Bernucca: Money for nothing, checks for free

TWO MINUTES: Before we get into any of the fun stuff, there’s a disturbing trend developing among NBA referees, who as a group are clearly waiting to see the outcome of a shot before Referee Ken Mauercalling a foul and remaining silent if the ball goes in. We don’t see how this benefits the game in any way. If you are the team that was fouled and the shot goes in, you lose a free throw. If you are the team that committed the foul, you were led to believe you had made a clean play. And if the shot misses, the whistle blows very late, infuriating everyone. What’s the point? If it’s a foul, call the foul. And call it when it happens. … Two immediate changes in the Lakers under Mike D’Antoni are his use of Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison and his non-use of Pau Gasol. Meeks fired 20 3-pointers in eight games before D’Antoni took to the sidelines and has taken 18 in four games since. Jamison established season highs in minutes, shots and points in each of the last two games as a stretch-4, also grabbing 22 rebounds. Meanwhile, Gasol has taken 25 shots and scored 27 points over the last three games, his lowest totals for any three-game stretch in what has been a pedestrian season for him. In Friday’s loss at Memphis, Gasol sat during crunch time. When asked what he was thinking by benching him, D’Antoni said, “I was thinking, ‘Well, I’d like to win this game.'” While practicing jumpers, Gasol has said he would like more touches in the post, which appears to be Dwight Howard’s territory. … In Wednesday’s home loss to San Antonio, Boston had one offensive rebound – a tip-in by Brandon Bass with under two minutes to go. … If you’re wondering how the Bobcats needed just 12 games to match last season’s seven wins, consider that they are a remarkable 6-0 in games decided by four points or less. A season ago, they only played eight games decided by four points or less and lost five. Even more impressive is that they have done it with a rookie coach in Mike Dunlap and without Gerald Henderson, who was by far their most (and perhaps only) effective player a season ago. They are covering his absence with contributions from quickly improving rookie Jeffery Taylor and by playing point guards Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions alongside each other for stretches. “We’re trying to go from the losingest organization in the history of the NBA to establishing where people have to respect us,” Dunlap said. “I don’t know anything about wins. I do know about respect.” … The Sixers have allowed the Pistons to end a seven-game losing streak and the Cavs to end a six-game slide. … A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, NBA players received three chances to make two free throws if the opponent was over the limit. If the player somehow missed all three shots, it was called a “hat trick.” On Saturday in Sacramento, Jazz guard Randy Foye was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and missed all three free throws for a modern-day “hat trick.” … Much has been made of the East-leading Knicks being at or near the top of the NBA in defense, scoring differential, 3-point shooting and fewest turnovers. They also lead the league with 14 technical fouls. MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony already has five – two more than anyone not named DeMarcus Cousins – in just 12 games. And Mike Woodson leads all coaches with three. … Warriors guard Stephen Curry doesn’t need much daylight to get off his shot, so Nuggets guard Ty Lawson gave him virtually none Friday. Lawson swarmed Curry from the opening tip, either denying him the ball or smothering him once he had it. Curry, who averages nearly 15 shots per game, got off just five and didn’t score until making a pair of 3-pointers in the final 3:20. … In the final 6 1/2 minutes of Friday’s loss at Brooklyn, Clippers All-Star guard Chris Paul was 0-of-3 with one assist, two turnovers and six fouls. … The Pacers signed Roy Hibbert to a maximum, four-year, $58 million contract in the offseason and had to be disappointed with his slow start this season, especially with leading scorer Danny Granger on the shelf for three months with a knee injury. Hibbert went eight straight games without a double-double and shot under 32 percent (27-of-85) during that stretch. That prompted an offbeat intervention from Pacers coach Frank Vogel – a late night phone call. “He’s probably the most positive coach I’ve ever had, so I was a little surprised — it’s 11:30 at night and he gives me a call,” Hibbert said. “But he’s always been supportive and I appreciated the call and he just expressed his support and care for me, so I appreciate it.” Hibbert responded with 20 points and 12 rebounds in a win at Washington, then had a triple-double (with 11 blocks) in a win over New Orleans.

Trivia Answer: Rudy Gay at $16.46 million. … Happy 43rd Birthday, Shawn Kemp. … Lookalikes: DeMarre Carroll and actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, who played ruthless henchman Chris Partlow on The Wire. … Our heartfelt sympathy to Kevin McHale.

Chris Bernucca is the deputy editor of His columns appear Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter.


  1. Evan says

    Unless I completely managed to miss it, one glaring omission would have to be Jeff Green. The man is making bank and doing zilch. He’s had one good game against OKC, and then what does he for an encore…an 0-fer-9’er. Youch. Pity points are available for his heart surgery, but that’s not the topic at hand. Green by technical salary knock-out.

    • says


      You might be right, at least for the honorable mention area. He is averaging 8 ppg which is not bad for a bench player but unacceptable for a $9 million bench player. And just so you know, I’m not a pity guy. Thanks for reading. CB

  2. Jim says

    I couldn’t agree more with your regarding Hibbert, Ilyasova, and Biedrins. They have been awful. But, while he makes less money, Kirk Hinrich for the Bulls has been dreadful. He can’t shoot, defend, or run a team anymore.

    But Tyrus Thomas, has anyone really expected anything out of him the last 2 years? I get your point with the money he makes, but if any Bobcat fan was expecting anything out of him this year they haven’t watched much basketball the last few years.

    And A.J., seriously, you don’t understand when someone is doing a play on words?

    • says


      Thanks for reading. Have to admit haven’t watched much Bulls so can’t speak to Hinrich but it does seem like Nate is playing an awful lot. Bobcats paid Thomas like they expected something. Oh well. At least they saved their amnesty provision. CB

    • says

      WOW this must have been an amazing night! Congratulations on fidning homes for some of these exquisite pieces of art. I understand that you used bespoke tailoring patterns of deceased Savile Row customers for these pieces? How intriguing, I love this idea, thanks for sharing it. I’m gutted I discovered you just too late to see this show! I shall be following you anyway. Happy Friday! Tan

  3. A,J. says

    Umm, Chris … the Dire Straits lyrics said “chicks for free,” not “checks for free.” I’m guessing you also thought the Jimi Hendrix “Purple Haze” lyrics said, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

    So for the sake of accuracy in reporting, you may want to completely update your post. Discuss all the times Pat Ewing got his apple polished at the Gold Club. Or Jeff Garcia still making the neighborhood gloryhole his home away from home.

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