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#pounditThursday, October 28, 2021

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Russell Westbrook upset with Darius Bazley for showboating on Lakers

Russell Westbrook was upset with Darius Bazley for committing what he felt was an unsportsmanlike play on Wednesday night.

Westbrook’s Los Angeles Lakers blew a 26-point lead and lost to the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. The loss was so embarrassing that the Lakers got the meme treatment as a result.

With just four seconds left and his Thunder leading 120-115, Bazley stole a pass and dribbled across the court for a dunk with 1.5 seconds left. Westbrook was upset after the play and got ejected for chewing out his opponent.

After the game, Westbrook shared his feelings on the situation.

“When s— like that happens I don’t let it slide,” Westbrook said after the game (profanity censored by LBS) via The Athletic’s Bill Oram. “There’s certain things you just don’t do in sports. Game already over and I didn’t like it. Simple as that.”

One could argue that the game wasn’t over at the time the Lakers were inbounding the ball. However, Bazley did not need to dunk the ball after getting the steal; he could have just dribbled out the clcok.

Even his coach acknowledged the error and took the blame for the situation.

Westbrook was probably mostly upset about committing 10 turnovers as his team blew a big lead to a bad team. He probably took things out on Bazley. But Bazley also just learned that it’s more respectful of your opponents to just dribble out the clock rather than dunk if you have the game in hand.

The main takeaway is that the Lakers have much bigger problems than whether someone showboated on them or not. The circumstances of the defeat are a much bigger concern.

As for Bazley, this isn’t the first time that his judgment has been called into question.

Jose Altuve has fitting comment after Game 2 home run

Jose Altuve on Wednesday continued to climb up the charts due to his success in the postseason. And the Houston Astros second baseman had a fitting comment afterwards.

Altuve went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in Game 2 of the World Series in Houston. He hit a home run in the seventh to make it 7-2, which was the final score.

Altuve homered on the first pitch he saw from Drew Smyly to lead off the seventh. He said after the game that it’s no secret he loves to swing early.

Some batters might take the first pitch when a new pitcher enters the game. Not Altuve. If he sees an opportunity to knock in a run, he’s going to jump on it. He had success doing so during the regular season.

Altuve is now tied with Bernie Williams for second on the career postseason home runs list with 22. Next up is Manny Ramirez with 29.

Altuve said after Houston’s victory that Game 2 was a must-win contest. His Astros are now tied 1-1 with the Atlanta Braves as the series heads to Atlanta.

Photo: May 22, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) takes batting practice before the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Bowler returns to Twitter after being hacked

Pro Bowler Kevin Byard returned to Twitter this week after an absence due to a hack. Unlike most cases where being “hacked” is an excuse for someone sending a misguided tweet, Byard legitimately seemed to have lost his account.

“I got hacked,” Byard told reporters. “I don’t know what happened.”

Byard said he was locked out of his Instagram account too, but he was able to get back on that platform quicker than Twitter. He said he was happy to be back because he enjoys interacting with the fans.

The feeling is mutual. Having Byard back on Twitter is a welcome development for fans, especially those who remember Byard’s famous exchange with Deion Sanders.

Byard, 28, is now in his sixth season with the Titans. He was a Pro Bowl safety in 2017 and led the league with eight interceptions that season. He already has three interceptions and a defensive touchdown this season, to go along with 33 tackles.

Photo: Chipermc/Wikimedia via CC BY-SA 4.0

Max Fried hints at his role for rest of World Series

Max Fried got shelled for the second straight outing on Wednesday. Now he is offering a hint as to what his role might be for the rest of the World Series.

The Atlanta Braves lefty took the loss in Game 2, giving up six earned runs on seven hits in five innings against the Houston Astros. Fried was especially bad in the second inning, allowing four runs to score.

After the game, Fried hinted to reporters that he might pitch on short rest in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday.

“We’ll see how I feel over the next couple of days, but I’m not against it,” said Fried, per Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.

The Braves rotation is suddenly thin after fellow starter Charlie Morton was knocked out in Game 1 with a broken leg. Fried is not inspiring too much confidence either after he also got knocked around in his last NLCS start. Some even questioned whether Fried was tipping his pitches.

The World Series is now tied 1-1 and will shift to Atlanta for the next three games. Fried, who was the Braves’ ace for much of the year, might benefit from starting in front of his home crowd in Game 5 instead of on the road in Game 6. But Fried’s next appearance will likely be his last of the season, giving Braves manager Brian Snitker a lot to think about moving forward.

Lakers get meme treatment after blowing big lead to lowly Thunder

Russell Westbrook’s return to Oklahoma City on Wednesday did not exactly go as planned.

The Los Angeles Lakers faced the Thunder on the road and got out to a big lead in the first half. They led by as many as 26 points, eventually taking a 72-56 lead into halftime. But the wheels came off the bus in the second half for the Lakers, as they were outscored by the Thunder 67-43 the rest of the way. Oklahoma City ended up winning the game by a 123-115 final for their first victory of the season.

The embarrassing loss for the Lakers led to some funny memes on Twitter.

Lakers legend James Worthy even said that the loss might have been the worst that he had ever seen.

The Thunder entered the game 0-4 on the season with a rebuilding roster of mostly young no-names outside of top scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and top defender Luguentz Dort. Yet somehow, they came away with the win against a Lakers roster loaded with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers.

