The waking nightmare continues...

Knicks / Celtics: Several hours before the tipoff of last night's game, Isiah Thomas expressed his deep and soulful feelings for the Green and White: "I have a great respect for Boston, a very healthy respect. But I don't like them. I don't like the Celtics. Because they were always good. And they're good again. So my hatred is that much more." How very Dark Lord Sauron of him.

Is there a stronger feeling than hate? Because if there is, Isiah must be feeling it today after the Celtics' pitiless butchering of his Knicks. Man, oh man. I haven't seen a beating that savage, that brutal, since the El Mozote Massacre or maybe Bambi versus Godzilla. Shouldn't there be a slaughter rule for games like this, or at least a safeword that teams can use when they've had enough? Now, I likes me a good beatdown as much as the next guy who hates the Knicks and absolutely despises Isiah Thomas. But sitting through that game was like watching the scene in Reservoir Dogs where Mr. Blond tortures that cop and then cuts his ear off. Repulsive, disturbing, and yet too sickly fascinating for me to look away.

What went wrong for the Knicks? Well, for one thing, their starting point guard had only 1 assist and three turnovers. Their "Twin Towers" of Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph combined to score 8 points on 3-21 shooting, and that was their strongest contribution. Quentin Richardson alone out-rebounded them (9 to 6) and little Freddy Jones out-blocked them (2 to zero). As a team, the Knicks shot 30 percent (23-76). Their quarter-by-quarter scoring was as follows: 16, 15, 10, 18. And they needed a 37-foot heave by Nate Robinson at the final buzzer just to reach 59 and thus avoid their lowest point total in the Shot Clock Era (which was 58 on December 15, 2000, against the Utah Jazz).

Never one to blame himself, Isiah was quick to point his wicked Finger of Judgement at his hapless team, complaining that the Knicks' first-half performance was "the most selfish" he had ever seen by a team. "I thought every single player was thinking about himself, as opposed to thinking about the team." After that inspiring halftime speech, the Knicks went out and scored 10 points in the third quarter. That's some coaching genius there, Isiah.

What's happening with the Knicks is just terrible, and I don't even like the Knicks. It's getting to the point that I'd even feel sorry for Kobe Bryant if he was a Knick. Okay, not really, but just the fact that I was able to type those words without vomiting really says something. It's just...just...gaaagh.

And here's the thing: The Celtics didn't really play all that well. I know that sounds crazy, but if you actually watched the game, you know it's true. I mean, Kevin Garnett took five shots. Brian Scalabrine played 22 minutes, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis played a team-high 30. Need I say more? Look, Fay Wray put up more of a fight when King Kong carried her to the top of the Empire State Building. Which begs the question: Have the Knicks quit on Isiah? Seriously, who freaking knows with this dysfunctional band of misfits.

Fun fact: Fred Jones has 5 blocks on the season. Zach Randolph has 1.

Raiders of the Lost Statistics: At the end of the game, Rajon Rondo chose to dribble out 24 of the final 26 seconds, committing a shot clock violation and giving the ball back to the Knicks rather than going for a 50-point win. That's a turnover, right? Well, apparently not, because every box score I checked -- ESPN, Yahoo, even the official NBA box score -- showed Rondo as having zero turnovers on the night. It makes you wonder, do the NBA's official statisticians give out mulligans for mercy plays like that? Does that ever happen when a player attempts a full or half-court heave at the end of a quarter or before halftime? Speaking of which, I've always felt there should be an official stat category for those meaningless, desperation shots so they don't count against a player's normal shooting percentages. Plus, it would be downright interesting to look at Lebron James' season stats and find out he was 3-for-25 on desperation shots. There should also be a special category of statistic that tells you how many games a team gives up at the end of the season. Like, the Spurs might win 61 games but still end the season on a 4-game losing streak because Gregg Popovich was resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. I mean, wouldn't you like to know that stuff?

Nuggets / Lakers: This game was proof of how much homecourt advantage means in the NBA. With little more than a half-hearted effort, Denver built a 12-point lead after the first quarter and yet ultimately lost by 28 points. Again, if you watched the game you could tell that the Nuggets just didn't bring it. The Lakers had way more energy; they were grabbing offensive rebounds (they had 17 on the night, six above their average), coming up with loose balls, drawing charges. In short, making all the hustle plays that win games. And Denver? They just gave up. How else do you explain them getting outscored 46-24 in the fourth quarter?

There was at least one Nugget who was fired up, though: Carmelo Anthony. He scored 23 points (11-15) and even had a couple steals before getting ejected with 6:18 remaining for giving Sasha Vujacic a chop block to the throat away from the ball. Anthony claims it wasn't intentional (but it was) and that Vujacic drew attention to the foul by flopping (which he did, laughably so). Said Vujacic: "I think I've got to give him a DVD of European soccer. Then he can really see flops. I think it was frustration on his part. He's one of the best players in the league. But we did an amazing job on defense against him by double-teaming him -- and that's why he tried to choke me. I was surprised that he grabbed me with his hand." Ha, ha, yeah, you go ahead and try to give Carmelo a soccer DVD and you'll probably get choked again. Or at the very least he'll bitchslap you from behind and then run away. Anyway, Kobe Bryant -- who totally travelled on a spectacular up-and-under in the third quarter -- didn't comment on the play, probably because of all the times he wanted to strangle Sasha.

Fun fact: I don't really have much to say about Golden State's over-the-knee spanking of Houston, except that our good buddy Austin Croshere won the Second (to the Knicks) Biggest Loser of the Night Award for posting an ultra-rare two trillion. Third Biggest Loser of the Night goes to Yao Ming, who got shut down by Al Harrington despite a 9-inch, 60-pound physical advantage.

Big Stinky Jerkface of the Night: That's right, I'm talking to you, NFL. Hey, let's put a marquee matchup between two 10-1 teams on the NFL network, which is like telling 99.9 percent of the world "Nyah, nyah, you can't watch this!" Great idea, NFL. Well, the Football Gods took their revenge for your hubris, striking down Brett Favre who -- according to your jersey sales -- is the most popular player in the league. Did you get the message? Or is it going to take a well-aimed lightning bolt to the testicles to teach you the error of your ways? Oh, and Brett's my fantasy QB, so thanks for costing me this week's game and officially eliminating me from playoff contention. [FlohtingPoint reminded me to mention this travesty.]

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Kyle Korver: The hero of the 76ers' big road win against the Bucks became the goat in the team's homecourt flameout against the Jazz. After scoring 20 points (8-13) on Tuesday night, Korver scored only 4 points (1-9) against the Jazz. He was also limited to 21 minutes thanks to his 5 personal fouls. Of course, the real villain of the game was the 76ers' defense, which allowed the Jazz to shoot 55 percent from the field. Said coach Maurice Cheeks: "We talked before the game about eliminating layups and they (Jazz) had 20-plus layups. That's something I'm trying to stop." Better luck next time, coach Cheeks.

Fun fact: Carlos Boozer, who scored 26 points (12-17), is shooting 71 percent (44-62) over his last four games. He's currently fourth in the league in scoring (25.4), seventh in field goal percentage (57.7), and ninth in rebounding (11.2). With all due respect to Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan, I think Boozer may be the best power forward in the Western Conference right now. Of course, we all know that Duncan will be the best PF come playoff time.

Memphis Grizzlies: The game was pretty much decided in the second quarter, during which the scary bears were outscored 30-10. I know the Raptors are a top-ten defensive team this season, but a 10-point quarter? You'd think a professional basketball team could score 10 points by accident.

Fun fact: Did you know that Brian Cardinal is making almost $6 million this season? Or that he'll be making over $6 million next season, and almost $7 million the season after that? His season totals -- not averages, but totals -- are: 17 points (on six field goals), 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, zero blocks, and one hilarious picture of him getting knocked on his ass by Jeff Green. Also, check out Cardinal's arms. Those look like my grandpa's arms.

Milwuakee Bucks: Hey, Bobby Simmons was back! Unfortunately, his 5 points (1-4) couldn't prevent a 96-80 spanking from the Hawks (6-8). After this loss, construction of the Bucks Bandwagon has been halted until further notice. The Bucks committed 19 turnovers, clanked away from three-point range (3-17), and Charlie Bell -- the guy they wouldn't let bolt for Miami last summer -- contributed zero points (0-4), 3 rebounds, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks, and 1 personal foul. I can see why they wanted to keep him.

Fun fact: Andrew Bogut is a talker, and he had a few choice things to say about his team after they lost to Atlanta. Basically, he thinks the Bucks suck against bad teams. "Without giving anyone bulletin board material or calling guys out or anything, it's just a problem that we're having with the franchise since I've been here." And hey, you can't say that Bogut didn't do his part: 18 points (7-12), 11 rebounds, 4 blocked shots.

Lebron James' supporting cast: James sprained his left index finger in the second quarter and didn't return to the game. What ensued was a ruthless thrashing of the Cavaliers by an undermanned Pistons team. The Cavs scored only 31 points in the second half, and even if they'd doubled that number, they still would have lost by four points. Yes, it was that bad.

Fun fact: According to, Donyell Marshall has earned almost $60 million in salary over his career. So why does it look like he bought his clothes off the clearance rack at Sears?

Matt Bonner: He notched a one trillion during the Spurs' relatively merciful drubbing of the Wizards. Yet he was still shown up by Dominic McGuire, who managed the even more rare two trillion. Even in a battle of futility, Bonner comes out the loser.

