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WAMC Sports Report: Damar Hamlin asked who won Bills-Bengals when he woke up


Damar Hamlin's doctors say the Buffalo Bills safety has begun to communicate in writing with his family and others who have been at his bedside since going into cardiac arrest Monday — and his first question was “did we win?” Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said in a conference call with reporters that Hamlin remains critically ill in the hospital’s intensive care unit. But they say it appears his neurological function is intact, meaning he can follow commands and move. The developments come as the Bills return to practice for the first time since Hamlin collapsed during the first quarter of Buffalo’s game against the Bengals.

The NFL won't resume the Bills-Bengals game that was suspended Monday night after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field. The league announced its decision on Thursday. The NFL said its decision creates “potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios.” The league said clubs on Friday, in a special league meeting, would consider a resolution recommended by the commissioner and approved today by the Competition Committee. The Bills-Bengals game had major playoff implications. Buffalo entered Monday night needing a win to maintain the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs currently hold that spot. The Bengals had a chance to earn that top seed with two more wins and a loss by the Chiefs.

The Buffalo Bills have received a much-needed jolt of good news. Coach Sean McDermott and his team found out Thursday that safety Damar Hamlin has made remarkable progress in his recovery since his heart stopped during Monday night’s game. In three days since the Bills were left emotionally devastated as they watched their teammate collapse on the field in Cincinnati, the team’s motto has gone from “Pray for Damar” to “Play for Damar.” The test for the Bills now is focusing their attention on returning to the field. They host the New England Patriots in their season finale on Sunday.


Jayson Tatum had 29 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in his second career triple-double, and the Boston Celtics beat Dallas 124-95, ending the Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak. Jaylen Brown scored 19 points for the NBA-leading Celtics. They bounced back from a 150-117 loss in Oklahoma City when the Thunder were missing 30-point scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Luka Doncic scored 23 points after averaging 44.5 points the previous five games. The Mavs superstar didn’t play in the fourth quarter, which started with Boston leading by 24.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets may be headed toward yet another NBA All-Star Game rematch. James is the overall leader in All-Star balloting so far. Durant leads all Eastern Conference players in early voting returns. That puts them on track to be All-Star captains for the third consecutive year. James has been a captain five times and his teams have gone 5-0 under that All-Star format. The game is Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City.


Filip Chytil had two goals and the New York Rangers scored three times in less than six minutes during the second period to beat the skidding Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Chris Kreider snapped a scoreless tie with a short-handed goal and defenseman Braden Schneider also scored for the surging Rangers, who won their third straight and improved to 11-2-1 in their past 14 games. Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves. Chytil’s first goal made it 3-0 at 13:27 of the second, 59 seconds after Schneider scored. Chytil added a power-play goal into an empty net with 70 seconds left in the third. Joel Armia scored his first goal of the season 14:46 into the third for the Canadiens, who have lost seven games in a row.

Ivan Barbashev tied the game late in the second period and set up Brandon Saad’s go-ahead goal early in the third to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Robert Thomas scored twice, Jordan Kyrou once and Jordan Binnington made 36 saves as the Blues improved to 7-2-3 in their last 12 games. Thomas iced the game with an empty-net goal with 43 seconds to play. Jack Hughes scored twice for New Jersey and Nico Hishier tallied on a two-man advantage with 7:51 left to play to make the end exciting.

Trent Frederic scored twice in 34 seconds during the third period and the Boston Bruins extended their point streak to 12 games with a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Frederic put in the go-ahead goal at 10:36 when he redirected Brandon Carlo’s shot from the point. David Pastrnak also had two goals and leads the Bruins with 27 on the season. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist, and Charlie McAvoy added two assists for the Bruins. Jeremy Swayman stopped 27 shots and beat Pheonix Copley in the first NHL matchup of goalies born in Alaska.

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were among the first round of All-Star selections revealed by the NHL. Crosby was selected for his ninth All-Star Game and Ovechkin his 13th, a Washington Capitals record. The league's hockey operations department picked the first 32 All-Stars, one from each team. Fans will choose the final 12 players who make it. Reigning Norris Trophy winner and playoff MVP Cale Makar from the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche was also among those chosen. All-Star Weekend is set for Feb. 3-4 in South Florida.

Nashville goalie Juuse Saros made a franchise-record 64 saves and Mark Jankowski’s goal 5:06 into the third period gave the Predators their first lead in a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Saros stopped all 28 shots in the third. Filip Forsberg, Mattias Ekholm and Cody Glass also scored for Nashville, which has a four-game point streak. Colton Sissons had an empty-net goal, and Alexandre Carrier provided two assists. Paul Stastny, Brady Skjei and Jordan Staal scored for Carolina. Brett Pesce had two assists, and Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 20 shots.


Jon Rahm shares the lead at the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a 64. Collin Morikawa and J.J. Spaun also had 64. The low scoring is nothing new to Rahm. Last year he shot 33 under on the Plantation Course at Kapalua. That would have been a PGA Tour record except that Cameron Smith went one better. Rahm says he doesn't feel like Kapalua owes him one. It was perfect weather and low scoring. Weather was perfect for the opening round of the year. Rahm says if it stays that way, Smith's record is in danger.


Fletcher Loyer made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds left and No. 1 Purdue bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 71-69 victory over No. 24 Ohio State on Thursday night. The Boilermakers (14-1, 3-1 Big Ten) trailed 69-66 with 41 seconds remaining after Ohio State’s Sean McNeil made a 3 pointer. Zach Edey responded with a bucket on the other end, and Purdue forced a turnover on the Buckeyes’ next possession. After Loyer’s 3, the Boilermakers defended Ohio State’s final possession and Brice Sensabaugh’s final shot didn’t get off in time.

Texas has fired basketball coach Chris Beard, who faces a felony domestic family violence charge after his fiancée told police he strangled and bit her. The school sent Beard's attorney a letter that said the coach was “unfit” for the position. Beard had been suspended without pay since Dec. 12. He had five years left on a seven-year guaranteed contract. Police responded to an emergency call to Beard’s house. The woman initially told officers that Beard choked her from behind, bit her and hit her during an argument. Beard’s attorney has said Beard is innocent and that his fiancée later denied she was choked.


Kirby Smart was paid $8,000 in his first coaching job at Division II Valdosta State. Now, he's one of college football’s most dominant forces. He is the $10 million-a-year architect of a potential dynasty at Georgia. The top-ranked Bulldogs have a shot at becoming the first team in a decade to win back-to-back national titles. When you consider what Smart has done since taking over in 2016, the journey takes on a far more impressive luster. The Bulldogs were a very good program under Mark Richt. Smart made them great.

David Guistina is the host of Capital Connection, Legislative Gazette, and Morning Edition and the producer of the Media Project on WAMC.