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Mavs Raptors BasketballThis is what it looks like when Brian Cardinal gets meaningful minutes of contributory basketball

62906268Getting a little personal there, Derek

APTOPIX Lakers Spurs BasketballOkay, now I like this Duncan Face

Bucks Bulls Basketball"Do I need to introduce your face to the back of my hand"

Nationally Televised Games:
Jazz at Clippers, NBA TV, 10:30pm: According to ESPNResearch, "NBA off to best regular season start ever. ESPN & TNT ratings up over 30% from last year." And yet thanks to college football bowl season, ESPN is not airing any Wednesday or Friday night games this week, and the only national game tonight is a goddamn Clippers game on NBA TV. Way to say "thanks fans," NBA.

All The Other Games:
Warriors at Hawks, 7pm: Golden State is on a three game winning streak. What? No. That's not possible! There must be a mistake! Oh, wait, they played the Purple Paupers, Frail Blazers, and 76ers? Nevermind.

Pacers at Wizards Generals, 7pm: Yes, Washington sucks. But Indiana has dropped 6 of their last 8, and all losses were double-digit ass-whuppins, including their most recent thrashing from a short-bench injury-riddled Celtics team. The interest level in this game is somewhere between "watching a Chia-pet grow" and "staring at the back of your eyelids."

Cavaliers at Bobcraps, 7pm: We got a dead coach bounce last game from the Bobcraps. However, consider the laws of physics. That first bounce is always the highest. It will bounce less every time. Good thing they get to take advantage of playing a woeful Cleveland team who will be happy to just get the hell out of Ohio for a few minutes.

Celtics at Pistons, 7:30pm: Some good news out of Boston.

Lakers at Hornets, 8pm: So Kobe's "pissed [mad]" at himself. Does that mean he won't take 30 bajillion bad jumpers in this game?

Nuggets at Timberwolves, 8pm: The Timberpups are riding a two game winning streak, and Carmelo won't be playing in this game. Ruh roh.

Nyets at Thunder, 8pm: The last time these two teams met, we were treated to a triple overtime finish. I really, really, really doubt that we'll see that again in this game.

Heat at Rockets, 8:30pm: Thank God Houston has a basketball team to root for, because their football team is just downright depressing.

76ers at Suns, 9pm: You can't tell me you aren't excited that Vince Carter might make his Phoenix debut in this game. Wait, strike that. You can tell me that you don't care and I'll believe you.

Grizzlies at Kings, 10pm: This game is almost as stupid as this guy.

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kobe finger

The Cleveland Cavaliers: Remember all that scrappy, can-do attitude the Cavaliers began the season with? They were .500 after 10 games and even had a win over the Celtics. After 16 games, they were still a not-too-depressing 7-9. Then the Celtics administered a 106-87 bitchslap in a classic "You never should've beaten us that last time" game. Then LeBron returned to Cleveland to perform a 118-90 castration. Those two games were a one-two knockout that began a brutal stretch in which the Cavaliers (8-23) have lost 14 of 15 games to take their rightful place as the fourth-worst team in the league, ahead of only the Kings (5-23), Wizards Generals (7-22) and Timberwolves (8-24).

The latest spanking -- a 110-95 home loss to the Magic -- was actually a one-point game going into the final quarter. With Dwight Howard on the bench with foul trouble, the Cavs should have had a slugger's chance. If only they'd put some hands in faces. But with the way Orlando shot the ball -- 7-for-10 on threes during the fourth quarter and 19-for-31 for the game -- I can't help wondering whether the Cavaliers have any hands left.

Ah well. You can't expect a beaten team to play defense.

Byron Scott, coach of the year candidate: "They have a lot of firepower, There's no doubt about that. We don't have as much as they do. There's no doubt about that, too."

The Indiana Pacers: So let me get this straight. The Celtics were already without Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West. Then Nate Robinson gets cut on the head and leaves for good after only 24 minutes and Shaq fouls out in only 16 minutes of PT. Sweet damn, the Pacers must have...

...shot like shit (37 percent) and lost by double-digits at home (95-83). Of course.

Danny Granger: Indy's franchise guy went 5-for-21 and scored only 2 points in the fourth quarter...during which his Pacers went from up a point to down 12. I'm just sayin'.

Said Doc Rivers: "We just crowded him. He just missed some good shots, too. He's just a tough cover. You really want to just fight him off his spot and make him take tough shots."

Don't you love it when a coach is being diplomatic?

The New York Knicks: Hey, credit them for making a game of it, but spotting the Heat a 22-point lead won't lead to many wins.

Said Amar''''''e Stoudemire: "Tonight was a measuring stick game for us and we feel we played well despite the first quarter."

Yeah. About that first quarter. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 12 points and 9 rebounds in the first eight and a half minutes. Mind you, Big Z had only scored 12+ points once this season. The Ilgauskas Explosion helped Miami build a 34-15 first quarter lead that basically defined the game. And you know who was defending Zydrunas during that quarter...?

Amar''''''e Stoudemire: See above.

Erik Spoelstra, quote machine: "I told the guys, a 22-point lead against the Knicks is similar to a seven- or eight-point game against a normal team."

The Milwaukee Bucks: Here's some background: The Bucks were without three key players due to injury (Brandon Jennings, Drew Gooden, Carlos Delfino) and one due to suspension (Earl Boykins). They rank 30th in both Offensive Rating (99.7) and PPG (90.3). Oh, and they had gotten blown out at home by the Hawks the night before.

So what happened to the Bucks in Chicago? They shot a season-low 32.1 percent from the field and lost 90-77. The only reason they were even in the game was their rebounding: 19 offensive boards for 18 second-chance points.

Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We didn't play very well at the end. We weren't able to get anything going offensively. Somehow we hung in there. We couldn't score enough baskets. We couldn't find ways to score."

Pretty much sums up the season, Scott.

Andrew Bogut: Last season, Bogut lit up the Bulls, averaging 21.7 PPG on 52 percent shooting over three games. Last night he finished with 4 points on 2-for-12 shooting. He was 2-for-9 at the rim and attempted only two foul shots...both of which he bricked.

What happened? Dude was straight up locked down by the Corpse of Kurt Thomas.

Said Carlos Boozer: "Let me tell you, Kurt Thomas did a phenomenal job. That's their go-to and they go to him quite a bit. Obviously Kurt played there last year so he know his moves, but Kurt did a great job on him and he basically took their best player out of the game by himself."

The Dallas Mavericks: Boy, if anybody wanted to make the case for Dirk Nowitzki winning the MVP award, this game would be all the evidence they'd need. The Mavs -- playing at home and essentially tied with Boston for the league's second-best record -- went out and laid an egg so big their collective asses will be stinging for weeks.

