Warren Beatty: “And the Academy Award … for the winner of Monday night’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers … [unfurls box score] … is … [squints] … [pulls head back in confusion/disbelief, flips box score over, uses finger to check own pulse, scratches head, shrugs, make farting noise, shoves box score in front of Faye Dunaway] …
Faye Dunaway: “La La Land!”
[Pandemonium erupts. Confetti falls from the ceiling.]
La La Land Producer Jordan Horowitz: “Wow, what a great honor. This is amazing, truly. First, I want to thank the Academy. I want to thank the other nominees for inspiring us to win this game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The tenacity with which they linger in games and fight through their injuries. And, you know, they’re just so long on defense? Like a pack of pterodactyls. It’s really hard to find passing lanes. And the … wow, I’m just so honored. This goes out to all the dreamers out there who dreamt of winning a game they weren’t even playing in and-”
[Whispering on the stage. The stage producer says something to host Jimmy Kimmel. An audible gasp runs through the crowd.]
La La Land Producer Jordan Horowitz: “… Guys, guys. I’m sorry. No. There’s a mistake. The Cleveland Cavaliers, you won tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. This is not a joke. The Cleveland Cavaliers have won tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.” [holds up box score]
Whew, good. What a relief. I don’t know how I was going to kill 800-1200 words talking about how impressive it was that a musical about an aspiring actress in LA won an NBA basketball game. That would have been mighty weird. Honestly though, props to La La Land Producer Jordan Horowitz to classily handling the biggest Oscars screwup since James Franco hosted the entire show stoned. I don’t think I would have been as dignified in defeat. It’s hard to believe that anyone involved in the show would have sent the actors who played Bonnie and Clyde fifty years ago into an ambush. Anyway, the Cavs won. Let’s hand out some fake awards.
Best Picture: LeBron James shooting a runner as Michael Beasley looks on in part amazement/part agony.1
LeBron James’s February per-game splits: 25.9 points, 10.6 assists, 7.2 rebounds, 63.7 field g0al percentage, 56.8 three-point percentage, 13.9 net rating, 71.7 true shooting percentage. Not a bad month, even by “best player alive” standards. After missing Saturday’s dud against the Chicago Bulls with strep throat, James slowly worked himself into the game on Monday — very deliberate and methodical to start, perhaps testing if his superpowers were at full strength in the presence of heavy doses of Robitussin — before flexing his muscles in the second half (14/5/3). When told that February is officially over for the Cavs, James grimaced a bit and poignantly stated “Well that sucks.”
On Monday, James finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists, just one shy of another Oscar of his own.2 He was aggressive in transition, gliding through the lane with ease, with his assists coming from post position on the elbow or via his artillery arm from the top of the key. In a game of many highlights, my personal favorite came in the third quarter, when James was sprinting down court with Tristan Thompson trailing behind him and to his left. James quickly peeked over his right shoulder for the briefest instant, then again, barely able to see Thompson. Then, coming to an instant and somehow graceful short jump stop to his right, James leads Thompson with an amazing bounce pass between two defenders that hits Thompson right in the hands for an easy dunk. It was a high degree of difficulty pass, executed flawlessly and with ease.
— Players Only on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 28, 2017
Then there was the hellacious dunk after abusing former Cavalier/love of my life Matthew Dellavedova. James then announced the and one to Drew Henson, whom James seemed particularly disgusted with for whatever reason. As an avid proponent of pissy/slightly annoyed James, I enjoyed his Monday night performance with particular zest. He somehow controlled the game while only attempting 12 field goals. Total mastery.
Best Visual Effects – Kyrie Irving. Kyrie Irving was made for this fictional Oscar/basketball crossover category — after all, he’s the man who is constantly reinventing the crossover dribble. Kyrie is an optical illusion, basketball unreality personified, an apparition, and way cooler than anything that happened in Avatar. You can’t convince me that he isn’t a figment of my imagination, or at least a CGI rendering of what someone with artistic license would make a point guard look like. Take, for instance, this cinematic stepback to end the first quarter.
Or this 3D bit movie magic that swept Drew Henson off his feet.
Irving finished with 25 points and nine assists, as his assist splits at home continue to show a new, visionary version of Irving (9.3 assists per game at home since December 17). Irving notched his 2000th career assist on Monday, all of them before his 25th birthday. He even found best original screenplay nominee Kyle Korver3 on the weak side on a few passes that he absolutely would not have made as recently as last season. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t pass.
Kyrie on his 2,000th assist: "It's good for a guy who doesn't pass."
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) February 28, 2017
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Derrick Williams. Williams finished with 14 points and seven rebounds on Monday night, being a part of the defensive triumvirate (with Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson) who made Giannis Antetokounmpo look like a rookie. He’s now scoring 10.1 points per game with the Cavaliers, and he’s still finding his C-legs. If Williams remains energetic in transition, active on defense, and hits the occasional open shot, then the addition will remain a huge success. Cavs fans could not be more pleased with the signing. Williams is even starting to show a little chemistry with James on backdoor cuts when James is on the elbow surveilling the defense, as evidenced by the vicious jam below. For 15 to 20 minutes per game in the playoffs, this Williams has a chance to be a huge asset for the Cavs … and there’s another potentially impactful Williams inbound.
Worst Film Editing: Whoever’s responsible for the Cavs’ 16 turnovers. I don’t know who to blame for the Cavs’ collective 16 turnovers (which led to 17 Milwaukee points), so I’ll do what everyone in the written or audiovisual mediums does when things don’t go right: blame the editor! Kyrie Irving led the way with four turnovers, but the turnovers came in a variety of ways: offensive fouls, the seldom seen traveling call, brain farts, and the well-timed swipe by the Bucks. Their length continues to bother teams like the Cavaliers who rely on rapidly moving the ball from the strong side to the weak side through traversable passing lanes. Even on a night in which Giannis Antetokounmpo underwhelmed (nine points on 4-of-13 shooting), the Bucks were able to stay in the game due to steady play from rookie Malcolm Brogdon4 — who led all Milwaukee scorers with 20 points — and serviceable defense — holding the Cavs to 102 at home is no joke. If the Bucks can ever get Giannis, Khris Middleton (out on Monday), and Jabari Parker (out for the season) healthy at the same time, this team has real potential. The Bucks are a team I genuinely would not want as the No. 8 seed opposite the Cavaliers in the playoffs, Monday night’s fun with notwithstanding.