The New York Knicks: The Knicks have spent more time above .500 this season than they have for the past seven years. I didn't do the research to back that up, but it sure FEELS right, doesn't it? Anyway, their mini-renaissance has been nearly miraculous. It might also be over, for this season anyway, because Donnie Walsh traded the team's top two scorers (Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph) for Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas. Bottom line: Walsh was not trying to make the team better. He was clearing payroll. As the moment, the Knicks are committed to only four players and $18 million in salary for 2010. Which is, of course, when LeBron becomes a free agent.
What a way to stick it to the fans, huh?
But Mike 'Antoni is willing to lie about the whole situation if it'll get people off his back. "I really want to dispel the notion that we did it to clear [cap space], which we did. Obviously, we have a long-term plan and that was the plan the very first day. But we're not throwing this year away or thinking that we're not going to make the playoffs, that we're waiting for three years. We're going to go out and develop this team and really fight hard to make the playoffs."
So...you guys didn't do it to clear cap space, Mike? What do you have to say, Donnie? "Opening up cap space down the road for us is a big plus on our side, and I hope our fans understand that can give us an opportunity to make the team better according to the plan that I've outlined. And so I'm trying to be true to what I've said from Day 1." Okay. So they didn't do it to clear cap space. Except they did. Well, that clears things up.
The drama didn't end their, however. 'Antoni claimed that, with Crawford gone, he extended an olive branch to Stephon Marbury. "When the trades went down this afternoon, I said, 'Look Steph, one of the principals are gone, Jamal Crawford. There's 30 to 35 minutes out there, and they're yours if you want them. Are you ready to go?'" According to 'Antoni, Marbury said he "wasn't comfortable with the situation, and he did not want to play. So at that point, I go, 'O.K., that's your decision, and that's fine.' That's it."
Marbury, who taped his ankles for Friday night's game and was on the bench, took the contrarian view: "The only thing I'm at liberty to say is that I was told that they were moving forward, and I'm not the person who chooses who plays or doesn't. Refusing to play is when the coach tries to put you in the game and you say you're not going in. If he asked me to go into the game, I was going into the game. That's why I taped my ankles."
So did he refuse to play or not? Can you clear this up, Mike? "He was in a tough situation. I'm not mad at Steph. But that's enough of the talk because it is a distraction and we need to go forward and we have a new team coming in and we're going to get this done." Oh. Guess not. Whatever, then. As a side note, the shorthanded Knicks lost to the still Michael Redd-less Bucks 104-87. They shot 34 percent and missed 23 three-pointers. Said 'Antioni: "We kind of got down, felt a little sorry for ourselves, probably, and kind of gave in. Our wills gave in a little bit."
I love New York!
Washington Wizards: Their 12-point home loss to the Rockets sent them wildly careening to a woeful record of 1-9 and led to Eddie Jordan's double-facepalm, shown above in all it's Technicolor brilliance.
Brent Barry: Basketbawful reader Jamesjen, uhm, isn't happy with the youngest Barry: "Okay, I'm a Houston Rockets fan, and I was quite accepting of the Brent Barry trade. I'm even very understanding of his wrist injury at the moment. But he's been ZERO for 10 on his three pointers over his last seven games! Over the past three games, he's had a suck differential of -5!! HELP. STOP PLAYING BRENT BARRY, PLEASE."
The Indiana Pacers: They let a winnable home game -- in which they led for over three quarters -- slip away thanks to the decision to go directly at Dwight Howard (24 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocked shots) for a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation AND a potential game-tying shot at the end of overtime. Superman blocked both shots. Game over.
The Los Angeles Clippers: They very nearly pulled off a big road win against the 76ers in Philly, but they not only lost a 1-point heartbreaker, they were beaten by a 15-foot jumper launched by prodigal son Elton Brand. But never fear, Clippers fans. Zach Randolph is on the way! He's just like Elton Brand, only fatter and worse on D...a perfect pickup for the Clips (who fell to 2-10).