Fun fact(s): Matt Bonner might be a lousy NBA player, but he still leads a rich and complex life. To whit: Bonner received only one B in his scholastic career after failing a chemistry exam in late 2002. Among Bonner's favorite food is a Mr. Sub smoked turkey breast submarine sandwich with mayo and mustard on whole wheat. Bonner bought his car, a white Pontiac Grand Prix, in New Hampshire to avoid paying sales tax. He chose it because it had good leg room and decent gas mileage. [From Wikipedia]

The Dallas defense: Okay, maybe the Mavs' problem isn't ball movement after all. They strugged mightily to "limit" the lowly Timberwolves (2-11) to 103 points -- almost 10 points above their season average -- on 50 percent shooting. Here's the sad thing: The Mavs had to shake up their rotation, moving Jason Terry and Erick Dampier back to the starting lineup, just to barely end a three-game losing streak against the worst team in the league. Yikes. As a sidenote, the Mavs shot 1-10 from three-point range.

Fun fact: Turns out that Al Jefferson kid is just as good as projected: 20.7 PPG (on 52 percent shooting), 11.2 RPG, and 10 double-doubles in 13 games. This guy is Kevin McHale's one last flickering chance at redemption as a GM. But don't worry: I'm sure he'll screw this up too.

Starang: A few days ago, loyal reader and Suns fan Starang left the following comment on our blog: "Do you hear that clicking noise? Yeah, that's the Suns' chemistry...we are about to rattle off 19 in a row...of the next 13 games, we play Spurs and Mav's 12th and 13th with no one in between, except maybe Utah, but that still should be a win." Congratulations, Starang: You successfully stat cursed the Suns, who have now lost two in a row since your bold and foolhardy prediction. I sincerely hope you've learned your lesson.

Jermaine O'Neal: The Pacers are now 6-1 without you this season. Jamaal Tinsley and Mike Dunleavy Jr. both play like All-Stars when you're not around. Do you get it? Without you clogging the lanes and fattening your stat line on a steady diet of contested 15 to 20-foot jumpers, the other Pacers can actually drive to the hoop and move the ball around for open shots. It's amazing. I wish you could be a part of it, but I know your titanic ego -- which insists you're almost as good as Kevin Garnett -- won't allow you to adjust your game to help the team. Look, we'll welcome you back with open arms, but only if you show up prepared to rebound, play defense, and settle into your new role as the third or fourth option on offense. Oh, and when you do get the ball, we'll expect you to take it strong to the hoop. No more fading away from the basket. Be a man. Signed -- Larry Bird.

Fun fact: Hey, we had a Raef LaFrentz sighting last night...only the fifth one of this young season. He's now amassed 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist for the season. Can you believe this dude is still on the books for $11 million this year and $12 million the next? Also: Portland has lost seven of its last eight games.

Seattle Supersonics: They held the Magic to 43 percent shooting and still lost by 16 points at home? How is that possible? Oh, they shot 35 percent themselves, thanks primarily to Kevin Durant and Wally Szczerbiak, who combined to hit only 12 of 41 shots. P.S. I think I'm falling into man love with Dwight Howard. If he gets any better, his game will cure cancer by 2014.

Fun fact: Rashard Lewis grabbed 10 rebounds last night, his first double-figure rebound game of the season! Did I mention he's 6'10"? Oh well. Kevin Durant still hasn't had a double-figure rebounding game.

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Ray Allen: Yahoo Sports lists Allen as Boston's top performer in the Celtics' 109-104 overtime loss to the Cavaliers. Sure, Allen scored 29 points, but he shot 10-25 from the field to get there. He also let Sasha Pavlovic hit a three-pointer over him to tie the game at 92-92 (and ultimately force overtime). Then he drew a foul but missed both freethrows, either one of which would have won the game. This is where I point out that Allen is a career 89 percent foul shooter who was hitting 92 percent of his freethrows going into the game. Actually, if you check out his game log, you'll notice that Allen's field goal shooting has been getting progressivly worse over the last couple weeks, with several games in the 20s and 30s. Are you listening, Doc Rivers? You're playing Ray Allen too many minutes! You're killing his legs. Please stop.

Special mention: Rajon Rondo, who is sometimes singled out as the Celtics' weak link, tried to play down to that title last night by scoring 3 points on 1-9 shooting, including a terrible 18-foot clunker and a missed layup in overtime. However, he did lead the team in assists (6) and, surprisingly enough, rebounds (7).

Fun fact: Rondo is shooting 43.5 percent from the freethrow line this season. Among guards, only Von Wafer (33.3 percent) and Sergio Rodriguez (20.0 percent) are shooting worse than Rondo. Even Shaq (52.1 percent) is shooting better.

New Jersey Nets: Vince Carter scored 32 points, Richard Jefferson added 27, and Jason Kidd had his 91st career triple double (12/15/12) and the Nets still lost at home to the Grizzlies (5-9). But I guess that's what happens when you let your opponent score 110 points on 50 percent shooting from both the field (38-76) and three-point range (11-22). Jefferson could have tied the score late in the game, but he missed a relatively open three-pointer. Badly. Said Jefferson: "That hurt. That hurt. That hurt bad. All my shots were short. Anytime I made one I was surprised they went in." That's some confidence, folks.

Fun fact: Jason Collins is the Eric Snow of NBA starting centers. He's averaging 0.9 PPG and 2.3 RPG. He has more total fouls (45) than rebounds (35). He has more turnovers (15) than field goals (6). Last night, he had a season-high six points after going scoreless in 11 of the last 14 games. He's had two zero-rebound games and three 1-rebound games. He only has one blocked shot on the season. And despite that, he's making $6,100,000 this season, and he'll earn $6,200,000 next season.

The Miami Heat's offseason: During last night's obliteration of the Hornets, Anfernee Hardaway and Smush Parker -- Pat Riley's only two significant offseason acquisitions -- combined for 2 points (1-3), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 DNP-CD. That's $3,419,590 well spent!

Fun fact: When he was in high school, Parker modeled for Nautica apparel. He also owns a Cadillac Escalade that he calls the "Smushcalade." Seriously.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks were the feel good team of the week, thanks to a five-game winning streak that included a road win against the Cavaliers and back-to-back home wins against the Lakers and Mavericks. So of course they went and killed the buzz by letting the lowly 76ers (4-9) blow them out 114-99 for their first home loss of the season. On the bright side, the Bucks' next two games are against the Hawks and Knicks, so expect the good times to resume for at least two games.

Fun fact: Remember last week when I mentioned what a huge disappointment Bobby Simmons has been for the Bucks? Well, he missed last night's game for "personal reasons" (the team chose not to elaborate). I suspect "personal reasons" is the new euphemism for "sucks."

Chicago Bulls: You might be wondering why I'm including the Bulls, since they finally broke their losing streak with a 90-78 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Well excuse me for not jumping for joy when a team that many people expected to reach the NBA Finals this season slogs their way to an ugly home win over a 5-8 team. The Bulls won, thanks primarily to a big game from Luol Deng (22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists) and a 36-point third quarter, but there were still plenty red flags throughout the game. They shot 39 percent as a team. They scored only 13 points in the first quarter. Kirk Hinrich not only played miserably -- 4 points (2-7), zero rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers -- he got benched in the second quarter for throwing the ball away on a simple fast break play. Said coach Scott Skiles: "I don't know if I've ever seen that kind of play since I've been 5 years old. I don't know what to say about it." You know, Scott once played for an 18-win team. I'm guessing he's seen a play or two that was at least that bad.

Fun fact: Remember when the Hawks started out 2-2, with big wins over Dallas and Phoenix and a near miss against Detroit? And everybody thought that maybe, just maybe, the Hawks were going to be better than anybody expected? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?

Benny Adams, Jack Nies, Matt Boland: The Pacers got a huge road victory last night, winning 112-110 in Denver. But the officials almost stole the game from them by awarding J.R. Smith three freethrows for swinging out his leg and kicking Mike Dunleavy Jr. on a last-second, desperation shot. Seriously, go watch it. That awful call gave Smith a chance to tie the game, but the Nuggets were doomed by a little thing we like to call cheater's proof: Smith hit the first two freethrows, then missed the last one. Said Dunleavy: "What was going through my mind was, 'I'm a Christian, I go to church and God may not be a Pacer fan, but he gives us fairness and he was going to come through. The basketball never lies. I knew he was going to miss one of those, but it should have never got to that point." God could not be reached for comment.

Fun fact: In their last four games, the Pacers have beaten the Hornets (10-6), Mavericks (9-5), and Nuggets (9-6), all without Jermaine O'Neal. The Pacers' record without their "best player" this season is 5-1. I'm telling you, this team is better without O'Neal. Memo to Larry Bird: Trade him. Give him away. Let Danny Granger, Jamaal Tinsley, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. lead you to the Promised Land. The sad thing is, I'm being completely serious.

Kevin Durant: He had his second consecutive strong game, scoring 25 points on 10-19 shooting. But he had only two rebounds. Two. This kid's 6'9", athletic, and has the arms of someone twice his height. So why was he outrebounded by the 6'1" Earl Watson (6 rebounds) and the 6'1" Derek Fisher (4 rebounds)?!

Fun fact: Durant is averaging 4.2 RPG. Even though he's has the height of a forward, he plays guard. Well, he ranks 38th among guards in rebounding, right behind Keith Bogans. There are five point guards who average more rebounds per game: Jason Kidd (8.9), Baron Davis (5.5), Jameer Nelson (4.6), Andre Miller (4.6), and Jamaal Tinsley (4.5). And Chris Paul (4.1) is right there.

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Dirk Watch
Dirk could only watch -- literally -- as the
Bucks closed out the Mavs last Saturday.

Yesterday, I criticized how the Dallas Mavericks handled crunch time in their Saturday night loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. To recap: The Mavs couldn't create shots for Dirk Nowitzki -- the league's reigning MVP -- and their sixth man, Jason Terry, took five of the team's last six shots, mostly off one-on-one plays.

