Don't be sad, Roy. There's always nex...oh, wait, you're on the Pacers. Nevermind.
The Atlanta Hawks: Let's see, despite being savaged by Dwight Howard for four straight games, the Dirty Birds managed to build a 3-1 series lead. With a chance to finish the Magic off in Game 5, they (and foul trouble) limited Howard to 8 points on 1-for-4 shooting and 8 rebounds in only 29 minutes.
Said Joe Johnson: "I'm looking forward to playing in the second round of the pla..."
Wait. Hold on a second.
Atlanta trailed by as many as 32 points and lost 101-76? Ooooooooo...I feel a "they are who we thought they were" coming on. Must. Resist.
But, honestly, the Hawks were bawful in so many bawful ways. They scored only 13 points (on 3-for-19 shooting) in the first quarter and finished the half down 58-35.
And, just like that, the game was over.
Atlanta's offense was, in the words of Patches O'Houlihan, like watching a bunch of retards try and hump a doorknob. The Hawks shot 36 percent from the field, shanked 12 of their 16 three-point attempts and bricked 10 free throws. The committed 13 turnovers to only 6 for Orlando, which was a franchise playoff record for the Magic.
Getting back to Atlanta's first quarter of fail, check out this snippet from the AP recap: "The Magic were leading 10-8 when Howard picked up his second personal foul of the night with 5:40 left in the first, but Orlando closed with a 16-5 run without him. Redick had the hot hand, going 5 for 5 in the period and scoring the Magic's last 11 points."
Yes, you read that correctly, Redick shot the Hawks right out of the air.
Quick impression for you: Caw! Caw! Bang! Fuck I'm dead!
(I assume everybody's seen The Crow. If not...what the hell?)
Said Atlanta coach Larry Drew: "We're in a situation where we still feel good about ourselves. We'll go back home. We still have an opportunity. Our fans are gonna be behind us, just as their fans were behind them. So we're gonna put this game behind us as fast as we can."
I have no idea how the Hawks could possibly feel good about themselves. They won Game 3 thanks to an unintentionally banked three by Jamal Crawford and Game 4 thanks to Jason Richardson's suspension. Then they didn't even bother to try in Game 5. Plus...they're the Hawks. They have a long and storied history of playoff chokes. If any team in this postseason was going to surrender a 3-1 series lead, my money would be on Atlanta. It's in their franchise DNA.
Stan Van Gundy, quote machine: On his team's shooting: "We're a good shooting team. This is more of us than what we showed in the first four games. ... This isn't an aberration. We've been doing this for four years. The first four games were the aberration."
Stat check: The Magic shot 41 percent (34-for-83) for the game.
Joe Johnson: The 119 Million Dollar Man finished with 5 points on 2-for-12 shooting. And the Hawks were outscored by 28 points when he was on the floor. Only Jamal Crawford (-30) had a worse plus-minus score.
The Indiana Pacers: It happened. It finally happened. The Bulls started doing Bulls things, and the Pacers became the Pacers again. After a reasonably competitive first half, Indy got outscored 62-43 over the final 24 minutes. As a team, they shot 39.2 percent from the field and gave up 34 points off 21 turnovers. They also gave up 17 fast break points and got their eyebrows singed off as the Bulls shot 14-for-31 from downtown.
The beating truly began thanks to an MVP-like stretch from Derrick Rose, who erupted out of the slump he was in during Games 3 and 4.
With 5:52 left in the third quarter and the Bulls leading 61-57, Rose dished to Taj Gibson for an 18-footer. On Chicago's next possession, Rose drilled a three-pointer to push the lead to 66-57. On the other end, Rose made an amazing block on Roy Hibbert (see below). With 4:31 to go in the third, Rose nailed another three. Five seconds later, he stole the ball from Darren Collison, sprinted the other way, drew a foul from Tyler Hansbrough, and converted one of two free throws. Then, with 2:47 left in the quarter, Rose lobbed in yet another three-bomb to make it 75-60.
And the rout was on.
Rose wasn't the only slump buster. As a team, the Bulls pulled out of the dreadful offensive funk they were in. Well, everybody except Carlos Boozer, that is. To wit: Boozer, who suffered a turf toe injury during the second quarter, finished with fewer points (2) than Rasual Butler (3).
Boozer aside, the Bulls literally blew the lid off the rim. Not figuratively. Literally. There was an actual explosion. With fire. And stuff.
Luol Deng scored 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting, adding 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals for good measure. With his grandfather and hot sister watching from the stands, Joakim Noah had 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals. Chicago's Bench Mob added 36 points and 15 rebounds. Taj Gibson in particular delivered a strong performance (10 points and 7 boards) in relief of Boozer.
And Keith Bogans -- yes, that Keith Bogans -- went 5-for-7 from downtown and finished with 15 points. For those who enjoy random stats: The Bulls are now 27-2 when Bogans scores at least 6 points.
Oh, and did I mention yet that Kyle "The Four-Inch Vertical" Korver dunked?
Yep. It was that kinda night for the Bulls. And that kinda loss for the Pacers.
I have to tip my hat and offer a firm handshake to Frank Vogel and his boys, because Indy really gave the Bulls all they could handle. But, in lieu of TNT's "gone fishin'" act, I must nonetheless present "The Lonely Man" theme:
Ah, now, if only the Pacers could have lost with a little more dignity...
