In case you were busy calling out traders on Twitter, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Golden State Warriors exploded for 42 points in the fourth quarter as they overturned a 27-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 112-103. Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was incensed after the game, saying, "The Warriors, they're who we thought they were. That's why we took the damn court." Casey then pounded the podium and yelled, "Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were! And we let them off the hook." When told of Casey's comments, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry frowned and asked, "This doesn't mean I'm Rex Grossman, does it? Because I really don't want to be Rex Grossman."
In the marquee move of a busy day of major league hot stove action, sources are reporting that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will leave the world champion Boston Red Sox, having agreed to terms on a seven-year deal with the New York Yankees. When asked if he saw himself as following in the footsteps of former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, who also moved to the Yankees after winning a World Series title, Ellsbury's eyes darted as he said, "What? No. Who? Who's Johnny Damon? You're crazy." When asked if he was Johnny Damon posing as Jacoby Ellsbury, Ellsbury glared and said, "Why can't you just be cool? If you were cool you wouldn't ask these questions." Ellsbury was then asked if he had ever existed, or if he had always been a clever ruse designed to extend Johnny Damon's career, to which Ellsbury replied, "Seriously, why won't you just let me have this? Please just let me have this."
In case you were busy being thankful for Moises Alou's Hall of Fame candidacy, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Jordan Lynch broke his own FBS single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 321, as Northern Illinois finished its regular season undefeated with a 33-14 win over Western Michigan. "No! My record is gone," Lynch said after the game. When told he still had the record, Lynch shook his head and said, "Sure, but it's not the same. I loved that old record like a son. This one I'll never tell it how much I love it. I'm just gonna put a ton of pressure on it to make up for my lost relationship with the old record. Even if it means this new one is gonna grow up to be all weird and maladjusted." Lynch then looked at a picture of himself setting the original rushing record and let a single tear trickle down his cheek before yelling, "You're nothing to me!" at a TV playing a highlight reel of Tuesday's game.
Despite being down Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, Golden State held on late to edge the Pelicans, 102-101, in New Orleans. "I didn't want to play either," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after the game. "I mean, have you seen that Pelican mascot? Pure intimidation. But with those two out I knew I'd have to fight through it, no matter how many nightmares I'm sure to have tonight."
Some thoughts after a very depressing weekend of NBA basketball has left the league feeling unusually unsettled for this time of season, with scads of injuries and so many (Eastern Conference) teams with high internal expectations floundering horribly:
With Derrick Rose officially lost for the season, we don't need any more reminders about just how much luck and health-related fortune goes into winning even a single championship. All the VERY LOUD SHOUTING about "ringzzzzz" might obscure this, but how many rings would Michael Jordan own if Scottie Pippen had developed chronic knee issues? Bill Russell went down midway through the 1958 Finals, which the Celtics lost, and injuries both major and minor have tipped the balance of every postseason since. We would do well to remember season-altering issues to contender centerpieces (Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, Jerry West, Kevin Garnett, Oscar Robertson, Dave DeBusschere, Russell Westbrook, Andrew Bynum, Isiah Thomas, etc.) and sub-stars (Jameer Nelson, Sam Cassell, Lakers-era Karl Malone, Gus Johnson, and on, and on) the next time someone screams about how pathetic and "unclutch" it is that Player X hasn't won a ring. Health plays a giant role in deciding the champion — in literally every season.
For all the attention on the wonky basketball mysteries SportVU tracking cameras might solve, the real holy grail is combining that technology with others that might lead to some tiny slice of enlightenment on injury prediction and prevention. It will never be an exact science — not in our lifetimes, anyway. But any team that learns some small truth about injuries will have gained a valuable edge.
Today’s installment of NBA Betting Lines comes to you from a Greyhound parked outside the Atlantic City hospital. It’s 9:14 on a Sunday morning. A dense, acrid fog sits over the boardwalk and everything smells like fish guts in the sun. For reasons unknown, half the passengers on this bus carried on mini-breadmakers. It’s been 10 years since I’ve done the Port Authority–to–Bally’s route and I’m pleased to report that the horrors have not ceased. Mom, rest easy. I came down here only because a close friend has just caught the bug. He lived his entire life in New York City and up until recently had never been to Atlantic City. In the past six weeks, he's been here three times. This is called a problem. So I thought I'd be a good buddy and take the bus down with him so that when he finally got felted at the blackjack table, all his dreams turned to lies (that line courtesy of Mike Tyson), I could laugh and feel superior and throw my arm around his shoulder and tell him about all the parlays My Scrabble Friend and I have laid because My Scrabble Friend says he has a "good feel" about Troy’s football team.
There are a lot of serious things to say about Golden State, and we'll give those things due space and time at some point. The Warriors are the only team in the top five in both points scored and allowed per possession, a classic signifier of true title contention, as Tom Haberstroh pointed out yesterday. They've been a little foul prone this season, but they were last season, too, and they appear to be even more comfortable running the defensive system Mike Malone installed before leaving to coach the Kings.
