Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Cleveland 124, New York 93

Completely dispassionate performance from the Knicks, head-to-toe. No rotations, at all. Absolutely nobody bothered to leave their man or help or show or do any of the things that these guys were taught in college. Or high school. A couple of these guys leapt from high school to the pros. They, not counting Jonathan Bender(notes), were the worst offenders.

Writing BtB means I'm an in the moment sort of guy, obsessed over that night's games and little else, just because that's a function of my forum and form. So I didn't really think about the LeBron/2010 stuff behind this game until just now. But I'm going to use it as a way to try and describe just how little the Knicks worked in this loss.

They didn't do it, I wouldn't give this team that much credit, but the Knicks players acted as if they were trying to sabotage New York's plan on dumping most of these players (save for one or two, including one that didn't play), in hopes of adding LeBron James(notes) this summer. Again, that wasn't the case, but this team's play was so pathetic and uncaring and terrible that you couldn't help but make that connection. These guys seemed intent on making the Knick organization look like chumps. On Donnie Walsh's birthday, no less.

The Cavs scored 74 first half points, and then they added to it by holding New York to 11 points in the third quarter. Cleveland led by 49, at one point. It was, even without a rooting interest, almost distressing to behold.


Orlando 126, Philadelphia 105

I didn't mean to start a little trend with this, but it's clear that Jameer Nelson(notes) is this league's most important non-star. When he's average, to me, the Magic don't quite approach the level of the league's top teams. When he's on? When he's playing All-Star level ball? The Magic are a championship favorite. Not contender, favorite. I've that much faith for a Magic team with two starters dropping respective 20 and 10s.

Nelson had 22 and 10 in this win. Three straight 30-point (plus, actually) quarters for Orlando, which brought the D in the third quarter to turn this into a rout. Nearly 139 points per 100 possessions for the Magic. Goodness.

EMG, Philadelphia. Everything must go.


Dallas 89, Charlotte 84

Look, Michael Jordan is the reason I do what I do for a living. And I like Rick Carlisle, a lot. And while I kind of believe that he doesn't believe what he's saying, he had to find a better way to word this:

"Great things will happen to the franchise. I've been around iconic guys like (Larry) Bird and I've seen what his presence did in Indiana when we first went there back in '97. Michael will do the same things here for Charlotte."

Rick, Larry was great for the Pacers from 1997-2000 because the team finally got healthy (which they weren't in the 1996 playoffs, and for the 1996-97 season), and because you (along with Dick Harter) were calling the shots. Nothing against Bird, he was right to hand over the reins, but it's not as if the Indiana Pacers (under the guise of Larry Legend, essentially, since 2003) are going great shakes right now.

The game was a bit dreary, Dallas played on Sunday and it showed, and Charlotte played a tense, uninteresting brand of basketball. A fifth of Charlotte's possessions ended in turnovers, they shot 40 percent, and it was a slow, slow game. Bad shots and bad turnovers from the Bobcats as Dallas created its buffer. Not the best night out.

Kudos for the Mavericks for muddling through.


Phoenix 101, Denver 85

The Suns held the Nuggets to under 97 points per 100 possessions, which is a pretty awful rate, and Phoenix should be commended for it. The Suns bench destroyed Denver in the second quarter of this win, as the Nugget guard triptych of Anthony Carter(notes), Chauncey Billups(notes) and J.R. Smith(notes) combined for two points and five turnovers in the second quarter. Not sure why Denver couldn't figure that zone out.

Channing Frye(notes) had 16 points and five rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench, and Goran Dragic(notes) was a spark (12 points and four assists, though he did get a little in garbage time). It was a surprisingly slowish game (88 possessions), so don't be fooled by Phoenix's mere 101 points. The Suns put points up.

They also out-rebounded Denver and knocked 'em around a bit. Not the finest 48 hours of offensive basketball for the Nuggets.


