The Chicago Bulls: Allow me to quote myself from By The Horns:
There haven't been very many times this season — especially recently — when the Bulls have failed on defense. Unfortunately, it happened on Friday night.
The Pacers scored 115 points. That's the fourth-highest point total the Bulls have surrendered this season, ranking behind only the 116 points they gave up to the Rockets in an overtime win on December 4, the 118 points they surrendered in Toronto in Joakim Noah’s first game back from thumb surgery on February 23, and the 120 points the Knicks scored in the United Center way back on November 4 (thanks to a flurry of three-point shooting).
Indy scored 31 points in each of the first two quarters in route to a 62-point first half. They Pacers had 89 points by the end of the third quarter. Mind you, the Bulls had held their opponents to 89 points or less in 12 of their last 13 full games. So there’s no way the Pacers -- who rank 24th in Offensive Rating -- should have been scoring so easily.
Sure, Chicago held Indiana to 13 points in the fourth quarter and managed to force overtime...but the damage had been done.
Now, you may be tempted to give the Bulls credit for holding the Pacers to 43 percent shooting. And, admittedly, they did a credible job of contesting jump shots. Indy went 19-for-60 on jumpers (31.6 percent) and 5-for-13 on three-pointers (38.5 percent). But -- and you knew there was a "but" coming, right? — the Pacers hit 18 of their 25 layup attempts (72 percent) and threw down three dunks (according to this shot chart).
So, essentially, they converted 75 percent of their shots at the rim.
The Pacers also earned 35 foul shots. That’s the sixth-most free throw attempts the Bulls have given up this season. Indy knocked down 30 of those freebies.
Furthermore, the Bulls had no answer for Tyler Hansbrough. "Pyscho T" had team-highs in points (29) and rebounds (12) while shooting 12-for-19 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Hansbrough was just straight up outworking people. At one point, with just over three minutes left in regulation, Indiana’s Darren Collison bricked a jumper and Hansbrough bolted from the other side of the floor, grabbed the offensive rebound, ran out to 17 feet and tossed in a jumper with nary a hand in his face.
Mind you, Hansbrough set back-to-back career highs against the Knicks last week. Granted, New York’s defense is horrible, but come on. Check out his game log: Hansbrough has scored 20 or more in six of his last seven games. Check out his splits: Hansbrough is averaging 20.2 PPG on 51.2 percent shooting over his last 11 games. This wasn't some sort of "out of nowhere" performance.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: "The only quarter we played defense was the fourth. You usually get what you deserve."
Really? Then why hasn't Michael Bay been castrated for the Transformers movies, Thibs?
The Boston Celtics: Although they rebounded with a big win in New Orleans on Saturday, the Celtics very nearly hit rock bottom on Friday: 1-for-10 from three-point range, nine missed free throws, a 44-35 rebounding disadvantage and a deficit of as many as 29 points en route to a 93-77 loss in Houston. Freaking Patrick Patterson list the Celts up for 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. And I bet you're not alone in thinking: "Patrick who?"
The only thing missing was Doc Rivers getting hit in the face with a pie.
Said Doc: "I just thought, 'Let's just throw this one away.' This is one of those games where they did everything better. You just go on to the next game."
Added Kevin Garnett: "We can't let our offense dictate what our defense does. We couldn't get stops. It seemed like when they took over the game, they just ran with it."
Additionally, Basketbawful reader Fowill offered: "For a point of comparison, notice how Garnett backs down when confronted by a non Euro."
The Dallas Mavericks: Heading into Friday night's home game against the Spurs, Dallas had lost four of their last seven games to potential playoff opponents. But they could have stopped all the "soft" talk -- which was initiated by their coach by the way -- by beating San Antonio.
Instead, they fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter, scrambled their way back into the game, fell behind again, scrambled back again, but ultimately lost 97-91...making it five losses in eight games against potential playoff opponents.
Said Jason Terry: "The rhythm obviously isn't there right now."
The Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets had been absolutely thriving without 'Melo. Then this happened...
The next night, the Nuggets -- minus Raymond Felton, who sprained his ankle in the final minute of the Magic game -- fell victim to a couple of 30-point nights from King Crab and Pookie and a fifth straight double-double for the RuPaul of big men.
Now, the reality is, back-to-back road games on back-to-back nights against the Magic and cHeat would be a tall order for any team. And that they lost on a buzzer-beater in Orlando and then by only five the very next night in Miami is actually pretty impressive if you think about it. But still...could a winless weekend like this be the beginning of the end of all the great post-'Melo mojo?
