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Boban Delivered The Chicken

Boban Marjanovic #51 of the Houston Rockets smiles before the game against the LA Clippers on April 14, 2024 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California.
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

If the play-in tournament has accomplished anything, it is the brute-forcing of some extra stakes into the final weekend of the NBA schedule. Whereas games 81 and 82 meant nothing for most of the teams involved in seasons past, the fight to escape or stay in the play-in can give real meaning to the words "Pacers vs. Hawks, Sunday afternoon" (well, for one of those teams, at least). There remain exceptions, however. Despite Adam Silver's continued quest to make every second of NBA action as valuable as possible to broadcasters and advertisers, there are still pockets of blessedly meaningless basketball to find on the final day of the season.

The Rockets and Clippers had nothing to play for on Sunday. Houston's late charge for the 10-seed ended more than a week ago, and the Clippers had no reason to worry about getting bumped out of the higher seed in their upcoming 4-5 matchup with the Mavericks. Both teams let their benches have the run of the arena, and the Rockets turned what had been a close game into something of a blowout by pulling away late in the fourth quarter. But the home fans found themselves something to cheer for when Rockets big man Boban Marjanovic stepped to the free-throw line with 4:44 left to play. The Clippers are one of those teams that run an in-arena promo in which fans can win free chicken if an opposing player misses two free throws. Marjanovic clanked the first, and before taking the second realized why the fans were suddenly showering him with cheers. They wanted that damn chicken! And what did Marjanovic do? He delivered the damn chicken! On purpose!

I'd call this a nice end-of-season moment for Clippers fans that will quickly be forgotten once the real thrill of attending home playoff games sets in, but I'm not so sure that's the case. There's every chance that these people will find themselves watching James Harden shoot 3-of-17 in a Game 5 loss in a few weeks, and be wishing for nothing more than to return to that beautiful afternoon on which Boban blessed them with chicken.

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