The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who thinks there's something morbidly fascinating about a guy who looks like he walked out of a Boris Vellejo painting and is also clinically insane.
When he's not puzzling over all the bizarre things the Ultimate Warrior used to say - which don't make much sense in any context - he can be found running his mouth at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• "I was sent in a capsule from a place far from here, and I came for one reason: To attack and keep coming!" Which is exactly what Kobe Bryant did against the Dallas Mavericks, scoring a season-high 52 points - and 27 freethrow attempts - in the Lakers' 108-104 overtime win. After watching his team get used like a pair of bib overalls at an all-you-can-eat barbeque shrimp buffet, Avery Johnson explained in his trademark squeaky voice how every single defensive scheme he used against The Mamba failed. "We gave him a single look, then we double-teamed him, then we gave him a triple-team and he split the triple-team and scored. We tried to zone him, we tried to funnel him in the trap for a zone and he went the other way. He didn't cooperate with any of our defenses." Well, it just proves once again that you can't trust a snake. Still, the Mavericks had to feel good about the fact that Dirk Nowitzki finally showed some clutchability, hitting a three-pointer with two seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 93, then scoring nine points in overtime to keep Dallas close. Unfortunately, Jason Kidd - who had 15 points and 11 assists - boned a freethrow that would have tied the game with 11 seconds to go in overtime. Huh. Maybe The Little General knew what he was doing when he benched Kidd at the end of the Spurs game last week...
• "The power of the Ultimate Warrior is something that you want to feel, that you want to taste. It's something that when you turn on that TV screen or when you buy a ticket in those arenas, you know that it's gonna be exciting and that it might even be a little bit frightening!" Wow. It's like the Warrior actually looked forward through the mists of time to predict how opponents would feel about playing against LeBron James. The Chosen One scored 37 points - including six in a key fourth quarter run - to lead the Cavaliers to a 95-86 win over the Chicago Bulls. Moreover, Bron Bron demoralized the Bulls with a variety of fadeaways, circus shots, and a nasty right-handed dunk that earned him a standing ovation and chants of "MVP!" from the Cleveland crowd. Said James: "The difficult shots might look difficult, but they're not to me. Taking step-back jumpers, I've always done that, or getting to the lane and making flip shots with my left hand." Translation: "I will keep taking all these crazy shots, because I'm LeBron James, bitch!" Larry Hughes was serenaded with a familiar chorus of boos as he shot his trademark 8-for-20 to score 23 for his new team.
• "How must I prepare? Should I jump off the tallest building in the world? Should I lay on the lawn and let it run me over with lawnmowers? Should I go to Africa and let it trample me with raging elephants?" Face-planting, getting lawnmowed, and being trampled...that's sort of what happened to the Toronto Raptors against the Charlotte Bobcats, who fossilized the not-so-mighty dinos with a 110-98 win. Said Toronto coach Sam Mitchell: "The tough things, we didn't do them. We didn't box out. They beat us up on the glass. There's nothing else to say." Of course, that didn't stop Mitchell from commenting further on the rebounding disparity. "It's happened to us too often. I understand that's a weakness of our basketball team. But it's no excuse. You've got to put a body and you've got to go and get the basketball." Somebody should probably tell Sam that Chris Bosh was on the bench in street clothes. And looking very dapper, I might add. Jason Richardson established himself as the Alpha Bobcat with 30 points, and the Raptors got 24 from Anthony Parker.
• "I look above to the gods, and when you fall below the skeletons of the Warriors past, the power of the Warriors will become the Eighth Wonder of the World!" The reigning champion San Antonio Spurs edged closer to "World Wonder" status by winning their ninth straight game and maintaining a slippery grip on the top seed in the Western Conference with a 93-83 win over the New Jersey Nets. Tony Parker overcame his natural French inclination to surrender without a fight to score 25 points, grab 8 rebounds, dish 7 assists, and hit a couple clutch fourth-quarter baskets. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, ever the quote machine, said: "Tony Parker was really great running the team, changing up between shooting jumpers, getting to the bucket and distributing the ball. He did a fine job in that respect." Now, that is a man of passion, folks. Spurs backbone Tim Duncan provided spinal comfort with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Devin Harris and Vince Carter scored 21 a piece for New Jersey.
