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#SportsReport: Nets defeat Knicks; Celtics top Bulls

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NBA:

Kevin Durant had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, leading the Brooklyn Nets back from 21 points down to a 110-98 victory over the New York Knicks that strengthened their chances of the best spot possible in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

After watching the Nets come back from 28 down when he was hurt in their last visit to Madison Square Garden, Durant scored 23 points in the second half to fuel this comeback that pulled Brooklyn within a game of Cleveland for seventh place in the East.

The Nets host the Cavaliers on Friday night.

In other NBA action:

Norman Powell scored 24 points after being out two months, Paul George added 19 points in three quarters to go over 15,000 in his career, and the Los Angeles Clippers edged the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns 113-109. The Suns were missing four starters, but still nearly won the game. Their reserves scored 48 points in the fourth after trailing by 39 in the third. Ish Wainwright scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Suns. Powell and George were playing together for the first time after both sat out long stretches with injuries.

Jaylen Brown scored 25 points, Al Horford added 17 on 7-of-7 shooting and the Boston Celtics routed the Chicago Bulls 117-94 on Wednesday night for their 50th victory. The Celtics have won three in a row and are 27-6 since Jan. 22. They can wrap up the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs Thursday night with a victory at Milwaukee. Jayson Tatum scored 16 points for Boston. He was 5 of 18 from the field, making only one of eight from 3-point range. The Bulls have lost two straight. They claimed a playoff berth Tuesday.

Luka Doncic had 26 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 131-113 win over the Detroit Pistons. The Mavericks are 20 games above .500 for the first time since 2011 when they went on to win the NBA title. They’re set up to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since coach Jason Kidd was their point guard during the championship season. Dallas reached the 50-win mark for the first time in seven years, and just the second time since winning their only NBA title. Cade Cunningham had 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Pistons.

Trae Young scored 16 of his 30 points in the third period to help Atlanta stretch its lead, and the Hawks beat the Washington Wizards 118-103. Kristaps Porzingis led Washington with 26 points and 18 rebounds. The Hawks remain ninth in the Eastern Conference, thanks to Brooklyn’s tiebreaker edge for eighth. Atlanta is bound for the play-in tournament with two games remaining in the regular season. Danilo Gallinari had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta. Young had 11 assists. Atlanta led 76-70 with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter. Young scored 16 of Atlanta’s final 18 points in the period.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 27 points, Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Utah Jazz beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 137-101 on Wednesday night. Jordan Clarkson had 18 points and a season-high 10 assists, and Hassan Whiteside added 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to help the Jazz win their fifth straight home game. Jaylen Hoard scored 23 points for Oklahoma City. Isaiah Roby and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each added 18 points.

NBA:

The Chicago Bulls say point guard Lonzo Ball will miss the remainder of the season following another setback in his recovery from surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Ball’s final game was on Jan. 14, and he had surgery two weeks later. The Bulls hoped a recent 10-day shutdown in activities after he experienced discomfort would resolve the issue and allow him to return this season. But he felt pain again. Coach Billy Donovan said this week it was “disappointing” and there would be discussion to determine the next steps.

In other NBA news:

The Milwaukee Bucks have added some backcourt depth by signing Luca Vildoza, a 26-year-old guard from Argentina. He played two NBA Las Vegas Summer League games last year with the New York Knicks. The Knicks waived him in early October. The 6-foot-3 Vildoza was named the Spanish ACB League Finals MVP in 2020 after helping Baskonia win the league title.

The NBA plans to keep its next All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, despite its opposition to Utah’s ban on transgender youth athletes playing on girls teams. The NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of its opposition to a North Carolina law known as HB2 that limited anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

John Carlson had four points and Alex Ovechkin scored to help the Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Carlson had two goals and two assists. Ovechkin’s 43rd goal of the season was also his 1,400th career point. The Capitals snapped their skid at two games and handed the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions a third consecutive defeat. Martin Fehervary also scored for Washington. Tampa Bay got goals from Nikita Kucherov, Nick Paul and Ross Colton.

Elsewhere in NHL ice action:

Elias Pettersson scored twice and had two assists to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-1 victory over Vegas, snapping a five-game winning streak for the Golden Knights. The victory gave the Canucks’ slim playoff hopes a boost as they chase a Western Conference wild card. Both the Golden Knights and Canucks are on the outside looking in, with Vancouver in desperation mode. Vegas is one point behind eighth-place Dallas, while the Canucks are seven back.

Michael Stone got his first goal of the season and an assist in his 500th NHL game, and Elias Lindholm scored his 36th goal in the Calgary Flames’ 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Tyler Toffoli also scored and Johnny Gaudreau got his 96th point on a sharp assist for the Pacific Division-leading Flames, who have won two straight after their first three-game losing streak since January. Trevor Zegras and Adam Henrique scored for the Ducks, who have lost 13 of 14 games since March 6.

Ville Husso made 27 saves to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Blues have won three in a row and recorded points in six straight games with a 5-0-1 mark. Robert Thomas, Justin Faulk, Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou scored for St. Louis, which won all three games against Seattle this season. Jordan Eberle scored for the Kraken.

Sam Gagner scored twice to top 500 career points, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Michael Rasmussen had the tiebreaking goal at 9:11 of the third period for Detroit, Dylan Larkin had two assists and Thomas Greiss finished with 32 saves. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill got his 200th victory.

