WAMC Sports Report 3/2/23: Brunson scores 39, Knicks rout Nets 142-118 for 7th straight
Final New York 142 Brooklyn 118
Jalen Brunson scored 30 of his 39 points in the first half and the New York Knicks rolled to their seventh straight victory, routing the Brooklyn Nets 142-118. The Knicks made nearly 80% of their shots in a 47-point first quarter and coasted to their second victory over the Nets since their city rivals traded Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn had won the previous nine meetings, including the first two this season. Julius Randle added 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Knicks opened a two-game lead over the Nets for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Final Boston 117 Cleveland 113
Jayson Tatum scored 18 points in a pivotal third quarter and finished with 41 points as the Boston Celtics held on to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-113. Tatum added 11 rebounds and eight assists as Boston earned its first victory in three games versus Cleveland this season. With his 20th career 40-point game, the 24-year-old Tatum surpassed Giannis Antetokounmpo for seventh place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list for players under 25. It helped Tatum outduel fellow All-Star Donovan Mitchell, who scored 44 points and sidestepped an injury following a fall in the third quarter. Al Horford added 23 points and 11 rebounds for Boston. Jaylen Brown finished with 16 points.
Final Philadelphia 119 Miami 96
Tyrese Maxey scored 27 points, James Harden added 23 and the Philadelphia 76ers took control early on the way to a 119-96 win over the Miami Heat. Tobias Harris scored 18 points, while Paul Reed had 16 points, 14 rebounds and was plus-26 in 29 minutes for the 76ers. They played without All-Star center Joel Embiid, who had left foot soreness. The 76ers are now 9-4 when Embiid doesn’t play this season. Bam Adebayo scored 20 for the Heat, who beat Philadelphia on the road Monday but trailed by as many as 25 in the rematch at home. Jimmy Butler scored 16 for Miami.
New team, same Kevin Durant. The Durant era in Phoenix got off to solid start Wednesday night with the 13-time NBA All-Star scoring 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, adding an explosive offensive element to an already dangerous offense in his Suns debut. Durant, playing for his fourth team in the last seven seasons, added six rebounds and two blocks as the Suns defeated the Charlotte Hornets 105-91. Like his previous stops in Seattle, Oklahoma City, Golden State and Brooklyn, the expectations are high — and there is a different level of excitement with Durant’s arrival. The Suns hope Durant’s addition gets them over the hump after losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games in the 2021 NBA Finals.
Kyrie Irving senses the stress of the Dallas Mavericks trying to keep up in the tight Western Conference playoff race while incorporating him in a new superstar pairing with Luka Doncic. The two have a 1-4 record together and the Mavs have won just twice in seven games since Irving came over in a blockbuster trade with Brooklyn. Both stars have had chances for the tying or winning baskets in the final seconds of all four losses together. They haven't come through and are now at risk of a 1-6 start together. The next two opponents are title contenders Philadelphia and Phoenix.
Final OT N-Y Rangers 3 Philadelphia 2
Vladimir Tarasenko scored the winner 2:32 into overtime, and had assists on goals by Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider to lead the New York Rangers past the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Wednesday night. Owen Tippett and Scott Laughton scored for the Flyers. The Rangers won their final game before Patrick Kane makes his debut for the team on Thursday night. Kane was acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. The arrival of the three-time Stanley Cup champion boosted the Rangers to immediate Stanley Cup contender status. Igor Shesterkin stopped 25 shots for the Rangers and Carter Hart had 22 saves for the Flyers.
Final New Jersey 7 Colorado 5
Dawson Mercer stayed hot with a goal and three assists, Tomas Tatar had a goal and two assists, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Colorado Avalanche 7-5. Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each had a goal and an assist, and Nathan Bastian, Ondrej Palat and Dougie Hamilton also scored for the Devils. Vitek Vanecek had 14 saves before being replaced early in the third period. Akira Schmid came on and stopped all 12 shots he faced. New Jersey forward Timo Meier, acquired from San Jose on Monday, was scratched. Nathan MacKinnon had two goals to extend his points streak to nine games and Mikko Rantanen scored his 41st of the season for Colorado. Valeri Nichushkin and J.T. Compher also scored, and Artturi Lehkonen had two assists. Justus Annunen finished with 22 saves.
To the NFL where
Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, projected as one of the top players in the NFL draft, has been charged with reckless driving and racing in conjunction with the crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department issued an arrest warrant alleging that Carter was racing his SUV against an SUV driven by the recruiting staffer, which led to the Jan. 15 wreck. Carter had been due in Indianapolis on Wednesday for the NFL's scouting combine. Police say he is expected to address the arrest warrant when he returns to Athens. Carter posted a statement on his Twitter account saying he expects to be “fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”
Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. The 39-year-old Rodgers discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast." He spent much of the 1 1/2-hour conversation describing his recent isolation retreat in which he said he spent four days alone in a dark room.
Will Anderson Jr. might be the best defensive player in this year's NFL draft. Heck, he might even be the No. 1 overall pick. But the former Alabama star knows he still has to earn those accolades and neither will come easily. First, Anderson must prove he's the head of a strong defensive class. Then he must prove he's worthy of being the second straight defensive player selected No. 1 overall — which would mark the first time since 1991-92 that a defensive player went first two years in a row.
A federal judge says NFL Coach Brian Flores can let a jury decide the merits of his discrimination claims against the league, the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants and the Houston Texans. But he must pursue his claims against the Miami Dolphins through arbitration. Judge Valerie Caproni issued her decision Wednesday in Manhattan. Flores sued saying the league was “rife with racism,” particularly in its hiring and promotion of Black coaches. He sued after he was fired by Miami, where he led the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. The judge ruled that two other coaches who joined the lawsuit must go through arbitration.
PGA Tour has approved sweeping changes to its 2024 schedule. That starts with 16 designated events that includes the majors. Eight of them will not have cuts and will have fields of no more than 80 players. Commissioner Jay Monahan informed the players of the changes in a memo. Those changes include the Player Impact Program bonus being cut from $100 million for 20 players to $50 million for 10 players. The rest of the money is redirected into performance bonus pools. It also includes room for players on the outside to play their way into the elite events.
The path to the 2024 Paris Olympics for Ukrainian athletes is clouded by war, anger and pain. Russian bombardments have wrecked training venues. Air raids disrupt training sessions. Athletes have lost family members and friends. Or they worry that they will. Traveling to international competitions has become arduous because Russia’s invasion has closed the country’s airspace. A Ukrainian diver proudly bears the name of his late grandfather who died in the bombarded Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Ukraine's Olympic medal-winning artistic swimmers say war's terrors are taking a mental toll on them.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is starting his new job as president of the NCAA this week. At the top of his to-do list is getting a handle on name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes. Like his predecessor, Mark Emmert, Baker says the NCAA needs help from Congress in the form of a federal law to govern NIL. But Baker brings a different way of thinking about regulating NIL. He views the athletes as the consumers in a burgeoning market that lacks transparency and is littered with unqualified and even unscrupulous actors.
Players have largely been pleased with Major League Baseball's rollout of several new rules this spring, but fans getting their first look in person have mixed reviews. MLB has added a pitch clock, limited infield shifts and made other changes to quicken the pace of play. It seems to be working, with games running about 20 minutes shorter on average compared to last spring training. Some fans have felt indifferent to the rules, while others are gushing about the faster pace. Others wish the game would just stay as it's been for most of their lives.