Apr 24, 2019

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

๐Ÿช Happy Hump Day! Coming tomorrow on Axios Sports: NFL Draft Special Edition. Prepare your brains for a massive knowledge dump.

  • NBA playoffs: The East's second round is now set: (1) Bucks vs. (4) Celtics and (2) Raptors vs. (3) 76ers. In the West, Portland is onto Round 2, Denver is up 3-2 on the Spurs and the Rockets and Warriors could clinch tonight.
  • NHL playoffs: Last night's Sharks comeback was one of the most epic things imaginable. One more Game 7 tonight: Hurricanes at Capitals (7:30pm ET, NBCSN).
1 big thing: ๐Ÿ€ Dame Time

Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images

With one 37-foot shot as time expired, Damian Lillard ended the Thunder's season, propelled Portland to the second round, and immortalized himself in basketball lore โ€” creating one of those rare moments destined to live forever.

Recap: Lillard scored a career-playoff-high 50 points (17-33 FG, 10-18 3PT) and led a furious fourth quarter comeback to deliver a series victory in Game 6 at home.

  • That's 12 straight road playoff losses for the Thunder, which is a truly remarkable stat. How is that even possible? Also, they swept the Blazers 4-0 in the regular season. Wild.

What they're saying: "Hard pressed to conjure up a bigger playoff buzzer-beating dagger than a series-ending 37-footer to cap a personal 50-point night to send home a team that's been ๐Ÿ’ฉ talking you, mocking your wrist-tapping celebration, etc.," Rich Eisen tweeted.

  • Meyers Leonard: "That's easily the best performance I've ever seen with my eyes. The way Dame leads, the way he approaches every day, the teammate that he is, the friend that he is ... The guy is simply unbelievable."
  • Charles Barkley: "I think itโ€™s time to move [Russell Westbrook] to the 2."

๐ŸŽฅ Watch: I made a Twitter thread with every video of Lillard's shot you'll ever need. Dive in.

P.S. ... If you want to fall in love with Damian Lillard, read this. Unbelievable leader and person.

BONUS: ๐Ÿ“ธ Future poster
Photo: Sam Forencich via Getty Images

View it in HD.

2. ๐Ÿ’ Sharks score 4 goals in 4 minutes to win Game 7

Barclay Goodrow (right) is swarmed by teammates after scoring the game-winner in OT. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks were down 3-0 midway through the third period of last night's Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights. And then all hell broke loose, resulting in a finish that can only be described as iconic.

What happened: With 9:13 left in the third, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was cross-checked in the chest by Vegas' Cody Eakin, and the refs controversially ruled it a five-minute major, granting San Jose a five-minute power play.

  • Over the next four minutes, the Sharks scored four straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. Logan Couture scored twice, Tomas Hertl scored once and the tiebreaker came from Kevin Labanc, who assisted on the first three goals.
  • It's just the second time in playoff history that a team has scored four goals on one major power play, and it had Sharks fans going bananas. But then ... the Golden Knights tied it with 47 seconds left! Twitter lost its mind.
  • In overtime: Sharks fourth-liner Barclay Goodrow, who barely played all night, scored the game-winner with 1:41 remaining, instantly becoming one of the most unlikely heroes in Bay Area sports history.

Meanwhile, in Boston: The Bruins eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 for the second straight year, beating them 5-1.

  • Canada's Stanley Cup drought now stands at 26 years with all three Canadian teams โ€” the Flames, Jets and Maple Leafs โ€” eliminated.
3. ๐Ÿˆ College hoops scandal could spread to football

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

On Day 2 of the the latest college basketball bribery trial, a key government witness testified that he made payments to college football players at major programs, at least once at the direction of a coach.

Details: Former financial adviser Marty Blazer said that from 2000 to 2014, he made payments to players at Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Northwestern.

  • Meet the witness: Blazer got in trouble with the SEC over an investment fraud scheme in 2014. He agreed to work with the FBI to avoid a hefty prison sentence, and he's been recording phone calls for them ever since. Wild story.

What's next: Blazer is back in court today.

4. ๐Ÿ“บ James Holzhauer won't stop dominating "Jeopardy!"
Source: Giphy

Las Vegas sports bettor James Holzhauer continued his miraculous "Jeopardy!" run last night, becoming just the second contestant to ever win more than $1 million during a daily run.

