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January 28

Artur Beterbiev stops Anthony Yarde for 19th-straight knockout

LONDON, England -- Artur Beterbiev maintained his 100 percent knockout record as a professional by stopping Anthony Yarde in eight thrilling rounds to defend his three world light-heavyweight titles Saturday. Few matters in sport are certainties, but Beterbiev has delivered a KO-performance in each of his 19 professional fights for a decade now. Aged 38, Beterbiev is perhaps in the form of his life after demolishing Joe Smith in a unification fight in June and then steadily dismantling Yarde, finishing his spirited challenge with a crunching right hand, at the OVO Arena in Wembley, England. But the Canada-based Russian had to come through some hard moments in a thunderous fight, with Yarde producing moments which caused real concern for the champion. Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), who is based in Montreal but originally from Chechnya, Russia, registered a seventh world title defense in a brutal fight that he ended in style two minutes and one second into the eighth...
January 28
January 28

WNBA free agent Candace Parker to sign with Las Vegas Aces

Two-time WNBA champion and MVP Candace Parker plans to sign with the Las Vegas Aces as an unrestricted free agent, she announced Saturday on her Instagram. "As I've gone through free agency this time around, of course I'm thinking of where I can compete for my third championship, but the words home and family are what I kept coming back to ... I need to be there for my daughter, for my son, for my wife," Parker posted. "I can't be without them for parts of the season when Lailaa is in school and I won't miss her volleyball games or school dances simply because of distance. Lailaa starts high school in August and I need to be there for her, just as she's been there for me. "After evaluating the landscape together with my family, we've decided the Las Vegas Aces are the right association for us at this point in our lives." Parker's contract with the Aces will be for one year, her agent, Boris Lelchitski, said ESPN on Saturday. Her salary is still...
January 28
January 28

WNBA free agent Candace Parker to sign with Las Vegas Aces

Two-time WNBA champion and MVP Candace Parker plans to sign with the Las Vegas Aces as an unrestricted free agent, she announced Saturday on her Instagram. "As I've gone through free agency this time around, of course I'm thinking of where I can compete for my third championship, but the words home and family are what I kept coming back to ... I need to be there for my daughter, for my son, for my wife," Parker posted. "I can't be without them for parts of the season when Lailaa is in school and I won't miss her volleyball games or school dances simply because of distance. Lailaa starts high school in August and I need to be there for her, just as she's been there for me. "After evaluating the landscape together with my family, we've decided the Las Vegas Aces are the right association for us at this point in our lives." The former longtime Los Angeles Sparks star spent the last two seasons playing for her hometown team of the Chicago Sky, helping bring them their first title in...
January 28
January 28

Pacers, Myles Turner reach 2-year, $60M extension, agent says

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner has agreed to a two-year, $60 million contract extension that includes an extra $17.1 million renegotiation on his 2022-23 salary, his agent Austin Brown of CAA Sports said ESPN on Saturday. The deal will include a $17.1 million renegotiation bump -- the largest in NBA history -- on Turner's $18 million salary this season, with an extra $41 million over the next two seasons that ties Turner to the Pacers through the 2024-25 season. The Pacers are allowed to increase the money on his current deal because of the franchise's available salary-cap space. Turner's extension eliminates one of the top possible centers from free agency in the summer -- and ends the hypothesis of a trade deadline deal involving him. After an anticipation in the offseason that Turner would be traded in the last year of his contract, the Pacers' trajectory changed with the emergence of young guards Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin...
January 28
January 28

Sooners' Taylor Robertson sets D-I women's career 3-point record

AMES, Iowa -- Oklahoma Sooners guard Taylor Robertson broke the Division I women's basketball career record for 3-pointers with her first attempt Saturday during the No. 14 Sooners' 86-78 loss to the No. 18 Iowa State Cyclones. It was her 498th 3-pointer, breaking the mark Ohio State Buckeyes star Kelsey Mitchell set from 2014 to 2018. Robertson is a fifth-year senior who is taking advantage of the extra season offered by the COVID-19 waiver from 2020 to 2021. However, Robertson reached the record in one fewer game than Mitchell: 138 to 139. She also got the career mark in fewer attempts: 1,135 to Mitchell's 1,286. Mitchell was the No. 2 pick by the Indiana Fever in the 2018 WNBA draft and has made 347 3s thus far in her five WNBA seasons. Robertson now has made at least one 3-pointer in 62 consecutive games. Oklahoma, Iowa State and Texas are tied atop the Big 12 at 6-2. The record-setting basket came with 4 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first...
January 28
January 28

Aryna Sabalenka defeats Elena Rybakina for Aussie Open title

Aryna Sabalenka's undefeated run in 2023 has carried her to the Australian Open title with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over  Elena Rybakina on Saturday. The turning point of the third set at Rod Laver Arena was a back-and-forth seventh game where Sabalenka broke to take a 4-3 lead. She double-faulted on her first match point  and needed four in all before claiming the championship in her first Grand Slam singles final. When Rybakina sent a forehand long to cap the last after almost 2½ hours, Sabalenka dropped to her back on the court and stayed down for a bit, covering her face as her eyes welled with tears. Sabalenka broke Rybakina in the fourth game of the second set as she seemed to gain composure and relax after a shaky first set. She turned matters around with an aggressive style that resulted in 51 winners, 20 more than her opponent. She used 17 aces to overcome seven double-faults. And she managed to break the big-serving Rybakina three times. Rybakina won the first...
January 28
January 27

