Basketball: it’s a beautiful game. Or fantastically ugly, depending on which game you watched last night. On one hand, you had the Phoenix Suns putting up 140 points for the second straight game in their 142-119 victory over the depleted Los Angeles Clippers. On the other, there was Penn State and Illinois, who combined scored exactly one-half as many points as the Suns did in the Nittany Lions’ 38-33 upset victory over the Fighting Illini.
Let’s talk about the latter game first. It wasn’t the lowest scoring game since the 45-second shot clock was introduced in 1986, but it was close. (That distinction belongs to Monmouth’s 41-21 win over Princeton in 2006.) They also flirted with the record for fewest combined points in a half, with the two team’s output of 32 just eclipsing the record of 28 set by Mississippi and South Carolina back in 2003.
The box score tells you all you need to know about the debacle. Exactly one player scored in double digits: Penn State’s Talor Battle, who put up 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting. Heck, the Nittany Lions as a team shot 28.3 percent from the field, and they won.
At least the two teams didn’t let a little thing like not being able to hit the broadside of a barn stop them from shooting the deep ball: they combined to go 6-for-33 from the three-point line. And Illinois didn’t attempt a free throw. For the game. Way to be aggressive, guys. But I guess a win’s a win, even if it’s the most embarrassing and pathetic kind possible. Congratulations, Penn State, I guess.
And then there are the Suns. You’ll excuse me if I don’t get too excited by the sudden return of the high-scoring, fast-paced, exciting Suns with Alvin Gentry as head coach after putting a hurting on the Clippers on back-to-back nights. First off, it’s the Clippers to begin with, but if a team with Amare Stoudemire (for now) can’t murder a team that’s missing Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Brian Skinner and Zach Randolph, then something is seriously wrong.
Check back with me on Sunday after you guys visit Boston, and we’ll see how you’re doing.
But the Suns have a date with Oklahoma City before then on Friday, which will be without newly-acquired Tyson Chandler. Permanently. That’s because the Thunder rescinded their trade with New Orleans from Tuesday and sent Chandler back to the Hornets after he failed a physical with their team doctor.
As TRUEHOOP notes, it’s probably going to be pretty awkward in New Orleans as Chandler has to return to the team that just unloaded him for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox. (By the way, is Joe Smith involved with every strange trade or free agent signing in the NBA?) What makes things even more odd is that Chandler didn’t fail the physical because of his sprained left ankle - it was because of a big toe injury he suffered in 2007. And the Thunder’s doctor was the one who performed the surgery.
And speaking of injuries…Ken Griffey Jr. is back with the Mariners! All joking aside, I think most people of my generation will think it’s pretty neat to see Junior back in a Mariners uniform (presumably) for the rest of his career. And the story of his signing with the Mariners is unique; the SEATTLE TIMES says that apparently the No. 1 salesman for Seattle was Harold Reynolds, a close friend of Griffey’s. He had been working on Griffey to sell him on the move to Seattle when he played his trump card:
hugging Willie Mays.
Reynolds set up a phone call between Griffey and the Say Hey Kid, who was Griffey’s idol and the reason he wears No. 24. And sure enough, soon after having the phone conversation with Mays, Griffey told the Mariners that he would sign with them. A great story, although I’m not sure I’d take advice from Willie Mays on how to end your career gracefully.
More sports stories to learn about as you ponder if anyone’s life could be stranger than Tracy Morgan’s…
- Australian swimming star Stephanie Rice tells the BRISBANE (AUSTRALIA) COURIER MAIL that despite reports to the contrary, she’s not a wild party girl. I can’t imagine how people would have gotten that idea. Seriously. Right? (Although it doesn’t help when the story says that “we can expect to see a lot more of Steph eating the white stuff,” even if it is in reference to a commercial for SunRice.
- Remember how Tracy McGrady told Stephen A. Smith of ESPN that he was having knee surgery and would be done for the season? The HOUSTON CHRONICLE says that it turns out the Rockets aren’t to pleased about that.
- NEWSDAY has video of the final piece of Shea Stadium crashing to the ground. I shudder to think how many rats, mice and other vermin were killed during the stadium’s demolition.
- Our long national nightmare is over: the SACRAMENTO BEE reports that Lance Armstrong’s time trial bicycle has been returned by an anonymous person to the Sacramento Police Department. This is why it pays to spend the extra $10 on a nice thick bike lock instead of a flimsy chain, Lance.
- THE WORLD has details Wendi Boutiette, the track & field coach at Coquille High School in Southern Oregon, who is accused of having multiple sexual relationships with underage boys.
- USA TODAY has word on the latest female to take a crack at NASCAR: meet Gabi DiCarlo, who will be racing in the Camping World Truck Series this season. And she has some credentials: she finished in the top 15 of the ARCA series the past two seasons.
- It could be the end of an era in Indianapolis: Adam Schefter of the NFL NETWORK is reporting that the Colts will cut Marvin Harrison before the start of the 2009 season.
- Jacksonville Jaguars safety Gerald Sensabaugh was arrested in Kingsport, Tennessee for having a suspended license. But the BRISTOL HERALD COURIER says that police let him finish getting his haircut before they arrested him.
- Blooomberg says disgraced investment banker Sir Allen Stanford’s “massive ongoing fraud” could cost professional sports more than $100 million and impact stars such as Vijay Singh and Michael Owen.
- The NATIONAL POST reports that the Phoenix Coyotes’ owner claims to be receiving “expressions of interest from potential investors” as the team tries to save itself from total financial collapse.