In case you were busy devising an elaborate fake game show so you could injure otherwise forgotten celebrities, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
LeBron James flirted with, but fell two assists shy of, a triple-double as his Miami Heat throttled the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-87, to begin their NBA title defense. "Yeah, I saw her across the court," James said of the triple-double. "And you know I was interested, so I said, 'What's up,' bought her a vodka soda, asked the triple-double about her interests. Stuff like that. I mean, there was some chemistry. We had some stuff in common: She's associated with three statistics; I have three MVPs. Stuff like that, you know? But some nights it's not about the triple-double. You aren't generous enough to get her, and that's OK. You learn from that. Triple-doubles aren't objects. Triple-doubles are unique snowflakes, and sometimes, they aren't yours to possess. I mean, we aren't all Oscar Robertson. He once said he had 10,000 triple-doubles. That number's probably too high, but we all know the guy was a player."
The San Antonio Spurs took care of business with a 91-79 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The Spurs overcame the Lakers' perceived advantage inside, which exists because people forget how good Tim Duncan is. "Dwight should be dominating this game. What's going on?" asked self-described medium-core NBA fan Paul Witten of Dallas. "Wait, Tim Duncan's PER was over 24? That's like, really good, yeah? Does everyone know that Tim Duncan is still Tim Duncan? Oh, man, this is what I get for tuning out the regular season when the Mavs went in the tank."
In case you were the one guy in the office who was actually working yesterday, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Break up the Crimson! Harvard mounted the biggest upset of the first day of the NCAA tournament, beating New Mexico, 68-62. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker was near tears after the game, saying, "No one thought New Mexico could be beat. No one. But we took a ragtag bunch of kids with no futures, and we brought down Goliath. No one will hear 'Harvard' and think second-rate any longer. This changes everything."
Davidson's bid to upset Marquette fell just short as a late turnover doomed the Wildcats to a 59-58 defeat at the hands of the Golden Eagles. "Not hands — talons," said Marquette coach Buzz Williams after the game, who credited his team's victory to their "unnecessarily specific mascot name. The Wildcats never had a chance."
In case you were busy wondering what living Nicolas Cage's life would feel like, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The NCAA tournament got under way in Dayton as North Carolina A&T edged Liberty, 73-72. The win was a clear victory for Revisionist Bracketologists, who are well aware of the infringements on liberty that occur when advanced technology mechanizes our agricultural processes. However, the day's other game, in which the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders fell to St. Mary's, was a triumph for Conservative Bracketologists who respect religion's place in society and who do not support raiding, regardless of the color it takes. Fortunately, both groups found common ground in Kentucky's first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris, as John Calipari is both an affront to those who desire a more equitable distribution of finite economic resources and God.
In a Western Conference showdown, the Denver Nuggets proved their recent winning ways are no fluke beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 114-104, on the road. "It's not fair," said Thunder forward Kevin Durant after the game. "It's our house. They should have to play by our rules." Scott Brooks lent his star forward a sympathetic ear, saying, "I hear you, Kevin, but be honest, what rules did they break?" Durant fought back tears as he said, "All of them." "Well, that's true," Brooks granted, before asking, "but were they punished for their infractions? Huh? How many free throws did you shoot tonight?" Durant was silent. "Come on, Kevin," Brooks implored. "How many?" "Sixteen," Durant said with a shake of his head. Brooks kept pushing. "And how many did you make?" "Fourteen," Durant said with a grin. Brooks rubbed Kevin's head. "That's pretty good, isn't it? Maybe they just came in here and played really well. And maybe, just maybe, we can learn from this and give ’em 'what for' come playoff time. Does that sound good?" Durant's grin stretched into a broad smile, as he stood up, visibly reinvigorated. "Yeah, Coach, it sure does!"
There are umpteen NHL games going on at any given time, and it's always hard to know how to allocate your attention. Here are our recommendations for the most interesting of the week's many matchups.
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET MSG / MSG 2 / MSG +2
It was only last June that the Rangers and Devils were facing off in the Eastern Conference finals, but it might as well have been forever ago. This season, the two teams have both found themselves mired in mediocrity, with their playoff odds currently lingering at 54.8 percent (Rangers) and 49.8 percent (Devils), according to Sports Club Stats, though they have taken different paths to get here.
We’re about a quarter of the way through this truncated NHL season, and that seems like a good time to have a look at some of the players who are putting up impressive numbers so far.
But while it’s not exactly a shock to see names like Stamkos, Crosby, and Rinne near the top of various categories, some of this year’s other leaders are less predictable. Granted, we’re dealing with a dozen games or so in most cases, so your “small sample size” warning light should be blinking rapidly. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to recognize some early season surprises.
In case you were busy setting all the clocks in your house back an hour as part of an ill-conceived "February Fools" prank, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
After missing birdie putts on the last two holes he played, Phil Mickelson finished with a 60 in the opening round of the Phoenix Open, one stroke off of the PGA record for the lowest score in a single round. "I'm not thinking about those two putts," a haggard Mickelson said 12 years from now, panhandling outside of a Piggly Wiggly's in West Memphis, Arkansas, a broken shell of his former self. "But, man, they were both so close. I bet things would be different if one of those bad boys fell. But no, I'm not thinking about them. Hey, you got some teeth I could borrow?"
