Wednesday was a great sports night. And an awful one.
I spent most of the night covering a tremendous high school baseball playoff game.1 I got home in time to catch the last out of the Royals’ dismal loss to Houston. Losing two of three to the worst team in baseball is not cool. At all. Especially when they blew another great start by James Shields. The next two weeks will likely determine the Royals’ fate this season. Their next 11 games are against the surging Angels, the red hot Cardinals, and the very good Rangers. They can’t do any worse than 5-6 in that stretch if they have real hopes of contending this season. It won’t matter whether Danny Duffy and Felix Paulino come back strong in July, or if the ice cold bats of half the team finally wake up if they’re 10 games back of the Tigers a week into June. I’m not optimistic and think it’s going to be an ugly summer in KC as the heat on Ned Yost and Dayton Moore gets cranked up.
After the Royals last out, I flipped over to the game one of the Pacers-Heat game. We had been casually following the score in the press box at my game, and I checked it several times on the way home. Each time the Pacers somehow had a 2-4 point lead. Miami finally got a little cushion right about the time I turned it on, but the Pacers made one more run, keyed by that ridiculous Paul George three that tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter.2
The Pacers had the game won at least twice in overtime, and managed to blow it each time. As crushing as the loss was – between a couple bad decisions by players, some awful turnovers in key situations, a key hustle play by Miami where the Pacers stood around and watched, and Frank Vogel choking on a two major coaching decisions – I don’t think the Pacers had a chance to beat the Heat four times in seven games. But this was a classic setup to steal game one on the road and change the complexion of the series.
Miami still has LeBron, though, who can do things no other human can do on the basketball court. It doesn’t matter that Paul George is turning into a top-tier star,3 that Roy Hibbert is living up to his contract, and the Pacers’ bench is performing well. Whatever they do, LeBron will always have a counter. His ascension to the top is complete. He may not yet have, or ever get, Jordan’s six rings. But he’s in the same place relative to the rest of the league that Jordan was at his peak. Between his skills and his will, he will always find a way to win.
Dumb loss. Multiple members of the Pacers had major mental vapor locks late. But this isn’t their series. It’s LeBron’s world and we’re all just living in it.
- More about that in my next Reporter’s Notebook entry. ↩
- In my KU-heavy Twitter feed, there were plenty of references to Trey Burke’s ridiculous tying shot in Dallas in March. Coincidentally that was the last time I sat in my basement until nearly midnight watching hoops. ↩
- Dude has to learn how to handle the ball better, though, if he wants to be elite. ↩