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Canadiens advance with 2-0 win over Senators
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Carey Price made 43 saves, Brendan Gallagher scored in the first period, and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-0 Sunday night to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs. Max Pacioretty sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 1 second remaining. Montreal won the best-of-seven series in six games, but lost two in a row after taking a 3-0 series lead - and Ottawa nearly sent it to a deciding seventh game. Price, nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie, rebounded after allowing five goals in Game 5 with a masterful effort as the Senators outshot the Canadiens 43-20. Montreal, which reached the Eastern Conference finals last spring, is in the second round for a second consecutive year for the first time since 1992 and `93. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 01:14:00 +0000
Cavs' Kevin Love out after hurting shoulder in first quarter
BOSTON (AP) Kevin Love dislocated his left shoulder Sunday on what he said was a "bush-league" play. Cleveland's power forward was injured in the first quarter of the Cavaliers' 101-93 victory that completed a four-game sweep when he and Boston's Kelly Olynyk chased a loose ball into the left corner after Jae Crowder of the Celtics missed a 3-pointer. Olynyk's right arm became entangled with Love's left arm. Love then grabbed his arm and kept running toward the Cleveland bench before going to the locker room, where he iced his shoulder. Olynyk was charged with a non-shooting foul. "I thought it was a bush-league play," Love said after the game while wearing a sling. "I have no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose," Love said. "Olynyk was in a compromising position, had no chance to get the ball, and it was just too bad that he would go to those lengths to take somebody out of a game." Boston coach Brad Stevens didn't think Olynyk hurt Love on purpose. "That's not the type of person he is," Stevens said. "I hope Kevin's OK to play, whenever they play next, because you want everybody out there to finish the game." Love said he intends on returning to the playoffs this season and wants the NBA to review the play. "Oh, the league will take a look at it," he said, "and it better be swift and just." The Cavaliers said Love would return to Cleveland with the team and receive additional examination, imaging and evaluation at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health over the next 24 hours before his status is updated. Love averaged 18.3 points in the first three games and scored the first basket Sunday. The Cavaliers would be off until at least Saturday before opening the Eastern Conference semifinals against either Chicago or Milwaukee. The Bulls lead that series 3-1. Sun, 26 Apr 2015 22:16:00 +0000
Cards ace Adam Wainwright out for season with torn Achilles
The St. Louis Cardinals say injured ace Adam Wainwright is out for the season because of a torn left Achilles. General manager John Mozeliak made the announcement Monday at Busch Stadium. Wainwright will have surgery later this week. Wainwright was hurt while batting Saturday in Milwaukee. This is the second major injury of Wainwright's career. The right-hander missed the 2011 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals have made it to the NL Championship Series in each of the last four seasons. They lead the NL Central this year. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 21:47:00 +0000
Paul, Clippers even series with 114-105 win over Spurs
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Chris Paul had 34 points and seven assists, Blake Griffin added 20 points and 19 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the San Antonio Spurs 114-105 on Sunday to even their first-round series at two games apiece. J.J. Redick scored 17 points for the Clippers and Austin Rivers provided an unexpected boost off the bench with a postseason career-high 16 points. The Clippers, who bounced back from a 100-73 loss in Game 3, host Game 5 on Tuesday. This is the only series that is tied after four games. Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points, Tim Duncan had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Tony Parker added 18 points, but Paul proved too much. Paul hit jumpers over Parker and Duncan in scoring six straight points for the Clippers beginning midway through the fourth quarter. He then drove the lane and kicked out to Redick, who drained a 3-pointer for a 106-92 lead. Leonard followed with consecutive 3s to pull within 106-98, but Paul settled the Clippers with a pair of free throws. The game grew tense in the opening minutes as Parker hit the floor on a drive and screamed for a foul on Paul, yelling, "I'm bleeding! I'm bleeding!" and pointing to a cut along his left eyebrow. Parker and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich's tirades