In case you were busy getting your NIT bracket in before tipoff, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
The Miami Heat secured their 23rd consecutive victory, overcoming Jeff Green's 43 points to grab sole possession of the second longest winning streak in NBA history, as they edged the Boston Celtics, 105-103. "That has a nice, non-confrontational ring to it," said Heat forward LeBron James after the game. "'Second best of all time.' Maybe people can just say that about me. And just leave it at that. Really. I don't care at this point."
Not to be outdone, the Denver Nuggets won their 12th consecutive game, overcoming 34 points from Nate Robinson to beat the Chicago Bulls, 119-118, in overtime at the United Center. "That has a nice non-confrontational ring to it," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "Second best team in the NBA hold on, I seem to be getting a call." Karl then looked at his phone before sheepishly muting the ringer. "It was Coach Pop. I'll call him back How about third best team in the NBA?"
In case you were out walking your dog, really walking him, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
LeBron James netted his first game-winning shot since coming to Miami, and the Heat ran their winning streak to 16, beating the Orlando Magic, 97-96. "He's a bad man," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said after the game. "That's gotta be the baddest thing a man has done in Florida since well probably not that long."
Miami isn't the only team in pro sports with an impressive winning streak. The Chicago Blackhawks have now reached the midpoint of the shortened NHL season without a loss in regulation, getting a last-minute, game-winning goal from Daniel Carcillo to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2. The streak has gotten so much attention that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman commented on it publicly, saying, "I really shouldn't say this, but for the sake of our sport, I hope they run the table all season. Nothing would bring me more pleasure than recognizing that amazing effort by putting an asterisk next to it in the record book." Bettman then kicked an adorable golden retriever puppy named Scruffles on the way home to his mansion. He then congratulated himself on a day well-spent by pouring a bottle of Opus One Cabernet on a rug before demanding his servants clean it up.
There are umpteen NHL games going on, and it's always hard to know how to allocate your attention. Here's our recommendation for the most interesting of the week's matchups.
Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET CSN Chicago/Fox Sports North
Colorado Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET NBCSN
Welp, here's when you know we might be reaching Peak Nonpointlessness Streak: SportsCenter is sending a reporter — please be Stephen A. — to Tuesday night's Blackhawks-Wild game, as Chicago looks to continue its historic run. What I like most about this particular streak is that theoretically, a team could come along next year with an 0-0-23 start and wipe the record book clean. I kid, I kid — stop looking at me with those Toews Death Stare masks! Here's something that genuinely is kind of amazing about what the Blackhawks have done, though: All three of their extra-time losses have come in shootouts, not during overtime. Seven times, they've come out of overtime or a shootout with a win — including Sunday, when their win over the Red Wings came with this peacocky Patrick Kane make:
Just one day after trying (and failing) to land Avalanche free agent Ryan O’Reilly with an aggressive offer sheet, Jay Feaster and the Calgary Flames found themselves in the center of a controversy over whether they’d almost committed an all-time blunder.
According to a report, the Flames would have had to place O’Reilly on waivers as soon as they signed him. That means Calgary would have given up the draft pick compensation and the $2.5 million signing bonus, only to see its new player immediately wind up elsewhere. That didn’t end up happening, because the Avalanche matched the offer sheet, robbing us all of what would have no doubt been a fascinating legal scramble, but the incident embarrassed the Flames and has fans calling for Feaster’s head.
All of which puts Feaster & Friends in good company. After all, NHL hockey is complicated business, and the Flames’ offer-sheet saga certainly wasn’t the first time that somebody in the hockey world found themselves getting tripped up by a legal loophole.
Whether it was through confusion, dishonesty, or just plain old incompetence, here are some infamous moments in NHL history that had fans and team officials alike scratching their heads and checking their rulebooks.
It would appear that the NHL’s firing season is upon us. We’ve already seen two GMs relieved of their duties since the lockout ended — Brian Burke’s oddly timed dismissal in Toronto, followed by Scott Howson finally being put out of his misery in Columbus. Last week, we got our first coaching casualty.
And it was a big one. Lindy Ruff had held the distinction of being the NHL’s longest-serving head coach but this month got the pink slip after more than 15 years on the job in Buffalo. If Lindy Ruff can be fired, anyone can.
So who’s next? Let’s take a look around the league at some of the coaches and GMs who find themselves on the hot seat.
On Tuesday, Arsenal lost on penalties to Bradford in the League Cup. This is astonishing because Bradford is in the fourth division of English football and Premier League–side Arsenal is still good (or they might be ... they are in the last 16 of the Champions League, after all). And it's not every day that you get to follow a team to (what you think is) its nadir.
If you're Jonesing for some schadenfreude, you could OD on it by reading the post-match comments over at Arseblog, maybe the top Gooner-centric destination on the Web. The big takeaway is that the "Wenger out" groundswell now seems to be about the size of the Sudetenland. Some of the club's current struggles — just 10 wins in its last 25 matches, peppered with some other dreadful losses (Norwich, Swansea) in between — are indeed manager Arsene Wenger's fault. He did bring in Gervinho, who seems to be in some secret competition with the on-loan Nicklas Bendtner to see who can miss the most unmissable sitter (Gervy locked up the contest against Bradford). And the extent to which financial issues may have forced his hand in selling any or all of Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gaël Clichy, Alex Song, and Robin Van Persie, while relevant, is an entirely different discussion. The fact is he has sold really good players and replaced them with less good players.
No, fault aside, Wenger isn't the problem. Or more accurately, sacking Wenger — and really, Arsenal fans, whom do you think you can bring in if you shitcan Wenger? — won't solve the problem. That's because the problem is bigger than the manager; and if anything Wenger is still the last best hope for staving off the looming disaster of the real problem: Stan Kroenke.