Dunleavy's obviously thinking something that rhymes with "row spit."
The Golden State Warriors: Well, Nellie turned the defensive reins over to his assistants...and the Warriors surrendered 113 points despite the fact that Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Keith Bogans combined to shoot 7-for-28. It might have been a good idea to get a hand in the face of that Jameer Nelson kid. He went 9-for-9 for his 22 points. Of course, it would have been an even better idea to shoot better than 31 percent from the field as a team. Their 81 points ties the second-lowest output the season, the lowest being a 79-point "effort" at Memphis back on November 3rd. Yeah, yeah, Captain Jack and Bad Porn are still out, but excuses are like belly buttons: Everybody has one and they all have slimy tentacles creeping out. Or is that just me?
Keith Bogans: Uh, yeah. Remember how I mentioned he was part of that 7-for-28 shooting triumverate? Well, his contribution to the cause was an 0-for-7 clunker, including 0-for-5 from distance. And he finished with more blocks against (1) than points (zero) in his 22 minutes. I know somebody who's going to be asking Santa for a jump shot for Christmas...
The lack of respect: ...for Jameer Nelson. He earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors and this story credits him for playin on...the Cleveland Cavaliers. I'm not bitter that the guy who wrote that story got paid to do it or anything. Except I totally am. But I'm probably not as upset as Jameer's mom. Many thanks to Miguel for the head's up.
The New Jersey Nets: Let me sum this up for you. They lost by 23 points at home. That means they finished 1-3 in their three-game homestand, and two of those three losses were by 20+ points. They are now 5-10 at home and fell a game below .500 with this latest defeat. Better yet -- or worse yet, depending on your point of view -- is that they're only 2-6 since December 9th. And in case you've forgotton (and I'm sure you have), that's when they were a season-best three games over .500 and Devin Harris said: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." Stat curse, baby! 'Cause now the Nets are a precarious one game up on the suddenly sorta surging Milwaukee Bucks. I'll be keeping an eye on this.
(Oh, and by the way: New Jersey's defense gave up 114 points on almost 60 percent shooting to the Rockets. Kinda hard to win when your defense is spread wide open like a $100-per-hour "escort." Or so I've heard.)
Anyway, Vinsanity had this to say after the game: "This was a tough one. This was a tough night for us. We definitely needed a win. This was an opportunity for us to see where we are and how far we have come." It sure was. And I guarantee that the conclusion you can draw from it is 100 percent accurate.
Devin Harris and Vince Carter: Speaking of circumstances under which it's hard to win, you can't usually have your two big guns misfore all night (only 7-for-24 between them) and combine for only 20 points. And mind you, they began the night with a combined scoring average of 47.3 PPG, which made them the highest scoring backcourt in the league. Let me put it this way: Keyon Dooling had more assists (5 to 4) and almost as many points (17) as the both of them. As bad signs go, that's a notch above "penis on fire."
The media: The Rockets-Nets game was, for some bizarre reason, billed as a battle of Yao versus Yi. Uh, everyone's aware that Yao's probably the best center in the game right now while Yi's a 10-points-per-game roleplayer, right? Did Yi become an All-Star while I was in the bathroom or something?
The craziness of confidence: Houston's Aaron Brooks tied his career high by scoring 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-7 from downtown. He accidentally banked in his first three and, despite the fact that it was a garbage shot, that boosted his confidence. Said Brooks: "If I can bank a three, then I know I can make the next one on my own." At first, I wanted to mock the kid, but then I thought about my own experiences in pickup basketball. And sure enough, when I thought about it I realized that hitting garbage shots -- and I've "wished in" a great many of them -- always makes me feel like I'm about to go on a streak. And I'm not the only one. I've seen other guys do the same thing. It's counterintuitive but indeniable: Hitting a lucky shot makes you feel, well, lucky. And half the game is 90 percent mental, you know?
The reactionary media/fans/etc.: I saw this story in the L.A. Times yesterday (via TrueHoop) where Magic Johnson -- apparently mirroring the feelings of experts and fans everywhere -- said the Lakers are kinda sorta in trouble and need to get tougher. Maybe. But seriously, what's the panic? The Forum Blue and Gold are 22-5, which, last time I checked, is pretty damn good. But I guess that's what happens when two other teams (the Celtics and Cavs) are also off to historically awesome starts. So the Lakers are "only" on pace for 69ish wins? That's a problem somehow? You know, much as I enjoy watching Lakers fans squirm, the realist in me feels the need to point out that many teams have won a title despite falling short of the 70-win plateau. Like, all but one of them. Meanwhile, many other teams have shot out to fast starts and faltered in the playoffs (including the 1981-82 Celtics, the last Boston team to win 18 games in a row).
I refuse to believe that the only cause for joy and/or optimism is a team being virtually undefeated by the end of December. (Although, doesn't 22-5 pretty much qualify as "virtually undefeated"?)
The Memphis Grizzlies: They can hardly be faulted for losing to a superior Lakers team. However, the loss was their third straight to finish off a season-long five-game home stand. So that's kind of a bummer. Oddly enough, of those three losses, the Griz stuck closer to the two really good teams (New Orleans and L.A.) than the bad one (Charlotte): Memphis lost by 29 to the Bobcats while finishing within single digits of the Hornets and Lakers.
