Another basketball-heavy evening to look back upon. Let’s get to it, so you might drink from the glorious fountain of (sports news) knowledge.
Duke is dangerous.
OK, maybe you can’t stand Duke basketball for any number of reasons (here’s a handy guide to a few of them. Oh, look, here’s a few more!). But after beating No. 4 Ohio State 73-68 last night, overcoming a 31-23 halftime deficit in the process, it’s time to admit: Duke can play with anyone this year. The Blue Devils are undefeated, with three wins over teams who were in the top five at the time they played them (OSU, Louisville, and Kentucky), and they’ve also beaten good Minnesota and VCU teams. One could easily make the case no one’s had a tougher schedule in the early going than Duke, and so far, they’ve escaped unscathed. That, much as it might pain any Duke hater to say, is impressive. [Vomit]
Elsewhere in college hoops: not one, but two top 25 upsets! No. 11 Creighton fell to Boise State 83-70, and No. 13 Michigan State (which narrowly beat that same Boise team a week ago) fell to Miami 67-59. Hope those teams enjoyed their top 15 rankings, because when the next set of polls comes out, those will likely be long gone.
The Wizards are off the schneid.
Transitioning to the pros – you know all that stuff we just said about how impressive Duke has been, all the good teams they’ve beaten? Well, try to imagine the exact opposite of all that. Done? Well, you have just imagined the 2012-13 Washington Wizards’ first 12 games. The Wizards weren’t getting blown out every night – in fact, they were only routed once, by the Spurs on Monday – but game in, game out, they kept finding ways to lose, and eventually found themselves at 0-12.
But since no team of professional basketball players can possibly lose every game, especially when they’ve come as close to winning as the Wizards have (three overtime losses), they were bound to break through eventually, and last night, they did just that, narrowly defeating the Trail Blazers 84-82 and ensuring they won’t challenge any of these teams for “worst start in NBA history” anti-honors. Sure, they were helped by the Blazers’ starting backcourt shooting a combined 8-for-31 (Damiam Lillard’s in a bit of a slump these last few games after his great start), but a win’s a win. Especially when you’re 0-12.
Speaking of teams that had horrible starts winning, not only did the Pistons win last night: they beat the Suns by 40. It wasn’t quite a humiliation the same way Thunder-Bobcats was (the Pistons were up by just 11 at halftime, pulling away later), but it sure is humiliating for the Suns, who haven’t even been that bad so far (the loss drops them to 7-9). And the Pistons did it without a single player even scoring 20 points. They’re now up to 5-11 on the year after that 0-8 start, and actually have a winning record at home (4-3). See, Wizards? You can still turn things around.
And as for the Bobcats: they lost again last night, though in much less disturbing fashion this time, dropping a 94-91 decision to the Hawks (who are on a roll lately) in Atlanta. This represented a 42-point improvement over their last game, as far as margin of victory was concerned. If they can just keep doing that very game, they’ll win their next game by 39 – and their last game of the season by 2,853.
Elsewhere in the Association…
James Harden returned to OKC to face his former team… and got blown out, with the Thunder riding Kevin Durant’s 37 to a 120-98 victory. Harden said coming in that it was “just another game,” then proceeded to shoot a very un-just-another-game-like 3-for-16. It’s almost like he wasn’t being entirely truthful when saying it was just another game, or something.
Elsewhere, the Nets continued their strong play, beating the Celtics 95-83 – but screw the game, we had a HumphriesFight! Oh, and Jerry Stackhouse continues to be on fire out of nowhere: he scored 17 last night and went 5-for-6 on threes. Other games: the Spurs, Bulls and Grizzlies blew out the Magic, Mavs, and Raptors, respectively, the Knicks beat the Bucks, the Jazz beat the Hornets, and the Clippers got back on track, beating the T-Wolves. And tonight, we finally get the Heat back in our lives after a four-day layoff.
Rutgers and Louisville play for the Big East title tonight.
Piscataway, NJ takes back its rightful place as center of the college football universe. I will be there. It will be either awesome or terrible.
Photos via Getty