Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Sorry this is up so late today. I couldn't stop staring at the sweet new redesign.

Orlando 102, Toronto 87

T.J. Ford: 20 points on 8-13 shooting in just 16 minutes. Seven turnovers, good defense, two assists. 

Doesn't seem like that horrible a line. The seven turns are awful, but 20 points in 16 minutes is terrific (terrific!), and 20 points on only 13 shots is even better. 

So why couldn't I stand T.J. Ford during this game?

Was it the smirking? The way he ordered starters toward the end of the bench with a point, while Ford (a reserve) stuck to his seat in the middle of the bench? The way he scored point after point on bad shot after bad shot in the fourth quarter?

I'm a Ford fan, I really haven't had one profound thought about the guy's personality that headed in either direction during his five-year run as an NBA employee; and yet, tonight, I kept muttering a phrase that rhymed with "what a stick" over and over.

Ford wasn't the reason the Raptors lost tonight. In fact, he aided the winning cause more than he did the losing effort, but the man stood out. As you'd expect, the Magic dominated the paint, Dwight Howard (though he got away with some moving screens) was great (19 and 14 rebounds in just 29 minutes), and Hedo Turkoglu (24 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) did a bit of everything.

Back to T.J. Ford: if he had a mustache, I'd understand. That would mean that his evil twin brother had kidnapped him and left him to suffocate in the back of a Trans Am. But I didn't see a mustache tonight, and that's significant.

Golden State 135, Atlanta 118

Skeets called the heck out of this one: the first half was incredibly entertaining, with the Warriors (Baron Davis, especially) hitting an incredible array of shots that weren't the products of derring-do + bad defense; rather, Atlanta can actually play some solid defense, and the Warriors just rose above.  

On the other end, the Warriors don't really play solid, or passable, or nearly-mediocre defense, and the Hawks kept up. The score at the half? 70-68, Hawks on top. 

In the second half, things started to return to normal. In spite of what you might believe, Atlanta's offense has been the thing failing the Hawks all season, and it started to slow in the second half, even though Atlanta's defense perked up even more.

(Perked up even more? Golden State had 67 points in the second half!)

You shut your mouth! 

(Sorry.) 

Golden State started reaching, and getting, more steals. Atlanta had 18 turnovers on the night, the Warriors pulled away, and the Hawks offense led to another white-hot offensive half for the Dubs; even if Atlanta's half-court defense (save for a run where Stephen Jackson went off) was pretty OK in the second half.

"Pretty OK," Atlanta. Keep on.

Detroit 100, Seattle 97

This was your typical big brother playing the little brother in a game to 100. Big brother wanted nothing to do with playing little brother, but Dad wanted both of the little bastards out of the house for at least an hour mainly because he wanted to "watch a [little] Barney Miller and get some [much appreciated] peace and quiet."

Can't blame the Dad, in this one.

Detroit wanted little to do with chasing little brother around in the first quarter, but didn't mind turning up the defense in the second quarter (and third, and fourth ...), even if the Piston offense was a little labored.

Detroit did well in getting to the line (31-37), and Seattle makes no sense when they keep trying to post up Chris Wilcox. Wilcox can score with the best of them, but he's not a post scorer. So why do the SuperSonics see Rasheed Wallace guarding Wilcox, and think it a good idea?

Charlotte 109, Minnesota 89

Yeah, I watched it. A lot of it. I even taped the Magic/Raptors and Bulls/Grizzlies to watch later, and give myself more time to behold this monstrosity. It was miserable.  

The horrors ... I can't possibly explain. Kirk Snyder ... handling the ball. Jason Richardson ... reversed headband ... Al Jefferson ... not getting the ball in the post ... Greg ... BUCKNER!

The Timberwolves should have waltzed. Charlotte has some talent, but there's no reason a team like Minnesota should allow the Bobcats to come into town and play this well.

Chicago 112, Memphis 97

Not much to take from this game. The Bulls should have won by around 35, while the Grizz took in some solid dunks from Rudy Gay (!, ?), Kyle Lowry had his once-a-month showing of perimeter touch, and Darko Milicic did a good job at shooting the same left-handed hook over Drew Gooden.

Chicago put some points on the board; but take it from someone who has to have his remote facing the right way whilst watching the hometown team: this win meant nothing. I feel worse about Chicago's postseason chances following this victory than I did before.

In the meantime, Chicago? This feels good.

San Antonio 81, New Jersey 70

The San Antonio Spurs made about one out of every three shots they took, and were always in control against a Nets team that was enthused, interested, and looking to make a dent in the face of one of the West's best.

I'm just going to add this: we haven't seen the best of the Spurs. Not even close.  

Los Angeles Lakers 117, Sacramento 105

As a Triangle freak, it means so much for me to see this offense being run the way it's supposed to be run. Kobe can relax, Lamar can rebound and run, and who knew that Pau Gasol would turn into the Phil Jackson's Jeff Lynne?  

OK, I'm going to settle, and try to put the giddy aside. The Lakers are starting to win games in the second half, and that they're doing in so many KD-approved ways that I can't help but fawn. To wit:

* Anything this team seems to throw Pau Gasol's way in the lane, whether he's on the run in transition or making a Winter-ordained cut, the man finishes with a dunk or a roller that goes in 80 percent of the time. Take it from someone who obsessed over Grizzlies games from 2001-on (especially that famous Sunday afternoon Lorenzen Wright game), Gasol's been brilliant, but he's never been this potent. Spacing is a wonderful thing.

* Kobe absolutely took over in the clutch, hounding Kevin Martin when the Kings had the rock (refusing to let Sacramento get the ball into K-Mart) and attacking the basket on the other end.

* Bryant absolutely won the game for Los Angeles, and it was bloody brilliant to watch. For the last few months, the Lakers have been able to put away teams in the early stages of a game; and it was nice to see Kobe dominate things late.

Phoenix 97, Portland 92

The Suns had themselves a typical Suns-like blowout in hand, but these Suns are not your typical 2004-2008 Suns, and nearly let Portland take what should have been an easy win. 

The Phoenix offense (37 points) fell flat in the second half, just as much a function of the team's ineptitude as the Portland defense, and it was a sorry sight to see.

Luckily for Suns fans, the Trail Blazers never went to LaMarcus Aldridge down low in the stretch (not that he may have helped, LA was 3-15 from the field, and one of those "3" was an open dunk), to allow the Suns to hold on.  

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