Grizzlies, other NBA teams speak out on Tyre Nichols' death

Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins watched a televised interview Friday of Tyre Nichols' mother speaking about the loss of her son and he missing control of his emotions. "I cried," Jenkins said. The outrage, frustration, sadness and anger was evident around the basketball world Friday, the day a video was released showing how Nichols, a 29-year-old father, was killed by five Memphis police officers. The NBA, WNBA and several teams released statements of support for the family, as did the players' unions. The emotions were palpable, as has been the case so numerous times after so numerous other incidents of violence by police against Black men and women in recent years. "This is just crazy," said  Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who opened his pregame news convention Friday by speaking about Nichols before any questions were asked. The officers, who are also Black, all face second-degree homicide charges as well as charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official...
January 27
January 27

Los Angeles Rams hire Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams have employed former New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the team announced on Friday night.  The move comes after LaFleur and the Jets parted ways and Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen left Sean McVay's staff to return to the Kentucky Wildcats to hold the same position. During the 2022 season, the Rams' offense struggled to consistently move the ball down the field, finishing last in the NFL in yards per game (280.5) and 27th in points per game (18.1). The unit was hit hard by injuries last season, losing quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson to season-ending injuries. The Rams also had so numerous injuries on the offensive line that they started 12 different offensive line combinations in their first 12 games. LaFleur spent the past two seasons with the Jets, leading an offense that ended 29th in scoring and 25th in total...
January 27
January 27

Atlanta Falcons hire Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator

LAS VEGAS -- The Atlanta Falcons employed Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator Friday, taking him from their biggest rival after he spent last season as the co-defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. The 43-year-old Nielsen spent the past six seasons with the Saints, where he was the defensive line coach all six years while adding the assistant head coach title in 2021 and co-defensive coordinator last season. Since 2017, the Saints have recorded 281 sacks -- second-most in the NFL over that span -- and have ended in the top four in run defense in four of the past five seasons. The Falcons on Friday also let go of three defensive coaches -- line coach Gary Emanuel, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino and secondary coach Jon Hoke. Nielsen is not in Las Vegas with the Falcons staff presently, as Atlanta is coaching in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Linebackers coach Frank Bush is the defensive coordinator for Atlanta at the East-West game. The Falcons...
January 27
January 27

James Dolan backs Knicks president Leon Rose: 'Best guy' for job

As part of a wide-ranging interview with New York City radio station WFAN Friday afternoon, New York Knicks owner James Dolan said he believes in the job team president Leon Rose is doing, and that he "fully expects" the Knicks to create the playoffs this season. "Yes, absolutely," Dolan said on WFAN's "Carton and Roberts," hosted by Craig Carton and Evan Roberts, when asked if he was happy with the job Rose is doing. "Why did I bring Leon in? I've been doing this for like 20-something years and in my experience with the NBA, there's matters you can do as an owner. You can create an surrounding where everybody, you give them enough money to do their job, give them more money than they need to do their job. You can stay out of the way, which is usually the best course of action. "But you do end up picking the one guy who's going to create all the strategy, who's going to execute for you. I picked Leon because I believe after you look at the NBA and the game that we play, that...
January 27
January 27

Alex Pereira to defend title vs. Israel Adesanya at UFC 287

Israel Adesanya will attempt to obtain his title back in a fourth fight against rival Alex Pereira this spring. Pereira will defend the middleweight championship against Adesanya in the co-main event of UFC 287 on April 8, UFC president Dana White announced Friday.  Jorge Masvidal will return against Gilbert Burns in the other co-main event, while popular welterweight Kevin Holland will take on Santiago Ponzinibbio on the leading card, White said. A location for UFC 287 has yet to be announced. Pereira has beaten Adesanya twice in kickboxing and knocked him out last November in the fifth round of their first MMA fight against one another at UFC 281 to win the belt. Adesanya is No. 4 in ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings. Pereira (7-1) is 4-0 in the UFC with three victories via KO/TKO. The Brazilian-born fighter, who trains out of Connecticut, only started his full-time MMA career in 2020. Pereira, 35, was once one of the best kickboxers in...
January 27
January 27

Sources: Mets, batting champ Jeff McNeil reach $50M extension

National League batting champion Jeff McNeil and the New York Mets agreed Friday to a four-year, $50 million contract extension, sources familiar with the deal said ESPN, ensuring one of the team's core players will continue in Queens as the Mets look to win their first World Series since 1986. McNeil, who turns 31 a week after Opening Day, was scheduled to go to an arbitration trial with the Mets, where he was requesting $7.75 million and they offered $6.25 million. Instead, the hole spurred conversations about keeping McNeil past his remaining two years of arbitration that landed on buying out multiple free agent seasons. The deal, which is pending a physical, includes a fifth-year club option that would take the complete value to $63.75 million, sources said ESPN. Because McNeil wasn't set to reach free agency until just before his age-33 season, the specter of teams penalizing him for his age, plus the market not necessarily rewarding contact-oriented players, made...
January 27
January 27