The Atlanta Hawks: They had their wills broken by LeBron's 23-point third quarter on Friday night...after which they cracked like eggs and got blown out at home by the cHeat. Ah, the Hawks crumbling against a good team. The playoffs must be coming!
But, hey, as Basketbawful reader Evan pointed out, at least LeBron and D-Wade made it onto Atlanta's Kiss Cam:
Said Al Horford: "We got a little discouraged when LeBron was making all those shots (8-for-13 in the third quarter). We're struggling right now. We're really trying to find ourselves. ... We've had some good times, but we're going through a real rough patch right now."
Specifically, as of Friday, Atlanta had lost six of eight. Sure, they won at home on Sunday night against the Pistons, but Detroit is 20 games below .500. So, you know, not all that impressive. Although the Pistons did have a big win this weekend against...
The New York Knicks: Talk about winless weekends. On Friday night, they suffered an offensive-defensive meltdown in a come-from-ahead loss in Detroit. Carmelo Anthony scored only 6 points on 2-for-12 shooting and went 0-for-5 in a fourth quarter during which the Pistons outscored the Knicks 29-17.
Said Amar''''''e Stoudemire: "They're a pretty good ball team, but they're not in the playoff hunt. We are. We're trying to get better seeding, so to lose tonight is definitely not a proud moment for us."
Not a proud moment? That's an understatement. After all, the Pistons began that night 20 games below .500. But, hey, they played the night before and beat the Grizzlies to death. Back-to-backs can be a stumbling block, as I've often noted...
...but there's no good explanation for Sunday's loss in Milwaukee. A career-high 30 points for Carlos Delfino? A near triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) from Brandon Jennings? And 100 points scored by the Bucks, whom, as we all know, are the most dreadful offensive team in the Association?
But the failure was on both ends. From the AP recap: "The Knicks got off to a dismal start in this one, missing 11 of their first 12 shots to fall behind by double digits in the first six minutes. New York trailed 32-9 after the first, the lowest-scoring first quarter for the Knicks in 55 years, according to STATS, LLC, and the worst offensive output in any quarter in nearly four years."
The Knicks: Now 7-8 since the 'Melo trade and only one game above .500.
Said Anthony: "There's no time for anybody on the team to panic. We're losing some games that we're supposed to win, but I feel that it's a learning process for us. I'm not really concerned about where we are as a team or us losing games or winning games, as long as we get better at the things we need to get better at, then I'm cool with that."
And if you guys were getting better, that would be one thing, 'Melo. But you're not.
The Cleveland Cadavers: With the way this season has gone, Cleveland losing to the Clippers just feels right, you know? But, in true Clippers fashion, it wasn't that simple...
The Los Angeles Clippers: Sure, they beat the Cads to improve their record to only 16 games below .500. But, according to the AP recap: "An hour and a half before the game, Staples Center was in lockdown while police subdued a man wielding a steak knife in front of the Cavaliers' bench. Both teams were safely tucked away in their dressing rooms during the tense standoff before the culprit was subdued by a beanbag gun, handcuffed and led away.
Oh, man. Only the Clippers, right?
Said Blake Griffin: "That was crazy, man. There aren't too many knife standoffs in Oklahoma -- not that I can remember. So it's a first for me. I was sitting in here next to D.J. [DeAndre Jordan] and Randy Foye came in and said: 'Yo, somebody just pulled a knife.' I was like, 'What?' And then they explained the whole thing. We were trapped in here for a while. But both teams had to go through it, so it didn't really put us at a disadvantage."
Again I say: Only the Clippers.
The Washington Wizards Generals: This line from the AP recap of their Friday night loss in Toronto -- which dropped them to 1-31 on the road -- pretty much says all you need to know about this team: "The Washington Wizards still aren't winning, but at least they're feeling better about the way they're losing."
Not sure there's much to feel good about after losing to the Craptors and letting Andrea Bargnani (33 points) set career highs for free throws made (15) and attempted (18). I mean, that's a moral victory? Really?
Then again, on Sunday the Generals came back from 17 points down to win at home against the Nyets. Without Andray Blatche, Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis and Nick Young. So maybe that really was a "good loss" in Toronto. On the other hand...
The New Jersey Nyets: After a tough loss to the Bulls on Thursday night, they got drilled by double digits in Milwaukee on Friday night as Carlos "I am suddenly red-fucking-hot" Delfino knocked down a career-best eight triples. The Bucks -- who are, again, a hot mess on offense -- scored 110 points on 57 percent shooting. Afterwards, there was a lot of talk about Deron Williams and his bum wrist (D-Will went 4-for-13 one night after going 1-for-12 against the Bullies). But this game was lost on defense, not offense.