The Toronto Raptors: From Shayan of Time Intact: "I live in Toronto, am a hoops junkie and therefore a die-hard Raptors fans. But the frustration that last night's heartbreaking loss left me with has pushed me to demand that you include the Raps for your 'Worst of the weekend' edition. We blew an 18-point lead to the lowly Nets. And the icing on the cake? We let Vince Carter, our former love-affair-turned-lithium, stick not one but two daggers down our throats (a 3 bomb to take the game to OT, then an alley-oop dunk in an inbound play to win the game)." Ouch. Almost makes me pity the Canadians. Can their health care system cure...a broken heart?
Shayan also directed my attention to the Fire Sam Mitchell site. With Eddie Jordan gone, I think Sam's got next in the NBA Coaches Unemployment Line.
Vince Carter: Talk about twisting the knife. Carter scored 39 points against the team he screwed the hell over, helping the Nets rally from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Raptors 129-127 in overtime on Friday. But it wasn't just the points, it was how he scored them. Carter scored NJ's last 12 points in regulation, including a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds that forced overtime. Carter then won the game with a reverse dunk on Bobby Simmons' inbounds pass with 2.1 seconds left in overtime.
Andrea Bargnani: From Dr. Henry Pym: "When doing your "Worst of the Weekend" post, make sure to point out how not only did the Raptors blow a double digit lead to the Nets tonight, but also make sure to mention how Andrea Bargnani gagged up the game for the Raptors in the final minutes. While he did have a career night, the big idiot committed a horrible foul in the final stretch, AND blew two wide open three pointers in the span of 12 seconds, one was an airball! That takes a special kind of suck." It does. But Bargs is that special kind of sucker.
Sean Williams: The Raptors had their share of defensive lapses in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Nets to come back for the W. A big part of that was because Jermaine O'Neal missed almost the entire final stanza (and overtime). With 11:37 left in the fourth, O'Neal fell backward when Williams yanked O'Neal's jersey while trying to block The Drain's shot. O'Neal landed awkwardly, clutching at his left thigh, above a brace he wears on the knee. Williams was hit with a flagrant, but the damage was done. Here's the tape.
Eric Lewis: File this one under "Whistle Happy Refs." During the Bobcats-Hawks game, Charlotte coach Larry Brown was called for a technical by Lewis after he said "Hey, ref." Seriously. That's it. Joey Crawford would be proud.
Big Baby Davis: Lost amidst the many "KG returns to Minnesota" stories was Big Baby's line: 22 minutes, 0-for-3, 2 rebounds, a steal and 5 fouls. Rumor has it Doc Rivers punished Davis by limiting him to only five post-game Big Macs (which Baby covers in gravy and chocolate sauce, by the way).
Kevin Love's pants: Basketbawful reader Garron thinks Love needs to address the droop in his draws: "Both the commentators of the Celtics-Wolves game on Friday kept harping on about this, but they are right; Kevin Love needs pants that fit. At least once every possession, Kevin Love has to pull up his pants, and in the third quarter, the Celtics caught on to this and kept waiting for Kevin to make his adjustment before driving passed him. There have been worse wardrobe malfunctions (Donyell Marshall anyone?) but this has been the only one I've seen that affects play." What do you think guys? Examples here, here, and here. But the best one's here.
The Utah Jazz: Against the Spurs, Utah was without Carlos Boozer (strained his left quadriceps), Deron Williams (left ankle sprain), Kyle Korver (inflamed right wrist) and Jarron Collins (inflamed right elbow). Which sort of explains the 119-94 loss. Doesn't make it any easier to swallow, though.
Erick Dampier, Gerald Green and James Singleton: All three of these men started for the Mavs...and that's pretty much where their "contributions" ended. Damp grabbed 8 boards, but he scored only 1 point and committed 4 fouls and 2 turnovers. Green had a suck differential of +7 in only five minutes. Singleton logged 30 minutes, scoring 5 points on 1-for-7 (and two of his shots were stuffed). Did I mention these guys STARTED for Dallas? Because they totally did.