MLB:

A person familiar with the deal tells AP that All-Star third baseman José Ramírez and the Cleveland Guardians have reached agreement on a five-year, $124 million contract extension. Ramírez’s deal runs through the 2028 season, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because numerous details need to be finalized. The Guardians open the 2022 season in Kansas City on Thursday. Ramírez is one of the AL’s best all-around players. He’s finished in the top three in MVP voting three times in the past five seasons.

In other MLB news:

Second-year right-hander Tylor Megill has been given the opening day starting assignment for the New York Mets against the Washington Nationals. The Mets do not have Cy Young Award winners Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer available for Game 1. And Scherzer’s status for Game 2 is still uncertain. The Nationals will send left-hander Patrick Corbin to the mound on Thursday.

The Texas Rangers have arrived in Toronto for their season-opening series. Canada requires all visitors to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to entry. Before returning to the United States after the three-game weekend series in Toronto, they all will have to provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken no earlier than Saturday, or provide documentation of having recovered from the virus in the 90 days before the trip. The Rangers play their home opener Monday against Colorado.

The Minnesota Twins are delaying their season opener until Friday due to expected bad weather. The Twins were due to open at Target Field on Thursday against the Seattle Mariners, but the forecast calls for a rain-snow mix and cold conditions.

All-Star outfielder Whit Merrifield and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a restructured contract in which the club exercised its option for next season and the sides added a mutual option for the 2024 season. Merrifield, who made his second All-Star team last season, will make $7 million this season with $2.75 million with up to $4 million in escalators. The mutual option is for $18 million with a $500,000 buyout.

Former All-Star CC Sabathia has been hired as a special assistant to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. The 41-year-old retired after the 2019 season. Sabathia will work with The Players Alliance. He is a vice president of that group’s board and is working to increase Blacks in the major leagues.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and veteran right-hander Dellin Betances have agreed to a minor league contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The 34-year-old Betances made four All-Star teams in eight seasons with the New York Yankees but hasn’t been a reliable contributor since 2018.

The scheduled starting time for the opening day matchup between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals has been pushed back three hours because of rain in the forecast. Washington announced Wednesday that the Nationals and Mets agreed to play each other on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. EDT instead of 4:05 p.m. EDT. The season-opening four-game series between the NL East rivals is at Nationals Park.

Major League Baseball and NBC agreed to a new Sunday morning package of broadcast streams that will start at 11:30 a.m. and noon EDT. The deal requires all other big league games on those days to be scheduled to start no earlier than 1:30 p.m. The package announced starts May 8, with the Chicago White Sox at the Boston Red Sox.

NFL:

A person with direct knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press that Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs has agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $96 million.

Diggs had two years remaining on his current contract, with the extension locking him up through the 2027 season. The fifth-round draft pick blossomed into one of the NFL’s top playmakers after being traded by Minnesota to Buffalo two years ago.

Diggs celebrated the agreement on his Twitter account by posting a video clip from the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which actor Leonardo DiCaprio announces “I’m not leaving.”

In other NFL news:

A judge in Texas says Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson must say whether he had sex with 18 massage therapists who supported him last year following criminal complaints. USA Today reported that Watson has 30 days to comply.

Outside linebacker 31-year-old Whitney Mercilus says he’s retiring, ending a 10-year career in which he made 58 sacks. Mercilus had all but one of his career sacks with the Texans. He had a career-high 12 sacks in 2015.

The budget-conscious Atlanta Falcons signed former first-round picks linebacker Rashaan Evans and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to one-year contracts. Evans was the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 draft from Alabama, Ifedi was No. 31 overall pick in 2016 by the Seattle Seahawks and spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears.

The attorneys general of six states have written to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing concern over the league’s treatment of female employees and admonishing him for a lack of improvement to the league’s workplace culture. Without improvement, the attorneys general warned of potential legal action. The letter comes as Congress investigates how the league has handled claims of sexual harassment in the front office of the Washington Commanders.

In a bid to encourage the Washington Commanders to stay in Maryland, the Maryland House has approved a measure with a $400 million plan to develop the area around FedEx Field in the suburbs of the nation’s capital. The bill doesn’t include money for a new stadium for the NFL team. Money from the state lottery will be used to build infrastructure nearby.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL:

Jonas Hayes has been hired as Georgia State’s coach after leading Xavier to its first NIT championship in 64 years as interim coach.

The Atlanta native and University of Georgia alumnus replaces Rob Lanier, who left Georgia State to lead SMU’s program.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL:

Alabama wide receiver Agiye Hall has been suspended and is no longer listed on the roster. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban says Hall violated unspecified team rules. Hall was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and had four catches for 72 yards as a freshman.

Alabama is replacing its top three receivers — Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden. Former Georgia receiver Jermaine Burton has joined the Tide.

Saban didn’t indicate if there was a clear path for Hall to be reinstated, noting that he had already been given a second chance.

In other college football news:

After playing home games in a Los Angeles suburb the last two seasons, San Diego State’s football players loaded into buses for the 10-minute drive to their new stadium, the 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium. The Stadium is scheduled to open Sept. 3 with a game against Arizona. Linebacker Caden McDonald said getting to open a new stadium in the school’s 100th season of football was a big reason why he came back for his senior season.

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