Now, as for Sunday's loss in Washington, it happened without Williams, who missed the game to rest his injured wrist. But, again, the Nyets were up 17. And lost. To a truly bawful team that was missing four starters.
Said Brook Lopez: "I guess we just got complacent. I did a little. Once we realized what was going on, it was too late."
New Jersey is now 4-29 on the road. Second-worst in the league.
Screamed Avery Johnson: "I TOLD OUR PLAYERS, 'THIS LOSS WAS REALLY PAINFUL.' WE WERE PRETTY GOOD IN THE FIRST HALF. IN THE SECOND HALF, WE WEREN'T VERY GOOD."
That's why he's coaching, folks.
Andrew Bynum: Wanna know why Andy got a two-day vacation for his blatant thugging of Michael Beasley? Check out the look on his face right afterward. Now, maybe he didn’t mean to do it and wasn’t trying to hurt anybody, but that’s the look of somebody who meant to commit a flagrant. Know what I’m sayin’?
The Sacramento Kings: With every home game potentially their last in Sacramento, the Kings could have precious few opportunities to bring joy to the Sactown crowd. Well, there wasn't much joy in Mudville on Friday, as the Paupers committed 22 turnovers, bricked 11 free throws, missed 17 of 22 three-point attempts, shot 34.5 percent as a team and trailed by as many as 28 in a 102-80 home loss to the Sixers.
How many teams lose by 20 when they have a 28-12 advantage in free throw attempts? This answer may shock you: I have no idea. But the Kings did it.
Can you blame the home fans for booing? Of course you can't. This was bad even by the standards of the team with the worst record (16-51) in a conference that includes the Clippers and Timberwolves.
Said coach Paul Westfail: "This was a bad game for us, I don't blame the fans for booing. It wasn't good basketball by us."
Added Philly's Andre Iguodala: "The Kings are a high-turnover team. You don't have to gamble or be aggressive and go for steals against them to get turnovers. We just let them make the mistakes."
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Speaking of wow: The T-Wolves quickly exchanged places with the Kings and regained their well-deserved "Worst in the West" title by losing at home to the Kings. And it was no mere loss. They got blown the holy hell out by, again, the Kings. Minny committed 25 turnovers and got outrebounded 47-27, giving up 127 points on 56 percent shooting in 32-point bitchslapping that probably made coach Kurt Rambis long for the days of getting clotheslined by Kevin McHale.
Now, in all fairness, Kevin Love left in the second quarter with an injured left groin. But...the Kings? The Kings?! Tyreke Evans was out with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. DeMarcus Cousins got ejected. I'd stay that should have evened the playing field. Especially for the home team.
Said Anthony Tolliver: "As part of being professionals, you have to learn how to play every game the same. Unfortunately we don't. A lot of guys on this team don't bring it every night. It's something that we all have to work on. ... Us as teammates, we have to keep each other accountable. It's everybody's fault because we allow it to happen."
Well, I definitely agree that it's everybody's fault...
By the way, regarding the Cousins ejection, I guess I understand why the refs tossed him, but I'd say Luke Ridnour got away with one here.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: So...the team that beat the cHeat in Miami on Thursday lost at home to the Craptors on Sunday? Seriously?
Seriously. Go to the 20-second mark of this video to watch it happen.
Last-second layups by Amir Johnson aside, it really shouldn't have come to that. Oklahoma City had won six in a row. Toronto had lost 14 straight on the road...a franchise record for futility away from home. Which is saying something for a club like the Craptors. And the Thunder even led 93-90 with 1:13 left.
How did they lose this one?
Said Thunder coach Scott Brooks: "We took some quick shots and some perimeter shots. Normally what we do is attack the basket, try to get to the free throw line and make plays from the inside-out. We missed a lot of shots that we normally make and we've been making a lot lately."
Speaking of which, James Johnson -- yes, James Johnson -- held Kevin Durant to 0-for-7 shooting in the third quarter, during which Toronto outscored Oklahoma City 28-22.
Said Craptors coach Jay Triano: "If there's a game ball, it's for James Johnson and the work he did on Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant had very few easy looks."
The Indiana Pacers: Think Friday night's overtime win over the Bulls took something out of them?
Said Tyler Hansbrough: "Anytime you get a big win like that, you come out and have a little stiffness."
And what a stiffie it was.
On Saturday night in Memphis, the Pacers shot 35.6 percent from the field, committed 20 turnovers and got outrebounded 44-36 while giving up 26 fast break points. The Care Bears got Indy down by as many as 25 points and won 99-78.