led Paul to scream for a technical that wasn't called. "It's the champs, so no tech," Paul said. Paul charged into Duncan off an inbounds two possessions later, drawing a blocking foul on the Spurs veteran. Both players stared angrily at each other, with Duncan rising and telling an official, "He kicked me! He kicked me!" after the foul. The exchanges energized the lethargic Spurs, especially Parker, who keyed a run. Parker, who was limited to 17 points on 7-for-28 shooting in the first three games, had eight points in the opening 8 minutes. Paul didn't need any added incentive, pushing his way into the chest of every defender the Spurs threw at him large or small to clear space for drives and mid-range jumpers. The Spurs never trailed in Game 3, but DeAndre Jordan staked the Clippers to a 6-0 lead Sunday. He blocked the game's initial shot, a 13-foot jumper by Leonard near its apex and scored the Clippers first points on an alley-oop dunk. Jordan later set a jarring pick that dropped Leonard to the court and freed Redick for a layup to close the early run. Jordan finished with six points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. TIP-INS Clippers: The Clippers are 8-3 all-time in Game 4 of a best-of-seven series, but have never won a series after losing Game 3 when the series is tied 1-1. ... Jordan has 10 postseason games with at least 14 rebounds. Spurs: Duncan became the first player in league history to play 9,000 minutes in the postseason. He also played in his 238th career postseason game, breaking a tie with Kevin Garnett for third all-time. Sun, 26 Apr 2015 22:39:00 +0000
Wall, Beal lead Wiz past Raptors 125-94 in Game 4 for sweep
WASHINGTON (AP) When Paul Pierce headed to the sideline with the Wizards leading the Raptors by 23 points in the third quarter, making Game 4 - and the series - all but over, he saw a standing ovation and waved, requesting more noise. With Pierce helping show his younger teammates how to win, Washington emphatically completed the first sweep of a seven-game series in club history. And just as Pierce had hoped, the Wizards won't need to pull out their passports again. The Wizards finished off the Raptors in four games by winning 125-94 Sunday night to quickly close the first-round Eastern Conference series, getting 21 points and 11 rebounds from Marcin Gortat, and 14 points and 10 assists from John Wall. Six Wizards scored in double figures, including Bradley Beal with 23 points and Pierce with 14, and that duo made seven of the Wizards' team playoff-record 15 3-pointers. After both Games 2 and 3, Pierce - the 37-year-old with an NBA championship ring from his days in Boston - declared that he didn't want to have to deal with going through U.S. Customs again, a reference to wanting to avoid having to travel back to Toronto for Game 5. Not a problem. Washington led by 16 in the first quarter, 20 in the second and by a whopping 32 - 102-70 - entering the fourth. Washington has reached the second round of the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since getting to the NBA Finals in 1979, a year after winning the title. And the sellout crowd of 20,356 kept rising to cheer every made 3, salute every player who left for a substitute, yell "Sweep! Sweep!" - and, in not-so-diplomatic moments, occasionally chant "USA! USA!" Next up for the No. 5 seed Wizards will be No. 1 Atlanta or No. 8 Brooklyn. Those teams play their Game 4 on Monday, with the Hawks up 2-1. Toronto went 3-0 against Washington in the regular season, but failed to find any consistency from quarter to quarter in the playoffs. Kyle Lowry kept finding himself in foul trouble - he picked up his third midway through the first quarter Sunday - and shot poorly. He scored 21 in Game 4, while DeMar DeRozan had 14. Otto Porter, who played college basketball in the same arena for Georgetown, heard choruses of his first and last names when he entered late in first quarter and again after he made a corner 3 in the second. On defense, he gave DeRozan fits, inducing a stepback jumper that barely touched the rim, then drawing an offensive foul. The No. 4 seed Raptors extended their history of brief postseasons: Their past five trips ended with first-round exits. The Wizards are experiencing a revival of sorts, led in large part by Wall, the No. 1 overall pick the 2010 draft and an All-Star the past two seasons. Washington won 46 games this season, the first time the club topped 45 since it was known as the Bullets in 1979, back before anyone on the current roster other than Pierce had been born - and he was only about 18 months old at the time. The Wizards led by as many 16 points in the first quarter and ended it ahead 36-22, despite taking about half as many shots as the Raptors. But Washington made 13 of 15 free throws, while Toronto took only one foul shot. Weathering a mini-run by the Raptors, the Wizards closed the half up 66-50. Gortat was a major reason, delivering 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting, along