Andy Reid confirms Patrick Mahomes will begin vs. Bengals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid on Friday said Patrick Mahomes will begin at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium, confirming what seemed to be a foregone conclusion as the week moved along. "He's moving around [well],'' Reid said. "He can go out and play.'' Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain to his right leg in last week's divisional round playoff win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He sat out a series but returned and ended the game. He practiced all three days this week.   Mahomes' mobility after the injury was limited and his style of play was altered. He led the league in throws from outside the pocket during the regular season but made none against the Jaguars after the injury. Reid said the Chiefs' game plan is expansive enough that they can call plays to avoid any limitations Mahomes might have. "We have enough in the game plan where you can...
January 27
January 27

LeBron James jersey from Game 7 of '13 Finals goes for $3.7M

A jersey worn by LeBron James during the first half of Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals sold at auction for $3.7 million Friday, becoming the third-most expensive game-worn jersey ever sold at Sotheby's. It is the most a game-worn James jersey has ever fetched at Sotheby's but ranks behind Michael Jordan's "Last Dance" NBA Finals jersey ($10.91 million) and Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" jersey ($9.28 million). On the night James wore this jersey, he scored 37 points, nabbed 12 rebounds and had four assists as the Miami Heat eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7. James was 5-of-10 from 3-point range and a perfect 8-for-8 from the line. The jersey happens to be from the season James won his fourth and most recent NBA MVP Award, which tied him for third most with Wilt Chamberlain, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Bill Russell and Michael Jordan (both with five). James is projected to pass Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's career points king in less than two...
January 27
January 27

Tua Tagovailoa sowever in protocol, to miss Pro Bowl Games, source says

MIAMI -- Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains in the concussion protocol and will not enter in next week's Pro Bowl Games, a source said ESPN on Friday. Tagovailoa had been named a first alternate Pro Bowler and was set to replace either Joe Burrow or Patrick Mahomes, with both quarterbacks playing in Sunday's AFC Championship Game and one bound for Super Bowl LVII. However, Tagovailoa entered the protocol Dec. 26 after struggling a concussion in Miami's loss to the Green Bay Packers the day before and missed the team's last three games of the season, including a wild-card loss to the Buffalo Bills. According to the source, Tagovailoa's time in the protocol has been deliberate as he meets with multiple doctors and specialists. There have not been any setbacks as the Dolphins prioritize his long-term health. The third-year quarterback set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns this season while leading the NFL in...
January 27
January 27

Conor McGregor 'could've been dead' after car hits his bike

Conor McGregor appeared to avoid injury after being struck by a car while riding his bike in Ireland. McGregor, 34, posted multiple videos of the aftermath of the accident to his social media on Friday. A breathless McGregor can be heard saying, "I could have been dead there," as the driver of the vehicle apologizes. McGregor then shows a tear in his pants, but appears to be unharmed otherwise. "Got a bang of a car just now from behind," McGregor wrote on Instagram. "A sun trap, the driver couldn't see me. Full speed straight thru me. Thank you God, it wasn't my time. Thank you wrestling and judo also. Having an awareness on the landing saved my life." McGregor (22-6) is the biggest star in MMA and UFC history, although he hasn't fought since struggling a serious leg injury during a loss to Dustin Poirier in July 2021. Earlier this week, McGregor said the UFC has asked him to appear as a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series later this year. He did not indicate...
January 27
January 27

Car hits Conor McGregor's bike, says he 'could've been dead'

Conor McGregor appeared to avoid injury after being struck by a car while riding his bike in Ireland. McGregor, 34, posted multiple videos of the aftermath of the accident to his social media on Friday. A breathless McGregor can be heard saying, "I could have been dead there," as the driver of the vehicle apologizes. McGregor then shows a tear in his pants, but appears to be unharmed otherwise. "Got a bang of a car just now from behind," McGregor wrote on Instagram. "A sun trap, the driver couldn't see me. Full speed straight thru me. Thank you God, it wasn't my time. Thank you wrestling and judo also. Having an awareness on the landing saved my life." McGregor (22-6) is the biggest star in MMA and UFC history, although he hasn't fought since struggling a serious leg injury during a loss to Dustin Poirier in July 2021. Earlier this week, McGregor said the UFC has asked him to appear as a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series later this year. He did not indicate...
January 27
January 27

Sources: Rams to hire Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams are in the process of hiring former New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, a source confirmed to ESPN on Friday. The move, first reported by NFL Network, comes after LaFleur and the Jets parted ways and Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen left Sean McVay's staff to return to the Kentucky Wildcats to hold the same position. During the 2022 season, the Rams' offense struggled to consistently move the ball down the field, finishing last in the NFL in yards per game (280.5) and 27th in points per game (18.1). The unit was hit hard by injuries last season, losing quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson to season-ending injuries. The Rams also had so numerous injuries on the offensive line that they started 12 different offensive line combinations in their first 12 games. LaFleur spent the past two seasons with the Jets, leading an offense...
January 27
January 27

