In case you were busy trying to understand why Skapoli and the Dustones' album, which dropped yesterday with no fanfare on iTunes, didn't instantly go platinum, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
LaMarcus Aldridge put up 31 points and 25 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 111-104. Oh, it looks like it's time for America's least-favorite onetime feature, in which we remind America that Rick Barnes did make the Elite Eight with LaMarcus Aldridge on his team, but really, since they lost to LSU, that still has to qualify as underachieving, "America, Rick Barnes Did Make the Elite Eight With LaMarcus Aldridge On His Team, But Really, Since They Lost To LSU, That Still Has To Qualify As Underachieving." Rick Barnes did make the Elite Eight with LaMarcus Aldridge on his team, but really, since they lost to LSU, that still has to qualify as underachieving. Thus concludes the first, and hopefully only installment of, "America, Rick Barnes Did Make the Elite Eight With LaMarcus Aldridge On His Team, But Really, Since They Lost To LSU, That Still Has To Qualify As Underachieving."
San Diego handed Denver its first home defeat of the season, as the Chargers' much-maligned defense kept Peyton Manning in check in their 27-20 win over the Broncos. When asked how he felt after the loss, Manning said, "Fine. No highs, no lows. That's what I always say. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to my happy place." Manning then, in a macabre display, retreated to the team's film room with a large Papa John's pizza, which he ate all of while watching himself throw the game-sealing interception on repeat.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here 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.
Dinner Is Served
Chris Ryan: Early in the night, when nothing seemed to be going in for Steph Curry, and by extension, nothing seemed to be going right for the Warriors, Doug Collins said something about how Oracle Arena needed a 3, because it fed off long-distance shooting the way some crowds fed off a dunk. It took him a little while, but by the end of the night, Curry got around to feeding the Dubs fans, and they went home stuffed.
In case you were busy running into a heavily padded man one last time for the kids, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Former Boston head coach Doc Rivers's emotional return to Boston was a success as his Clippers came from behind to top the Celtics 96-88. It was a less successful return for Clippers center Ryan Hollins, who mistakenly assumed that the pregame tribute to Rivers was in honor of his own brief tenure with the Celtics in 2012 and awkwardly had to turn his grateful wave to the fans into an arm stretch/scratch of the head combo when he realized his mistake.
It was 34 degrees in New York City yesterday, but my son Sam and I decided to spend 45 minutes in the cold walking home up 9th Avenue instead of sitting in Madison Square Garden watching the second half of the Knicks/Celtics game.
I can’t offer Zach Lowe–like analysis of the statistical inequities between the teams. But I can try to bring you inside what it feels like to still care about a team that so obviously doesn’t care about us.
The Nets came into last night’s Toilet Bowl having allowed 107.5 points per 100 possessions, the very worst mark in the league. They outdid themselves against the struggling Knicks, allowing the equivalent of 130 points per 100 possessions in a game that began as something of a snark spectacle and gradually became a serious embarrassment for a team with absolutely no clue right now on either end of the floor.
The Knicks did nothing special, though they did come out in the second half clearly committed to running more motion-based plays and generally playing the kind of offense an NBA team should play. They ran a few Carmelo Anthony–Andrea Bargnani pick-and-pops, and they thrived whenever they posted Anthony up against the game but overmatched Alan Anderson. Anthony loves to catch the ball, face up in one-on-one situations, and take midrange jumpers off the bounce. That is glamorous, highlight stuff.
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.
The Knicks have lost nine games in a row. In the last couple of days, Iman Shumpert lit up Carmelo Anthony in a huddle, reportedly for playing poor defense during New York's loss to New Orleans. Shumpert spent the rest of the game on the bench. Since then, it's been reported that Kenyon Martin and Metta World Peace got into a heated argument, and Mike Woodson has called the perception that he does not like Shumpert "bullshit." We asked our two biggest Knicks fans, Jared Dubin and netw3rk, to take stock and try not to ingest any hemlock in the process.
netw3rk: Dearest Jared,
I have spent the last week with a fever, violently evacuating effluvium from my various orifices. So now that I’m semi-back on my feet, let’s talk Knicks. Excuse me. [Disappears into the bathroom for 30 minutes.] OK, the New York Knicks are 10 games under .500 after losing to the partially Unibrow-less Pelicans. They managed this feat with the help of well-timed turnovers and the Memento-like way in which they approached defending Ryan Anderson (7-of-11 from three, 31 points). They also managed to waste a six-block, seven-rebound performance from Andrea Bargnani, who continues to play kinda well while seemingly floating in a vacuum of total despair.