It's not that I think the Mavericks are a selfish team; they're coached to spread the floor and hit the open man, and that's exactly what they do. But it's also true that for the last couple seasons -- basically since Steve Nash left* -- they've ranked near the bottom of the league in assists per game (APG). To whit:

In 2005-06, only one team ranked below Dallas (60-22) in APG: New York (23-59).

Last season, only six teams ranked below Dallas (67-15) in APG: Atlanta (30-52), Boston (24-58), New Orleans (39-43), New York (33-49), Orlando (40-42), and Portland (32-50).

Things have improved somewhat this season**; there are 11 teams below Dallas (9-5): Atlanta (5-7), Charlotte (6-7), Chicago (2-10), Cleveland (8-6), Los Angeles (6-7), Miami (3-10), Minnesota (2-10), New York (4-9), Philadelphia (3-9), Sacramento (4-9), and Washington (6-7).

Notice the trend? I know this snapshot isn't as thorough an analysis as, say, PER or a +/- score. But if you go back and look at league standings on a season-by-season basis, you'll notice that the best teams are (typically) among the league leaders in APG, while the not-so-best teams are (usually) among the league losers.

When a team has a high APG number, that often means that its players get a significant number of open and/or high percentage shots. When a team ranks near the bottom of the league in APG, it tends to mean either one of two things (or perhaps even both): They aren't moving the ball and/or they aren't hitting their shots.

Unlike most of the other teams listed above, we know the Mavs hit shots. They hit lots of shots. They're currently 11th in the league in scoring (102.5) and 8th in field goal percentage (46.2); last season they were 9th in scoring (100.0) and 5th in field goal percentage (46.7). Here's the problem: They have a lot of players who score through freelancing, isolations, and one-on-one play. Dirk loves to catch the ball at the foul line, take a couple dribbles, then spin and shoot. Howard and Terry love to dribble penetrate and either take it to the hoop or pull up for jumpers. Devin Harris, by Avery Johnson's admission, has become a "one-man fastbreak" this season.

I've been saying this for the last couple years, but it's like I'm screaming into silence: The best teams tend to be the teams with the best ball movement. The Spurs, for instance, always seem to rank around the top 10 (they're currently ranked 7th). And while the Mavs are in no way selfish, they simply aren't a great ball movement team. Statistically, they aren't even a "good" ball movement team; they rank among the league's bottom dwellers despite the fact that they're one of the league's elite (and highest scoring) teams.

The Mavs are fortunate that they have players such as Nowitzki, Terry, Harris, Josh Howard, and Jerry Stackhouse, guys who can break defenders down and get their own shot virtually any time they want. But what this means is that, throughout the game, those players have to work harder (and therefore expend more energy) to score than the players on teams that move the ball around for a higher number of open shots. This makes the Mavericks uniquely susceptible to breakdowns in the 4th quarter of close games and (especially) the playoffs. That's because increased defensive pressure tends to kill the teams that rely too heavily on one-on-one play unless they have a dominant low post presence (like a Tim Duncan, or Shaq in his prime), a pure scorer who can put up points against anyone in any circumstance (like a Kobe Bryant), or a superstar who can penetrate and draw fouls in the clutch (like Dwyane Wade now, or Michael Jordan back in the day). The Mavs don't have any of those things, which, in a sense, makes them a (much) better version of the Chicago Bulls.

I read in the Dallas Morning News that Avery Johnson has actually admitted that the Mavs' ball movement (or lack thereof) has been a problem in the past and he's trying to fix it. I would guess that's why Dirk's shot volume has dropped (from 17.2 per game to 15.6) and his assist numbers have gone up (from 3.4 per game to 4.1). It's also why Jason Terry got sent to the bench in favor of Devon Harris. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Mavs actually had a solid assist total against the Bucks (26), but their fourth quarter rally featured a lot of mad dribbling and one-on-one play (particularly by Terry, who, for all his talent, isn't Kobe Bryant).

When I brought this up last season (on a Mavericks message board), I was accused of nitpicking. I was told, rather strongly, that the Mavericks are such a great team their one minor weakness could easily be overlooked. And maybe it can. But in my opinion, the ball movement thing continues to be the team's Achilles' heel***, and unless Avery Johnson can coach the problem away, or Dirk transforms into a clutch scorer/foul-drawer, you can probably expect more end-of-game failures and playoff collapses from the Mavs.

*The 2003-04 season was Nash's last with the Mavericks. That year, Dallas ranked 3rd in the league in APG (despite the prescence of ballhogs like Antoine Walker and Antawn Jamison). Phoenix, with Stephon Marbury running the point, ranked 25th. In 2004-05, Nash signed with the Suns and Phoenix promptly rose to third in the league in APG. The Mavs, on the other hand, fell to 26th. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

**I realize that it's only been a month, so this is a smaller statistical sample.

***I'm sure somebody's going to read this post and say, "Well the, why doesn't the team with the best APG win the most games and the championship every year? Well, just because a team has good ball movement and an efficient offense doesn't mean they themselves don't have their own Achilles' heel. For the Suns, for instance, it's been their lack of interior defense and low post scoring. Every team has strengths and weaknesses. The Mavs have plenty of strengths. And they also have, I think, one or two glaring weaknesses.

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To be a Bobcat is to be unhappy.

Chicago Bulls: The good news: The Bulls ended an eight-game losing streak this weekend. The bad news: It was the Knicks' losing streak, not theirs. What a travesty. According to the box score, the only Bulls player with a positive +/- score was Chris Duhon (+4). Ben Gordan and Joe Smith tied for a team-worst +/- score of –12. On the other side, Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with a +/- score of +10. I don't necessarily understand these stats, but I'm pretty sure they mean the Bulls suck. Anyway, the Bulls followed up that sucktastic performance with a 93-78 loss to the Raptors in which they scored a season-low 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Bulls quote of the weekend comes from Ben Wallace, the team's high-paid but under-performing center: "We've just got to find a way out [of losing]. We better or I'm going to lose my daggone mind."

Fun fact: The Knicks average a league-worst 2.8 BPG. "Big man" Zach Randolph has 1 block on the season. Shooting guard Jamal Crawford (6'5") has 6.

Dallas Mavericks: Like the Bulls, the Mavs went 0-for-the-weekend, thanks to stinktacular losses to the Pacers and Bucks. Against the Pacers, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Terry combined to shoot 15-40. That trio shot better against the Bucks, but the team continued its disturbing trend of going down by double-digits and then trying to rally back at the end of the game. It didn't happen, though; they lost 97-95. But here’s what’s interesting: Take a look at results of the six offensive possessions the Mavs had in the final minute of the game.

Terry: Missed jump shot.
Terry: Made three-pointer.
Terry: Made jump shot.
Terry: Missed three-pointer.
Nowitzki: Missed three-pointer.
Terry: Made three-pointer.

So the reigning league MVP gets one shot in crunch time, but the team's sixth man gets five? Seriously? That either says something about Avery Johnson as a coach or Dirk Nowitzki as a player, and neither is a good thing.

Los Angeles Lakers: The 7-3 Lakers sure looked a lot better than the 7-6 Lakers. Just when it looked L.A. might have established a team identity, they lose three in a row and go 0-for-the-weekend against the Celtics and Nets. The near future doesn't get any brighter for the Lakers; they get a gimme game against the Sonics, but then they have to face the Nuggets, Jazz, and Magic. In other words, the Lakers' record will probably fall below .500 by next week.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Let's see: 0-for-the-weekend, 1-10 for the season, and Antoine "Fatty" Walker -- 24 points (9-17), 5 rebounds, 3 assists -- was their top performer against the Nuggets. It's a good thing that Kevin McHale looks like Frankenstein's monster. That way, it won't look that strange when the people of Minneapolis run him out of town with pitchforks and torches.

Fun fact: The Kings, Knicks, Timberwolves, and Trailblazers are a combined 0-24 on the road.

Washington Wizards: I knew Gilbert Arenas the Wizards' best and most important player, but I didn’t know he was their lynchpin on defense. The Wiz gave up 123 and 124 points in back-to-back losses to the Warriors and Grizzlies. The Warriors shot 51 percent and the Grizzlies shot 52 percent. The Wizards were never good on defense, but they weren't that bad were they? From this point forward, I shall refer to them as the Washington Wizars: No "d."

Fun fact: Against the Grizzlies, Antawn Jamison scored 41 points (18-22). But he had zero assists. On the weekend, he took 41 shots and dished one lonely assist.

Jason Richardson: The Bobcats came within 4.7 seconds of beating the Celtics on Saturday, but Richardson couldn't do something as simple as inbounding the ball. Eddie House knocked away Richardson's errant pass and Ray Allen -- who had missed 11 of his last 14 shots -- hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to add another chapter to the Bobcats' misery. After the game, Richardson had this to say: "We handed them the game. Stupid turnover on my behalf. I lost this game for my teammates." Pretty much, yeah.

Mike Dunleavy: In the Clippers' Friday night game against the Suns, Sam Cassell single-handedly kept his team in the game by scoring 26 points (9-16) through three quarters. Then Dunleavy took Cassell out and never put him back in. As a sidenote, the Suns won going away, 113-94. Said Dunleavy: "[Cassell] played great, but when they jumped out on us, we play tomorrow night in back-to-back games, I just felt like I didn't want to take any more of his legs." So you "saved" Cassell's legs for a 10-point (3-10), 5 turnover performance in a 98-89 loss to the Hornets? Good call, coach.