By the numbers: Holzhauer won $118,816 last night to bring his 14-day total to $1,061,554, second only to Ken Jennings' $2.5 million.

  • Here's the kicker: During Jennings' 74-game winning streak, he averaged $34,000 per victory. Holzhauer? He's averaging $71,000.
  • It took Jennings 33 games to eclipse $1 million in winnings. Holzhauer has done it in just 14.

Between the lines: Holzhauer plays, as Slate's Jeremy Faust puts it, "like a cyborg contracted for the express purpose of winning at this ever-popular game." It's as if he's been sent from the future to dominate Alex Trebek's TV show.

  • He isn't afraid to make huge bets during Daily Double or Final Jeopardy, a result of years spent gambling on sports, I'd imagine.
  • His buzzer reaction time is off charts. Probably because he read a book called "Secrets of the Buzzer" and practiced with a homemade pencil-buzzer for weeks. Fascinating stuff, man.
  • His strategy is to go for the $1,000 or $2,000 clues instead of starting at the beginning of each category, which Jennings said he's never seen before.
"It's absolutely insane what he's doing. โ€ฆ I remember as a kid doing the math and figuring out how much somebody could win if they got every question, and got all the Daily Doubles last, and they bet everything on them. โ€ฆ Did I actually think we would see someone try that? No, I did not."
โ€” Ken Jennings (via Wired)

Go deeper: James Holzhauer is bad for "Jeopardy!"

5. โšพ๏ธ Division update: AL West

Seattle's T-Mobile Park, home of the divison-leading Mariners. Photo: Rod Mar/MLB Photos via Getty Images

1. Seattle Mariners (16-10): Despite losing seven of their last 10 games the Mariners remain atop the division almost a month into the season.

  • Player to watch: 26-year-old Daniel Vogelbatch (1.287 OPS) is one of the early favorites for AL Rookie of the Year.
  • By the numbers: The Mariners lead MLB with 56 homers. The Brewers are the next closest team with 50.

2. Houston Astros (14-9): Since their 10-game winning streak was snapped last week, the 'Stros have slowed down quite a bit. They remain a World Series favorite, nonetheless.

  • Player to watch: Closer Roberto Osuna (0.96 ERA) has seven saves so far and appears to have returned to the All-Star form he showed back in his Toronto days.
  • By the numbers: The Astros lead MLB with a .280 team batting average.

3. Texas Rangers (12-10): The Rangers have won six of their last nine games against AL West opponents. Problem is, they're 4-5 against everyone else.

  • Player to watch: Joey Gallo is actually hitting for contact! The slugger's batting average is at .300 so far, up from .209 for his career.
  • By the numbers: The Rangers have seven triples this season โ€” good for fourth in MLB.

4. Oakland Athletics (13-13): The Athletics have been the epitome of average this season. They've won five of their last 10, but their pitching is struggling.

  • Player to watch: Khris Davis has finished the past four seasons with the same exact batting average: .247. It's insanity. Davis' average so far this year? .242.
  • By the numbers: The A's have scored 127 runs, which ranks second in the AL behind the Mariners (163).

5. Los Angeles Angels (9-15): The bad news is that the Angels have lost eight of their last 10 and sit in last place. The good news is that Shohei Ohtani will be back next month.

  • Player to watch: Matt Harvey has given up 22 runs in 24.2 innings pitched. Not ideal.
  • By the numbers: The Angels starting rotation sports MLB's fourth-worst ERA (6.01). Woof.
6. ๐Ÿ€ April 24, 1994: The Admiral drops the pettiest 71 points ever

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

25 years ago today, Spurs center David Robinson scored 71 points in the final game of the regular season to win his only scoring title (29.8 ppg), beating out second-year stud Shaquille O'Neal by six points.

The backdrop: With Michael Jordan hitting baseballs in Birmingham, Shaq was the NBA's most popular player, and many of the league's best big men didn't love the rapping, acting, backboard-breaking youngster stealing all the attention.

  • The straight-laced Robinson, in particular, was painted as Shaq's polar opposite and arch rival. One was flashy and celebrity-obsessed, while the other was humble and service-oriented.
  • Their beef lasted a decade, with the Spurs and Lakers taking turns beating each another in the Finals. But on this night, it was Robinson who got the last laugh โ€” and he took a career-high 41 shots to make sure he did.