Okay, so get this. The Craptosaurs -- sans leading scorer Andrea Bargnani (21.2 PPG) leading rebounder Reggie Evans (12.1 RPG), Sonny Weems and Peja Stojakovic -- just flat-out embarrassed the Mavericks. Dallas scored only 76 points on 41 percent shooting. They went 5-for-22 from downtown. They gave up 20 points off 18 turnovers. They were outscored 25-9 on the fast break and 48-24 in the paint. Oh, and Toronto outrebounded them 42-35.

And did I mention that rookie Ed Davis lit 'em up for a career-high 17 points and 12 boards?

Said Tyson Chandler: "We've got to get used to playing without the big fella for a while. We had a tough time adjusting. Our defense held them to 84, but offensively we had nothing."

Saying they had nothing offensively doesn't even do justice to just how much nothing they really had. The Mavericks scored 13 points in the first quarter and only 17 in the fourth. I'm looking down the roster and seeing Shawn Marion, Caron Butler, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry...these guys have played offense before. Right?

On the bright side, Brian Cardinal scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. See? All he needed was some PT.

The Portland Frail Blazers: It's just been that kind of season for the Frail Blazers. One night after a hope-lifting win over the Jazz in Utah, they get hammered 95-77 in Denver by the Carmelo Anthony-less Nuggets.

Those 77 points were a seaon-low by a Nuggets opponent.

In all fairness to the Blazers, they were playing the second of back-to-back road games. And -- SURPRISE ALERT!! -- they were minus Brandon Roy (resting his sore knee) and starting center Marcus Camby, who had sprained his right ankle against the Jazz.

Said LeMarcus Aldridge: "We just never really got going. It was just one of those nights where it was tough for us to get in a good a rhythm. It's a tough back-to-back. No excuses, but I think last night took a lot to win in Utah, which a lot of teams don't ever do."

No excuses, but...excuses.

The Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant was pissed after the Heat thrashed his Lakers in L.A. on Christmas day. So pissed that he vowed to "kick some [butt] during practice." What followed were reports of a "feisty" practice. And yet...don't you kinda get the feeling that Kobe's teammates don't appreciate him calling them out in the press?

Said Lamar Odom: "I think everybody is on the same pag. We don't need shoutouts in the media. We know our jobs. This is a team that's been to the Finals three [years] in a row. We know what big games are and games everybody looks forward to."

Added Ron Artest: "You gotta pay attention to the whole surroundings." Whatever that means.

But Kobe is Kobe. He said: "We haven't really been pointing at anything, that's been one of the problems. We don't really get too excited about anything anymore. I'm excited about this game. I'm excited about the challenge of it and hopefully the rest of the guys are too."

Just like that, the Lakers became Kobe and The Rest of the Guys. And they sure played like it.

Before the game, I said to myself, "Self, I bet this is going to be one of those classic 'Kobe Goes Down With Guns Blazing' games." Man, I wish I could pick lottery numbers with that kind of accuracy. Kobe took 27 shots in 31 minutes while the rest of L.A.'s starters combined for 30 in 123 minutes. Mamba was 3-for-7 from downtown and also committed a game-high 5 turnovers. And 1 assist. At one point, Bryant missed 13 shots in a row. It was a lucky number.

For the Spurs.

Said Kobe: "I'm just [mad] at myself. [Mad] I didn't play well."

Why can't the AP used the word "pissed"? I always wonder that.

Anyway, the Spurs had their way with the defending chumps, and they did it despite bawful games from Tim Duncan (1-for-7, 2 points, 4 rebounds) and Manu Ginobili (3-for-12). That was because Tony Parker went wherever he wanted (23 points on 10-for-18 shooting) and DeJuan Blair owned the interior (17 points, 15 rebounds). L.A. got outscored 17-8 on the fast break and 42-28 in the paint. The Lakers finished with 82 points on 35 percent shooting.

Rough going for the Lakers. They've lost three in a row, all blowouts, two of which were at home. Remember, they went through a stretch in which they had lost five of eight -- with the three wins coming against the Kings, Wizards and Clippers -- before winning five in a row after Andrew Bynum's return. Of course, those five games were versus the Nyets, Wizards, Pacers, Sixers and Craptors. So maybe this shouldn't be as surprising as it is. But it is everbody. Including Derek Fisher.

Said Kobe: "We're all moody. Fish got a tech today and he's the basketball version of Barack Obama. Everybody's a little moody right now."

Go figure.

Bonus stats: From ESPN Stats and Information:

The Spurs shot 42.5 percent from the field, 28.1 percent from 3-point range, and 66.7 percent from the line. A quick check of shows they hadn’t won a game with that sort of statistical combination since beating the Phoenix Suns in November, 2005.

How did they win? It took a great effort from Tony Parker (San Antonio is 21-1 when he scores at least 15 points) and their defense. Los Angeles shot 35.4 percent from the field, the third time they've shot that badly against the Spurs in the 49 regular season games that Kobe Bryant has played against them. Bryant missed 13 straight shots, which according to Elias, is the worst run of misses he's had in any game in his career.

The Lakers have dropped three straight games by at least 15 points, one shy of their longest stretch ever, done in November 2007.
Kobe Bryant, worst player of the night: Mamba barely edged Shannon Brown (1-for-11). Said Basketbawful reader Karc:

Early nomination for Worst player of the Night has to be Kobe Bryant. In addition to the godawful shooting (8-27) and the game high for turnovers (5), he gets yet another technical, this time for arguing with George Hill. I guess in Kobe's head, he thought he was Bruce Bowen in disguise or something.

BTW, for fun, I did a quick search on all George Hills. Turns out there's one for basketball, driving, and football. There are some other notable ones, but they'll all dead. Like the Lakers, whose "potent offense" could only cough up 38 points in the second half after leading by two at the break.

Wake me when the Lakers beat a .500 team on the road. Or when they score 90 points again. If ever...
Chris's Lacktion Report:

Magic-Cavs: Ryan Hollins can now write ultimatums in Comic Sans with Dan Gilbert after earning himself a 4.9 trillion (4:55), while Manny Harris handily lost the rock once in 1:57 for a +1 suck differential.

Celtics-Pacers: Jermaine O'Neal drained three fouls despite two boards in 11:55 for a 3:2 Voskuhl, while Solomon Jones smarly countered a trio of boards in 11:40 with three bricks, three fouls, and two giveaways for a 5:3 Voskuhl.

Knicks-Heat: Ronny Turiaf took it to the basket on two free throws, and earned himself a pair of boards...but in the rest of his 15:08, fouled four times and had two turnovers for a 6:4 Voskuhl. Fellow Knickerbocker Bill Walker crawled into the ledger with a foul for a +1 in 4:33.

Lakers-Spurs: Tiago Splitter sunk two freebies in 7:21 and garnered a board...but also fouled four times for a 4:3 Voskuhl. Chris Quinn mightily defeated Jerry Buss in a hand of poker worth 2.15 trillion (2:09)!

