If Game 1 of the NBA Finals seemly confirmed the suspicion that the Orlando Magic didn’t belong on the same floor with the Los Angeles Lakers, at least the Magic put an end to that on Sunday night in Game 2. They remembered how to shoot (at least two of them did), played some (at times) stingy defense, and generally were a total pest in pushing the Lakers to overtime.
Unfortunately for the Magic, what they didn’t prove is that they could beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals, as the home team held on for a 101-96 victory to take a 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Orlando for the next three (probably?) games. But they came tantalizingly close at the end of regulation. Hedu Turkoglu found Courtney Lee cutting to the basket behind Kobe Bryant on an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left and tossed him a lob that reached Lee but forced a midair adjustment, causing his lay-in to be just off the mark, bouncing off the front of the rim as time expired.
While the Magic might not admit it, they seemed drained by the missed opportunity in overtime, although their inability to stop Pau Gasol in the extra period was just as crippling. The Spaniard scored seven of his 24 points in overtime, including a three-point play with 1:14 left that gave the Lakers an insurmountable six point lead.
As for the Magic’s shooting: Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu were outstanding, with Lewis hitting 6-of-12 three-pointers en route to 34 points, while Turkoglu added 22 points including three three-pointers. The rest of the team? Not so much, as the Magic weren’t helped by Rafer Alston and J.J. Redick combining to go 2-for-17 for the game, including a woeful 1-10 from behind the arc. Also not helping: that J.J. Redick was anywhere near the floor for any length of time, much less 27 minutes. For all the great coaching Stan Van Gundy might have done in Game 2, that can’t be considered his finest hour.
Right now, it will take an amazing comeback for the Orlando Magic to win the NBA Title. (Before the 2006 Miami Heat did it, who was the last team to go down 2-0 and win the NBA Title? The 1977 Portland Trail Blazers.) But perhaps they need to take a clue from famous local resident and occasional Magic fan Tiger Woods, who had some Magic of his own on Sunday, no overtime needed. Woods came from four shots back to win the Memorial Tournament in front of host Jack Nicklaus with one of his most impressive final round performances, shooting a 65 while hitting every fairway in regulation.
The performance was awe-inspiring enough to prompt Nicklaus to cave in Woods’ surgically repaired knee with a nine-iron after the match in an attempt to prevent Woods from reaching his record of 18 major championships, before standing over a fallen Woods and shouting a Ric Flair style “Woooooooo!” Actually, that’s a lie; in fact, Nicklaus remarked that it would “greatly surprise” him if Woods didn’t win major No. 15 in two weeks at the U.S. Open.
Finally, it’s kind of hard to fault the San Diego Padres’ Josh Wilson for giving up the go-ahead three-run homer to the Diamondbacks’ Mark Reynolds in the 18th inning of Arizona’s 9-6 win on Sunday. Sure, Wilson might have had extra motivation for pitching against the team that released him earlier this season, but he really shouldn’t have been out there anyway. Wilson is an infielder, and was only pitching after Padres manager Bud Black ran out of pitchers in bullpen. So he sent Wilson out there, who got fastballs up to 88 mph and mixed in a few change-ups as well.
Also, when you are relying on David Eckstein to homer to take the game into extra innings, you really should consider yourself lucky to be there in the first place, which is what the Padres needed in the ninth inning to erase a three-run deficit. Then again, the Padres really didn’t do much after that against the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, getting no-hit for all nine innings of extra baseball.
Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Sam Rayburn tells the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER that he was taking more than 100 painkillers a day before being caught forging prescriptions and getting clean. Or as Elizabeth Taylor would call that, lunch.
What could bring together Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former head coach Jimmy Johnson? How about a concert headlined by George Strait and Reba McEntireto open the new Cowboys Stadium?
Just when things couldn’t get any worse for the Washington Nationals, DC SPORTS BOG checks in with this: they had a malfunction during their fireworks display, and the debris just happened to fall on the D.C. fire chief. Proving that the Nationals really have turned into a bad 1970s sitcom.
Mike Brown proved that his WEC featherweight title victory over Urijah Faber in November was no fluke in the rematch on Sunday, going into Faber’s hometown of Sacramento, CA and winning a unanimous decision that left Faber in the hospital after the match.
