Top 5 Games of Last Week (1/20/14 – 1/26/14)
Who here thought the Pro Bowl was going to make the Top 5? Yeah right. Sure, it was better this year, but it’s still a stain on an otherwise sterling reputation. Anytime you have JJ Watt bear hugging Drew Brees and then softly laying him on the turf, it’s not football. Of course, this means that for the first time since I started writing this column in October, there will be no football on this list. Ugh. It’s almost sad enough to make me add the Pro Bowl. Almost.
#5. Charlotte Bobcats at New York Knicks
True, on paper, this matchup sucked. Rooting for these two teams must sometimes feel like rooting for the Washington Generals, but Carmelo Anthony made this game special. For an average of just $98.76 - my bang-for-your-buck pick of the week – you got to see Melo break the scoring record at MSG, pouring in 62 points. Melo, always a gifted scorer, was in rare form, easily surpassing his previous career high of 50 points and the MSG record holders – Kevin Durant, Bernard King, and Kobe Bryant – along the way. If the game had been closer and Melo had played longer, 70 or more points might have been realistic. He was that good. As it was, he settled for the highest scoring performance in the NBA this season and the highest in MSG history. NBD.
#4. San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat
This one was the opposite of number five – awesome on paper, and just alright in reality. Still, the hype surrounding the Finals rematch was enough to carry it, especially since both teams are still amongst the top teams in their conferences. Was it worth the average price paid, $212.70 per ticket? Nahhh. With the Spurs hampered by injuries and the game being played in Miami, they trailed by as many as 29 points on Sunday, struggling to even make it competitive. Another thing: anytime Chris Bosh scores more than 20 points for the Heat – he had 24 against the Spurs – the opposing team’s in trouble. LeBron’s always on, and with Bosh’s knocking them down, the Heat are next to impossible to beat.
#3. Aussie Open – Wawrinka vs Berdych
In the words of Wawrinka: “I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless. I didn’t expect to make a final in a Grand Slam – tonight it’s happening.” So many feels! He’s the fun, humble overachiever everyone loves to root for. Oh, and he’s fun to watch. With the best one-handed backhand in the game – sorry, Federer – he can dictate play and crush winners from anywhere on the court. Against Berdych, he held his nerve for the final three nail-biting sets, winning 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4). Dude’s as tough as last week’s bagel. And did I mention he’s fun to watch?
#2. Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors
After losing 11 straight games decided by four points or fewer, Kevin Love and the Timberwolves had had enough. Despite Stephen Curry’s best efforts to extend their losing streak to 12, the Timberwolves came through, winning 121-120. In the end though, it wasn’t Curry’s best effort the Warriors needed; it was Harrison Barnes’. Wide open because of a double-team on Curry, Barnes missed a wide open three pointer at the buzzer. Yeesh.
#1. Aussie Open – Wawrinka vs Djokovic
In last year’s Australian Open, Djokovic downed Wawrinka in five sets before going on to beat Murray in the final. This year? Wawrinka returned the favor, downing Djokovic in five thrilling sets. No, I’m not Djoking. Put simply, it’s the kinda match that makes you believe in Karma. Seriously! There might not be a nicer guy on tour than Wawrinka, and when he admitted to crying in the shower following last year’s loss to Djokovic, I have to believe Karma stepped in and took him past Djokovic, the three time Aussie Open Champion. If a man has ever had a monkey on his back, it’s probably Wawrinka, who before Sunday stayed pretty hidden in 17 time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer’s shadow. Congrats, Wawrinka.