Frail Blazers-Nuggets: Renaldo Balkman successfully mined the hardwood at the Pepsi Center, as evidenced by a haul of 4.3 trillion (4:17)!


Clippers Kings Basketball
Paul Westphal fires up the Invisible Lawnmower. Finally, an explanation for Suckramento's ineptitude -- his players must be tripping over invisible grass

Anyone else just absolutely getting his/her ass kicked by a post-Christmas lull? I can't even blame alcohol since I didn't drink (though that may change tonight when I go to my bowling league). I'm just burned out and feel empty inside. It's kind of like being the 12th man on the Purple Paupers' bench.

Via 30fps, behold this epic moment of soccer man love:

Soccerawful Footbawful?

Worst of the Night in Pictures:
Mavericks Thunder Basketball
Wizards Rockets Basketball
Two great moments in awkward man love history

Nationally Televised Games:
Lakers at Spurs, NBA TV, 8:30pm: Someone wanna go check the Lakers' alarm clocks? They never woke up for the Christmas game, and as far as I know, they might still be in a tryptophan coma.

All The Other Games:
Magic at Cavaliers, 7pm: The Cavs are putting up unreal numbers. They've managed to shoot 41.0% from the field in December. Brick factories everywhere are envious.

Celtics at Pacers, 7pm: Can we just get Rajon Rondo out on the floor with a pair of crutches or something? It'd be a step up from Nate Robinson.

Knicks at Heat, 7:30pm: Yes, the Heat's schedule self-corrected a little recently and they got to play some softer competition, but even considering that their defensive effort the last few weeks has been impressive. They've only allowed 86.7 points per game over the last 15 games. Damn.

Bucks at Bulls, 8pm: I'm convinced that this year's Bucks team is offended by offense.

Craptors at Mavericks, 8:30pm: Dirk's out for this game and listed as day-to-day with a minor knee sprain. Nooooooooooo! (insert dramatic music sting)

Frail Blazers at Nuggets, 9pm: Good to see Carmelo's planning on being back on the court tonight.

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vinny facepalm
Uh, Vinny? You guys won.

The Toronto Raptors: Let's get this post started the right way:

In all fairness to the Craptosaurs, their 96-85 loss to the Grizzlies is somewhat mitigated by injuries, as summed up by the AP recap:

[Joey] Dorsey was in the starting lineup because the Raptors were without their leading scorer (Andrea Bargnani, 21.2 points), their leading rebounder (Reggie Evans, 12.1) and starter Sonny Weems. Add Peja Stojakovic to the wounded, and Toronto pieced together a squad with no player taller than 6-foot-10 forward Ed Davis, except for seldom-used, 7-1 rookie Solomon Alabi. ... Evidence of how bad the Raptors' injury situation has been: Only [DeMar] DeRozan and Amir Johnson have played in all 13 games in December.
Despite throwing a M.A.S.H. unit at the Care Bears, Toronto still managed to shoot 50 percent from the field, score 52 points in the paint and win the rebounding battle by a slim margin. Unfortunately, as Doug Collins might say, they forgot to value the basketball and committed a season-high 25 turnovers.

Memphis scored 28 points off those turnovers.

Said Linus Kleiza: "The offense is just out of sync when you are missing your main guy and everything went through him before. You're trying to figure out how to play without him, and maybe that's why we had so many turnovers."

Bonus bawful: The Mighty Dinos hit only 35 percent of their free throws (5-for-14). Dorsey, who got abused by "Vintage" Zach Randolph in the second half, went 0-for-5 from the line.

New Jersey and the Nyets: A big sad face goes out to the Orlando Magic, who showed up about an hour and a half before their game against the Nyets in New Jersey because one of its buses got stuck in a snow drift a couple of blocks from the team hotel in Hoboken.

Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "It was crazy. I didn't have to go through things like that when I was a small college coach. The roads in Hoboken were atrocious. We went past a lot of abandoned cars on our way here. The bus got stuck and our guys had to walk back to the hotel. It was a little crazy, to say the least. At least we got the game in. That was the key."

Added J.J. Redick: "We have survived two canceled games, a stomach flu bug and a stuck bus. It's been a weird year."

As for the Nyets, they won the first quarter (25-24) and then slowly succumbed over the final three, finishing with only 88 points on 39 percent shooting. Their 16-point home loss was their eighth in the last 11 games. But hey, they had a two-game winning streak last week and they're only three victories away from matching last year's win total. Oh, and last year, they were ranked 30th in Offensive Rating. This year they're 26th. That's a little thing we like to call progress, my friends.

One last thing: I love how New Jersey's backup backcourt of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar is the same backup backcourt that was supposed to be the Walton's foot of the Lakers last season.

The Milwaukee Bucks: Here's the setup: The Atlanta Hawks had lost their last five road games. The Fearsome Dear were just one game over .500 at home.

And, when last we left them, the Bucks were blowing out the Lakers in L.A.

So of course they fell behind by 11 points after one quarter, by 15 at halftime and trailed by as many as 18 before a failed rally that left them staring blankly at a 95-80 home loss and a 7-7 record in Milwaukee this season. Last year, the Bucks were 28-13 at home.

The problem was...defense?

Said Andrew Bogut: "That's it right there. I'll even give you a quote on that: When we let teams shoot a high percentage, we lose."

The Hawks shot 50.7 percent. Milwaukee is 0-6 this year when allowing opponents to shoot 50 percent or better. So there you have it. Right?

Maybe. But then again, scoring 80 points on 37 percent shooting while going 4-for-15 from downtown (26 percent) and getting outrebounded 47-33 doesn't help either. The Bucks rank 30th in Offensive Rating and don't even have Brandon Jennings or Drew Gooden available.

Said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles: "We were searching most of the night, trying to find anything that would work with any consistency. We weren't able to find it."

Don't you mean "most of the season," Scott?

The New Orleans Hornets: The New Orleans Saints pulled off a huge win over the Atlanta Falcons last night. Apparently, the Gods of Karma decided to take it out on the Hornets, who got thumped by...the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Michael Beasley nearly had a triple-double (30 points, 9 rebounds, career-high 7 assists) and Minny shot 53 percent from the field (and nearly 50 from downtown). The Timberwolves led by as many as 19 points and on 113-98.

Remember: The Hornet started the season 11-1. The Timberwolves began the night 7-24. New Orleans dropped to 7-12 since their hot start. They've lost their last seven road games...the last last three to sub-.500 teams (Pistons, Pacers, Timberwolves).

Fool's gold, baby.

Said Chris Paul: "I think this one we're going to be mad at for a long time. Of course, you've got to get over it, but at the same time, we should have beat this team. Bad, bad, bad loss for us. I don't know, they just beat us."

