In case you were busy trying to pass off a quiche as an acceptable offering at a Pi Day party, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers handed the New York Knicks their third straight defeat, winning at home, 105-90. Lillard, the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, has already established himself as a fan favorite in Portland, where he's respected both for his efficient offensive play and his ability to remind people how much they liked Matthew Lillard in SLC Punk.
Before we get going, forgive me as I become the 6,087,345th person to rant about NBC's decision not to air the swimming finals live on television. Put simply, it's a disgrace. I don't think I need to enumerate the reasons why it's a repugnant move from a spectator's standpoint, so let me instead tackle the business angle. First, I'm fine with the existence of NBC prime time. I'm glad they replay the best events. Sure, maybe they show actual sports at about the same rate that MTV shows actual music videos, but whatever. If prepackaged stories and scant coverage and Ryan Seacrest talking about social media is what "America" wants, and by "America" I mean the faceless mythical majority that apparently exists to dumb down everything cool, I can live with it.
But we are living in the age of the spoiler. People are going to find out the results if they're around the Internet, television, or other humans. They just are. And if they don't want to know? They're going to avoid everything, including NBC stations. So, my question: How does it change anything if you broadcast the events live in the afternoon?? The people who watch prime time are still going to watch prime time. They're ALREADY avoiding TV, presumably while at work, and it wouldn't change anything to throw the rest of us a bone and put the swimming on CNBC. I mean, they even announce the results on the NBC news show that leads into the prime-time coverage! Even the rest of NBC isn't avoiding spoilers! AHHHH THIS RAGE IS GOING TO KILL ME! I should probably just give up and light my TV on fire, right?
Even if Wimbledon, as Brian Phillips proved, weren’t a dream inside of a big skull, then Lukas Rosol would still be the man of my dreams, or the man in my dreams, or whatever preposition dream grammar requires. I watched his match against Rafael Nadal after 40 hours without sleep; after taking a seven-hour train ride across northern Europe and spending the night outside an airport McDonald’s; after riding a plane from Amsterdam to fevered California; after he had already won, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, on Thursday. I could see from the start, therefore, that Rosol was a tall and dashing slayer, and not simply Nadal’s second-round opponent, more gristle than meat, with cheap advertising patches on his shirt that hadn’t been properly attached. I could also see from the start that Nadal was toast.
Sunday's French Open final was an absolute mess. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, meeting in the championship round of a Grand Slam for the fourth straight time, fought delays, poor conditions, and their own sporadic play in a match that lacked their usual high quality. Rafa took the first set 6-4 despite losing a 3-0 lead, and won a sloppy second set, 6-3. After a long rain delay, he took a 2-0 lead in the third, and it looked like he might finish the tournament without losing a set.
But the rain had taken a toll, and a huge momentum swing was in the works. Djokovic began playing his usual attacking style, hitting deep returns and dictating play with powerful forehands. Nadal's topspin, so effective at Roland Garros because of the high bounce it takes on clay, was nullified by the heavy balls and wet court. Djokovic won the next eight games, an unprecedented losing streak for Nadal on his favorite surface. And in a rare departure from his fierce on-court demeanor, he began to get frustrated. When Djokovic broke him to start the fourth set, he took one of the soggy balls and angrily threw it at (or toward) tournament referee Stefan Fransen. He was in a bad place, and he knew it. The six-time champ, trying to top Björn Borg for the most French titles of all time, wanted nothing more than to get the hell off the court before all was lost.
Lucky for him, the rain increased and the match was postponed for the night.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday
The dream semifinal is set in Australia, as both Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal won their quarterfinal matches. Nadal holds a 7-2 lead in Grand Slam matches, but Federer has promised that he's going to break out his sickest cream-colored outfit yet to just priss the hell out of Nadal. "I'm gonna priss him 'til he blushes," Federer vowed. "Just delicately flip my hair, prance around like a schoolboy, and get my priss on something severe. Ya heard?"
A source indicated that the Big East will add Navy to the football lineup in 2015. The move was reportedly made to give the conference the option to be buried at sea when it dies from sucking.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday
Flu-like symptoms didn't stop LeBron James from scoring 31 points and leading the Heat to a 98-87 win over the Lakers. "It was just like Jordan in Game 5 of the '97 Finals!" yelled a sweaty, 6'8" reporter wearing a fake mustache and beard, as everyone in the press area waited for LeBron to come out.
Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal both advanced to the round of 16 in straight sets at the Australian Open, where they're on a collision course to meet in the semifinals. The last time they met in Australia, Rafa made Roger cry by beating him in the finals. This time, Roger vowed to stew moodily in the background, flick wisps of hair off his forehead, and daydream about fire-bombing the whole island of Mallorca.
The Tuesday after Labor Day might actually be the worst Monday of all, marking as it does the end of summer, the start of school, the first day back from vacation. And for anyone who had Labor Day tickets to the night session at the U.S. Open, it must feel extra rough: Play stretched well past everyone's bedtimes, with Roger Federer and Juan Monaco not walking off the Arthur Ashe Stadium court until after 1 a.m. on the ultimate school night.
But Federer and Monaco weren't to blame; the Swede's Federer's 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 victory clocked a crisp and efficient 74 minutes. (You got the sense the man wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed.) The real culprit was a highly anticipated Round of 16 daytime match between no. 8 Mardy Fish and no. 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that turned into a 3-hour-and-45-minute-long momentum-swinging marathon.