Anthony Davis smashes NBA All-Star Game points record, West scores 192 points

Feb 20, 2017 39

It was the fourth quarter of the All-Star Game, and a few fans started yelling loudly enough for DeAndre Jordan to hear them from his spot on the Western Conference bench.

Their cry: “De-fense! De-fense!”

Jordan’s shout back: “No, no, no!”

The moment was both hilarious and fitting. Defense was in short supply on Sunday night during the NBA’s showcase game, one where Anthony Davis smashed a 55-year-old record with 52 points and the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182. And it prompted some questions afterward on whether the glorified exhibition really needs to see at least the appearance of defense return.

“All-Star is about offense and giving the crowd a show, but if they want to see a little more defense as fans and everything — I mean, nobody wants to go out here and get hurt,” said Davis, the game’s MVP in his home arena. “It’s all about fun. … I love it. I don’t really care. I’ll go out there and have fun. I didn’t play any defense.”

Few did.

There were 33 steals in the game, sure, but most of those were the byproduct of bad passes than picked pockets. There were 16 fouls, mainly ones players were taking to stop the clock and allow substitutions; only four were of the shooting variety. Stephen Curry laid down on the court at one point while Giannis Antetokounmpo was driving in for what became one of his 12 dunks.

“I’m going to play hard no matter what,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s the only thing I know how to do.”

Davis took 39 shots, making 26, both of those now All-Star records. The game also established records for total points (384), most field goals (162), most assists (103), most assists by one team (West with 60), most points in one quarter (101, first) and so on. The East set a rather dubious record, establishing a new high score by a losing team for the third consecutive season.

Put simply, it’s not a real game, and real-game thinking doesn’t apply. LeBron James made a shot from nearly half-court, something he would never try in a competitive situation.

He loves defense. He wasn’t missing it on Sunday.

“I think the biggest thing coming out of the game is that everybody leaves injury-free,” James said. “We gave the fans what they wanted to see and everyone left injury-free. Another successful All-Star weekend for myself and everyone.”

West coach Steve Kerr said he and East coach Brad Stevens had jobs on Sunday night akin to the person who played the role of the title character in “Weekend at Bernie’s,” that being a deceased man who gets dragged from place to place and propped up to somehow give others the illusion that he’s still actually alive.

Kerr’s point: How All-Star games are played isn’t up to the coaches, but rather it’ll be the players who decide if they want defense back.

“It would be good to possibly incentivize the guys somehow,” Kerr said. “I don’t know if you can maybe get their charities involved or winner-take-all type thing, but I think it’s possible to play a lot harder without taking a charge. We know what silly is out there, if you’re undercutting guys, but it’s almost gone too far the other way where there’s just no resistance at all. I think there’s a happy medium in there somewhere.”

East guard Kyrie Irving expects that the game will change.

Like many, he said avoiding injury in the All-Star Game is paramount and that’s certainly understandable. But he also expressed a wish that the games had a bit more of a competitive aspect.

“I think going forward, the All-Star experience will probably get a little harder in terms of defense,” Irving said.

Down the stretch, the East did apparently try to raise the defensive bar. Stevens said it was discussed in the fourth quarter, with hopes of putting the East in position to win the game.

He almost sounded disappointed in how the flow went.

“We talked about trying to get back in it at the end and talked about how, obviously, the one way to do that is keep people in front of you,” Stevens said. “But, no, it probably should have been a bigger emphasis in retrospect now.”

Ex-Olympian among US gymnasts claiming sex abuse by team doctor

Feb 19, 2017 50

Three former elite U.S. gymnasts, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzcher, have come forward saying they were sexually abused by a former doctor currently facing trial on a separate matter.

Dantzscher, three-time U.S. rhythmic gymnastics champion Jessica Howard and former national team member Jeanette Antolin appeared on “60 Minutes” on Sunday , detailing what they have claimed is sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar. All three accused Nassar, a volunteer team doctor for USA Gymnastics for almost three decades before his tenure ended in July 2015 of touching them inappropriately while he disguised the abuse as treatment.

Dantzscher, who helped the U.S. team earn a team bronze at the 2000 Olympics, filed a lawsuit against Nassar in California last September as “Jane Doe.” She gave up her anonymity for “60 Minutes” and described how she was sent to visit Nassar to receive treatment for lower back pain.

“He would put his fingers inside of me, move my leg around,” Dantzscher said. “He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain.”

Dantzscher said she saw Nassar for treatment regularly from her early teens until the Olympics, when she was 18. Dantzscher said typically she saw Nassar alone, which is in violation of USA Gymnastics policy.