Added David West: "I don't think we're going from start to finish. We have spurts and stretches where we're solid defensively. In terms of completion, we aren't going from start to finish."

The Detroit Pistons: The latest victims of the dead coach bounce. Sorry, guys.

By the way, welcome back, Paul Silas.

Anyway, the Bobcraps came into the game having lost six of seven, with three of the losses by 30 points or more. There's no better prescription to that particular sickness than a home game versus a patsy like the Pistons, who were coming off a tough overtime loss to the Bulls the night before.

But before we get too excited here, it should be noted that Charlotte went on a 24-2 run in the second quarter and led by as many as 23 points and barely eked out a five-point win after sweating out a potentially game-tying three-point attempt by Ben Gordon. I'm just sayin'...Bobcrap fans shouldn't spend their Christmas money on tickets to the Finals just yet.

Paul Silas, coach of the year candidate: "Any time you lose games by 30 points, something is wrong."

Paul Silas, quote machine: Regarding not having his call returned by recently fired Bobcraps coach Larry Brown: "It's hard. I've been there, getting fired. Do you want that team to do well? Quite honestly, no. I can understand, but I hope to talk to him soon."

The Oklahoma City Thunder: Let me get this straight. The Thunder were at home. The Mavericks were minus coach Rick Carlisle (knee surgery) and lost Dirk Nowitzki (knee injury) in the second quarter. And yet Oklahoma City scored only 12 points in the fourth quarter and lost by 10.

Seriously, how does a team with Kevin Durant score only 12 points in money time?

Said thunder coach Scott Brooks: "We just picked a bad time to miss shots."

Alrighty then.

The Washington Wizards Generals: Somehow, despite Yao Ming's neverending injury cycle, the Houston Rockets have managed to win five straight games and surge all the way back to .500. In fact, a closer look at the schedule shows that Houston has won eight of the last 10...

...with wins against the Pistons (10-21), Cavaliers (8-22), Kings (5-23), Grizzlies (14-17), Kings (again), Warriors (12-18), Clippers (10-22) and Wizards (7-22).

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket. I'm just sayin'.

Still, Kevin Martin feels pretty good about it all. And he thinks this is just the beginning. Seriously. Said K-Mart: "From where we started, we should feel good about our road back to .500. It's not actually being at .500, because for the season, we have better goals than that. Our road back to .500, the way everybody is playing, that's what we should feel relieved about."

On the flip side, we have the Generals, losers of 10 of their last 11 games and a perfectly imperfect 0-15 on the road. With or without John Wall, I guess they are who we thought they were.

The Utah Jazz: Man, every time you feel like it's safe to start shoveling dirt on the Frail Blazers' grave, they dramatically thrust up one zombified hand and try to crawl out of their hole. To win: Last night's 96-91 win over the Jazz in Utah.

Portland is the city that won't die.

Deron Williams, quote machine: "They took us out of our stuff."

Jerry Sloan, quote machine: "They took the life out of us and busted us in the mouth. We fell out like flies."

The Philadelphia 76ers: Their 110-95 loss in Golden State came down to one factor: Hands in faces. As in they were not. The proof: The Warriors went 15-for-23 from beyond the arc. I'll save you some simple math and point out that's a 65 percent rate of accuracy.

Said Sixers coach Doug Collins: "Tonight was one of those games where we were a step slow. When you're a step slow against a team like this, then you're chasing. When you're chasing, that's when they are getting those 3s."

The Sacramento Kings: Hell is a one-point home loss to the Clippers and a league-worst 5-23 record. Of course, there was some drama...

Ryan Gomes: With his team leading by three points, Gomes fouled Tyreke Evans on a three-point attempt with 1.9 seconds left. Whoops. Fortunately for Ryan...

Tyreke Evans: ...the Freak hit the first two and missed the third. DeMarcus Cousins missed a tip and the loose ball went to Evans, who bricked an open nine-footer with 0.3 seconds left.

Said Evans: "I thought I wasn't going to get it off, so I kind of rushed it. I probably should have took my time. I was just trying to get the ball up and try to make it go in."

Said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: "You don't want to give them three [free throw] shots there; we didn't execute the way we wanted to. We were fortunate at the end, but we'll take it. We're finding ways to win. You've got to learn how to win games like that in this league."

It sure helps when you're playing the Kings, though, Vinny.

LeBron James, quote machine: Okay. Turns out he's against contraction. Now that, you know, he knows what the word means: "That's crazy, because I had no idea what the word 'contraction' meant before I saw it on the Internet."

Chris's Lacktion Report:

Magic-Nyets: Earl Clark crunched on two nougat-covered bricks in 3:16 for a +2 suck differential; in that same timespan, fellow alchemists Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon went +1 (via foul and turnover respectively).

Craptors-Grizzlies: Julian Wright scrawled all over his copy of Mario Paint in 49 seconds, while Ronald Dupree stole away 1.25 trillion (1:16) worth of rollerskate parts!

For the victorious baby cubs, Hamed Haddadi had one rebound, but also only played 44 seconds for a non-lacktive Mario.

Hornets-Wolves: DJ Mbenga buzzed into the turnover column once in 2:45 for a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.

Minnesota's Kosta Koufos threw a brick at a Koopa shell in 56 seconds for a +1 and a Mario!

Mavs-Thunder: Dallas's Brendan Haywood wasn't a hero with three boards in 18:19 being countered by four fouls for a 4:3 Voskuhl.

Generals-Rockets: Now stuck in the land of professional opponents, Al Thornton added two fouls to a brick in 7:40 for a +3, accompanied by Trevor Booker's 2.1 trillion (2:06) earmarked to solve the national debt.

Scrappy Brad Miller scraped one foul and two bricks (one from the National Mall) in 5:37 for a +3 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.

Frail Blazers-Jazz: Armon Johnson hammered out 11 seconds of ball for a Mario, while Utah's Ronnie Price was right after guessing he'd score a 5.2 trillion (5:14).

Clippers-The Purple Paupers Who Cannot Even Beat The Clippers: Starting forward Ryan Gomes gave the Clips a +6 in 17:14 after four bricks (two from the Senator Hotel) and two fouls in 17:14.

Sixers-Warriors: Reggie Williams recorded himself a spot in the lacktion ledger after 11:44 - bricking twice (once from Lake Merritt) and fouling once for a +3.


Nightmare Ant
Nightmare Ant may eat your brains and rape your soul, but at least he'll look good doing it
(h/t JE Skeets)

Go read Bruce Arthur's fantastic look back at The Decision for some perspective acquired over time.

Speaking of time, this isn't basketball related, but it is sports related at least. Today's the 10th anniversary of Mario Lemieux's comeback after retiring from the NHL in 1997 to battle Hodgkin's lymphoma. Watch this clip from his comeback game and be ready to get hit with a sonic wave of applause when he first skates onto the ice:

Bad. Ass.

