Team LeBron showed off its high-flying and long-range skills during a dominating run to close out the first half, setting up a 170-150 romp over Team Durant in the league’s 70th midseason showcase.
LeBron James is now 4-0, having defeated Stephen Curry’s squad in 2018 and teams selected by Milwaukee’s two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo the last two years.
Antetokounmpo was the game MVP after shooting 16 of 16 for 35 points. Curry chipped in with 28 points, while Damian Lillard had 32. James spent most of the night admiring his drafting skill, playing less than 13 minutes and finishing with four points.
Bradley Beal led Team Durant with 26 points.
Philadelphia 76ers standouts Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) and Ben Simmons were ruled out of the game because of a coronavirus contact tracing issue. The NBA said the two had contact with an individual who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Curry was the NBA’s 3-point shooting champion for the second time in his career. Curry finished first in both rounds to edge Utah’s Mike Conley and Boston’s Jayson Tatum. Curry had 28 points in the finals, one more than Conley.
Indiana forward Domantas Sabonis was the winner of the skills challenge, defeating Orlando forward Nikola Vucevic in the final. Portland’s Anfernee Simons came away with the Slam Dunk championship.
T25 MEN’S BASKETBALL
MaCio Teague scored 35 points while matching a school record with 10 made 3-pointers and No. 3 Baylor beat No. 18 Texas Tech 88-73 in the regular season finale.
The Big 12 champion Bears finished undefeated at home for the first time in 73 years.
Teague made 10-of-12 shots from long range. Jared Butler scored 18 points and Davion Mitchell 17 as Baylor finished 11-0 in the Ferrell Center.
Mark Vital had 10 points and 15 rebounds. Kyler Edwards had 18 points for Texas Tech in its most lopsided loss this season.
In other top 25 games Sunday:
— Rocket Watts scored 21 points and Aaron Henry had 18 to lead Michigan State to a 70-64 victory over No. 2 Michigan that seems to seal coach Tom Izzo’s 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. The Spartans have won five of their last seven games, beating No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Illinois and their second-ranked rivals during the late-season surge. Michigan senior guard Eli Brooks hurt his left ankle early in the game at the Breslin Center and did not return in what potentially could be a problem going into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
— Luka Garza scored 21 points and had 16 rebounds as No. 5 Iowa defeated No. 25 Wisconsin 77-73. It was the 12th double-double of the season for Garza, who leads the Big Ten in scoring and is third in the nation. Iowa has won seven of eight and is 20-7 overall. The Hawkeyes will be the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
— Tramon Mark hit a long 3-pointer as time expired to give No. 9 Houston a 67-64 win over Memphis. After Memphis had tied it with 1.7 seconds left, Marcus Sasser threw the ball to midcourt where Mark picked it up. He dribbled through two Memphis defenders and launched a 35-footer off the backboard ending a six- game winning streak for Memphis.
— Andrew Jones scored 16 points while making all four of his 3-pointers, and No. 15 Texas finished the regular season with a third consecutive road victory, beating TCU 76-64 on Sunday night. Matt Coleman III scored 14 points and Courtney Ramey had 13 points and six assists for Texas, which moved up to the third seed in the Big 12 tournament and will face No. 18 Texas Tech, the sixth seed, in the quarterfinals Thursday.
— Cameron Krutwig and Braden Norris scored 20 points apiece to help 20th-ranked Loyola Chicago roll past Drake 75-65 in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Keith Clemons added 13 points for the Ramblers, who will be making their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and first since the 2018 team reached the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.
America East women
For the second consecutive year Maine and Stony Brook have advanced to the title game as the league’s top-two seeds. No. 1 Maine defeated No. 4 UAlbany 67-47 on Sunday followed by No. 2 Stony Brook defeating No. 3 UMass Lowell 75-55.
The top-seeded Black Bears hit 11 threes and put four players in double figures to secure a sixth consecutive appearance in the championship game. The Seawolves led wire-to-wire and got 30 points from their bench to advance to the title game for the second year in a row. It is the first time in program history the Seawolves have advanced to the championship game in consecutive years. In three seasons under the high-seed format, the women’s title game has featured the top-two seeds each year.
