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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE PHOENIX SUNS...
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The Suns held off the Nuggets, 129-124 to even their Western Conference semifinal at 2-2.
- Booker and Durant both scored 36 points, Booker on 14-18 shooting and Durant on 11-19.
- It's just the second time in playoff history a pair of teammates have scored 35+ points on under 20 shots in the same game. LeBron James and Anthony Davis did it against the Trail Blazers in 2020.
- Jokic, meanwhile, went for a Nuggets playoff-record 53 points and added 11 assists.
- The biggest thing separating the two teams? Role players: Landry Shamet nailed five 3-pointers (the Nuggets only made seven as a team), and the Phoenix bench outscored Denver's 40-11.
The numbers for Booker -- and there are plenty -- are stunning. But how about this? He's the first player in NBA history with consecutive playoff games of 35 points on at least 75% shooting. Here's our Sam Quinn on how :
- Quinn: "'NBA history' is a phrase you're going to hear plenty of as Booker's scorching streak continues. It may only be the second round, but Booker is making history every time he steps on the floor. At this rate, he is going to make a genuine argument for the title of 'best offensive postseason in NBA history.'"
Oh, and one other thing: Remember when I said this could be an all-time series? Please, NBA, don't letbe anything more than the technical Jokic received.
... AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
- Harden swished home the game-winning 3-pointer with 19 seconds left -- the final three of his game-high 42 points. He made Jaylen Brown , notes our Brad Botkin. Harden also forced overtime with a tough lefty runner.
- The Celtics Marcus Smart's hands as time expired. , with the ball clearly still in
- Joel Embiid finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds and had the assist on Harden's game-winner.
- Harden's clutch shots saved what would have been an absolute gut punch of a loss for the 76ers, who led by as much as 16. Jayson Tatum scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half to lead the charge.
Harden joined Allen Iverson as the only other 76er with multiple 40-point games in a single postseason; Harden's other one came in Game 1, when heand Philadelphia won without Embiid.
Harden has had plenty of playoff duds -- his awful Games 2 and 3 among them -- but he has been absolutely terrific outside of that, and Game 4 was no exception. With Embiid absolutely gassed down the stretch, Harden had 13 of the 76ers' 24 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. This was vintage Harden when the 76ers needed him most.
- Sunday's NHL winners: the Devils, Panthers and Kraken.
- Congrats to Ray Allen for UConn.
- Miami in Matthew Cleveland.
- Wyndham Clark won the Wells Fargo Championship, his first career PGA Tour victory.
- Denny Hamlin won the AdventHealth 400.
Not so honorable mentions
- Immanuel Quickley for tonight.
- Athletics announcer Glen Kuiper .
Mage wins Kentucky Derby as Javier Castellano finally breaks through 🏇
Javier Castellano summed up Mage's magical run to win the Kentucky Derby perfectly: "He's a little horse but [has] a big heart."
- The horse with 15/1 odds emerged from near the back of the pack to charge past Two Phil's on the final straightaway and win by a length. Angel of Empire finished third.
- Castellano -- the Hall-of-Fame jockey with two Preakness Stakes wins and one Breeders' Cup victory -- was 0-15 at the Kentucky Derby coming into the weekend.
- Mage's win was a big win for Venezuela, home country of both Castellano and trainer Gustavo Delgado.
- Pre-race favorite Forte was scratched hours before the race. Skinner, Practical Move, Lord Miles and Continuar were also scratched.
Mage's win capped a tumultuous week at Churchill Downs, where. One of the seven, Wild on Ice, was in the Derby field before suffering an injury Thursday and being euthanized. Churchill Downs is investigating the string of deaths.
Bronny James' commitment to USC brings LeBron James' dream one step closer 🏀
Bronny James, the son of LeBron James, has finally chosen a college, and he isn't going far from home. The 26th-ranked player in the class of 2023 per 247Sports has USC, a massive get for a Trojans program trending majorly upward.
- James chose USC over Oregon and Ohio State.
- He joins Isaiah Collier (No. 2 recruit in the class) and Arrinten Page (No. 51) in one of the nation's top classes.
With a loaded 2023 class joining an NCAA Tournament core including Boogie Ellis, Kobe Johnson, Joshua Morgan and Vincent Iwuchukwu, the Trojans are up to 13th in.
Bronny James, obviously, has been a big name seemingly forever, and, notes our Kyle Boone.
- Boone: "James' meteoric rise has made possible the potential that he could play together -- either in the same league or on the same team -- in the NBA with his father as soon as 2024. The elder James, who has long publicly stated his desire to play with his son in the NBA before retirement, has a contract with the Lakers that runs through 2024 and has a player option in 2025."
MLB Power Rankings and weekend recap, plus remembering Vida Blue ⚾
In baseball, it's still early until it's too late. A slow spring can give way to a blistering summer in a flash. But slow springs still aren't ideal, and two teams with high expectations need to turn things around quickly.
The Metswith a loss to the Rockies and have now lost consecutive series to the Nationals, Tigers and Rockies. The Mets rank 20th or worse in batting average, runs per game and hits per game, and , writes our Mike Axisa.
At least the Mets aren't struggling as much as the Cardinals, who finally snapped an eight-game losing streak Sunday. St. Louis has been a mess early on, with prized offseason acquisition Willson Contreras already. The Cardinals are the focus of Matt Snyder's Power Rankings this week, .
As for who is doing well in the Power Rankings, here's the top five:
- 1. Rays (prev: 1)
- 2. Braves (prev: 3)
- 3. Orioles (prev: 5)
- 4. Dodgers (prev: 6)
- 5. Rangers (prev: 10)
And here's more news from the weekend:
- Ronald Acuña Jr.
- Eloy Jiménez is after an appendectomy.
- The Astros got bad news (Luis Garcia is ) and good news (Jose Altuve is ) on the injury front.
Finally, MLB lost an icon this weekend in Vida Blue,.
- A key member of the Athletics' three-peat from 1972-74, Blue won MVP and Cy Young in 1971 and made six All-Star Games over his storied career. He also played for the Giants and Royals.
- In that aforementioned 1971 season, Blue went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA and 0.95 WHIP and, at 22 years old, became the youngest AL MVP of the 20th century.
- Blue was suspended for the 1984 season for attempting to purchase cocaine but returned to pitch for the Giants in 1985 and 1986.
- As part of a statement, the Athletics said, "There are few players with a more decorated career than Vida Blue. ... Vida will always be a franchise legend and a friend."