Among the “highlights” of the ongoing court battle over the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes: the Phoenix suburb of Glendale (where the Coyotes actually play) is suggesting that coach and minority owner Wayne Gretzky is “overpaid” and should have his salary cut by more than $6 million. Because going after The Great One is a winning legal strategy in Canadian courts.
Long Island high school athlete Ryan Harrigan uses his abilities to chase down a would-be purse snatcher while working his after-school job as a grocery store employee. Would you like paper, plastic or handcuffs, Sir?
Have you ever been elbowed in the face so violently that you just start bleeding all over the place? Odds are you haven’t, and for that, you should be enormously thankful; there can’t be many worse experiences than getting your world wrecked like Detroit’s Jiri Hudler did last night.
(We could have chosen a bloodier picture, but you’re probably trying to enjoy lunch instead. You’re welcome.)
The hit came courtesy of Anaheim’s Mike Brown, who awaits his fate from the league office. You’d think that such wanton facial carnage, especially since it had nothing to do with the play (as you’ll see in the video after the break), would carry significant suspension time, but that’s not entirely certain. Read more…
PRO FOOTBALL TALK seems to have the biggest problem with all of this because, if it’s true that he had bad ribs and had in fact had an x-ray prior to the Super Bowl, it should have been on the injury report because NFL rules require teams to disclose injuries (for gamblers, of course). All Ben admitted to was having an x-ray “somewhere”, and Mike Tomlin said he “hadn’t heard” anything about an x-ray. This all was probably concocted to keep the Cardinals from going right after his ribs and forcing Byron Leftwich into the game. But the point of the injury disclosure rules are to identify which players are injured. If the Steelers deliberately misled the media and the league about Roethlisberger’s injury — even if he 100% intended to play in the game — doesn’t that break league rules?
The reality, however, is that the individual teams are more concerned about competitive advantage or, more importantly, disadvantage. If, as it appears, the Steelers took pains to conceal the fact that Roethlisberger received an X-ray on his ribs and that, as Roethsliberger said, “I knew all along there was something wrong,” they did so in order to prevent the Cardinals from targeting his midsection early and often, in the hopes of knocking him out of the game.
It appears, then, that the NFL is striking the delicate balance between the integrity of the game and notions of competitive disadvantage by making the injury report an issue of availability only, not of effectiveness and/or potential for aggravation.
Thus, there’s a loophole in the injury report. A player can be injured, and his team can avoid reporting it.
And, consequently, there’s an incentive for folks inclined to place and/or accept wagers, legal or otherwise, to attempt to develop relationships aimed at getting to the truth.
The way the Steelers are reacting to this news, it’s hard to figure out if they’re trying to avoid embarrassing their QB by not calling him a liar or if they really were covering up a possibly serious injury. It begs the question, though: if the public knew that Big Ben had fractured ribs, what would the line have been? Might it have been less than, say, four? The decision to keep it under wraps may have cost Steeler bettors a bunch of cash.
“I went back and I watched the last two plays and that last call on LeBron was the worst call I’ve ever been a part of… We didn’t play particularly well. But that was a bad call that was predetermined that determined the outcome of the game. Simple as that. They can fine me for this crap. I don’t care. That was the worst call I’ve ever been part of. I’m talking from little league on up.”
The call? LeBron James was called for a phantom foul on an alley-oop pass to Danny Granger with 0.1 seconds remaining in a tie game. Granger made a free throw and the Pacers won the game. But with 0.8 remaining and the Cavs trailing by two, Granger was called for a nearly identical foul on James that enraged the Pacers and the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd. Brown implied that referee Joey Crawford deliberately called the foul on James to compensate for what he felt to be a bad call by Bernie Adams on the other end. Here’s the video:
• Another brutal hockey attack has made its way to the internet. PUCK DADDY has this video of Oshawa Generals captain and Florida Panthers prospect James Deloryslashing and attacking Nathan Moon of Kingston. Although, it should be noted that Moon gave Delory a shot first:
• BASEBALL PROSPECTUS has come up with its projections for the 2009 season. Oddly, the Pirates are not projected to do well. Even more oddly, the Yankees are not picked to win the AL East.