“Play better lineups” is an idea that feels pretty obvious, especially as J.R. Smith continues his Jackie Chan-like assault on basketball decorum, but is it really that simple?
Jared Dubin: Yes. But also, no.
That's the thing about this Knicks season. Everyone keeps trying to boil it down to one thing or another, but it's not nearly that simple.
In case you were busy foolishly enjoying the company of friends and family this holiday season without a television on in the background, here's what you missed in sports over the holiday:
In one of the most stunning endings to a football game in recent memory, Auburn shocked Alabama in the Iron Bowl, winning 34-28 on a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown as time expired. "No regrets," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after the game when asked about his late-game management, "I thought to myself, What's the worst that could happen? And the answer was that the kick could hit a child in the head, creating a trauma that the boy would bury deep into his subconscious. This trauma would then only rear its head again when the boy had grown, fueled by his hate, to become governor of Alabama, and he would then decide by gubernatorial decree to make football illegal. But then I decided that, rightly I might add, that would be impossible; if anything could provoke a coup in the state of Alabama it would be the abolition of football. So I made the right decision, I just got a bad result."
When you were growing up, did your parents ever make your whole family go around the Thanksgiving dinner table and say what you're thankful for? Mine did, every single year. And that's what we're doing with sports today. For two reasons.
First, because Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday of the year. It's the one day we all get to live like Rick Ross. Eat five times too much, sit back and rub your stomach proudly like a king, and then go take a long nap. Plus you get to have a vacation, leftovers, and four or five full days of outrageous laziness. In exchange, the only real responsibility is to take some unspecified amount of time to be grateful for what we have in life.
This stupid sports column can be that gratitude.
Second, and more importantly, we need this. I need this. Somewhere in the middle of Monday Night Football, sports just got too depressing. Derrick Rose going out for the year, watching RG3 go from the most exciting rookie we'd ever seen to the most depressing player in football, and then Bradley Beal — I'm still not ready to talk about how badly I jinxed Beal last week. But yes. There has been a lot of sports news lately that will bum you out. The most depressing sports news makes it twice as important to remember everything that makes sports awesome. And it's the season to rejoice and give thanks, so why not?
Here are 10 reasons all sports fans should be grateful this year.
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."
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 NBA landscape will look much different toward the end of the regular season than it does now, but it’s still insane to think about. If the season ended today, the Toronto Raptors, who aren’t even sure if they should be trying to win this season, would “earn” the no. 4 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference by capturing the Atlantic Division. In related news: They are 5-7, and not very good at professional basketball.
The Atlantic Division probably won’t stay this awful, though that depends almost entirely on one of the New York teams finding its footing. And that seems less a certainty now than it did a week ago, as early-season hiccups morph into long-term problems. The Knicks are 3-8, miserable on both ends of the floor, with a defensive keystone who still might be a month away from returning. The Nets are also 3-8, looking old and slow, with half their roster injured. Meanwhile, the Sixers have regressed after the 3-0 hysteria, and the Celtics are bad — and could make themselves worse via trade.
Over the last couple of weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Washington Wizards have all had players-only meetings. These kind of gatherings rarely happen when things are going well, so it should come as little surprise that the combined record of those teams is 14-31.
So what's going on with these teams? What happened in their players-only meetings? And is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Your NBA chemistry Sherlock and Watson — a.k.a. Chris Ryan and Andrew Sharp — are here to investigate.
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.
This Garden Belongs to Paul George
Chris Ryan: Is Paul George the third-best player in the NBA right now? Did Paul George walk into Madison Square Garden and guard the Knicks' best player (both on the perimeter and in the post)? Did he match Carmelo's 30-point night with a 35-point turn of his own? Did he go into the visitors' locker room, see a glass case marked "Break in Case of Fourth-Quarter Emergency," think about the people who had came before him who had broken things at Madison Square Garden, laugh, shatter it, and score 12 in the final period of regulation and 13 of the Pacers' final 18, including three free throws to send the game into overtime? Did he punch Shump's layup off the backboard? Did he walk off the court like the legend in the making that he is and get dap from celebrities in the making like A$AP Rocky?