|The world renowned Laker defense in action|
I've lost track of the Lakers' record when Earl Clark leads them in minutes, but you can add another loss to the pile. With Pau injured the Lakers had essentially two choices: A) play Robert Sacre significant minutes or B) have Kobe humiliate Dwight in the press til he feels shamed into returning. They went with option B, meaning the world will probably never know the awesome power of a MWP, Earl Clark, Robert Sacre frontcourt. If Sacre had started, chances are the game would've come down to him hoisting up a contested jump shot as time expired, which means the Lakers also deprived the world of the potential New York Post headline: Sacre Blew It!
You may have missed it, but Dwight Howard got eaten by a giant octopus about a week ago
. As a result of this the Lakers have had to push forward Project Robo-Dwight quicker than they would've liked. The results unsurprisingly were disappointing. Robo-Dwight frequently malfunctioned on Thursday, resulting in 4 turnovers and 6 fouls in under 30 minutes. The petulant cyborg was limited to 9 points and 9 rebounds in that time.
It would be easy to blame this mess on Dwight, but I'm not going to because I don't want his Dad to come after me
. Plus, I don't work for the OC Register
. No, blaming everything on Dwight is too easy. There's nothing to suggest that Dwight put a gun to MWP's head and demanded that he shoot 2-13 (although several news outlets are frantically searching for evidence), nor did Dwight demand that Kobe abandon his sudden success as a passer in favor of a good ol' fashion 0 assist night.
On the other hand, everything is Dwight's fault. Haven't you been following the news? Of course the news isn't really new. As diligently as Dwight has been providing brand new firewood to be placed beneath him, it's the old, dry wood that burns brightest. For example, did you know that Dwight used to keep beat writers waiting in Orlando as he'd eat a post-game sandwich
. He'd commit this atrocity "in full view of the media" knowing very well that they were waiting for his generic, bland, and completely lifeless answers to their generic, bland, and completely lifeless questions. Sometimes this selfish post vigorous exercise act of nourishment would result in these reporters missing their deadlines, and thousands of readers would awaken the next day without getting to read Dwight's equivalent to, "both teams played hard". I don't know what kind of sick bastard would prefer eating a sandwich to meeting with members of the media, but it's not the kind of player you build franchises around.
Oh, and apparently he once said that Gandhi was an asshole.
Despite David Stern's tireless efforts to figure out a way to fine teams for winning too handily, the Nuggets took it upon themselves to finish ruining TNT's lineup by blowing Chicago out by 32 points. Two games were played on Thursday, with the winning teams combining to win by 53 points. So much for must see TV.
The Bulls tried the novel technique of being led in scoring and field goal attempts by Daequan Cook. It didn't work. Still, the Bulls aren't the problem here. It was the Nuggets' selfish decision to play so well which cost viewers a potentially dramatic game. Therefore, I'm holding Kenneth Faried responsible for making 9 of his 10 shots and ending up with a double-double, Manimal style. Judging by his +40 Lenovo stat, Ty Lawson was also part of the problem. Wilson Chandler didn't help matters by following Faried's example and hitting all but one of his shots including 5 threes. Making matters worse, he actually had more points, 24, than minutes, 19.
Hasn't anybody told these guys that it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game? And by that I mean, keeping it close before winning with a 4 point play in triple-overtime. Is that really too much to ask?
Nuggets-Bulls: Evan Fournier brought a little bit of cloud cover to the Nuggets' otherwise sunny day. In 9 minutes and 57 seconds he missed 2 shots, committed a foul, and turned the ball over for a +4 suck differential.
|The Nets were tired from their Smithsonian tour|
The Wizards continued to be the scourge of the five boroughs on Friday. D-Will, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson combined for 47 points, which might've worked if the rest of the team didn't limit themselves to 27. To put things in perspective, a third of those points came from Reggie Evans. After generating some personal infamy for those 3 airballs in the last
game, Mirza Teletovic limited himself to a single attempt. It didn't go in.
With Nene and John Wall leading them in minutes, the Wizards are not the same team their record suggests, but that won't stop teams from underestimating them. Many of the team's players are feeling a strange, unidentified sensation that lies somewhere between optimism and delusion. Bradley Beal put it into words saying, "Our record should be backwards, whatever it is". It might seem strange that the rookie is unsure of his team's record, but in this case it's probably a wise move not to check, even if they are only the 3rd worst team in the league now.
The league's newly anointed 2nd worst team is finding new and almost surprising ways to lose ballgames. A glance at the box-score suggests that the Magic should've won this game. While Cleveland only had 1 player reach 20 points, Orlando had 3.
Likewise, the Magic had 2 players with double-doubles while Cleveland
had none. But this is a team game, right? Individual stats don't matter as much as team stats, you say? Well, the Magic shot better from the field than the Cavs, made more threes, and had more rebounds and assists. However, they got slaughtered at the free throw line, reaching the charity stripe 28 less times than the Cavaliers. With this loss, the Magic have lost 23 of their last 25 games.
