Lion Face/Lemon Face 11.6.09

Why do we write so many posts about lions and lemons? Because there are no fours.

Also, this:

Lion Face: Jason Richardson

Six threes. Ten boards. 33 points overall. Leading the 5-1 Suns past the undefeated Celtics in Boston. Helluva night for the former dunk champ. In fact, this whole game gets a Lion Face. The last five minutes were a Hagler/Hearns slugfest with big play after big play at both ends of the court. Sucks for you if you missed it. Serves ya right for having something better to do on a Friday night.

Lemon Face: The New Jersey Nets

C’mon, guys. Guys, c’mon. I had so much faith. I even went so far as to tell people that you might be “under the radar not horrible.” And here you go, not just being winlessly terrible but losing a game by failing to convert two perplexingly terrible plays, both of which could have given you the lead. The first was a broken play that indeed ended in Eduardo Najera attempting a game winner. The second? Yeah, you jerkheads didn’t even get a shot off. Way to go. I hope you’re proud of yourselves. You’ve ruined Christmas for the orphans.

Lion Face: Greg Oden

Gramps was downright spry last night, thwarting shots left and right while making anyone who entered the paint think twice about whether or not they wanted to get their weaksauce thrown back. Dude not only blocked shots, but he bodied Timmy all night, keeping the increasingly aged-looking Hall of Famer off-balance and out of sorts. That type of stuff is to be expected at this point though. We know the 54th Massachusetts Civil War vet brings that DEEE-(insert picture of a picket fence here).

What earned him his first Lion Face of the year (I’m guessing … no idea if this is accurate … we should start keeping track of this … Harper, get a spreadsheet … hold on … need one more ellipsis) was his jump hooks. Apparently someone informed Mr. Oden that the human elbow is indeed an actual, working joint that can bend. Last night, Greg abandoned his marquee “catapult the ball at the back board hoping that the ball will fall through serendipitously after the glass shatters” technique for one where he (somewhat) fluidly lofts the ball upwards with an arc-like trajectory that gives the ball a chance to pass through the rim. Great call. On at least two occasions, Greg dropped in a nice hook from six and eight feet out — over Groundhog Day, no less. He finished with 14, 8 and 4 blocks. (Pryzbilla was an animal on the glass for the Blazers down low as well. That front court looks good. Portland could be a problem this year. Keep watch.)

Lemon Face: LeBron James

Ok. Great game. But I don’t particularly care that you dropped 19 points and 5 assists in the opening quarter or that you hit that insane three to end the first. Yes, blah, blah, blah, you are amazing. Yay. Fantastic. I get it. What I don’t get is why you decide to play these games in MSG. It’s really, really annoying. Sure, I like to watch you play in the Garden but it’s almost beyond Brett Favre stupid. Just fake an injury next time. Ask Vince Carter if you don’t know how. (Yes, I know there is no next time.)

Lion Face: Tyler Bro Hands

One game in and this guy’s career is already awesome. I love him. The Tyler Bro Hands Era is going to do for Bro Hood what the Reebok Pump did for Dee Brown. Best part, the guy is actually pretty good. In under 14 minutes, not only did he Bro it up, Bro-style, with some crazy-eyed, cocaine-binge looking freneticism, but dude got buckets, grabbed boards, hit a jumper and shot 10 free throws — a patently absurd number for a white American in the NBA. I don’t know where you come from, but in Indianapolis, taking 10 free throws, dropping 13 points and grabbing 5 boards all in 14 minutes qualifies as some serious Bro-ings on around town. Jager bomb.

Lemon Face: Detroit Free Throw Shooter and Perimeter Defender Guys

I didn’t watch much of this game but I know it was never close until a too-little-too-late comeback attempt in the fourth. So I started checking the box score figuring some Piston must have earned himself a Lemon Face. No candidate immediately surfaced. The team shot 51.4% from the floor (36.4% from three), turned the ball over an acceptable 11 times and only got out-rebounded by three (37-34). Ben Gordon kinda sucked efficiency-wise, ok, but that doesn’t exactly explain why you were down 18 at the half. What does explain it is that Detroit allowed 5 first quarter threes. Well done, defenders. And what helps explain the reason you were never able to get back in this game is the 10 second half free throws you missed, five of which came from some Swedish guy named Jonas Jerebko who I’ll pretend I’ve heard of. (The Pistons shot 62.2% from the line overall.) Terrible defense and terrible free-throw shooting? DEEEEE-TROOOOOOIT BASSSS-KET-BAAALLL is rolling in its grave.

Lion Face: Chris Bosh

CB4 dropped an insane 27 points* on 9 shots, going a perfect 9/9 from the floor and 8/11 from the foul line in another game that likely pushed Chris Paul towards murder/suicide. I know Emeka Okafor had an Emeka Ofafor-esque 3/8 game and you had to watch Mo Peterson and Bobby Brown generally cluster-eff up possession after possession, but don’t do it Chris. Don’t do it.

* I’m not a mathematician, but 27 points on 9/9 and 8/11 doesn’t seem to add up. Oh, wait. You hit another three, Mr. Bosh? Ok. Cool. Nice shot. But even though you’re now 4/4 from behind the arc this season, stop doing that. That’s what Andrea Bargnani is for. Go rebound please.

Lemon Face: Mike James

It’s hard to express in words how bad Mike James has become at basketball. He just simply does not belong in this league. I was talking to Stevie Wonder during the game last night, and he was all “Dude, this guys sucks.” It’s bad enough for Wizards fans when their team is getting blown out by a Pacers team that doesn’t have Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy or Jeff Foster in uniform, but perhaps the only thing worse is when Mike James checks in to make the Indiana look even better. His 2/8 from the floor goes well with his recent career failings. He hasn’t cracked 40% from the field since 2007, and even back then when his efficiency was marginally passable, he was still killing his team by taking ill-advised shots out of rhythm and generally just murdering momentum.

Ultimately, however, hoops fans should probably be happy about what Mike James has given the league. His one 20 ppg season likely did more for the evolution and adoption of advanced stats than perhaps anything else ever as scholars, experts and countrymen needed to devise a better way to empirically prove to casual basketball fans why he sucked despite scoring so much. Unfortunately, despite their best attempts, most of his numbers were actual decent that year in Toronto. It’s like his Brady Anderson year. Still, stat geeks tried to pick it apart and, in the process, learned many things. And for that, we thank you. For everything else you’ve ever done, we kindly ask that you voluntarily deport yourself from these United States of America before we call the authorities. They are authoritative, so you do not want that.

Lion Face: Carl Landry

It seems like the only player that might prevent any one of five different Rocket players from winning the Most Improved Player of the Year Award is another Rocket. Carl Landry added another notch to his candidacy with his 21 points on 12 shots and 9 boards yesterday. Ho-hum. Another efficient day at the office for Houston. Ho-hum another victory for your Southwest Division leaders. I will never doubt you again, Daryl Morey.

UPDATE: Was watching NBA TV and realized I forgot Kobe and Artest. Calm down, LA fanatics, I likely only did so because your Lakers are so ridiculously good that it’s already boring. But his outburst in last night’s game marked Kobe’s 99th career 40-point outing. And Ron’s 19/7/6 output in addition to his +28 was just filthy. Here’s a Lion Face for both Mamba Face and Warier Face. Rawwrrrr.

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