Update on the latest sportsAP
76ers hammer Magic to clinch top seed
UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers have wrapped up the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs by defeating one of the NBA’s worst teams.
Seth Curry scored 20 points and the Sixers improved to 48-23 with a 122-97 rout of the Magic. Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Ben Simmons delivered 13 points and nine assists to help Philly end a two-game skid.
Embiid, Simmons and the rest of Philadelphia’s starters relaxed on the bench in the fourth quarter with the 76ers up big.
It’s the first time the 76ers have the top seed in the conference since 2001.
Checking out Friday’s other NBA action:
— Bojan (BOY’-ahn) Bogdanovic furnished 22 points and the Jazz inched closer to the top seed in the West by whipping the Thunder, 109-93. Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points and Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 18 rebounds in Utah’s first win in three games. All-Star guard Michael Conley chipped in 10 points in 16 minutes as he returned after missing nine games with a right hamstring injury.
— Markus Howard scored a career-high 20 points and Nikola Jokic (nih-KOH’-lah YOH’-kihch) had a triple-double in the Nuggets’ 104-91 decision over the Pistons. Jokic had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for Denver, which is 3-0 on its regular season-ending four-game trip. Jokic finished off the triple-double early in the third quarter, and he and Howard both finished the period with 20 points as the Nuggets pulled out to an 87-74 lead.
— Kelly Olynyk (oh-LIH’-nihk) scored 20 points and fell a rebound shy of a triple-double as the Rockets surprised the Clippers, 122-115. Olynyk had 11 assists and nine rebounds to help Houston halt a seven-game skid. The loss coupled with the Nuggets’ victory leaves the Clippers in a tie with Denver for third place in the Western Conference with one game remaining.
— Luka Doncic (DAHN’-chihch) had his 11th triple-double of the season with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in guiding the Mavericks past the Raptors, 114-110. Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds as Dallas guaranteed itself a top-six seed, allowing them to avoid the play-in tournament. The Southwest Division-winning Mavericks own a one-game lead over Portland for the No. 5 seed with one regular-season game remaining for both teams.
— Jordan Poole poured in a career-high 38 points, including the go-ahead layup with 21.4 seconds left and the game-clinching free throws in the Warriors’ fifth straight win, 125-122 over the Pelicans. Poole shot 12 for 22 in his first career 30-point performance and third straight game with 20-plus points. Mychal Mulder added a career-best 28 points as Golden State prevailed despite playing without Steph Curry and other key starters.
— The Grizzlies got past the Kings, 107-106 as Justise Winslow had season highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds. Killian Tillie and Xavier Tillman each had 16 points for Memphis, with Tillman adding 10 rebounds. Louis King led the Kings with a career-high 27 points and Damian Jones added 17.
— The Wizards have clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament by dumping the Cavaliers, 120-115. Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds for his 183rd career triple-double, league-leading 37th this season and first since breaking Oscar Robertson’s all-time record in that category. Davis Bertans (DAH’-vihs bur-TAHNS’) scored 17 points for Washington, which can finish as high as eighth in the conference.
76ers’ Howard suspended a game for too many technical
UNDATED (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers center Dwight Howard sat out Friday’s game against Orlando as punishment for picking up his 16th technical foul of the season the previous night.
Players who earn a 16th technical foul receive an automatic one-game suspension without pay. Howard earned the technical for knocking Miami’s Udonis Haslem (oo-DAH’-nihs HAZ’-lehm) to the floor while the two were going for a rebound.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
— Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are all expected to play when the Brooklyn Nets host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The three All-Stars have played in the same game just seven times since the Nets acquired Harden from Houston in mid-January. going 5-2. They haven’t been together since a Feb. 13 victory at Golden State, with Durant missing 23 games and Harden sitting out 18 before returning to the lineup on Wednesday.
Royals, White Sox end streaks
UNDATED (AP) — A pair of streaks ended as the Kansas City Royals took the opener of their doubleheader with the White Sox in Chicago.
Salvador Perez belted a three-run homer and Michael A. Taylor had a two-run drive as the Royals dumped the White Sox, 6-2. The Royals had dropped 11 in a row before ending the White Sox’s six-game winning streak.
Kansas City’s Hunter Dozier and Chicago’s Jose Abreu (ah-BRAY’-oo) had to leave the game in the second inning following a collision on the basepath that left both players dazed for several minutes. Dozier hit a weak popup and was looking down as he tried to avoid hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal (yahs-MAH’-nee grahn-DAHL’), who was camped under the ball. Dozier continued to run to the first base bag and slammed into Abreu less than halfway down the line.