San Antonio 106, New Orleans 92

A tough few days for New Orleans, and it shows. The team was run over by the Mavericks on Sunday, and had to bear witness to the apparent offensive re-birth of the Spurs on Monday night. The Spurs have been far better offensively this year than defensively, an unexpected switcheroo with this lot, but for some reason they appeared to take on an unusually effortless turn on that end in this win.

Playing Phoenix and the Hornets (who have fallen off, badly, defensively) helps. But things were flying. Manu Ginobili(notes) had eight assists off the bench, four turnovers, a couple of blocks and a couple of steals. George Hill(notes) dropped 23 points on 13 shots. Tim Duncan(notes) and Tony Parkker played well. The Hornets just couldn't stop 'em, giving up 121 points per 100 possessions.

Marcus Thornton(notes) had another great game for the Hornets. He averaged almost 19 points per game in February, starting just twice in 10 games, and put up 30 in a losing cause.


Houston 116, Toronto 92

The Raptors can't defend as it is, they have to out-score teams to win (most teams, do, if we're honest. All teams, really), so the team's going to be pretty hopeless without Chris Bosh(notes) and Jose Calderon(notes). As simple as that. The Rockets would score at will, which isn't anything new for a Raptor opponent, but the Raptors couldn't go down to the other end and try to make up for things. Then Hedo Turkoglu(notes) had to split with a bum left ankle. Skeets can relate.

Aaron Brooks(notes) and Kevin Martin(notes) scored 28 points apiece, but this was more or less an exhibition.


Portland 103, Memphis 93

I wasn't about to blame a road-weary and thinned-out Blazer team had the score held up and the Grizzlies prevailed at home, but then Portland absolutely destroyed Memphis in the third quarter of this win, dropping 41 points. I understand why - the Blazers are fantastic offensively, the Grizzlies have been terrible defensively for most of 2009-10 - but it was still a pretty abrupt run of 41 points.

Memphis had 21 turnovers, and I credit Portland for a good portion of that. A miscue on over 22 percent of the team's possessions (I won't tell you how much over), and you just can't do that in the face of a sneaky-great offensive team like the Trail Blazers.

There are probably eight or nine coaches that "should" win the Coach of the Year award, but boy is Nate McMillan doing some fantastic work with his Blazers.


Los Angeles Clippers 108, Utah 104

It was one of those things where everything had to go wrong for the Clippers down the stretch, and right for the Jazz, if Utah was going to come back. And then both things nearly happened. Couldn't believe it as I watched Utah take a 17-point deficit and turn it into a two-possession game before ultimately falling short.

It was almost fitting, on a night that saw just one real close game (perhaps the ugliest of the bunch) out of nine, that we got, what, 90 seconds of close basketball in this one? I appreciated the Jazz coming back, but they really should have tried to execute better in that first half. Instead, nahthing. Expected them to come back in the third quarter, too. Instead, the Clippers just got what they wanted. Strange game.

All five Clippers starters hit double figures. They turned the ball over way too many times, 19 miscues, but they made 26 free throws and seemed to have the answers until the six-to-one minute mark in the fourth quarter.


Atlanta 116, Chicago 92

With Joakim Noah(notes) and Luol Deng(notes) out, and with Brad Miller(notes) pulling in as many rebounds in 37 minutes as Zaza Pachulia(notes) pulled in over 18 minutes, it would have really been nice for Chicago to be able to toss out a real stud on the glass. Rookie Taj Gibson(notes) helped, no doubt, snatching 13 caroms in 33 minutes. But wouldn't a DeJuan Blair(notes)-type sort of help? Especially when rookie James Johnson(notes) had just two rebounds in 23 minutes?

Still spitting mad over that, in case you were wondering.

Atlanta just destroyed Chicago. The Bulls made a little run to start the third quarter, but this was Atlanta's game. Josh Smith(notes) (17s, 18s, fours, two twos, too) was all over the place.

Kirk Hinrich(notes) needed nine shots to score two points. Miserable, miserable season for this guy offensively.

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