This is the true story of nine awful squads picked to play in a league with a perverse incentive structure and have their games broadcast to find out what happens when tanking teams stop being polite and start getting real.
The Memphis Grizzlies had lost 18 straight games and had the worst record in the NBA (just barely). The Chicago Bulls had the eighth-worst record in the NBA due to a series of tanking misfortunes — the Bulls are almost as bad at being bad as they are bad at being good right now. The teams played each other Thursday with everything and nothing on the line.
Jarell Martin gave Memphis a 110-109 lead with just over 24 seconds left. The Bulls didn’t take a timeout and ran the clock down so that ... Antonio Blakeney (yes, Antonio Blakeney) could take a contested three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left. It bricked badly, but — there’s always a but with the Bulls — Tyreke Evans fouled Blakeney (yes, Antonio Blakeney) on the shot! Blakeney (yes, Antonio Blakeney) hit two of three free throws. Memphis took a timeout and got a shot of middling quality for Marc Gasol, who didn’t hit (and a post-buzzer tap-in didn’t count). Bulls win. Grizzlies streak reaches 19.
Here’s the thing: the Grizzlies were trying to win and seemed quite pained by the loss! Memphis had Gasol, Evans, JaMychal Green, Martin, and Wayne Selden in during crunch time. The Bulls had Cam Payne, Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser, Blakeney (yes, Antonio Blakeney), and Noah Vonleh in. Chicago did everything it possibly could to lose this game short of actually throwing it, and they won.
Chicago, you are so, so bad at this.
(Shout out to @nbaayy for bringing this to the world’s attention.)
Playoff Picture Update
The Spurs aren’t done yet! Plus, we have a four-team intrigue party in the East.
Scores Galore ...
TOR 106, IND 99
CHA 129, ATL 117
PHI 118, NYK 110
LAC 96, HOU 101
CHI 111, MEM 110
NOP 93, SAS 98
DET 113, DEN 120
PHX 88, UTA 116
CLE 105, POR 113
... And So Much More
Is this the best dunk of LeBron James’ career? It’s almost certainly the best poster of his career. Thank you for your service, Jusuf Nurkic.
A little bit of a fracas erupted during Jazz-Suns. The Suns took exception to a bump and perhaps some gloating. So Jared Dudley body-checked Ricky Rubio at the next opportunity. When Rubio bounced back up to confront Dudley, Marquese Chriss — the originally aggrieved Sun — shoved him down. Joe Ingles (Joe Ingles!) and Donovan Mitchell came in hot as the situation devolved. This is actually more of a medium-sized fracas in today’s NBA!
Kudos to Ben Simmons, who passed Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles as a rookie!
Vince Carter isn’t just a great mentor for the young Kings ... he’s actually performing quite well at age 41.
DeAndre Ayton and Trae Young are out of the NCAA tournament. Man, that season did not turn out well for Ayton and Arizona.
Dennis Schroder with a pretty legit burn on Dwight Howard.
And finally: rest in peace, Tom Benson. The two biggest reasons the Pelicans are still in New Orleans are David Stern and Tom Benson. What happens now is a mystery, to be honest.
Be excellent to each other.