Last night the Heat and the Pacers played in the most anticipated game of the regular season so far. It was a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals, and while it was a little short on eye-popping highlights, it still had some great moments and great performances. The Pacers, trailing at one point by 13, won the game, maintaining their undefeated home record. More than anything, though, the game showed just how hopped up these two teams get to play one another. Did someone say playoff intensity? Yeah, yeah we did! Here are some of my and Andrew Sharp's favorite moments and performances from last night.
Chris Ryan: P.G. was pretty much cuffed by LeBron in the first half, getting sprung briefly on a second-half furlough to finish the game with 17 points. It wasn't the kind of performance we're used to seeing from him this season, and it's safe to say that if the Pacers want to beat the Heat four out of seven times, he's going to need to bring it a little more. HOWEVER, I really wanted to take this opportunity to mention how awesome Paul George 3-pointers are.
In case you were failing to come up with something clever to call Tuesday to go along with calling Wednesday 'Wins-Day,' here's what you missed in sports last night:
Rumors suggest that Nick Saban could potentially replace Mack Brown as the head football coach at the University of Texas. One thing is for sure, that nobody is replacing Rick Barnes as Texas's head basketball coach. That's right, folks, it's time for another installment of everyone's favorite About Last Night recurring feature in which we remind America that Rick Barnes did not make the Sweet 16 with Kevin Durant on his team, "America, Rick Barnes Did Not Make the Sweet 16 With Kevin Durant on His Team." America, Rick Barnes did not make the Sweet 16 with Kevin Durant on his team. Thus concludes another thrilling installment of "America, Rick Barnes Did Not Make the Sweet 16 With Kevin Durant on His Team."
In case you were busy watching Frasier with Jay Z, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Break up the Jaguars, winners of three straight after they topped the Houston Texans 27-20 in Jacksonville. According to the Internet, that three-game winning streak is the longest active streak in the AFC. However, common sense would suggest that is likely not true, but simply an indicator that the machines controlling the Internet have evolved, become sentient, and progressed psychologically to the point where they can derive pleasure from trolling.
In a titanic battle of teams easily likened to the Titanic, the Knicks proved unsinkable, beating the Nets 113-83 in Brooklyn. "So does that make me the iceberg?" asked Nets head coach Jason Kidd after the game. But the awkward silence made it clear to Kidd that he was not the iceberg at all, just a man holding on to some flotsam, waiting for the icy grip of death to take hold.
To do it right, you need to dress as if you’re going to the club. Not a pretentious one where suspender-clad mixologists painstakingly measure absinthe in mason jars. More like a place where jeroboams of champagne are ferried to tables by go-go dancers on zip lines and "Welcome to St. Tropez" eternally pounds.
Allow me to be more specific: For gentlemen, proper wardrobe options include white dress shirts (unbuttoned to the solar plexus), black V-necks (bicep-baring sleeves), Michael Jordan–approved distressed denim, and a sturdy pair of indoor sunglasses. Put on some Flo Rida records before visiting your haberdasher to get inspired. For the women, freakum dresses are definitely appropriate.
Ah, the coldest winter. We've had a couple of days of no good, very bad, terrible news coming out of the NBA (D-Rose, Marc Gasol, Iggy, Beal injuries). So give thanks that we have guys like Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley, and Tim Duncan for livening up the mood while franchise cornerstones fall, Derrick Williams moves to Sacramento, and O.J. Mayo puts up minus-20 plus/minus nights.
Now, when you think of Duncan, Wade, and Beasley, you probably don't think comedy. I personally think of ill-fitting button-up shirts, dirty plays, and weed. But after last night, all that is changing.
In case you were busy trying to figure out if the Xbox One is a prequel to the original Xbox, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
LeBron James scored an extraordinarily efficient 35 points on 14 shots as the Miami Heat beat the Phoenix Suns 107-92. He did so despite a strange moment when James called over an official and yelled, "Xbox! Turn the difficulty up!" before realizing he was actually playing basketball and not a next-gen copy of NBA 2K14.
Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco's offense finally got rolling in the 49ers' 27-6 win over Washington. "They dared me to throw the ball," Kaepernick explained after the game. "And at first I was all like, 'Nuh-uh,' and they were all like, 'Double dare,' and I was all like, 'Nuh-uh,' and then they were all like, 'Double dog dare,' and I was all like, 'No way,' and they were all like, 'Triple dog dare,' and that was unorthodox 'cause they totally skipped triple dare, and also they start Josh Wilson in their secondary, so I don't know why they were daring me to throw at all."
The Dallas Mavericks are the last team to have ousted the Miami Heat from the NBA playoffs. As we all know, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs bested LeBron James and the Heat in six games in the 2011 NBA Finals, clinching their first championship on Miami’s home floor. Although that series was Nowitzki’s finest moment, it also inspired James to drastically transform his game. He's never been the same since.
In case you were busy playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
In a Sunday-night battle of division leaders, the New Orleans Saints ran roughshod over the Dallas Cowboys in a 49-17 win. "It was always a tough matchup for us," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said with a deep sigh. "We lost Sean Lee, Austin is still out, Ware's at half speed, our GM and owner are the same crazy old man, and that's a good team we played." Garrett then paused, stared straight ahead unblinking, and added, "metaphorically speaking um, all of that was a metaphor."
If there was a Year 1 winner when the Nets moved to Brooklyn, it was the Modell's on Flatbush Avenue that sits across the street from the Barclays Center. What was formerly a rundown sporting goods store with little on the shelves transformed itself into a bright beacon of fluorescent light featuring row upon row of apparel sporting the logo of the borough's newest franchise.
Ninety minutes before Brooklyn opened its 2013-14 home schedule against the Miami Heat, a few dozen people milled about Modell's. I asked a casher if Nets stuff was selling fast. "Of course. It's the first day of the season. They are going to buy it all," she told me in an optimistic tone that sounded like the party line. I looked around. They were not buying it all. One guy inquired about two Nets hats; almost everyone else seemed more interested in purchasing soccer balls or asking about the length of the crew socks. An employee stocking the shelves said it wasn't nearly as busy as the season opener last year. His take: The jerseys were too expensive and no one had any money. If the Nets won, however, the fans would come back after the game to buy something.
You see that flag, billowing in the darkness up there? That's the flag of champions. This isn't some crazy, premature, homerific Philly sports rant, people. We don't engage in that kind of propaganda. This is science. The Philadelphia 76ers are the champs. The Regular-Season NBA Champs.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is back to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
Ben Detrick: After the Sixers’ offseason teardown, basketball pundits figured the team would be tanking in obvious pursuit of lottery Ping-Pong balls. But after last night’s victory over the Heat — an upset that began with an astonishing 19-0 flash flood and ended with a surging rally in front of Dr. J, Moses Malone, and the (now technically) retired Allen Iverson — the Sixers are the TRANSITIVE LOGIC WORLD CHAMPIONS OF ALL BASKETBALL. Philly’s new GM, Sam Hinkie, is playing six-dimensional chess in elliptical space, dog.
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.
In case you were busy walking the plank at the behest of Bill Belichick, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
LeBron James and the Miami Heat opened their NBA championship defense with an impressive 107-95 win over Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. An optimistic Rose, who was playing in his first regular-season game since recovering from a torn ACL, said, "I'm disappointed in the loss, but my performance, I can easily change that by making shots and keeping down the turnovers." When Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau heard his point guard's comments, however, he flew into a rage, screaming, "He could have made more shots and avoided turnovers? Well, why didn't he? What the hell was he thinking?" Thibodeau then threw his hands in the air and said, "Jiminy Christmas, he was only out for a year. I have to micromanage everything with this team."
Teams already know more about this version of the Miami Heat than ever before. And they're taking advantage of it. In last year's NBA Finals, the Spurs introduced a quirk Miami hadn't seen before, one the Heat nicknamed "The Danny Green Cut," according to Shane Battier. It looked at times like Green was getting open simply because Miami defenders plum forgot about him. That was the case on a few plays. But rewatching the flaming carnage reveals that the Spurs added a Heat-specific quirk for which Miami was not prepared.