Lemieux notched an assist just 33 seconds into the game, then scored the brilliant goal you see at 3:10 in this clip en route to a 1 goal, 3 assist outing. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played competitive hockey in three years and was just coming back from friggin' cancer. If you aren't terribly familiar with hockey, Lemieux is easily the second greatest player in history, and if he didn't have such a string of health issues (spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of a hip-flexor muscle, chronic back pain, and atrial fibrillation), he perhaps would have matched or beaten many of Wayne Gretzky's records despite playing quite a bit of his career in the "dead puck" era when scoring paces were much lower than the mid 1980s or today. Oh, and fun fact: Lemieux is the only person ever to win the Stanley Cup as both a player and an owner. Woo.

Worst of Christmas Weekend in Pictures:

"Hey Pau, whaddya think of my new sneakers?"


Shaq Sneak Attack!

76ers Nuggets Basketball
Uh, hey Birdman, I think you missed a spot. I can still see an inch of skin on your left pec...

The Bosh unhinges its jaw to devour its pray whole. It is a dangerous predator from a medium range, but is highly allergic to paint

Trail Blazers Warriors Basketball
"Really? We lost to the Warriors on Christmas? Really?"

Playing on Christmas Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy throws a temper tantrum upon learning all he got for Christmas from David Stern was a bunch of neckties

Nationally Televised Games:
Craptors at Grizzlies, NBA TV, 8pm: Zach Randolph has more double-doubles this season than the entire Craptors team. I just died a little inside.

All The Other Games:
Magic at Nyets, 7pm: Now that the Magic have taken down the mighty Celtics in a super ugly game, do they actually show up for this one, or do we have a hilarious letdown game? Even Stan Van Gundy said "Hopefully we don't get full of ourselves."

Pistons at Bobcraps, 7pm: The Charlotte Bobcraps may suck, but at least they'll be entertaingly sucky from now on. New coach Paul Silas had this to say: "I want to bring some energy to this ball club. I want us to get up and down and let it all hang out. If they don't want to get up and down, they can come sit down by me."

Hawks at Bucks, 8pm: Are you ready for more Earl Boykins playing time? Enjoy it while it lasts, because the time he gets to play seriously meaningful minutes may be (wait for it...) short.

Yeah, I'm sorry.

Hornets at Timberwolves, 8pm: The 863rd sign your team sucks: STATS LLC adds the qualifier "only" in this sentence from the game preview: "Minnesota has lost six straight to New Orleans by an average of only 7.5 points since a 116-108 home victory on Jan. 23, 2009."

Mavericks at Thunder, 8pm: Did you know Dirk Nowitzki has passed Larry Bird for 25th on the NBA's all-time scoring list? Unreal.

Wizards Generals at Rockets, 8:30pm: Good news/bad news for Rockets fans. Bad news? They're considering trading Yao. What will Houston ever do without a 7'6" dude riding a stationary bike giving spectators fistbumps? But moving on... the good news? Kevin Martin is on fire. Marc Stein noted in his power rankings that the Elias stats guys discovered Discount Store "is on pace to become the first player to lead the league in total FTs and 3s made in a season."

Frail Blazers at Jazz, 9pm: The Blazers are a crappy road team, and their two wins in the entire past decade in Salt Lake City don't bode well for tonight's game.

Clippers at Kings, 10pm: Chris passed along this great link: Tom Ziller compares age versus success, considering only meaningful players to avoid artifically skewing the numbers. In general (with Oklahoma being a major exception), young teams suck. And yep, the Purple Paupers are young. And they definitely suck. And yet, as Chris also noted, front row tickets to this game will set you back just over $1000 apiece. Mind... reeling...

76ers at Warriors, 10:30pm: The Warriors haven't won three games in a row since April 1-5, 2009. Hey Philly, this would be a nice late Christmas gift for the Warriors organization, just FYI.

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[Ed. note -- Guest post today from The Other Chris, channeling his inner poet. When your kids are cranky and restless tonight, be sure to read them any story other than this one. They'd be too wired and giddy with anticipation for the Christmas night Frail Blazers/Warriors game to go to sleep otherwise. Merry Christmas everyone! -Dan B.]

'Twas the night before Christmas,

And all through Eddie's House,

Not a player liked Sterling,

That cheap racist louse.

The stockings were hung way up high by Yinka Dare,

Ready for booty from the new CBA, like winnin' the lottery,

The out-of-wedlock baby mamma children were snug in their beds,

Their daddies caroused strip joints, not a care in their heads,

And Craig Sager in a stupid suit, while Jackson and Arenas bust caps,

Sternly, anyone who whines this year is rewarded with a slap,

When out in Rose Garden there arose such a clatter,

It was the sound of Frail Blazers knees, they had collectively shattered!!!

Away to the rescue flew D-Wade the Flash!

But to South Beach came LeBron and Bosh, for a little less cash.

Tore down the rim and with authorit-ah, Blake did smash!

The Moon confounds us with Bawful, much like once did The Snow

There's no lustre left in the Leastern, so many teams that blow.

When, what to my wondering League Pass should appear,

But the lumbering undead corpse of Erik Dampier!

With Boykins still playing, so little and quick,

I knew in a moment this season would be sick.

More vapid than Britney, The King's TV games,

But vying for the title, all of the big names:

"Now Garnett! Now Allen! Now Pierce, now Rondo!"

"If any of you get injured, your title hopes are gonzo!"

"On Williams! On Rose! On Jennings! On Paul!"

"There's a new kid in town, his name is John Wall!"

As The Answer out of the NBA and to Turkey did fly,

Like David Thompson, players these days can walk the sky,

So up to the top, the Lakers they flew

With zombie Fish, and Kobe, and crazy Artest, too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard there was proof.

That the ancient Spurs aren't done, they also plan to raise the roof.

As Drew joined yet another team, with weird head hair and lots of rebounds,

Tumbling down came the Bucks, the Deer have been bound.

They dress all in fur, these millionares, and never go by foot,

Except maybe Matt Booner, covered in smog and soot.

A gaggle of Bulls follow Derrick, as he attacks the rack,

A rich history of glory, they want to go back.

Their eyes - how they twinkle! Even the Paupers, they're merry!

At least the NBA doesn't have to put up with Don Fucking Cherry!

Draftees usually rock a suit, but for Noah it's a bow,

No matter, he's good; watch out, Pierce, thunder down below!

Red, iconic with a cigar clamped in his teeth,

The Celtics, loved and hated, keep piling up the wreaths.

With broad faces and even broader bellies,

The likes of Diaw and Davis need to lay off the damn jelly,

With Oden once again laid up on the shelf,

Probably, after dong pic, though "I shoulda stopped myself".

