May 20, 2011

Dr. Funk

James Harden got style. Man got four different textures on his head (count the headband). Tell me you don't want to rub it! James Harden got game. 23 points 7 boards 4 assists last night. The Thunder are now 5-0  this postseason when he drops 17+. James Harden got silly. See below:

Harden held that pose for about eight seconds after canning a tough jumper over Jason Terry late in the third quarter. Coach Scott Brooks, impressed by the aggressive display of neck flexing and tongue extension, responded by playing him the entire fourth quarter, while across the land beard lovers rejoiced.

May 18, 2011

Fourth Reich

Oooooh, we really don't know enough about German history to tell if that headline's offensive or funny. Fingers crossed!

So Dirk did some crazy things last night, as you've probably heard. 48 points on 12-15 shooting from the field and 24-24 from the line (yup, that's a record). Over at The Point Forward (our favorite hoops blog), Zach Lowe did a little research and discovered that, in the last 26 years, only one other player has scored 45+ points on 16 or fewer FGA. It was in the regular season against the Knicks and his name was Gilbert.

May 16, 2011

Vegas Took Miami, Because Vegas Doesn't Believe in Santa Claus

Last night, the Eastern Conference Finals kicked off with a bang:

That garbage time dunk does a surprisingly nice job of summing up the game. The Heat are fundamentally small, and plan to beat teams with speed and athleticism (see: Lebron James and Dwyane Wade). Against Chicago, it didn't work. Taj Gibson was able to match up with James at power forward, even blocking one of his runners, and the bigger Bulls grabbed 19 offensive rebounds (that's a whole bunch). If that kind of stuff interests you, read this, which is chock full of interesting points on the subject (Zards had no idea Joel Anthony is only 6' 9" and the third worst rebounding center in the league. So weird Mark Jackson hadn't told us).

With the emphatic win, Bulls-backing pundits across the country heaved a sigh of relief. Picking the Bulls required more than logic, it took a little faith. TNT's Kenny Smith, defending his decision to go with Chicago, said "I still believe defense wins championships, and teams beat individuals." But his words were so reluctant you half expected him to tack on, "I think. Maybe. Oh god Lebron is good." To Smith's relief (and ours, to be honest) those cliches appeared to hold in Game 1, as the Bulls got contributions from everywhere while the Heat played dysfunctional one-on-one.

Watching Miami, it feels like at any moment they're going to "get it" and run through their opponent like a cyclone through a corn field, destroying the very notion of "team" in the process. They're hunting in the dark for that switch, and we're all desperately rooting for them to find it, or not. The possibility is deeply unsettling and wildly exciting. On Sunday that tension produced the highest rated cable broadcast of a pro basketball game ever. Somehow, after a 20 point blowout, the tension is even higher.

May 13, 2011

Cook v. Dade

Well, Blogger has deleted all traces of our most recent post regarding Jeff Teague crackin eggs on Larry Drew's noggin. Presumably its popularity was causing Google's servers to crash. We'll take it as a compliment and keep moving.

In the meantime, the Heat eliminated the Celtics and the Bulls dispatched the Hawks, setting the stage for a powerhouse Eastern Conference Finals. Across the country people are scrambling to get back on the Miami bandwagon, and can you blame them?

May 11, 2011

Conflict of Interest

Jeff Teague is getting a lot of love for his play, and he deserves it. He's been streaking from end to end, tossing in gorgeous floaters over Carlos Boozer, and even stealing the ball from the MVP, prior to the referees allowing said MVP to tackle him and take the ball back (if you'd like to see these things for yourself, the NBA has a nice Game 5 video recap here. Side note: if you think you've got what it takes to intern with Zards ALards! in our Stealing Content from Getty Images and Department, we are now accepting resumes). Today we examine the flipside of this coin, titled: Larry Drew is an Idiot.

May 10, 2011

The Russell Westbrook Problem

Russell Westbrook, the 22 year old All Star point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder, has received a staggering amount of criticism this postseason, mostly for jacking up shots that could be going to teammate Kevin Durant. Although it's a fascinating development, it's pretty much covered at this point:
 So let's move on to something really troubling.

Note: Getty Images requested that we pay $402 to use this image.  After a long talk with the Zards ALards! legal department, we're pretty sure they were kidding.


Enough with the off court melodrama. Last night the NBA cleansed the collective palate with not one but two fantastic overtime games.

In Boston, the Elder 3 and the One Armed Bandit fought valiantly to even the series at 2-2, but a barage of unbelievable shots from Bron Bron, as well as a crucial travel that mostly escaped discussion (hat tip: Rob Mahoney):

pushed the contest to overtime, where Miami dominated. Headed back to South Beach, this is probably the end for the Celtics. The Heat are too young, too fast, and too athletic. And if you're rooting for them you hate America.

May 9, 2011

It's Complicated

 The Lakers called it a season on Sunday, buried beneath an avalanche of triples from Jason Terry and Peja Stojaokovic (Stojakovic! Unbelievable fact of the day: In 2004, Peja finished 4th in MVP voting and Kobe finished 5th. Seriously!). Given everything that was on the line (avoiding the sweep, delivering for Phil, Kobe catching MJ), the disorganized, downright lazy performance was a true headscratcher. And if you scratch long enough, you either end up in a mental hospital wearing a football helmet to bed (holler if you need the password), or you find out Kobe's wife was responsible for Pau breaking up with his girlfriend.