Playing at home, the Cats were beating the Lakers by 20 points when their opponent suddenly realized who they were. After that, the Lakers climbed their way to victory, while the Cats remembered what it means to be the worst team in the NBA.
The Sanctity of Home:
The Pacers lost in Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first time since December 7th, falling victim to Rudy Gay and the Raptors. At first, several members of the Raptors were resistant to the idea of officially changing the franchise's name to Rudy Gay and the Raptors, but then their star scored 17 points in the 4th quarter and overtime, quieting dissenters.
|The Spurs D was lacking something|
Being the top team in the league must be making the Spurs nostalgic for 2005. I'm not sure how else to explain their 11 game winning-streak coming to an end in the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tim Duncan's absence was distinctly palpable in this game, as the Spurs were outrebounded 49-33 with DeJuan Blair being the only Spur to reach double-digits in that statistic. Greg Monroe felt at ease without the Big Fundamental around, scoring 26 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Even Charlie Villanueva got in on the act, grabbing 21 points of his own.
Thanks to the struggling Hawks, and the Suns having to play the Thunder twice in a row, New Orleans is no longer the worst team in the West. Eric Gordon scored 27 points and Greivis Vasquez had his first NBA triple-double, leading to an 11 point victory for the Bee Birds.
A changing of the guard has been a long time coming in the NBA, but I'm guessing that there isn't a single analyst in the country who had Vasquez leading the league in total assists halfway through the season. Similarly, I don't think anybody predicted Larry Sanders and Omer Asik to be leading the league in blocks or rebounds.
Not everything is so difficult to predict. For instance, take a look at this contest between the Suns and the Thunder in OKC. While prognosticators might not have specifically predicted a 31 point loss, something in the nature of a 30 point loss wasn't difficult to foresee. The Suns lost to the Thunder twice this weekend. This time they chose a humiliation of the 'sadly trying to keep up with a superior offensive team' variety. The Thunder responded by scoring 127 points on 58% shooting, including a blistering 67% from deep.
A 6 point loss the the Grizzlies isn't so bad, but what it means to this team is. This was the third game in a row the Warriors dropped, leaving them looking up to both the Grizzlies and the Nuggets in the standings.
Speaking about the playoff standings in the West, the Jazz are still hanging onto the 7th seed. Still, that doesn't mean they can play Jamaal Tinsley 32 scoreless minutes and expect to win, home court advantage or no home court advantage. This time it was the Bulls who benefited.
Chris Paul may be the most beloved American since Eleanor Roosevelt, but in his first game back from a bruised kneecap, he didn't exactly dazzle with 3 points and 2 assists in 19 and a half minutes; more troubling still, was his -27 Lenovo Stat which led to a 22 point Miami Victory.
Spurs-Pistons: Patrick Mills had a +3 suck differential in 7 minutes and 6 seconds, while his teammate Aron Baynes was sans stats in 1:31.
Hornets-Hawks: Xavier Henry was similarly statless in 3 minutes and 4 seconds.
Knicks-Wolves: Joining those two men in their statlessness, Chris Johnson of the Timberwolves approached the void in 3 minutes and 26 seconds.
Rockets-Trailblazers: It was a regular epidemic of statlessness as Joel Freeland left no trace after 3 minutes and 54 seconds. Toney Douglas and Donatas Motiejunas were feeling more active however, and both found themselves staring down the barrel of a +1 suck differential.
|Hand in face!|
It's amazing how quickly the Bobcats can rack up 7 losses in a row. With Thaddeus Young missing, the Bobcats might've figured they had a chance against the Sixers, but then Lavoy Allen had to go and grab a career-high 22 rebounds, dashing the hopes of the visitors.
A Broped Divided:
Monta Ellis played precisely one second less than Brandon Jennings in their loss to the Pistons. During that time period, Monta took 9 shots while Jennings shot the ball 27 times. Somewhere in between those two options is a happy medium. This was the 2nd game in a row Monta limited himself to 9 shots.
I'm not saying that a little restraint is so bad, it's just that something seems fishy here. I'd say that Monta might no longer want to play in Milwaukee, but that suggests a moment where he did. Meanwhile, Samuel Dalembert continued to fill in admirably for Larry Sanders, this time with a double-double and 5 blocks. Unfortunately for him, Greg Monroe had similar stats and a win to boot. I was just thinking that it had been a while since I'd seen a good AP blunder, so it's good to know that Monroe is, "starting for Drummond
". Maybe the writer just got confused because Drummond is currently the team's first chair bongo player. It probably seems like that's just a random joke, but it isn't. Drummond really is the team's premier bongo player, a role that he's focused on since the injury. Go ahead, look up Drummond and bongos if you think I'm kidding. I think you'll be delighted with what you find.
The Nuggets rolled to their 9th victory in a row against the Cavs, but Chandler's 7 points denied them a chance to have everyone who played score in double-digits. These 7 points came a day after Chandler led the team in scoring from the bench.
