Kawhi Leonard cheered in Toronto as he receives title ring
TORONTO (AP) — If any people came to boo Kawhi Leonard on his return to Toronto, it was sure hard to hear them over all the cheering.
Leonard received his championship ring to deafening applause and chants of “MVP! MVP!” before the Los Angeles Clippers visited the Raptors on Wednesday night.
Earlier, the three-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP said he was expecting a mix of cheers and boos from Toronto fans who watched him lead the Raptors to a six-game victory over Golden State in June.
“There’ll be some cheers but definitely, I think, more boos because they want to win the game,” Leonard said at shootaround. “They don’t want to be cheering for a player that’s on the opposing team.”
Leonard’s former teammates, along with coaches and team executives, gathered in a circle at center court before tip-off to greet their former star, who signed with the Clippers in free agency.
Leonard embraced each player in turn before guard Kyle Lowry presented him with his ring. After slipping it on, Leonard raised his arms to the crowd and waved.
“It’s always great to see guys get a ring, especially when they’re on your team now,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the ceremony. “This is a different one, though. It’s a really cool one because he was the leader of the group, coming back to get it in front of a crowd. I’ve never experienced it like this. This is special. It’s cool.”
Back in Toronto for the first time since his free agency meeting with the Raptors in July, Leonard said he experienced “flashbacks” of that championship run as the Clippers drove to the arena for morning shootaround.
“The ride was fun,” Leonard said of his season in Toronto. “I had a great time last year with the coaching staff, the front office, and the players. It was a great experience.
“Obviously it was different playing here for a whole country, they’re all going for this one team.”
Leonard averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 24 playoff games with Toronto. He hit a series-winning 3-pointer in Game 7 against Philadelphia in the second round, a shot that bounced off the rim four times before dropping.
Rather than re-sign with the Raptors, Leonard chose to team up with friend Paul George and head home to Los Angeles, signing a three-year deal with the Clippers.
James leads Lakers past Magic 96-87
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James had 25 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 96-87 on Wednesday night.
Anthony Davis had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won 13 of 14. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 points for Los Angeles.
Jonathan Isaac led Orlando with 19 points. Evan Fournier had 18 and Aaron Gordon finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Orlando, which trailed by 24 midway through the second period, caught the Lakes at 71-71 early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Michael Carter-Williams.
The momentum didn’t last long. James assisted on the Lakers next three baskets, including 3-pointers by Alex Caruso and Jared Dudley, then bulled his way past Isaac for a layup to finish off a 10-0 run and give Los Angeles an 81-71 lead.
When James went to the bench for a short rest, Isaac suddenly got hot, scoring 10 of Orlando’s next 12 points to pull the Magic within 88-83.
James returned and Caldwell-Pope promptly hit a corner 3 and James followed with a long 3-pointer, his only one of the game, that gave the Lakers a 94-83 lead. Los Angeles successfully nursed that to the finish line.
AP source: Reliever Blake Treinen, Dodgers reach 1-year deal
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Reliever Blake Treinen reached agreement on a $10 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers just more than a week after Oakland declined to offer him a contract.
A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations confirmed Treinen’s deal, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because it hadn’t been formally announced by the seven-time reigning NL West champions.
The right-handed Treinen, a 2018 All-Star, posted a 0.78 ERA in ’18 but raised it to 4.91 this year. He was replaced by Liam Hendriks in the closer role as the low-budget A’s earned the AL’s top wild card before losing in the wild card game for a second straight year.
Treinen earned himself a nice payday given he was expected to command roughly $7.5 million in arbitration.
Cole mine: Gerrit, Yankees strike record $324M, 9-year deal
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Gerrit Cole quickly ended Stephen Strasburg’s tenure as baseball’s highest-paid pitcher.
Cole agreed to a $324 million, nine-year contract with the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced.
Cole’s deal established marks for pitchers in total dollars, topping the $245 million, seven-year contract Stephen Strasburg finalized a day earlier to remain with the World Series champion Washington Nationals.
Its $36 million average is a record for any player, beating the $35.5 million in outfielder Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels that started last season. Cole gets an even $36 million annually and can opt out after the 2024 season. He also has a full no-trade provision.
After finalizing the agreement for 31-year-old Strasburg, agent Scott Boras predicted he would go even high for Cole, a 29-year-old right-hander.
Cole was baseball’s most dominant pitcher for much of 2019 and helped the Houston Astros come within one win of their second World Series title in three seasons.
“Obviously, when you are talking about a player at the level of Gerrit Cole, in a lot of ways that’s a game-changing type talent,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said earlier in the day. “This is a guy that’s really hungry, really driven.”
Toffoli, Kings stop losing streak with 3-1 win over Rangers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kings forward Tyler Toffoli has heard the chatter about his lackluster play in a contract season.
A change of position helped get Toffoli on the scoresheet, which pushed his struggling team back into the win column.
Toffoli had a goal and an assist, and Los Angeles ended a four-game losing streak by beating the New York Rangers 3-1 on Tuesday night.
“I know that I need to play better, and I stepped up tonight and thought I had a good night,” Toffoli said.
Dustin Brown also scored, Adrian Kempe added an empty-net goal and the Kings won for the third time in 10 games (3-6-1). Jonathan Quick made 29 saves.
Artemi Panarin scored on a late power play and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 shots, but the Rangers had their season-high three-game road winning streak snapped.
In an effort not only to get Toffoli on track but create more production from all four lines, Kings coach Todd McLellan moved him to left wing on the fourth line to start off against the Rangers. The change paid off late in the first period, when Brown scored on a sharp-angle shot with 10.1 seconds remaining off Toffoli’s pass from the left circle through the low slot to the right circle that got Lundqvist moving and unable to regain his footing.
Brown ended a six-game goal drought with his seventh of the season, and it was his second point in two games.
Toffoli made it 2-0 at 13:22 of the second. He was able to free himself after battling Ryan Lindgren at the foot of the crease to tap in the rebound of Matt Roy’s shot for his seventh goal. It was Toffoli’s first since scoring twice against Edmonton on Nov. 21, ending a run of nine games without a goal.
“Obviously, took a nice little bounce for me on Roysie’s shot and rolled over his shoulder, and those ones are nice,” Toffoli said. “I’ll take those ones.”
MLS veteran Sacha Kljestan signs with hometown LA Galaxy
CARSON (AP) — Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan has signed with the LA Galaxy as a free agent.
The 34-year-old U.S. national team contributor officially returned to his native Southern California on Wednesday.
Kljestan has scored 49 goals over 10 MLS seasons in a career that began as the fifth overall pick by defunct Chivas USA, the Galaxy’s former stadium partners. After a successful five-year stint with Belgium’s Anderlecht, he spent the past five seasons with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City.
The Huntington Beach native also has made 51 appearances for the U.S. team, playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Kljestan will provide veteran leadership for a Galaxy roster in transition after the departures of its top two goal-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna.