In case you were busy regretting a decades-old decision to allow your son to play football so long as he was just the punter, here’s what you missed in sports on Monday:
- The Detroit Pistons, fueled by Josh Smith’s 30 points on 29 shots, handed the Indiana Pacers their first home loss of the year, 101-96. “More of a long-term thing,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel of the loss, before shaking his head and saying, “What? No. I mean, man, Smith was money tonight, huh? Guy’s tough to beat when he’s firing a high volume of jump shots. Would hate to see him do that to us in some sort of playoff scenario.”
- Justin Tucker’s 61-yard field goal, his franchise-record sixth on the night, was the difference as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Detroit Lions, 18-16, in a Monday-night battle of teams named after classic stories. The Ravens, of course, were named after House Ravenclaw from the Harry Potter series. Less well-known is that the Lions were named after the Cowardly Lion from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a character who was modeled after three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. Coincidentally, it was Bryan’s promotion of the Free Silver movement that served as the basis for the naming of the Lions’ old stadium: the Pontiac Free Silverdome, which was quickly renamed the Pontiac Silverdome after an opening-day riot caused by fans equally disappointed by the lack of free silver and the Lions’ generally poor play.
- Wizards guard Bradley Beal hit a late uncontested layup before the Knicks countered by being the Knicks in New York’s 102-101 loss to Washington. As the game ended, a boy and his father sat silent in Queens, eyes glued to a TV tuned to MSG, stunned by what had just happened. The boy reached for the remote, but his father grabbed his wrist. “I can’t watch anymore, father,” the boy cried plaintively. “Please, father, don’t make me watch. They’re dying, father. They’re dying.” But his father just sat still holding the boy’s wrist tight, knowing that his son was finally beginning to understand the circle of life.
- Jabari Parker’s 21 points were more than enough to lead Duke to an 85-66 win over Gardner-Webb. “Why are we talking about Gardner-Webb?” asked PIKE brother and Duke junior Preston “Trip” Bullington-Davison III after the game. “Seriously, is that a college basketball team or some sort of prank I pulled in the Duke Gardens that’s going to jeopardize our fraternity’s status on campus?” After his frat brother Chip “Other Trip” Callahan IV laughed, Bullington-Davison III said, “No, seriously, Other Trip. I had a lot to drink last night. Did I set up a Gardner-Webb or what?”
- Another night, another goal for Sidney Crosby, who led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Yeah, but I know I’m not a god,” Crosby said after the game without prompting. “It just sometimes occurs to me that I may well be thinking the very game of hockey into being so I can destroy it. And then naturally, I’m thinking fans into being to care about it, and the idea of transmitting images via satellite into being to transmit it. And then that basically means that all of particle physics exists at the whim of my subconscious.” Crosby then paused, smoothed his mustache, and added, “But that doesn’t make me a god.”
- Doc Rivers’s Los Angeles Clippers sent a message to the rest of the league with a 115-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs. And that message was “WaTCh OuT,” spelled out in letters cut out from back issues of Vogue and glued to a red piece of construction paper, which Rivers hand-delivered to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich with a wink during their postgame handshake.
- In a battle of teams named after classic moments in state history, the Philadelphia 76ers were demolished by the Brooklyn Nets, 130-94. The 76ers, of course, were named after the 72 steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Rocky Balboa ran up while training to face Apollo Creed. They were miscounted by Balboa’s quasi-literate trainer, Mickey Goldmill, leading to the team’s inaccurate name. The Nets’ name is an anachronism dating back to their early days in New Jersey. The team was named after a prank pulled by the PIKE chapter at Rutgers University, which trapped all the gardeners on campus in giant “gardener webs” that were constructed out of used fishing nets. The incident, known as The Great Netting of New Jersey, led to the fraternity’s three-year probationary stint in the ’50s, and is remembered in New Jersey state lore as the “most ingenious thing ever done by anyone in New Jersey.”