In case you were busy perpetually holding both thumbs up in a tribute to the late Roger Ebert, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
- The Oklahoma City Thunder kept the pressure on the San Antonio Spurs in their race for the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 100-88 win at home. The game was decided by the point guards, with Russell Westbrook besting Tony Parker on both ends of the court. "Can a man truly be bested?" Parker asked as he enjoyed a postgame Gauloises. "Or can a man merely throw himself headlong into the illusion of a game for a period of time? Of course the game I am referring to is not basketball, but it is life, and the illusion I am referring to is that we are alive at all, and the period of time I am referring to is forever for a child such as Russell." Parker then allowed himself a grin, before realizing that his smile betrayed his own hypocrisy, and that he was also smoking the lit end of his Gauloises.
- The Chicago Bulls went to Brooklyn and came away with a tight 92-90 win over the Nets. When told of the team's travel plans, Bulls forward Carlos Boozer responded, "Oh, I didn't know the Nets played in Brooklyn," before dragging teammate Taj Gibson to a beer garden down in Williamsburg, claiming that he saw Lena Dunham, and telling Kirk Hinrich that he totally had a chance with her because "I've seen that show Girls, and man, you're so in. You are so in." Boozer then, after awkwardly realizing the woman he saw wasn't Lena Dunham at all, yelled out his signature catchphrase, "Can you smell the Booze stank in the room?!" before being admonished by interactive marketing brand account manager Terrence Wilson: "Booze stank," he said, "is a pretty gauche way to refer to the aroma of high-quality Trappist ales." Boozer was so put off by Wilson's attitude that he dropped a double-double on the Nets, despite being "surprisingly tipsy after only two beers."
- Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee was brilliant, tossing eight scoreless innings in Philadelphia's first win of the season, 2-0, over the Atlanta Braves. Lee, who's trying to bounce back from a wretched 2012 season in which he led all qualified starters in xFIP but failed to secure any wins until July, due to a combination of blown saves and low run support, said after the game, "Sure, I had eight strikeouts and no walks, but all that matters to me is Ben Revere's second-inning groundout, which brought home the winning run. If it weren't for that, man, I would've been off to a real lousy start to the year. But that groundout, combined with Jonathan Papelbon's brilliant ninth inning, and this is looking like a big ol' rebound year for the Cliffster."
- Denver continued their hot play with a 95-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks, but lost forward Danilo Gallinari to a potentially serious knee injury in the process. Whatever you do, do not blame Nuggets head coach George Karl for the injury. Sure, he signed a contract with a mysterious wood nymph in 1990, who promised that all of the teams he led "would win more than they lose, forever," and sure, he didn't read the fine print, which excluded postseason results from the contractual obligations, and sure, the wood nymph said before the contract was signed, "Before you sign this, know that you shall be tested annually by the men you lead, whether it be by excessive fatherhood, drink, discord, or Italian swagger," and sure the wood nymph said, "And I will stop said Italian swagger by any means necessary. Seriously, George, you probably shouldn't sign this contact; I honestly don't know why I'm offering it to you, I gain nothing, and you lose so much. I only offered it to you so as not to waste the tree bark upon which it is written." But don't blame George Karl. He's already suffered enough.
- Albert Pujols got his first hit of the season, but the Los Angeles Angels still fell to the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, at the Great American Ball Park. Pujols, who's playing through the pain of plantar fasciitis, only has eight seasons remaining on his contract after this one, which means it will only be six years until he fulfills his destiny of playing for the New York Yankees while a team from Los Angeles pays his salary.
- The Baylor Bears won their first NIT title, blowing out the Iowa Hawkeyes, 74-54, at Madison Square Garden. "We did it, Coach! We're the champions!" Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson told head coach Scott Drew as he embraced him after the game. "But, gee, I sure did think there would be more media here — and hubbub." But Drew shushed Jackson, telling him, "No, Pierre, this is exactly how it's meant to be. Now you go back to the hotel room and don't watch any TV or Internet for a week now. Just bask in it. Champion."
- Using his skate and a dose of good luck, Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in a Boston uniform, and it proved a decisive one as the Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils, 1-0. It was the Bruins' sixth consecutive win over the Devils, serving as proof that in our modern Vine-driven era, the prospect of getting mauled by a bear is far more terrifying than eternal damnation. This stands in direct contrast with the AOL/Prodigy era of the ’90s, when Satan ruled and the threat of bear attacks was rendered all but meaningless. The biggest thing to note is that while things always change, complacency will either leave you vulnerable to bear attacks or to an eternity of suffering.
- Gareth Bale suffered a scary-looking ankle injury as Tottenham Hotspur was held to a 2-2 draw with FC Basel in Europa League play. The injury was only exacerbated by Spurs physio Geoff Scott's refusal to administer treatment after Bale went down. "This is exactly like that time the neighbor boy was all like, 'My sheep, my sheep!' but he was just tricking me and my mum into leaving our house so he could steal our meat pies," Scott told Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas as Bale writhed in pain. When Villas-Boas asked him if the neighbor ever did get his sheep eaten, Scott replied, "Dear me, yes, they were all devoured. But I see no link between that situation and this one right now with Gareth."