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny and others have been named as a co-defendant in Dantzscher’s civil suit. The suit says the organization negligently suppressed, concealed or failed to disclose knowledge that Nassar had engaged in sexual conduct with team members. Nassar’s attorneys have denied any wrongdoing by the doctor.

USA Gymnastics said it is “appalled that anyone would exploit a child in this manner.” The organization fired Nassar two years ago after going to federal authorities following an investigation into possible abuse by Nassar, leading the FBI to conduct its own investigation of the doctor.

Nassar, who also treated gymnasts at Michigan State University, faces charges in two cases so far , although they’re not related to his work with athletes. Nassar was ordered to stand trial on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct after a woman described how he sexually abused her for years during her childhood.

The 25-year-old woman who testified Friday said her parents were friends with Nassar and that he repeatedly abused her from age 6 until age 12 during family visits to his home in Holt, near Lansing.
Nassar has pleaded not guilty.

In federal court, Nassar is charged with possessing thousands of images of child pornography and trying to destroy possible evidence.

Yankee great Lou Gehrig's old New York City suburban home seeks buyer

Feb 19, 2017 57

A New York City suburban home that belonged to Yankee Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig is up for sale.

CBS New York reports that the century-old house at 9 Meadow Lane in New Rochelle was the pride of the Pride of the Yankees when he lived there from 1928 to 1933 with his parents.

“Not a bad joint is it?” Gehrig told a New York Sun reporter shortly after taking over the house, according to the station. “Three floors and a basement. Eight or nine rooms, and I never saw a place with so many doors. Gaze on the garage. It’s a form-fitting place, but big enough for my old bus.”

The house, which sold at auction recently for just more than $300,000, retains much of its original detail, according to the station.

“It is as it was when Lou Gehrig used to stretch out on the front porch to take his nap,” local historian Barbara Davis said. “It’s the same as when Ma Gehrig used to cook up fried chicken and pickled eels for Babe Ruth and the other Yankees. I mean gosh, it’s the same!”

According to the station, the house is a bargain by Westchester County standards even if it needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations.

“I think actually it makes economic sense irrespective of Gehrig, but you add Gehrig to the equation and it becomes a home run,” real estate agent Arthur Scinta said.

Meyers Taylor edges Humphries for gold at bobsled worlds

Feb 18, 2017 81

KOENIGSSEE, Germany (AP) Elana Meyers Taylor of the United States edged Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada for her second world championship gold in women’s bobsled on Saturday.

Meyers, who won her first in 2015, and brakewoman Kehri Jones edged Humphries and Melissa Lotholz by 0.03 seconds after four runs.

”Kaillie gave me a run for the money from top to the finish. So I knew I had to put it together. And today we did,” said Meyers, who held a 0.02-second lead after Friday’s first two runs.

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Jamie Greubel Poser of the U.S. was third, 0.23 seconds back with brakewoman Aja Evans, for her first world championship medal.

European champion Mariama Jamanka and her brakewoman Annika Drazek of Germany were fourth, followed by Christina Hengster/Jennifer Onasanya of Austria and Alysia Rissling/Cynthia Appiah of Canada.

Japan’s Maria Oshigiri and Arisa Kimishima celebrated their debut by placing seventh.

Earlier, Germany’s Francesco Friedrich was fastest in both runs to lead Justin Kripps of Canada at the halfway stage in two-man bobsled.

Defending champion Friedrich and his brakeman Thorsten Margis were 0.52 seconds ahead of Kripps and Jesse Lumsden.

Johannes Lochner of Germany was 0.63 back in third with Joshua Bluhm, then Nick Poloniato and Neville Wright of Canada.

American pilot Steven Holcomb was seventh, 0.87 off the pace.

Friedrich is bidding for his fourth successive gold. The title will be decided on Sunday.

Vegas sets the standard at weather-plagued Riviera

Feb 18, 2017 75

Jhonattan Vegas finished with four pars to complete a 3-under 68 in the rain-delayed Genesis Open.

Vegas was at 7-under 135. He had to wait six hours to see if that would be the 36-hole lead. Sam Saunders, who shot 7-under 64 two days ago, did not begin his second round until Saturday afternoon.

The tournament was delayed briefly by fog on Thursday, and then rain and wind that toppled large limbs shut down play Friday afternoon at Riviera. The course was soaked when the second round resumed.

The PGA Tour was hopeful of making the 36-hole cut on Saturday and then going into the third round. Either way, it was headed for a marathon Sunday, with the likelihood of a Monday finish.