Sources: Mavs' Luka Doncic day-to-day with mild ankle sprain

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is expected to be day-to-day after struggling what is described as a "mild sprain" of his left ankle, sources said ESPN. Doncic, who was named an All-Star starter, suffered the injury in the opening minutes of Thursday's 99-95 win over the Phoenix Suns and did not return to the game. An X-ray was negative, and Mavs coach Jason Kidd said Doncic was in "good spirits" after the game. "He looked good, he looked fine," Kidd said. "But we'll see how he feels as we go forward." The Mavericks next play Saturday at Utah. Doncic suffered the injury when he stepped on a Suns defender's foot while pivoting with the ball. Dallas called a timeout with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter to substitute for Doncic, who immediately limped to the locker room along with Mavs director of player health and performance Casey Smith. Doncic entered the night as the NBA's leading scorer, but after the first scoreless performance of...
January 27
January 27

Chiefs favored again after Mahomes' injury moves betting line

After several days of erratic line movement at sportsbooks, the point spread on the AFC Championship Game had settled Friday morning with the Kansas City Chiefs listed as consensus 1.5-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals. Kansas City went from favorite to underdog and back to favorite during the week, with each update on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' injured ankle triggering rushes of money on either team at sportsbooks. Mahomes, who was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain suffered during Saturday's divisional win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been listed as a full participant in practice this week. "I feel like I can sowever do a lot of things, but we'll see as we obtain closer and closer," Mahomes said Thursday. "We'll see during the game. You can't fully do exactly what it's going to be like in those moments in the game. All I can do is prepare myself the best way possible, and then when we obtain in the game, you hope adrenaline...
January 27
January 27

Maple Leafs lose Auston Matthews (knee) for at least 3 weeks

TORONTO -- Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee. The team announced the reigning MVP's anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto's victory against the New York Rangers. Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs' bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup. After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced that  Aleksander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews' place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster. Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season. Toronto (30-11-8) has won four of its past six games and has the second-most...
January 27
January 27

Ladies first: Iowa's Bella Mir lands UFC's first NIL deal

The UFC is getting into the name, image and likeness (NIL) business. The world's biggest fight promotion has signed Bella Mir, daughter of former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, as its first-ever NIL ambassador, officials said ESPN on Friday. Bella Mir, 19, is a freshman at the University of Iowa and competes for the school's women's wrestling team. She is already 3-0 as a professional MMA fighter. "I'm super grateful and I honestly couldn't be more thankful to [UFC president] Dana [White] and UFC for giving me this opportunity," Bella Mir said in a statement. "I'm going to create sure I do my best to represent UFC and show the world what I'm all about." NIL deals, which were first allowed by the NCAA in July 2021, afford college athletes the ability create money on matters like endorsements, social media posts and public appearances. All of those matters had been formerly prohibited by the NCAA. Bella Mir was a four-time Nevada state high school wrestling...
January 27
January 27

Chiefs favored again after Mahomes injury moves betting line

After several days of erratic line movement at sportsbooks, the point spread on the AFC Championship Game had settled Friday morning with the Kansas City Chiefs listed as a consensus 1.5-point favorite over the Cincinnati Bengals. Kansas City went from favorite to underdog and back to favorite during the week, with each update on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' injured ankle triggering rushes of money on either team at sportsbooks. Mahomes, who was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain suffered during Saturday's divisional win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been listed as a full participant in practice this week. "I feel like I can sowever do a lot of things, but we'll see as we obtain closer and closer," Mahomes said Thursday. "We'll see during the game. You can't fully do exactly what it's going to be like in those moments in the game. All I can do is prepare myself the best way possible, and then when we obtain in the game, you hope...
January 27
January 27

Steve Wilks 'disappointed' after Panthers hire Frank Reich

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steve Wilks on Friday said he was "disappointed but not defeated" after being passed over for the Carolina Panthers' head-coaching job, which went to former Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich. There was no mention of a potential discrimination lawsuit like the one Wilks filed against the NFL after being fired by the Arizona Cardinals after one season (2018), although the law firm that represents Wilks responded Thursday to Reich's hiring by saying that "there is a legitimate race problem in the NFL" and that it would have "more to say in the coming days." Wilks, who is Black, also didn't mention Panthers owner David Tepper by name in his message posted to Twitter in which he thanked players, coaches and staff members for their support as the interim coach. It was Tepper who gave Wilks the possibility to lead his hometown team after firing Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start. Wilks went 6-6 as the interim coach and was a...
January 27
January 27

Tennis-Djokovic laments illness, Tsonga rejoices

By Greg Stutchbury MELBOURNE, Jan 27 - Novak Djokovic was lamenting a case of gastroenteritis after he missing his Australian Open quarter-final to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday. The Serb had just won the third set to take a 2-1 lead and Tsonga looked deflated before Djokovic left Rod Laver Arena after he said chair umpire John Blom he needed to vomit. While he managed to return, his game melted away and Tsonga ran out a 7-6 6-7 1-6 6-3 6-1 victory to establish a semi-final against Roger Federer after the Swiss came from a set down to beat Russian Nikolay Davydenko in four sets. "It was unfortunate that I couldn't perform on the level that I wanted to in the fourth and fifth set," Djokovic said reporters. "I don't want to find excuses for my loss, but, you know, I went to vomit and I had diarrhoea before the match. "After two games (of the fourth set) I had to go to the toilet. I couldn't hold on. There was no way, otherwise I would throw up on the court. ... Just a...
January 27
January 27