Dozier is in concussion protocol and Abreu sat out Game 2, allowing rookie Andrew Vaughn to homer as the fill-in first baseman in Chicago’s 3-1 win in the nightcap. Michael Kopech (KAH’-pehk) tossed four sharp innings for the White Sox in the second game, allowing a Carlos Santana home run but just one other hit.
In other major league games:
— Aaron Judge banged out two more homers against the Orioles and pinch-hitter Gio Urshela (JEE’-oh ur-SHEH’-lah) crushed a go-ahead, three-run shot in the Yankees’ 5-4 victory. Judge is now 10 for 19 with five home runs versus Baltimore this season.
— The Red Sox were 4-3 winners over the Angels behind two-run homers by Hunter Renfroe and Bobby Dalbec. Shohei Ohtani (SHOH’-hay oh-TAH’-nee) hit his 11th homer for the Angels, who lost their third straight while Boston ended a three-game skid.
— The Rays stopped the Mets’ seven-game winning streak as Brett Phillips hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth to lead Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory. New York lefty David Peterson had set down 17 straight batters before Mike Zunino hit a solo homer to tie it in the eighth.
— Rhys Hoskins hit a three-run double during a five-run seventh inning that pushed the Phillies past the Blue Jays, 5-1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put the Blue Jays up 1-0 with an opposite-field homer in the sixth off Vince Velasquez.
— The Tigers’ four-game winning streak is over after Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the third inning of the Cubs’ 4-2 victory at Detroit. Joc Pederson had three hits in Chicago’s first win in four games.
— Ramón Laureano hit the first of Oakland’s four homers and Frankie Montas pitched six effective innings in a 6-1 verdict over the Twins. Sean Murphy and Stephen Piscotty (pihs-KAH’-tee) each hit a two-run shot, and Mark Canha (KAN’-ah) contributed a pinch-hit homer in the Athletics’ fifth win in seven games.
— The Astros trounced the Rangers, 10-4 as Martín (mahr-TEEN’) Maldonado homered and drove in three runs to back seven innings by Zack Greinke (GREHN’-kee). Kyle Tucker and Myles Straw each had two hits and two RBIs in Houston’s fourth win in a row.
— Adam Frazier had four hits and led the Pirates’ 11th-inning rally in a 3-2 triumph over the Giants. Frazier tripled home the tying run and scored the winner on Gregory Polanco’s sacrifice fly.
— Marcell Ozuna (oh-ZOO’-nah) and Ozzie Albies hit Atlanta’s first back-to-back homers of the season to help the Braves snap a three-game skid with a 6-3 victory over the Brewers. The Braves led 2-1 in the fifth before Ozuna and Albies went deep against reliever Eric Lauer.
— Garrett Hampson led off the first inning with a triple to ignite a 15-hit attack in the Rockies’ 9-6 victory against the Reds. Wade Miley was torched for eight runs on 11 hits in three-plus innings, one start after throwing a no-hitter for Cincinnati.
Realmuto off COVID-19 list
UNDATED (AP) — Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto (ree-al-MOO’-toh) is back in the starting lineup tonight against Toronto, one day after being placed on the COVID-19-related injured list. Realmuto was cleared to return by Major League Baseball, and was the designated hitter and batting fourth on the posted lineup. Realmuto felt ill and had a fever Wednesday night before being placed on the IL in accordance with MLB protocols.
In other major league news:
— Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks had an MRI that revealed a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. Manager Aaron Boone said the team will initially try to treat the injury with medicine, which could make Hicks available to play this weekend. However, Hicks could require surgery if the medicine is not effective.
— Veteran catcher Tyler Flowers has retired a week after signing a minor league contract with the Braves. The 35-year-old Flowers played for Atlanta from 2016-20 after spending seven seasons with the White Sox. He hit .237 with a .319 on-base percentage, 86 homers and 301 RBIs in 802 career regular-season games.
Jets down Leafs
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — The Winnipeg Jets knocked off the North Division-winning Toronto Maple Leafs as the team teams tuned up for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Kyle Connor scored twice and connor Hellebuyck (HEH’-leh-buhk) stopped 34 shots as the Jets doubled up the Leafs, 4-2. Mason Appleton also tallied and Jansen Harkins added an empty-netter in the regular-season finale for both squads.
Retired Black players say NFL brain-injury payouts show bias
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Thousands of retired Black professional football players, their families and supporters are demanding an end to the controversial use of “race-norming” to determine which players are eligible for payouts in the NFL’s $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims.
