With the winning streak over, the Miami Heat did what they needed to do yesterday - they took the day off - as they prepare to take care of business over the final eleven games of the regular season. Tonight, they are in New Orleans to face the Hornets. Tipoff is at 8:00 pm, and you can watch the game on Sun Sports and nationally on NBA-TV. A Heat player with a lot of experience with streaks is forward Shane Battier, who was part of a 32-game winning streak at Duke, then a 22-game streak with the Houston Rockets, and now the 27-game winning streak with the Heat. He said that the focus, effort, and luck this Heat team had was phenomenal. Bottom line, you need all three for a streak like that to last. The media coverage was suffocating, and the fans, whether they love or hate the Heat, were watching intensely game in and game out. Great streak for the team, great moment for the league. Time to begin the next chapter, and concentrate on a second consecutive NBA championship. After tonight’s game in New Orleans, the Heat travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs on Easter Sunday. Game time on Sunday is 7:00 pm, and it will be televised on Sun Sports and nationally on NBA-TV.
TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION: What are the longest active streaks in sports going on now? Tell you later, alligator.
In the NBA yesterday,
Milwaukee 113 LA Lakers 103
All five Milwaukee starters scored over 16 points, led by Larry Sanders, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Kobe Bryant had 30 in the loss for the Lakers, who are now only half a game ahead of Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Dallas is 1 1/2 games behind the Lakers, and even Portland is still not out of it, 3 games behind.
Indiana 103 Dallas 78
Paul George led the Pacers with 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Roy Hibbert contributed with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Sacramento 117 Phoenix 103
DeMarcus Cousins finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds in only 30 minutes of action. Isaiah Thomas had 23 points and eight assists in the win.
TONIGHT IN THE NBA:
Miami @ New Orleans 8:00 pm Sun Sports, NBA-TV
Washington @ Orlando 7:00 pm
Atlanta @ Boston 7:30 pm
Charlotte @ New York 7:30 pm
Toronto @ Detroit 7:30 pm
Philadelphia @ Cleveland 7:30 pm
Houston @ Memphis 7:30 pm
Oklahoma City @ Minnesota 7:30 pm
LA Clippers @ San Antonio 8:30 pm
Brooklyn @ Denver 9:00 pm
Utah @ Portland 10:00 pm
In college hoops, four semifinal games in each of two regionals last night, with the other two regionals taking place tonight. The finals for these regionals to take us to the Final Four will be played Saturday and Sunday. In last night’s games,
Marquette 71 Miami 61
The large thud you heard was the Hurricanes‘ dream season coming to a sudden, unexpected end as they hit a brick wall. Miami shot a poor 35% from the field as Marquette advances to the Great Eight for the first time since 2003. They will take on
Syracuse 61 Indiana 50
The Orange defense dominated the #1-seeded Hoosiers and held them to their lowest point total this season. Michael Carter-Williams scored 24 points to lead Syracuse.
Marquette will face Indiana tomorrow to in the Southeast Regional finals.
Ohio State 73 Arizona 70
Deshaun Thomas scored 20 points and LaQuinton Ross added 17 points off the bench, including the game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left in the game.
Wichita State 72 LaSalle 58
The Shockers reach the Elite Eight for the first time in 32 years. Malcolm Armstead scored 18 points and Carl Hall added 16 in the win.
The Western Regional finals will be tomorrow between Ohio State and Wichita State.
TONIGHT’S GAMES, STARTING TIMES, AND BROADCAST INFO:
Louisville vs Oregon 7:15 pm CBS
Duke vs Michigan State 9:45 pm CBS
Kansas vs Michigan 7:37 pm TBS
Florida vs Florida Gulf Coast 9:57 pm TBS
The winners of tonight’s games will meet on Sunday to determine who advances to the Final Four.
Here’s the complete Bracket, so you can see what yours and mine DID NOT look like:
Here are my bracket selections for the tournament, along with where I went wrong:
Louisville vs St. Louis Oregon
Duke vs Michigan State
Kansas vs VCU Michigan
Florida vs Georgetown Florida Gulf Coast
Ole Miss LaSalle vs Gonzaga Wichita State
Ohio State vs New Mexico Arizona
Indiana vs Syracuse
Marquette vs Miami
Louisville vs Duke
Ohio State vs Gonzaga Wichita State
Kansas vs Florida
Miami Marquette vs Indiana Syracuse
Louisville vs Ohio State
Miami vs Florida
National Championship game
Louisville vs Miami
In exhibition baseball, the Marlins played their last grapefruit league game of the spring against the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday. Minor league pitcher Justin Nicolino, who came over in the Toronto trade, gave up the only run of the game in the first inning as the Redbirds beat the Fish, 1-0. Great outing for the youngster, who went five innings. The Marlins had two hits all day, a leadoff bunt single by Juan Pierre, and a single by Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh inning. Local product Jon Jay doubled in the first and scored on a Matt Holliday single. The Fish will play an exhibition game against their triple-A affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs in the Big Easy on Saturday, before they open up their regular season on Monday, in Washington, against the Nationals.
Here are all the scores from yesterday’s spring training games. You can “click” on the box scores and the recap under each individual game’s line score.
It seems a little surreal, but the MLB season begins on Sunday, when the Texas Rangers travel to Houston to take on the Astros. This will be the Astros’ first game as an American League team. First pitch will be at 8:00 pm, and you can watch the game on ESPN. Bud Norris will toe the rubber for the Astros, while Matt Harrison will start for the Rangers.
Going back to the Astros for just a moment, the team has reduced payroll to $25 million this season, about $4 million less than what Alex Rodriguez will make this season, even though he isn’t expected to even smell a baseball field until the second half of the season, if at all. The real number, what the Astros are paying players on their roster is around $19 million, as Houston is paying about $5 million of Wandy Rodriguez’ salary, and Wandy is now playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That $19 million number is the lowest payroll number in baseball since (you guessed it) the Marlins, whose payroll in 2006 was a ridiculous $15 million. The Astros are making the Marlins, whose payroll sits at around $40 million this season, look like big spenders.
I reiterate my position on baseball salaries. MLB should have a MINIMUM team payroll established. If you cannot afford that minimum number, whatever MLB determines that number to be, then those owners should just sell their teams, get out of the game and open a couple of fast food restaurants with their money.
In Marlins news, Chris Valaika and Chris Coghlan received good news as the Fish get closer to reaching their regular season roster limit on Saturday at 3:00 pm. The Marlins also just came to terms with backup catcher Miguel Olivo, who will back up Rob Brantly this season. Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post has all the details:
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com gives us his projected opening day lineup for the Marlins. What a difference a year makes:
The Yankees released Juan Rivera yesterday, deciding to keep veteran Lyle Overbay, who was released by the Boston Red Sox a couple of days ago. Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com has the details:
The injury bug is not limited to the Yankees, as the other Big Apple team, the Mets painfully learned yesterday. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com has the bad news concerning former Cy Young award winner Johan Santana:
In Miami Dolphin news, the Dolphins added some beef and bulk to both sides of the ball. The team came to terms with free agent guard Lance Louis and defensive lineman Vaughn Martin.
In NFL news, ESPN.com is reporting that Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are close to completing a contract extension that would make him the highest paid player in league history:
In college baseball, FIU take on Arkansas State in a three-game series beginning tonight at FIU stadium. Meanwhile, the University of Miami is in Charlottesville, where they will take on the Virginia Cavaliers in a three-game weekend series.
I want to thank my good friend “O.D.” Villavicencio for sharing this next story with us. A couple of years ago, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wrote what he called “The Matheny Manifesto”, intended for youth baseball coaches and, especially, parents. It is one of the most thought provoking and incredibly accurate collection of thoughts that I have ever come across on the subject of youth sports. You really have to read this and share it with anyone you think would benefit from it:
Don’t miss my two “Descarga Deportiva” segments (for the Spanish-challenged, “Sports Jam Session”) every day, Monday through Friday, at 9:25 am and 12:15 pm on Radio Esperanza, 1550 AM or on the internet on www.miradioesperanza.com.
THE ANSWER TO TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION: What are the longest active streaks in sports going on now?
In college basketball, there are three streaks in women’s basketball that jump out - Baylor has won 32 in a row, Notre Dame has 28, and Delaware has a streak of 27 consecutive victories. In men’s college basketball, Louisville has a 12-game streak going into tonight’s sweet 16 game against Oregon. The NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins have a 14-game winning streak, and in the NBA, the New York Knicks have the longest active streak, although it is only a modest 6 games in a row.
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Behave yourselves, and always remember that tomorrow will bring us a brand new day.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!