Fun fact: The Golden State Warriors are 4-3 on the road...and 1-4 at home. Hey, weren't they supposed to have that wicked-awesome homecourt advantage? In other news, the Hornets are 7-2 on the road but only 3-3 at home, the Nets are 4-2 on the road but only 3-5 at home, and the Raptors are 4-3 on the road but only 3-4 at home. What is this, roadcourt advantage?

Pat Riley: Riles got his coaching ass politely handed to him by Stan Van Gundy, the man he stabbed in the back, as the Magic blasted the Heat 120-99. The season standings? Orlando is 12-3, the Heat are 3-10.

Marcus Banks: Remember a couple years ago when the Suns signed Marcus Banks to a five-year, $21 million contract? Man, they were excited about that. David Griffin, the Suns' vice president of basketball operations, said, "Every facet of his game is improved, and at 24 years of age, we feel like he's just starting to scratch the surface of what he can do in terms of his talent level, and his fit with our system is just spectacular." Uh huh. Banks is playing 11 MPG and averaging just over 4 PPG. His stat line for the weekend: 4 minutes, 2 personal fouls.

Kevin Durant: Friday night, he scored 12 points on 4-12 shooting. Sunday night, he had what might have been his best game of the season -- 25 points (11-17), 6 rebounds, and 4 assists -- but the Sonics still got blown out by the Spurs. Sometimes you can't win for losing, or can't lose for winning. Or whatever.

Fun fact: Seattle is 2-6 on the road. And 0-6 at home.

Kobe Bryant: While some people will look at his final line (31 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists) and insist that he had a good game against the Nets, he really didn't. He started out 3-16 from before finishing 7-21, didn't score a basket in the second and third quarters, and missed a clutch freethrow with six seconds left in the game. In the end, the Lakers coughed up a 102-100 home loss to the Nets. But it wasn't all Kobe's fault. You can also blame...

Vladimir Radmanovic: How bad was Vlad the Impaler against the Nets? Try 0-10 from the field, including 0-7 from beyond the arc. He also missed one of his two freethrows and committed three turnovers.

Fun fact: Jason Kidd is averaging 8.5 RPG. That’s more than Lebron James (8.1), Chris Bosh (8.0), LaMarcus Aldridge (7.9), Ben Wallace (7.6), Brad Miller (7.6), and Shaq (7.5).

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I'm still recovering from the effects of Turkey Coma, so here's my lazy post of the day: A clip of the Golden State Warriors' mascot, Thunder, wiping out a cheerleader. It's all kinds of awesome.

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" my tonsils look okay to you?"

Bobby Simmons: Back in August of 2005, fresh off a breakout season in which he was honored as the NBA's Most Improved Player, Simmons signed a five-year, $47 million dollar contract with Milwaukee, and everybody in the Bucks organization was flipping their lids. General Manager Larry Harris said, "Bobby is an extremely versatile player and adds depth to our roster at a number of positions. He can score from anywhere on the court, he's a very tough defender and he wants to win. He had a great year last season and we're excited to add him to our team." Then-coach Terry Stotts said, "We're pleased to add a player of Bobby's quality and character to our team. I’m very impressed with how he has continued to improve so far throughout his career. It speaks to his dedication to the game." Little did the Bucks know, Simmons' improvement as a professional basketball player had ended before the ink on his new contract had even dried. Two years later, Simmons is still the Bucks second-highest paid player, but by the numbers -- 6.7 PPG (on 42 percent shooting), 2.3 RPG, and 0.9 APG in about 19 minutes per game -- he's only their seventh best player. So even though the Bucks scored their first road win of the season last night, a 111-107 victory over the Cavaliers, Simmons was barely part of it: 2 points (1-6), 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 21 minutes of action.

Fun fact: Lebron James was 1-7 from three-point range last night.

Jermaine O'Neal: Remember how last summer Larry Bird tried to demand both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum from the Lakers in exchange for O'Neal? The Lakers said, "Uh, thanks, but no thanks," and that's one decision that Jim Buss won't be taking heat for anytime soon. O'Neal hasn't been playing like an All-Star this season -- 13.2 PPG (on 38 percent shooting), 7.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG -- and last night was no exception. In what was supposed to be his audition for a potential trade to the Lakers, O'Neal shot 4-13, grabbed 3 rebounds, and blocked zero shots while the Lakers were obliterating the Pacers 134-114. Bynum, on the other hand, scored 17 points on 6-6 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots. Odom chipped in 10 points (2-4), 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Fun fact: In the 1978 NBA Draft, the Pacers selected Rick Robey with the third overall pick -- despite the fact that he was the best college player in the country and an Indiana native -- because they weren't willing to wait a year for Larry Bird to graduate from college. So in a way, bad personnel decisions are like a Pacers' legacy.

Wizards / Sixers: How badly did Philly get beaten down last night? Well, they had to outscore the Wizards 33-18 in the fourth quarter just to get the final deficit down to 15. The only reason to watch this game last night would have been to see Gilbert Arenas being Gilbert Arenas. Unfortunately, Agent Zero didn't play. Oh well. At least Andray Blatche hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter, and the G-Man did some cool dunks.

Fun fact: The Sixers are 3-7 after 10 games. Last year, with Allen Iverson in the lineup, they were 4-6 after 10 games. So you can see how much they miss him.

Solomon Jones: There wasn't much to get excited about in the Spurs' 95-83 win over the Hawks, unless of course you have Tony Parker (31 points, 13-20, 2 rebounds, 9 assists) on your fantasy team. However, according to the box score, Jones notched what may be the season's first one trillion: In other words, he played one minute without without recording any other statistic (so his stat line is a one followed by a bunch of zeroes). Congratulations, Solomon!

Fun fact: Did you know that Dr. J once played for the Atlanta Hawks? Seriously.

New York Knicks: The Knicks lost their seventh game in a row, and they did it in pathetic fashion, losing 108-82 at home to the Golden State Warriors. The MSG boo birds were out in full force, railing against their awful team, and -- amazingly -- Isiah Thomas agreed with them: "When you're watching a game like we played tonight, the venom that comes out, you deserve it. The booing, 'Get rid of this guy, get rid of me, get rid of him,' that's how the fans react. It comes with the territory we have and the place that we live in. That's how it is, that's how it goes." That may well be the closest Isiah has ever come to accepting some blame for the mess he's made in New York. Anyway, the Knicks stunk last night. They shot 39 percent and committed 27 turnovers. Nate Robinson was 0-5. Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry combined for 2 assists, 10 turnovers, and no blocked shots. Oh, and guard Quentin Richardson outrebounded Eddy Curry 10-3.

Fun facts: The Knicks average 17.7 assists per game...and 17.5 turnovers per game.

Chicago Bulls: Okay, this is getting painful. It's not the slow start; we've seen that before: 0-9 to begin the 2004-05 season, 3-9 last year. It's the fact that the Bulls seems content to just roll over and die any time they're challenged. They might have started off slowly last season, but at least they showed flashes. Nobody's playing well right now (although Joakim Noah looked great last night). Offensively, they're the third worst team in the league, ahead of only the Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets. Defensively, they're smack dab in the middle of the pack -- sandwiched between the Washington Wizards and Milwuakee Bucks -- after having been the fifth best overall defensive team in the league last season. And the scary thing is, we haven't seen a single sign that things are going to get any better any time soon. Disturbing. Also, who's Thomas Gardner, and why'd he lead the Bulls with 16 shot attempts last night?

Fun fact: At this time last season, Kirk Hinrich was shooting 47 percent, Ben Gordon was shooting 43 percent, Luol Deng was shooting 55 percent, and Ben Wallace was averaging 10.2 RPG and 2.5 BPG. This season, the players' respective averages are 34 percent, 37 percent, 45 percent, and 7.2 RPG and 1.4 BPG.

Phoenix Suns: In the NBA, any road win is big, but the Suns won ugly last night. Their "defense" allowed a lousy Kings team to rally from an 17-point deficit and tie the game at 94-all with three minutes to go. Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire did their best to give the game away, missing two freethrows apiece in the final minute. But as a Suns fan, the most disturbing aspect of the game was the team's complete lack of ball movement. Sure, Steve Nash had his typical 12 assists, but Marion, Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, and Grant Hill combined for one lonely assist. To put that in perspective, Eric Piatkowski out-assisted all four of those guys with two. That's sad.

Fun fact: Ron Artest is very quietly having himself an All-Star-type season: 23.5 PPG -- on 55 percent shooting, including 58 percent from three-point range -- 6.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.3 SPG. And we haven't heard a peep out of him. Of course, he's only actually played four games so far, which means there's plenty of time left for him to start sucking and/or do something crazy.

Special Extra -- Hilarious Headlines: The always charming LooseChange brought this to my attention yesterday. Check out the last headline:

Sweet Stroke 2

That's right: Swift, Grizzlies ride sweet stroke to pound Sonics. I don't know who's responsible for writing headlines for, but anybody who can make a Grizzlies / Sonics game sound like hardcore porn is awesome. Note to self: Start watching Grizzlies games.

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Paul Watch
An injured Chris Paul watches in numb horror
as Jannero Pargo takes 21 shots in his place.

Portland Trailblazers: After two impressive homecourt wins against Dallas and Detroit, I wrote "I'm really excited about this Portland team." I must have stat cursed them or something, because the Blazers immediately lost their next four games by an average of 12 PPG, including last night's 101-92 loss to the Bobcats. Would Greg Oden have helped against the 'Cats? Well, let's put it this way: The Blazers got outrebounded 39-34 and their two big men -- LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla -- combined for two rebounds and one blocked shot. Portland is now 0-7 on the road. Fortunately, they're about to start a four-game homestand that includes contests against the Nets, Kings, and Pacers.

Fun fact: The Knicks, Bucks, Hawks, Blazers, and Kings are a combined 0-25 on the road. If you're an NBA player and one of these teams comes to your town, you should be happy.