with eight rebounds. After Gortat made one basket while getting fouled, Wall jumped up and down on the sideline, twirling a red towel overhead. Then he sauntered out onto the court to chest bump Gortat and whip the towel at him playfully. --- TIP-INS Raptors: Toronto has never won a best-of-seven series. The only time the Raptors advanced was in a five-game series against the Knicks in 2001. ... Toronto's record for a postseason margin of defeat is 33 points, a 121-88 loss to Philadelphia in 2001. Wizards: Washington last eliminated an opponent from the playoffs without dropping a game all the way back in 1982, when it "swept" a best-of-three series 2-0. ... Through the game's first 1 1/2 quarters, Beal had 15 points - only one fewer than Toronto's starting five combined. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 01:27:00 +0000
Embarrassed early, Blackhawks hit their stride just in time
CHICAGO (AP) It smacks of desperation. And it's more a hunch than a real strategy. But when pressed, most coaches will admit few things motivate pro athletes better than embarrassing them. Ask the Chicago Blackhawks, who overcame another big first-period deficit and then a goalie swap for the second time against the Nashville Predators. The result was another 4-3 win Saturday night that closed out their first-round playoff series in six games and left Chicago awaiting the winner of the Minnesota-St. Louis matchup. As they had for most of the series, the Blackhawks started sloppy and paid the price. Predators winger James Neal notched two quick goals, and then teammate Matt Cullen picked defenseman Duncan Keith's pocket along the left boards and put Nashville ahead 3-1 just past the midway mark in the first. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, experiencing something very much like deja vu, had seen enough. In the opening game of the series at Nashville, he pulled Corey Crawford after he gave up three goals on just 12 shots and replaced him with rookie Scott Darling. The Hawks roared back from a 3-0 deficit to win in double overtime. After Darling started Game 6 by surrendering three goals on the same number of shots, Quenneville pulled the switch again. Chicago didn't need any extra periods to shake the Predators this time. It was 3-3 by the end of the first. "It's never a situation you want to be in, but you might be right that it's a wake-up call," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We know we can't hang our goaltenders out to dry the way we have numerous times in this series." "But when we get that first or second goal, especially at home," he added, "I think there's that feeling across our lineup that we can take control of a game." Before that could happen, though, Crawford needed a confidence boost of his own. He came in cold with just less than nine minutes left in the first and almost immediately faced a high whistling shot from Neal. "The first one clipped my glove and went off the post," he recalled. "Then I settled down and started seeing pucks a lot better." Apparently, so did his teammates. Other than that wrister by Neal, they didn't allow Nashville another shot on net for the next four minutes. Keith, a perennial Norris Trophy candidate, was clearly embarrassed when Cullen, a 38-year-old veteran, went through him like a revolving door for the Predators' third score. He got his revenge in the third, using some deft stick-handling to end a cat-and-mouse duel with Nashville defenseman Seth Jones near the left boards, freeing up enough space to rip a slap shot that beat netminder Pekka Rinne high on the stick side at 16:12. "You don't want to have to rely on something like that," Keith said, referring to the goaltender swap. "We're a proud team and any time you get drilled the way we did, you know it's not their fault. ... At the same time, we knew there was lots of time left. So we used it as a kind of reset." The Predators will have the entire offseason to examine what happened. They earned home-ice advantage in the first round by finishing second - a place ahead of Chicago in the Central Division - but suffered a major blow early in the series when defenseman Shea Weber went down with a lower-body injury. They also played without forward Mike Fisher for a large chunk of time, Afterward, coach Peter Laviolette wasn't in the mood to look back at his first year with the team. "It's probably a better question for another day," he said. "The objective was to get to this point," Laviolette added a moment later, "but that wasn't the whole objective, so disappointing right now." That was obvious from the mood in the Predators' locker room. Rinne was still replaying some of the tougher chances that beat him, wondering what difference a save or two might have made. "Throughout the series I felt like some of the games, the puck had eyes," he said. "You look at least three games, the winners ... just find a way through the maze and, obviously, that feels disappointing. ... You feel like maybe you get a break one of these games and it hits something and it doesn't go in." "It's frustrating," he said finally, "but now I have way too much time on my hands to think about these things." Sun, 26 Apr 2015 06:58:00 +0000
