Pennsylvania Sports

Embiid leaves with sore knee, 76ers lose to Wizards 122-114

WASHINGTON (AP) — After the Philadelphia 76ers lost NBA MVP finalist Joel Embiid to what the team called a sore right knee late in the first quarter Monday night, they lost their lead — and their chance at the franchise’s first playoff sweep in 36 years.
With Embiid gone for most of Game 4, Bradley Beal’s 27 points, Russell Westbrook’s 12th career playoff triple-double and Washington’s strategy of fouling Ben Simmons whenever possible down the stretch all helped the Wizards beat the 76ers 122-114 to cut Philadelphia’s series edge to 3-1.
“Each guy thought they had to win the game for us,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said about what happened to his team’s offense after Embiid departed. “You’ve still got to play right. … Tonight we didn’t play right, on either end.”
Asked for more information about Embiid’s knee, Rivers said, “I really don’t know,” and added that some “precautionary” tests will be done Tuesday.
Tobias Harris, who led the Sixers with 21 points and 13 rebounds, summed up his club’s situation this way: “It’s not the end of the world.”
Simmons’ take?
“Obviously,” Simmons said, “we need Joel to win. He’s a big part of this team.”
Game 5 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series is Wednesday at Philadelphia.
Won’t be easy for that one to be as eventful as this one was, including the third-quarter sight of a spectator running out of the stands and onto the court before being slammed to the ground by a security guard — the latest example of NBA Fans Gone Wild.
“It’s actually embarrassing,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Unacceptable.”
Nothing had as much of an effect on the outcome and, potentially, the rest of this postseason for Philadelphia, the East’s No. 1 seed, as what happened to Embiid, who came into the night averaging better than a point per minute in the series.
In Game 3’s 29-point win for the 76ers, for example, he produced a playoff career-high 36 points in 28 minutes against the Wizards, who needed to go through the play-in round just to get the No. 8 seed.
But the center headed to the locker room late in the first quarter after taking a hard fall behind the baseline when his shot was blocked by Robin Lopez. Embiid tried to play on, wincing and leaning over during breaks in play, before checking out eventually and limping off.
He never returned and finished with eight points and six rebounds in 11 minutes.
“We took advantage of what was on the floor,” Beal said.
Philadelphia led by as many as 11 in the opening period but that was down to 61-60 at halftime.
And Washington took over briefly in the third quarter, leading by as much as 92-78 in its final minute. A back-and-forth fourth quarter was tight down the stretch after Danny Green’s layup with under 4 1/2 minutes to go made it 106-all.
That’s when Washington basically took the ball out of Philadelphia’s hands, sending Simmons to the line repeatedly down the stretch with a version of the old Hack-a-Shaq strategy that Shaquille O’Neal used to face.
“Obviously that’s what they’re going to do. That’s what they should do,” Rivers said. “And I’m OK with that.”
Simmons came into the night 0 for 9 on free throws in the series and was 1 for 3 for the night before Hack-a-Ben went into full effect — he made 1 of 2 tries each of the final four times he stepped to the line to end up 5 for 11.
Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Simmons had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Asked by a reporter about keeping Simmons in the game while Washington repeatedly fouled him, Rivers replied: “You want me to take Ben Simmons off the floor? No. He’s pretty good. I’ll pass on that suggestion.”
Rui Hachimura had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, including a corner 3 off an assist from Beal to put the home team up 118-112 with 45.6 seconds left.
“He’s growing up, right in front of our eyes,” Brooks said about 2019 first-round draft pick Hachimura.
As the clock wound down, a chant of “Wiz in 7!” arose from some in the crowd of 10,665 — about 50% of capacity and the most allowed under current coronavirus restrictions.
The Sixers last swept a playoff opponent in 1985 against Milwaukee; the Wizards last were swept in 2007 by Cleveland.
76ers: Embiid missed 10 games during the regular season after getting a bone bruise on his left knee while playing against Washington in March. … Mike Scott, who used to play for the Wizards, took Embiid’s spot in the lineup to begin the second half.
Wizards: Beal surpassed 1,000 career postseason points. … Hachimura was called for a technical foul in the third quarter. … Bertans left in the second half with a strained right calf. He scored 15 points. … Daniel Gafford replaced Alex Len in the starting lineup and scored 12 points.
