In case you were busy calling out traders on Twitter, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Golden State Warriors exploded for 42 points in the fourth quarter as they overturned a 27-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 112-103. Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was incensed after the game, saying, "The Warriors, they're who we thought they were. That's why we took the damn court." Casey then pounded the podium and yelled, "Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were! And we let them off the hook." When told of Casey's comments, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry frowned and asked, "This doesn't mean I'm Rex Grossman, does it? Because I really don't want to be Rex Grossman."
In the marquee move of a busy day of major league hot stove action, sources are reporting that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will leave the world champion Boston Red Sox, having agreed to terms on a seven-year deal with the New York Yankees. When asked if he saw himself as following in the footsteps of former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, who also moved to the Yankees after winning a World Series title, Ellsbury's eyes darted as he said, "What? No. Who? Who's Johnny Damon? You're crazy." When asked if he was Johnny Damon posing as Jacoby Ellsbury, Ellsbury glared and said, "Why can't you just be cool? If you were cool you wouldn't ask these questions." Ellsbury was then asked if he had ever existed, or if he had always been a clever ruse designed to extend Johnny Damon's career, to which Ellsbury replied, "Seriously, why won't you just let me have this? Please just let me have this."
Victor Oladipo is not the most efficient rookie in his class. He is not the most efficient 2-guard in the NBA. He is not even the most efficient 2-guard on his own team. But that isn't the point. The Orlando Magic have set a course to something worse than mediocrity, and that ship is cruising. The purpose of their season appears to be along the lines of this: lose 55 games; turn Arron Afflalo into a steamer trunk of draft picks; exhume Nik Vucevic from the ocean each night so he can lay waste to a new city; develop Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson into chirping, Spurs-esque shooters; shed dead weight like Christian Bale in The Machinist; and let Dipo do Dipo.
In case you were busy walking the plank at the behest of Bill Belichick, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
LeBron James and the Miami Heat opened their NBA championship defense with an impressive 107-95 win over Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. An optimistic Rose, who was playing in his first regular-season game since recovering from a torn ACL, said, "I'm disappointed in the loss, but my performance, I can easily change that by making shots and keeping down the turnovers." When Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau heard his point guard's comments, however, he flew into a rage, screaming, "He could have made more shots and avoided turnovers? Well, why didn't he? What the hell was he thinking?" Thibodeau then threw his hands in the air and said, "Jiminy Christmas, he was only out for a year. I have to micromanage everything with this team."
Day 1 of the Orlando Summer League could be summed up in one word: long. Turns out five 40-minute games, a seemingly endless number of fouls, and some shoddy, disorganized play can truly test your love and appreciation for basketball. Yet I persevered and somehow managed to cobble together some notes.
Cool it, Cooley
If there were a Vegas line on what player would emerge in my notes from the first game between Houston and Philadelphia, the odds on Jack Cooley would have been about 50,000 to 1. The Notre Dame alum didn’t put up a killer stat line (eight points, six rebounds in 14 minutes) but he did put in killer effort. To say Cooley played hard would actually be a major understatement. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward was a rather large man possessed. Cooley ran the floor, battled on the boards, communicated on defense, and generally hustled his way into my heart. And I’m sure I wasn’t alone.
Summer league is a perfect place for a fringe player like Cooley to endear himself to NBA teams with his rugged, energetic style of play. While the NBA is in an era in which stats and efficiency allow for cold, calculating evaluations of players, Cooley’s good ol’ fashioned efforts are enough to warm the hearts of coaches and executives. Guys that play hard every time they step on the floor may not be statistical darlings, but they are good to have around when coaches need to breath some life into the doldrums of the NBA season (also, Cooley must be doing something right in the stats columns if he’s on Houston’s summer league roster). Players like Mark Madsen survived for years purely on toughness, effort, and rebounding, and Cooley seems to be cut from a similar cloth.
Thursday night in Brooklyn was the first time I'd ever been to an NBA draft, and it was the year the entire draft experience sort of one-upped itself. We got more comedy, more Stern, more trades, more surprises. Everything. It was the year things got so crazy that by the end of the night a lot of people had forgotten the Cavs gave us the most shocking no. 1 pick in two decades.
When it was over, I went through a back hallway of Barclays Center — walking down the hall near Jay-Z's Illuminati Lair, passing by Hakeem Olajuwon in a tuxedo, hearing ushers talking about Kevin Garnett on the Nets — and found another writer to talk to. We asked each other: "What just happened?"
Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons question NBA draft prospect Victor Oladipo about his improved jump shooting, the comparisons to Dwyane Wade, and his fear of crying on draft night. Check out a short clip below, followed by Brett Koremenos’s scouting report and the full-length video. Watch all the NBA Job Interviews, here. And be sure to watch this space for more NBA Job Interview videos, featuring Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, and some of the best young talents from the 2013 NBA draft class.
In case you were busy letting yourself go after realizing that a late push for a role in Pain & Gain was a fool's errand, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
In a battle of red-hot Eastern Conference foes, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks outdueled John Wall and the Washington Wizards, 120-99, securing their first division title since 1994. The Knicks drilled 20 3-pointers in the win, their 13th in a row. This game came one day after Knicks legend Bernard King was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade announced that he's likely out of action until the playoffs begin. Additionally, the weather in New York was perfect, with sunshine and highs in the low 80s. Am I blaming this run of Knicks good fortune on global warming? No. But am I blaming global warming on the Knicks' unprecedented run? Maybe.
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets, 104-96, to move back into the no. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Kobe Bryant was sensational in the win, scoring 23 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. "You know what they say about Kobe; he's a closer," said Lakers center Dwight Howard after the game. "Well, that's what Kobe says about Kobe when he refuses to let me have any coffee in the clubhouse."
Yet another 1-seed found an early exit in the tournament last night. This time, it was the Indiana Hoosiers who met their fate at the hands of the Syracuse Orange and their famous 2-3 zone.
On a macro level, three things typically beat a zone defense: offensive rebounds, 3-point shots, and transition baskets. Indiana largely failed at all three in their defeat last night. The Hoosiers only made three shots from beyond the arc and had only 11 offensive rebounds (four of which came on one possession and didn’t even result in a made shot). Both of those figures actually fall below their respective season averages of 7.3 and 12.2.
Indiana found some success attacking Syracuse before the Orange could set up in their patented zone, but it was largely a mixed bag. The Orange did a fine job defending in transition last night, greeting the Hoosier break above the 3-point line and forcing wild forays to the rim, like these from Victor Oladipo that resulted in turnovers more often than they did made baskets.
Trying to guess the legitimacy of the Indiana Hoosiers has been a season-long brain teaser, and I've consistently taken the "overrated" side of the debate. Every time it looked like I might be right, as with the near-loss to Georgetown and the losses to Butler, Wisconsin, and Illinois, the Hoosiers would do something spectacular, like decimate North Carolina or soundly beat Ohio State or Michigan State on the road. And each time they began to look like a dominant team bound for a title, there'd be a worrisome hiccup that made you think they couldn't win six critical games in March.
Both Butler-Bucknell and Arizona-Belmont will be decided on the final play
Butler won by 12 and Arizona won by 17. Then again, these games technically weren’t over until after the final play, so technically I was correct (which is the best kind of correct).
At some point, Gus Johnson will trend on Twitter
Somebody get Darryl Worley back in the studio, because I’m starting to think we need him to call out America for forgetting about Gus.
(Shout-out to Grantland’s four country music fans who will get that joke.)
#Haith will also be trending
[***WAIT FOR MIZZOU GAME***]
Trey Burke will spoil the Nate Wolters coming-out party
Burke was just 2-for-12, but Wolters went 3-for-14. He finished with just 10 points and his team lost by 15. I’m officially on the board.
Before 2 p.m. EDT, the annoying commercial of this year’s tournament will have already revealed itself
I can’t tell if the commercials this year aren’t annoying or if they’re all just equally annoying. Either way, no clear-cut favorite has emerged. Yet.
Eight years ago, college basketball was the most important thing in my life.
Wait, wait. I worry what you just heard was “Eight years ago, I really liked college basketball.” What I said was: “Eight years ago, college basketball was the most important thing in my life.” When I was 17, sports were everything, and college basketball was, by far, my favorite. As a Duke sympathizer (it’s a long story that involves a lack of college basketball in Chicago and Jay Williams) living in Illinois in 2005, I felt it was my moral obligation to both the sport and mankind to remind everyone at my high school that ACC basketball was superior. This led to watching games every night, starting arguments every morning, and eventually going to that year’s Final Four just to watch my least favorite team in the history of sports lose to North Carolina.
As I hit my 20s, that love of college basketball — and Duke — slowly fell away. I like to think it’s because I became less of an asshole, but I suspect there’s more at work. When the latest Golden Age of the NBA began to take shape, and it became clear that I was free of experiences like the Baby Bulls and the 2005 Finals, it felt like pro basketball had again turned into the product worth watching. Players like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose only stoked that fire, and by this season, I’d managed to make it until February before taking in a full college basketball game. With the lackluster slate of NBA games last night, Indiana–Michigan State seemed like as good a place as any to see if I could start things up again.