The Lakers were without LeBron James due to an ankle injury and were also on the second end of a back-to-back. But that is still no excuse for the way they played. Westbrook had ten turnovers while Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk both airballed threes late that could have tied the game.

Now 2-3 on the year, this is already the second awful loss for the Lakers in the early going. Last week, they got blown out at home by the Phoenix Suns in a game that saw them fighting each other on the bench. It could be a long season in Lakerland if the team does not get it together pronto.

Photo: Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook prior to the preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: 49ers turned down 2nd-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo

The San Francisco 49ers may have moved up in the NFL Draft to take Trey Lance, but that does not mean they didn’t value Jimmy Garoppolo highly. On the contrary, they valued him quite highly.

Reports all throughout the NFL offseason, and leading up to the draft, said that the New England Patriots were targeting Garoppolo for a potential trade.

How much did the Pats want their old QB back? According to one plugged-in reporter, they offered the Niners a second-round pick for Jimmy G.

NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller relayed on Twitter Monday some information from Seth Wickersham’s new book on the Patriots, “It’s Better to be Feared.”

According to the book, the Patriots’ offer of a second-round pick wasn’t enough for the Niners, who wanted a first-round pick in return.

The Patriots were hoping to call the trade even after the Niners gave them a second-round pick for Jimmy G in 2017.

The Niners’ price for Garoppolo was too high for New England, who decided to use their first-round pick on Mac Jones instead. The former Alabama quarterback has been pretty solid to start his career. Maybe they’re better off that the trade offer wasn’t accepted. And the Niners may be regretting the decision to demand more.

H/T Egotastic Sports

Photo: Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden has honest assessment of his conditioning

It’s been a slow start to the season for James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets guard has an explanation for his lack of scoring.

Harden has yet to score more than 20 points in a game this season, and he didn’t even hit 15 points for the second straight game in Wednesday’s loss to Miami. It’s not what people are used to seeing from Harden, who averaged over 30 points per game as recently as the 2019-20 season.

After the game, Harden blamed his offseason rehab for his slow start to the season. The guard said his normal routine of playing pickup was interrupted by rehab, and that he’s still regaining his usual form.

Harden dealt with a significant hamstring injury at the end of last season. It seems he’s still working his way back from that. Harden’s free throws are down as well, which his coach believes is because of unfair treatment from officials.

The good news is Harden seems to think he’ll be able to get back to where he usually is fitness-wise. It just might be a bit before we see some of the impressive stat lines he’s known for.

Photo: Feb 16, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Buck has nasty confession about his broadcasting career

Joe Buck once called Randy Moss’ fake moon of the Lambeau Field crowd “a disgusting act.” It turns out that Buck actually knows a thing or two about disgusting acts himself.

The veteran sportscaster appeared recently on the “Smartless” podcast with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes. In the episode, Buck was asked if he had advice for young people trying to make it in broadcasting.

“If there’s stage fright in your life, don’t even apply,” Buck replied. “Because you have a minute and a half to go to the bathroom and there’s running involved.”

Buck then made a disgusting confession about his time in the booth.

“I have peed in a bottle while calling an NFL touchdown,” he admitted. “I was peeing in a trash can and they handed me a little water bottle … “[It] was like a ‘Mission Impossible,’ Tom Cruise thing to get to the bathroom in the stadium, and the half wouldn’t end. And I couldn’t get there. I was just pounding water and crying. Water was trying to get out of [my system].

“We came back from the break, and I was peeing,” Buck added. “The action started and I called the touchdown while urine was coming out of me.”

That’s absolutely foul. But as the old saying goes, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Buck added that the game in question was a Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons contest that he was calling in frigid Wisconsin. So perhaps that makes his physical situation a little more understandable.

After over three decades in broadcasting however, Buck is probably a lot better prepared now for when nature calls. He even recently revealed his strategy for staying relaxed in the booth through anything.

H/T Sporting News

Photo: Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; FOX analyst Joe Buck before the NFC Divisional Playoff football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Report: JJ Watt likely out for season with shoulder injury

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt may have played his final snap of the season.

As first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Watt is in need of shoulder surgery. The recovery period is expected to be roughly three months, meaning the veteran is likely out for the remainder of the season.

Watt hasn’t quite been in elite form this season, but he remains an important part of Arizona’s defensive line. The 32-year-old had one sack in seven games so far in 2021.

The veteran has managed to recover from injuries that were deemed season-ending before and return well ahead of schedule. He’ll definitely want to do so this time. The Cardinals are unbeaten and look capable of doing big things. It ultimately comes down to how his body responds, but it doesn’t sound like something to bank on given the recovery timetable.

Steve Spurrier offers blunt assessment of Florida’s recent struggles

The Florida Gators have been a huge disappointment this season, particularly the last few weeks. The Gators nearly beat Alabama, losing 31-29 on Sept. 18. Since then, Florida is 2-2, with a pair of disappointing losses against Kentucky and LSU.

For former coach Steve Spurrier, it’s not tough to figure out why. Spurrier was asked on “The Paul Finebaum Show” what the root cause of the issues might be, and the explanation was simple.

Hey, sometimes simple, brutal honesty is the best course of action. Spurrier had plenty of success, and that was part of it.

If it helps, current coach Dan Mullen has been taking a similar approach lately. We’ll see if it helps, because there’s growing talk of him landing on the hot seat as the bad performances continue.