Miami dismisses Josh Gattis as OC after one season

Miami has fired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator after one season, coach Mario Cristobal announced Friday. When Gattis was employed a year ago from Michigan, the move was widely applauded. Gattis had just won the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country after helping the Wolverines create the College Football Playoff with a balanced offensive approach. But in his lone season in Miami, the results were not what was expected. Returning quarterback Tyler Van Dyke struggled in the new scheme even before he missed three games with a shoulder injury, throwing for 1,844 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions -- a far cry from the 25 touchdowns he threw in 2021. Miami ranked No. 86 in the nation in complete offense, averaging 367.1 yards. That was down from a top-20 offense in 2021 that averaged 448.8 yards. Compounding the issues was an inability to run the ball, as the Hurricanes averaged 3.7 yards per carry. They ended up playing three quarterbacks...
January 27
January 27

Jake Paul, Tommy Fury finalize February fight in Saudi Arabia

The fight between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury is finally a done deal. Paul, the YouTube star-turned-boxer, and Fury will meet Feb. 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, officials said ESPN on Friday. The anticipated event, which had initially been reported to take place Feb. 25, will partner with Top Rank and broadcast digitally in the United States on ESPN+ pay-per-view. The fight will be contested at 185 pounds and is contracted for eight rounds. In the co-main event, former two-weight world champion Badou Jack will face WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu. Also on the card, Ashton Sylve, an undefeated top prospect from Paul's Most Valuable Promotions, will face Maxwell Awuku. An official announcement on the card is expected later Friday. Paul and Fury, half-brother of heavyweight good Tyson Fury and a reality star in the United Kingdom, were supposed to fight twice before. The original fight was scheduled for December 2021, but Fury pulled out with an illness. Paul ended up...
January 27
January 27

Mavericks star Luka Doncic exits win vs. Suns with ankle sprain

Dallas superstar Luka Doncic exited in the first quarter of the Mavericks' 99-95 win over the host  Phoenix Suns on Thursday because of a sprained left ankle. An X-ray was negative, and Mavs coach Jason Kidd said Doncic was in "good spirits" after the game. "He looked good, he looked fine," Kidd said. "But we'll see how he feels as we go forward." The Mavericks next play Saturday at  Utah. Doncic suffered the injury when he stepped on a Suns defender's foot while pivoting a few minutes into the game.  Dallas called a timeout with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter to substitute for Doncic, who immediately limped to the locker room along with Mavs director of player health and performance Casey Smith. The Mavs announced at the conclusion of the first quarter that Doncic would not return. Doncic, who was selected as an All-Star starter, entered the night as the NBA's leading scorer with 33.8 points per game. He is also averaging a team-best 9.1...
January 27
January 27

Jaylen Brown vows to be better after missed FTs sink Celtics

BOSTON -- After missing two free throws with 7.6 seconds to go in overtime that would've given the Boston Celtics the lead, star guard Jaylen Brown took the blame for Boston's 120-117 overtime loss to the New York Knicks at TD Garden Thursday night. "I've just got to be better, to be honest," Brown said after finishing with 22 points on 8-for-22 shooting and nine rebounds in 42 minutes. "Tonight was a rough game, and I'm a better basketball player than I played today. "Those two missed free throws kind of embodied the whole game. I didn't obtain it going, didn't give my teammates enough energy to obtain the win, and that's what happens when you don't come out and give your best. I'll be better." Boston (35-15), which has missing three straight after ripping off nine wins in a row before that, needed a furious fourth quarter comeback to even have a possibility to win the game in the extra session. The Celtics trailed 102-89 with exactly eight minutes remaining after a...
January 27
January 26

Billy Packer, 82, longtime Final Four basketball analyst, dies

Longtime college basketball commentator Billy Packer, the voice of the NCAA tournament for more than 30 years, died Thursday night. He was 82. Packer's two sons, Mark and Brandt, announced the news via Twitter on Thursday night. Mark Packer said The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks with several medical issues and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure. Billy Packer was the lead college basketball analyst for 34 straight Final Fours, first at NBC and then at CBS, while also doing work as an analyst for ACC games on Raycom. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993. He was the son of longtime basketball coach Anthony Packer, who spent 16 seasons as the head coach at Lehigh. After earning all-state honors as a high schooler in Pennsylvania, Packer attended Wake Forest, where he was named All-ACC in 1961 and 1962. He helped lead the Demon Deacons to three...
January 26
January 26

Mavericks star Luka Doncic exits game vs. Suns with ankle injury

Dallas superstar Luka Doncic exited in the first quarter of the Mavericks' 99-95 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday because of a sprained left ankle. Doncic suffered the injury when he stepped on a Suns defender's foot while pivoting a few minutes into the game.  Dallas called a timeout with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter to substitute for Doncic, who immediately limped to the locker room along with Mavs director of player health and performance Casey Smith. The Mavs announced at the conclusion of the first quarter that Doncic would not return to the game. An X-ray was negative. Doncic, who was selected as an All-Star starter, entered the night as the NBA's leading scorer with 33.8 points per game. He is also averaging a team-best 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. The Mavs are 0-5 in games Doncic has not played this season, all of which have been the second night of back-to-backs.
January 26
January 26

