Well, this should be interesting. That's Dwight's fifth game this season with at least 25 points and 15 rebounds. He got 26 offensive touches in the paint, and went 9-15 from that same area. This is what the Lakers are now. This, and Pau Gasol. And, of course, Andrew Goudelock, "the garden snake."
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 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?"
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.
The Tournament of Knicks-Nuggets Story Lines
netw3rk: Without narratives our brains would be lost in a chaotic swirl of disparate and unconnected events. Narratives are the stories we tell ourselves. It's the way we imbue our lives with meaning. Without narratives we would all go through our lives like some debauched French existentialist philosopher with Memento disease. Are sports narratives reductive and dumb sometimes? Heck yeah; most times even. But the alternative would mean confronting the reality that you are watching dudes run back and forth, meaninglessly bouncing a ball, as time flows inexorably toward the eventual destruction of Earth when it is swallowed by our aging sun. That's no fun at all. So without any further ado, here are 16 mainstream narratives pertaining to the Knicks-Nuggets game in Denver presented in March Madness bracket form.
In case you just saw the trailer for Upside Down and found yourself suddenly back to square-one on your big screenplay idea, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Wide receiver Wes Welker has left the New England Patriots, signing a two-year contract with the Denver Broncos. "I always hated Welker," said Northeastern sophomore and Patriots superfan Aaron Sullivan. "Just like I always hated Clemens, Vinatieri, Damon, Beckett, Ray Ray, Manny B, and Tom Brady." When asked why he hated Tom Brady, who never has left a Boston-based team to play for a rival, Sullivan responded, "Oh, guy thinks he's so great because he never left the Pats. Real Pats leave. Period."
The Miami Heat won their 20th consecutive game, beating the Philadelphia 76ers, 98-94, on the road. "Twenty in a row, that's a perfect game in Magic: The Gathering, am I right?" asked Heat forward Shane Battier after the game. "If only someone on this team would play with me. I have a sweet black/blue deck I want to try out. I tried to teach Chris Andersen how to play, but he kept folding up the cards and throwing them at me while yelling, 'Cacaw!' It was disappointing."
Kobe Bryant suffered an ankle injury while landing awkwardly on a late field goal attempt defended by Dahntay Jones, as the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Hawks in Atlanta, 96-92. Bryant has been ruled out indefinitely with the injury, saying after the game, "Revenge isn't the sort of thing that has a timetable. Except for a 30-minute head start." When told of Bryant's statement half an hour later, Jones asked, "Wait, when did he say that?" before slipping on a loose piece of linoleum and bruising his knee.
In case you were out drunkenly explaining that Joel Schumacher was never a good enough director to "lose it Rob Reiner style," here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Lakers were again bested by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 122-105. The Thunder played solid fundamental basketball, limiting themselves to only two turnovers on the night while shooting over 90 percent from the free throw line. "We give the fans what they want here in Oklahoma City," said Kevin Durant after the game, before spending the rest of his night handing out small bags of baby carrots to kids asking for his autograph.
With 2:15 left in the third quarter at the United Center last night, the Bulls and Sixers made their ways to the proper benches for a TV timeout. It was that time in the night when a footrace between animated breakfast food comes on the video board, and as the racers were announced (Dashing Donut, Cuppy Coffee, and Biggie Bagel), people in the crowd reached for their cards to find out in which Dunkin’ Donuts product they had a rooting interest. My friend made a joke about how Larry Bird must hate all this, but aside from that, I see little problem in providing fans with interstitial bits of entertainment. Plus, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is delicious.
The troubling part came when we noticed that joining the viewing public was the majority of the 76ers bench. Down 11, two days after a double-digit loss to D-League Orlando followed by a public chastising by its coach, most of the Philly roster was more invested in Dashing Donut’s triumph than in whatever Doug Collins had to say.
Chicago and Philadelphia, it would seem, are in similar situations. Both are in their third year of playing for a demanding head coach who occasionally sounds like he ate a pack of Marlboro Reds for lunch. Both have spent this season without the star that was supposed to define their rosters. And both came into last night’s game mired in their worst stretch of the season. It was something, then, to watch how each responded at their lowest point. It’s not that the Sixers’ starters shared their apathy of their bench-dwelling teammates in their 93-82 loss; it’s that none of them were Joakim Noah.