Stony Brook will visit Maine on Friday, March 12 in a battle for the league championship and automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. on ESPNU.
America East men
In the semi-final games on Saturday #6 UMass Lowell beat UMBC 79-77, and #3 Hartford beat #2 Vermont 75-69. #6 UMass Lowell will take on #4 Hartford in the Championship game on Saturday, March 13 at 11 a.m.
NC State claimed its second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament championship on Sunday, turning back Louisville in a dramatic title game that lived up to its billing.
The second-seeded Wolfpack prevailed 58-56 in what will be remembered as one of the tournament’s more fantastic finishes
N.C. State senior guard Raina Perez hit a jumper from the free-throw line with two seconds remaining on the clock, the game-winner to ice the second straight ACC tournament title for the Wolfpack.
The top-ranked and top-seeded UConn women’s basketball team (23-1) faces No. 2-seed Marquette (19-5) in the BIG EAST Tournament finals Monday at 8 p.m. in Mohegan Sun Arena. The game will air on FS1 and 97-9 ESPN. UConn advanced to the BIG EAST Tournament finals with an 84-39 win over Villanova Sunday.
Islanders cruise past Sabres 5-2 for 5th straight win
Anders Lee and Brock Nelson scored 62 seconds apart early in the second period and rookie Ilya Sorokin made 24 saves as the New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 for their fifth straight win.
The victory was the Islanders’ sixth straight over the Sabres this season. Sorokin earned his fourth win of the season as the Islanders improved to 10-0-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
Last-place Buffalo lost for the seventh straight time.
Elsewhere in the NHL:
Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov and Nick Jensen scored to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. T.J. Oshie had two assists and Ilya Samsonov stopped 36 shots for the Capitals, who have won eight of 11. Washington was without forward Tom Wilson, who served the first game of a seven-game suspension for Friday’s hit on Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo. Joel Farabee scored for Philadelphia, which lost its second straight and finished 3-3 during a grueling nine-day, six-game stretch.
Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman each scored a power-play goal in the second period, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Pat Maroon added his 100th career goal in the third period, giving Tampa Bay a season-high four goals with the man advantage. Gourde finished with two goals and two assists. The Lightning improved to 3-0-1 taking two of three in the series between Central Division contenders.
Vincent Trocheck and James Reimer continued to torment their former team, lifting the Carolina Hurricanes to their fifth straight victory with a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Trocheck scored for the fourth time this season against the Panthers. Nino Niederreiter, Sebastian Aho and Warren Foegele also had goals for the Hurricanes, who have won eight of 10 home games this season. Reimer made 21 saves to improve to 3-0-0 since being traded by the Panthers. MacKenzie Weegar and Mason Marchment scored for Florida, which had a five-game points streak snapped.
Sidney Crosby capped a three-goal surge in the first period and the Pittsburgh Penguins coasted to a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. Crosby scored his eighth of the season, Kasperi Kapanen netted his sixth and John Marino his first as Pittsburgh scored three goals on six first-period shots. Evgeni Malkin and Zach Aston-Reese added goals as the Penguins won for the ninth time in their last 13 games. Casey DeSmith, making his second start since Feb. 11, stopped 22 shots.
Scott Wedgewood made 40 saves, Kyle Palmieri scored out of a scramble with 4:37 left and the New Jersey Devils snapped a five-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 24 saves and remained stuck at 299 career victories. The Bruins have lost four of six games. Palmieri scored about two minutes after Wedgewood robbed Craig Smith’s bid at the end of a Bruins’ power play.
Roman Josi scored the final shootout goal on a backhander, helping the Nashville Predators beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 after blowing a 3-0 third-period lead. Josi and Forsberg scored in the shootout as the Predators ended a three-game losing streak. Rookie Eeli Tolvanen had a goal and an assist in regulation, Mikael Granlund and Calle Jarnkrok added goals and Pekka Rinne made 35 saves for Nashville. Filip Forsberg added two assists as the Predators built a 3-0 lead through two periods.
