NEW ORLEANS – (Special to Digital Spors Desk by the Sports Xchange) – In the full-court layup drill and 3-point contest otherwise known as the 66th NBA All-Star Game, New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis set an All-Star record with 52 points and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook added 41 points to carry the Western Conference to a 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference on Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center.
In a game in which defense was outlawed and feuding former teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant played together for only 81 seconds, the West defeated the East for the sixth time in the last seven games.
The 374 combined points broke the record of 369 set during the West’s 196-173 win a year ago.
The East was led by Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 28 points, and LeBron James, making his 13th All-Star start, with 23 points.
Davis, named the MVP, broke the All-Star Game scoring record of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. He made 26 of 39 shots from the field, eclipsing Blake Griffin’s 2014 record of 19 made field goals in an All-Star Game.
One play in the second half summed up the general mindset of the players, who naturally placed self-preservation ahead of bravado.
Antetokounmpo stole the ball near midcourt and had a four-on-one against Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry. Curry found a spot in the middle of the lane — 10 feet in front of the basket — and laid stomach-first on the floor while Antetokounmpo hit an uncontested layup.
The world did not stop spinning on its axis, but it did skip a beat midway through the first quarter when the West embarked on an otherwise mundane offensive possession.
Westbrook and Durant ran across midcourt on either side of the key. Westbrook flicked a pass to Durant on the left side, and Durant threw it right back to Westbrook on a give-and-go that resulted in an easy layup and a 31-28 West lead.
At the next timeout, the West bench greeted Durant and Westbrook with high-fives, and someone poured a bottle of water on Durant’s head. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan came over and bear-hugged Westbrook as team managers got on the floor and wiped up the water.
The East led 53-48 after 12 minutes — the 101 combined points was an All-Star Game record for a quarter — and the West took a 97-92 halftime lead.
The 189 first-half points broke the All-Star record of 187 points set in the first half last year (West 104, East 83).
There was no defense allowed, so 58.1 percent shooting by the West and 58.0 percent by the East in the first half actually was a shade disappointing.
Davis led the West with 22 points, hitting an opening 3-pointer from the top of the key and then making 10 shots at the rim. Westbrook, who had a couple of fun exchanges going one-on-one against Boston Celtics 5-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas, added 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.
James paced the East with 20 points in the first half.
NOTES: The over-under for the game was 348.5 points. Last year’s 196-173 West victory (369 total points) obliterated the previous highest total of 321. … For the first time in All-Star history, five players drafted in the second round were named 2017 All-Stars — Atlanta’s Paul Millsap and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas for the East, and Golden State’s Draymond Green, the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Memphis’ Marc Gasol for the West. … LeBron James was the fifth player in NBA history to start in at least 13 All-Star games. He joined Kobe Bryant (15 starts) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Cousy and Michael Jordan with 13 each. … Giannis Antetokounmpo was the first Milwaukee Buck to start an All-Star Game since Sidney Moncrief in 1986. … Oklahoma City Thunder G Russell Westbrook won back-to-back All-Star MVPs in 2015 and 2016 — the only player in NBA history to accomplish that feat
NEWARK – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – No. 2/2 Villanova ended the first half with an 11-1 run and started the second half with an 11-0 spurt to pull away from Seton Hall and record a 92-70 victory in front of a record crowd of 16,733 at Prudential Center. The win clinched a tie for the BIG EAST regular-season crown, a league record fourth in a row for the Wildcats.
Villanova’s Jalen Brunson shot 7-of-7 from the floor and finished with 22 points and a career-high 10 assists. Kris Jenkins also connected for 22 points with Josh Hart adding 19. Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington, coming off a 41-point effort in Wednesday’s win against Creighton, had 22 points. Angel Delgado posted his 21st double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Marquette’s Markus Howard set a school record for a true freshman by scoring 34 points to lead the Golden Eagles past Xavier 83-61 before a sellout crowd of 19,033 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Howard also tied a BIG EAST freshman record of nine 3-pointers made (in 12 attempts). Seton Hall’s Shaheen Holloway, now a Pirate assistant coach, made 9 against Boston College on Jan. 4, 1997. Andrew Rowsey added 18 points and seven assists. Xavier had four frontcourt players reach double figures – Sean O’Mara (14 points), Tyrique Jones (13), RaShid Gaston (12) and Kaiser Gates (11). Top scorer Trevon Bluiett missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.
Sunday’s two contests are part of an FS1 doubleheader. No. 25/24 Butler hosts DePaul at 1:30 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs, 9-5 in the BIG EAST, can maintain second place with a victory. The Bulldogs notched their 11th 20-win season in the last 12 years when they beat St. John’s 110-86 on Wednesday. In their first meeting against DePaul, the Bulldogs pulled out a 70-69 overtime win at Allstate Arena on Jan. 20. DePaul’s Eli Cain had 32 points in the loss.