Kobe Bryant: I don't even have to make one up today. This is from Basketbawful reader Josh: "Just watched the Lakers beat the Grizzlies...I'm embarrassed for Kobe and all his fans. The Lakers were up by 7 points with 5 seconds left when Kobe got a steal and, instead of dribbling out the clock like any NBA player with an ounce of class would do, Mamba sprinted down for a highlight dunk. Which he didn't get off in time, but they gave him points for it anyway. This is something I've come to expect from Kobe...and from the NBA." Agreed. It was pretty classeless to dunk on an opponent when the game is essentially over. Scan it for yourself (at the 2:15 mark).
Basketbawful reader Dan did notice, however, that Kobe had a career-high 23 assists last night. Or so it seems...
The Sacramento Kings: Another night, another double-digit loss for the crownless Kings, who have lost four in a row and 17 of 20 since starting the season 4-5. How toothless are these tigers? Gregg Popovich didn't even bother to coach against them last night. Seriously. Said Pop: "I did nothing to earn my money. They (the players) coached. They communicated. They changed defenses, called plays. I just substituted players." Playing the Kings? Just show up and win. It's easier than growing Sea Monkeys.
Brad Miller: The source of many trade rumors finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, zero assists, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls. So much for establishing trade value, huh?
Brandon Roy: After going off for a career-high 52 points against the defensless Suns last Thursday, Roy got a double-dose of "hand in the face" against the previously defenseless Nuggets, who held him to 3-for-11 shooting. Roy, who finished with almost as many fouls (5) as points (8), said: "It was a lot of everything. It was getting into foul trouble and, really, it was just their night."
It was also a case of -- and you should be taking notes on this if your name is "Terry Porter" -- putting extra defensive pressure on a primetime scorer. George Karl alternated defenders and doubled Roy every time he touched the ball. Said Karl: "Give him two. Whenever he touches it give him two players." Sometimes it's just that easy. Of course, Karl also noted that: "Foul trouble helped us, too." Added Chauncey Billups: "To be successful against a player like him, it has to be a team effort. Dahntay (Jones) started off great on him, J.R. (Smith) had some good minutes on him, so it was a team effort." You, uh, get all that, Terry?
Greg Oden: The Next Great Center had another one of those "Greg Ostertag: 2.0" games last night: 10 points and only 3 rebounds in 21 foul-plagued minutes. Oden picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half and sat on his extra-large bum until there was 9:52 left in the fourth. He eventually fouled out with 1:31 to go and the Nuggets up by 6. Said TNGC: "I really couldn't get into a groove. It's hard to get into a groove when you get called for fouls and have to be taken out." Fair enough. But still...3 rebounds in 21 minutes when you're the biggest guy on the court? And only 1 of those boards came off the defensive glass. If the Vanilla Godzilla wasn't such a team-first guy, this would be killing him.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Okay, let's all say this together and really, really loudly: They are who we thought they were. The Clips have now dropped two in a row after winning five out of seven. And last night they lost by 22 at home to the Raptors, otherwise known as "The Sucky Team That Lost To The Thunder A Few Days Ago." Fail. Oh, and Clipper fans nearly suffered a coronary when Zach Randolph, the prime mover of the team's mini-revival, left the game early in the fourth quarter after bruising his left knee in a collision with Jake Voskuhl during a Bosh layup. (See what happens when you play defense??) The good news is that X-rays were negative and he's considered day-to-day. Said Z-Bo: "Hopefully it's just a bone bruise. I'm just going to ice it in the next couple of days." The Clippers don't play again until Sunday, so Randolph probably won't miss any time.
The Davis Watch:ClipperBlog noted that Baron Davis shot 20-for-71 on the team's recent four-game road trip. I did a little extra number crunching to discover that B-Diddy is 51-156 over his last eight games. That's 32 percent "accuracy"...which would be a failing grade in any class that doesn't grade on a curve and even in some that do. We are now keeping an eye on Boom-Dizzle's shooting.
Al Thornton: Dear Al, Chris Bosh would like you to, in the future if you would be so kind, watch where the hell you're sticking your fingers. Thank you.
Lack-tion report: Basketbawful reader Chris chimed in with another report on last night's un-movers and non-shakers: "Channing Frye (+2, 4:31) and Jerryd Bayless (+4, 3:11) were not positive factors for Portland in their loss to the Nuggets, while Chucky Atkins across the court avoided an 8 trillion through one steal. Also, Mardy Collins earned a +1 for the Clippers in 4 minutes of lacktion."
People who need to get over it already: From Basketbawful reader Dumbgenius: "Bawful, I'm sour graping, but I just have to mention this...I've been hanging out with this gal for a while now and I scammed my way into a date with her the other night. Turns out she's of the "Haven't gotten over my ex yet' variety, which to me is like, whatever. When she told me his name I nearly popped a vein. THOMAS ISAIAH." Sweet Birdmas. You need to find that guy and falcon punch him just on principle.