Welcome to 2013’s first edition of “What Happened Last Night?” in which I would first like to wish all our readers the happiest of new years – ideally new years filled with more reading of our site. And if you’re reading this right now: good start! Anyway, here’s how the sports world closed out 2012.
Clemson comes back, stuns LSU.
The last bowl game of 2012 (well, the 2012 calendar year, not the 2012 college football season) was also one of the best. LSU and Clemson were matched up in a Battle of the Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and in the third quarter it looked like LSU would use its patented mix of stifling defense and sort-of offense to pull out a win, as they took a 24-13 lead. But Clemson, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, didn’t give up, cobbled some good drives together, and pulled within 24-22 with just under three minutes left (they attempted a two-point conversion unsuccessfully).
And then… LSU’s often, uh, interesting clock management showed up. Clemson had all its timeouts, but with a chance to run the ball and at least make Clemson use those timeouts, LSU tried to get a first down by throwing. And in fairness, there was at least one pass play on which this should have worked. If it had, LSU probably would have won, and we’d all be talking about Les Miles and how his decisions might look crazy but they usually work. It didn’t work. Clemson got the ball back, drove down the field, and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. No dog fist-bumping for me.
Les bein’ Les, though, shouldn’t obscure what a big win this was for Clemson. Beating a national power like LSU is big, finishing with 11 wins is bigger, and getting a bowl win when last season’s bowl, uh, didn’t go so well is a nice step forward for the program. Clemson didn’t win the ACC this year, but it also went a full season without a typical Clemson collapse. Its two losses – to Florida State and South Carolina – were totally understandable, and in the wake of last night’s big win, Dabo Swinney seems to have something pretty big going on at Clemson – but if they fall flat on their faces next season, don’t expect anyone to be surprised just yet.
The Heat finished 2012 with a win, barely.
Coming off a couple losses in games they probably should have won (against the Pistons and Bucks, respectively), the Magic got a chance to cure what ailed them against a struggling Magic team. And they almost couldn’t take advantage. The Magic pushed the Heat to the brink, but the defending champs eventually prevailed 112-110 in overtime behind 36 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists from LeBron. The stat that might be even more worth noting, though: Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic had 20 points and 29 rebounds. That’s a Magic franchise record. Both Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard spent prime seasons with the Magic, and their single-game rebound record holder is… Nikola Vucevic. It’s like I always say: Nikola Vucevic, the best player in basketball.
Around the Association…
The Bobcats got a win! And it was a solid one, too: Charlotte beat the Bulls 91-81 in Chicago, and even more impressively, did it without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There might be hope for this franchise yet. The Spurs routed the Nets 104-73 thanks to a comically lopsided third quarter (30-5). Have fun, P.J. Carlesimo. The Thunder beat the Suns 114-96 thanks to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook being Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (54 combined points). Finally, the Rockets beat the Hawks 123-104 behind insane (16-29) shooting from three, thought the Hawks were on fire themselves (12-23), and the Pacers beat the Grizzlies 88-83. I got nothing interesting for that one. Oh, the Pacers came back to win in the fourth quarter – that’s pretty cool, right?
Again, happy 2013.
You might say in response to my headline that 2013 didn’t start “last night” – it technically began this morning. And if you did say that, I say to you: shut up. Oh, and happy new year.