76ers close gap on Nets
UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are back within a half-game of the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
The 76ers rolled to a 126-104 thumping of the Hawks as Dwight Howard furnished a team-high 19 points and 11 rebounds. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid (joh-EHL ehm-BEED’) and Tobias Harris each scored 18 points to help the Sixers routed Atlanta for the second straight game.
Hawks guard Trae Young scored 32 points in his return after a four-game absence due to an ankle injury.
Checking out Friday’s other NBA action:
—The Nets ended a four-game winning streak as Damian Lillard had 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Trail Blazers to a 128-109 victory at Brooklyn. Lillard scored 22 points in the second half as the Blazers broke away late in the third quarter.
Jusuf Nurkic (NUR’-kihch) added 23 points and 11 rebounds to help the Blazers move to 3-0 on their six-game road trip.
— Russell Westbrook posted his 31st triple-double of the season with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in the Wizards’ 122-93 pounding of the Cavaliers. It was Westbrook’s 177th career triple-double, moving him within four of Oscar Robertson’s NBA record. Bradley Beal scored 19 points for Washington, which is 12-2 since falling a season-worst 15 games below .500 on April 5.
— LeBron James is back in the Lakers’ lineup tonight against the Kings following a 20-game absence with a high right ankle sprain. The Lakers went 8-12 during James’ absence, which also included 16 games missed by Anthony Davis. Coach Frank Vogel said that James had a workout earlier Friday and made the decision to return when he got to Staples Center.
Nuggets sign Austin Rivers for rest of the season
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have extended the deal for guard Austin Rivers through the rest of the season.
Rivers has averaged 6.2 points, two assists and 1.2 steals since signing a 10-day contract. He has helped fill the void left by Jamal Murray, who is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee on April 12.
Habs beat Jets
MONTREAL (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens have put six points between themselves and the Calgary Flames as the Habs try to lock down the NHL’s final North Division playoff berth.
Nick Suzuki’s second goal of the game broke a tie late in the third period of the Canadiens’ 5-3 victory over the Jets. Suzuki also had an assist to give him four goals and two assists in his last four games.
Tyler Toffoli (tah-FOH’-lee) had a goal and an assist for Montreal, which is four points behind Winnipeg for third place in the North.
The Jets dropped their sixth in a row despite Trevor Lewis’ two goals.
Carpenter blast leads Cards again
UNDATED (AP) — Matt Carpenter came through in a pinch once again.
Carpenter belted his second pinch-hit, three-run home run in as many days to lead the Cardinals’ 7-3 win over the Pirates. Carpenter connected off Duane Underwood Jr. in the sixth inning to put the Cardinals ahead 6-1.
Tyler O’Neill had three hits, including a leadoff home run in the fourth inning.
In other major league action:
— The Nationals pulled out a 2-1 win over the Marlins on Kyle Schwarber’s two-run homer leading off the bottom of the 10th. Washington starter Jon Lester worked five shutout innings in his season debut after coming off the injured list.
— Aaron Judge belted a grand slam and a solo homer in the Yankees’ 10-0 dismantling of the Tigers. Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Rougned Odor (ROOG’-nehd oh-DOHR’) also homered and Gerrit Cole struck out 12 while holding Detroit to four hits over six innings.
Hall of Famer Alomar fired by MLB over sexual misconduct
UNDATED (AP) — Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar has been fired as a consultant by Major League Baseball and placed on the league’s ineligible list after an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said a baseball industry employee reported an incident earlier this year involving Alomar from 2014. The league hired an external legal firm to investigate the matter.
MLB said it would not provide further details on the investigation to protect the individual who came forward.
Alomar said on Twitter that he was “disappointed, surprised, and upset” by MLB’s decision.
Alomar also lost his position as a special assistant with the Toronto Blue Jays. The club said in a statement it is severing ties with Alomar immediately, including removing him from their Level of Excellence and taking down his banner from Rogers Centre.
Baseball Hall of Fame board chairman Jane Forbes Clark said the Hall was “shocked and saddened” by Alomar’s actions, but said his plaque will remain on display. Alomar was inducted in 2011.
In other MLB news:
— The Cardinals are hopeful of getting Adam Wainwright back from the COVID-19 injured list on Monday, allowing him to start that night against the Mets. The veteran right-hander was placed on the IL Thursday. Wainwright has been vaccinated, but he came in close contact with a family member who has tested positive for the virus.
