Pretty solid sports night we had there last night. Shame if anything happened to it – like you not watching any of it. Hey, I get it to some extent – Thursday night affords a lot of TV options. But look at what you had just in the sports world last night: an NFL game, a nationally televised NBA doubleheader, college football, and college hoops? A lot to digest, but I care, dammit, so let’s get to digestin’.
The Bills win the Battle For AFC East Mediocrity.
Sure, this game didn’t look like much on paper – two teams with sub-.500 records, neither looking likely to contend for any sort of playoff spot – but things got off to an electrifying start. The first quarter alone featured a punt and kick getting returned for a touchdown, and at the end of the quarter, the Bills were up 13-7. Did we have a barn burner on our hands?
Well… no. The teams scored 13 combined points for the rest of the game, which the Bills largely controlled until a late Dolphins touchdown, and Miami threatened to win in the final minutes before a Ryan Tannehill interception sealed it for the Bills. The Dolphins had serious trouble moving the ball all game, amassing just 184 total yards, and if not for C.J. Spiller, the Bills wouldn’t have done much better (and the Dolphins even bottled him up later in the game).
Ultimately, the game wound up pretty much living up to how it initially looked on paper – i.e. meh against meh. And despite many practically screaming for Spiller to get the ball more for much of the game, as a Spiller fantasy owner, let me say about his final tally of 25 touches and 130 total yards: I’ll take it.
The Heat almost blow it, then hold on.
Well, the Heat still have trouble in Denver, but this time they managed to get out of the city with a win, holding off a furious Nuggets rally to win 98-93. And while Heat fans are undoubtedly wondering why they even let the Nuggets back in after building a 19-point third quarter lead on a barrage of threes, the fact remains they beat a team most still expect to be pretty good on the road – their first win in Denver in 11 tries. Oh, and they did it without Dwyane Wade for the entire game, and Mario Chalmers for most of it.
The game showcased much of what makes the Heat so dangerous – and also some of what could be their potential undoing, should they fail to repeat. They won because LeBron was his usual self (27 points, 12 assists), but also because Mike Miller and Shane Battier shot the hell out of the ball, combining to make 10 of 15 threes. They have so many shooters they can afford Ray Allen having an off night (2-for-8 shooting), and Wade having a literal off night.
But the Nuggets also exposed the Heat’s size disadvantage. They outrebounded the Heat 48-29, with Kenneth Faried grabbing 20 of those himself (granted, he gave himself plenty of work on the offensive glass with his 5-for-16 shooting). And JaVale McGee dominated, putting up 18 points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 21 minutes. But even so: the Heat won. They’re going to win more often than not. Will going all-in on sharpshooters pay off come playoff time? We’ll see, but being able to win a game like this was a good start.
Elsewhere in the Association…
Good night for New York. Like, really good. Like, “the Knicks went into San Antonio and came out with a win despite being down 12 points in the fourth quarter and Carmelo having an off night and good God the Knicks are actually 6-0 right now” good. And to top it all off, the Nets beat the Celtics, too. New York pro basketball: more relevant than expected!
And in college:
On the football side of things, UNC blew out Virginia. If Larry Fedora can keep them out of massive academic scandals, the Heels might have something there. And as far as the hoops upset watch goes… we got nothing. Seven Top 25 teams played. They all won. No. 1 Indiana got “biggest blowout” honors, overwhelming Sam Houston State 99-45. Which, honestly, is pretty much exactly what a No. 1 team should do against Sam Houston State.
Photos via Getty