In case you were out drinking away the memories of all the birthday parties you didn't get to have as a child because you were born on February 29, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
College basketball's topsy-turvy season continued as Virginia beat Duke in Charlottesville, 73-68. While this might have appeared to be a massive upset based on the AP rankings, Las Vegas actually had the game as a virtual pick 'em, due to Virginia's recent form at home and the continued absence of Duke's Ryan Kelly. In unrelated news, this weekend's foam party at the Duke PIKE house has been canceled due to lack of funds after a "shockingly big loss on what should've been a sure thing," according to fraternity treasurer Charles 'Chip' Willoughby Jr.
A lost season hit its low point last night in Philadelphia, when an Orlando team that is now 4-28 in its last 32 games blew out the Sixers, resulting in a postgame borderline meltdown from Doug Collins. Over an excruciating 10 minutes, Collins did the following:
• Passed the buck for Philly’s awful game almost totally onto the players, saying he’s only in charge of “execution,” while implying the players are responsible for everything else. That includes “effort,” Collins said. And more: “I did not think our guys prepared themselves during the [All-Star] break to come back and play.”
• Went out of his way to specifically mention that Nikola Vucevic grabbed 19 rebounds, while Spencer Hawes snagged just one in 21 minutes. In related news: Vucevic was a member of the Sixers last season, and he was even in the rotation before Collins tossed him through the always-revolving turnstile that leads to Collins’s doghouse. Vucevic played less than three minutes total in Philly’s 13 playoff games. The Sixers’ front office, acting to a large extent under Collins’s directive, traded Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Andre Iguodala, and a future first-round pick away in the Andrew Bynum deal.
The life and death of Spencer Hawes! Blake Griffin (sorta) switched hands in midair against the Sixers last night. According to the announcers, the crowd went crazy — though given the fact that the crowd was in Philly, this could have been for any number of reasons (fighting over the spoils of a T-shirt cannon, mourning Hip-Hop, Iverson sighting, etc.)
In case you were busy explaining to your family that you aren't a "doomsday prepper," you're just ready for anything, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Tiger Woods secured his first victory of 2013, easing to a four shot win at the Farmers Open at Torrey Pines. "Winning big tournaments — nothing's better. This is the best feeling in the world," Woods said, before snapping a rubber band on his wrist really, really hard. "Yup, no feeling in the world is better than this one."
It’s been nearly five years since the Memphis Grizzlies sent Pau Gasol to the L.A. Lakers in what was one of the more vilified deals in NBA history. In exchange for an All-Star big man who helped the Lakers secure two titles, the Grizzlies received luminary talents Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton, aging veteran Aaron McKie, and the draft rights to Marc Gasol, Pau’s promising, but pudgy, younger brother.
As hard as it is to believe now, Crittenton, picked 19th in 2007, was the more highly rated prospect at the time. Drafted 47th overall by the Lakers that same year, Marc was almost viewed as a throw-in to the deal, but despite being a relative afterthought, the unheralded Gasol has emerged as one of the league’s best centers, and a trade once considered lopsided now seems markedly more balanced.
This summer, another mega-trade landed a star big man in Los Angeles while leaving his old team with compensation that seemed rather ordinary. Initially, it looked as if, other than a handful of draft picks (three firsts and two seconds), the Orlando Magic would have little to show in exchange for Dwight Howard. But among the mildly overpaid veterans (Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington) and assorted flotsam (Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga), the Magic received Nikola Vucevic, an unheralded first-round pick fresh off a solid, but uninspiring, rookie season. Much like Gasol did for Memphis, Vucevic is emerging as an unexpected force who might eventually alter how we view a franchise-changing trade.
The growing importance of the 3-point shot in today’s NBA is hardly a secret. It has become an essential element for efficient team offense. Not only is the shot itself valuable, but its mere threat creates by far the most precious commodity in the game today — space.
Modern-day defenses, more sophisticated and aggressive than ever before, are built to take away that space. Elite offenses, meanwhile, emphasize ways to create as much of it as possible. With the exception of a select few, like Dwyane Wade, this becomes a struggle for players who struggle with outside shooting.
Because of that, a reliable 3-point shot has become the most critical skill for players to develop. It not only helps maximize earning potential, it allows players to seamlessly fit into nearly any system with positive results. Rudy Gay and Evan Turner are two such players currently reaping the benefits of an offseason spent honing their 3-point strokes.