Serial killer or NBA general manager? Or...is he both?
The Cleveland Cadavers: Let's see: Houston's Chase Budinger scored 14 of his career-high 30 points in the fourth quarter (including 11 straight in one six-minute stretch). What's more, the Rocketeers had a 57-37 rebounding advanteage, including 22-7 on the offensive glass. Much of that board work was done by Chuck Hayes, who grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds (including 13 on the offensive end). Chucky grabbed 12 rebounds in the first quarter alone...which set a Quicken Loans Arena Record for most rebounds in a quarter.
Said Antawn Jamison: "We let [Hayes] control the game. He set the tone."
Allow me to repeat: Chuck Hayes controlled the game.
Byron Scott, coach of the year candidate: "If you look at the stat sheet, offensively, we probably should have won. But if you give a team like that 22 offensive rebounds, you make it very tough on yourself. They were more physical and aggressive."
The Detroit Pistons: Austin Daye's 17-footer put the Pistons up 101-100 with 11 seconds to go. This is how the next several seconds went: Indiana's Brandon Rush dunked the Pacers to a 102-101 lead with five ticks left and then the Rodney Stuckey lost the ball out of bounds with one second on the clock. Game over.
Said Knee-Mac: "We were one play away from winning the game.
Welcome to Detroit's season. That's 10 losses in 14 games, by the way.
The Orlando Magic: A home loss...to the Tyreke Evans-less Kings?!
You know, defense used to be Orlando's "thing," but the Sactowners scored 111 points on 52.5 percent shooting. Dwight Howard had 31 and 17 (plus 2 steals and 2 blocked shots) while going 11-for-12 from the line. Not much more Pumanman can do. Especially with defensive stalwarts like Hedo Turkoglu, J.J. Redick and Gilbert Arenas backing him up.
Said Howard: "We've been talking for a long time -- all we seem to do is talk. You guys know what the difference is. You watch the games. If guys don't want to play, they need to sit down. We can't just have guys or anybody out there not playing hard. We're professional athletes. This is what we do for a living. If you can't go out there and go hard for two hours, then you shouldn't be playing."
In related news, the Magicians surrendered 50 points in the paint and gave up 26 points off 17 turnovers. 'Tis better to give, my friends, than to recieve.
Said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy: "Down the stretch it was just terrible. When we got the lead we had a couple of careless ones and it's terrible. "I'm not happy with anything other than Dwight right now. I'm not happy with anything."
Added Howard: "We have a lot of talent, but talent won't win you championships. You get to the finals, both teams are very talented. That's how they got to the finals. But hard work, commitment -- every play, every night is what gets you the championship. We're one of the most talented teams in the NBA. We're a deep team, we have guys that can do a lot of different things, but if you don't bring it, it's a waste of talent."
Pretty much, yeah.
The Washington Wizards Generals: Another night, another hapless blowout for the Generals, who trailed by as many as 36 points before losing 117-94. This chunk of the AP recap pretty much says it all:
Washington (15-41), one of the worst teams in the league, has lost three straight. With its season long gone, it made a trade during the game to stock up for the future.
The Wizards sent guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks for guards Mike Bibby and Jordan Crawford, forward Maurice Evans and a 2011 first-round draft choice.
"It was a pretty tough thing to hear," Wall said. "Kirk's a veteran guy who taught me an awful lot about NBA basketball. I'll really miss him. And Hilton was a good friend, too. I wish them both well."
Hinrich and Armstrong were on the bench for the whole first half, but never came out of the locker room after halftime.
"I think when the deadline is over, guys will have a sense of relief," Saunders said.
I think he means "when the season is over, guys will have a sense of relief."
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Down three points to the Spurs with 13 seconds to go...and an an airballed three-point attempt by Jeff Green was the best shot they could get? Coming out of a timeout? With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the team? Really?
The Chicago Bulls: So...the Bulls celebrated the return of Joakim Noah by losing to a Craptors team that had dropped 18 of its past 20 games.
You can read my full writeup at By The Horns. Here's a sample:
But Chicago's defense -- which began the day ranked first in Defensive Efficiency and ended the night ranked second -- was as out of synch as it's been all season. The Raptors shot 58.1 percent from the field. That was a season-high for Bulls opponents. Toronto's 118 points were the second-most the Bulls have surrendered this season.
