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NBA

Some Basketball You Don’t Need To See To Comprehend

A Spalding ball sits on the court during the game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets at Philips Arena on November 20, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Basketball is one of those games whose box scores can often lie their asses off, if box scores had asses, which they don’t. But sometimes you just don’t need to know anything else but what the box tells you, and the last two days have provided three magnificent examples of what happens when the game decides to dumb itself down.

Yes, most NBA blogs will give you video clips to help illustrate the point the typist is trying to convey, but every now and then video becomes extraneous, because the raw numbers actually are sufficient. In fact, more than sufficient because they tell the story better than pretty moving pictures can. Call this the NBA your parents knew.

Tuesday gave us the Washington Wizards blowing a 35-point lead and losing to the Kawhi-less, PG-less, gormless Los Angeles Clippers, which doesn’t need the thorough examination that Comrade Thompson already provided. When you blow a 35-point lead, the details better be beyond spectacular to gussy up such an opening sentence. They weren’t. Comrade Thompson gave us the overview of why the Wizards are almost uniquely qualified to produce such a competitive atrocity, wrapping up the obit with a simple, “I am frankly too exhausted by the Wizards to fit this historic loss all that precisely into their history.” He all but said, “This is who the Wizards are, this box score right here,” and he was right.

The second ridiculous offering didn’t even require such a deep dive into the play-by-play chart, as it was Celtics 128, Kings 75. The deep dive is the word “Kings,” who are Comrade Redford’s particular happy place, if by “happy” you mean “unhappy.” The Kings are the proud owners of four of the 27 worst beatdowns in the sport’s history, and none of them involve the worst start in NBA history, in which the Kings were outscored 40-4 in the first quarter of a 36-point loss to the Lakers. It’s not like there’s much else you need to know once you see that Buddy Hield led the Kings in scoring with 11 points, or that the only Kings to make half their shots or more were Richaun Holmes and Neemias Queta. The story isn’t nearly as good as the box score because Kings gotta King, and Kangz gotta Kang.

We thought, though, that Tuesday capped out the week and were wrong within 24 hours because Hornets 158, Pacers 126. Yeah. One-fifty-eight. LaMelo Ball went 29-13-10-+45. Kelly Oubre came off the bench and got 39, including 10 three-pointers. The Hornets led by one at the half, and then scored more points (87) after juice boxes in any game since 1991. There’s no explanation required; 158 is the explanation. Indiana’s militant refusal to defend anything, let alone anyone, is only partially explained by missing three starters because 158 sells itself. When you see 158, you’re hooked.

In short, just as you won’t see four playoff games as spectacular as the NFL spat out this last weekend, you’ll not have three games quite like this again in such close proximity. And unlike the NFL, you didn’t have to watch these. They just happened upon you and required no further research. Yay games you don’t even have to watch to get the gist!