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Mondesi, Minor lead Royals to 7-3 win over Pirates

By DAVID SMALE Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Adalberto Mondesi hit a two-run homer before injuring his hamstring, Mike Minor pitched six solid innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 on Monday night.
Mondesi tweaked his left hamstring when he charged a slow roller in the eighth. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.
“I hated to see him come out of the game right there,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “That was a really good play. There aren’t many shortstops in the league that can make that play. He had to take a full burst to make it happen.”
The Royals have won 10 of 16 to get back to .500 for the first time since an 11-game losing streak dropped them four games below.
Minor (4-2) allowed two runs and five hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
“A quality start and a win, so it was good,” Minor said. “I feel like I made some mistakes like every game. But I didn’t give up a whole lot of hard-hit balls.”
Chad Kuhl (0-2) took the loss in his return from the injured list. He gave up three runs and six hits in four innings.
“I thought the slider was good,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “He got stronger as the game went on. He was a little inconsistent with his fastball early on, but settled down and the pitch limit just got to him.”
Bryan Reynolds homered and drove in two runs for Pittsburgh.
The Pirates got a run in the first on an RBI groundout by Reynolds after Adam Frazier led off with a double.
Whit Merrifield opened the bottom half with a double and scored on a two-out single by Salvador Perez.
The Royals added two in the second. Edward Olivares was hit by a pitch and scored on Hunter Dozier’s double. Dozier then scored on a shift-beating single by Kelvin Gutierrez. Kansas City loaded the bases but couldn’t score any more.
“I feel good and the swing feels pretty good,” Dozier said of his recent production. “I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now.”
The Pirates got within one on a two-out single in the third by Jacob Stallings that scored Kevin Newman.
Mondesi hit a 417-foot drive beyond the bullpen in right field to give the Royals a 5-2 lead in the sixth. It was the second home run of the year for Mondesi, who was playing in his first home game this season.
“That ball was hammered,” Matheny said. “He wasn’t trying to do too much. He’s really been in a good place. That gave us a little bit of breathing room.”
Reynolds connected on a long home run to straightaway center field in the eighth.
The Royals got two runs in the bottom half. Gutierrez’s fielder’s choice drove in Nicky Lopez, and Michael A. Taylor’s double scored Gutierrez.
Pirates: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (left wrist strain) is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. In seven games, he has gone 6 for 24 (.250) with two doubles, two homers and three RBIs. … LHP Austin Davis (left elbow sprain) has allowed two hits and one run while striking out 15 batters in a combined 7 1/3 innings of work in six rehab games between Class A Bradenton and Indianapolis. … INF Colin Moran (left groin strain) and OF Phillip Evans (left hamstring strain) are expected to begin rehab assignments with Indianapolis this week.
RHP Nick Mears was optioned to Indianapolis to make room for Kuhl, who had been sidelined with right shoulder discomfort since April 18. In two rehab starts at Triple-A, he gave up two hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings.
Pirates RHP Wil Crowe (0-3, 5.67 ERA) gets the ball for the finale of the two-game series. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings in his most recent start and has permitted seven earned runs in his last 6 1/3 innings.
Royals RHP Brady Singer (2-4, 4.91) looks to rebound after a tough outing at Tampa Bay. He allowed six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
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Fans Gone Wild: Spectator runs out on court during NBA game

WASHINGTON (AP) — A fan was tackled after running onto the court during an NBA playoff game between the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, the latest example of unruly behavior as teams let more spectators in the stands during the pandemic.
“You can tell those people have been in some sort of captivity for the last year, year and change, right?” Wizards center Robin Lopez said. “It’s kind of wild to see the liberties people are taking.”
The players were heading toward Washington’s basket in the third quarter of the home team’s 122-114 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round series when the action was halted because of the intruder, who jumped as if pretending to try to dunk.
A security guard grabbed and held down the person near the baseline as 76ers center Dwight Howard stood nearby.
The fan was escorted away from the court and play resumed after a brief interruption.
“I don’t know what he was trying to do,” Washington forward Rui Hachimura said. “I think they’re just excited to come back. But they’ve got to be more respectful of us as players. They think they can do whatever they want.”