Former Washington running back Ken Jenkins and his wife Amy Lewis on Friday delivered 50,000 petitions demanding equal treatment for Black players to Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia, who is overseeing the massive settlement. Former players who suffer dementia or other diagnoses can be eligible for a payout.
Under the settlement, the NFL uses a scoring algorithm on the dementia testing that assumes Black men start with lower cognitive skills. They must therefore score much lower than whites to show enough mental decline to win an award. The practice, which went unnoticed until 2018, has made it harder for Black former players to get awards.
In March, Brody threw out a civil rights lawsuit that claimed the practice is discriminatory. But she later said in a filing that the practice raised “a very important issue” and asked a magistrate judge to compile a report on the problem. She told The Associated Press she did not know when it would be completed.
LaFleur on Rodgers: ‘We want him back in the worst way’
UNDATED (AP) — Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur reiterated his hope that he’d get to continue working with Aaron Rodgers this season while offering no news on the quarterback’s status.
LaFleur said the Packers want Rodgers “back in the worst way.” ESPN reported just before the draft that Rodgers wants out of Green Bay. Packers CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged the issue and said he, LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst have all met with Rodgers during the offseason.
In other NFL news:
— A person with knowledge of the details tells The Associated Press that Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton sustained a serious knee injury Friday while working out on his own. The person said Hamilton is suspected to have torn an ACL, as first reported by NFL Network. That not only imperils his $2.183 million salary for this year, but it also squelches trade talks for the fourth-year pro.
Medina Spirit OK to run in Preakness
BALTIMORE (AP) — Medina (meh-DEE’-nah) Spirit has passed three rounds of prerace drug testing and been cleared to run in tomorrow’s Preakness.
Maryland racing officials said today’s tests on the Kentucky Derby winner and fellow Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour came back with nothing that would cause either to be scratched from the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone in post-Derby testing, causing Baffert’s camp to agree to rigorous testing and monitoring of his horses as a condition of entry to the Preakness.
PGA-AT&T BYRON NELSON
Burns sizzles in taking second-round lead
McKINNEY, Texas (AP)— Sam Burns birdied six of his last eight holes for a 10-under 62 and a two-stroke lead over Alex Noren at 17 under after the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Burns is playing for the first time since his first PGA Tour win two weeks ago at the Valspar Championship in Florida. Before that, he had twice failed to convert 54-hole leads
Noren shot 64 to get to 15 under, and K.H. Lee is at minus-14 after his second 65. Doc Redman bogeyed two of his last three holes for a 67 that left him 13 under.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS-MITSUBISHI
Ames has Tour Champions lead
DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — Stephen Ames has a one-stroke lead over Paul Goydos through the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Mitsubishi Electric Classic. The 57-year-old Ames had an opening bogey and seven birdies on a 6-under 66. Goydos played the back nine in 5 under, closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
Mickelson changes his mind, accepts exemption to US Open
UNDATED (AP) — Phil Mickelson is assured at least one more crack at winning an elusive U.S. Open title after accepting an invitation to play in next month’s event at Torrey Pines.
The five-time major champion has been eligible for every U.S. Open for nearly 30 years, but he’s fallen out of the top 100 at age 50. The U.S. Open is the only major Mickelson hasn’t won, although he’s had six runner-up finishes.
Mickelson said last year that he wouldn’t accept a tournament exemption.
12 of 30 MLB teams able to relax virus protocols
UNDATED (AP) — Five more major league teams have been able to relax coronavirus protocols after 85% of their players and other on-field personnel completed vaccination. That raises the total to 12 of the 30 clubs. Major League Baseball and its players’ union say four additional teams have reached the 85% level of final doses. They would be able to relax protocols within two weeks once they are fully vaccinated.
In other pandemic-related sports news:
— The Rockies have been approved by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment to raise capacity at Coors Field to 35,000 beginning June 1. The size of the crowd is currently 21,363 — or 42.6% capacity. Coors Field is scheduled to host the All-Star Game in July.
—The Reds will have full capacity at Great American Ball Park beginning June 2. The Pirates will no longer require fans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a facemask while at PNC Park.
—The IndyCar race in Toronto has been canceled for the second consecutive year because of the pandemic. The event was scheduled for July 9-11 but can’t take place because of restrictions in Canada.
— Justin Haley will miss this weekend’s NASCAR races at Dover because of COVID-19 protocols. Josh Berry will make his Cup Series debut for Spire Motorsports driving for Haley in Sunday’s Cup race at Dover International Speedway.