— Padres right-hander Chris Paddack has been placed on the injured list with what manager Jayce Tingler described only as “a medical condition.” Tingler declined to say whether Paddack’s illness is COVID-related.
— Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar (tay-AHS’-kur) Hernández returned to the starting lineup Friday night against Atlanta after missing three weeks because of a positive test for the coronavirus. Hernández went on the injured list April 9 after he was exposed to an infected person outside the team.
— Jon Lester has been reinstated from the injured list. The move comes hours before the left-hander made his Nationals debut against the Marlins on Friday night. Lester was one of nine players quarantined before the season because of COVID-19 protocols. The 37-year-old Lester signed a one-year contract with Washington in January.
—The Minnesota Twins have reinstated outfielders Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick from the COVID-19 injured list. They also recalled catcher Ben Rortvedt from Triple-A St. Paul before beginning a three-game series against Kansas City.
— Major League Baseball says nine teams have had 85% of players, coaches and others with Tier 1 access receive their final dose of the coronavirus vaccine, allowing those clubs to ease some health and safety protocols. Four of those teams have already begun relaxing some protocols after 85% or more of Tier 1 individuals reached full vaccination. Another five teams have surpassed the 85% threshold for vaccine injections within the past two weeks and can ease standards once that waiting period passes.
Panthers pick up Darnold’s option
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) —The Carolina Panthers have upped their commitment to Sam Darnold, picking up the fifth-year option on the quarterback’s rookie contract.
Darnold will now make $18.9 million for the 2022 season. His contract would have expired after the 2021 season and he would have become an unrestricted free agent if the Panthers had not picked up the option.
The Panthers showed their faith in Darnold by passing on a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. They acquired him in a trade with the New York Jets this offseason.
In other NFL moves:
— The Ravens have exercised the fifth-year option for quarterback Lamar Jackson. The NFL’s 2019 MVP threw for 2,757 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year. He also became the first quarterback in league history to have two 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but he has struggled in the playoffs.
— The Broncos have exercised the fifth-year option on linebacker Bradley Chubb. He earned a Pro Bowl berth last season after bouncing back from a torn ACL with 7½ sacks and more than 60 quarterback knockdowns and hits.
— The Falcons have added depth at quarterback by signing free agent A.J. McCarron to a one-year deal. McCarron was a backup in Houston the last two seasons and gives the Falcons an experienced backup behind starter Matt Ryan.
— Former Jets tight end Pete Lammons drowned Thursday morning at age 77. Major League Fishing announced in a statement that Lammons was participating in an event in Texas on Thursday morning when he slipped from his boat and fell into the water. He was drafted in 1966 and played six seasons in New York, helping deliver the franchise its first and still only Super Bowl title after the 1968 season.
Kansas hires Buffalo’s Lance Leipold as football coach
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has hired Buffalo’s Lance Leipold as its next football coach. The Jayhawks are turning over one of college football’s worst programs to a longtime Division III coach with Midwestern roots.
Leipold signed a six-year contract and takes over for Les Miles, who left the program after two losing seasons amid allegations of sexual harassment dating to his time at LSU.
Leipold won six Division III national titles in eight seasons before going to the Bulls, where he was 37-33 the past six years.
Co-leaders through 36
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Sam Burns and Keegan Bradley share the lead at the midway point of the PGA’s Valspar Championship in Florida.
Burns surged up the leaderboard with an 8-under 63 to catch up with Bradley who carded a 66. Bradley ended his 65 by holing out for eagle from 100 yards in the ninth fairway, over a deep bunker to the elevated green. The shot left him guessing until he saw the fans jump out of their seats. They are four strokes ahead of Lucas Glover, Max Homa and Charley Hoffman.
Phil Mickelson bogeyed two of his final three holes to miss the cut by one shot.
Atlanta Motor Speedway dropping capacity limits
UNDATED (AP) — Atlanta Motor Speedway is following the league of other major sports facilities in the area by opening its grandstands to full capacity for the July NASCAR weekend.
The 1.54-mile trioval in suburban Hampton, Georgia, is planning to fill as many seats as possible for its next major event.
Baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United both announced this week that they plan to resume 100% capacity for games in May.