After beginning this season with zero spectators allowed at its arena, Washington has steadily increased the capacity to the point where Monday’s contest had an announced attendance of 10,665, roughly 50% of what the place holds.
“The stuff that’s been happening over the last week — we all know that fans shouldn’t be doing that stuff. That shouldn’t happen during the game,” Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal said. “Just sit there and enjoy the game or stay home and watch it on TV. We’re fortunate nobody got hurt.”
During this series, Washington guard Russell Westbrook had popcorn dumped on him as he walked to the locker room after getting injured in Game 2 at Philadelphia.
“I don’t know what’s going on with these fans right now,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “We’ve just got to have safety.”
On Sunday in the Celtics-Nets series, Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving was nearly hit by a bottle thrown from the stands during a game in Boston.
Earlier, in New York, a spectator spit at Atlanta’s Trae Young as he prepared to inbound the ball during the Knicks-Hawks series.
Three fans were banned in Utah after Grizzlies guard Ja Morant said they “just went too far” with him or his family.
“NBA has great fans. I played in Philadelphia; they have great fans. They had one knucklehead that decided to throw popcorn. Boston has great fans. One knucklehead decided to throw a water bottle. New York has great fans; one knucklehead decided to spit on somebody. We have great fans. One knucklehead decided to come into the arena,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
“It’s unacceptable,” Brooks said. “I’m tired of it. We all deserve better.”
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Przybylko, Blake help Union cruise to 3-0 win over Timbers

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Kacper Przybylko had a goal and an assist and Andre Blake made four saves to help the Philadelphia Union beat the Portland Timbers 3-0 on Sunday night.
Blake has three consecutive shutouts and four in his last five games. Philadelphia (4-2-2) has allowed just goal during that span.
Przybylko opened the scoring in the 26th minute, heading home a perfectly placed ball by Kai Wagner from the middle third to the top of the 6-yard box.
Portland (3-4-0), which had won back-to-back games by a combined score of 5-0, was scoreless for the first time since a 1-0 loss to Vancouver in the opener.
Sergio Santos re-directed a header by Przybylko, off a corner kick by Wagner, into the net to make it 2-0 in the 31st minute and Jack Elliott tapped a right-footer into an empty net from point-blank range to cap the scoring in the 63rd.
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Schrock 3 extra-base hits, leads Miley, Reds over Phils 11-1

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Max Schrock homered, tripled and doubled before leaving with a leg injury, Wade Miley pitched six solid innings and the Cincinnati Reds cruised past the Philadelphia Phillies 11-1 on Monday.
Kyle Farmer homered and drove in five runs as Cincinnati sent the Phillies to their third straight loss.
Miley (5-4) came off the 10-day injured list and showed no ill effects from a sore foot. He gave up a run and six hits while striking out six. Three Reds relievers allowed just two hits the rest of the way.
“The offense did a great job, first and foremost,” Miley said. “We came out early and tacked on some runs and kept adding and kept adding. It makes it a lot easier, a lot less stressful in those innings where (the Phillies) had a couple guys on.”
Schrock, pushed into service lately because of injuries in the Reds infield, drove in three runs. He hit a two-run homer in a four-run second and an RBI triple in the fifth.
The 26-year-old rookie doubled in the seventh, but then had to leave for a pinch-runner. Manager David Bell said Schrock likely strained his calf running out the hit and might end up on the injured list.
Farmer’s fourth homer of the season was a two-run drive in the third. He added an RBI single in fifth and a bases-loaded double in the seventh.
“I think I was like 0-for-the century coming into today, so it takes a little weight off my shoulders,” Farmer joked. “It feels great to get three hits. It especially feels good (because) it’s not like you’re getting hits and no runs are coming in — you’re helping the team put up some runs. That’s the biggest thing.”
Nick Castellanos’ single leading off the fifth inning extended his hitting streak to 17 games, and his .356 batting average batting average leads the majors. The Reds right fielder also made a spectacular defensive play, going back to the wall and leaping to snag a deep drive off the bat of Andrew McCutchen in the second.
Tyler Naquin drove in two more for Cincinnati with a bases-loaded single in the second.
Vince Velasquez (2-1) was tagged for six runs on five hits and three walks in three innings.
Odúbel Herrera had three hits for the Phillies, who have lost nine of 12.
