2023 NBA Playoffs -  Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets
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This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


You find out how good a team is when things are going well -- when the shots are going in, the wins are piling up and everyone is contributing. You find out how great a team is when things are going poorly -- when the shots aren't falling, when things seem on the verge of falling apart.

Thursday, we found out -- or, rather, were reminded -- just how great Jamal Murray and the Nuggets are as they rallied past the Lakers, 108-103, to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.

  • Murray erupted for 23 points on 6-7 shooting (4-5 on 3-pointers) in the fourth quarter and nearly outscored the Lakers by himself (24-23). He had just 14 points on 5-17 shooting through three quarters.
  • It was Murray's fourth career 20-point fourth quarter in the playoffs. Over the last 25 postseasons, only one other player has done that even twice: Allen Iverson.
  • Nikola Jokić had another triple-double: 23 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists. He has seven triple-doubles this postseason, tying Wilt Chamberlain (in 1967) for most in a single postseason. Reminder: Jokić has only played 13 games this postseason.
  • LeBron James had 22 points but also fumbled a wide-open dunk out of bounds -- one of several uncharacteristic misses -- and appeared to hurt his ankle late.
  • The Lakers also got big contributions from Austin Reaves (22 points) and Rui Hachimura (21), but Anthony Davis's maddeningly inconsistent playoffs continued. He had 18 points on just 4-15 shooting and had four turnovers.

Jokić may be the two-time MVP and face of the franchise, but Murray's fourth-quarter heroics reminded everyone he's an offensive force as well, writes our Colin Ward-Henninger.

  • Ward-Henninger: "This is just a transcendent player doing things that few humans on this planet can do -- on the biggest stage, no less. ... With Jokić playing at such a tremendous level, it's almost unfair that in crunch time the Nuggets can turn to Murray, who has a penchant for temporarily shape-shifting into Steph Curry at a moment's notice."

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...

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The career of one of the grandest legends and greatest champions in all of sports is winding down. Rafael Nadal will not compete at the French Open, where he's a 14-time champion and the reigning champion, due to a nagging hip injury suffered at the Australian Open.

Furthermore, Nadal, 36, expects 2024 to be his final season.

  • Nadal and the red clay of Roland Garros form an iconic duo. His 14 titles there are more than double any other man (Björn Borg has six) and four more than any other player-major pair (Novak Djokovic has 10 Australian Open titles).
  • Nadal owns an astonishing 112-3 record in 18 appearances at the French Open
  • However, Nadal is much more than the king of clay. His 22 slams are tied with Djokovic for most ever by a man.
  • Nadal said his motivation to return is "to try and enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important to me." He has not, however, set a target return date.

I won't wax poetic too much: It's a massive disappointment that Nadal is missing the French Open. For Nadal. For the French Open. For the tennis community. For the sports community. There are few things more inspiring than watching Nadal battle -- and overcome -- opponents, injury, age and the grueling clay. The 112-3 record is just bonkers.

Roland Garros, simply put, won't be the same. With Nadal out, fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz is the men's favorite, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Iga Swiatek is the women's favorite.

Not so honorable mentions

Panthers take Game 1 in four (!) overtimes, plus WCF expert picks 🏒

Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game One
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They played and played and played some more. The longest game in both Panthers and Hurricanes history finally ended in the fourth overtime last night, with Matthew Tkachuk netting the game-winner in Game 1.

  • It was the sixth-longest playoff game in NHL history.
  • It nearly ended much, much earlier. Florida's Ryan Lomberg appeared to score the game-winner just over three minutes into the first overtime. After a lengthy review, though, the goal was overturned for goaltender interference on Colin White.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves for Florida. Frederik Andersen had 57 for Carolina.

The Western Conference Final, meanwhile, gets underway tonight, and here's our Chris Bengel's series pick.

  • Bengel: "I've really liked what I've seen from this Stars team in these playoffs. ... Jake Oettinger has showcased his ability as an elite netminder when the lights are the brightest. ... On top of that, the Stars have a very dangerous offense, which includes the postseason's second leading scorer Roope Hintz. I'm banking on Oettinger to shine and the Stars to do enough to take this series. Pick -- Stars beat Golden Knights 4-3"

PGA Championship Day 1 recap: DeChambeau, Scheffler near top while Rahm struggles 🏌


A frigid morning gave way to a pleasant afternoon Thursday at the PGA Championship, though not everyone heated up like the weather: World No. 1 and Masters champion Jon Rahm shot a shocking six-over 76, 11 shots behind Eric Cole, who only got though 14 holes after frost delayed the start of play., by the end of Thursday.

Rahm entered this week as co-favorites with Scottie Scheffler, but their days couldn't have gone much differently. Rahm's completely out of the picture while Scheffler (-3) tied with Cole thru the first round.

Cole, a 34-year-old playing in his second career major (he missed the cut at the 2021 U.S. Open) has big names to compete with up top, namely Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. DeChambeau, who missed the cut at the Masters, surprised even himself with his play, writes our Kyle Porter.

  • Porter: "'Hitting the driver straight, finally,' he said while explaining what was most surprising about his opening 18 holes. DeChambeau hit nine of 14 fairways on Thursday. ... It's good to have him back, too. His press conference was an amalgamation of scientific tangents, body breakdowns and psychological riffing. In other words, a Bryson-like press conference. He clearly remains the high king of golf content."

Also the king of golf content? Tom Kim hilariously losing a battle with the mud.

You can see the live leaderboard here, our Round 1 breakdown here and Round 2 tee times here.

WNBA season preview: Title picks, top 25 players, more 🏀

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The superteam era has dawned in the WNBA, making this season one of the most anticipated ever. We're here to preview it with the action getting underway tonight.

Let's start with Jack Maloney's Power Rankings, and, just like how last season ended, everyone is chasing the Aces, who added Candace Parker. But the Liberty went all-in this offseason, adding Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot to a core that already featured Sabrina Ionescu and Marine Johannes.

Stewart is No. 1 in our Top 25 player rankings.

  • 1. Breanna Stewart, Liberty
  • 2. A'ja Wilson, Aces
  • 3. Jonquel Jones, Liberty
  • 4. Kelsey Plum, Aces
  • 5. Elena Delle Donne, Mystics (who is finally healthy)

So, who wins it all? Here's Jack's pick:

  • Maloney: "Liberty over Aces -- The Liberty have more depth, but the defending champs have more continuity, and each should be incredible on both sides of the floor. This is truly a toss-up, but the Liberty get the nod in part because it's extremely difficult to repeat in this league; no team has done so since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002."

Here's what else to know:

What we're watching this weekend 📺

⛳ We're watching the PGA Championship all weekend.


🏀 Heat at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. on TNT
🏒 Stars at Golden Knights, 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Mercury at Sparks, 11 p.m. on ESPN


🏀 Aces at Storm, 3 p.m. on ABC
Brewers at Rays, 4:10 p.m. on FS1
🏒 Panthers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Nuggets at Lakers, 8:30 p.m. on ABC


🏒 Stars at Golden Knights, 3 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Sky at Mercury, 4 p.m. on ESPN
Guardians at Mets, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Celtics at Heat, 8:30 p.m. on TNT