Said Danny Granger: "We were aware they were No. 1 in the league in steals. We kind of have a trend when teams pressure us and force us out of our offense, it's usually a bad night for us. We couldn't counteract that and had 20 turnovers."
Added Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "We did a poor job of recognizing how good their hands were getting the steals, and it led to runouts and killed us on the break."
Some bonus numbers from the game notes section of the AP recap: "Memphis is 15-1 against teams playing the second game of a back-to-back, including 12-0 at home. ... The Pacers are 1-7 on the road this month. ... Indiana has lost seven of its last eight Saturday games."
The Charlotte Bobcraps: On paper, they were catching the Spurs at the right time: One night after a big win in Dallas. And Tim Duncan even sat this one out, Announcing that Tim Duncan would miss his first game all season, getting listed on a pregame injury report as "trop vieux." That's French for "too old."
What's French for "too suck"? Because that's what the Bobcraps are.
Despite shooting 50 percent and outrebounding the Spurs 39-34, Charlotte fell behind by as many as 26 points and had to outscore the Spurs 30-19 in the final 12 minutes of garbage time to make the final margin (109-98) look semi-respectable.
Said Boris Diaw: "It's been like that for quite a while. In a run for the playoffs, every game is going to be important. To get a 'W' is important, so it's frustrating."
In this "run" for the playoffs -- really, it's more like a one-legged, bare foot shuffle across broken glass and barbed wire -- the Bobcraps have lost nine of their last 11 games. Now, in all fairness, eight of those 11 games have been on the road, and they've faced teams like the Magic, Nuggets, Lakers, Frail Blazers (twice), Bulls, Thunder and Spurs. Mostly without leading scorer Stephen Jackson. So, yeah, there are circumstances.
Still, losing is losing.
Chris's Weekend Lacktion Ledger:
Generals-Craptors: Hamady N'Diaye had two boards in 11:46 negated by three fouls for a 3:2 Voskuhl, while Kevin Serpahin serenaded the Toronto crowd with two bricked free throws, two lost rocks, and three fouls in 5:11 for a +7 suck differential AND a 5:0 Voskuhl!
Heat-Hawks: Jason Collins countered a board in 11:38 as starting big man with four fouls for a 4:1 Voskuhl.
Bobcats-Thunder: Cole Aldrich added a Game Genie to his collection in just 36 seconds for a Mario.
Spurs-Mavs: San Antonio's J. Anderson had three seconds on the Virtual Boy for a SUPER MARIO! Also, his Mario represents the 100th different lacktator this season to plug in his Famicom!!!!
Nyets-Bucks: Johan Petro went 66% from the field (on three attempts) in 11:12 only to foul and lose the rock thricely each for a 6:4 Voskuhl.
Brandan Wright and Stephen Graham each put on the plumbers overals for Prokhorov in 48 seconds as MARIO BROTHERS!
Sixers-How Are They Still In Sacramento The Way The Maloofs Look Down On The River City Purple Paupers: Jason Kapono bricked once from Frank Fat's restaurant in 4:01 for a +1.
Nyets-Generals: Cartier Martin discovered two bricks (one on the Whitehurst Freeway) and a foul in 5:39 for a +3.
Knicks-Bucks: Jared Jeffries countered an assist in 7:53 with a trio of fouls and a turnover for a 4:0 Voskuhl, while Earl Boykins managed a brick in 4:52 (while the rest of the deer made it to 100 points again!) for a +1.
The Purple Paupers Who Represent Sacramento Still As Of March 20, 2011 And Shockingly WON-Wolves: DeMarcus Cousins went 50% from the stripe and field (in four total attempts) and garnered a board and four assists in 20:33...only to foul thricely and lose the rock four times for a 7:4 Voskuhl.
Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic had three boards and a field goal in 19:51, but earned four fouls and three turnovers for a 7:5 Voskuhl ratio.
Suns-Clippers: Robin Lopez laid an egg from the field in 12:18 and negated a free throw and a board with two fouls and a lost rock for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Craptors-Thunder: Oklahoma City's Nazr mohammed nulled out three boards in 7:49 with two fouls and two turnovers each for a 4:3 Voskuhl.
Frail Blazers-Lakers: In the highly unanticipated rematch of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, Derrick Caracter contracted two fouls and a turnover in 3:27 for a +3 and 3:0 Voskuhl, while Joe Smith was rejected by Peach and had a brick tossed at him by the Hammer Brothers in 40 seconds for a +2 AND a Mario!