“I think they are grinding,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We didn’t give any at-bats away. We had a lot of runners on, we just didn’t get any hits with runners on.
“I feel like it gives the other team momentum when you don’t score in those opportunities,” Girardi said. “We just got behind early.”
Another of the baseball’s hottest hitters got a day off. Jesse Winker, whose .348 average is second in the majors to teammate Castellanos, was rested Monday by manager David Bell. Winker, with 13 homers and 29 RBIs, is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday night.
The Reds offense was instead led by Schrock and Farmer, both of whom entered the game hitting under .200.
“That’s what a team is all about,” Bell said. “It’s tough to take Wink out of the lineup, though it was in the best interest of him and our team. Then for the entire lineup, and Wade and the bullpen to come through like that, it was a great day.”
Phillies: OF Roman Quinn is on the 60-day injured list after hurting his left Achilles tendon running the bases. It’s the latest setback in an injury-plagued career for the 28-year-old.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (fractured thumb) played catch on the field before the game. He is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list on Friday. INF Mike Moustakas (heel), who has been on the injured list since May 20, also was running on the field. There was no word on when they might return.
The Reds send RHP Sonny Gray (1-3) to the mound Tuesday against Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (3-4). Gray allowed just two hits and struck out five in six innings in a 3-0 win over the Nationals Thursday. Coming off a tough stretch, Nola allowed one run in six innings in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Marlins.
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Arrieta makes triumphant return as Cubs beat Pirates 5-1

CHICAGO (AP) — Jake Arrieta pitched six solid innings in a triumphant return to the Cubs, Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward homered, and Chicago beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Arrieta (1-0) got a warm reception prior to the game, then gave up just one run and six hits. The 35-year-old right-hander struck out five and walked one.
Arrieta played 4 1/2 years for Chicago, winning a Cy Young Award and a World Series, before signing with Philadelphia in March 2018. He returned to the Cubs in February for a $6 million, one-year contract.
“I’ve been anticipating this day for awhile,” he said.
The Cubs have, too.
“It brought back good memories of having him on the mound and pitching against the Pirates, good memories of him doing that a lot,” Bryant said.
One of Arrieta’s most memorable performances with the Cubs was his five-hit shutout in the 2015 wild-card game at Pittsburgh. He struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.
The Cubs beat St. Louis in their division series before losing to the Mets in the NLCS. A year later, they won it all, ending a championship drought dating to 1908.
Arrieta said he spent the past few days riding his electric scooter around the city, taking in the familiar old sights and mingling with the fans as much as he can.
“I look forward to more scooter rides, meeting more people,” he said.
Bryant made it 3-1 in the third with a solo homer to the center-field basket against Tyler Anderson, pointing to his baby son in the stands after crossing the plate. Heyward bumped the lead to three with a long drive to the right-field bleachers off Clay Holmes in the sixth. And the Cubs added another run in the seventh when Bryant walked and scored.
Javier Báez singled twice, drove in a run and scored one. He also stole two bases.
“J-Hey’s home run was loud,” manager David Ross said. “I don’t know if you could tell on TV or in the stadium. It was extremely loud. It was nice to hear that. Up and down the lineup, I thought we did a really good job.”
Heyward called his drive on a 3-1 sinker a reward for “doing things right and being on time.”
“Tried to be aggressive in the zone,” he said. “I feel like like they’ve done a good job these two games attacking us aggressively in certain counts, in certain times and then making us lay off a tough pitch. It was nice to get ahead right there and not miss one.”
Brandon Workman, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel each threw a perfect inning, combining to strike out seven and walk none. The Cubs avoided their first 0-2 start since the 2014 team lost the first two.
Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes left the game because of discomfort in his left wrist. He jammed his hand diving back to first on a pickoff attempt after walking in the first inning.
Hayes scored on Kevin Newman’s two-out single. But Erik González batted for him in the third and remained at third base.
Anderson (0-1) went five innings in his Pirates debut, allowing three runs and five hits. The left-hander, who signed with Pittsburgh in free agency, struck out seven and walked two.
Pirates right-hander Kyle Crick was going through the intake process after being away from the team for the birth of his child. Manager Derek Shelton said he could be cleared as soon as Sunday. Crick had a 1.59 ERA in seven relief appearances last year.