• "The skies are going to open, the seas are going to part, and the ground will shake with a thunder the world over. All those who have always believed will open the wounds of intensity and bleed the blood of self once more!" Uh, yeah. Anyway, the Hornets followed up impressive wins over the Suns and Jazz by getting blown out by the Washington Wizards, 101-84. It was the second time in less than a week that the Wiz sprayed their special brand of Raid all over the bitty bugs. Without Gilbert Arenas. Without Caron Butler. Byron Scott had a simple explanation for his team's second choke-a-roo to the Wizards. "They think they can't get beat by this team twice. And that's why we got our butts kicked both times. I don't know if these guys respected them enough." Hmm. Isn't it the coach's job to get his team mentally ready to bring it versus a lesser team? Because I think I read that somewhere. Antawn Jamison supported the winning effort with 28 points and 9 rebounds. Peja Stojakavic played the part of the Hornets' stinger with 17 points.
• "I was sitting in Parts Unknown waiting for the next spaceship to higher planes, and the lightning bolts came down from the sky!" Who would have thought that Mike Dunleavy Jr. would be tossing around those lightning bolts? The man they call Funleavy tied his career high of 36 points for the second game in a row to propel the Indiana Pacers to a 128-106 de-antlering of the Milwaukee Bucks. Said Milwaukee coach Larry Can't-Spell-His-Last-Name: "We're not going to beat anybody, there's not a chance, if we give up 64 points in each half." Which is true. But it's also true that you don't win by giving up career games to Mike Dunleavy Jr. You just don't. Fun fact: Michael Redd led Milwaukee with 28 points yet had a +/- score of -20. Does this mean he was Milwaukee's best player, or their worst?
• "The family that I live for only breaths the air of combat!" Let the first round playoff previews begin! Ray Allen tallied 17 points, Kevin Garnett added another 20 and 16 rebounds, and Paul Pierce sang "We Are Family" while scoring 17 of his 30 points in a huge third quarter run as the Celtics plucked the Hawks, 98-88. The dirty birds didn't just roll over and die, though. Josh Smith scored 22 points, Al Horford had 14 and 11, and Mike Bibby added 14 points and 9 assists. Still, it's pretty hard to overcome 39 percent shooting. And they didn't.
• "Dig your claws into my organs! Stretch into my tendons! Bury your angers into my bones!" That's sort of what it feels like when you have to sit through a slapfight between two of the league's worst teams. And the fans in Minneapolis - all 12 of them - were treated to an extra five minutes of suck in Seattle's 111-108 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Al Jefferson led the T-Wolves with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, but he missed a couple freethrows that would have tied the game with 35 seconds to go in overtime...and those gonks pretty much cued up the Game Over screen. Said Minnesota coach Randy Wittman: "We just went through the motions like it was a Sunday afternoon." Way to inspire the troops, coach. Kevin Durant led the Sonics with 25 points and 7 turnovers, and Chris Wilcox added 18 points and 15 rebounds.
• "If you want a piece of me, I'm not hard to find. I'll be on the next spaceship to Parts Unknown!" Tracy McGrady is keeping the Houston spaceship soaring, even without Yao Ming. Last night, T-Mac scored 22 points and the Rockets tied a franchise record with their 15th straight win thanks to a 103-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets. After the game, Denver coach George Karl actually sounded kind of encouraged by the defeat. "I think we will learn from this game and we will be a better team because of this game." Surprisingly enough, some people disagree. Shane Battier chipped in 20 points for Houston, while Denver got 19 from Carmelo Anthony and 15 missed shots from Allen Iverson.
• "I can smell it...it is in the air...the cosmic powers of Mars...the clouds of Jupiter...the rings of Saturn...the boiling heat of Mercury!" Nope, that's just a steamy poop smell, which means the Miami Heat played last night. And, of course, they lost 120-109 to the Sacramento Kings. Miami actually led by 21 points in the second half before collapsing, because, well, that's just what they do. Pookie Wade had 26 points and 7 assists for the Heat, and the Kings got 32 points of pure wacky from Kraft Artest.
• "Normal people, the people that walk the streets every day, we cannot understand!" Stephen Jackson - who would totally get along with the Warrior since they're both batshit crazy - hit six shots from The Land of Three and scored 29 points in Golden State's 110-104 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Brandon Roy scored 26 for the Blazers. Fun fact: Sunday night was the 46th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game for the Philadelphia Warriors against the Knicks. Hopefully you celebrated by going down to the local day care center to score 100 against people half your size, just like Wilt did!