Flynn, Wetzell lead No. 7 San Diego State past Fresno State
FRESNO (AP) — San Diego State won’t make any scoring highlight reels with games like its one against Fresno State, yet the Aztecs might make it deep into the NCAA Tournament.
In a contest in which they had no 3-point game, the No. 7 Aztecs relied on a suffocating defense to shut down Fresno State 64-55 on Tuesday night.
San Diego State (18-0, 7-0 Mountain West Conference) remains one of two unbeaten teams in Division 1, along with Auburn. The Aztecs extended two nation-leading streaks: 18 consecutive victories, and nine straight road or neutral-site wins.
“I was leaving the hotel (earlier) and saw Clemson beat Duke on the road,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “I told these guys, ‘Everyone knows you’re ranked and they bring their best effort. Enjoy every one of them. What you’re doing is not easy. Winning on the road is the hardest thing in basketball. Your perfect record on the road is unheard of.”
San Diego State hasn’t been 18-0 since the 2013-14 team advanced to the Sweet 16. The Aztecs experienced just their fifth victory by single digits, due in part to an offense that missed 15 of 18 3-point attempts and had no offensive rebounds in the first 30 minutes.
“Both teams did a good job on defense,” said guard Malachi Flynn, who led all scorers with 20 points. “They did a really good job of making us make shots.”
Leonard scores 43 in 3 quarters as Clippers rout Cavaliers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard more than did his part to make sure the Los Angeles Clippers made quick work of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The All-Star forward scored a season-high 43 points in 28 minutes Tuesday night as the Clippers cruised to a 128-103 rout. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the third NBA player in the shot-clock era to score at least 43 points in under 29 minutes — and the first in franchise history to have at least 40 points in less than 30 minutes.
“We had great ball movement and obviously I made shots tonight,” said Leonard, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter. “The rest of the guys were making shots and they got me in my spots and opened the floor for me.”
According to Sportradar, it was only the second time since 1996 a Clippers player scored at least 40 points in the first three quarters. Lou Williams had 40 against Golden State in a 2018 game.
Leonard had 14 points in the second quarter and set a career high for 3-pointers in one period with four as the Clippers broke open the game. He finished two points from tying his regular-season career high, going 14 of 22 from the floor and 6 of 10 from beyond the arc.
“His pace was fantastic. When Kawhi is that efficient it is pretty impressive to watch,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Williams added 24 points for the Clippers, who played again without injured star Paul George. They have won five of six and had six scorers in double figures.
“We had the right mindset and the right spirit tonight, both ends playing the right way,” said guard Landry Shamet, who scored 12 points.
WNBA’s 8-year labor deal to hike average salary to $130,000
NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA and its union announced a tentative eight-year labor deal Tuesday that will allow top players to earn more than $500,000 while the average annual compensation will surpass six figures for the first time.
The contract, which begins this season and runs through 2027, will pay players an average of $130,000 and guarantees full salaries while on maternity leave. The collective bargaining agreement also provides enhanced family benefits, travel standards and other health and wellness improvements.
“I call it historic,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a phone interview. “The CBA guarantees substantial (financial) increases. The way we are paying these players is different than the past. … The top couple players are tripling (in pay) where they were. Other players are making $200,000-300,000. The average will be over $130,000. Everyone gets an increase here.”
Principal deal points have been ratified by the players and the league’s Board of Governors, and lawyers are finalizing the language. The deal calls for 50-50 revenue sharing starting in 2021, based on the league achieving revenue growth targets from broadcast agreements, marketing partnerships and licensing deals.
“I was adamant on the 50-50 target,” Engelbert said. “The league and players work together to market this league so we can share revenue with the players. We have to hit some targets.”
The salary cap will go up 31% to $1.3 million in the first year — up from $996,000 — and another $750,000 in prize money for special competitions arrives in 2021. Under this deal, the maximum base salary would increase to $215,000 from $117,500.
“You can pay your stars. That’s how the league grows,” Engelbert said.
Antonio Gates announces retirement following 16-year career
Antonio Gates, who became one of the most prolific tight ends in the NFL without playing a down of college football, announced his retirement Tuesday.