Shootout goals by Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson allowed Ottawa to come away with a 4-3 verdict over the Flames in Calgary. The Flames picked up a point on goals by Johnny Gaudreau and Noah Hanifan, but they fell to 0-1-1 since hiring Darryl Sutter as head coach. Connor Brown, Colin White and Ryan Dzingel tallied in regulation for Ottawa.
Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy says defenseman Brandon Carlo “is feeling better” but remains week-to-week from the hit that earned Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson a seven-game suspension.
Although no diagnosis has been released, Carlo was woozy leaving the ice after Wilson smashed his head into the glass.
The NHL suspended Wilson for the fifth time in his career on Saturday, the day after his hit in the first period of Friday night’s game sent Carlo to the hospital in an ambulance. The Capitals wing will also lose $311,781.61 in pay.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired right-hander Duane Underwood Jr. in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
Underwood went 1-0 with a 5.66 ERA in 17 games with Chicago during the pandemic-shortened season. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday. Underwood, a second-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is 1-1 with a 5.20 ERA in 30 career games.
The Cubs received minor league first baseman Shendrik Apostel in the deal. The 20-year-old Apostel was signed by the Pirates out of Curaçao in July 2017.
In other MLB news:
The Washington Nationals have released reliever Jeremy Jeffress for what general manager Mike Rizzo called unspecified “personnel reasons.” The move comes less than two weeks after Jeffress agreed to terms on a minor league deal. Jeffress was expected to add to a a Nationals bullpen that already included Brad Hand, Daniel Hudson, Will Harris and Tanner Rainey. The 33-year-old Jeffress pitched for the Cubs last season.
Cleveland Indians third baseman José Ramírez and slugger Franmil Reyes have been isolated from their teammates at spring training after breaking COVID-19 protocols when they dined indoors after getting haircuts. Manager Terry Francona said the two players have been sent to their temporary homes in Arizona as the Indians await word from the league as to when they can rejoin the team.
Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop is away from the team after he violated baseball’s COVID-19 protocols. The 35-year-old is in camp on a minor league deal. The Cubs said Major League Baseball will decide when Strop is allowed to rejoin the team.
On Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. He ran just the first four races last season, then lost his job for using a racial slur while playing a video game early in the pandemic.
He worked all last year on rebuilding his image and was hired by Hendrick Motorsports when NASCAR said the suspension would lift at the start of this year.
Brad Keselowski of Team Penske was second in a Ford and followed by hometown driver Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin in Toyotas for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Ryan Blaney was fifth for Penske and then Martin Truex Jr. and Bell put all four JGR cars in the top seven.
The long ball helped Bryson DeChambeau outlast Lee Westwood to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only the key shots were more with his putter than his driver.
DeChambeau holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the front nine and a 50-foot par putt early on the back nine. He closed it out with a nervy 5-foot par putt for a 1-under 71 and a one-shot victory over the 47-year-old Westwood.
It matched the low score of the day, one of only three rounds under par in the toughest final round at Bay Hill in 41 years.
DeChambeau and Westwood were never separated by more than one shot over the final 15 holes, a fascinating duel of generations that came down to the last shot.
Austin Ernst won the Drive On Championship on Sunday for her third LPGA Tour title, pulling away to beat fellow former NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho by five strokes at Golden Ocala. Ernst closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 15-under 273. Kupcho had a double bogey and three bogeys in a 74.
Following sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda in the first two events of the year, Ernst gave the United States three straight victories to open a season for the first time since 2007.
The 29-year-old former LSU star from South Carolina, showing her school spirit with a purple shirt, also won the 2014 Portland Classic and the 2020 NW Arkansas Championship.
Brooks Koepka is out of The Players Championship with a knee injury. This time it’s his right knee. His manager says only that the four-time major champion strained his right knee. Koepka is to meet with doctors this week to get a better idea of what’s going on. Koepka has been saddled the last few years with injuries to his left knee.
He ended 18 months without winning at the Phoenix Open last month. He was runner-up at the World Golf Championship last week. Koepka is being replaced at The Players Championship by Anirban Lahiri.