RHP Zach Davies, acquired from San Diego for NL Cy Young Award runner-up Yu Darvish, makes his Cubs debut, while RHP Mitch Keller starts for Pittsburgh on his 25th birthday. Davies was 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts for the Padres last year after playing his first five seasons for Milwaukee. Keller had a 2.91 ERA in five starts for the Pirates.
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Rust’s hat trick leads Penguins past Islanders 6-3

By WILL GRAVES ÀP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bryan Rust sat in the penalty box as the New York Islanders trimmed a three-goal deficit to two, then flirted with cutting it to one as the clock ticked down.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins forward hopped out, however, he found another friendly bounce in a night full of them, pouncing on a clearing attempt and racing down the ice to finish off his fourth career hat trick as the Penguins cooled off New York 6-3 on Saturday night.
“There was a wide array of emotions in the box there,” Rust said.
The only ones he felt afterward were a mixture of jubilation and relief after the Penguins pulled within two points of New York and Washington for the top spot in the crowded East Division. Pittsburgh has won 10 of 13 despite a series of injuries that have decimated its forward group.
The Penguins have kept plugging away anyway. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, Evan Rodrigues added his fourth and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the first time in more than two years as Pittsburgh improved to 5-2 against the Islanders.
“That was a really big win for us because that’s who we’re chasing in the standings,” forward Sam Lafferty said.
The Penguins can catch New York with another win when the teams meet again Monday for the eighth and final time during the regular season.
Mathew Barzal ended a 10-game goal drought by picking up his 10th of the season. Anthony Beauvillier and Jordan Eberle also scored for New York, but the Penguins needed just 26 minutes to Ilya Sorokin on their way to building a 5-0 lead.
The 25-year-old rookie had been unbeaten since mid-February, but his eight-game run — one of them a 2-0 shutout win over the Penguins on Feb. 28 — came to an abrupt end after giving up four goals on nine shots before being replaced by Semyon Varlamov.
“I didn’t see enough from anybody, Ilya included,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “Ilya and the rest of the team. It just wasn’t enough. So change it up. Maybe Varly could stabilize us, and maybe we can crawl back in the game.”
The Penguins are missing five forwards — Evgeni Malkin, Kasperi Kapanen, Jason Zucker, Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev — due to injury. All five play on one of Pittsburgh’s top three lines, leaving in their place a patched-together group that is starting to take some of the scoring load off Crosby, Rust and Jake Guentzel.
On Thursday night, it was recently promoted forward Radim Zohorna scoring on his first shot in the NHL in a shutout victory over the reeling Sabres.
On Saturday night, it was Gaudreau scoring his first NHL goal since Dec. 31, 2018 that got Pittsburgh rolling. He finished off a rush by taking a crossing pass from Lafferty and flipping it over Sorokin’s glove 5:49 into the first period.
Rodrigues made it 2-0 just past the period’s midway point when his shot from the top of the circle threaded through a sea of bodies and into the net. The shots were two of just four the Penguins managed in the first period. The Islanders kept Jarry significantly busier. But when Pittsburgh came out flying in the second, New York had little response.
“I think when you look at the roster right now, some of the guys in the lineup have brought an enthusiasm that (rubs off) on the whole group,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think these guys right now are having a positive impact on our hockey team.”
New York scored three straight, eventually pulling within one on Eberle’s sixth of the season with 2:27 remaining. The Islanders had several chances to get closer thanks to the penalty on Rust. Jarry made a series of quality stops to keep New York at bay, though Barzal liked the way the Islanders tilted the ice in the third.
“We didn’t shrink,” Barzal said. “We tried to push. We had a great push at the end.”
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Leonard leads Clippers past 76ers in Rivers’ first game back

By JOE REEDY AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Terance Mann added a season-high 23 and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 122-112 on Saturday night in their first game against former coach Doc Rivers.
The Clippers won their fifth straight by playing the same type of basketball they did during seven seasons under Rivers — getting points in transition and strong games from Leonard and Paul George, who had 24 points.
“We fell behind early, but kept our composure. We figured it out and kept playing. Our mindset was right,” Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue said. “Offensively we did a lot of great things. We attacked the paint and made the extra pass.”
Leonard missed Thursday’s game at San Antonio due to a sore right foot, but didn’t show any ill effects. The star forward had 19 points in the first half, including 12 in the second quarter.