Mavericks' star Luka Doncic exits game vs. Suns with ankle injury

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic exited in the first quarter of Thursday's game against the Phoenix Suns due to a sprained left ankle. Doncic suffered the injury when he stepped on a Suns defender's foot while pivoting a few minutes into the game.  Dallas called a timeout with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter to substitute for Doncic, who immediately limped to the locker room along with Mavs director of player health and performance Casey Smith. The Mavs announced at the conclusion of the first quarter that Doncic would not return to the game. An X-ray was negative. Doncic, who was selected as an All-Star starter, entered the night as the NBA's leading scorer with 33.8 points per game. He is also averaging a team-best 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. The Mavs are 0-5 in games Doncic has not played this season, all of which have been the second night of back-to-backs.
January 26
January 26

LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo voted as All-Star captains

BOSTON -- LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were named the captains of the two teams that will take part in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game next month in Salt Lake City. James ties Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- whom he is about to pass as the NBA's all-time scoring leader -- for most All-Star Game appearances with 19. James has now been a captain each of the six years the NBA has used the format of two captains drafting their individual teams. The Los Angeles Lakers star is averaging 29.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game in his age-38 season. Antetokounmpo will be a captain for the third time, having done so in 2019 and 2020, and will be an All-Star for the seventh consecutive season. The Milwaukee Bucks star is averaging 31 points, 12 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season for the Bucks, who are a half-game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for second place in the Eastern Conference. Joining James among starters selected from the...
January 26
January 26

Duquesne reviews safety policy after food delivery 'prank'

Don't expect courtside food deliveries at Duquesne basketball games in the future. Duquesne issued a statement Thursday regarding Wednesday night's viral moment of an Uber Eats delivery person wandering onto the court during the Dukes' game against Loyola Chicago. The game was briefly paused after a man in a yellow jacket holding a bag of McDonald's walked onto the floor -- a few feet from where Loyola Chicago's Philip Alston was holding the ball. He was shown a couple of minutes later, walking around the concourse level, looking to course down the person who ordered the food. According to Duquesne, it was not the bizarre yet organic moment it initially appeared to be. It was a prank. "We strive to provide a safe and enjoyable surrounding for guests and participants at all events on our campus. We also rely on common courtesy and the civility of those in attendance to adhere to the guidelines that are in place," the school said in a statement. "This was a prank,...
January 26
January 26

DC Dan Quinn returning to Cowboys after HC interviews

FRISCO, Texas -- For the second straight year, Dan Quinn has decided to pass up potential head-coaching jobs to continue as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator. Quinn interviewed with the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts in the past few weeks. "Unfinished business here in Dallas. My complete focus is helping the team play championship ball in 2023," Quinn said ESPN's Ed Werder. During his end-of-season news conference, coach Mike McCarthy hinted at a possible return by saying, "I feel good about where we are," but "We'll give Dan his due time." Not long after the session ended, McCarthy confirmed Quinn's decision to stay. "We're all extremely excited to have Dan back," McCarthy said. "Had a possibility to visit with him a short while ago. This is big for us. Gives us continuity, definitely what we've accomplished the last two years, construction off of that. Frankly, on a personal note, I can't tell you how thankful I am." The...
January 26
January 26

49ers' Christian McCaffrey: 'Zero' possibility he's not playing

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For the second straight day, San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey sat out of practice Thursday as he works back from a bruised calf. And while McCaffrey isn't slated to enter in the Niners' Thursday practice, he did speak to the media and offered a easy answer when asked if there was any possibility he won't play in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. "Zero," McCaffrey said. McCaffrey suffered the injury in last week's 19-12 NFC divisional round victory over the Dallas Cowboys but came out of the game saying that he felt like he was fine. Coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday that he expected McCaffrey and other injured Niners to play but didn't want to create any guarantees. Asked if his concerns for McCaffrey's availability had changed with McCaffrey not practicing on Thursday, Shanahan said he has the "same concerns that I had yesterday." McCaffrey said he will go through...
January 26
January 26

Orioles acquire Cole Irvin in trade with Athletics

The Baltimore Orioles acquired left-hander Cole Irvin from the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, bolstering their rotation as they look to take a step forward in the ultracompetitive American League East. Irvin, who turns 29 this week, emerged as a trustworthy innings eater over the past two seasons, throwing 359⅓ innings at a 4.11 ERA after the A's acquired him from Philadelphia for $100,000. Baltimore used its substantial middle-infield depth in the deal, sending 21-year-old Darell Hernaiz to Oakland. The Orioles also received 24-year-old minor league right-hander Kyle Virbitsky as part of the trade. Baltimore took a significant leap forward last year, finishing 83-79 a year after losing 110 games. The promotion of catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson -- both believed the top prospects in the game at the time of their debuts -- buttressed a team that had missing at least 108 games in the previous three full seasons. The...
January 26
January 26

