The Starting Lineup: Josh Smith Shoots Five Threes, Somehow Makes Four

Josh Smith activated full-troll-mode in Dallas, where he drained a career-high four three-pointers (on just five tries) as the Hawks defeated the Mavericks 105-101.  Needless to say, he also did some really stupid shit; even his made three-pointers were actually stupid shit, but they happened to not be airballs somehow.  Smith didn’t do nearly as much stupid shit as the Mavericks, though, who turned the ball over three times in the final 23 seconds.  Though just about everyone on the floor for both teams made at least one bonehead play in what was really a mess of a fourth quarter (read the play-by-play between 4:24 and 2:41; “Brand misses layup” = uncontested in transition, “OJ Mayo misses driving layup” = airball finger roll), OJ Mayo put together an entire reel of blunders.  He went 2-7 in the fourth and was responsible for two of those three turnovers I mentioned.  Mayo has faced criticism all season long for his tendency to make questionable plays down the stretch, and this may have been his ugliest display to date.

Josh Smith’s line is crazy impressive: 26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists on 10-15.  His contributions were crucial to this Atlanta Hawks victory (he did more than just shoot; check out this pass), but I still think his numbers exaggerate his impact to some extent.  His decision making is laughably terrible, which is inexcusable from a dude 27 years old.

Had the Mavs been able to win, Brandan Wright would’ve been a thing.  He scored 11 points on 5-6, including a fourth-quarter jump shot.  Wright had only scored six in his last three games combined.

The healthy Clippers never trailed in Philadelphia, led by double digits for 33 minutes straight, and won by a comfortable margin of 17 despite missing half of their 22 free throws.  Though it was never really a game, it was indeed a show.  Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 12 field goals, most of which were obviously dunks (exhibits A and B), and Chris Paul made this really nifty backspin pass to Lamar Odom.  Nothing was as entertaining as DeAndre’s alley-oop airball, though.

Shades of Marreese Speights.  In fairness to DJ, I also thought he was going to make it.  On a related note, the most amazing airballed dunk still belongs to Travis Outlaw, who jumped so high he threw the ball over the rim.

The Wolves, who’ve suffered more losses (nine) when leading after three quarters than any other team in the league, somehow managed to hang onto a 72-65 advantage for a 100-92 victory in Cleveland.  They appeared to be pulling another chokejob as they turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the fourth, but strong jump shooting from the likes of Luke Ridnour, Dante Cunningham, and Ricky Rubio helped them fend off Kyrie Irving and company.  In that fourth quarter, the Wolves went an incredible 11-12 between nine feet and the three-point line.  Ridnour led the way with 13 points in the period (had 21 in the game), but Rubio nailed two of the biggest shots of the game — first to snap the aforementioned streak of three straight turnovers, and later to put Minnesota up eight with just a minute to go.  With his 13 points Rubio finished in double figures for a third straight game and for the fourth time in February.  Though it’s been just seven games, Ricky’s numbers are way up this month; his 12 PPG are nearly double the 7 he averages on the season, and his 44 percent from the floor reflects what appears to be a new-found confidence in his mid-range jump shot.

Without Deron Williams, who will be out until after the All-Star break due to inflammation in his suckiness ankles, the Nets managed to pick up a quality 89-84 win on the road in Indiana.  They shot just 38% and the game went to overtime, but having come in as losers of six of their last nine, I think they’ll take it.  I didn’t see much of this game, but what jumps out at me based on the box score is the play of little-used rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor.  Taylor, who’s been seeing a lot of time in the D-League (dropped 27 on the 27th of January, his last appearance), actually finished the game in the stead of CJ Watson, who started but went 0-7 in 19 minutes.  Tyshawn, on the other hand, ended up scoring a career-high 12 points in the game, including Brooklyn’s first four points of overtime.  Having gone 5-9 from the floor, he appears to have had himself quite the night.