Rivers, who was given a 90-second video tribute by the Clippers during the first timeout in the first quarter, said he wasn’t surprised how his former team took control and started to pull away in the second half.
“They kept on the attack and moved the ball,” said Rivers, who took the Philadelphia job less than a week after being fired by the Clippers. “You can see they all trust each other with the ball. Kawhi and Paul played well. If they continue to do all that, they are going to be hard to stop.”
Tobias Harris scored 29 points for the Sixers, who had their six-game road winning streak snapped. Danny Green added 17 and Shake Milton 16.
Los Angeles led by five at halftime, but took command with seven straight points to open the third quarter. The Clippers were up 97-84 at the end of the period and led by 19 in the fourth.
Philadelphia got off to a hot start and jumped out to a 21-11 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter before Los Angeles got on track. The Clippers went on an 18-9 run and trailed by one at the end of the period.
There were seven ties and five lead changes in the second quarter before Los Angeles closed the period on an 8-3 spurt to take a 65-60 lead at halftime.
Mann made his first eight shots from the field and was 10 of 12 for the game. He had 11 points during the second quarter, which tied a career high. He is averaging 15.4 points over the past five games.
The third-year swingman has been taking advantage of the added minutes to show how much his game has improved. He is seeing additional playing time with Patrick Beverley injured, Lou Williams traded to Atlanta and Rajon Rondo still getting up to speed after being acquired on Thursday.
“Everyone has been on the same page and asking me to be more aggressive,” Mann said. “Over time you begin to see things different, stuff slows down and you develop.”
Lue said Mann’s confidence is “through the roof,” but didn’t want to address if his minutes would decrease once Beverley gets healthy and Rondo is up to speed.
“Right now I like where we are at and we are in a good rhythm. We will have to see and keep playing with the rotations when they get back,” Lue said.
Dwight Howard was ejected for the second straight game when he picked up two technical fouls with 10:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 76ers center was called for two separate technicals in the first quarter of Thursday’s game against the Lakers.
Howard finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. The only good that happened at Staples Center for him over the three days was he picked up his championship ring after playing for the Lakers last season.
Official Tony Brothers said in a pool report that Howard received the second technical from Jason Goldenberg because Howard said something derogatory about Brothers, who called the first technical.
Brothers said the first technical came when Howard kept yelling and pointing at an official on a possession after he was called for an offensive foul.
The Sixers were assessed four technicals during the game, which perturbed Rivers more than Howard’s ejection.
“A lot of guys were frustrated,” Rivers said.
76ers: Ben Simmons had 15 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. … Green has scored in double figures in six straight games for the first time since December 2014 with San Antonio.
Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr., who finished with 13 points, was charged with a flagrant foul in the third quarter after throwing down Howard while both players were vying in the paint. … Leonard got his 1,000th steal in the first quarter. He is one of 21 active players to reach the milestone.
76ers: Play at Denver on Tuesday. The Nuggets won the first meeting 115-103 on Jan. 9.
Clippers: Host Milwaukee on Monday. The Bucks have won four straight in the series, including a 105-100 victory on Feb. 28.
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Close range: Baylor grinds to Elite 8 in 62-51 win ova ‘Nova

By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — That ice that seemed to be forming across the 3-point arc was hardly enough to throw Baylor off course.
Some rugged defense and a newly discovered love for points in the paint helped the top-seeded Bears find the formula for a 62-51 victory over Villanova on Saturday and a trip to the Elite Eight.
Adam Flagler was the surprise leading scorer, with 16 points, and Baylor (25-2), which came in as the nation’s leading 3-point shooting team at 41.5%, won despite making only 3 of 19 against Villanova’s ever-shifting 2-3, man-to-man combo on D.
Baylor, which started the season 18-0 and won its first-ever Big 12 regular-season title, is one win from the Final Four for the first time since 2012. The Bears will play Arkansas in the South regional final on Monday.
Davion Mitchell, a 46% shooter from 3 this season, went 0 for 3 from long range on a 14-point day. The team’s other two high-powered guards didn’t fare better. Jared Butler scored nine points on 1-for-9 shooting from 3, and MaCio Teague had five points without a 3.
