CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James sent Toronto into summer vacation for the third straight season as the Cleveland Cavaliers completed a series sweep of the Raptors with a 128-93 win in Game 4 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
James finished with 29 points, 11 assists and spent some of the final 7:38 dancing near the bench during Cleveland’s 10th straight playoff win over Toronto, which changed its system, its roster and its approach but still can’t beat the game’s best player.
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Kevin Love added 23 points and J.R. Smith 15 for the Cavs, who can now rest while waiting for the Boston-Philadelphia semifinal series to end.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 and Kyle Lowry had 10 assists to lead the exasperated Raptors. Toronto’s frustration hit its peak late in the third when All-Star DeMar DeRozan was ejected for a flagrant foul.
The Sixers still face daunting odds headed into Game 5 and trailing 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals: No NBA team has ever won a series down 3-0.
McConnell had a career-high 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in only his second start of the season and meshed well in the backcourt with Ben Simmons. The crowd chanted ”TJ! TJ!” each time he touched the ball in the fourth and proved why he has been so valuable even as bigger stars have sliced his playing time.
With NBA teams down 3-0 having lost all 129 series, the Sixers may need more than spirit to pull off this stunner.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 20 points and Marcus Morris had 17.
DETROIT (AP) – After four seasons of mostly mediocre results, the Detroit Pistons are moving on without Stan Van Gundy.
He won’t return as president of basketball operations and he isn’t staying on as Detroit’s coach, either.
Van Gundy held both those roles for four years, and at times the Pistons seemed to be making progress. But they made the playoffs only once during his tenure, in 2016, and the team announced his departure.
The Pistons went 39-43 this season, missing the playoffs for the third time in four years under Van Gundy. They’ve made the postseason just once in the past nine seasons, and even a blockbuster trade for Blake Griffin wasn’t enough to salvage 2017-18.
The Pistons went 152-176 over the past four seasons under Van Gundy, and his personnel decisions have come under more criticism than his coaching.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Evgeny Kuznetsov’s breakway goal 5:27 into overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6, and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 20 years.
Kuznetsov took a lead pass from Alexander Ovechkin and tucked the puck by Matt Murray to end Pittsburgh’s two-year reign as Stanley Cup champions and propel the Capitals into the NHL’s final four for just the third time in franchise history.
Braden Holtby stopped 21 shots for the Capitals, who will face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals. Alex Chiasson scored his first playoff goal in four years during a taut, tight contest through regulation.
Kris Letang scored for the Penguins and Murray finished with 28 saves but couldn’t close his legs fast enough to stop Kuznetsov’s forehand flick from in close as Pittsburgh’s bid at becoming the first team in 35 years to win three consecutive Cups came to an abrupt end.
PREDATORS 4, JETS 0
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) – Filip Forsberg had two goals and an assist, Pekka Rinne stopped 34 shots for his second shutout of the playoffs, and the Nashville Predatos beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 to force a decisive Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Viktor Arvidsson also scored twice, including a late empty-netter, and added an assist for the Predators. Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen each had two assists.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots for the Jets.
Game 7 is Thursday at Nashville, Tennessee, with the winner advancing to face the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final.
This back-and-forth series has yet to see a team win consecutive games.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – George Springer went 6 for 6 with a home run to match a Houston record as the Astros routed the Oakland Athletics 16-2.
Last year’s World Series MVP doubled and scored in the first inning, hit a three-run homer in the second and then singled and scored in the fourth. Needing a triple for the cycle, he reached on infield singles in the fifth and seventh before adding a fourth single up the middle in the ninth.
Springer’s batting average jumped from .264 to .292. He became the second player in team history to go 6 for 6 and the first to do it in a nine-inning game. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan accomplished the feat in a 12-inning game against the Milwaukee Braves on July 8, 1965.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – San Francisco pitcher Johnny Cueto will be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks because of a strained right elbow and will not have Tommy John surgery.
The 32-year-old right-hander was examined by Dr. James Andrews in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Cueto will undertake rest and rehabilitation.
Cueto is 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA in five starts. He on the disabled list for the second time this season. He missed two starts after spraining his left ankle in early April.
NEW YORK (AP) – The NFL players’ union has filed a non-injury grievance on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid.
The NFLPA cites one team appearing ”to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player’s statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club’s policy prohibiting demonstration” during the national anthem.
League policy does not prohibit demonstrating during the anthem. Referring to the labor agreement with the league, the union notes that NFL rules supersede any conflicting club rules.
The union also says ”at least one club owner has asked pre-employment interview questions about a player’s intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given league policy.”
That team reportedly is the Cincinnati Bengals.
Considered one of the top safeties in the league, Reid played out his contract with San Francisco last season. He has been a strong supporter of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 became the first player to kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.