Josh McRoberts, lover: Okay. I have no real proof that McBob is a lover...but I have to assume he is because he sure ain't a fighter. Case in point: Watch him try to punch at Joakim Noah and hit...nothing but air.
Said McRoberts: "I was trying to shove back to defend myself."
Uh huh. Right.
For his shadowboxing efforts, McBob was booted and Noah got free throws. That probably should have been the end of this embarrassing spectacle. But it wasn't...
Said Granger: "[Joakim Noah] pulled a cowardly move. He cheap-shotted a couple of my teammates, and one gets thrown out ... The refs never catch what he did ... it's cowardly. And I'm going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don't think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand."
Uhm, okay. As Shakespeare might say, the lady doth protest too much, methinks. Or did Granger forget about this:
The Pacers kept this series competitive by making it extremely physical and, at times, dirty. They grabbed. They pushed. The hacked. They threw elbows and committed fouls that were borderline flagrant (or deemed flagrant by the league after the fact) in every game. The Bulls finally retaliate and...they're the dirty ones?
As Stacey King said: "Now, the rabbit's the one holding the gun, and the Pacers don't like it."
Added Noah: "I played dirty? Ok. I'm just trying to win basketball games, man. It's the name of the game. I'm just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. The play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don't have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don't think I've ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It's ok."
Look, the Pacers wanted the games to resemble urban warfare when it benefitted them, and they made a mess in their panties when, after four games, the Bulls started using their tactics against them. I'm just sayin', if you live by the sword, you don't get to complain when somebody runs you through with one.
What makes Granger's sniping worse is that, despite the showering of cheap shots and hard fouls, the Bulls took the high road all series long. They refused to call Foster dirty even after he pulled a Randy Savage on Deng's head. Thibodeau's general response to Indy's bullying tactics: "They're just playing hard. Period."
Then, in defeat, Granger takes the low road with accusations of "cowardly" and "dirty" play. Not Danny's finest hour.
Roy Hibbert: The officials are bringing out the chains. Okay. The measurements are: Derrick Rose 6'3", Roy Hibbert 7'1". This is important because...
Paul George, layup master: Basketbawful reader gf provided the video for this great moment in Pacers playoff history:
Bulls fans: For whatever reason, the bloggers (other than myself) and commenters at ESPN's Daily Dime Live chat really love to give Bulls fans crap. Because, apparently, only non-Bulls fans get to talk crap.
Anyway, pictures like these aren't going to shift the paradigm:
This shouldn't happen. Ever.
The New Orleans Hornets: Look, we all knew the Hornets were going to have to play another perfect game to win in L.A. last night, and it didn't happen. They some things right, shooting 49 percent from the field and going 10-for-21 from three-point range.
But two things went wrong: They committed 19 turnovers and got outrebounded 42-25. That rebounding deficit included a 15-3 drubbing on the offensive glass. Between the TOs and the offensive boards, the Lakers got eight more field goal attempts and nine more foul shots.
Want more stats? I've got more stats.
From ESPN Stats and Information: "The Lakers finally took advantage of their size inside, outscoring the Hornets 42-30 in the paint. The Lake Show held a 15-3 advantage in offensive rebounds, 22-2 advantage in 2nd-chance points and 7-3 advantage in blocked shots."
Yes, it's true. The Lakers are tall.
Moreover, L.A. got balanced scoring, with six players in double figures: Kobe (18), Andy Bynum (18), The Spanish Marshmallow (16), Derek Fisher (13), The Candy Man (13) and Mr. Citizenship (11). L.A.'s bench outscored the New Orleans reserves 29-14. The Lakers weren't exactly overpowering, but they assumed control in the second quarter and semi-cruised to a 106-90 win.
And, more importantly, a 3-2 series lead.
Said Trevor Ariza: "They got 15 offensive rebounds. They were in the paint all day. They were more aggressive, and they took it to us. They played well. There's nothing that we can say."
Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry, poster boys: One of the most ridiculous and overblown subplots of this game was the status of Kobe's ankle and how he bravely refused an MRI because he doesn't want to know how badly he's hurt. The way Lakers fans were talking, Mamba needed his entire leg amputated, but he was gonna play through it through sheer force of will.
"He's Kobe Bryant! All he cares about is winning! Winning! WINNING!!!"
Reality check: No amount of will power would allow anyone to do this on a broken ankle. The human body doesn't work that way.
Said Hornets coach Monty Williams: "All this talk about his ankle. Did it look like his ankle was hurting? OK then."
Added Kobe: "I just had a lane to the basket. It looked like he was going to challenge me at the rim, and I decided to accept the challenge. ... It's a message for us that this was important. It's time to raise up and do what we've got to do. They're not saved dunks. I don't have much of those left."
I'm not saying Kobe's ankle wasn't sore. But I also think he likes to, ahem, help craft his legend.
Chris' Playoff Lacktion Report: Sorry, folks. Forgot this on the first pass.
Hawks-Magic: Jason Collins collected a board and assist in 14:04 as starting big man, only to brick once and foul twice for a 2:1 Voskuhl.
Pacers-Bulls: Jeff Foster's last playoff game of the year managed to generate two boards in 9:44, but also three fouls and two turnovers for a 5:2 Voskuhl.
Hornets-Lakers: Jason Smith soured a field goal in 8:01 with three fouls for a 3:2 Voskuhl.