In case you were busy getting a fragment of moose antler removed from your foot seriously here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Josh McCown threw for four touchdowns and ran for a fifth as the Chicago Bears continued their dominant offensive form, scything through the Dallas defense en route to a 45-28 win over the Cowboys. "Oh, this is about to get good," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the game as he held his hands in the air. "Now if someone will just please put my firing gloves on my hands, I will head on down to Garrett's office and get to work." Unfortunately for Jones, he had already fired his glove guy, along with the guy who tells him when he's already fired his glove guy so he doesn't awkwardly wait around for the glove guy to put gloves on his hands when there's no glove guy coming. So Jones did wait around, awkwardly waiting for a nonexistent glove guy to come and put gloves on his hands. This gave Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett just enough time to slip onto the team bus, preserving his job for at least another day.
Evgeni Malkin scored in his return to the ice as the Pittsburgh Penguins took down the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. "This is the worst thing to happen in Columbus sports in recent memory," said Blue Jackets winger Matt Calvert. "Our hometown is devastated and it's completely our fault." When told he should maybe go easy on himself and that other things may have happened to sour the city's mood, Calvert rended his garments and wailed, "No! Ours is a city emotionally tuned in to Blue Jackets hockey right now, and nothing else is dictating the palpable sense of disappointment that is hanging over the sports fans of the city like a poisonous mist. It's just Blue Jackets hockey. Nothing else!"
In case you were busy blowing $100k on trying to bump into a professional football player, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Roy Williams improved to 7-0 against Tom Izzo since taking the helm at North Carolina as the Tar Heels upset the top-ranked Michigan State Spartans 79-65 on the road. When told of his dominant run against Izzo, Williams shrugged and replied, "Who's Tom Izzo?" When told that Izzo has been the head coach at Michigan State for almost 20 years, Williams looked concerned and replied, "Man, you really think I would have heard of that guy. But I'll be honest, I had no idea there even was a Michigan State. Michigan, sure, but Michigan State? No idea." When told that Michigan State was the team he had just played, and that there was no need to continue with the head games as his team had already won, Williams said, "Head games, what are those? Who has even heard of head games? Unless you're referring to the song 'Head Games' by Foreigner. I've heard of that." Williams then winked and added, "I bet that Izzo guy you were talking about is a real big Foreigner fan, if you know what I mean."
Portland snapped Oklahoma City's eight-game win streak with a 111-104 win over the Thunder. Despite the win, a lackluster shooting night for Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews knocked him out of the league's top spot in True Shooting Percentage. Heading into the game, the top five in that category were Matthews, Kyle Korver, LeBron James, Ryan Anderson, and Samuel Dalembert, notable for all being professional basketball players who shoot more accurately than you might expect, and having literally nothing else in common.
In case you were busy snickering uncontrollably upon hearing that Johnson and Fister got traded on the same day, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Tim Duncan was in vintage form, collecting 21 rebounds and scoring 23 points including a game-winning jumper with 0.4 seconds remaining in the Spurs' 102-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Later, Duncan celebrated his heroic outing by giving himself time to consider whether or not Jonathan Franzen's impact on American literature is overrated, before deciding that any such critique was inherently premature.
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks established themselves as the class of the NFC with a 34-7 dismantling of the New Orleans Saints. "AHHHH YES! PETE CARROLL PETE CARROLL PETE CARROLL!" Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll yelled after the game as he ran laps around the assembled media, "THAT WAS ONE OF THE BEST PETE CARROLL NIGHTS EVER!" When asked if it was Russell Wilson or the team's defensive effort to whom he owed his good mood, Carroll shook his head and replied, "NEITHER! PETE CARROLL HEARD ED HOCHULI TALK ABOUT HIS BALLS! THAT WAS HILARIOUS!" Unfortunately for Carroll, once he started shaking his head, he couldn't figure out a way to stop moving his neck for more than an hour.
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."
Here’s the irony: The 2011-12 Blazers serve as my personal reminder against overreacting to any team trend over the first 10 or so games of the season. Those Blazers started 7-2, and the wins included an icy coldcocking of Oklahoma City on the road. LaMarcus Aldridge was cementing his status as one of the league’s 15 best players, and Gerald Wallace, still starting ahead of future nut-puncher Nic Batum, was playing the very best basketball of his life. Lots of teams have gotten off to unsustainable starts; witness last season’s Bobcats and this season’s Sixers. But Portland had been a solid playoff team three years running; this felt like a good team taking the next step, overcoming a sad injury history in the process. It felt real.
We know what happened after that: Raymond Felton forgot how to dribble, infighting engulfed the team, and the front office eventually waved the tank flag by dealing Marcus Camby to Houston and fleecing the Nets in what became the Wallace-for–Damian Lillard heist.