Klahma City Thunder: The Thundercats fell to 1-12. Feels more like 1-112. They shot 36 percent and committed 25 turnovers. Nick Collison, who said his team has a "very long" list of issues, said: "No one should feel sorry for us. We’re in a good situation. We've just got to try to play the best we can. That's all we can really do. We can't control much else." Apparently the list of things they can't control includes their bowels, since they keep taking a huge, steaming dump on their fans every time they take the court.
Kevin Durant: Against the Hornets, Durant shot 5-for-13, grabbed only 2 rebounds, had zero assists, turned the ball over thrice, and got two of his shots stuffed. And his team lost by 25. Not a superstar.
The Denver Nuggets: Despite the glittering Won-Loss record since trading for Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets were still casually swatted aside by the Lakers in L.A., proving they're not quite ready to contend for anything than a first or second-round playoff loss. Said Mr. Big Shot: "This team taught us a lesson tonight, and they beat us in every aspect. When you come out against a team like this and don't give 100 percent, it shows." It sure does.
Sasha Vujacic: Loved the 2-for-11 against the Nuggets. Hate the hair, though. The hair's gotta go. When was the last time he washed it, anyway?
The Golden State Warriors: The Bulls haven't won on their Circus trip for 100 years -- okay, that's an exaggeration, but still -- yet they managed to pull out a victory in Golden State behind and offensive explosion from Larry Hughes (26 points,8-for-16, 5 three-pointers). When you allow an offensive explosion from Larry Hughes, you aren't very good.
Dwight Howard: He got a lesson in Post Play 101, courtesy of Dr. Yao Ming, who torched Howard for 22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot. Meanwhile, Superman was held in check (13 points, 9 rebounds, a couple blocks). Said Dwight: "He's a tough guy to guard. He's very gifted, he shoots the ball extremely well and that sets up everything else in his game. I learn a lot every time I play him." I seriously hope he's being serious, because learning one post move -- JUST ONE!! -- would make him so much better.
Rashard Lewis: He was 6-for-21, including 1-for-9 inside the arc. Were his hands cryogenically frozen before the game?
The Los Angeles Clippers: They put the finishing touches on their winless weekend, a true masterpiece of suck, by suffering a 17-point ball-busting in New Jersey. Yi Jianlian scored a season-high 27 points despite going up against a Clipper frontcourt that includes Al Thornton, Chris Kaman and former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. Said coach Mike Dunleavy: "Their big guys, especially Yi, were able to follow as a trailer and get some great shots. They shot the ball really well." He then broke down into tears when he realized that defensive "help" in the form of Zach Randolph is on the way.
Joe Johnson: Memo to Joe Cool: If you want to be considered one of the best players in the league, you can't be held to 4 points and shoot 1-for-8 against one of the best teams in the league. That is all. Actually, it's not. Your defense sucked too.
Zaza Pachulia: He was awful for two straight nights but didn't deserve two entries. Atlanta's starting center managed 4 points (0-for-3), 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 3 fouls in two games. Can we deport him back to Tbilisi?
The Indiana Pacers: They capped a winless weekend by losing a second consecutive game in which they built an early double-digit lead before falling asleep. And Danny Granger has no idea what's going on. "I couldn't tell you what it is. I don't know if we should let the other teams start winning first, so we can come back in the end." Uh...not a good plan, Danny. Nice try, though. Anyway, Danny might be boggled, but Pacers coach Jim O'Brien -- who watched his team fumble the ball away 21 times -- has an idea. "When we don't turn the ball over, we win. When we turn it over, we lose. It's that simple." Well, then, stop turning the ball over. Problem solved!