Gates spent his entire 16-year career with the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers. His 116 touchdown catches are the most by a tight end in league history.
“I never dreamed that I would play this game of football so long or how fortunate I would be to play it with just one organization,” he said in a statement. “I want to thank the Chargers organization, Dean Spanos and the Spanos family, and the National Football League for the opportunity to live out a dream and play the game I love.”
Gates, who did not play this season, will join the Chargers front office as a legends ambassador. He is the franchise leader in receptions (955), receiving yards (11,841) and touchdowns. His 220 regular-season games are second. He had eight seasons when he had eight or more touchdowns and 21 multi-TD games.
Among tight ends, Gates’ receptions and yards are third, and his games rank fourth. He was a three-time selection to the All-Pro team as well being picked for the Pro Bowl eight times. He will be eligible for consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame beginning with the Class of 2024.
“He no doubt is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. He is the master of a pivot three and a seven route. He ran all of the others pretty dang good also,” said Philip Rivers, whose 89 TD passes to Gates make them the most prolific QB-TE duo in league history. “He was so hard to cover that we had a ‘Gates Rule’ in the QB room. We would talk through the reads and the plays and they all had a ‘Gates Rule.’ It pretty much meant, if he is one on one, throw it there.”
Stamkos’ shootout goal lifts Lightning over Kings 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With a blistering shot that glanced off the goalie’s shoulder and into the net, Nikita Kucherov saved the night for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The reigning NHL MVP and scoring champion scored with a little over a minute left in regulation and Steven Stamkos delivered the game-deciding goal in a shootout to complete a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night,
“Big time shot. It’s one of those things where you’re staring zero points in the face and you end up with two. You’ve got to take that and run,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Even though I thought we deserved points in this game, you’re odds aren’t as high when you’re down a goal with a minute left.”
Brayden Point also beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the shootout, helping the Lightning rebound from a loss to New Jersey that stopped Tampa Bay’s franchise record-tying 10-game winning streak on Sunday.
Stamkos and Alex Killorn also scored in regulation for the Lightning, who overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2.
Kucherov’s 18th goal of the season, coming on a one-timer off a faceoff won by teammate Anthony Cirelli, made it 3-3 with 1:15 remaining in regulation.
“I saw Cirelli on the draw and the puck was coming toward me … that’s it,” Kucherov said. “We bounced back from a tough loss … getting the win tonight.”
Angels acquire pitcher Matt Andriese from Diamondbacks
PHOENIX (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels have acquired relief pitcher Matt Andriese from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher Jeremy Beasley.
The 30-year-old Andriese is a five-year big league veteran who has spent the past 1 1/2 seasons with the D-backs after being traded by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. The right-hander had a 5-5 record last season and a 4.71 ERA in 54 appearances and recently avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $1,395,000, one-year deal for 2020.
The 24-year-old Beasley split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He had a 6-7 record with a 4.06 ERA in 22 starts in Double-A and a 1-0 record with a 7.90 ERA in three starts in Triple-A.
Beasley, a right-hander, is a former 30th-round draft pick out of Clemson.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora fired in sign-stealing scandal
BOSTON (AP) — Alex Cora has already been identified as a ringleader in an illegal system of sign stealing when he was with the Houston Astros.
The Red Sox didn’t wait to see what punishment Major League Baseball might give him for possibly bringing a similar scheme with him to Boston.
Cora was fired by the team he led to the 2018 World Series title on Tuesday night, one day after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “an active participant” in the Astros’ cheating when he was a bench coach in Houston.
Manfred mentioned Cora by name 11 times in a nine-page report, saying he “originated and executed” the scheme in which Houston used a center field camera to decode catchers’ signals to pitchers, then banged on a trash can to relay the signs to batters so they would know what type of pitch was coming.
The Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, making that announcement an hour after Manfred suspended them for the 2020 season for their roles in the cheating scheme. Cora met Tuesday with Boston management and they issued a release saying they had “mutually agreed to part ways.”
“Given the findings and the commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward,” the team said in a statement attributed to owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy and Cora.