With a wink of his eye, there goes little Luther Head,

Banished to Sacramento, the land of the walking dead.

Arenas speaks no more, he just goes straight to work.

Too bad his shot and his game have gone completely beserk.

Last year in the Finals it was the Lake Show by a nose;

But everyone reloaded, gunning for the overthrow.

Like legions of homers, cringing at a late whistle.

The Raptors, Cavs and Warriors can fit their hopes in a thistle.

But as Marv Albert exclaimed, at another spectacular sight:

"There's always hope for you sad sacks; just wait for draft night!!"

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Cavaliers Hawks Basketball
"Dude, you can have the ball, just please don't bite me!!"

To echo Bawful's thoughts from earlier, Merry Christmas, Bawfulites! I already have to work a half-day at my Clark Kent job tomorrow, so you're getting the weekend post early. Deal with it. To make it up to you, here's some Youtube goodness!

1) A Christmas tradition courtesy of In Living Color (i.e. when the Wayans were still funny)...

Homey Claus don't play that

2) As a fan of both horrible movies and Mystery Science Theater 3000, no Christmas would be complete for me without a viewing of the dubbed Mexican trainwreck of a late 1950s film called, creatively enough, Santa Claus. And since I know many of you have a similar sense of humor, I feel the need to share the joy of Santa being covered in a deluge of chain letter scam mail and riding a sleigh pulled by horrifically creepy robot reindeer that will eat your soul while you sleep. Embedded below is part 1 of the entire movie -- Here is the Youtube playlist for the full movie.

"It's a stupid Mexican kids' movie!!!"

3) Well, it's not technically Youtube, but it's still a streaming video. Merry Christmas from the Nyets! (h/t JE Skeets)

Oh, and one brief note to hurt your brain: the Chinese language police have banned the acronym "NBA". They instead want you to use a non-English version of the word to keep the language pure: “Mei Guo Nan Zi Zhi Ye Lan Qiu Lian Sai.” Seriously.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Nuggets Spurs Basketball
"Time out! My eyebrows are trying to escape again."

Pistons Raptors Basketball
Even the winning coach can't stand to watch a Pistons/Raptors game

Nets Hornets Basketball
"The Hornets aren't quite as good as everyone thought at first... maybe we've got a chance..."

Nets Hornets Basketball

Nationally Televised Thursday Games:
Spurs at Magic, TNT, 8pm: Because you so want to see the Hedo Deja Vu Magic get the snot beaten out of them by the Spurs. Ball.

Heat at Suns, TNT, 10:30pm: Alvin Gentry had this to say about Vag Carter: "He's still a little sore and there's no reason to rush things. We want him healthy before we run him out there." Yeah, good luck with that, Coach.

Meanwhile, D-Wade has a sore knee.

All The Other Thursday Games:
Bucks at Kings, 10pm: Let me put it this way for you. There is a damn good reason why this game is not being nationally televised.

* * *

No games Friday

* * *

Nationally Televised Saturday Christmas Games:
Bulls at Knicks, ESPN, 12pm: The lack of Joakim Noah makes this game (unfortunately) a little more interesting.

Celtics at Magic, ABC, 2:30pm: I know the Celtics have been running their offense through Paul Pierce while Rondo's injured, but maybe they should put Shaq at the point. I mean, he can conduct the Boston Pops -- why can't he conduct the offense for his team?

The Big Conductor

Heat at Lakers, ABC, 5:30pm: I'm just going to give you this link with the headline used by the Business Insider Sports Page guys: "Here's The (PowerPoint) Presentation LeBron James Used To Get Sponsors For His Birthday Party." The best part? LeBron is spelled wrong (they used non-capitalized Bs)

Nuggets at Thunder, ESPN, 8pm: It turns out the "death in the family" that Carmelo experienced the other day was his sister, who leaves behind four children. That's absolutely heartbreaking. My condolences to the Anthony family.

Frail Blazers at Warriors, ESPN, 10:30pm: How fortuitous! ESPN knew nobody would be paying attention to a game this late anyway, so why not put on one that will be fairly meaningless and good for dozing off while watching. So here comes NBA scheduling to the rescue with the Frail Blazers battling for an eighth seed, and the Warriors battling to not be the worst team in the league.

* * *

All The Sunday Games:
Suns at Clippers, 3pm: Remind me again, why did the draft lottery have to send Blake Griffin to Donald Sterling's mess of a franchise? It's just not fair for anyone!

Timberwolves at Cavaliers, 6pm: The only reasons to care about this game: the Timberwolves are just exciting to watch as they are horrible, plus there is an ever-present possibility of Kevin Love transforming into the Incredible Hulk and pulling down 35 rebounds.

Also, be sure you check out Kevin Love's Christmas gift guide.

Bulls at Pistons, 6pm: Sadly, these are not the Bad Boys Pistons. These are just the Bad Pissed-Ons.

Hawks at Hornets, 7pm: Okay, let's see. Hornets have good defense, bad offense. Hawks have slightly less good defense, slightly less bad offense. I guess those factors balance out and this becomes a halfway good game in theory?

Grizzlies at Pacers, 7pm: This game, on the other hand, can never be "good" under any circumstances. It might be close, but it will never be "good."

Wizards Bullets at Spurs, 7pm: I'm beginning to wonder if John Wall is ever going to be healthy. Is he being worked on by the Portland medical staff in secret? Also, as noted in last night's BAD comments by AnacondaHL: "Easy WotN material tonight. I don't even want to change the name of the YouTube video. Andray Blatche does something Andray Blatche-y"

I also appreciated the description used on Sports Pickle: "The essence of the Washington Wizards in a 10-second highlight. Watch this 288 times and you have a whole Wizards game."

76ers at Nuggets, 8pm: According to this piece, "the Sixers, who usually hold a mandatory team meeting on the second day of back-to-back games, instead held a voluntary one" after their ass-whupping by the Celtics and Bulls. They did this because they got beaten down so badly that they just wanted to forget about it and move on. That one moment sums up the entire Sixers season.

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Hey everybody. Sorry I didn't get around to doing a WotN post for last night's action. I'm taking a few days off to enjoy the holidays. I might do a weekend post to recap the Christmas day games. We'll see how holly I'm feeling.

Anyway, I leave you with this video. And my best wishes for a happy holiday.


Thunder Bobcats Basketball
Larry Brown attempts to gouge out his eyes after watching his Bobcraps play. Good thing he no longer has that problem!

Is anyone actually surprised by Larry Brown getting the hell out of Charlotte? I look forward to Michael Jordan doing what Bawful reader JJ suggested and becoming an owner/coach. The comedy would be endless!