The Washington Wizards: They dropped to 1-10 after losing to a shorthanded Knicks team that played only seven guys on the second night of back-to-backs. Said David Lee: "We had seven guys basically running on fumes today from playing 40-plus minutes yesterday." Apparently, "fumes" are all that's necessary to beat the Wiz these days. But despite that, Washington coach Eddie Jordan remained positive, saying: "So even though we've lost and we're 1-10, we don't have losing habits and that’s a good thing." Then he got fired.
The Memphis Grizzlies: The Jazz -- still sans Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver -- still managed to beat the Grizzlies in Memphis, thanks to 55 percent shooting and 23 points from Mehmet Okur. The Griz also committed 18 turnovers and provided many a SAD FACE to their fans. Said Mike Conley: "It's like they are all little pests out there, slapping at the ball. I think we just got a little too carried away. We started crying to the refs a little bit too much, looking for fouls, instead of staying aggressive." Winning. Attitude.
The Klahma City Thunder: The Good news? They shot 53 percent and got a big-time game out of Kevin Durant (30 points, 11-for-16). The bad news? It didn't matter. They still lost by 12 to the Hornets. The Thunder are now an NBA-worst 1-13, but Earl Watson is still full of the rah-rah-rah: "We played the right way. We've had games where we were close but didn't play the right way most of the game. This time, you could see a different flow." Different flow. Same results. But enjoy the moral victory, Earl.
Greg Oden: He got gobbled up by a man who's almost twice his age (even if he looks half his age). Shaq showed Oden what it means to be The Big Man by going off for 19 points (8-for-12) and 17 rebounds (7 of which were offensive). On the subject of the Big Quote Machine...
Shaq, quote machine: Basketbawful reader SD pointed out that Shaq The Big Shogun now thinks he is the Final Boss in the NBA: "I'm the shogun. And before you get to the shogun, you've got to go through a lot of ninjas. He has to go through Dwight Howard and Yao Ming and by that time, I'll be out of here."
Goran Dragic: The guy who was supposed to help reduce Steve Nash's minutes and thus keep Captain Canada fresh for the playoffs played all of zero minutes against the Blazers. Meanwhile, Nash logged 40. Oh, and speaking of Steve...
Steve Nash: The 16 points (6-for-7) and 7 assists were good. The 8 turnovers? [Holds nose] That's Nashty. Better stop swimming with sharks, Steve.
The Toronto Raptors: Okay. I'm officially removing the "D" from Canada -- it will hereafter be referred to as the Land of Canaa -- because of the Raptor's performance against the Celtics yesterday. Boston reenacted the meteor strike that killed the dinosaurs ("inosaurs"?) by shooting 61 percent from the field (45-for-73) and almost 60 from downtown (10-for-17), thus routing the Raptors. In Toronto. Hand. In. The. Face.
The Return of The Drain: The big question when the Raptors acquired Jermaine O'Neal from the Pacers this summer was "Can he stay healthy?" The answer, dear readers, is "no." I know. shocker. The Drain -- playing despite having strained his surgically-repaired left knee on Friday -- left the game in the second quarter after falling down following a missed jumper. He spent the second half in the locker room getting treatment. "I tried to gauge it and see if I could help the team, but I didn't really have any stability, it was becoming too painful." I promise I didn't cut-and-paste that quote from one of his last three seasons with the Pacers. But I could have.
The Golden State Warriors: They played something resembling defense in Philadelphia, holding the Sixers to 39 percent shooting, and lost 89-81 anyway. But that's what happens when you get abused on the glass (54-38) and give up 22 offensive rebounds. Blocking out: It's not just for prep schoolers anymore.