Sources: Orioles acquire Cole Irvin in trade with Athletics

The  Baltimore Orioles have acquired left-handed pitcher Cole Irvin from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for infield prospect Darell Hernaiz, sources said ESPN's Jeff Passan on Thursday. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Virbitsky also is going to the Orioles in the deal, sources said. The 28-year-old Irvin went 9-13 with a 3.98 ERA and 128 strikeouts for the A's last season. In four MLB seasons with the A's and the Phillies, Irvin is 21-30 with a 4.40 ERA and 288 strikeouts.
January 26
January 26

Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes says first practice went better than expected

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The focus for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has shifted from if he can play in Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals to how effective he can be. Mahomes indicated that his high ankle sprain has improved throughout the week and that he was able to obtain through the Chiefs' first practice of the week without much trouble. "I thought I had a good day yesterday," Mahomes said Thursday. "Overall probably better than I expected being able to go out there and throw the football and obtain in the work I needed to obtain in." Mahomes was also listed as a full participant in practice on Thursday. Mahomes' mobility diminished and his style of play changed after he injured the ankle in Saturday's divisional round playoff win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After leading the league during the regular season in passes from outside of the pocket, Mahomes made no such throws against the Jaguars after the...
January 26
January 26

Panthers hire ex-Colts coach Frank Reich as new head coach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Frank Reich, the starting quarterback for the first game in Carolina Panthers history in 1995, is now the team's sixth head coach. Reich agreed to a four-year deal that is expected to be finalized by Monday, a league source said ESPN. Owner David Tepper chose Reich, 61, after a search that included nine candidates, including interim head coach Steve Wilks and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. It ultimately came down to Reich and Wilks, who went 6-6 after Matt Rhule was fired following a 1-4 start. Wilks was the sentimental favorite of Carolina players to obtain the full-time job. Tepper called Wilks to notify him he was not getting the job, according to a source, who added that there currently have been no discussions about if Wilks will be asked to stay as a member of the staff. Wigdor LLP, a New York City-based law firm that represents Wilks in his discrimination suit against the NFL for being fired after one season (2018) as the...
January 26
January 26

Astros hire Braves scouting executive Dana Brown as new GM

The Houston Astros named Dana Brown their new general manager Thursday, choosing the longtime scouting executive to shepherd the team after it let go of former GM James Click, the architect of the 2022 World Series champions. Brown, 55, served as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves over the past four years, hitting on a number of draft picks. His 2019 draft in particular was a windfall, netting starting center fielder Michael Harris II in the third round, projected shortstop Vaughn Grissom in the 11th round and  Shea Langeliers, the centerpiece of Atlanta's trade for Matt Olson, in the first. "I'm coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,'' Brown said. "We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.'' After interviewing a group that included former Miami GM Michael Hill, former San...
January 26
January 26

Mike Hilton, Bengals confident for title game at 'Burrowhead'

CINCINNATI -- Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton has a unique name for the Kansas City Chiefs' stadium -- "Burrowhead." Hilton coined the moniker for Arrowhead Stadium during the team's divisional round victory over the Buffalo Bills. Hilton said he knew he would ruffle a few feathers when he uttered the word into an NFL Films camera last weekend, but it's evidence of the team's confidence heading into the rematch with Kansas City in the AFC title game Sunday. "That's just our locker room, man," Hilton said Wednesday. "That's just who we are. We got a whole bunch of guys that love playing with each other." The story behind the story is about as cut-and-dried as what it's referencing. During the team's 27-10 win over the Bills last weekend, Hilton was walking down the sideline, realized the Bengals were headed to Kansas City for another AFC Championship Game and saw Joe Burrow, the winning quarterback in last year's tilt for AFC supremacy. Last...
January 26
January 26

Jets hire former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett as new OC

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets ended their two-week search for an offensive coordinator, hiring former Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett on Thursday -- a move that adds to the already intense hypothesis about a potential Aaron Rodgers trade. Coach Robert Saleh said Hackett is a "home run" hire for the Jets. Rodgers could create it a grand slam. Hackett, who replaces Mike LaFleur, developed a good relationship with Rodgers while serving as the Green Bay Packers' coordinator from 2019 to 2021. Rodgers' future in Green Bay is uncertain and the Jets are "committed" to acquiring a veteran quarterback, Saleh said reporters. It's not hard to connect the dots, though Saleh claimed he didn't discuss Rodgers -- or any available quarterbacks -- in his interview with Hackett. That process begins next week, he said. "It's all surface-level stuff because it doesn't matter what the connections are," Saleh said. "Everybody has a connection to...
January 26
January 26

Ex-Detroit Lions linebacker Jessie Lemonier dies at age 25

Former Detroit Lions linebacker Jessie Lemonier has died, the team confirmed Thursday. He was 25. No details have been released on the cause of death. Lemonier, who was drafted by the XFL's Arlington Renegades in November, instead recently signed with the USFL's Houston Gamblers for the future season before being traded to the Birmingham Stallions. He appeared in seven games with the Lions during the 2021 season, finishing with 15 complete tackles and 1.5 sacks. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals last summer and registered a sack in a preseason game but was later released during training camp. "We are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of former Detroit Lion Jessie Lemonier," the Lions said in a statement. "Jessie was a mannequin teammate and wonderful young man who is gone far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time." His agent, Drew Smith of DEC Management, said ESPN that Lemonier and...
January 26
January 26

