In case you were out learning that what you thought was Oscar Fever is actually just an untreated strep infection, here’s what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
- In their first game since the death of longtime team owner Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics, 113-99, at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant, who led a ceremony in Buss’s honor before the game, was somber afterward, saying, “He’s not gone, man. You can’t just get rid of a guy like him. He’s still here, with us, in this locker room. In fact, he’s in my locker right now, waiting to scare me, like I’m a fool. But I’m not a fool. He’s the fool, and he’s way out of line.” Dwight Howard then emerged sheepishly from Bryant’s locker holding a blonde wig and a Jerry Buss mask.
- James Harden had a career night against his former team, scoring 46 points as the Houston Rockets edged the Oklahoma City Thunder, 122-119. After the game, Kevin Durant was distraught in the locker room, telling coach Scott Brooks, “He was my best friend. Now he moves away, and he acts like he doesn’t even know me. This is your fault! We never should’ve let him move! It’s not fair!” Brooks nodded gently, before saying, “Do I feel guilty, Kevin? A little. Honestly, I do. I didn’t want you two to have to be apart. But sometimes decisions are made, and while they hurt, they’re right decisions in the long run. Plus, you like hanging out with Kevin [Martin], don’t you?” Durant shook his head, fighting back the tears. “I hate Kevin! I hate everyone!” Brooks scowled at his forward, “You don’t mean that, Kevin. Tell Kevin you’re sorry.” Durant looked at his teammate, as his lower lip started to quiver. “I’m sorry, Kevin. I like you. It’s another Kevin that I don’t like right now: me.” Martin patted his teammate on the back, “I get it, man. The trade wasn’t easy for me either. And, hey, [Thunder Assistant Coach] Mo Cheeks is gonna take me out for ice cream later. You wanna come?” Durant couldn’t help but let himself smile. “Ice cream with Mo? Yeah, man. I’ll be there.”
- The Indiana Pacers continued their dominant play at home, outscoring the New York Knicks, 74-44, in the first half, en route to a 125-91 victory. “It’s tough to stay focused when we come to Indianapolis,” said a visibly exhausted Carmelo Anthony. “This city is crazy. Did you know there’s a Champps Americana Sports Grill downtown that’s open till two in the morning six nights a week? The place serves its whole menu late. Burgers, sandwiches, patty melts, everything. It’s totally insane. We don’t have anything like that in New York.”
- The Philadelphia Flyers won a dramatic chapter in the best NHL rivalry going, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-5 on the road. Flyers forward Jakub Voracek had a hat trick, netting the game-winner with under two minutes left, leaving a disappointed Pittsburgh crowd with no joy, save for the base contentment that not being a Philadelphia Flyers fan gives to everyone who is not a Philadelphia Flyers fan.
- Lionel Messi’s Barcelona side was shocked at the San Siro by AC Milan, 2-0, in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 matchup. Milan overcame the absence of newly acquired striker Mario Balotelli, who is cup tied for the duration of the Champions League tournament. They also overcame the absence of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who considered volunteering to play for the Rossoneri using a pseudonym and a disguise, before deciding that no disguise could hide his radiant beauty and that he would have to wait for another chance to “dispatch that little cockroach who dares to befoul my legacy.”
- Longtime Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was finally freed from his position after 16 years of being forced to run the team. “I loved my time in Buffalo, but I understand the move,” Ruff said, displaying all the telltale signs of Stockholm Syndrome. The deeply traumatized Ruff then thanked his captors and wished them well in future endeavors, while ignoring the fact that Buffalo robbed him of the best years of his life, years he can never get back.
- The Kansas Jayhawks avenged an earlier defeat, outlasting Big 12 foe Oklahoma State, 68-67, in double-overtime to seize control of the conference race. “Revenge wasn’t on our mind,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the game. “No, when I want to get revenge on [Oklahoma State coach] Travis Ford, I just subtly remind people of his work alongside Marlon Wayans in The 6th Man. Whoops. Oh, I can’t believe I let that slip. Again. Sorry, Trav.”
- The first round of the Accenture Match Play tournament in Arizona was suspended for snow. While the delay frustrated most of the players in the event, amateur singer-songwriter Hunter Mahan found himself inspired during the delay, and penned some lyrics for a new song titled “Snow in Arizona.” “It’s literally about snow in Arizona, but it’s also a metaphor for when something surprising happens in a relationship,” Mahan explained, “and how sometimes, like, cold snow can soothe a hot heart. I have a demo if anyone knows anyone at a label or anything. I can e-mail them an MP3 or a link to my Bandcamp. Either way.”
- The Houston Rockets upgraded their front court with the acquisition of forward Thomas Robinson from the Sacramento Kings. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey used the deal to exploit a newly discovered market inefficiency: outgoing owners interested in screwing both the city their team is currently in and the city the team is moving to. “Usually my team has to use math and stuff to find bargains,” Morey explained, “but the only analytics necessary in this case was this picture of the Maloofs looking relatively haggard and unkempt. If the Maloofs can’t afford hair gel, they can’t afford not to dump salary.”