It seems almost too easy to link to a famous video clip of an NFL head coach mocking the very mention of the word playoffs, when his team was playing nowhere near a level that would suggest that as a possibility.
But that might have been a legitimate reaction for some when hearing the news that the Lakers — yes, the same team that has had a season so disastrous that the word catastrophic doesn’t even feel strong enough to describe it — have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
After suffering yet another historic loss, this time at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the inevitable became conclusive when L.A. was mathematically disqualified from reaching the postseason.
From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
The Lakers (22-44) were officially eliminated from playoff contention after experiencing another brutal night on defense. Who knew their victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday would become the miracle of the NBA season?
No need to stop just yet. The Spurs’ victory pushed the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili past the “Showtime” group of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for second-most regular-season victories by three NBA teammates (491).
In addition to the former Lakers trio being surpassed in career wins by the current Spurs one, San Antonio recorded its largest margin of victory against the L.A. franchise (34 points) since a 32-point win in 1977.
It’s been a season of humiliation for a Lakers team that has largely avoided that feeling for the vast majority of its existence. At this point, these milestones teams are recording against them are simply adding insult to injury, but it will all come to a merciful conclusion on April 16 now that the playoffs are formally out of reach.
The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.
The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.
Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.
Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:
Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.
The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.
Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.
The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.
With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.
Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.
Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.
The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.
It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.
Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.
“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.
Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.
Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.
On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.
The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.