Kevin Durant: I know it seems like I'm giving this kid a hard time, but honestly, he's not playing very well. Last night he scored 11 points (on 2-8 shooting) to go along with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 turnovers. Through 12 games, Durant's averages are 19.0 PPG (37% FG, 28% 3PT), 4.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, and five games in which he scored 20 or more points. I couldn't help but compare those stats to Adam Morrison's numbers through 12 games last season: 16.2 PPG (39% FG, 38% 3PT), 3.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, and four games in which he scored 20 or more points. Durant's team, by the way, is 2-10 and Morrison's team was 3-9. My point? There's not a very wide statistical gulf between how the two of these guys performed during their first month in the NBA, yet the perception is totally different. By this point last season, Morrison was already being viciously criticized for his misguided shooting and inadequate rebounding. Yet Durant isn't taking nearly the heat Morrison did, probably because his scoring average is closer to the all-important 20-point gold standard and, frankly, the things he does look spectacular, even when he's doing them poorly. I dunno, just feels a little double standardy to me.

Fun fact: Eddy Curry has 5 assists and 19 turnovers this season.

New Orleans Hornets: As recently as yesterday, the Hornets had the best record in the Western Conference. Yes, you read that correctly. But after a 95-88 loss to the Magic, they dropped to fifth. Actually, the Hornets probably would have won this game if not for injuries: Chris Paul, their leading scorer and assist man, didn't play due to a sprained right ankle, and Tyson Chandler, their leading rebounder, left the game early due to a hyperextended knee. So if you think about it, the Hornets probably did well to keep the game as close as it was. Then why am I criticizing them? I guess because Jannero Pargo, who filled in for Paul, led the team with 21 shot attempts. That just seems wrong to me for some reason. I mean, if you're coaching the Hornets, do you ever want Jannero Pargo taking 21 shots?

Fun fact: Tyson Chandler's middle name is "Cleotis."

New Jersey Nets: Jason Kidd wasn't happy going into this game, and you can be pretty sure he was even less happy afterward: He shot 1-9, committed 6 turnovers, and his team shot 35 percent en route to being routed by the Jazz, 102-75. The Nets are now 4-7, although, to be fair, they're playing without Vince Carter, who's "out indefinitely" with a sprained right ankle. Oh, who am I kidding? Vince Carter stopped caring about 1 second after he signed his contract extension. Actually, I doubt it even took that long. What's the smallest unit of time? An attosecond (one billionth of one billionth of a second) maybe? Or is it Planck time? Whatever, it doesn't matter. Kidd is pissed, Carter is apathetic, and the Nets' season will be ultimately meaningless.

Fun fact: Jason Kidd currently ranks 37th in field goal percentage (34.2 percent) among NBA point guards.


Detroit Pistons: The Pistons went 0-for-the-weekend after losing back-to-back games against the Lakers and Kings. That means Detroit has lost three of their last four games. Why? Simple: They've lost their defensive focus. After holding their first five opponents to 87.8 PPG, the Pistons have given up scores of 103, 102, 104, 103, and 105 to their last five opponents -- and that's including games against Seattle (99.4 PPG), Portland (93.7 PPG), and Sacramento (99.4). I'm not a mathematologist, but even I know that a team averaging just under 100 PPG can't give up more than that and win on a consistent basis.

New York Knicks: Speaking of teams that went o-for-the-weekend and can't play defense, the Knicks gave up 238 points in back-to-back losses to the Kings and Nuggets. The Knicks defense was so bad that even Allen Iverson shot better than 50 percent against them (7-13). New York now has a nice six-game losing streak going -- tops in the NBA!

Portland Trailblazers: After two exciting, hope-lifting wins against Dallas and Detroit, the Blazers have lost three in a row, including both weekend games against the 76ers (3-6) and Wizards (4-5). They're a young team, and all three losses were on the road, but that doesn't change the fact that they just didn't play well and are currently 0-6 away from home this season.

Utah Jazz: Yet another 0-for-the-weekend team. And while I can sort of understand Friday Night's 99-94 loss to the Cavaliers -- Lebron James blitzkrieged the Jazz with a 40/10/9 performance -- Saturday night's 117-97 loss to the Pacers was totally unforgivable. Utah played the role of Jesus to the Pacers' Lazarus, resurrecting both Mike Dunleavy Jr. (25 points), Jamaal Tinsley (13 assists), and a team that had lost six straight games. Oh, and the Jazz let the Pacers shoot 58 percent. Man, the Pacers couldn't shoot 58 percent in an empty gym full of Nerf hoops.

Houston Rockets: They also went 0-for-the-weekend and are stuck in a four-game losing streak. Mind you, Tracy McGrady has missed the last two-and-a-half games with his annual semi-serious injury, and the Rockets lost three of the four to hot teams (Lakers, Spurs, and Suns). But still, the Rockets have been losing and looking bad while doing so. The only bright spot has been the play of their 40-year-old rookie, Luis Scola. Speaking of which...

Doubters: Some people have been wondering whether Luis Scola is going to be an NBA bust. Scola responded to this criticism (of which I'm sure he was completely unaware) with two very good games: 20 points (10-11), and 4 rebounds against the Spurs, and 20 points (10-19), 11 rebounds, and 4 assists against the Suns. He also was Houston's best player in both games. Not bad.

Rashard Lewis: I know I'm always ragging on Rashard for his poor rebounding skills, but seriously, he deserves it. He's an athletic, 6'10" forward and he got outrebounded 24-7 by opposing point guards this weekend. That's just sad.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Clips teased us all by starting the season 5-2 and then lost consecutive games to the Warriors (2-6) and Bulls (2-7). Yep: They are who we thought they were.

Kevin Durant: The kid shot 3-12 in the Soncis' 100-84 loss to the Bobcats. But I'm used to his sour shooting by now. What really concerned me was the fact that he had only one rebound. Maybe it's only a coincidence, but Seattle got pounded on the boards, 60-38. I know Durant is thin, but he's tall and athletic enough to grab more than one rebound in 30 minutes of action. I mean, according to the box score Jermareo Davidson played exactly zero minutes and even he had one rebound. Rebounding is all about effort, Kevin. Let's see some.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Just how bad are the Wolves? Antoine Walker -- 14 points (5-9), 5 rebounds, 2 assists -- was listed as their top performer in Friday night's 105-89 loss to the Wizards. If Antoine Walker is ever your top performer, you are a bad, bad, bad team.

Luol Deng: The Bulls crappy offense got even crappier in the second half of their 106-78 loss to the Lakers, and I found myself thinking, "Boy, they could sure use Luol Deng right about now." Unfortunately, Deng sat out with what he's desribing as a "bruised ligament" in his back. A whatted what? You can bruise a ligament? I'm not a doctor, but it sounds to me like he has a case of Big Vaginaitis. You know, Larry Bird used to suffer back pain so bad that he couldn't feel his legs or even wiggle his toes. Sometimes he'd have to go to the hospital and be put in traction between games. Do you think that Bird would have abandoned his team, especially if it had been struggling as bad as the Bulls have been, with a "bruised ligament"? Yeah, me either. But the Bulls wouldn't trade Deng for Kobe. I'm just sayin'.

Boston Celtics: The C's lost more games this weekend than they had lost all season. Okay, it was only one game, but still. Anyway, their 104-102 loss to the Magic raises an interesting question: How does a team shoot 53 percent and outrebound their opponent 41-28 and still lose? Hmm, I would guess that Orlando's 44 freethrow attempts (to Boston's 26) had a little something to do with that. Mmmmm...smells like a little home cookin' to me. Of course, the Celtics kind of shot themselves in the foot a little bit too, committing 19 turnovers and falling into a 20-point hole in the first half. And Pierce's last-second shot, an off-balance jumper from 26 feet, was that really the best shot the Celtics could have gotten?

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I'm posting this video thanks to a hot tip from loyal reader Eduardo. It shows Darko Milicic rubbing his nipples with what can best be described as a "sinister look" plastered across his leering face. Creepy.

Eduardo probably put it best when he said, "The expression on his face is priceless. Is the vaguely sexual act being directed to Turkoglou or Dick Bavetta? Does he do this in the locker room showers, with the same serial-killer stare, creeping the shit out of everyone? Was he simply readjusting nipple rings? We may never know."

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The Phil Jackson situation has taught us -- again -- that gay jokes aren't funny unless told by Ellen DeGeneres and emphasized by a personal anecdote from her life (which, of course, means that even when gay is funny, it's really not). So what does the following video clip teach us? Nothing more than the term "dribble penetration" can lead to an awkward but hilarious Freudian slip. On live television.

I'm not the least bit surprised this faux pas happened during a Clippers game. I would, however, like to have a peak at FSN reporter Christine Nubla's porn collection. Sounds like she's into some freaky shit.

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"Got your nose!!

Larry Hughes: The Cavs dropped a 117-116 overtime decision to the Magic, despite a virtuoso 39/14/15 performance from Lebron James. Cleveland might have pulled this one out if Hughes hadn't shot a pathetic 2-12 from the field. This guy is making $12 million this season. Shouldn't he be able to make a jumpshot too?