I was going to try to figure out what Nugget was guarding Alonzo Gee, 8-8, but after careful contemplation, I realized it would be easier to just blame that on Wilson Chandler as well. This may seem unfair, but Dwight Howard doesn't play on the Nuggets so I couldn't just blame it on him.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. One of those two guys also sprained Andre Iguodola's right clavicle, but that's not til Sunday's triple-overtime game in Boston.
I think Jarret Jack's agent might wanna try renegotiating his contract, seeing how the Warriors have now lost 3 in a row in their 6th man's absence (their 3rd man, Harry Lime, hasn't been pulling his weight either). This most recent loss came against the Mavericks and it wasn't pretty. The 25 point loss was the third time the Warriors have lost by at least 20 in their last 4 games.
The Warriors rested Andrew Bogut and were unable to shoot 40% as a team. It's hard to blame them for resting their recovering big man, but the team probably shouldn't have built a time machine to take Shawn Marion back to 2005. The Matrix grabbed 11 rebounds to go with his season-high 26 points.
Utah let the Zeke-Child drop 26 unholy points on them, and not even a career-high 24 points from Alec Burks could save them from this 11 point loss. The Jazz did what they could to stay with the home team, even limiting Jamaal Tinsley to 18 minutes, but the Kings fed off the energy of the crowd and rode it to victory.
|I forgot what happiness looked like in a Kings uniform|
The game was billed as, "Here We Buy" night, which might not make much sense as a title, but it did galvanize the Sacramento faithful to make some noise like in the days of yore, when players like Vlade Divac and Doug Christie still roamed the hardwood. The crowd even broke out the wave, with the bench happily joining in. Now, if they could just keep that up for the rest of the season, the Kings might even work their way up to a 10th seed.
Mavericks-Warriors: Mike James, the Amityville Scorer, struck again. This time, it was the unsuspecting Mavericks who suffered, as he registered a +1 suck differential in 4 minutes and 13 seconds. Amazingly, the +1 came from a foul and not a missed shot attempt. Anybody feel like checking his basement for pods?
Winning streaks, sorta:
The Denver Nuggets came into Boston with a league leading 9 game winning streak. By the time they left, it was the Celtics leading the league with 7 straight victories. That was only after 3 over-times, a Paul Pierce triple-double, and 55 minutes worth of Ty Lawson. Ty gave us a glimpse of what kind of stats he'd put up if he played an hour a night, scoring 29 points and dishing out 9 assists. The game featured a rare occurrence for the Celtics, as none of their players suffered a season ending injury.
The Magic had lost 12 games in a row heading into
this game, but the Blazers have been terrible on the road lately,
winning only 1 of their last 8 road games with their lone victory
occurring in Minnesota and therefore not really counting. The Blazers are no strangers to helping teams
snap their 12 game losing streaks. As you may recall, they were the team
that gave the Wizards their first win of the season on Washington's
13th try. The loss dropped the Blazers under .500 and made millions of
Lakers and Mavericks fans worldwide start salivating.
Nelson had a career-high 15 assists. It was a good night for passing
for both teams, each of whom had at least 30 assists. Damian Lillard led
the Blazers with 12 dimes, but he was only 1 of 16 from the floor.
Judging from the outside, I'd say he was probably suffering through
another flare-up of Automatonophobia.
|The Blazers probably shouldn't have visited Disneyworld|
The Spurs apparently don't need Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobli's help to beat the Nets by 25 points in Brooklyn. Deron Williams scored 15 points, but only had 3 assists to complement his 3 turnovers. He might've been having trouble finding teammates to pass to other than Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. As it was against the Wizards, this core trio for the Nets were the only players in double-digits.
The Nets were actually leading at halftime, but after that the Spurs went on to score 60 points to the Nets' 29.
I'm giving the impounded Puppies a WotN because they lost by 17 points, but I could just as easily call out the Grizzlies for being such bullies. I'm pretty sure Floyd Mayweather could smack the shit out of an 80 year old man, but I don't think anybody would think better of him for it. I guess fans in Memphis don't have such qualms. Instead of calling Amnesty International, they actually cheered this butchering.
Among those fans was Cory Brandt, best known as the Tayshaun Prince fan who was devastated by his trade and became a viral video sensation. I'll let him off the hook for cheering the bludgeoning, because who wouldn't accept a free flight to Memphis to meet their favorite player.
Sacramento has been a less friendly place for opposing teams lately. The Zeke-Child kept rolling, making all 13 of his free throws and scoring 17 points in the 4th quarter.
: During their last brutal beating at the hands of the Thunder, about the only positive development for the Suns was that it didn't happen in front of their fans. This time they weren't so lucky. They did however score 69 points, which is kinda funny.
Do you want to know how bad this beating was? Jermaine O'Neal was listed as the top performer for the Suns with 7 points. Still not convinced? I'm not sure why you wouldn't be, but I need an excuse to segue into this video.
As you can see, not even the fans were safe from the Thunder.