Since the sun rose in the east this morning, that means we have yet another example of Ron Artest doing what Ron Artest does best. Here is a post from Trey Kirby at The Basketball Jones where Ron Artest tells us what stats Jesus Christ put up when he played in the NBA. Unfortunately, these numbers do not match up with those The Onion gives us. All I know is that this story made me immediately fire up Youtube to rewatch this video.

Via The Other Chris, check out this insane high school dunk contest.

Thanks for reminding me that I can barely reach the bottom of the net, guys

And some brief footbawful: oh for the love of God, they want to make a movie about the Madden Curse. So, is whomever they put on the poster doomed to break his ankle filming a scene for the movie? (h/t chris)

Worst of the Night in Pictures:
Noah making a goofy face and Scalabrine doing Scalabrine-like things. This is what this website is all about.

Bucks Lakers Basketball
If I lost to the Bucks, I'd want to hide too

Warriors Kings Basketball
"Maybe I shouldn't have flashed that 'choke' sign..."

Mavericks Magic Basketball
What's with the pouty faces? Nobody's forcing you to hug each other

Nationally Televised Games:
Bulls at Wizards Generals, 7pm: The story of the night for Washington is they will finally get to play their newest acquisition, Rashard Lewis. Because I'm sure that's the difference-maker that will vault them to the top of the standings.

All The Other Games:
Cavaliers at Hawks, 7pm: I know they don't have LeBron and all, but damn, when did Cleveland become something resembling an unholy Eastern Conference version of the Purple Paupers or Clippers? Something needs to light a fire under their asses. You know, other than their river.

Pistons at Craptors, 7pm: Well, at least a couple people will be enjoying this game. Per The Other Chris: "Bawful field trip tonight: Craptors vs. Pissed-Ons. I'm taking a friend with whom I have a bet about which team will have a worse record this year. Much drinking and yelling will ensue. 'Tis the season to be jolly!"

76ers at Celtics, 7:30pm: I still can't get over the fact that the Sixers have quietly been amazingly mediocre lately. I mean, 6-4 in their past 10 games? That's playing like a #4 seed in the Leastern Conference! (Good to know there's no way they can keep this up. Right? Right...?)

Thunder at Knicks, 7:30pm: Nice to see the schedule balancing out for New York. After a stretch of games softer than Charles Barkley's fat rolls, they're now getting their share of tough games, and the results haven't been pretty.

Nyets at Hornets, 8pm: Let's be honest, folks. Does anyone really see the Nyets landing Carmelo Anthony? How much longer do we have to entertain this storyline?

Jazz at Timberwolves, 8pm: Look out. This is the first time Al Jefferson will be facing his former team. I mean, you already don't want to lose to the Timberpups anyway just because that's humiliating, but especially when you've got some history with them.

Nuggets at Spurs, 8:30pm: Sad news: Carmelo won't be playing tonight due to a death in the family.

Rockets at Clippers, 10:30pm: What astronomical odds! Both of these teams are riding three game winning streaks! The only thing I expected them to be riding was an express train to the NBA draft lottery.

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sad philly bench

The Philadelphia 76ers: I know you're going to find this hard to believe...

...but the Philadelphia 76ers have been on fire lately.

The Sixers opened the season at Los Angeles Clippers-like 3-13 and then ripped off eight wins in their last 11 games heading into tonight's matchup with the Bulls. They had held 12 of their last 13 opponents below 100 points. And in their nine games this month, their foes had been averaging only 89.2 PPG.

For perspective, the Miami Heat lead the league in Opponents PPG at 91.5.

Enter the Bulls, minus Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, and fresh off a home court loss to the actual Clippers.

So, naturally, Chicago annihilated Philly. And that annihilation couldn't have been more complete unless the earth opened up, swallowed the Sixers and spit up a mangled pile of meat and bones.

It's hard to put this beating into words, so allow me to put it into numbers: The Bulls shot a season-best 64.5 percent while holding the Sixers to a season-low 35.0 percent. Chicago outscored Philly 28-9 on the fast break and 52-26 in the paint. The Bulls blocked nine shots and forced 18 turnovers. They outscored the Sixers 31-11 in the third quarter and led by as many as 51 points before settling for a 45-point win.

Said former Bull Elton Brand: "It was a good, old-fashioned butt kicking. They did whatever they wanted. They scored on eight of their first 11 plays and we couldn't come back. They scored at will."

Doug Collins, coach of the year candidate: So sayeth Doug:

"I told the guys that I'll give you one. In the NBA you're going to have games like this, it just happens.

"It'll be easier tomorrow (at Boston). Our effort will be better tomorrow. We were just discombobulated on offense tonight. I didn't recognize us out there. I didn't even know what plays we were running.

"We would go out of time-outs and we were just looking around. I could just tell. It was one of those nights. When you've been around 40 years, you just after a while feel like there's no reason to say a whole lot."
Update! The Bulls' singing voices: Basketbawful reader Barry nominated this video. Deservedly so.

The Los Angeles Lakers: Here are some quick Lakers facts I recently brought up in a comments section. So far this season, L.A. has had easily the cakiest schedule in the league. According to John Hollinger's Power Rankings, the Lakers are 30th in Strength of Schedule (.410). In their first 29 games, they've played exactly four games against teams that are currently above .500 (Nuggets, Jazz and the Bulls twice).

People have been making a big deal about how the Lakers have won eight of nine, but those eight victories were against the Kings (5-20), Wizards (7-19), Clippers (8-21), Nyets (8-20), Wizards again, Pacers (13-14), Sixers (11-16) and Craptors (10-18). Well, L.A. got a crack at another sub-.500 team -- the Milwaukee Bucks (10-16) -- and it was like they opened a gift-bag filled with whupass.

The Lakers lost 98-79. At home. And yes, those 79 points were a season low. They were also a franchise low against the Bucks.

And here's where I mention that the Bucks were minus Brandon Jennings (left foot surgery), Corey Maggette (concussion-like symptoms) and Carlos Delfino (strained neck and concussion-like symptoms). Due to the injuries, Scott Skiles had to squeeze 26 minutes out of Earl Boykins...

...and Boykins lit the Lakers up for a game-high (and season-high) 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

More numbers: L.A. gave up 25 points off 18 turnovers. But you know what? Screw the numbers. I've seen roadkill with more life than the Lakers showed. I guess this was a post-Heat trap game. But damn.

Said Phil Jackson: "I told them I don't think they can play any worse than that. This is what we were worried about. We got out of whack there in the second half and never recovered."

Added Derek Fisher: "I guess you could say there's a possibility [of looking ahead], but I don't think so. Even in looking past someone, that requires an action on your part. So I don't think it was so much about the opponent. I just think we didn't play the type of game that we needed to play. I guess things would have been different if the opponent was different, but I can't say that."