Andrea Bargnani: The Raptors' former number one overall draft pick scored 2 points on 1-11 shooting, as Utah edged Toronto 92-88. What's amazing is that Bargnani managed to suck that badly in only 15 minutes of action. When you average almost one missed shot per minute, well, that's not good. The kid was so far off last night that he probably missed the bench after Sam Mitchell yanked him out of the game. Meanwhile, Andre Kirilenko hit only one of six shots, but he had a team-high 11 assists. The Russian Rifle is now averaging 11 PPG, 7 RPG, 7 APG, 2.5 BPG, and almost 2 SPG. Looks like Sloan's compliments are working.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers suffered their fifth straight loss after getting blown out by an equally awful Wizards team. You know what's wrong with the Pacers? Jermaine O'Neal. I'm completely serious. The Pacers started out the season on fire. Everybody was involved in the offense, cutting without the ball, passing, getting high percentage shots. It's no coincidence that O'Neal missed the first game and played a reduced role in the next couple. Now that he's back to getting big minutes and lots of shots, the team's offensive production has dropped. You know why? Because when the ball goes to him in the low post, it doesn't come back out, and then you have four other guys just standing around and watching him. I guess that would be okay if he hit a high percentage of his shots, but he's shooting 38 percent from the field! So sure, he may end up with All-Star, or close to All-Star numbers, but he's killing the rest of the team.

Emeka Okafor: Mr. Chukwuemeka Noubuisi Okafor showed the world last night why he turned down the Bobcats' generous $55 million contract extension offer, scoring 6 points (3-9) and grabbing 8 rebounds. It seems that Okafor wants Dwight Howard money (five years, $85 million) despite the fact that he doesn't put up Dwight Howard numbers or put in Dwight Howard time; Okafor's only played 93 (out of a possible 164) games the last two seasons.

Vince Carter: Hmm, guess who was missing from the Celtics/Nets game last night? That's right, it was Vince "I just signed a huge contract extension so I'm going to stop caring" Carter. Yes, I know he was technically out with a sprained ankle, but he wasn't exactly lighting it up in the six games he did play: 17 PPG (on 39 percent shooting), 5 RPG, 4 APG. That's a pretty steep dropoff from last year's 25/6/5 (and 45 percent shooting). Can you say Contract Year Phenomenon? And is anyone the least bit surprised?

Miami Heat: Wow. Not even trash talk from Pat Riley and the return of Dwyane Wade could alter the Heat's trance-like play. Riley threatened to suit up and play after the previous night's defeat, and he went off again after the team's 104-95 loss to the Sonics: "Unless you feel like you have something at stake or something to lose as a player, then things won't change. If you don't feel like the Heat mean something to have to have a real meeting with yourself about what you care about. I don't see a team that really feels like they have anything at stake here. They come in, they play, they get beat, they go home, they go out into the night." Way to toss your team to the wolves there, Pat. I'm sure they'll want to give you their best effort next time. Meanwhile, Smuch Parker, the team's big offseason pickup, hit zero of his four shots and is shooting 28 percent for the season.

Hornets / Sixers: Exhibit B in the case of "The NBA season is too damn long and has too many meaningless games."

Tracy McGrady: Well, T-Mac has officially suffered his first semi-serious injury of the season (strained right elbow). We all knew it was going to happen, we just didn't know when. Without their closer, the Rockets lost 93-90 to the Lakers. I feel bad for McGrady, but at least I feel better about advising my friend not to trade Duncan for McGrady in his fantasy league.

Phil Jackson: You know, I assumed that, after last season's "Tim Hardaway hates gay people" controversy, somebody as intelligent as Phil Jackson would know better than to make a gay joke during a postgame press conference. Well, I was wrong. Jackson has subsequently apologized to "any horses, Texans, cowboys or guys" that he might have offended, and I'm sure he was positively dripping with sincerity when he said that.

New York Knicks: The team fell to 2-5 after an 84-81 loss to the Clippers. On the bright side, they probably would have lost by more if Stephon Marbury had actually shown up and played. Wait...what? He did play? And everything's just fine between he and Isiah now? Are you kidding me? I can't believe this circus is still going on, and on, and on...

Golden State Warriors: Last year's feel-good team is this year's feel-awful team: 0-6 and about to embark on a five-game Eastern Conference road trip. The only good news for the Warriors is that their road trip includes games against the Knicks, Wizards, and 76ers. Do you think this team misses Jason Richardson? And Stephen Jackson? And a Don Nelson that actually gives a crap? I other news, has this team even played defense yet this season? They're giving up 118 PPG on 51 percent shooting, 46 from three-point range. They're also giving up 30 FT attempts per game, and their opponents are averaging 28 assists. They're getting outscored by 11 PPG and getting outrebounded by 10 RPG. That's it, I'm taking the "D" out of their name and giving it back to the Nuggets. From now on, these guys are the Golen State Warriors.

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Wanted poster

Kevin Durant: Hey, have we mentioned this kid is long yet? Well, he is. Like, really long. Unfortunately, "impressive length" does not necessarily equate to "good shooting percentage." Or even "mediocre shooting percentage." Or hell, even "bad but improving shooting percentage." Durant had the worst game of his rookie season last night, scoring 10 points (4-13), grabbing a single, lonely rebound, dishing out zero assists, and committing 4 turnovers. Through eight games, he's shooting an Adam Morrison-like 38 percent from the field. That's your 2007-08 Rookie of the Year, folks! Rashard Lewis was obviously inspired by his matchup with the hotshot rookie who replaced him, scoring 22 points on 9-15 shooting -- including 4-8 from downtown -- and almost matching his season high by grabbing 6 rebounds.

Jamaal Tinsley: By the numbers, Tinsley had an above average game -- 14 points (5-12), 4 rebounds, and 8 assists. But late in the second quarter, with the game tied at 38, Tinsley jammed a stick into the hornets nest by committing a hard foul on Paul Pierce. The Truth then dropped 13 points on the Pacers in about three minutes, en route to a 31 point, 11 rebound, 6 assist performance. Needless to say, the Celtics won in another blowout, 101-86.

Doc Rivers: The Celtics average margin of victory this season is 16 points. They've only played in one game that wasn't a blowout. Yet Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen are all playing around 40 minutes a game. What?! The same thing happened in last night's blowout of the Pacers: Pierce played 41, Allen played 40, and Garnett played 39. This is not a good thing for the Celtics, and if it continues, it's going to haunt them in the playoffs. More on this to come.

The Miami Heat: Just when you think they've finally hit rock bottom, the Heat find new and inventive ways to suck. Last night, they got blown out by the Bobcats, 91-76 -- and Miami had to outscore Charlotte 29-20 in the fourth quarter just to get that close. Did these guys really win the 2006 NBA title? There were plenty of culprits: Penny Hardaway scored zero points in 19 minutes of action, Ricky Davis and Jason Williams combined to shoot 5-21, and Smush Parker was just there. Shaq, on the other hand, had one of his best games of the season: 17 points (7-14), 6 rebounds, zero assists. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Edit: How bad have things gotten for the Heat? Pat Riley not only thinks he could do better than most of his players, he's saying it out loud. To the press. "I guarantee you I should suit up," Riley said. "I'd play better than some of them right now. I guarantee it. I swear to God. With an old hip and 62 years old and I can't see, I'll play better than some of my guys tonight. Come on, they were pretty bad."

Rick Adelman: The Houston Rockets suffered a tough 105-99 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Yao Ming scored 22 points on 7-12 shooting. Mike James scored 10 points on 4-12 shooting. Yao is shooting 55 percent on the season. James is shooting 34 percent. So why in the name of Lincoln's Wart is Mike James getting as many shots as Yao Ming? Shame on you, Rick Adelman.

Tim Duncan: Earlier this week, I gave a friend what I thought was solid fantasy league advice: Do not trade Tim Duncan for Tracy McGrady. So of course McGrady immediately goes off for 41 points (16-28), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, and 2 steals on the same night Duncan was sucking his way to 5 points (2-13), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, and 3 blocks. Thanks for making me look like an idiot, Tim. On the bright side, the Spurs blew out the Lakers 107-92 despite Duncan's crappy night, and Kobe was held to 18 points on 9-19 shooting. I might have screwed over a friend, but the Lakers lost and looked bad doing it. So, you know, everything worked out for the best. Random Tony Parker Note: TP had a season-high 9 assists last night. He averaged 5.5 APG last season -- which was "good" for 13th in the league behind Earl Watson -- and he had only five games in which he dished out 10 or more assists. Look, maybe I'm just nitpicking here, because Tony's a two-time All-Star and last season's (gak) Finals MVP, but his mediocre playmaking skills just bug me.

Dallas / Philidelphia: It's games like this that serve as Exhibit A in the case of "The NBA season is too damn long and includes too many meaningless games."

Starbury / Isiah / Knicks: Stephon Marbury bailed on his team right before a big road game against the Suns, supposedly because Isiah Thomas was going to yank him from the starting lineup in favor of second-year gaurd Mardy Collins. Starbury blew up on the team plane and reportedly said, "Isiah has to start me. I've got so much (stuff) on Isiah and he knows it. He thinks he can (get) me. But I'll (get) him first. You have no idea what I know." Thomas of course shed absolutely no light on the subject by saying, "That is an in-house matter and we will continue to keep it in-house. Make no mistake about it - we do want him as a member of this basketball team. He is welcomed back." In the midst of all this dysfunction, the Knicks lost to the Suns 113-102 despite the fact that Steve Nash scored a season-low 5 points on 2-6 shooting. How does Isiah still have a job with the Knicks? No, seriously, how?

Detroit Pistons: Somebody forgot to show the Trailblazers that memo explaining that their season was over before it began because of the Greg Oden injury. Portland's offense took a huge, steaming dump all over Detroit's defense (if you could even call it that): The Blazers shot 55 percent as a team, thanks to scorching performances from LaMarcus Aldridge (9-16), Brandon Roy (9-16), Jarret Jack (7-10), and our boy Joel Przybilla (3-3). Look, kudos to the Blazers. They played great, and I am very excited about this team. But talented, veteran teams like the Pistons should never let an opposing team shoot 55 percent against them. That's the kind of loss of focus that got them booted out of the playoffs the last couple years.