Curry leads Warriors to 109-98 win and sweep of the Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Stephen Curry had 39 points, eight rebounds and nine assists and Golden State cruised to 109-98 victory over New Orleans on Saturday night, completing a sweep of their first-round playoff series. Klay Thompson added 25 points for the Warriors, the NBA's top overall seed, who will wait to host Game 1 of their second-round series against the winner of the Portland-Memphis matchup. Draymond Green added 22 points and 10 rebounds for Golden State, which led 67-54 at halftime and widened the gap to as many as 24 points in the second half before the Pelicans briefly cut the deficit to single digits in the final minutes. Anthony Davis had 36 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans and Eric Gordon had 29 points. Golden State shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 13 of 24 from 3-point range. Curry was 6 of 8 from deep, while Thompson was 4 of 7 and Green 3 of 6. BUCKS 92, BULLS 90 MILWAUKEE (AP) - Jerryd Bayless made a layup at the buzzer off an inbounds pass to draw Milwaukee within 3-1 in the Eastern Conference playoff series. With 1.3 seconds left, Jared Dudley threw a high-arcing pass toward the basket from side court. Bayless caught the ball and quickly threw up the layup for the game-winning basket. Bulls guard Derrick Rose walked away in frustration after trying to guard Bayless. The Bucks won their first playoff game in five years. Chicago had a chance to win with the game tied at 90. But Milwaukee's Khris Middleton tipped a dribble away from Rose to force a steal. Bucks coach Jason Kidd called a timeout to set up the final play. Game 5 is Monday in Chicago. Jimmy Butler had a playoff career-high 33 points for the Bulls. Rose finished with 14 points, while Pau Gasol had 16 points and 10 rebounds. O.J. Mayo finished with 18 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:42 left, while Dudley had 13 points and five assists while Bayless had 10 points. NETS 91, HAWKS 83 NEW YORK (AP) - Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 11 rebounds as Brooklyn cut Atlanta's lead to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference series. The Nets seized control with an 18-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters after the Hawks grabbed their first lead since the opening basket, then went on to beat the No. 1 seed for the first time in seven meetings this season. Bojan Bogdanovic added 19 points for the eighth-seeded Nets, who can tie the series with another victory here Monday night in Game 4. DeMarre Carroll scored a playoff career-high 22 points for the Hawks, who were denied what would have been their second 3-0 lead since moving to Atlanta in 1968. Paul Millsap added 18 points and 17 rebounds. GRIZZLIES 115, TRAIL BLAZERS 109 PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Marc Gasol had 25 points and Memphis took a 3-0 lead in their playoff series with Portland. Courtney Lee had 20 points and Mike Conley added 14 before leaving the game late in the third quarter with a facial injury. Memphis was already thin at point guard with reserve Beno Udrih sidelined with a sprained right ankle. Game 4 is Monday night at Portland. Nicolas Batum's 3-pointer got Portland as close as 94-91 with 2:23 left. But Tony Allen's basket ended Portland's 9-0 run and Randolph added free throws. Batum finished with 27 points for the Blazers, who have dropped seven straight games, including four to wrap up the regular season, and CJ McCollum added 26. Zach Randolph had 16 points and the Grizzlies won their seventh straight against Portland, including a sweep of the four-game regular season series. Sun, 26 Apr 2015 05:52:00 +0000
Calgary Flames advance to 2nd round for 1st time in a decade
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) With a chance to clinch in their grasp, the Calgary Flames stayed determined. Down 3-0 early and 4-3 midway through the second period, they turned a switch and beat the Vancouver Canucks 7-4 on Saturday to take the series and advance to the second round of NHL playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Calgary will face the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference semifinal. Matt Stajan scored the winner at 15:43 of the third period to give the Flames a 4-2 series win. "Things happen so quickly out there and even when I go home, I'll probably blink my eyes and still have to pinch myself to realize what happened," said Stajan. "That's why we play the games. This is a special moment." Jiri Hudler and Michael Ferland each had a pair of goals including empty-netters in front of a delirious Scotiabank Saddledome. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary. The Flames last advanced beyond the opening round in 2004 when they reached the Stanley Cup final and lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. "What about the crowd?" Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "The crowd never left us. We were down 3-zip and we felt their support. What a great story." The Flames' opponent, the Ducks, have had a few days rest already. They rallied from a deficit to win all four games of their series against the Winnipeg Jets, capped by a 5-2 victory in the clincher on Wednesday night in Winnipeg. Anaheim led for less than 39 total minutes of the four-game series. Michael Ferland and Jiri Hudler each scored twice, and Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau added goals for Calgary. Hudler tied it at 4 with a power-play goal at 6:14 of the third period. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins gave the Flames all the credit on their comeback. "They found ways all year and they found a way again tonight," he said. "I'm proud of our guys. One hundred and one points this year was a good run." Luca Sbisa, Brandon McMillan, Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata scored for Vancouver. The Canucks had a 3-0 lead midway through the first period. "We looked at this game as a must-win on home ice," Monahan said. "We could knock them out and move onto the second round. We were still excited on the bench being down 3-nothing. We did whatever we could to push back and we found a way." Flames starting goalie Jonas Hiller was pulled early in the first after allowing two goals on three shots. Karri Ramo stopped 17 of 19 shots in relief. Ryan Miller made 28 saves in the loss. Calgary's fourth line of Stajan, Ferland and David Jones produced the winner. The Vancouver goalie made an initial save on Ferland, but Stajan banged in the rebound. Vancouver scored three times on its first four shots. Hiller was replaced by Ramo after Vancouver's second goal at 7:32 and Ramo gave up a goal on the first shot he faced. Ferland scored late in the first, and Monahan and Gaudreau tied it early in the second. Sbisa put Vancouver back in front midway through the period. With McMillan in the box for goalie interference, Hudler pulled the Flames even in the third. He corralled Monahan's deflection at the side of net and went backhand to forehand on Miller. After Stafan gave the Flames the lead, Hudler and Ferland finished the scoring with empty-net goals. Sun, 26 Apr 2015 06:48:00 +0000
Baseball fans asked to stay at stadium after violent protest
BALTIMORE (AP) Fans at the Baltimore Orioles-Boston Red Sox baseball game were briefly asked to stay inside the stadium toward the end of the game after a small group of Freddie Gray protesters became violent. The protesters blocked an intersection near Oriole Park at Camden Yards for several hours and had a tense standoff with police Saturday night. The protesters were eventually cleared. In the middle of the ninth inning, the public address announcer told fans that city officials requested no one leave because of "ongoing public safety issues." They were later allowed to leave but advised to avoid certain areas of the city. The Orioles won 5-4 in 10 innings. The attendance was 36,757. Demonstrators are angry Gray, a black man, died in police custody after suffering an unexplained spinal injury. Sun, 26 Apr 2015 02:53:00 +0000
Eagles personnel chief says Tebow has improved
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Ignore the hype. Tim Tebow is just another guy competing for a roster spot on the Philadelphia Eagles. "Obviously, we were intrigued with what we saw there," Eagles personnel chief Ed Marynowitz said Thursday. "We saw a player who improved from the last time we saw him live, which was when he was here with New England. We had some conversations and some discussions, and we felt that it was an opportunity to bring in someone who could compete for a spot. "Look, we've got 68 players who are on our football team right now. And Tim's one of them. He'll have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot. And his role will be determined by his performance and it's as simple as that." Philadelphia's new vice president of player personnel was the first member of the organization to publicly discuss Tebow since the Eagles signed the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner to a one-year contract on Monday. Neither Tebow nor coach Chip Kelly has been available to the media. Tebow was 9-7 as a starter for Denver in 2010-11, including playoffs. He threw just eight passes for the New York Jets in 2012 and also lined up as a punt protector. Marynowitz said Tebow is here to play quarterback, not another position. Still, the innovative Kelly could try various ways to get Tebow involved in the offense. Sam Bradford, acquired in a trade from St. Louis, is penciled in as the starting QB. Mark Sanchez is the backup. Tebow is competing with Matt Barkley for the No. 3 job. G.J. Kinne also is on the roster. Tebow has worked with former Texas Rangers pitching coach Tom House on his mechanics. The Eagles were impressed with his improvement during a private workout in March. Tebow's career completion percentage is 47.9. Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:13:00 +0000
