THE COUCH SLOUCH

NBA has become the league of extraordinary duos

In the NBA, super teams have morphed into super pairings. Taking the lead from the world of entertainment – those folks knew that Simon & Garfunkel & Cher or Laurel and Hardy and Abbott would never work – trios have downsized to duos.

So this season, eight superstars – all certain hall of famers – have formed four superstar twosomes.

Couch Slouch, who knows a thing or two – and only a thing or two – about successful coupling – is here to assess the prospects for these iconic basketball marriages.

(Please note that no successful coupling will ever involve I-got-my-shots-so-I-don't-care-what-happens-elsewhere-on-the-court Carmelo Anthony, who returned last week from his forced NBA sabbatical by recording a minus-20 in 24 minutes of play with the Portland Trail Blazers.)

The duos are ranked here from most likely to win an NBA championship to most likely to end up broken, bickering and Bernie Madoff-like:

1. Kawhi Leonard-Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers: They are in their prime, they are surrounded by wonderful complementary parts and they have a fine coach, Doc Rivers. What could go wrong?

Well, everything.

Both are still somewhat youthful – Leonard is 28, George 29 – but both might have trouble staying on the court. In eight NBA seasons, Leonard has played 66 or fewer games six times; George, meanwhile, fractured his right leg to miss almost all of 2014-15, and he missed the first 11 games this season after shoulder surgery.

Heck, load management issues alone might keep Leonard out of Games 1, 3 and 6 in a seven-game NBA Finals.

2. LeBron James-Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers: These are inarguably two of the best all-around players in the NBA, unless you want to argue the point.

James seems indestructible, except he'll turn 35 next month, he's in his 17th NBA season and he takes more hits than Tom Brady. The Lakers could not survive a prolonged period in which James is sidelined.

Davis, who never has played more than 75 games in a season, just spent seven years in New Orleans in witness protection; he can't wait for the postseason, since he only got there twice with the Pelicans.

3. James Harden-Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets: This feels like a sporting Manhattan Project, except instead of secrecy, this race to make the first atomic bomb is played out in large arenas three nights a week. Harden (uranium) and Westbrook (plutonium), are durable ball hogs and wondrous to watch. But if you told either former MVP to play 48 minutes and take 50 shots, either might reply, "Why not 60 shots?"

4. Kyrie Irving-Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets: Too big to fail? No. Too fanciful to succeed. This is a more guaranteed bust than the next Charlie Sheen sitcom. Irving and Durant keep seeking new homes to show the true measure of their talent. But they are as temperamental as talented, and Durant – out this entire season with a torn ACL – might be a step-too-slow diva when he returns.

Anyhow, ballyhooed pairings are not guaranteed to thrive. For example:

Richard Nixon-Spiro Agnew: This simply did not end well for all parties concerned.

Sears-Kmart: The only thing that would've made this retail merger worse is if Radio Shack were involved.

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra: Frankly, I think they were using each other.

Gilligan and the Skipper: Despite better WiFi and more precise GPS than ever, these bozos are still deserted on that island.

Bonnie and Clyde: I understand getting out of the house on occasion to break the same old same old, but these lovebirds were just a bit too edgy for their own good.

America Online-Time Warner: I have earned a paycheck from both companies, and I am here to tell you – this was a nightmare alliance made in purgatory and destined for hell.

Romeo and Juliet: If they had eloped – and I recommend eloping, particularly on your second or third go-around – I believe a life or two would've been spared.

Thelma & Louise: And they say women are smarter.

On the other hand, kudos to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner for always understanding their roles.

Ask the Slouch

Q. If even the professionals in Joe Gibbs' pit crew mixed up the left and right front tires in the NASCAR Cup Series championship, then isn't it reasonable to expect my fiancé to forgive me for swiping left on her instead of right on Tinder? (Doug Thompson; Springfield, Ill.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will the NFL stop playing games at foreign neutral sites now that Daniel Snyder has created a domestic neutral site just outside of Washington, D.C.? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. With the accusations against the Houston Astros using video to steal signs in MLB, is that just now called a "belichick"? (Michael Kolb; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will recent unrest at Hong Kong Poly U. impact thinking of the College Football Playoff committee on its ranking? (Ken Unzicker; Fairfax, Va.)

A. Pay the man Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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