Update on the latest sports
Cavs outscore Raptors
UNDATED (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers picked up a huge win as they try to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
LeBron James, Kevin Love and George Hill combined for 80 points and the Cavs ended Toronto’s nine-game road winning streak by downing the Raptors, 132-129. James finished with 35 points and had 17 assists for the Cavaliers, who were missing five rotational players and coach Tyronn Lue. Love added 23 points and 12 rebounds in his second game since missing 21 straight with a broken left hand. Hill provided 22 points on 10 of 11 shooting as the Cavaliers won their third in a row.
The Raptors now lead the Eastern Conference by 4 ½ games over Boston.
Cleveland was able to move 1 ½ games ahead of Indiana as the two teams battle for the third seed in the East and the Central Division title.
Anthony Davis delivered 28 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as the Pelicans downed the Pacers, 96-92. Davis hit a 15-foot baseline fade, a gritty put-back and two free throws in the final minute to help New Orleans secure its third straight win and stay in a virtual tie with San Antonio for sixth place in the West.
Checking out Wednesday’s other NBA action:
— The Spurs won their fifth in a row as LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and nine rebounds in a 98-90 verdict over the Wizards. Aldridge scored nine points during a 23-9 run that gave San Antonio a 17-point lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.
— The 76ers are a season-high 10 games over .500 after Robert Covington, J.J. Redick and Dario Saric each had 15 points in a 119-105 win over the Grizzlies. Ben Simmons had 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Sixers, who won their fourth in a row and moved into fourth place in the East.
— The Heat rolled to a 119-98 win over the Knicks behind Kelly Olynyk’s 22 points and career-high 10 assists. Tyler Johnson also had 22 points as Miami stayed in seventh in the Eastern Conference.
— DeAndre Jordan’s 25 points and 22 boards highlighted the Clippers’ 127-120 victory at Milwaukee. Austin Rivers added 22 points and Lou Williams scored 19 as Los Angeles rebounded from Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota. The Bucks finished the game without All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOOM’-poh) because of a right ankle sprain late in the first half.
— The Nuggets blew out the Bulls, 135-102 as Paul Millsap had team highs of 22 points and eight rebounds. Nikola Jokic chipped in 21 points on 9 of 11 shooting for Denver, which had dropped two straight to fall 1 ½ games out of a Western Conference playoff slot.
— Dwight Howard grabbed 30 rebounds while scoring 32 points on 10 of 17 shooting as the Hornets rallied to beat the Nets, 111-105. Kemba Walker had 24 points for Charlotte, which trailed by 19 before outscoring Brooklyn 68-43 in the second half.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-BIG EAST RECOMMENDATION
Big East seeks “two-or-none” requirement
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Big East has recommended replacing the NBA’s so-called one-and-done rule with a “none-or-two” requirement in college basketball. The conference also seeks NCAA regulation of agents and the creation an elite player unit to focus on “players with realistic aspirations of playing in the NBA.”
The Big East’s recommendations come a week after a similar report by the Pac-12 for NCAA’s commission of college basketball. The commission was created in response to a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball.
Louisville parts ways with Padgett, begins search for coach
UNDATED (AP) — Deandre Ayton is one-and-done at Arizona.
The Wildcats freshman has announced that he’s giving up his college eligibility to enter the upcoming NBA draft. He is expected to be a lottery pick in the draft, if not the first overall selection.
The 7-foot-1, 260-pound Ayton was named the Pac-12 player of the year this season after averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds.
Also at Tucson, Sean Miller is off the list of potential coaches at Pitt. The Wildcats head coach says he isn’t a candidate for the Pitt vacancy created when Kevin Stallings was fired earlier this month.
In other college basketball news:
— Louisville has let David Padgett go after one season as the Cardinals’ interim men’s basketball coach. Padgett went 22-14 and guided the team to the NIT quarterfinals. He was elevated from assistant to interim coach after the school placed coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave following its acknowledgement that it was being investigated in a federal corruption probe of college basketball.
— Dana Ford is the new head coach at Missouri State after four seasons at Tennessee State. Ford led the Tigers to a 52-39 mark over the last three seasons following a 5-26 record in his first campaign. Ford replaces Paul Lusk, who was fired after going 105-121 in seven seasons.
— North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts says sophomore Omer Yurtseven intends to pursue a professional career or transfer. Yurtseven averaged 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Wolfpack, shooting 57 percent from the floor and 22 of 44 from beyond the arc.
— Wake Forest says redshirt junior Keyshawn Woods is leaving the program. The guard will graduate in May and either begin his professional career or play next season elsewhere as a graduate transfer. Woods averaged 12.2 points while shooting nearly 41 percent from 3-point range during the past two seasons at Wake Forest.
Pens beat Habs
UNDATED (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins blew an early 2-0 lead before climbing within two points of the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.
Derick Brassard snapped a 3-3 tie with a power-play goal early in the third period before the Pens completed a 5-3 victory over the Canadiens. Jake Guentzel (GEHNT’-sul) set up Brassard’s game-winner and finished with a goal and two assists to help Pittsburgh beat Montreal for the second time in a week.
Evgeni Malkin notched his 41st goal and had an assist as he tries to chase down Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (KOO’-cheh-rahv) in the league scoring race. Malkin and Colorado’s Nathan McKinnon are tied for second for the Art Ross Trophy, three points behind Kucherov.
Pens captain Sidney Crosby provided a highlight-reel goal and became the third active player with 700 career assists.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— The Blues are within one point of a Western Conference playoff berth after Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the night 30 seconds into overtime to give St. Louis its fifth win in six games, 2-1 over Boston. Ryan Donato scored for the Bruins, who clinched a playoff berth and moved within four points of the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning.