May 5, 2011

Partners in Crime

For Wizards fans, the most surprising part of last night's Dallas victory over LA was discovering that Brendan Haywood and Deshawn Stevenson are still alive and being paid to play basketball (Brendan is actually being paid $7,000,000 this season. And this is the first year of a six-year deal that hits $10,500,000 in 2015. Whoops!) We'd kind of assumed that the post-trade flight to Dallas had gone down in flames, so it was nice to see them doing what they do best, specifically Deshawn accidentally banking in a three-pointer and angrily celebrating to the point that Steve Kerr requested a technical from the announcers' booth. Zards!

The rest of the country was more interested in the game's final score, 93-81 Dallas, which put Kobe Bryant and the two-time defending champs in a 2-0 hole as they head to Texas. If there's any team that can survive losing the first two games of a playoff series at home, it has to be LA, but even they'd admit things look bad. And admit that they did, with Andrew Bynum declaring his team has "trust issues" and Phil Jackson discussing their woes with the laconic air of a man whose heart is already in Montana.

Two more Dallas wins and these already fascinating playoffs reach a new level of significance. Consider Dirk Nowitzki. Thus far, the big German is defined by his spectacular failings: the Finals collapse of '06 and the first round flame out in '07. On the plus side there was this:

May 4, 2011


Zards ALards! The playoffs are here, and the Wiz just missed getting an invite. But let's take a cue from Andray Blatche and put aside those painful memories for now. Dray's suggestion? Lapdance Tuesdays!

Oh Andray. So full of life.

In case you missed Lapdance Tuesdays, there's still the rest of the playoffs to look forward to. In the East, the Bulls have their hands full with a Hawks team that refuses to acknowledge how much they suck. After beating Orlando by putting Jason Collins on Dwight Howard, Atlanta exposed Chicago's vaunted defense in Game 1 by shooting one long, contested jump shot after another. If that last sentence seemed stupid, it was!

Feb 25, 2011

New Zards!

The Zards decided to shake things up Wednesday, trading Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford and a first round pick in the upcoming draft. With Melo going to New York, Deron headed for Brooklyn (glass half full Deron, glass half full), and Kendrick Perkins leaving Boston, most analysts have bigger fish to fry. Not us! Our pan is small.

First, let's say goodbye.

Kirk, you overdribbled your way into our hearts, relentlessly probing and reprobing the defense, the shot clock its consequences be damned.

Hilton, you could jump really high, and in our darkest hour your tiny head made us smile. So thanks for that.

Now, let's say hello.

Mike Bibby and Team Dime (see above) you probably know. Back when Chris Webber and Vlade Divac roamed the hardwood, he was a stellar point for the Sacramento Kings. Now he's really, really slow. He is going to hate playing with John Wall, but for the rest of us it should be a barrel of laughs. For more on Mike Bibby, some strongly recommended reading.

Jordan Crawford you might not know. If you do, it's probably for this:

That was Lebron James getting yammed on by Crawford at his basketball camp. Nike destroyed all the good footage, which, paradoxically, is the only reason anyone knows about it. Crawford's a rookie, he was playing 10 minutes a game in Atlanta, and the rest is specualation.

Ultimately, though it seems rather thin, this is a good deal. Hinrich? Bibby? Guess what, it doesn't matter, not when your record says 15-41. But Crawford is young enough that he might turn into a player, whereas that train has already sailed for Hilton Armstrong. Sorry Hilton.

We didn't do as well as Donald Sterling (who gave Baron Davis, his bete noir, the ultimate finger), but we did alright. We picked up a prospect (however dim) and a draft pick, and that's what rebuilding is all about.

Feb 23, 2011

AP English

Fact of the day: the Associated Press writes their postgame recaps in code. And it's not just the writers, the players and the coaches are in on it too. Impossible you say? Impossible is nothing, even in Italian. To demonstrate, please enjoy the following excerpts from the AP recap for tonight's Wizards-Pacers tilt (final score: 113-96, bad guys), as translated by ZA.

"As Roy Hibbert stood at his locker... it was suggested to him that the Pacers are becoming fun to watch."
Translation: God we used to hate watching Pacers games.

Roy Hibbert in response: "A month ago, you wouldn't be saying that, would you? We're out here trying to win games now."
Translation: God I hated Jim O'Brien.

Andray Blatche, on the Wizards effort: "Guys didn't bring no effort. They outworked us on every possession. Nobody brought heart with them."
Translation: Notice how by taking ownership of the criticism, I implicitly manage to exclude myself from it.

Added John Wall, "This game we didn't fight at all. It's getting old."
Translation: All that talk about the Decision, nobody mentioned how Lebron totally left it open for a sequel. Just sayin.

Jan 12, 2011

de Young

The Wiz took on the Kings tonight and played an interesting game of basketball. Interesting, yeah, that's the word. They won the first quarter 37-18 and the third quarter 40-27, but lost the second quarter 37-16 and the fourth quarter 43-32. Having checked with our crack team of statisticians, that's gotta be some kinda record.

With the score tied at the end of regulation the referees consulted the rulebook and found, to their delight and ours, that an overtime would need to be played. In the five minutes that ensued Washington crushed Sacramento 10-7, clearly establishing themselves as a vastly superior squad.

So maybe we won 136 to 133. Or maybe we tied 126 to 126 and then won a separate practically unrelated game of lightning basketball 10-7. Either way, the Wizards are now the 27th team to join the double digit win club (10-26). Not impressed? Consider this: the Wizards have played 18 games on the road and won none. 0-18! Impressive.

Tomorrow, we'll contemplate the greatness of Nick Young, who scored 43 points in the win. Until then, contemplate the greatness of Nick Young's postgame remarks.

"I'm going to talk trash to teammates. Might give Gil a call and talk trash. Yeah, it's going to be a lot of trash talking going on."