Update on the latest in sports:
OKC beats Pacers
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Paul George scored 31 points against his former team, Russell Westbrook turned in a triple double and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 107-99 in a battle of playoff-bound teams on Wednesday night.
Steven Adams had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Westbrook added 17 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his 29th triple-double of the season.
The Thunder went on a 24-0 run in the third quarter and never trailed again. It was a critical win for Oklahoma City, which had lost five of six.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and Domantas Sabonis added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.
In other NBA games:
– Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Derrick Favors scored 20 and Joe Ingles nearly posted his first triple-double to power the Utah Jazz to a 115-100 victory over the depleted Los Angeles Lakers. Jae Crowder scored 16 points and the balanced Jazz, with seven players in double figures, won for the eighth time in nine games. LeBron James sat out for the Lakers.
– Devin Booker became the youngest player in NBA history with consecutive 50-point games, but his latest scoring binge was wasted once again by the last-place Phoenix Suns in a 124-121 loss to the Washington Wizards. Thomas Bryant’s layup and free throw with 2.8 seconds left put Washington ahead for good in a back-and-forth game.
– The Golden State Warriors are back in first in the West. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant each scored 28 points, with Durant going 12 of 13 from the field, and the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 118-103 on Wednesday night to take sole possession of the Western Conference lead. Curry also had 10 rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and nine rebounds to help the Warriors break a tie with idle Denver for the top spot in the West.
– Seth Curry scored a season-high 20 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Chicago Bulls 118-98 on Wednesday night. Still shaken by Jusuf Nurkic’s gruesome leg injury two nights earlier in a double-overtime victory over Brooklyn that secured their sixth straight playoff appearance, the Blazers made it look easy against a short-handed team.
Flyers keep playoff hopes alive
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Philadelphia Flyers have kept their slim playoff hopes alive. Sean Couturier scored in regulation and provided the only goal in a shootout as the Flyers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 Wednesday night.
Radko Gudas, Travis Konecny and Ryan Hartman also scored for Philadelphia, which remained mathematically alive for a playoff berth. The Flyers moved within eight points of idle Montreal for the final playoff spot with five regular-season games remaining.
Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri and William Nylander scored for Toronto.
In other NHL games:
– Alexander Radulov and Miro Heiskanen scored to lead Dallas to a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, in a game in which Stars goaltender Ben Bishop left with an apparent injury. TJ Brodie scored for Calgary.
– Tyson Barrie scored in the second period to become Colorado’s all-time goals leader among defensemen, Philipp Grubauer kept up his solid play with a 34-save performance and the playoff-chasing Avalanche beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Matt Calvert, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Bourque also scored to help the Avalanche stay two points in front of Arizona for the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference with five games left.
– David Pastrnak scored three goals and set up one that helped Jake DeBrusk set a career high with five points, sending the Boston Bruins to a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
It’s a new era
UNDATED (AP) – Beyond all the shifts, analytics and social media outreach, here’s the best way to tell Major League Baseball has zoomed into a new era: There’s not a single active player left from the 20th century.
The Elias Sports Bureau says Adrian Beltre and Bartolo Colon were the last. And with all 30 teams set to play Thursday – from Bryce Harper’s home debut at Citizens Bank Park to Mookie Betts and the champion Boston Red Sox visiting Seattle – this year MLB becomes the first of the four major sports without someone still around who played in the 1900s.
And there’s evidence of change in the game itself. The complete game is nearly completely gone from baseball. Shutouts are vanishing, too.
The numbers are striking.
Go back to 1978, and there were more than 1,000 complete games in the majors. Move to 2003, and the total was about 200. In 2018, though, there were only 42 – the lowest total in the sport’s history, according to Baseball-Reference .com – and just 19 of those were shutouts, the fewest since the 1870s.
Or to put it a different way: Roughly every other game featured a starter who went the distance 40 years ago, whereas about one in every 55 games did last season.
Last year, no one threw more than two complete games. No one delivered more than one shutout.
Setback for Indians star Lindor, with sprained ankle
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Cleveland Indians star Francisco Lindor’s recovery from a strained right calf muscle has been set back by another injury: a sprained left ankle.
Manager Terry Francona said Wednesday in Minnesota, where the Indians will start the season, that Lindor was hurt running the bases in an intrasquad game.
The three-time All-Star shortstop was previously ruled out for the opener because of the injury he suffered in early February, but the original timetable had him in the lineup by mid-April at the latest. Now Lindor could need more time than that. Francona said it was too soon to tell how long he’ll be out.
Rookie Eric Stamets will take Lindor’s place in the middle of the infield.
QB Blaine Gabbert signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
UNDATED (AP) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added depth at quarterback, signing former first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert entered the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 and has also played for the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans.
Gabbert has appeared in 56 games, including 48 starts. He’s completed 842 of 1,498 passes for 9,063 yards, 48 touchdowns and 47 interceptions.
The Bucs announced the signing Wednesday. Gabbert joins Ryan Griffin as a backup to Jameis Winston.
In other NFL news:
– The Dallas Cowboys have signed safety George Iloka, adding experience at a position that was a high priority going into the offseason. The addition of Iloka on a one-year contract came after the Cowboys decided against being serious bidders for Earl Thomas. A three-time All-Pro during nine seasons in Seattle, Thomas signed a four-year deal with Baltimore. The Texas native made overtures to the Cowboys when he was still playing for the Seahawks. Iloka started 76 of 83 games in his first six seasons, all with Cincinnati.