Watch: Shaq's 10 year beef with David Robinson

7. ๐Ÿ€ NBA trivia

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker is coming up on his fifth year in the NBA, and he's already played for four head coaches, going on five. That's the same number that Dwyane Wade played for over his 16-year career.

  • Question: Can you name Dwyane Wade's five head coaches? Ron Rothstein, who briefly coached the Heat in 2007, doesn't count.
  • Hint: Only one is a current NBA head coach.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: Huge upset at the World Snooker Championship
James Cahill plays a shot as Ronnie O'Sullivan looks on. Photo: Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

From Mike Sykes: We're four days into the 2019 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, England, and things are getting spicy.

Driving the news: In one of the most shocking upsets in snooker history, world No. 1 Ronnie O'Sullivan was ousted in the first round by James Cahill, an unranked amateur.

  • Seven days ago, Cahill became the first amateur to ever qualify for this tournament, and now he's beaten the sport's potential G.O.A.T. Have a week, kid.

How it works: Established in 1927, the World Snooker Championship pits 32 players against each other in a knockout format over the course of 17 days.

  • The world's top 16 players automatically qualify and the previous year's champ gets the top seed. Three qualifying rounds determine the rest of the field.

What's next: With the world's best player out of the picture, Australian Neil Robertson (2010 champion) and world No. 2 Mark Selby (three-time champion) are the new favorites. The action continues today.

Watch: Snooker, explained

9. Everything else
Photo: Courtesy of Premier Lacrosse League

๐ŸŽ‰ Lacrosse: The Premier Lacrosse League held its inaugural college draft last night. Top five picks: 1. Attackman Pat Spencer (Loyola), 2. Midfielder Ryan Conrad (UVA), 3. Midfielder Zach Goodrich (Towson), 4. Faceoff specialist Alex Woodall (Towson), 5. Attackman Clarke Petterson (Cornell). ... Full recap.

โšฝ๏ธ Soccer: Southampton's Shane Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history: 7.69 seconds. ... What's the fastest goal ever, you ask? The two-second strike Saudi striker Nawaf Al Abed scored for Al Hilal in 2009.

๐ŸŽฌ Television: HBO is teaming up with director Adam McKay ("Succession", "The Big Short") for a scripted drama based on author Jeff Pearlman's book about the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers. Yes.

10. ๐ŸŽฐ Tonight's Pick 3
Photo: John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Pro tip: If you want to master the art of sports betting, download the Action Network app. Highly recommend.

1. Who will win Hurricanes vs. Capitals?

  • Know this: The Canes are 12-18 (40%) this season as the betting underdog, which is what they're listed as tonight.
  • Watch: 7:30pm ET (NBCSN)

2. The Rockets (-7.5) and Warriors (-13.5) are big favorites tonight. Will both teams cover the spread?

  • Betting 101: The Rockets are 7.5-point favorites (live odds tracker), meaning they must win by at least eight points to cover. The Warriors are 13.5-point favorites, meaning they must win by at least 14 points to cover.
  • Watch: 8pm ET; 10:30pm (TNT)

3. Who will score the most points in the NBA tonight?

  • Multiple choice: (1) James Harden, (2) Donovan Mitchell, (3) Steph Curry, (4) Kevin Durant, (5) Lou Williams, (6) Someone else.

๐ŸŽฐ Play now: Make your picks (cutoff time: 7:30pm ET)

Yesterday's results: 54.2% correctly predicted that the Bruins would win โ€ฆ 26.9% correctly predicted that the team that scored first in Sharks vs. Golden Knights would lose โ€ฆ 32.3% correctly predicted that Damian Lillard would score the most points.

  • 10 nailed all three: David Jennings (Nashville); Alden Sulger (Ann Arbor, Mich.); Joshua C. (Cleveland); Isaac Stephenson (Fruitport, Mich.); Tamara Braunstein (Seattle); Quinn Ritzdorf (Denver); Chris Girandola (St. Petersburg, Fla.); Chris Eumont (Dallas); Eric Lail (Washington, D.C.); Joshua S. (Forest Hills, N.Y.)
Kendall Baker

Thanks,

Kendall "Damian Thrillard" Baker

Trivia answer: Stan Van Gundy, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Fred Hoiberg, Ty Lue