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#SportsReport: Bucks squeak by Nets; Pistons best 76ers

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NBA:

The Milwaukee Bucks are within a half-game of Miami for the NBA’s Eastern Conference lead, and with a game in hand on the Heat.

Giannis Antetokounmpo became the Bucks’ all-time scoring leader before hitting two free throws with three seconds left, giving Milwaukee a 120-119 win over the Nets. Antetokounmpo finished with 44 points, 14 rebounds and six assists as the Bucks clinched a playoff berth. He passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the team scoring leader by hitting a 3-pointer that forced overtime.

Kris Middleton had 16 points and nine boards before his ejection for a flagrant foul.

Kevin Durant had 26 points and Kyrie Irving 25 for Brooklyn, which fell into an eighth-place tie with Charlotte in the East.

Checking out Thursday’s other NBA action:

Saddiq Bey scored half of his 20 points in the final 4 ½ minutes of the Pistons’ 102-94 victory over the 76ers. Bey provided seven points in a 9-0 run that gave the Pistons a 102-89 lead with 1:54 to play. Cade Cunningham scored 27 points to help Detroit withstand Joel Embiid’s 37 points and 15 rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan poured in a season-high 50 points and the Bulls rallied to beat the Clippers, 135-130 in overtime. DeRozan finished two points shy of his career high, providing 17 in the fourth quarter and 10 in OT. Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago, which trailed by 16 in the third period.

Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points and Rudy Gobert had a double-double as the Jazz dumped the Lakers, 122-109 to end a five-game losing streak. Gobert delivered 25 points and 17 boards for the Jazz, who are trying to stay out of a Western Conference play-in game. Jordan Clarkson scored 19 points for Utah, Mike Conley added 18 and Bojan (BOY'-ahn) Bogdanovic 11 in his return from injury.

Trae Young scored 30 points and the surging Hawks never trailed in their fourth straight win, 131-107 over the struggling Cavaliers. Kevin Huerter continued his strong finish to the regular season with 23 points, his fourth consecutive game with at least 20 points. Clint Capela added 12 points with 14 rebounds in helping Atlanta wrap up a berth in the play-in round.

NHL:

The Florida Panthers are on the verge of a Stanley Cup playoff berth after picking up their team-record 28th home win.

Sergei Bobrovsky posted his third shutout of the season by making 37 saves in the Panthers’ 4-0 win over the Blackhawks. Jonathan Huberdeau set an NHL record for left wingers with his 71st assist. Huberdeau is three away from breaking the club mark of 86 points.

Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the Panthers, who can wrap up a playoff spot as early as Saturday.

Elsewhere on NHL ice:

The Avalanche posted a 4-2 win over the Sharks as Mikko Rantanen scored the go-ahead goal on a power play with 7:43 remaining. Andre Burakovsky, Darren Helm and Alex Newhook also added goals in Colorado’s seventh straight win over San Jose. Nathan MacKinnon returned to the lineup for the Avs, dodging a scare after appearing to hurt his hand in a fight last weekend.

Marc McLaughlin scored in his NHL debut while the Bruins erupted for six goals in the second period of a 8-1 rout of the Devils. The former Boston College captain tallied as the Bruins scored three times in 183 seconds. Brad Marchand scored twice in Boston’s highest scoring output since Thanksgiving 2019.

The Hurricanes were 4-0 winners over the Canadiens as Frederik Anderson handled 32 shots in his fourth shutout of the season. Andrei Svechnikov scored twice for Carolina, while Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. Carolina has points in six straight games as it tries to stay atop the Metropolitan Division.

Evgeni Malkin’s overtime goal gave the Penguins a 4-3 win over the Wild, ending Minnesota’s seven-game winning streak. Malkin ended it at 3:57 of the extra session after Rickard Rackell delivered two goals. Jake Guentzel added his 32nd goal for the Pens, who moved back into six place in the Metropolitan Division and six points behind the Hurricanes.

The Islanders wasted a 2-0 lead before Kyle Palmieri put them back ahead in the third period of a 5-2 win over Columbus. Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist as the Isles beat the Blue Jackets for the second time in three nights. Sebastian Aho (AH’-hoh) also tallied for New York, about 34 seconds in real time before Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho scored 500 miles away against Montreal.

