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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Updated: April 29, 10:10 AM ET
Hornets join list of worst playoff routs

By David Schoenfield
Page 2

The New Orleans Hornets added a dubious footnote to sports history Monday night -- losing by 58 points at home to the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their first-round NBA playoff series.

It's a loss so dreadful it must be considered one of the worst playoff humiliations in pro sports history. Take a look:

Denver Nuggets 121, New Orleans Hornets 63 (2009 first round, Game 4)


New Orleans Hornets
The air of dejection is evident on the Hornets bench during Monday's humiliating defeat.
What happened: Looking to even the series on their home court, the Hornets instead fell behind by 21 after the first quarter and made just 17 field goals -- or about one every three minutes.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: The 58-point margin of defeat was the largest ever suffered at home in NBA history -- playoffs or regular season.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: At least the Hornets didn't try to dump their starting center and his contract at the trade deadline for a bunch of guys who would have made the team worse.

Boston Red Sox 10, New York Yankees 3 (2004 ALCS, Game 7)


What happened: The Red Sox became the first major league team to rally from a 3-0 series deficit by pounding their hated rivals at Yankee Stadium. David Ortiz hit a two-run homer off Kevin Brown in the first, and Johnny Damon belted a grand slam off Javier Vazquez in the second.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: Well, there was this backdrop to the season.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: The Yankees still have 26 World Series titles.

Jacksonville Jaguars 62, Miami Dolphins 7 (1999 AFC divisional playoff)

What happened: Fred Taylor ran 90 yards for a TD and Tony Brackens returned a fumble for a TD and it was 24-0 after the first quarter.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: In the last game ever for Dan Marino (and Jimmy Johnson), Marino went 11-for-25 for 95 yards. The Jaguars outgained the Dolphins 520 yards to 131.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: Hey, it's not like Marino won a lot of big games in his career anyway.

Boston Red Sox 23, Cleveland Indians 7 (1999 ALDS, Game 4)

What happened: Boston scored five runs in the second, five more in the fourth, three in the fifth ... well, you get the picture. John Valentin hit two home runs and drove in seven runs to lead a 24-hit attack, Mike Stanley went 5-for-6, Jason Varitek scored five runs and Jose Offerman and Trot Nixon each drove in five.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: Not only is it the largest margin of defeat in a major league postseason game, but Cleveland would lose Game 5 12-8, blowing a 2-0 series lead and giving up 44 runs over those three defeats.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: Just imagine if Brian Daubach, Boston's No. 3 hitter, hadn't gone 0-for-6.

Chicago Bulls 96, Utah Jazz 54 (1998 NBA Finals, Game 3)


1998 NBA Finals Scoreboard
The scoreboard always gets the last word.
What happened: Karl Malone was 8-for-11 from the field, but his teammates were 13-for-59 as Utah shot just 30 percent for the game and scored 23 points in the second half.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: Just a reminder: Luc Longley was the starting center for the Bulls.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: Just a reminder: Greg Ostertag was the starting center for the Jazz.

Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (1992 AFC wild-card game)


What happened: After returning an interception for a touchdown early in the third quarter, the Oilers led 35-3. But behind backup quarterback Frank Reich, the Bills scored 28 points in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 35-31 in less than seven minutes. The game would eventually go to overtime, where Steve Christie's field goal won it.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: Critics of Houston's gimmicky run-and-shoot offense always said it would have trouble holding a lead. Plus, the Oilers franchise wouldn't win another playoff game until it moved to Tennessee.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: Frank Reich was unstoppable in these situations -- he once led Maryland to a 42-40 victory over Miami after trailing 31-0.

San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10 (Super Bowl XXIV, 1990)


What happened: Joe Montana and Jerry Rice played catch.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: It is the largest margin of defeat in any Super Bowl (which is saying something), and the Niners outgained Denver 461 yards to 167.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: This may have been the greatest NFL team ever; San Fran won its playoff games by scores of 41-13, 30-3 and 55-10.

Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10 (Super Bowl XXII, 1988)


Timmy Smith
Little-known Washington running back Timmy Smith rumbled for a Super Bowl-record 204 rushing yards against Denver in San Diego.
What happened: Denver actually led 10-0 after the first quarter before allowing 35 points in the second quarter.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: The Broncos were actually three-point favorites, not surprising considering quarterback Doug Williams and running back Timmy Smith had spent most of the season on the Washington bench.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: At least it wasn't 55-10.

Edmonton Oilers 13, Los Angeles Kings 3 (1987 division semifinals, Game 2)

What happened: The Oilers scored six goals, and Wayne Gretzky tallied six points in the first period alone. Gretzky finished with seven points (including six assists), and Jari Kurri scored four goals.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: The 13 goals allowed remains an NHL record for a playoff game.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: There is no shame in losing to a team that featured Gretzky, Kurri, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Paul Coffey. Plus -- it was the Kings. Hard to be humiliated playing for Los Angeles.

Montreal Canadiens 11, Toronto Maple Leafs 0 (1944 semifinals, Game 5)


What happened: Toronto actually won the first game of the series before dropping the next four. Toronto goalie Paul Bibeault played the entire game, allowing seven goals in the third period.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: It remains the largest margin of defeat in any NHL playoff game, although the Leafs could at least take solace in the fact that Rocket Richard didn't score every goal, as he did in Game 2 (a 5-1 Montreal win).

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: It happened during the war years, so it sort of doesn't count.

Chicago Bears 73, Washington Redskins 0 (1940 NFL championship)


What happened: The Bears' quarter scores were 21, 7, 26 and 19 points, and they rushed for 381 yards and seven TDs while the Redskins committed nine turnovers.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: Umm, because the score was 73 to zero? Plus, the Bears actually missed four of their extra-point attempts.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: This wasn't exactly the modern era of the NFL.

St. Louis Cardinals 11, Detroit Tigers 0 (1934 World Series, Game 7)


What happened: The Tigers were looking for their first World Series championship and lost Game 6 in Detroit. St. Louis scored seven runs in the third inning of Game 7, which later turned ugly when Cardinals outfielder Ducky Medwick slid hard into Detroit third baseman Marv Owen. When Medwick took the field in the bottom of the sixth, he was pelted with fruit, bottles and other debris and had to be removed from the game.

Why it might be the most humiliating playoff defeat ever: Stay classy, Detroit fans.

Why it might not be the most humiliating defeat ever: St. Louis was on the wrong end of another 11-0 Game 7 contest, losing to Kansas City in 1985. In that one, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog and pitcher Joaquin Andujar were ejected.