“When we are 2 for 12 at half, we figured we’ve got to get inside,” coach Scott Drew said of the team’s 3-point shooting. “We got good looks but not great looks. The guards did a great job of not settling and probing more.”
Because of that, Baylor shot 53% in the second half, even though it made only one 3.
“Coach said we’re not going to win if we keep shooting the off-dribble 3,” Mitchell said. “He told us to trust the defense and get in the paint.”
The game changed midway through the second half when Baylor took Drew’s words to heart and started pounding inside. The Bears took a six-point lead with a 14-2 run during which not a single point came from outside the arc. Baylor outscored ‘Nova 40-32 in the paint for the game.
Defense picked up, too.
Constantly harassing Villanova shooters who’d carved out space in the first half, Baylor held Villanova to 37.5% shooting in the second and 0 for 9 from 3. Baylor had four of its five blocked shots after halftime. During one stretch in the decisive run, Baylor forced five straight turnovers on ‘Nova possessions. The Wildcats finished with 16 turnovers, almost double their nation-best season average (8.8).
Coach Jay Wright’s team scored 10 points over the final 11 minutes.
“We were good enough to beat them but they just played better down the stretch,” Wright said. “I think their defense got into us and wore us down and it made the difference in the game.”
The Wildcats got 16 points from Jermaine Samuels, but only three from Caleb Daniels on 1-for-11 shooting.
Villanova (18-7) came in without injured point guard Collin Gillespie and with a middling defense at best, but looked to be turning things around over the first weekend of the tournament. There were mini-victories in this one, too, in part because Wright’s deft mix of defenses kept Baylor off the mark. This marked only the second time this season anyone has held that high-powered offense under 65 points.
Shooting struggles aside, 2021 still has the makings of being Baylor’s year, and any residue from the pandemic-related breaks that halted the Bears’ momentum after a perfect start appear to have faded.
“You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity, and obviously we have an opportunity to go to the Final Four,” Drew said. “Hopefully, we’ll put our best foot forward.”
In the stands at Hinkle Fieldhouse was Bobby Plump, whose game-winning shot in the 1954 high school state title game was the inspiration for the hoops classic “Hoosiers.” He’s a semi-regular at the arena where the climax of the movie was filmed. He was joined by screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, who also wrote another underdog tale: “Rudy.”
It was hardly what Villanova needed. Forward Brandon Slater left the game about midway through the second half after landing awkwardly during a fight for a rebound. Slater only had four points, but was a presence on defense, with two blocks and a few more that he altered.
“Certain guys were struggling with matchups on their quick guards, and that’s when it kind of turned — when he went out,” Wright said.
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Pennsylvania Sports

Barrier falls: Woman officiate men’s World Cup qualifiers

By RONALD BLUM AP Sports Writer
Kathryn Nesbitt ran the sidelines, waving a flag, blending in for all the right reasons.
The 32-year-old from Philadelphia became a pioneer as FIFA appointed women to work on-field officials for men’s World Cup qualifiers, serving as an assistant referee Thursday night when Canada opened with a 5-1 rout of Bermuda at Orlando, Florida.
There were no controversies in a match that featured Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies setting up three goals for Besiktas’ Cyle Larin. Nesbitt disappeared into the background as much as one can while working in a yellow jersey and black shorts, an orange and yellow flag in her hands.
FIFA announced the first men’s World Cup qualifiers with woman referees will be when Stéphanie Frappart of France works the Netherlands’ match against visiting Latvia on Saturday and Kateryna Monzul of Ukraine calls Austria’s game vs. the visiting Faeroe Islands on Sunday. Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico served as an assistant referee for Suriname’s 3-0 win over the Cayman Islands on Wednesday.
“I’m hoping that people will bring her to the men’s World Cup in a couple of years instead of the Women’s World Cup — actually both,” said Rick Eddy, U.S. Soccer’s director of referee development. “If FIFA really wants to make a stand towards saying they’re supporting women, here’s their opportunity.”
Nesbitt worked 18 MLS games last season, including the MLS is Back tournament final, and was voted the league’s assistant referee of the year. The workload of the 6-foot tall official has included 82 league games in all since 2015 plus seven more as an assistant video referee during the last two seasons.
