Wednesday’s Sports in Brief
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State star Kevin Durant strained his right calf during the third quarter of the Warriors‘ 104-99 playoff victory over the Houston Rockets, leaving his status uncertain for the remainder of the Western Conference semifinal.
The Warriors took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, but Durant’s status cast a shadow over the win.
Durant was scheduled for an MRI exam Thursday and his status for Game 6 on Friday night in Houston had yet to be determined.
He finished with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP was averaging 35.4 points in the playoffs coming into the day.
The top-seeded Bucks placed seven players in double figures in their fourth straight win after dropping the series opener. Khris Middleton had 19 points and eight rebounds, and Eric Bledsoe finished with 18 points.
Next up for the Bucks is the winner of the Philadelphia-Toronto series. The Raptors are up 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Thursday night.
It’s the first Eastern Conference final for Milwaukee since 2001.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Captain Joe Pavelski made a triumphant return from a gruesome head injury by posting a goal and an assist in the first period that helped send the San Jose Sharks into the Western Conference final with a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7.
Just over two weeks after being helped off the ice while bleeding from his head in a Game 7 win in the first round against Vegas, Pavelski inspired the crowd and carried his team to another Game 7 victory. He scored the first goal and assisted on Tomas Hertl’s goal as the Sharks advanced to their fourth conference final this decade.
Joonas Donskoi ended a 39-game goal drought, Martin Jones made 14 of his 27 saves in the third period and the Sharks capitalized on a favorable replay review that negated a potential game-tying goal by Colorado in the second period.
San Jose will now play St. Louis in a conference final matchup between two successful teams seeking their first championship. Game 1 is Saturday.
NEW YORK (AP) — An aspiring sports business manager and an amateur basketball coach were convicted of bribery conspiracy at a trial that showed top college coaches were paid off to steer NBA-bound athletes to favored handlers.
The verdict capped the two-week trial of Christian Dawkins and youth basketball coach Merl Code in a case that forced the NCAA to confront corruption affecting basketball players at some of its elite programs.
Dawkins, 26, of Atlanta, and Code, 45, of Greer, South Carolina, were convicted on a conspiracy count, but acquitted of some other charges. Dawkins was also convicted of bribery.
Leaving court, Dawkins said he could have chosen to cooperate with prosecutors and identified coaches he knew were willing to funnel money to top athletes. “I could have,” he said. “Anybody who’s paying players to me is a good guy. I think the whole case is B.S. so I wouldn’t have cooperated.”
The verdict came just days after Dawkins took the witness stand and denied bribing anyone. He testified that an informant and undercover FBI agents, posing as investors in his fledgling management company, had tried to get him to pay bribes, but he refused.
In closing arguments, a prosecutor said Dawkins lied to jurors.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs banned indefinitely from Wrigley Field the fan that used what appeared to be a racist hand gesture behind an African American television reporter during a game at their ballpark.
The Cubs sent a letter to the bearded man who flashed the offensive sign in back of former Cubs outfielder Doug Glanville, who was working for NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday night. The team said it had been unable to contact the fan by phone, and didn’t publicly identify him. President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said the fan could be prosecuted for criminal trespass if he tries to enter the stadium.
Green said the man purchased his ticket on StubHub. Another fan reported his gesture to the team by text during the game against the Miami Marlins — by the time security arrived, the man was gone.
Glanville, who played three seasons for the Cubs, was standing beside the dugout discussing Chicago’s surging offense when the man seated in the background started gesturing. Wearing a gray Cubs sweatshirt and blue pants, he made an upside-down “OK” sign near Glanville’s head during the broadcast. The gesture is associated with the juvenile “circle game,” where someone tries to trick a friend or sibling into looking at it, then punches them in the shoulder. But the symbol has also become a white supremacy sign.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Improbable will have Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith aboard if the colt runs in the Preakness on May 18.
Trainer Bob Baffert said he was making the switch from Irad Ortiz Jr. because “Mike and I have a little luck together.” Baffert and Smith teamed with Justify to win the Triple Crown last year.
Ortiz rode Improbable to a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and the colt was moved up to fourth following Maximum Security’s disqualification for interference.
Baffert said Improbable will train Monday at Churchill Downs, and then he will make a final decision on the colt’s status for the Preakness, a race the trainer has won seven times. If Improbable joins the field for the middle leg of the Triple Crown, he would arrive in Baltimore three days ahead of the race.
The rest of the maximum 14-horse field for the Preakness has begun taking shape. Neither Maximum Security nor Derby winner Country House will run it.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A major U.S. sports network is getting into the sports betting game. Fox Sports says it is buying just under 5% of The Stars Group, the parent company of PokerStars, for about $236 million. Both companies will offer real-money sports betting this fall in states where it is legal and they are licensed.
The network has the option to acquire half of the Stars Group’s U.S. business after 10 years. The companies will offer full-blown sports betting under the name Fox Bet in states that have legalized it. They also will offer a free-to-play game offering cash prizes to users who correctly predict the outcome of sporting events.
The move comes a week before the anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting should they so desire. Eight states currently do, with dozens of others considering it.
AMSTERDAM (AP) — Lucas Moura completed a hat trick in the sixth minute of injury time as Tottenham pulled off another stunning Champions League comeback, beating Ajax 3-2 to set up an all-English final.
A day after Liverpool stunned Barcelona by erasing a three-goal deficit at Anfield, Moura nearly single-handedly helped Tottenham pull off a similar feat in Amsterdam.
Ajax seemed to have the two-legged semifinal wrapped up by halftime after goals from teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech put it 2-0 up at the break — and 3-0 on aggregate. But Lucas Moura scored twice in a four-minute span to level the score on the evening and put the visitors one goal from going through on the away goals rule. After Jan Vertonghen’s header hit the crossbar in the 87th minute, that goal finally arrived when Moura struck again deep into injury time.