Andre Iguodala has fit on both ends of the floor like Ace Ventura's speeding car in a tight parking spot. In this era of the ball-dominant point guard and spread pick-and-roll offenses, the Warriors have constructed a roster that allows their point guard, Stephen Curry, to dribble as much or as little as required on a given night. They can hide him on defense more easily with Iguodala around; Klay Thompson is generally guarding opposing point guards, and Iggy is taking the tough wings. They take a ton of 3s, as they should; only Houston takes more as a percentage of overall shot attempts.
Man, this has been a weird little season so far. Everybody looks terrible on the second night of back-to-backs, and back-to-backs are happening all the time. Miami looks human, Indy looks unbeatable, Brooklyn looks old, J.R. Smith hates Brandon Jennings, and the tank division — Phoenix, Charlotte, Philly, Orlando, and Boston — is actually pretty good. I was getting a little confused by it all. Then, on Thursday night, the Thunder visited the Warriors. All night, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka battled David Lee and the Splash Brothers in front of one of those electric Golden State crowds that make most gyms look like mortuaries.
In case you were rocking a CFL jersey in court, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts once again used their comeback magic to eke out a 30-27 win over the Tennessee Titans. "Wow, we were pretty fortunate to get that win," Luck said after the game. When asked by reporters to phrase his comments another way, Luck replied, "It was a hell of a fortuitous outcome, that's for sure. Chance favored us, as we were blessed with kismet." When asked again to phrase what he was saying in perhaps a simpler and more headline-friendly way, Luck said, "Oh, I see. Well, I would say we struck gold with this team. I would say the win was in the cards. Some may say we caught the breaks, that our run has been a fluke, that the gods were smiling upon us, that victory and my team were joined by serendipity. I mean, we got horseshoes on our helmets and clovers in our pockets, so what would you expect?" Luck then glared at the assembled media and added, "Suck it, for me."
Andre Iguodala's buzzer-beater was the difference as the Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-115, in a riveting Western Conference battle. "Another tough loss, but we're so close," an optimistic Kevin Durant said at the postgame press conference. "I mean, we're just one player away from being really good. And it's no one's fault that we don't have that guy. This front office and ownership group has only made smart decisions." Durant then went to take a sip of water, when things went horribly awry. Durant started shooting sparks out of his mouth, and saying in a horrific robotic voice, "FAILURE, ROBOTIC FAILURE, MUST POWER DOWN, WHY WOULD YOU PROGRAM ME TO FEEL PAIN?" before collapsing to the ground and bursting into flames. Suddenly, a human Durant burst into the room yelling, "They drugged me! They didn't want me to talk," before looking at his robotic double dying on the ground at his feet. "You tried to play God, you monsters!" Durant yelled, as he held his robot double's head in his hands. "All to save a couple million bucks on the Harden deal. This robot must have cost that much. Curse you, Clay Bennett! Curse you!"
In case you were busy convincing friends and family that your Movember mustache should probably stick around through Mocember, here's what you missed on sports on Tuesday:
In a battle of the nation's best freshmen, Jabari Parker outshone Andrew Wiggins, but Wiggins's Kansas Jayhawks pulled away late, beating the Duke Blue Devils 94-83. Coming up with nicknames for the scintillating Parker is the task du jour for college hoops fanatics, so I'm going to throw a few out there; feel free to use any or all of them as you see fit. JaStarry Parker (Parker is a star). JaStarry Starker (seriously, the guy's a star). JaBobri Barker (the price is right for Duke, as college athletes are unpaid). Jaleel Parker (did he do that?). Jab-Ari Gold (for the obvious crossover potential with the upcoming Entourage movie). JaBerry Parker (for the obvious crossover potential with the upcoming Jamba Juice movie that's still happening, right?). Jerk-bari Parker (for NC State fans). Jerk-bari Jerker (for UNC fans). JABARI PARKER! (for Dick Vitale). Jay Parker (it's shorter to say Jay than Jabari). Danny Ferry (for people suffering from long-term amnesia). Shane Battier (for people suffering from mid-term amnesia and a rare disease that prevents them from differentiating between levels of raw athleticism). Jabari Plumlee (for people who don't have time to differentiate between Duke basketball players). Mason Plumlee (for people who really don't have time to differentiate between Duke basketball players). And finally, Marshall Plumlee (for people who really don't have time to differentiate between Duke basketball players, but at least want to make up a fake Plumlee name wait a second Marshall Plumlee is real? What the hell, Duke?).