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If you had just released a revolutionary new shoe product and were looking for a celebrity to endorse it, you'd probably choose a dominant sports figure who epitomizes the power and majesty of raw athletic ability. That's what Nike did, and we all know how that turned out.

In 1989, Reebok unveiled The Reebok Pump, but they used a somewhat different marketing approach. Instead of signing one of world's premier athletic talents (ala Michael Jordan), Reebok chose a broken-down, retired basketball player that nobody really liked anymore. They chose Bill Walton.

Walton was an especially ironic selection, since by the time this commerical aired his feet were composed entirely of chicken wire and tissue paper. Big Bill even drew attention to that fact by saying, "Pump, where were you when I needed you?!" Walton followed up that mournful rebuke with "If I could play today, I'd pump up for support, protection, and a custom fit." It's as if Bill wants us to believe that some air and a little extra rubber would have prevented his brittle feet from breaking into thousands of tiny pieces.

Sadly, this Utopian world in which foot injuries were completely eradicated by the Reebok Pump never came to be. Maybe that's because the Pump was so damn expensive: $180 on its initial release. And that was in 1989 dollars. In today's marketplace, that would be, like, a $10,000 shoe. Believe me, nobody's going to buy a $10,000 shoe endorsed by an injury-prone has-been. After all, how many pairs of Shaq's Dunkman game shoes do you own? Yeah, that's what I thought.

So if you're ever wondering why Reebok failed to overtake Nike in the Great Shoe Wars of the 1990s, it's because they tried to sell what was, at the time, the most expensive athletic shoe ever based on the recommendation of a man who could barely walk. It also didn't help that their tagline -- Pump Up and Air Out -- sounded like the flatulent result of a late-night Taco Bell run.

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Ben sleeping
We were right there with you, Ben.

I had the misfortune of being offered some extra tickets to the Bulls-Raptors game Saturday night in Chicago. Seeing as I, Evil Ted, haven't paid to go to a professional sporting event since 1987, I jumped at the chance to see some professional basketball - the operative word being "some."

Notes on a game:

My neighbor, who invited me to the game, took me and my 9-year-old son is his newly acquired Toyota Prius, the most available and prevalent hybrid car on the market. The verdict: cool, quiet, confortable. You press a button to turn it on, and there's a monitor in the dash that constantly shows you battery usage, gasoline usage, and MPG. Also, in one corner of the screen there's a Hummer being mashed repeatedly in a compactor, and in the other corner is an Oil Sheik giving you the finger.

The Bulls win the tip, constituting their one highlight of the evening.

Kirk Hinrich and Ben Wallace are called for a non-existant foul and non-existant moving pick, respectively. The officials have now set a tone that "non-existant fouls will not be tolerated." Each non-foul is shown in slow-motion on the big screen, showing just how bad the calls are, and adding credence to the notion that the officials have all placed bets on Toronto. A fan behind me grumbles "pay off," and I'm disgusted enough to want to start a "pay off" chant, but the presence of my impressionable 9-year-old prevents it. Furthermore, taunting a group of refs that includes 106-year-old Dick Bavetta feels cruel.

End of first quarter: Raptors 17, Bulls 13. Yawn.

As the second quarter proceeds, the difference between the Bulls' defense and the Raptors' D is palpable. The Raptors are faster and hungrier and, in their red and black uniforms, look like the Tampa Bay Bucs defense that won the Super Bowl.

Halftime: Raptors 41, Bulls 30. Yawn again. Bulls on pace for 60. That's friggin' spectacular, if this were a football game.

Allow me to synopsize the second half: gracious, hopeful applause as the Bulls send out Joakim Noah. He proceeds to show why he's a great player - on the college level. Here I shall mention Thabo Sefolosha, but only because I like writing and saying "Thabo" and "Sefolosha."

The only guy in a red and white outfit who looks inspired (other than the Fatables, or Matadors, or whatever they call those belly-shaking male cheerleader dudes) is Andres Nocioni, who scores 20. Out of the rest of the team comes nothing but the flattest, most amateurish looking jumpers ever. I have never seen so many shots falling short, and/or looking like they never had a chance to go in at all. Call it good defense, but eventually the D slacked off, and the open jumpers looked just as bad.

Middle of the third: the Raptors pull ahead by between 20 and 30 points, and the crowd begins a "Kobe" chant. In the face of this horrible game, I am now suddenly willing to endure spectactular - albeit selfish - play. Again not wanting to negatively influence my 9-year-old, I am one with the crowd's opinion, but silently.

End of the third: The score is irrelevant, but the Raptors score 36 to the Bulls 13. You do the math.

Final: Raptors 101, Bulls 71, but it wasn't even that close, as the Bulls scored 28 in a fourth quarter during which the Raptors not only weren't playing defense, but also suited up a 13-year-old female Raptors fan as a part of a quirky Canadian "Get to play in a blowout" promotion. She plays 5 minutes, scores 12 points, gets 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocked shots.

The United Center is half full at the end of the game. It appears 50 percent of the fans actually detest their team's performance enough to stay and boo them off the court.

Ben Wallace appears incredibly torn up over the loss, grabbing a microphone and yelling to the fans that the Bulls will never play with such a lack of heart again.

The previous statement: completely false. Wallace emotionlessly steps into chauffeur-driven limo and heads home, his biggest concern being whether he will pop the Ben Stiller comedy "Night at the Museum" or the Kevin Costner drama "Mr. Brooks" into the limousine's DVD player.

The biggest concern in the Prius ride home is how far we can coast on battery power and get 100 miles to the gallon, even if for only a few seconds. The Bulls are not discussed.

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revenge game
"I will break you."

revenge game (ri-venj' gam) noun. A game in which a particular player or team has the opportunity to seek retribution for an injustice -- whether real or imagined -- that was committed against them by another player or team.

Usage example: The Dallas Mavericks won their revenge game against the Golden State Warriors last night.

Word trivia: The NBA season lasts a long time, and most players have a hard time maintaining their competitive fire over the course of the 82-game grind. That's why revenge games are so important: They can get a player's juices flowing like nothing else. The player's sought-after revenge can be in response to any number of things. Maybe the other team won the last regular season meeting or knocked his team out of the playoffs the previous year. Maybe that team traded the player or tried to lowball him in salary negotiations, which prompted him to sign with another team. Or maybe an opposing player or coach just badmouthed him to the press. Here are some of the most commen revenge game themes:

1. The "See what you lost" game: Whenever someone leaves a team -- whether by trade or through free agency -- that player can't wait to get a shot at his former team. Putting up big numbers and/or coming away with a win serves as proof that the team was wrong, even foolish, to let him go. When the Lakers traded Shaq to the Heat, Shaq had two straight "See what you lost" seasons, the second of which culminated in a championship, and the Lakers are still trying to recover. 'Nuff said.

2. The "See what you left behind" game: Every team wants to believe they were right to trade a player or let him walk. So they want to shut that guy down and/or beat his team to prove that point. When Horace Grant left the Bulls in '94, he really wanted to stick it to his former team. Sure enough, Grant's Orlando Magic won the regular season series against the Bulls 3-1 and then defeated Chicago in the Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-2. Of course, the Bulls swept the Magic out of the playoffs the next season, then Shaq bolted for L.A., and Grant and Penny Hardaway were beset by injuries...but for that one season, Grant got a little payback.

3. The "Playoff payback" game: No team wants to be eliminated from the playoffs, so it becomes very important to come back the next season and beat the team that knocked you out as often as possible. And if by some miracle of fate you get matched up against them in the playoffs the next year, well, turning the tables on them would be Nirvana.

4. The "I hate you, you hate me, let's do this" game: Some players and/or teams just hate each other, and that hatred bubbles over whenever they meet. The Celtics and 76ers despised each other in the early to mid-80s, and that hatred led to fights between Larry Bird and Marc Iavaroni and later Bird and Dr. J. The 80s Celtics and Lakers didn't get along very well either; just ask Kurt Rambis, who got clotheslined by Kevin McHale, or Michael Cooper, who got hipchecked into the crowd by Bird, or Cedric Maxwell, who got slammed into a basket support by James Worthy, etc. Ditto with the 80s Celtics and Pistons: Bill Laimbeer clotheslined Bird to the ground, Bird threw a ball at Laimbeer's face, and Robert Parish once beat Laimbeer to the ground. Man, when you look back on the things that happened, the 80s Celtics sure look like a bunch of dicks.

Sadly, David Stern has managed to neuter most of today's players -- leading to ridiculous occurences such as players getting suspended for standing up off their bench -- so we aren't treated to wonderful canned hatred of yesteryear. But as long as we have the Ron Artests and Stephen Jacksons of the world, there's a good chance you'll get to see the random scuffle break out every now and then.

5. The "Don't tug on Superman's cape" game: Never embarrass a superstar. They don't like that. On March 20, 1993, the Washington Bullets' LaBradford Smith scored 37 points against a strangely defenseless Michael Jordan. Jordan was furious (even though the Bulls won) and vows to score 37 in the first half the next time he's matched up against Smith (which, as fate would have it, was the very next night). Jordan came close: He scored 36 in the first half -- and 47 in the game -- as the Bulls blew out the Bullets.

That's a great story, but I like this one better. It's from Jack McCallum's book Unfinished Business. Prior to a February 15, 1991 game against the Boston Celtics, the Lakers' Vlade Divac called L.A.'s previous game against Boston an "exhibition" and further suggested that the Celtics couldn't compete with the Lakers. When informed of Divac's less-than-favorable opinions, Robert Parish simply said, "Well, fuck Vlade Divac." Then, as McCallum put it, the Chief went out and did just that, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and sending Divac straight to the bench. Parish finished with 29 points (13-16), 10 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots in a 98-85 Celtics win.