— John Gibson picked up his fourth shutout of the season by handling 29 shots in the Ducks’ 4-0 win against the Flames in Calgary. Andrew Cogliano opened the scoring with a short-handed goal in the first period to help the Ducks move one point ahead of the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division.
— Derek Stepan (STEP’-ahn) had a goal and an assist and Antti Raanta (AN’-tee RAHN’-tah) stopped 29 shots as the Coyotes downed the Sabres, 4-1. Clayton Keller had two assists to reach 55 points, setting the team record for the most by a rookie.
NHL GMs call for change on goalie interference challenges
NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL could change its goaltender interference rules as soon as the playoffs that begin April 11.
The league’s general managers recommended shifting the decision on a coach’s challenge for goalie interference from on-ice officials to the league’s situation room in Toronto. The board of governors and NHL/NHL Players’ Association competition committee must approve the change for it to go into effect.
The league says no changes are being made to the standard by which goalie interference is judged, just the way it’s determined.
NFL competition committee to recommend catch rule changes
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL’s catch rule would get less complicated if team owners approve recommendations from the powerful competition committee.
One of the first orders of business when the league’s annual meetings begin Monday will be a proposal by the committee to clarify what is a catch. Commissioner Roger Goodell said during the week of the Super Bowl he would urge simplification of the rules.
NFL football operations chief Troy Vincent says: “Catch/no catch is at the top of everyone’s minds.”
In other NFL news:
— A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that the Cowboys have worked out a two-year package with free-agent linebacker Joe Thomas. Thomas started eight of his 42 games the past three seasons for the Packers and was a contributor on special teams.
— The Lions have signed tight end Luke Willson, adding a potential starter in place of Eric Ebron. Willson has 89 career catches for 1,129 yards with 11 touchdowns in 72 games, all with the Seahawks.
— The Chiefs have inked defensive tackle Xavier Williams after the Cardinals declined to match Kansas City’s offer for the restricted free agent. The 6-foot-2, 309-pound Williams started twice and appeared in 23 games over the past two seasons in Arizona, making 28 tackles and earning a reputation as someone who can plug up the run.
— The Colts are bringing back offensive lineman Jack Mewhort and cornerback Pierre Desir. Mewhort has started at right guard and right tackle before settling in at left guard. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Desir made six starts in an injury-riddled secondary last season and finished with 32 tackles and one interception.
— The Vikings have re-signed kicker Kai Forbath to a one-year contract after his strong finish last season. Forbath finished 16th in the NFL in the regular season with an 84.2 field goal percentage.
— The Patriots have re-signed special teams captain Matt Slater, who has played all 10 of his seasons with New England since being taken in the 10th round of the 2008 draft. Slater has been selected to the Pro Bowl as a special teamer seven straight times.
— The Falcons have added depth at tight end by agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with seven-year veteran Logan Paulsen. Paulsen played 14 games for the 49ers last season without catching a pass, but he had a career-high 28 receptions for the 2013 Redskins.
— The Raiders have signed free agent linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, who has played 71 games over six seasons with Cincinnati and Minnesota. Lamur is the third linebacker to sign with Oakland this month, following Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Wilbur.
— The Broncos signed unrestricted free agent Clinton McDonald to a two-year contract. He had five sacks in 14 games with the Buccaneers last season.
Cobb, O’s finalize deal
UNDATED (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles’ starting rotation just got stronger after the club finalized a four-year package with Alex Cobb.
The six-year veteran was the last big-name starting pitcher still available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joins recently-signed hurlers Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
The 30-year-old righty was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts for Tampa Bay last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.
In other major league news:
— Mariners reliever David Phelps will need Tommy John surgery that will keep him out of action until next year. Phelps tore his ulnar Collateral ligament on the final pitch of his previous outing March 17 against the Angels.
— Left-hander Brett Anderson has reached agreement on a minor league contract with the Athletics, returning to the club where he broke into the big leagues. The 30-year-old spent the 2009-13 seasons with the A’s before being traded to the Rockies in December 2013.
— The baseball Hall of Fame says it no longer will use the Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo for plaques of new members. In a statement, the Hall said Wednesday that it “concurs with the commissioner’s sentiment and acknowledges the shifting societal view of Native American logos in baseball.”
McIlroy beaten in opening round
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Fresh off a victory at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy couldn’t win his opening-round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play.
McIlroy was 5 down with five holes to play when he ran off three straight birdies, but the rally wasn’t enough in a 2-and-1 loss to Peter Uihlein.
Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson also dropped their opening-round match. Bernd Wiesberger ended Johnson’s seven-match winning streak with a 3-and-1 decision. Mickelson carded just one birdie in a loss to Charles Howell III.
Matt Kuchar (KOO’-chur) was 4 up with four holes to play when Zach Johnson won the last four holes with birdies to halve the match.
Jordan Spieth (speeth) won three straight holes and outlasted Charl Schwartzel in a battle of former Masters champions. Justin Thomas, Jon Ramm, Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia and Jason Day join Spieth among top-10 seeds to either win or halve their matches.
Joseph Parker punching harder after surgery, team says
LONDON (AP) — Joseph Parker’s team says the WBO heavyweight champion is at “maximum speed and power” ahead of his unification fight against Anthony Joshua.
Parker underwent elbow surgery in November in his native New Zealand to deal with “pain and restriction” in both arms.
His team says “the results of the surgery have been nothing less than fantastic with Parker regaining maximum speed and power for the first time since 2016.”
The surgeon who operated on Parker, Craig Ball, says the surgery has given Parker a greater range of motion and taken away pain.
Parker is hoping to take Joshua’s WBA, IBF and IBO belts in the fight on March 31 in Cardiff.