The Detroit Pistons: Losing by 18 to the Celtics in Boston is bad but understandable. However, losing by 26 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Detroit is almost a horror beyond imagining. Good Gods, at one point Brian Cardinal and Mark Madsen were in the game AT THE SAME TIME. That's the ultra-dreaded double human victory cigar. PistonsGirl4Life, where ever you are, I'm sorry. Detroit coach Michael Curry, who had no recourse since the NBA doesn't allow you to trade players during a game, said: "My top three guards were 5-for-27, but they've played enough basketball that they know they can't get frustrated. Add in Rasheed Wallace, and it is 8-for-37. You aren't going to win many games like that." Part of that 8-for-37 was Allen Iverson, who scored only 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting. Said AI: "I stunk up the gym tonight. I couldn't do anything right on the offensive end. It was one of the nights you wish you never have, but they happen. It will be tough to sleep tonight." I'm sure nodding off is a lot easier when you're resting your head on a pillow of $100 bills.
The Chicago Bulls: This Circus Trip of Horror continues for the Bullies, who let the Nuggets shoot 54 percent, including a career-best 10-for-10 for Kenyon Martin. Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: "We made some defensive mistakes and gave them some easy baskets." Sure, Vinny. Kind of like how the captain of the Titanic made some navigational errors. Martin, for his part, couldn't remember the last time he'd gone 10-for-10 in a game. "Probably never have—unless it was 1-for-1." he said, smiling. Lots of opposing players smile after playing the Bulls in November.
"D"rew Gooden: Alex D. from Mexico wrote in asking for me to remove the "D" from Gooden's first name: "Rew Gooden let K-Mart have a 10-10 shooting night and grab two important offensive rebounds with less than a minute to play. Also, his three-point attempt with 5.8 seconds left was blocked by Nene." Okay. Done. Anybody need a "D"?
The Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakeshow has apparently decided that, due to their impressive array of offensive talent, their games are now "defense optional." Which would explain why the Kings shot 53 percent against them (including over 60 percent from inside the arc) in L.A. "I thought we were poor, defensively," said Phil Jackson, proving he still has a way with understatements. The Lakers also committed 17 turnovers which turned into 30 points for Sacramento. But don't worry, Laker fans. They still got their Hollywood ending. I mean, the Kings are still the Kings. Speaking of which...
The Sacramento Kings: Despite making their game against the Lakers semi-pseudo competitive, they still suffered through a winless weekend that saw them get give up 117 and 118 points (respectively) and get outscored by a combined total of 31 points. GO KINGS!!
Update! Vladimir Radmanovic: From "Radman" to RAD, MAN! Love the glasses, Vlad. Or should I call you Moon Unit Alpha? (From Lakerhead Daily via TrueHoop.)
Brad Miller: Ever notice how Miller almost kills one or two people a season on flagrant fouls? Last night's victim was Trevor Ariza, who dashed by Brad the Mad en route to the hoop and got clotheslined to the floor for his troubles. If Brad wasn't so pasty and shapeless, I'd accuse him of 'roid rage. It's worth noting that, amazingly, no flagrant was called...despite the fact the we live in a world where Kenyon Martin can get ejected for setting a pick. The NBA at it's consistent best.
Update! Kobe Bryant: Mamba took the last ice cube from the tray without refilling it and then uttered an evil chuckle under his breath as he walked away. (Submitted by Wild Yams.)
Suck differentialists: Marko Jaric (Grizzlies) +1 against the Spurs; Gerald Green (Mavericks) +7 against the Grizzlies; Louis Williams (Sixers) +4 against the Clippers; Gabe Pruitt (Celtics) +3 against the Raptors; Chris Mihm (Lakers) +2 against the Nuggets.
Trillionaire Club: Javaris Crittenton (Grizzlies) had a one trillion against the Spurs; Ike Diogu (Trail Blazers) had a four trillion against the Kings; Will Solomon (Raptors) had a one trillion against the Celtics; Mark Madsen (Timberwolves) had a two trillion against both the Celtics AND the Pistons; Quincy Douby (Kings) had a two trillion against the Lakers; Tarence Kinsey (Cavaliers) had a one trillion against the Hawks.
Mario Brothers: Jacque Vaughn (Spurs) had a seven-second Super Mario against the Jazz; Von Wafer (Rockets) had a nine-second Super Mario against the Magic; DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) had a 23-second Mario against the Nets.