Jamie Benn scored 53 seconds into overtime as the Stars completed a two-game sweep of the skidding Ducks. 3-2. Jake Oettinger made 21 saves to help Dallas win for the fifth time in six games. Kevin Shattenkirk scored a tying goal with 3:21 left in regulation, but the Ducks still lost their 11th consecutive game.

Lias Andersson furnished the deciding goal in the shootout and Cal Petersen made 26 saves as the Kings captured a 3-2 victory over the Flames. Alex Iaffalo and Viktor Arvidsson scored in regulation for Los Angeles, which is five points behind the of Pacific Division-leading Flames. Calgary has three games in hand.

Auston Matthews scored his 50th goal of the season as the Maple Leafs thumped the Jets, 7-3. Matthews is the first Leaf with 50 goals since Dave Andreychuk scored 53 in 1993-94. William Nylander added two on the power play to go along with an assist.

MLB:

The Kansas City Royals have exercised their club option on Mike Matheny for the 2023 season. The move eliminates any uncertainty over whether their manager will remain with the club after the coming season.

Matheny has gone 100-122 in two seasons with the Royals and is 691-596 as a major league skipper, including his seven years with St. Louis.

In other Major League Baseball news:

Former Marlins and Tigers pitcher José Ureña has signed a $1.25 million, one-year league contract with the Brewers. The 30-year-old Ureña went 4-8 with a 5.81 ERA for the Tigers last season in 26 appearances, including 18 starts.

A rules change to bring back automatic runners in extra innings is being brought back for a third straight season. MLB and the players’ association agreed to keep the controversial rule that starts each team with a runner on second base during extra innings for the 2022 regular season. The agreement regarding on-field rules modifications also includes expanding active rosters from 26 players to 28 from opening day on April 7 through May 1 this year, due to the delayed start of spring training.

NFL:

Linebacker Bobby Wagner has agreed to a five-year deal to join his hometown Los Angeles Rams.

Wagner became one of the NFL’s top linebackers during a decade with the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks released the six-time All-Pro anchor of their defense on March 9.

ESPN reported Wagner’s deal is worth $50 million.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL:

Aliyah Boston of South Carolina is The Associated Press women’s basketball player of the year.

Boston averaged 16.8 points, 12 rebounds and 2.6 blocks this year. The junior forward helped South Carolina go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country, putting up 27 consecutive double-doubles. She has the Gamecocks two wins away from their second national championship.

And Kim Mulkey is The Associated Press women’s basketball Coach of the Year in her first season at LSU.

The longtime Baylor coach led the Tigers to 26 wins at an NCAA Tournament berth after they won only nine games last season. Mulkey received 10 votes from the 30-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25.

A number of college basketball stars have entered their names in the NBA draft.

Purdue’s Jaden Ivey averaged 17 points, five rebounds and three assists per game and was named to The Associated Press All-America second team.

Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis is regarded as a likely lottery selection as an Associated Press All-America first-team selection and the Big Ten player of the year.

And Notre Dame freshman guard Blake Wesley, a 6-foot-5 guard who averaged a team-leading 14.4 points also tweeted his intention.

Also in men’s college basketball:

Longtime Miami associate head coach Chris Caputo has accepted a contract offer to become the new coach at George Washington. That’s according to a person with knowledge of the situation who says the school and Caputo were working out final contract details including length of the deal. Caputo replaces Jamion Christian, who was 29-50 in three seasons at the school.

PGA:

Russell Knox birdied four straight holes on the back nine and fired a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Valero Texas Open.

Knox closed out his round with a seven-foot putt to save par at the par-5 18th at TPC San Antonio, leaving him just ahead of Rasmus Hojgaard.

Hojgaard fired a 66 despite a double bogey on his final hole.

Matt Kuchar is another stroke back after an opening 5-under 67. Kuchard is among a group that includes Denny McCarthy, Aaron Rei and J.J. Spaun.

SOCCER:

The United States has received a boost for the World Cup draw and Canada has taken a hit in the updated FIFA rankings.

The Americans will be in Pot 2 after being ranked 15th in the world. They clinched a berth for this year’s championship in Qatar despite a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica Wednesday on the final night of qualifying.

Canada won the North American qualifying group and will play at the tournament for the first time in 36 years but missed a chance for a rankings boost by losing at Panama 1-0 in its final qualifier. Canada will instead be among the lowest seeded teams in Pot 4.

The eight groups for the tournament in Qatar will be drawn Friday from four pots. Qatar gets the top-seeded slot given to the World Cup host nation despite being ranked No. 51.

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