Last night, the Heat were without Dwyane Wade (left knee), Udonis Haslem (left ankle), Shawn Marion (sore back), Jason Williams (jammed right thumb), Marcus Banks (right hamstring), and Alexander Johnson (right knee). This left the team with the following seven players (and I use that term very loosely): Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Earl Barron, Bobby Jones, and Joel Anthony.
If you recognized more than half of those names, you're either lying or you're some kind of roster-memorizing savant. Either way, that's one seriously motley crew. I'm not sure that squad would even qualify as an expansion team for the D-League. Stitching a team together out of whatever crap you can find...that's no way to run a franchise. It's like the basketball equivalent of Frankenstein's monster, only at least the monster could complete basic tasks, like menacing villagers and destroying its creator.
I guess I should just cut to the chase and explain why I'm going off on these guy, although judging from the e-mails I received last night and this morning, most of you already know. The Heat scored only 54 points last night. It was the third-lowest point total of the shot-clock era, surpassing only the 53 points scored by Denver against Detroit in November of 2002
and the 49 points Chicago put up against Miami in April of 1999
. They accomplished this feat by shooting 25 percent from the field (20-for-78) and 21 percent from beyond the arc (5-for-23). It was a performance so bad, so historically wretched, that Pat Riley was openly pitying his players after the game...this, of course, being one night after the team notched it's 12th win of the season and Riles comparied Williams and Quinn to Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. And frankly, the Heat would probably have played better with West (who's 70 years old) and Goodrich (65), even if those guys were blindfolded and forced to play with oven mitts on.
Awful. Just awful. But, honestly, it's about what you'd expect from a team that's led by Ricky Davis and started three guys who wouldn't even be the 12th man on most NBA teams.Update!! Toronto Raptors fans:
Loyal Basketbawful reader shrugz informed me that the mighty dino fanbase freaked out when their hopes for a little free taco excitement
were dashed. "Please mention the pathetic booing/restless attitude of the Raptors fans when they realized they were not getting free pizza. JUST CHEER. GAWD. I'm embarrassed to be known as a Raptors fans with people like this." Mike Dunleavy Jr.:
One day after matching his career-high in scoring and forcing me into the huge concession that he doesn't suck any more, Funleavy shoots 2-for-12 and commits 5 turnovers. Like Mike, if I could be like Mike...Dwight Howard:
What happened to Superman? Did somebody shove a hunk of Kryptonite up his butt or something? Young Thunder grabbed 14 rebounds, but he shot only 1-for-6 and had more turnovers (4) than points (3). Astonishing. Maybe it's like in Superman II
, when Superman gave up his powers so he could get it on with Lois Lane. And I guess that would make the Wizards a 12-man General Zod. Which gives me an excuse to say, "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!" Okay. I'm happy now.Update!! The Magic and the Wizards:
An anonymous reader had this to say, and I couldn't disagree: "Oh man, you need to include the entire Magic team if you're going to call out Howard. Excluding Hedo, who was the only Magic player who didn't roll over and die last night, the team shot (as per Ben Q Rock from Third Quarter Collapse
) "15-of-57 (.263) from the field and 7-of-26 (.269) from three-point range." It was appalling. I should know, I was there. However! We still only lost by one point, and that was up until the very last shot. Shouldn't the Wizards at least get a mention? Seeing as they couldn't even beat a team who performed as poorly as the Magic did last night."Enver Nuggets:
Yesterday, I blasted the Nuggets for their shocking lack of defense after they gave up 136 points on 60 percent shooting to the Detroit Pistons. A few readers contradicted me by explaining that Enver is ranked sixth in defensive efficiency (although Hollinger's latest stats
have them in the seventh spot). So I said, "Fine, I'll keep a close eye on these guys -- two eyes, even -- and if they prove to be the stalwart defensive bunch that the numbers say they are, I'll openly and freely admit my mistake." We are one day into my added scrutiny, and the evidence looks good...for me: The Nuggets surrendered 115 points to a Sixers team that averages 96.6, while also letting their foe shoot 60 percent from the field for the second straight game (and Philly typically rat-a-tat-tats at a 46 percent rate). Enver did force 21 turnovers and blocked 7 shots, though, so there's that. But neither those numbers nor their sparkling defensive efficiency rank do much to change the scoreboard.Vince Carter:
I've got to hand it to him, dude played great: A season-high 39 points, 17-for-26 from the field, 10 rebounds, 8 assists. He even blocked a shot! Here's the problem. Vinsanity could play at this level, or pretty close, any night. Every night, even. But he doesn't. He avoids contact and shies away from his responsibilities as a franchise player. Always has. I wouldn't be surprised if Carter shot 5-for-21 in New Jersey's next game. So it's actually nights like this that upset me more than when Carter stinks up the joint, because he's not just stealing money from his employers, he's cheating the fans. And that's not cool.Darrell Armstrong:
I know he's old and stuff, but that doesn't excuse a three trillion
I believe the Hawks are serious about making the playoffs. But someone needs to tell them that putting a hand in somebody's face -- as long as you don't face-guard them!! -- would help their cause. The Nets typically score about 94 PPG on 43 percent shooting, but Atlanta brought them out of their offensive coma by giving up 125 points on 58 percent shooting, in addition to the previously mentioned season-high 39 points to Vince Carter. This enabled New Jersey to usurp the eighth seed from the Hawks for at least a day.Memphis versus Minnesota:
Why do these games have to happen? Make them stop, David Stern. I'm begging you.Detroit Pistons:
When they were dropping 136 on the Nuggets, the Pistons scored a season-high 73 points in the first half. Last night against the Cavs, they scored 73 points, period. Which is so weird, since Cleveland is ranked five spots below Enver in defensive efficiency. Must be some kind of fluke or something. Anyway, the Pistons shot 39 percent from the field and hit only 5 of 17 three-pointers. As my buddy Craig from The Association
said in a text last night, LeBron owns these guys.Houston Rockets:
Sigh. Well, I've got to be fair, right? I praised them for The Streak, and now I have to mock them for their second-straight 20-point loss. Tracy McGrady (6-for-21) led the brick brigade in Houston's 34 percent shooting night. They only hit 10 percent of their threes (2-for-19). They had only 11 assists and committed 18 turnovers. Believe it or not, the game was tied after three quarters, but the Rockets got outscored 31-10 in the fourth. And now Houston is suddenly streaking in the other direction.Phoenix Suns doubters:
You know, a couple weeks ago there were a few hundred articles and blog posts about how, due to the Shaq trade, Phoenix might not even make the playoffs. Suddenly, thanks to a six-game winning streak, they're only a half game behind the Hornets and Lakers for the top spot in the West. Oh, and remember how The Big Slowpoke was going to reduce the Suns fast break to a crawl? Let's take a look at how their offense has performed over the last five games (I'm tossing out the Spurs game because nobody puts up points against them): 132, 123, 127, 111, and 110 points on 59, 55, 60, 55, and 57 percent shooting. Oh, and the Suns have rediscovered the three-ball too: They were 15-for-21 from The Land of Three last night. And
they're regularly out-rebounding their opponents now. Now, I'm not saying that Phoenix is going to win the championship this season, only that the reports of their collective death have been greatly exaggerated.Smush Parker and Mike Dunleavy:
I don't know what's worse: Smush's performance (4 points, 2-for-10 shooting) or the fact that Dunleavy played him almost 30 minutes off the bench. Only two Clippers (Al Thornton and Tim Thomas) took more shots than Smush. I know the Clips are bad, but I didn't know they were "Smush Parker is our third option" bad.Charley Rosen:
The NBA Historian's comments about Shane Battier's "illegal face-guarding" of Kobe Bryant last Sunday set off a storm of controversy across the Blogosphere. That storm uncovered the fact that -- regardless of how you feel about it personally -- face-guarding is perfectly legal within the context of current NBA rules
. And I'm sure Rosen got a few e-mails to that effect. But instead of admitting that, Rosen included the following note in his article
yesterday: "The league's refs routinely called face-guarding fouls until 3-4 years ago. But with the installation of the new no-defense rules, these same fouls began to be ignored — the idea being to prevent hand-to-shooting-arm fouls that would slow up the game. As it is, since the natural instinct is for shooters (as well as civilians) to move their heads away from an attacking hand, the license given to face-guarders impinges on a shooter's elevation and generally flattens the resulting shot."
Now, I hate to call bullshit -- I'm kidding, I actually love doing it -- but I've been following the NBA for 20 years. I have scads of classic games from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s on both VHS and DVD, and I rewatch them endlessly over the summer when the only sports on TV are baseball, golf, and the WNBA (and yes, I did rank those sports according to how excited each one makes me). And I'm here to tell you: I do not remember seeing a single face-guarding foul called on any player at any time, let alone seeing the call made "routinely," not unless actual contact was made with the shooter. Yet I've seen countless examples of the old "hand in the face" defense over my 20 years of NBA fanaticism. So how is it I missed the many and routine face-guarding calls Charley is referring to? I think we know why.
Labels: Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Dwight Howard, face-guarding, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Phoenix Suns, Vince Carter