It's Klay Day, fools. The belt currently belongs to Golden State, and tonight the Warriors face off against people-person Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. TITLE FIGHT NIGHT. This is basically an excuse to get you G'd up for tonight's already awesome game, show you a picture of Klay Thompson adorned with a fake championship belt, and post this:
In case you were busy telling one of your employees to hit another one of your employees to settle an interpersonal workplace dispute, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
A fourth-quarter surge from the Pacers' reserves turned a close game between division rivals into a blowout, as Indiana ran away from the Bulls in a 97-80 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team is now a disappointing 1-3, said after the game, "I'm panicking! Of course I'm panicking! We've played four games! Derrick Rose is not playing like an MVP! We're all panicking!" Thibodeau then added, "Fire! Fire! I don't know what to do! What am I supposed to say? 'Just play your game, and things will turn around?' No! No one will believe me! Must make everything clean! Must make everything clean!" Thibodeau then pulled out a canister of gasoline and poured it over the team's jersey hamper as the media ran from the locker room.
Philadelphia lost its second consecutive game after opening the season a surprising 3-0, falling to the Washington Wizards 116-102. "I think we've got this all straightened out," said 76ers GM Sam Hinkie after the game. "Me and the boys had to come to a bit of an arrangement, see. Turns out just bringing in bad apples ain't enough. You have to make them want to play bad, you hear? But the problem is, shooting baskets is real fun. Almost too fun." Hinkie then smiled and said, "But defense? No one likes playing defense. Dames don't go in for defense. So I say, no defense, and they can keep their precious offense. Pretty clever, eh?"
Last week, we introduced the NBA Regular-Season Championship Belt — a season-long King of the Hill competition to make seemingly inconsequential matchups very friggin' consequential. The idea came from this awesome thread on the /r/NBA board over on Reddit. Miami came into the regular season holding the belt, but lost it to the Sixers in a huge upset. The Sixers — criminally undercovered on Grantland, if you ask me — bravely defended their title against the Bulls. They were the kings of the mountain. To see Brett Brown in his offices at Wells Fargo, one had to bring offerings like cattle or emeralds.
In case you were busy backing up your asshole son by trolling online forums incognito, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Josh McCown led the Bears to a 27-20 win over an injury-depleted Green Bay Packers squad at Lambeau Field, creating a three-team logjam at the top of the NFC North at the midway point of the season. "There's only gonna be one way to settle this," said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy after the game. "We'll have to play the rest of our schedules." McCarthy then looked down at a laminated sheet of paper that said "Trust your gut, big guy," looked back up, smiled, and said, Yep, I'm almost positive we'll just have to play the rest of the games to determine who wins."
In case you were busy shooing weird-looking kids begging for candy off your doorstep, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Cameron Wake's game-ending sack of Andy Dalton was the difference as the Miami Dolphins snapped the Cincinnati Bengals' four-game winning streak via a rare overtime safety in a 22-20 win. When asked if Wake's pressure had gotten in his head, a confident Dalton replied, "Not at all. That game was just a real wake-up call for our team — no, no. I'm not going to do that, he's not in my head." Dalton took a deep breath and continued, saying, "I mean, fortunately this isn't some sort of wake for our chance to win the divis— no! Shit. There's another way to say that." Dalton then shook his head for a second before changing the subject, saying, "Let's talk about our defense, which did a great job even without Brandon Ghee, who went to Wake Forest — what is happening to me? Come on, I'm not brain-dead like those guys in Awakenings — gah!" A visibly desperate Dalton then said, "OK, OK. I'm gonna talk about something else entirely. Have you guys heard that new Arcade Fire album? Not as good as 'Wake Up' but — goddamnit! Wakeboarding is a great way to enjoy the summer — what? I don't even believe that! 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' was a hit by Wham — this has to stop!" Dalton then stood very still for a moment, before saying very slowly, "Credit to the Dolphins. They've come a long way since the Cam Cameron era." Dalton then paused and looked around the room, before suddenly blurting out, "Cameron Wake era. Dolphins can ride the wake. Wake up, Andy! Wake up!"
In case you were busy coming around to the idea that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is just the sort of guy who sometimes has to be yelled at, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
In what may prove to be the biggest upset of the entire NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers stormed out to an early 19-0 lead before holding on late to beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat 114-110. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams looked like a star, putting up 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, and seven rebounds in his NBA debut. Unfortunately, Carter-Williams was shut down for the season after the game by 76ers GM Sam Hinkie for what he described as "precautionary reasons." When asked to clarify, Hinkie said, "I'm hoping this will serve as a precaution to the rest of the team as to where looking like a star will get you."
The Red Sox are your 2013 World Series champions after John Lackey powered Boston past the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in a deciding Game 6. "Just as I predicted," said Boston superfan Aaron Sullivan. "Lackey brings us another banner. Never doubted that it would happen." When asked specifically when he made that prediction, Sullivan replied, "Fourth inning, right after we went up 6-0. And I swear I only backed off it three or four times," before promising to name one of his middle children John Lackey Sullivan, assuming that one of them came out looking a little squished.