Our Grantland hometown heroes, the Los Angeles Kings, ended a 45-year title drought and hoisted the Stanley Cup on Monday after a 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. That means there are probably a lot of new Kings fans today (Hey guys. There’s always room on the bandwagon!), so we asked hockey stat guru Jonathan Willis to break down the key numbers behind the series. Pull up a chair and let’s learn something!
The Kings home ice is across the street from Grantland HQ, so naturally, we're thrilled about this victory, which was a long time coming. Thank you for not burning down our Starbucks on Monday night.
After L.A. made the Stanley Cup finals late last month, Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons sat down with Kings forward Dustin Penner to discuss the team's playoff run. You'll find links to the pod after the jump.
The celebration began before the sun had even set in Los Angeles. By the time the final buzzer sounded and the Kings had piled on goalie Jonathan Quick, a crowd began to gather in the small plaza outside Staples Center.
The party was smaller than it would have been Wednesday. With the Kings on the brink of a sweep of the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils last week, the area of bars and restaurants nestled around Staples, a hyper-modern “entertainment complex” known as L.A. Live (also home to Grantland's offices), was at a fever pitch. The first jerseys showed up at noon that day, and lines for anywhere with a beer and a TV were 50 deep. The crowds were smaller Monday night, but those who did show up were hungry for a win. The Kings entered Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 series lead, but they had dropped twostraight, and the tension surrounding the game was hinging on desperation. When Dustin Brown scored first during a five-minute power play in the opening period, the fans who packed L.A. Live’s largest sports bar celebrated like it was a goal. When Jeff Carter scored second just 1:42 later, they celebrated like it was a championship.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
The L.A. Kings are Stanley Cup champions. For the first time in franchise history, they're taking home the title after a 6-1 rout of the New Jersey Devils in Game 6. With the end of the NHL season, Canadians allowed themselves a night of celebration before migrating to their caves this morning to begin a long hibernation. But be warned — just because they're inactive for a few months doesn't mean you can disturb them without consequence. Canadians have been known to react violently when woken from a hibernation slumber. They can rise quickly to defend themselves if they think an attack is imminent — a necessary skill, since they can't burrow underground for protection.
Many moons ago, in a former and more Ann Taylor–filled life, I had a summer internship in the finance world that consisted mostly of the sending of FedExes, the kissing of asses, and the assembling of spreadsheets that would almost immediately become obsolete.
After two weeks of militant training in which I and the rest of the summer analyst class were repeatedly and ominously told to think of our jobs "as a 10-week interview" and instructed to "leverage this opportunity into full-time conversion," I finally got my very first assignment.
The project was straightforward, if time-consuming: My boss had a meeting the following week with some super-rich dude who he hoped would one day become a client, and it was my job to corral the motley dribs and drabs of bank statements, handwritten Post-it notes, and dusty stock certificates the man had shipped over to us into some sort of workable and comprehensive dossier about just how much he was worth. (And, of course, about how we would best "put his money to work.")
As a lifelong goody-two-shoes thrilled by the prospect of being able to finally prove myself with an actual task, I decided I wouldn't leave the office until I'd finished the assignment, which wasn't expected to be completed for a few days. I labored through spreadsheets. I ordered dinner. I anticipated questions and problems and prepared explanations and defenses. I formatted fonts and pasted photos. I went home at 3, showered, and came back at 5. I finished. I felt immensely industrious.
I sat there, exhausted but proud, as my boss — a whip-smart, slicked-back man whose wife would call in every day that summer to complain about the temperature of the pool at the Hamptons house they were renting — came in, sat down at his desk, saw the thick packet I had so speedily slaved over, and smirked.
"Looks like they didn't teach you in training," he said, "how to manage expectations."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
LeBron James finished with 31 points and 12 boards, and Chris Bosh hit several clutch fourth-quarter shots, as the Miami Heat beat the Celtics 101-88 in Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals. "I tried," said Rajon Rondo, his eyes misting as he stood with his teammates in the parking lot after the game. "I want you all to know how much you meant to me, all these years. This place it's not so bad. It's not so bad." They were about to ask him why he was so emotional, but then they saw the spaceship land.
The Kings' Anze Kopitar has scored two goals in three games against the Devils, and both have been completely devastating. The first came in overtime to win Game 1, and while the second wasn't a game-winner, it sure felt like one. His tally in Monday night's Game 3 put the Kings up 2-0, a particularly wide gulf in a series in which the Devils have managed to score just twice.
Just as notable about both goals, though, is how beautifully they were set up by Justin Williams, L.A.'s 30-year-old forward who, somehow, remains relatively obscure despite playing on the team's top line. The Kings' top six guys include their captain, Dustin Brown, their marquee scorer, Kopitar, and a second line with plenty of name recognition: former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and of course our beloved Dustin Penner.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and James Harden nailed two clutch fourth-quarter 3s to give the Thunder a 108-103 win over the Spurs and a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals. "We couldn't hit the big shots," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "It's too bad we couldn't get a Harden of our own. We're a little old, and let's face it, it's not easy to get a Harden anyway. Hey, why is everyone giggling? It's not funny. When things got close and the pressure was on, we were soft. Maybe we were anxious, maybe it was a physical issue. But I can't put it any more bluntly: We needed a Harden. We're not the first team to face this problem, and we won't be the last. But I'll tell you this much — we're not getting a Harden this year. We definitely won't get one Wednesday in Oklahoma. In fact, we'll have to face one, which is terrifyi— OK, seriously, guys, what's the joke?"