• Thankfully, all in the cricket world is well after India battered Sri Lanka by three wickets in Colombo. The hosts posted a formidable 171/4 after TillakaratneDilshan put up 61 runs on just 47 balls. But the partnership of Yusuf and Irfan Pathan rescued India with 59 late runs, after the visitors had limped to 115/7 and looked to be a little on the ropes. I have no idea what I just wrote.
Bengals fans are a tortured bunch. Their team is awful, their front office is a shambles, and they have to live in Cincinnati when the game is over. But they’re not historically bad, as the Lions are, so it’s easy to pay no mind. Enter Project Mayhem, a ridiculously creative effort by disgruntled fans to get the word out. Their latest mission targeted the part of Paul Brown Stadium one might most associate with the team: the urinals.
Hundreds of these urinal cakes made their way to bathrooms around the stadium during yesterday’s game against Washington. Who knows how much the focusing of the fans’ passion (and urine stream) contributed to the team pulling out a win against the equally woeful Redskins? But the fact remains, the Bengals still don’t have a GM, Mike Brown is still the owner, and Project Mayhem will continue. After the jump, a look back at some of the past missions.
We’re pretty spoiled here in America, as we not only get to live in the greatest country on Earth, but the people who live here are pretty talented, too. That’s why when you check out the medal counts in Beijing this summer, you’ll see the United States near the top of the board battling with host China (China’s edging America out 35 to 34 right now).
Apparently, though, all the talent and gifted athleticism that Americans are born with has as hard a time crossing the border into Canada as Osama Bin Laden carrying a ticking bag. We’re officially a week into the Olympics, and our neighbors to the north are yet to get on the board. Swimmer Mike Brown is the latest Canuck to let his country down.
Using a fake credential and a heaping scoop of moxie, an unnamed Cleveland Cavaliers fan slipped past security into the home locker room before Game 3, Quickening his way into the press conference before the game with a pressing question for head coach Mike Brown: “Hey, is LeBron going to score 50?”
If you’re going to burst past the mainstream media and insert yourself into the sports world when no one else wants you there, why not ask the hard questions like “Hey, did you get my email with a second offensive play you could run?”, “Does Boobie know the Cavs made the second round or is he playing golf this week?”, or “How do you feel about this whole Buzz Bissinger thing?”
LSU FANS WERE REALLY HOPING FOR A NICK SABAN BIDET: The AP reports Tuscaloosa, AL was somehow included in a geographic zone given gigantic Federal tax breaks for new construction - in the effort to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The result: “With large swaths of the Gulf Coast still in ruins from Hurricane Katrina, rich federal tax breaks designed to spur rebuilding are flowing hundreds of miles inland to investors who are buying up luxury condos near the University of Alabama’s football stadium.
Now for the main reason for this example of blatant misuse of Katrina-related Federal givebacks: “Locals say Tuscaloosa was included in the GO Zone through the efforts of Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, who is from Tuscaloosa, graduated from Alabama and sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee.”
If only Brownie, who was too busy fouling up ordersdoing a heck of a job at a Biloxi Dairy Queen drive-thru, was there to correct this profound injustice.
The NEW SCIENTIST reports that if your favorite team is moving to a plush new sports stadium, prepare for disappointment. Making the switch can have a dramatically negative effect on a team’s performance, a new study has found.
"It’ll probably cost you a couple of points in a season, and in some sports, that’s the difference between winning and second place," says Richard Pollard, a statistician at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California.
Pollard studied results of MLB, NBA and NHL teams between 1987 and 2000. He found that teams that moved stadiums lost on average 24 percent of their home advantage by moving into new home digs. Other sports, like the NFL, are similarly affected, he says.
Pollard says the effect is due to the lack of familiarity players have with the new facilities. Adapting to a new surface, field size and location can all act to distract players. Players in a new ground are also less likely to have the territorial passion of a team that has played at the same stadium for years.
So that’s why the Bengals, Lions and Seahawks all suck? Less "territorial passion?" Great to see our California tax dollars at work. I don’t think I need a Cal Poly Professor to tell me why those teams are awful. And it ain’t the stadiums either.
What the odds Dr. Pollard has ever even heard of Mike Brown?