The fact that the Raptors put up so many points without hitting a single three-pointer (0-for-5) highlights just how awful the Bulls D really was.
Toronto had 29 assists, went 32-for-34 at the line and scored 58 points in the paint.
Let's face it: Everybody thought Noah's return would improve the team’s defense. At absolute worst, it should have been a zero-sum situation, right?
Instead, the Bulls looked like they had never stopped anybody from doing anything ever. I wouldn't have been surprised to find out the players returned to the locker room to find their clothes and wallets gone. And then flew back to Chicago to discover their cars had been broken. Their locks changed at home. Their identities stolen.
Or maybe that was just their defensive identities.
Hey, coach Thibodeau: What went wrong?
"What didn't?" he said. "Every aspect. Start with defensive transition, keeping the ball out of the paint, challenging shots. Every aspect of our defense went out the window. Offensively we scored more, but defensively it was a disaster."
In all, the Raptors went 5-for-5 on dunks and 17-for-21 on layup attempts. According to Hoopdata, the Bulls usually hold their opponents to a 61.7 percent conversion rate at the rim. That number ranks 10th in the league. Last night, Toronto converted well over 80 percent of their shots at the rim. Basically, Chicago did everything short of laying out a welcome mat and personally escorting the Raptors to the hoop.
So, uh, if the Bulls can’t stop Andrea Bargnani (24 points), DeMar DeRozen (24 points) and Amir Johnson (17 points on 8-for-8 shooting), how in the world are they going to slow down LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh tonight?
The Milwaukee Bucks: So the Knicks beat the Bucks in 'Melo's debut. This shows how good New York can be in a two-superstar system, right? Maybe. But I'd like to point out that the Bucks rank dead last in Offensive Rating (101.2), but they scored 110.8 points per 100 possessions against the Knicks. And, what's more, Milwaukee's 108 points was their third-highest point total of the season.
As always, I'm just sayin'.
Of course, the Bucks lost to a completely revamped Knicks team that hadn't even gotten a proper chance to practice together yet. They're now 22-35, 17 games back in their division and 4.5 games behind the Pacers (26-30) for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Damn. Even with the Celtics, Heat, Bulls, Magic and Knicks, the East still kinda sucks.
Also, from Basketbawful reader balazs: "From the ESPN recap: '[Carmelo] matched the third-highest scoring game in a Knicks debut since 1964, just two points shy of Keith Van Horn's 29 on Oct. 29, 2003.' Keith Van Horn! And the second highest scoring debut belongs to: Allan Houston! Great company."
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love (15 points, 11 rebounds) got his 44th double-double in a row, thereby equaling Moses Malone's streak for Philadelphia in 1982-83. But Zach Randolph (24 points, 10-for-16, 10 rebounds) stole Love's lunch money in one of those classic "I shoulda been an All-Star insteada him" games.
Said Mike Conley: "He's taken it personally. I think my man deserves to be an All-Star also. He really played like one tonight."
Added Z-Bo: "There's a little something to that."
As the AP recap pointed out: "In two games this month, Randolph combined for 47 points and 23 rebounds while Love was limited to 25 points and 21 rebounds."
And as the current NBA standings point out, Minnesota (13-45) is barely ahead of Cleveland (10-47) for "Worst Team In The League" status. Stay tuned.
Michael Beastly's new 'do: Maybe I'm a bad person, but my first thought was: Who let the WNBA player into the arena?
Kevin Love, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "Z-Bo's a load down there."
The Utah Jazz: Real ESPN.com subhead: "Dirk drops 23 as Mavs cruise past lifeless Jazz." And that pretty much sums it up.
Said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle: "It's a good team even without Deron Williams."
Yeah, uhm, Rick? Check the box score. Utah's used a starting backcourt of Earl Watson and Raja Bell. Sure, Devin Harris is on the way, but that man is a walking stat curse. Remember: The New Jersey Nyets ended up 52-150 and suffered one of the worst seasons (12-70 in 2009-10) in NBA history from the point he said "We knew we were going to be a playoff team" on December 9, 2008 to the day he was traded.
The Atlanta Hawks: There was a lot of talk about the Dirty Birds being shorthanded, having sent Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford and Maurice Evans to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong.
My response: It was Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford and Maurice Evans.
Still, Atlanta was playing the second of back-to-back road games. Of course, they had gotten clobbered so badly the previous night in L.A., none of their starters logged more than 27 minutes and 32 seconds. Still, fatigue got the blame.
Said Hawks coach Larry Drew: "I thought our guys kind of wore down, and coming off back-to-back and having to play catch-up basketball when you're down 18 points is tough to do in this building."
Joe Johnson: One night after scoring 14 points on 6-fo-14 shooting against the Lakers, Atlanta's All-Star finished with 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting to go with a game-high 4 turnovers.
The Los Angeles Clippers: The Other L.A. Team might have had a chance in this one if they'd been able to hang onto the ball. But they could not, turning the ball over 23 times for 25 points going the other way.
Said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: "When you turn it over that much, you have to play on your heels, and when you have a guy like Chris Paul, he'll pick you apart.We couldn't put enough offensive firepower out there to put any pressure on them."
Remember how the Clippers were, you know, surging before their league-high 11-game road trip? And how I said that things were gonna turn ugly on said trip? Well, the Clips are 10 games in and have only two wins to show for it: One against the Knicks and one against the Timberwolves. Their final game is against the Lakers. And I think we all know how that's gonna turn out.
The Portland Frail Blazers: The Blazers went up 85-75 on a running jumper by Wesley Matthews with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter. Good news for the Portland Soccer Moms (as Bill Simmons likes to say), right? After all, science has definitely proven that Kobe Bryant is not clutch and the Lakers have had one of the league's worst offenses (in terms of offensive decline) during the Mamba Era.
Only Kobe scored 8 points on 4-for-5 shooting over the final five minutes and 31 seconds, including the game-tying 15-footer with four seconds left to help force overtime (thanks to a missed last-second layup attempt by LaMarcus Aldridge). In OT, Bryant nailed a nine-footer with 27 seconds left to put L.A. up 100-97. Then he calmly went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 18 seconds of overtime to secure the win. That perfect foul shooting brings me to the next point...
LaMarcus Aldridge: He led the Blazers with 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. But he missed three layup attempts in the final minute of regulation, one of which was blocked by Lamar Odom. Those were his only three shot attempts in crunch time.
What's more, in the overtime session, Aldridge had more technical fouls (1) than points (0). The worst of his moments came when he bricked two free throws with 19 seconds left that could have pulled Portland to within a point. Thanks to those misses, the Blazers went from "We have a chance" to "Pointless fouling to prolong a lost cause."
Chris's always-amazing lacktion ledger:
Rockets-Cavs: Ryan Hollins had two boards in 17:35, but bricked four times and fouled thricely for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Pistons-Pacers: DaJuan Summers experienced some Super Mario sunshine in just one second of play to close out a Detroit loss!
Purple Paupers-Magic: In a shockingly non-celebratory event, Chris Duhon drained his Game Boy's batter in just 20 seconds for a Mario.
Generals-Sixers: Washington's Kevin Seraphin shorted out a board with two fouls and a turnover in 10:29 for a 3:1 Voskuhl, while the Sixers' Darius Songaila sang a tune of lacktivity by bricking once in 6:58 and adding on two lost rocks and four fouls for a +7 that doubled as a 6:0 Voskuhl!!!
Bulls-Craptors: Omer Asik went on the WiiPlay cow riding module for 24 seconds to earn a Mario in victory.
Jazz-Mavs: In the first game of the Post-Deron Williams Era, Kyrylo Fesenko kept lacking it up as always, fouling twice and bricking once in 6:07 for a +3 and a 2:0 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Dallas's DeShawn Stevenson tossed two pieces of masonry and earned a foul and giveaway each for a +4 in 5:26.
Clippers-Hornets: Willie Warren went 100% from the Vieux Carre (on one attempt) but only had 51 seconds of parading for a Mario, the same timespan as New Orleans's Quincy Pondexter!
Lakers-Frail Blazers: Armon Johnson hammered out a 100% shooting percentage (on one attempt)...in only 8 seconds of gameplay, earning himself a SUPER MARIO!