In case you were busy officially filling out the paperwork necessary to hand over the title of "World's Most Obnoxious Argonauts Fan," here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Cam Newton's late-game heroics, and a controversial non-call on a game-ending interception, gave the Panthers a 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots, their sixth straight win. Bill Belichick was furious with the officiating after the game, asking quarterback Tom Brady, "Who are those officials carrying all those flags for anyway? Goodell? Is that it? Goodell? Well I tell you, let me give you a little inside information about Goodell." Flames roared behind Belichick, and the stench of brimstone hung in the air as he added, "Goodell likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives men instincts. He gives players this extraordinary gift: instinct. And then what does He do — I swear for His own amusement, his own private, cosmic gag reel — He sets the rules in opposition." An increasingly animated Belichick continued, "It's the goof of all time. Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't grab. Grab, but don't catch." Belichick then let out a horrible laugh, pointed to the ground, and yelled, "And while you're jumpin' from one foot to the next, what is he doing? He's laughin' His sick ass off! He's a tight-ass! He's a sadist! He's an absentee landlord! Worship Goodell? Never!"
Tony Allen was ejected for kicking Chris Paul in the face, but his Grizzlies held on, beating the Los Angeles Clippers, 106-102, at Staples Center. After the game, an excited Blake Griffin ran to Paul and said, "Dude, dude, dude. I have the best idea for a dunk-contest dunk, dude. Dude, will you help me do it?" Paul nodded and asked Griffin, "Does it involve kicking me in the face?" Griffin's eyes got wide as he said, "How did you know? Dude. Dude. Are you psychic?" But Paul didn't answer, and instead just shook his head and walked away.
Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose preview the Blazers' season by asking if Damian Lillard can stay effective in Year 2, what Thomas Robinson will bring to this roster, and why Mo Williams has Twitter beef with Bill.
After being instantly dismissed from the national consciousness following a dreadful 4-28 start, few people noticed when the Washington Wizards quietly showed signs of a promising future during the second half of this past season. The Wizards’ improved play coincided with the return of John Wall, whose knee injury had kept him in street clothes through early January. With their promising young point guard back in the fold, the team morphed from disaster to, dare I say it, playoff-caliber force almost overnight.
Washington finished out the season at a .500 clip upon Wall’s return, which hardly screams “elite.” But the 25 games featuring a healthy core of Wall, rookie guard Bradley Beal, and veteran wing Martell Webster (whom the team intends to bring back despite his free-agent status) certainly do. No matter what roles Wall or Beal played (both came off the bench for a few games), the Wizards posted a point differential of plus-4.84, the equivalent of a 55-win team over a full season. And though a 25-game stretch isn’t something Washington can hang its hat on, it’s certainly an encouraging sign. That trio, combined with Nene and Emeka Okafor, also combined to form the league's most effective five-man unit that played at least 140 minutes together, per NBA.com. That amount of playing time isn’t enough to produce ironclad proof that the Wizards are set to the rule the basketball world, but it certainly is enough time to suggest that’s a lineup that can be quite effective.
For a franchise that’s been toiling in mediocrity for decades, there are enough bright spots from last year to suggest Washington is poised to make some serious noise in the Eastern Conference if it can inject one more talented piece into its core (and stay relatively healthy), a real possibility thanks to some incredible lottery luck. By selecting the right player with the third overall pick, the Wizards can become a legitimate contender in the East as early as next year, something no one could have predicted six months ago. Unlike some of the more desperate teams, Washington doesn’t necessarily need to hit a home run at the top of the draft, but to break through from mid-standings irrelevance, the Wizards probably have to avoid coming up empty. If the team can get an impact player with the third pick while also finding a competent backup point guard with one of its second-round picks, the Wizards have the opportunity to completely change the course of their franchise. No pressure, right?
In case you were busy having an adorable cat on your chest and being unable to move, or breathe, or — hey, this cat's trying to kill me! — here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
We're headed back to Boston after the Celtics held on for a 92-86 win over the New York Knicks, forcing a Game 6 in their first-round playoff matchup. Kevin Garnett fueled the Celtics with a vintage 16-point, 18-rebound performance. "Man, that takes me back," Garnett said wistfully after his double-double. "Remember when I was crushing it up in Minnesota. Just me and Terrell Brandon. So young, so naive. Maybe I could get that TV show about my posse off the ground now. Do you think the breakthrough success of Entourage makes it more or less likely? I mean, it was gonna be The Monkees meets The Beverly Hillbillies. I guess it could be reality. That's basically what Carmelo's wife has going on. Nah, TV is a young man's game. I was just born too young."