Elena Rybakina tops Victoria Azarenka to create Aussie Open final

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina reached her second last in the past three Grand Slam tournaments by beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Australian Open on Thursday. Rybakina added to what already was an impressive run through a string of top opponents. Azarenka, the champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, joined a list of players eliminated by Rybakina over the past two weeks that includes No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko -- both owners of major titles -- and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins. As usual, Rybakina did it with her powerful serve, delivering it at up to 117 mph and accumulating nine aces to bring her complete to a tournament-high 44, and stinging groundstrokes that she used to close points seemingly at will. The performance was especially noteworthy against a returner and defender as established on hard courts as Azarenka, a former No. 1 and a three-time...
January 26
January 26

Damian Lillard drops mic with historically efficient 60-point game

PORTLAND -- While scoring 60 points for the fourth time in his career during Wednesday's 134-124 win over the Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard made history with his efficiency. Lillard needed just 29 shot attempts and 10 free throw attempts to score 60, putting him in elite company. Just two other players ( Karl Malone with 26 in 1990 and James Harden with 24 in 2019) have reached 60 points on fewer shot attempts, but both scored a high percentage of their points at the foul line, taking 23 free throws apiece. Meanwhile, only one player to score 60 ( Rick Barry in 1974, with five) has done so with fewer than 10 free throw attempts. Because of those limited opportunities, Lillard posted the highest true shooting percentage -- a measure of combined efficiency on shot attempts and free throws -- ever in a 60-point game (.898). "That was incredible, man," Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. "You don't get...
January 26
January 26

Warriors battle back as Stephen Curry tossed for throwing mouthpiece

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Golden State leading  Memphis by just two points with 1:14 remaining Wednesday night,  Stephen Curry clapped his hands at Jordan Poole after what Curry said he thought was an ill-advised 3-point attempt by his Warriors teammate.  While running back on defense, a frustrated Curry took out his mouthpiece and whipped it through the air. It ricocheted off the court and landed near the courtside seats for an automated ejection.  "It was a necessary time in the game, and the way that our season has gone, questions about a heightened sense of urgency ... when you want something really bad ... I reacted in a way that put myself out of the game and put the team in a hard place," Curry said after the Warriors pulled off a wild  122-120 victory.  This was Curry's third career ejection, including playoffs. All three ejections have involved his mouthpiece. In Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Curry was tossed for an almost identical...
January 26
January 26

Anthony Davis scores 21 while coming off bench in Lakers return

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers star big man Anthony Davis returned Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, scoring 21 points in a 113-104 Los Angeles victory while coming off the bench for the first time in almost a decade. Afterward he said he couldn't even remember the handful of times he didn't begin as a pro. "It was definitely new for me since I've been playing," Davis said. "I said them, I said the last time I came off the bench was the 2012 Olympics." Davis, out for the past 5½ weeks because of a fractured bone spur and emphasize reaction in his right foot, was cleared after his pregame warm-up Wednesday about two hours prior to tipoff. "I'm happy for him, first and foremost," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said before the game. "I know how frustrating this process has been for him, especially at the level at which he was playing. I'm just happy for him, and definitely happy for us. We'll obtain him out there, we won't go too crazy with his minutes, and...
January 26
January 26

Damian Lillard drops mic on Jazz with historically efficient 60-point game

PORTLAND -- While scoring 60 points for the fourth time in his career during Wednesday's 134-124 win over the Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard made history with his efficiency. Lillard needed just 29 shot attempts and 10 free throw attempts to score 60, putting him in elite company. Just two other players ( Karl Malone with 26 in 1990, and James Harden with 24 in 2019) have reached 60 points on fewer shot attempts, but both scored a high percentage of their points at the foul line, taking 23 free throws apiece. Meanwhile, only one player to score 60 ( Rick Barry in 1974, with five) has done so with fewer than 10 free throw attempts. Because of those limited opportunities, Lillard posted the highest true shooting percentage -- a measure of combined efficiency on shot attempts and free throws -- ever in a 60-point game (.898). "That was incredible, man," said Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. "You don't get...
January 26
January 26

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid finally face each other as opponents

PHILADELPHIA -- The fans here in the City of Brotherly Love waited almost a year to see Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid face each other as opponents for the first time in an NBA game. It didn't disappoint. In front of a raucous sellout crowd at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night, it was the 76ers who came away with a thrilling 137-133 victory over the Brooklyn Nets -- though the score was a mere backdrop to the ongoing drama surrounding Simmons and Embiid. "Nothing," said Embiid, when asked about how it felt going up against Simmons for the first time. "Just, like every single night, [I am trying to] just freaking kill whoever is in front of me. My mentality is always about scoring. If I obtain doubled, create the right pass, but if I obtain played one-on-one, or I see an possibility to go score, I'm going to go score." Just a minute into the game, Embiid aggressively posted up Simmons -- the first of three post-ups he would attempt to execute on his...
January 26

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