Reggie Evans had 22 rebounds in this game, but if I’m PJ Carlesimo this fool doesn’t see the court for a month.  With 34 seconds left in overtime, Evans eyed a loose ball that was clearly going out of bounds off of the Pacers.  Everyone else had basically stopped playing under the assumption that it would be Nets ball and the game would be over (they were up six), but Reggie, chasing his career high of 23 boards, refused to let the rebound bounce across the sideline.  After pausing to think about it for a moment (his thirst for the statistic was visible), he inexplicably sprinted towards the ball.  He ended up grabbing it, but his momentum carried him out of bounds.  Keep in mind that this happened during a six-point game in overtime.  Though Indiana failed to capitalize on their ensuing possession, what happens if they knock down a three?  Considering the situation, this was every bit as shameful a moment as Ricky Davis shooting at his own basket or Andray Blatche begging Yi Jianlian to let him have a rebound.  So congratulations, Reggie — you’re a jackass.

The Bobcats’ seven-game losing streak has come to an end. So has the Celtics’ seven-game winning streak.  In a pretty horrible loss, Boston blew a five-point lead with five minutes to go and watched LeAndro Barbosa get carried off the court with what is suspected to be a season-ending knee injury.  This essentially reduces the Celtics to seven players with any business seeing rotation minutes in the NBA.  Maybe eight depending on how you feel about Chris Wilcox.  Either way, they’re getting awfully thin and just lost to the Bobcats.  No, I don’t care that they played three overtimes yesterday.  It’s the Bobcats.  The freaking Lakers beat them.

Byron Mullens, who shoots 4.5 threes per game at a 32-percent clip, knocked down four of five from long range as he racked up 25 and 18.  He scored Charlotte’s first 10 points and pretty much dominated the first three quarters.  Note his exploitation of Boston’s failure to box out (five offensive rebounds).

The Bobcats’ backcourt finished what Mullens started. Aside from a Biyombo tip dunk, all their fourth-quarter field goals were scored by Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker, and Gerald Henderson.  With a minute to go, Henderson knocked down a three to make it a one-point game.  Sessions proceeded to score the go-ahead jump shot, and Walker made a pair of free throws to put Charlotte up three.  Paul Pierce had a really good look to tie the game but hesitated for no apparent reason.  Avery Bradley also ended up with a great look but tossed a brick from the corner.

Bradley Beal made all the shots — well, 10 out of 13, technically speaking — as Washington defeated Milwaukee in Wisconsin. His 28 points off the bench represent a new career high.

Vintage Samuel Dumblembert: with the Bucks down eight to the Wizards at the two-minute mark, Dally chases down an offensive rebound, spends a couple of moments contemplating a corner three-pointer, thinks better of it, but passes the ball right to Nene, who plays for the other team.  This is why Samuel Dalembert sucks, even when he’s getting three straight double-doubles and scoring 35 points (only had 6/7 on this night).

Also, vintage Brandon Jennings & Monta Ellis: The league’s most gunnerific duo combined to go 12-38 from the floor and 1-11 from three.  Jennings posted a hilarious line of 7 points on 17 shots.  I imagine he’s about ready for the All-Star break, as are the rest of the Bucks, probably.  In a sad commentary on the Eastern Conference, the eighth-place Bucks have lost four straight and still lead the ninth-place Sixers by three games.  At least all eight playoff teams are currently .500, I guess.

Box Score Observations: Note sure what’s most noteworthy — Ryan Anderson hanging 31, Robin Lopez doing 23 and 10, or Chief Al-Farouq getting 12 and 14.  All three happened as the Hornets creamed the Pistons 105-86.  In other weirdness, Kawhi Leonard dropped 26 on the Bulls in a 103-89 victory.  None of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, or Manu Ginobili played in this game.  Bad loss for the Bulls, who went 2-12 from three and and 13-20 from the free throw.

Highlight Recap, Old News Edition: Did you all catch wind of this Rudy Gay dunk?  It happened a couple days ago but I never posted it here.

The human shoulder isn’t meant to allow such extension.  I’m actually trying to make that motion with my arm and it doesn’t even work.

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