No. 20/22 Creighton will look to turn the tables on Georgetown at a sold-out CenturyLink Center. The Hoyas beat the Bluejays 71-51 on Jan. 25. Georgetown’s Rodney Pryor ranks second in the BIG EAST in scoring with an 18.3 average and Creighton’s Marcus Foster is third at 18.3 ppg. Creighton has won 28 straight Sunday home games. The Hoyas have won four of their last six contests.
SAN JOSE – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Replacing Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy behind the bench paid immediate dividends for the Boston Bruins. The real test begins Sunday night. The Bruins, coming off an extended break, open the California portion of a four-game road trip against Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks as the Pacific Division leaders look to get back on track at home.
Julien, the all-time wins leader of the Original Six club and a Stanley Cup winner, was fired by the Bruins on Feb. 7 and replaced with Cassidy, an assistant under Julien who previously spent five seasons coaching Boston’s top farm team.
The early results are positive. Boston (29-23-6) improved to 3-0-0 under their new bench boss with a 4-0 victory Feb. 12 over the Montreal Canadiens, who fired coach Michel Therrien two days later and replace him with Julien for the second time.
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said he appreciates Cassidy’s cerebral approach to the game.
“He’s so smart, and everything he does has a purpose, so I think whether it’s practice plans or trying to get the attention of a guy in the locker room, he does it with a purpose, and that’s going to be important for us moving forward,” Krug told the league’s official website upon Cassidy’s promotion.
Three days before the win over the Canadiens, Boston defeated San Jose 6-3 in Cassidy’s debut behind a season-high four points (goal, three assists) from Patrice Bergeron and two goals from David Pastrnak.
Bergeron and Pastrnak are two of five players to each record at least four points since the coaching change. Bergeron needs one assist to become the eighth player in team history with 400 assists.
However, the player who may have benefitted most from Cassidy’s promotion is David Krejci. He’s recorded a goal and four assists in the last three games after managing 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in his first 54 contests.
While the Bruins are perfect under Cassidy, they’ve managed only eight goals while dropping three of their last four at SAP Center.
Tuukka Rask is expected to start in goal and try to shake his recent struggles away from home. In his last four road games, Rask is 1-2-1 with a 4.18 goals-against average and .833 save percentage.
Playing in San Jose, he’s lost twice and stopped only 61 of 71 shots after blanking the Sharks on Jan. 11, 2014.
Though San Jose is 18-7-3 at home, it will try to avoid its fourth loss in five games in northern California. Despite the home ice slump, the Sharks (35-18-6) have a four-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers and six points more than the Anaheim Ducks.
The Sharks return home after Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes thanks — again — to Burns as he recorded his 20th multi-point game of the season.
Burns scored twice, giving him 27 goals in 59 games to equal his career best set in 82 games in 2015-16. He will try to become the first defenseman with at least 28 goals since 2008-09 when Mike Green scored 31 with the Washington Capitals.
Burns also has 63 points — good for third in the league in scoring behind Sidney Crosby (64) of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (67).
“He’s having an MVP season,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of Burns. “He’s been that good for us and it’s every night. … In my mind, he’s the best player in the league and we’re happy to have him on our team.”
No defenseman has won the Hart Trophy since the St. Louis Blues’ Chris Pronger in 1999-2000.
This may also be the final time that Joe Thornton gets to bedevil the franchise that selected him first overall in the 1997 draft.
Thronton registered at least one point in 10 of 14 career games versus the Bruins, with three goals and four assists during a five-game streak. With a helper Friday, Thornton has assists in four straight games as part of a six-game run.
The 37-year-old, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, needs two assists to become the 13th player to reach 1,000 for his career.
After rookie Aaron Dell stopped 36 shots Saturday, Martin Jones is expected to make his 50th start for San Jose.
Jones surrendered a career high-tying six goals in an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. In the loss to Boston on Feb. 9, Jones was also lifted after allowing three first-period goals on 12 shots.
Jones never faced Boston in San Jose
NEW YORK – (Wire Service Report) – Former Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne has not pitched in the major leagues since he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 — and he was not very good that season, compiling a 5.44 ERA in 46 1/3 innings.
But the dream to play again lives on for the 41-year-old, who has earned a spot on Team Canada’s roster for the World Baseball Classic later this month. He’s also been serving as a guest pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and all signs point to Gagne attempting a comeback.
Gagne told mlb.com that his fastball has been clocked in the 90s and that his go-to pitch that helped him win the Cy Young in 2003 — the changeup — has returned.
“I feel great. It’s almost scary,” he said.
Gagne has had throwing sessions with the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. The last time he appeared in a spring training camp was with the Dodgers in 2010. But Gagne was feeling the effects of multiple surgeries on his elbow and back and was assigned to the Dodgers’ minor league camp. He asked for his release, which was granted.
He served as a pitching coach for France in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Last season, he pitched in one game for Ottawa of the independent Canadian-American Association. He allowed just one run, two hits and struck out six in five innings.
In a 10-year career that included stops in Texas, Boston and Milwaukee in addition to Los Angeles, Gagne compiled 187 saves, including 55 in 2003. He recorded 718 strikeouts in 643 2/3 innings.