AP Sources: Tim Tebow expected to sign with Eagles on Monday
PHILADELPHIA (AP) It's Tebow Time in the City of Brotherly Love. Tim Tebow is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Eagles on Monday, according to three people familiar with the deal. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because the contract hasn't been finalized. Tebow hasn't played in the NFL since 2012 with the New York Jets. He was released by the New England Patriots before the 2013 season and spent last year working in television as an analyst for the SEC Network and ESPN. Despite being out of the league, the 27-year-old Tebow remained one of the most popular players around. He has a legion of fans who follow him because of his strong Christian beliefs. The former Heisman Trophy winner led Florida to two national titles and was a first-round pick by Denver in 2010. He started 16 games during two seasons with the Broncos, including a playoff victory over Pittsburgh in January 2012. Tebow was traded to the Jets after Denver signed Peyton Manning. The 27-year-old Tebow joins quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne on Philadelphia's roster. The addition of Tebow would be the latest move in a stunning offseason for coach Chip Kelly. He traded Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and allowed Jeremy Maclin to leave in free agency. Tebow worked out for the Eagles last month and Kelly later said he's always "been a fan of Tim." Tebow had some success in Denver, but his inaccurate passing and lack of pocket presence was an issue. His strength has been running the ball or improvising. Tebow has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes for 2,422 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has 989 yards rushing, a 5.0 average yards per carry and 12 TDs. Tebow worked with former major league pitcher Tom House on improving his mechanics. He joins the Eagles in time to start their offseason program this week. --- Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Mon, 20 Apr 2015 00:33:00 +0000
Jim Furyk tops Kevin Kisner in playoff to win RBC Heritage
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) Jim Furyk won his first PGA Tour event in five years, making birdies on both playoff holes to outlast Kevin Kisner at the RBC Heritage on Sunday. Furyk had a one-stroke lead when Kisner birdied the 72nd hole to force the playoff, the fourth one at Harbour Town Golf Links in the last six tournaments. On the first extra hole, Kisner rolled in a second straight birdie putt on the 18th to put pressure on Furyk. But the former U.S. Open champion answered with a birdie of his own. After Kisner missed his birdie try on No. 17, Furyk sank a 12-foot birdie putt for his 17th PGA Tour career victory. Furyk shot a 63 in the final round and Kisner a 64, leaving them at 18-under 266. Masters winner Jordan Spieth shot a 70 and was eight shots back. Sun, 19 Apr 2015 19:08:00 +0000
Duke freshman Winslow to enter NBA draft
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Justise Winslow is entering the NBA draft after one season at Duke, coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday. The forward said in a statement issued by the school that "my dreams and aspirations have literally come true" while winning the national title in his only season in college. He says he believes "it is time to take the next step on my career path and play at the highest level." Winslow averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while helping Duke win its fifth national title. The announcement came less than a week after the same decision from teammate Jahlil Okafor, the first freshman selected as the Atlantic Coast Conference's player of the year. And just as Okafor's was, Winslow's choice wasn't much of a surprise. "He had a sensational year, both on and off the court," Krzyzewski said. "He was an amazing factor for our success in winning the national championship. "From everything we have found out, Justise is projected to be a high lottery pick and we believe that to be true. This is a great time to take advantage of this opportunity. We're behind him all the way and love him and his family." He arrived at Duke last summer as one of the nation's top recruits and ended up ranking third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding. He started every game - even as he fought through a cracked rib midway through the season - and scored in double figures in all but one since Jan. 28. His move from the wing to power forward allowed the Blue Devils (35-4) to switch to a smaller lineup that wound up being tough to beat. Duke won 18 of its final 19 games while claiming its fifth national title since 1991. Winslow averaged 14.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in six NCAA Tournament games, including a 21-point, 10-rebound performance against Utah in a regional semifinal in his hometown, Houston. He became the seventh player to go one-and-done at Duke, and the fifth since 2011. That club already includes Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, Jabari Parker and, of course, Okafor. Another player - guard Tyus Jones, selected the most outstanding player at the Final Four - could become the third member of that star-packed freshman class to turn pro. The fourth member of that class - tournament breakout star Grayson Allen - has already said he will be back for his sophomore season. Tue, 14 Apr 2015 21:09:00 +0000