6. The "You dirty rotten bastard" game: Every once in a while, a player or team screws another player or team over so badly that they can never, ever be forgiven. Like when Vince Carter was sandbagging so the Raptors would trade him, then transformed back into an All-Star literally overnight after he became a Net. The Heat/Lakers games had the "You dirty rotten bastard" vibe after we all found out that Kobe Bryant told police that Shaq paid off his mistresses. Sadly, Shaq and Kobe buried the hatchet last season and are all buddy-buddy again.

Classic revenge games: There are too many revenge games to list them individually. But here are some classic revenge matchups (otherwise known as rivalries) that have driven the NBA over the years: Celtics vs. 76ers (60s, 80s), Celtics vs. Lakers (60s, 80s), Celtics vs. Bucks (70s, 80s), Celtics vs. Pistons (80s), Lakers vs. Knicks (70s), Lakers vs. Pistons (80s), Lakers vs. Kings (00s), Bulls vs. Pistons (80s, 90s), Bulls vs. Knicks (90s), Bulls vs. Pacers (90s), Pacers vs. Knicks (90s), Knicks vs. Heat (90s), Heat vs. Lakers (00s), Suns vs. Lakers (00s).

Other revenge-oriented reading: Refer to Bill Simmons' Vengeance Scale.

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random thoughts

Note: Check out Hardwood Paroxysm each day for 15 reasons you should watch the current night's games. Most of what they have to say over there is completely crazy and only makes sense in a "24-hour drug bender" kind of way. In other words, it's totally awesome. Oh, you should also check out Introducing Liston, but only if you really want to get your freak on.

It must be (the) Magic: Well, well, well. The Orlando Magic -- a team I summarily dismissed during the offseason -- are an impressive 4-1. Of course, the teams they've beaten (Milwaukee, Minnesota, Toronto, and Washington) have a combined record of 4-11 and their loss was a 116-92 setback to the Detroit let's not break out the confetti and streamers just yet. I still don't think Rashard Lewis is worth $100 billion or whatever they're paying him, but his scoring numbers are impressive: 23.2 PPG on 58 percent shooting. Of course, I'd still like to know why an athletic, 6'10" forward is only averaging 4.4 RPG. He also doesn't have a single block on the season. Allow me to provide some perspective on this: Fred Jones is 6'2" and has only played nine minutes this season, yet he has a block. And he doesn't even play defense!

The Pacers' 82-0 dream comes to an end: Well, it's official: The Pacers won't go undefeated this season. They fell on their face at home, losing 104-89 to the Clippers. It's important to note that the Clips -- who were already missing Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston -- also lost Cuttino Mobley (their leading scorer) and Ruben Patterson (the Kobe Stopper) in the first quarter. Fortunately for them, Sam Cassell's mummy crawled out of his sarcophagus to score 35 points (13-20) and dish out 8 assists, and Chris Kaman continued his "Moses Malone Lite" season by scoring 15 points and pulling down 22 rebounds. Jamaal Tinsley reminded us why we hate him by scoring 3 points (1-5), dishing 2 assists, committing 3 turnovers, and failing to check a 72-year-old man. Final Note: Don't look now, but the Clippers are 4-0 and leading their division. Maybe they're not as bad as we thought. Ha, ha, I know, good one huh?

Okay, Mike, time to suit up: The Bobcats have lost their last two games by a combined 63 points. Now, there's blown out by the Suns is no big deal, but losing 94-63 to the 76ers? I can hear Michael Jordan's "Return From Retirement Countdown Clock" ticking already.

The Suns "Hawk" up another loss: Phoenix needs Stat back, stat. The Suns wasted a brilliant performance by Steve Nash -- 32 points (12-19, 7-10 from three-point range), 11 assists, 5 rebounds -- and lost 105-96 to the Hawks. As in, the Atlanta Hawks. The Suns were the best shooting team in the league last season, but they shot 40 percent last night, 35 percent without Nash. On the bright side, the 2009 NBA All-Star Game will be played in Phoenix. Meanwhile, the Hawks may be only 2-2, but look at who they've played so far: Dallas, Detroit, New Jersey, and Phoenix. Talk about a rough opening stretch. Again, maybe the Baby Birds are going to be better than we thought.

There's still no "D" in Enver: The Nuggets gave up back-to-back 119-point performances to the Knicks (who shot 53 percent) and the Celtics (who shot 72 percent in the first half, and 64 percent for the game). That's not very good. Meanwhile, KG (23/13/7), Paul Pierce (26/5/5), and Allen (22/3/6) were very good. I know it's still waaaay early, but the Celtics are currently fifth in scoring (106.7 PPG), third in assists (24.3), and first in shooting (52.1 percent). Rajon Rondo, the team's weak link, is averaging 10 PPG on 56 percent shooting.

Let's rename them the Miami Cold: There's no shame in losing to the Spurs, but the Heat are 0-4 and look pretty helpless without Dwyane Wade. And there's no guarantee that things are going to improve when Wade finally returns from his knee and shoulder injuries; Gilbert Arenas has taught us that much. Even sadder than the loss and the record is the fact that lil' Penny Hardaway -- 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists -- was listed as the Heat's top performer last night. Shaq managed 17 points (on 6-13 shooting), but he grabbed only 3 rebounds in 30 minutes. Man, the wheels haven't just come off, they're already rolling down the road.

NBA Finals and/or Draft Lottery, here we come: The Memphis Grizzlies got their first win of the season last night, notching a 105-98 win over the Oklahoma City Seattle Supersonics. Kevin Durant shot 3-17, but continues to be "really long." Darko Milicic had a performance (15 points, 10 rebounds) that made you realize how disappointing he is most of the rest of the time.

Spoiler alert: The Hornets' perfect season came to an abrupt end last night in Portland. Note to the Lakers: This game was a firm reminder of how Peja Stojakovic shoots (2-13) when there's a hand in his face. The Blazers, on the other hand, got the first win of what is, for them, the unofficial 2008-09 preseason.

Sweet, sweet muzak: The Cleveland/Utah game took a back seat to the drama of an epic duel between Lebron James and Paul Milsap, and I hate to ruin the ending for you, but Paul Milsap won. Lebron played okay -- 32 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists -- but it was Milsap's 24 points (on 7-8 shooting) that were the difference in Utah's 103-101 win over the Cavs. Superdickery sidenote: Carlos Boozer twisted the knife in Cleveland's back a little further with his 23 points and 12 rebounds. Can you believe that the Jazz are leading the league in scoring (111.4)? Or that they're followed by the Clippers (109.0) and the Lakers (108.8)? And -- you'd better sit down for this one -- the Knicks are fourth (107.3). In other news, up is the new down, dogs and cats are living together, and your mother really does love you.

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Note: According to YouTube, this video has been viewed over 18,000 times. I'm probably responsible for at least 17,500 of those views.

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The Truth
Paul Pierce copped a little 'tude while
out on the town in Toronto.

This story comes from a friend of mine who currently lives in Toronto and is a huge basketball fan. He would prefer to remain anonymous on the site, so I will refer to him as "Toronto Jones" or "TJ." Anyway, some members of the Boston Celtics were gettin' jiggy with it the night before they played the Raptors, and one particular Celtic got a little too jiggy. Here's what went down:

Last Saturday night, Toronto Jones went to Club Inside with some buddies. It's a really swank nightclub right in the middle of the main club district in Toronto. Vince Carter is still a part-owner, so a lot of professional basketball players party there when they're in town.

The Celtics were having a private party in one section, and at some point TJ's group spotted a bunch of the players leaving. They were ready to go anyway, so TJ and one of his friends went out the front door and walked around to the back entrance of the club (they were parked near there). When they got to the back door, they saw Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and several other tall black men standing there. TJ didn't recognize anyone else (no Ray Allen), so he thinks the other guys might have been bench players or just posse. KG had a hood on and was kind of trying to stay out of sight. Pierce on the other hand was dancing around all hyper and talking out loud to no one in particular.

TJ was pretty drunk (but not smashed), so when Pierce walked by he said, "Hey Paul, I predict you guys finish second or third in the East." Pierce immediately spun around and just lost it. He was cussing and yelling things like "Yo, how you gonna diss me to my face like that?" and "Who the f**k this kid anway, that's some bullshit man," and so on. TJ doesn't remember everything he said, but he was really going off.

At one point Pierce gestured to the guy next to him and said, "My man right here is gonna kick your ass." The guy just shrugged and laughed, and he gave TJ one of those "just ignore him" looks. TJ and his buddy thought the whole thing was pretty funny, but they could tell it was time to go. As they turned to walk away, Pierce ran up and did some kind of step-punch-fake thing. Most of the guys in Pierce's group started laughing at him, but KG grabbed Pierce, pulled him back, and said, "Naw, can't be doing that shit dawg" in a really calm voice. TJ and his buddy started walking to the car and Pierce was still yelling chirps at them from behind as they left.

TJ swears this is a true story, and I believe them. He said he wishes he could remember more of Pierce's quotes, but that it was "a typical flow of semi-coherent hip-hop disses." Anyway, it appears that the possibility of the Celtics not winning the East is a sensitive topic to Pierce.

Note: This isn't exactly a new thing for Pierce. Everyone knows about how he was attacked outside a Boston nightclub back in 2000. Then the team specifically asked him to tone down his partying a couple year's back. Pierce's response to the team's request was rather acerbic: "Hey, this is where I work. I'm not a drug addict. I'm not out every night until 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning. I'm in control of my life. What I give them between the lines is their concern, and I don't think they have any complaints about that. The rest is my business."

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