Webber, Massimino among the Hall of Fame finalists

Feb 18, 2017 56

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Chris Webber and Rollie Massimino are one step from the Hall of Fame.

The career 20-point-per-game NBA scorer and the coach who led Villanova to a stunning upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game were among the 14 finalists unveiled Saturday for this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Webber played 15 seasons with five franchises, plus was part of Michigan’s famed ”Fab Five” group that headlined college basketball in the early 1990s.

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”I don’t know what I’m most proud of,” said Webber, who averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in his career and was a five-time NBA All-Star. ”I’m proud to be in the room with all these great individuals.”

Other first-time Hall of Fame finalists include longtime NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut women’s star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self, and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

”I still can’t believe I’m here,” McGrady said. ”This is not even a dream come true.”

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include star point guard and Olympic gold medalist Tim Hardaway, winningest all-time boys high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach and four-time Division III national champion Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU women’s national champion team Wayland Baptist University.

”We are grateful to the 14 finalists in the Class of 2017 for the impact they have had on the game we cherish,” Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said. ”To be named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment.”

Inductees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. Enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are scheduled for Sept. 7-9.

Massimino, now an 82-year-old cancer survivor who is still coaching at NAIA school Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a finalist for the first time. His Hall of Fame hopes have been backed by plenty of current and former coaches in recent months – including current Villanova coach Jay Wright, who presented Massimino with a championship ring from the Wildcats’ 2016 NCAA title.

”Some days, we do take him for granted,” Keiser guard Andrija Sarenac said. ”But then you see him on TV so much, you see all these videos made about him, the movies about Villanova and everything, and it just hits you. You realize that he’s a legend. I mean, your coach is a walking legend. With the energy and everything he comes in with, it’s inspiring.”

Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be enshrined. Among this year’s candidates who did not make the finalist group: Muggsy Bogues, Ben Wallace, Kevin Johnson, Maurice Cheeks, Mark Price, Lefty Driesell and Eddie Sutton.

Former New York Times sports writer Harvey Araton and former Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager will be recognized during Hall of Fame weekend as this year’s Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients.

”A tremendous honor,” said Sager’s wife Stacy.

This year’s lifetime achievement award recipients are former UConn coach Donald ”Dee” Rowe and Michael Goldberg, who spent nearly four decades as executive director of the NBA Coaches Association. Goldberg died earlier this year.

”He bridged the gap between ownership and coaches,” said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, who spoke about Goldberg on Saturday while wearing a bow tie – one of the signature wardrobe accessories that Goldberg donned for years. ”He was just such a great guy.”

The Latest: Durant, Westbrook sharing the practice floor

Feb 18, 2017 48

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Latest on Saturday’s NBA All-Star events (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

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Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are on the floor together – though they started on opposite ends.

The Western Conference All-Stars are practicing at the Superdome, and interaction between Westbrook and any of the Golden State Warriors has been limited at best. The four Golden State All-Stars started warming up at one end of the floor, while Westbrook went to the other.

Stephen Curry eventually came down to the end of the court where Westbrook was shooting, and not long after that West coach Steve Kerr of Golden State summoned the whole team to one end of the floor. He told the team to run a little bit of five-man weave, ”to pretend like we’re practicing.”

10:25 a.m.

Rollie Massimino, who coached Villanova to the 1985 NCAA championship, and Chris Webber are among the 14 finalists for this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Others include NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include point guard Tim Hardaway, record-setting high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU national champion Wayland Baptist University.

Enshrinees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. The induction ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are Sept. 7-9.

Uncertainty over Vikings stadium leadership after dustup

Feb 18, 2017 42

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) There’s some uncertainty over who will run the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium after a dustup over the oversight authority’s use of luxury suites culminated in the exit of two top officials.

Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and executive director Ted Mondale resigned months after revelations that suite tickets were going to family and friends of top commissioners. But the saga isn’t over. Republican lawmakers in Minnesota are pushing to shake up the stadium board – a move that could drastically change oversight of the $1.1 billion stadium as the state gears up to host the 2018 Super Bowl.

Here’s a look at what happened and what’s coming next:

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WHY THE OUTCRY?

The authority’s two luxury suites were meant to help woo more business to the stadium, which opened in July. But a state audit revealed a different purpose: Nearly half of the guests who received suite tickets were friends or family members of the six people on the authority.

The Star Tribune, which first reported on the use of the suites in November before the audit, also found that several guests were politically connected Democrats who paid the authority back for the tickets only after the newspaper inquired about their attendance.