Column: A special win for a special player at the Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) About the only thing missing was a new scoring record. Not to worry, because odds are Jordan Spieth will set a bunch of them by the time he is done. The odds are equally good that the green jacket he put on Sunday night outside the Augusta National clubhouse won't be his last. The Masters was the tournament he dreamed about growing up beating balls on the range in Texas. The people who run the Masters could only dream of having a new champion who could stare down an all-star field of challengers, then remember to thank everyone from the kitchen staff to the chairman for giving him the chance to do just that. He's a special talent who yells at his ball and plays with a steely intensity. He's also a special person, the son of athletic parents who still dates his high school sweetheart and is a loving brother to a younger sister with neurological difficulties that place her on the autism spectrum. On an overcast day at Augusta National, Spieth finished off a wire-to-wire win that was so utterly dominant it never seemed really in doubt. That he bogeyed the last hole to miss setting a scoring record set by another 21-year-old named Tiger Woods in 1997 did nothing to make the day any less sweet. His family and friends gathered behind the 18th green hugging each other even before Spieth dropped the short bogey putt to finish off his day. Everyone important in his life was there, except the one person who may be most important. His sister, who is seven years younger, doesn't come to many tournaments. Ellie Spieth likes to yell her brother's name and cheer at what should be quiet times, and the Masters would not be the place for that. But Spieth would be calling, and they would talk about him winning his first major championship. "When I speak to her she's going to probably tell me to just bring something home, bring a present home to her," Spieth said. "I'm sure she was watching and was excited when she saw how happy I was there with my family at the end. Probably a little jealous at that point." If so, she's not the only one. Who wouldn't be jealous of a player who refused to yield an inch all week, yet was so gracious he gave playing partner Justin Rose a thumbs up after he made a remarkable recovery shot on the seventh hole? Who wouldn't be jealous of a player who kept the same four-shot lead he teed off with under the intense pressure of a final round at the Masters? And who wouldn't be jealous of a young man who, after hugging his caddie, parents and girlfriend, applauded the fans who came to watch as he took a victory lap around the 18th green? "I don't know what could make you more proud," his father, Shawn, said. "But God-given gift to be able to play the game like that, we're just probably more proud of him for the kind of person he is and the way he handles himself and treats everybody. ... He makes us really, really proud." Spieth almost became the youngest Masters champion ever last year in his first go around at Augusta National, only to lose the two-shot lead he held after seven holes of the final round to Bubba Watson. He was determined to come back and win the green jacket, and he seized control of the Masters with a first round 64 and never looked back. "He wanted badly to get back after last year," his father said. He'd be a college senior if he stayed at the University of Texas, where he played for a year before taking a chance and playing his way onto the PGA Tour. But he looked like a seasoned veteran as he played his way around Augusta National, sealing the deal with an 8-footer for par on the 16th hole even as Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson made late moves. "He's just fiery," said caddie Michael Greller, who was a sixth grade teacher before hooking up with Spieth. "He's got that kliller instinct. You have to have tunnel vision when you're out there, but you have to really appreciate the roars." Spieth has a lot to appreciate, even if he admitted he wasn't sure just what winning the Masters would mean. Spieth hasn't had that much experience winning in his short career, though he won once and finished second twice in his last three tournaments. The last one was in Houston last week, where after every round he would go home and Ellie would say, "Jordan, did you win? Did you win?" "I said, `Not yet, not yet, no,"' Spieth said, laughing. "I can tell her I won now." Maybe he can bring home a present, too. A nice green jacket will do. ---- Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg Mon, 13 Apr 2015 01:42:00 +0000
