Daily Lies & Statistics: A couple of lemons

It was a wild five-game night in the NBA on Monday, with the equivalent of a week’s worth of injuries and interesting stat lines. What stands out to me are the injuries to Josh Howard and – you’re not gonna believe it – Tracy McGrady. Howard had to be carried off the court with a sprained knee eight minutes into the Wizards-Bulls tilt, while McGrady is already in doubt for tonight’s game after tweaking his surgically-repaired knee. Did these teams keep the receipts?

The Damn Lies bloggers keep a Word file with the following text to make cutting and pasting easy: "Tracy McGrady will miss tonight's game vs. (insert team here) with knee problems."

Elsewhere, Tyson Chandler and Nazr Mohammed sat out with ailments, paving the way for a Theo Ratliff start that made me do a triple-take when perusing the box score. In Utah, Deron Williams sat out with a quad contusion and Andrei Kirilenko rested with back spasms.

On the court, we saw some monster lines, the top two from centers Andrew Bogut and Brendan Haywood. Bogut was that 12-year-old kid who grows up faster than his classmates against the smallish Knicks, as his 24 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks attest. The Knicks struggled to just 67 points, and if McGrady has to shut it down this could get very ugly. Over in Dallas, the Mavs yawned their way to a 91-82 win over the Danny Granger-less Pacers as Haywood went for 13 and 20 with three blocks. Granger sat for personal reasons, which is my excuse for everything.

More lines of note:

Bucks 83, Knicks 67: My vision is like 20/140, but apparently I wasn’t seeing double at Sergio Rodriguez’s eight steals last night. He started for the Knicks and played 29 minutes, and I’m glad I picked him up in the Damn Lies league even if he doesn’t approach eight steals again. Eddie House is a popular pickup but he struggled with just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting last night. Greg and I were discussing how House never, ever misses a shot yet routinely shoots below 40 percent from the field. We’re perplexed, but then again we are often bewildered by burning questions such as “Where do all the lost pens go?” and “How the hell are there enough cows to feed everyone?” If you can answer either of those, let us know. On the Milwaukee side, we saw John Salmons move into the starting lineup himself and score 15 points in 40 minutes. Sounds about right. I get the feeling that one of these days Brandon Jennings (1-9 FG, 4 points) is going to come clean and tell us he’s not really a lefty, that he’s just messing around.

Wizards 101, Bulls 95: Howard’s injury cast a Chris Paul over the proceedings, but these two teams were determined to not give fans their money’s worth. It turned out to be a close game, albeit one where Ronald Murray was the second-leading scorer for Chicago. Andray Blatche is fantasy gold since the trade deadline, going for 25 and 11 with two steals and two blocks last night. It looks like he’s for real.

Mavericks 91, Pacers 82: There’s nothing else I can add to this game. Check for yourself. Yawn.

Hawks 105, Jazz 100: Nice win for the Hawks against a hot team, but yeah, Williams and Kirilenko didn’t suit up. Joe Johnson (28-6-6) continues his quest for a max contract, and Josh Smith (18-9-5, 2 blk) is the 17th-best player in Yahoo’s rankings over the last month. With Jamal Crawford relishing the microwave role off the bench and the toughness of Al Horford underneath, nobody will want to play this team in the postseason.

Clippers 98, Charlotte 94: Drew Gooden suited up for the first time and played 28 minutes off the bench for the Clips. He hurt DeAndre Jordan’s minutes and this is something to watch. Why the Clippers wouldn’t play Jordan as much as possible is beyond me, but Gooden is the solid veteran presence who probably makes them a better team when he’s out there. Charlotte was done in by insisting that Stephen Jackson lead them, and naturally S-Jax’s 1-16 shooting line will do nothing to convince him that he isn’t God’s gift to basketball. Will Larry Brown continue to pee games away by running plays down the stretch for this clown? We’ll see. Gerald Wallace, on the other hand, was magnifique: 32 points, 12 boards, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 threes. I’m sorry, but if the Bobcats finish better than .500 this year, he should get MVP votes.

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