– Former Denver Broncos and Houston Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has pleaded guilty to careless driving in a February crash in downtown Denver. As part of a plea deal announced Wednesday, Thomas’ attorneys say prosecutors dismissed a felony vehicular assault charge. Thomas was fined $300, must complete 50 hours of community service and was placed on supervised probation for one year. Police said Thomas was driving more than twice the speed limit on Feb. 16 when his SUV went off the road and flipped end-over-end after hitting a median. One of his passengers suffered serious injuries, while Thomas and another passenger had minor injuries.
– A court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by the man convicted of killing former Saints football star Will Smith during a traffic altercation, rejecting claims that Cardell Hayes acted in self-defense. Hayes is serving a 25-year sentence for manslaughter in the shooting death of Smith and attempted manslaughter in the wounding of Smith’s wife.
Virginia Tech’s Ty Outlaw charged with marijuana possession
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Virginia Tech’s Ty Outlaw has been charged with possession of marijuana, potentially jeopardizing his status for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament.
The sixth-year senior was charged March 21, the day after he and the Hokies arrived in San Jose, California for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, according to records on the Virginia Courts Case Information web site. His hearing is set for April 11. Outlaw started and scored seven points March 23 as the fourth-seeded Hokies beat Saint Louis 66-52 in the first round of the tournament.
Virginia Tech plays Friday night against top-seeded Duke in Washington, D.C.
Virginia Tech officials did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions about Outlaw’s status going forward.
Outlaw, who lost one season of eligibility to a heart condition and another to a torn ACL, is among the top 3-point shooters in the nation, having made 78 of 171, or 45.6 percent. He is fifth in scoring at 8.7 points per game for the Hokies, but a streaky shooter capable of big games. His career high is 24 points for a game in which he made a then-school record eight 3-pointers against Miami on Feb. 27, 2017.
Outlaw also started the Hokies’ second-round game against Liberty, finishing with 11 points and a career-best 11 rebounds in a 67-58 victory.
Holcomb’s team upgraded to Sochi silver medalists
MIAMI (AP) – The late Steven Holcomb and three of his U.S. bobsled teammates have been upgraded to silver medalists in the two- and four-man events from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee’s executive board has reallocated the medals from the Sochi Games in bobsledding after vacating the golds that Russian pilot Alexander Zubkov won in both the two- and four-man events. Zubkov was stripped of the medals as part of the fallout from the sanctions levied against Russia after a probe into state-sponsored doping at the Sochi Olympics.
That means Holcomb, who crossed the line third in both of those races, now is a two-time silver winner in addition to the four-man gold he won at Vancouver in 2010.
Latvia now wins the gold in four-man, followed by Holcomb and the U.S. team of Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt. The bronze is now awarded to Britain. In two-man, Switzerland will receive the gold, followed by Holcomb and Langton for the U.S., with Latvia claiming bronze.
Holcomb died nearly two years ago.
Steinbrenner IV veers left away from baseball into IndyCar
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Instead of trying to be “the next George Steinbrenner,” George Steinbrenner IV is trying to be “the next Roger Penske.”
He’s part of baseball royalty, the grandson of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and a slam-dunk applicant for a cushy job in one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. His path instead took a left turn to Indianapolis in pursuit of a career in racing.
In an interview with The Associated Press he said, “I love baseball, I love racing, and if I wasn’t doing one I would be doing the other.”
Steinbrenner IV, just 22 years old, is the youngest owner of an IndyCar team and on Sunday became the newest member of the winner’s club. Colton Herta, who turns 19 later this week, snatched victory at Circuit of The America’s in Austin, Texas, to become the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history.
The duo will celebrate the win with the COTA trophy Thursday on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.
Rays considering blue lights to tint roof in domed stadium
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – The Tampa Bay Rays are exploring the possibility of using blue lights to tint the roof of Tropicana Field in hopes of giving the domed stadium a different look as well as making it easier for players to track flyballs.
The lights are part of a new LED lighting system installed throughout the team’s home park. Plans to use them this year are pending approval by Major League Baseball, which is not expected to make a decision before the Rays open the season Thursday against the Houston Astros.
The club began testing the blue lights after breaking spring training camp in Port Charlotte this week, with players offering mixed reviews about how effective they might be in helping them follow flyballs.
Testing will continue with no definitive timetable for deciding to move forward with the plan to use them during games.
The Rays played an exhibition game at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. The blue lights were turned on during the national anthem, but not for the game.
Gate at Purdue’s stadium to honor superfan Tyler Trent
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – A memorial gate leading to the student section entrance of Purdue University’s football stadium will be built to honor Tyler Trent, the school’s superfan and cancer activist who died in January.
University President Mitch Daniels announced plans Wednesday for the permanent memorial at Ross-Ade Stadium for Trent, who died on Jan. 1 at age 20 following a battle with bone cancer. The Tyler Trent Memorial Gate will be erected before the start of the fall football season.
Trent became a social media star with his positive attitude and determination to live every day to the fullest.
Daniels also announced the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award, a memorial scholarship in Trent’s name. The scholarship goes to Sean P. English, a freshman from Northville, Michigan.