Buffalo Sabres fire coach Ted Nolan
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Two last-place finishes and an imperfect working relationship led Sabres general manager Tim Murray to the conclusion to fire coach Ted Nolan on Sunday. The decision was made after a lengthy evaluation which ended with Murray's exit interviews with Sabres players, a day after Buffalo (23-51-8) closed its season with a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh. "I don't think it was a bad fit. I don't think it was a great fit," Murray said. "Maybe it's just chemistry. Maybe it's just two different personalities." Murray also felt the move to fire Nolan, a little more than a year after the coach signed a three-year contract, was needed to improve a team in the midst of a rebuilding process. "I know this isn't a popular thing," Murray said. "To me, it's about getting better. I feel this was an opportunity for us to improve and keep improving. And that's certainly no disrespect to Ted." Nolan was in good spirits but declined comment when reached by The Associated Press. "I'm just going to reflect on it and come out with a statement in the next couple of days," Nolan said. Nolan is out for a second time in Buffalo, after he spent two seasons coaching the team in the mid-1990s. Nolan's first tenure ended after winning NHL coach of the year honors in 1997. He left while feeling disrespected by then-GM Darcy Regier, who offered Nolan a one-year contract extension. Nolan returned to Buffalo on an interim basis in November 2013 when Ron Rolston was fired as part of a front-office shakeup. Regier was fired at the same time, and former Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine was brought in as president of hockey operations. LaFontaine then hired Murray in January, before stepping down abruptly after a little more than three months on the job. Nolan lost his biggest backer in LaFontaine. Murray provided the coach an opportunity by signing him to a contract extension despite having no previous working relationship with Nolan. "We said we hoped it would work, and we would try to make it work," Murray said. "There were no big fights or arguments or anything like that. There might have been a somewhat lack of communication, and that's as much on me as him." The Sabres are searching for their third coach since Lindy Ruff was fired a month into the NHL's lockout-shortened season in February 2013. Murray said he has no timetable on when he intends to hire the next coach. He is also willing to wait for potential candidates on current playoff contenders in order to cast as wide a net as possible. "Certainly, in a perfect world it would be somebody that we have a good relationship, and respect each other and communicate with each other if not every day but on a regular basis," Murray said. One potential candidate is former NHL defenseman Luke Richardson, who is in his third season coaching the Ottawa Senators' AHL affiliate in Binghamton, New York. Murray previously served as the Senators assistant GM and worked closely with Richardson. The Sabres are entering a critical phase of their lengthy rebuilding process this offseason. The team is guaranteed having no worse than the second pick in the draft in June. That puts Buffalo in a position to land one of two highly prized centers: Erie Otters' Connor McDavid or Boston University's Jack Eichel, this year's Hobey Baker winner. Murray acknowledged Nolan was placed in "less than ideal circumstances" taking over a team rebuilding from scratch, and featuring as many as nine players who opened the season in the minors. "I hope that he moves on and finds a fit that's better, a fit that suits his style and I hope he flourishes from that," Murray said. Overall, Nolan went 40-87-17 over the past one-plus seasons. Nolan had difficulty putting together his coaching staff last summer, and failed to bring in a proven defensive-minded assistant to groom Buffalo's young core of defensemen, who struggled with consistency this season. Three of Nolan's assistant coaches also won't be returning. Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier and Tom Coolen's contracts were not renewed, and Danny Flynn was fired, the team announced. Murray did retain goalie coach, former NHLer Arturs Irbe, who has one year left on his contract. Murray credited the work Irbe did handling the Sabres goalies this season, saying it earned him an opportunity to be considered for the job by the next coach. Nolan also coached the New York Islanders before being fired after his second season in 2008. In his first year, New York went 40-30-12 to make the playoffs. Mon, 13 Apr 2015 02:30:00 +0000
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