Nesbitt earned a FIFA badge in 2016 and officiated at that year’s Women’s Under-17 World Cup, the 2018 Women’s Under-20 World Cup, and two matches at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“She’s pretty imposing physically,” said Howard Webb, a Premier League referee from 2003-14 who is entering his fourth season as general manager of Major League Soccer’s Professional Referee Organization. “She’s tall, athletic. She’s very calm and clearly intelligent as well. She’s able to process a lot of information quickly and accurately.”
In U.S. soccer, “The Professor” was the nickname of Júlio Mazzei, who served two stints as coach of the Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League in 1979-80. Nesbitt is a real professor with a Ph.D. She taught analytical chemistry as an assistant professor at Towson University in Maryland from 2017-19.
She quit to become a full-time soccer official.
“I actually started when I was 14 years old. Clearly, that was more of a hobby at the time,” she said. “So it’s just kind of made its way into a career over the last 20ish years or so.”
A competitive figure skater for 15 years and a volleyball player in college, she began officiating under-8 games while growing up in Rochester, New York. She started to work adult and semipro matches after she finished her bachelor’s degree at St. John Fisher College and worked toward her doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh.
“It kept me active and I really liked that way of thinking about the game,” she said.
She made her professional debut in a National Women’s Soccer League match between Kansas City and Portland on April 13, 2013, and her MLS debut when D.C. United played Columbus on May 2, 2015.
“I have always felt respected there, and there really hasn’t been an example for me that stands out as sexism towards me,” she said. “My first couple of years in the league, I think I was treated the same way a new referee would be treated, as, who is this person and are they going to be any good?”
At the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, Nesbitt worked Norway vs. Nigeria and Sweden vs. Canada game plus three more games as a video official, including the England-Sweden third-place match.
“That was probably one of the most incredible feelings of my entire life — to actually reach a huge milestone for myself and get to experience a World Cup in person,” she said.
On-field officials navigate the additional complication of video review. MLS has used Video Assistant Referees since late 2017, but World Cup qualifying is not aided by technology. Nesbitt has to remind herself not to raise her flag quickly on offside calls in case the VAR decides there was no violation, but be quick to wave off action when electronics are not involved.
“It can be really interesting to switch between doing an MLS game, let’s say, and then going to do a women’s international match that doesn’t necessarily have VAR yet,” she said.
Nesbitt was just the start of a breakthrough weekend for American women and soccer officials, who are selected by CONCACAF and approved by FIFA. Jennifer Garner is scheduled to be an assistant referee and Tori Penso the fourth official for Saturday’s qualifier between Aruba and Suriname in Bradenton, Florida.
Nesbitt is to work as an assistant referee when Anguilla plays the Dominican Republic in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the same day Brooke Mayo is slated to be an assistant referee Sunday, and Penso is the fourth official when Canada hosts the Cayman Islands in Bradenton.
Wendy Toms was the first woman assistant referee in the Premier League from 1997-2005 and Sian Massey-Ellis is perhaps the most well-known woman soccer official worldwide because of viewers seeing her as an assistant referee in the Premier League since 2010. She worked her first Europa League match last October when PSV Eindhoven played Austria’s LASK.
Nesbitt trained with her for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“That was a really cool experience for me because she is the first,” Nesbitt said. “I had already looked up to her for years before I even got the chance to work in MLS. She’s always been an inspiration for me. She is so consistent and solid.”
The pioneering women have been rated among the sport’s best. They needed to be among the best to break through.
“Unfortunately, women are judged differently instead of being judged as equals in a lot of a professional sports,” Eddy said.
A camaraderie has developed.
“It’s a really unique, select group of women that have had these opportunities, so I think we do share that feeling and that ambition that we all have,” Nesbitt said. “We’ve all probably had a few conversations about it. And when those appointments come out and we find out about the other one getting a really special new type of appointment, we reach out to each other.”
Webb, who refereed both the 2010 Champions League and World Cup finals, hopes the pool of female officials will expand. For a long time, he says, women unfairly had to be “better than their male counterparts to prove that they were worth an opportunity.”
Nesbitt isn’t in the already under-consideration group for the 2022 men’s World Cup, but there’s always the 2026 tournament co-hosted by the United States. Webb envisions a woman taking the whistle for a men’s World Cup match, with hundreds of millions of people around the globe tuned in.
“I think it is only a matter of time before it will happen,” he said.
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