Despite the absence of Sidney Crosby, the Penguins took care of business by thrashing the New York Islanders 5-0 in Pittsburgh. "Oh man, that'll teach us to come on the mainland," Islanders captain Mark Streit said after the loss. "It's weird here. First of all, not everyone takes boats to get places. Also weird, the lack of nautically themed dining establishments. I'm starving for some fried calamari down by a marina; I can't find that in Pittsburgh at all. Total nightmare. They told me, 'Go to a river.' I told them to go up a river, with dumb advice like that. A butt river. Man, I'm hungry."
The NBA playoffs are upon us, with 16 teams competing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. But what about the other guys? What about the teams we wish were in the playoffs? We may know, in our heads, that they didn't do enough to get into the postseason, but that doesn't change how we feel in our hearts. We'd like to see these teams competing in Bill Simmons's Entertaining as Hell Tournament, but until that day, we'll just have to write longingly about why we wish they had made it to the promised land.
Portland Trail Blazers
Sean Fennessey: This isn't exactly a song for the Blazers because the Blazers were hard to watch this year. Nic Batum was long and lean and aggressively French, J.J. Hickson played like an exploding can of soda, and Weber State's Damian Lillard was a revelation to those who enjoy tiny-man dunks but don't much care for consistency. (He is only the Rookie of the Year because Anthony Davis hasn't totally figured out how to play basketball yet. He will.) I won't miss those Blazers and I certainly won't miss their bench, mostly because their bench doesn't exist beyond the many terrified faces of Meyers Leonard.
In case you were busy living on easy street wait — OH, I FORGOT ABOUT MY TAXES — here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Boston Red Sox rode a seven-run second inning to cruise to a 7-2 win over the host Cleveland Indians. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, who got the win after throwing five solid innings, said, "With everything that happened yesterday, I was just out there pitching for the name on the front of the jersey today, not on the back. Which really helped, because even I have trouble pronouncing my last name. It's Doo-Braunt, by the way I think. I'm pretty sure. Like 99 percent. Don't hold me to that until I call my ma, though."
Veteran starter Dan Haren gave up seven runs in 4⅓ innings as the Washington Nationals fell to the Miami Marlins, 8-2. After the game, a shell-shocked Haren said, "I gave up a home run today to Adeiny Hechavarria. I got shelled by the Miami Marlins. Sometimes it's hard to know when it's over. This is not one of those times." He then announced the immediate opening of Haren Buick, Haren Chevrolet, and Haren Kia/Hyundai, which he hoped would become the Southern California destination for peoples' Buick, Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai needs.
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.
Sleeping With the Lights On
netw3rk: The Boston Celtics exist in the minds of Eastern Conference playoff teams as something akin to the bogeyman. Even the Miami Heat — who certainly don't fear the Celtics — reach a pitch of intensity in their play against Boston, and a level of exaltation in their victories over them, that betrays a depth of hatred for the leprechauns unmatched by that for any other team.
When you put the bogeyman on his back, you stand over him and you do a dance. Every Eastern Conference team has a litany of Celtics grievances just waiting to be uncorked: the moving screens, the trash talk, the suffocating and gratingly physical defense that dared refs to blow the whistle every 10 seconds. And, yes, the winning. Because the KG-era Celtics didn’t just win; they stormed your arena, tore your relics out of their holy places, and gleefully salted your fields. That’s why, despite no longer being a truly elite team, the Celtics still have a sort of cultural hegemony over the Eastern Conference. The hatred they engender is the ultimate sign of respect.
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!"
A survey of the players and teams making moves in last night's NBA action.
1. Portland's Uniforms
These, with all due respect to the deeply serious basketball played last night, were the best thing that happened in the NBA in the last 24 hours. Love the font, love the using of the nickname. I know it's not the first time Portland's trotted these out, but they're very fresh. I'd like to see some other city-nickname-on-the-jersey looks. Or maybe just some weird phrases! How about the Thunder wearing jerseys that say "GHOST HOTEL" or the Hawks rocking ones that said "THE A"? Any other ideas? Comments, people.
With his University of Detroit team nursing a two-point lead in the waning moments against an upset-minded Wisconsin-Milwaukee, point guard Ray McCallum calmly held his dribble on the left wing and waited for a teammate to set a screen. As the screen was set, McCallum read his defender cheating toward it. That subtle movement was all it took. McCallum quickly crossed over toward the baseline and exploded to the rim for a right-hand finish that put his team back up four en route to a crucial Horizon League victory on the road.
If you missed the highlight — or have never even heard of McCallum and the Titans — it’s understandable. The Horizon League rarely produces household names, and very rarely does any of their game footage make it to SportsCenter. But plays like this one are why people might want to start taking notice.