Kobe Bryant: He had an ego-ectomy as described in the AP recap:

After consecutive baskets by Boykins and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute put the Bucks ahead 82-72 with six minutes left, Milwaukee's game was encapsulated on the next possession: Salmons was faked to the floor by Bryant, yet still managed to strip the ball from Bryant in a seated position when the Lakers superstar drove past him.
And then he bitched out at the end of the game. From ESPN's J.A. Adande:

Kobe Bryant lost his cool after he was called for charging in the fourth quarter, getting technical fouls from a pair of officials, then directing a certain two words immortalized in the Grammy-nominated Cee-Lo song toward official Bill Spooner as he left the court. Those were two more words than Bryant said to reporters, as he departed without comment. (It was Bryant’s first two-technical game since March 26, 2008, vs. Charlotte.)
And the video:

That's right. Kobe said "fuck you" to the refs.

The Memphis Grizzlies: Here's the rub in one sentence: The Nyets ended thier 10-game road losing streak and now have only their second two-game winning streak of the season thanks to a 101-94 victory over the Care Bears.

New Jersey shot nearly 53 percent from the field and scored 54 points in the paint.

Said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins: "We couldn't get a stop when we needed one. Vujacic came off the bench and made shots in our face, and Lopez just kept scoring and scoring. There were a lot of mistakes made on schemes and a lack of effort."

The Charlotte Bobcraps: Talk about a fourth quarter collapse. The Bobkittens were ahead by a point entering the final 12 minutes...during which they missed their first 11 shots, committed 5 turnovers, didn't score a field goal until there were 2:52 to go, gave up a 25-3 run and got outscored 31-12.

The 'Craps have now lost four games in a row. And they haven't surpassed 90 points in any of them.

Larry Brown, coach of the year candidate: So sayeth Larry:

"The same things are happening again," Brown said. "We stand around, hold the ball and turn it over. We take bad shots. In that regard you see how much more athletic than we are. A turnover for them is a dunk.

"We can't get five guys in the right spots on the court. So then you look disorganized," Brown said. "But I think some of our young kids will have to play now and hopefully they get better. I have to figure out how I can coach better, and give them a better understanding of what we need to do.

"I have to make them understand how valuable the ball is, how to run from defense to offense and offense to defense, how to block out, share the ball," Brown said. "You can't stop telling them, you can't stop coaching it.

"It's a lot deeper than that."
The Sacramento Kings: The Kings choked up a 16-point fourth quarter lead and lost in overtime to the Warriors, who came into the game having lost 14 of their last 16. That's just the kind of season it's been for the Purple a league-worst 5-21.

Update! Demarcus Cousins, worst player of the night: An anonymous commenter said: "Anybody have video of Demarcus Cousins making the Reggie Miller 'choke' sign after Reggie Williams missed the 1st shot when he was at the line shooting 3 FTs in the final seconds of regulation? Cousins also finished an amazing 3-13 from the field with 4 TOs. Worst Player of the Night."

The video:

The Orlando Magic: So how's the roster overhaul going? Gilbert Arenas scored 2 points on 1-for-6 shooting, Hedo Turkododo had 9 points on 2-for-11 shooting and Jason Richardson went 4-for-13 for his 10 points. And Orlando lost 105-99 at home to the Dallas Mavericks.

Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundey: "None of those guys are shooting the ball very well right now. I don't know if it's being in a new situation or putting too much pressure on themselves. All three of them are struggling to shoot the ball."

Added Dwight Howard: "It can't get any worse."

Stat curse? Orlando's next two games are against the Spurs and Celtics. Just sayin'.

Update! Hedo Turkododo: Missed. Dunk.

Update! Chris' Lacktion Report:

Thunder-Bobcats: Cole Aldrich acquired two fouls in 2:27 for a +2 and a 2:0 Voskuhl.

Nyets-Grizzlies: Hamed Haddadi ran into a Goomba once in 40 seconds to earn a foul in the midst of a Mario, also garnering a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl!

Warriors-The Purple Paupers Who May Not Be In Sacramento Forever But Have Maintained A Coaching Vacancy Since Adelman Left: Louis Amundson celebrated the continuing implosion of Sacramento's "basketball" "team" by countering three boards and a field goal in 12:54 with a turnover AND fouling out - earning a 7:5 Voskuhl as starting big man!

Bucks-Lakers: Jerry Buss can now invite Devin Ebanks to the Christmas Texas Hold'em gathering after he earned a 1.5 trillion (1:29)!


The realization that his team is godawful was very sudden, and very disturbing for poor Monta Ellis

Here's a must-see from Kelly Dwyer on Ball Don't Lie: how Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings are rehabilitating. See? Professional athletes aren't so different from the rest of us! They also sit! They just do it, you know, to play a racing arcade game in their damn house, or watch three TVs at once.

Also, solid piece from the Washington Post on Gilbert Arenas and his tired act.

And quickly, I did receive a quick response from Marc Stein about the Frail Blazers nickname thing I mentioned last night: "Will write that somewhere when opening arises". So there you go. I have no idea if we coined the nickname or not (it's so obvious that I doubt it), but it's certainly been around for awhile.

Worst of the Night in Pictures:

Magic Hawks Basketball
"I made Gilbert cry! Mission accomplished."

So delightfully awkward

Someone go tell Rambis he isn't at an Atlanta Braves game

Suns Spurs Basketball
Huh. I figured it would take more than one game for Vince Carter to drive Steve Nash to madness

Nationally Televised Games:
Mavericks at Magic, NBA TV, 7pm: Dallas has won its last four games in Orlando, the Magic are in a slump, and they now have Hedo and Gilbert Arenas. I do not feel particularly optimistic about Orlando's chances tonight...

All The Other Games:
Thunder at Bobcraps, 7pm: The Thunder don't want to lose two consecutive games, and they get to face an offense that's nearly as terrible as Milwaukee's. Not to mention the Bobcraps aren't feeling terribly good about themselves. Per Stephen Jackson: "We're just terrible on all cylinders." Well, there's your problem, Captain Jack. You're a basketball team, not a car! Silly Bobcraps...

76ers at Bulls, 8pm: It's official: has referred to the Sixers as "surging." That is, of course, code for "sucking less than usual."

Nyets at Grizzlies, 8pm: The poor Nyets are about to play 10 of 13 on the road. I'm sure this will go well. Don't waste your time watching this game. You'll get a better sports viewing fix by watching the Lorchcast:

I think I've posted this here before, but the Lorchcast is worth another viewing

Warriors at Kings, 10pm: The Purple Paupers -- winners of five (5!) games this season -- are favored 66% to 34% in this game according to AccuScore computer simulations. Ladies and gentlemen, the Golden State Warriors!

Bucks at Lakers, 10:30pm: The Lakers like to beat up on bad teams. The Bucks are missing Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, and Corey Maggette. I fully expect this game to look something like this:

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