The newspaper’s reporting led to cries that the public officials were abusing their positions for public gain. Lawmakers grilled Kelm-Helgen and Mondale, who is the son of former Vice President Walter Mondale, for what they deemed a serious lapse in judgment. The Office of the Legislative Auditor said they violated a ”core ethical principle.”

Kelm-Helgen announced her resignation Thursday morning, and Mondale followed suit hours later. Though Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said he didn’t ask for the resignations of the two officials he appointed, he said it was the right move.

”Heads probably had to roll, which we’re finding out is happening,” Rep. Leon Lillie, a North St. Paul Democrat, said after both officials announced their departures.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Lawmakers are looking at expanding the size of the authority – from five to seven members – and giving the Legislature power to appoint four of them. They also are considering turning control of the suites over to the Vikings, allowing authority members to use them only for marketing purpose and explicitly banning their family and friends.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, a Plymouth Republican spearheading the changes, says it’s a chance to ”clean house.”

Anderson signaled the house cleaning may not stop with U.S. Bank Stadium. She plans to meet with the head of the authority overseeing the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field, which also has control of a suite but uses it more sparingly.

”This is going to be a model for all of the facilities that we have here in Minnesota,” Anderson said.

WHAT ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL?

The departure of Kelm-Helgen and Mondale will leave the stadium temporarily rudderless as the state gears up to host the 2018 Super Bowl. Just how long that leadership vacuum persists depends on how long it takes the Legislature to approve a new governance plan – and whether Dayton signs off.

Dayton and other Democrats aren’t putting up much of a fight as Republicans who control the Legislature chart drastic changes. Just two Democrats have cast votes against Anderson’s bill.

Dayton may appoint an interim chair, as Kelm-Helgen formally departs in early March.

”It’s important that we get this resolved and move ahead so that we’re assuring the people of Minnesota and the people of the NFL … that it’s being well-run, that it’s in good hands and open for business,” Dayton said.

Tsonga beats Berdych to reach World Tennis Tournament final

Feb 18, 2017 14

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his 400th career win in style by beating fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final of the World Tennis Tournament on Saturday.

The sixth-seeded Frenchman was dominant on serve, hitting 10 aces, winning 88 percent of his points on first serve, and not conceding a single break point against the hard-hitting Czech.

He broke Berdych once in each set and beat him for only the fourth time in 12 matches.

Tsonga’s opponent in the final will be third-seeded David Goffin of Belgium or qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, a doubles specialist ranked only 109 in singles. Their semifinal was later Saturday.

Tsonga, who is ranked 14, has 12 career titles and lost the final here in Rotterdam six years ago.

Olympic biathlon champ Russia wins men's relay world title

Feb 18, 2017 74

HOCHFILZEN, Austria (AP) Anton Shipulin waved the Russian flag even before finishing as he helped the Olympic champion beat France for the gold medal in the men’s 4×7.5-kilometer relay at the biathlon world championships on Saturday.

In the final leg, Shipulin missed one target but still held off a challenge by five-time overall World Cup champion Martin Fourcade.

It was the second medal for Russia after taking bronze in the mixed team relay on the opening day of the worlds last week.

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On Saturday, the Russian team of Alexey Volkov, Maxim Tsvetkov, Anton Babikov and Shipulin beat France by 5.8 seconds.

In front of 20,000 spectators, home team Austria defeated Germany in the fight for bronze. It was the first time since 2011 that Germany failed to win a world championship medal in the discipline. Austria was 20.1 seconds behind.

The rest of the field, led by Italy in fifth, was more than 1 1/2 minutes off the pace.

The final 7.5K leg was a tense four-team fight as Shipulin and Austria’s Dominik Landertinger started simultaneously, with Fourcade and Germany’s Simon Schempp 13 seconds behind.

That margin was reduced to four seconds at the start of the prone shooting stage. Shipulin shot fast and flawlessly, giving him a 10-second advantage over Fourcade and Landertinger, with Schempp another 10 seconds back in fourth.

However, Shipulin had to reload once during his final visit to the shooting range, allowing Fourcade to close the gap to just four seconds again. But the Frenchman failed to make up time on the final 2.5 kilometers of skiing.

Russia had not won a relay world title since 2008 but it won at the Sochi Olympics three years ago with a team that included Volkov and Shipulin.

Defending world champion Norway, which had won five of the last six world championship relays, was more than two minutes behind in eighth.

Norway fell behind the other favorites in the second leg after Ole Einar Bjoerndalen had to reload twice in his second shooting stage, and it lost all hope of another medal in the next leg when Tarjei Boe missed three times and was forced to ski a 150-meter penalty loop.

The worlds end on Sunday with the women’s and men’s mass start.