Monday, December 31, 2018

NHL Game Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. Edmonton Oilers - 12/31/2018 - 9:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. Edmonton Oilers - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 9:00 PM EST Venue: Rogers Place, Edmonton, Canada / Mired in a long losing streak to close 2018, the Edmonton Oilers shook things up again. After swinging two deals to shore up a depleted blueline, the Oilers look to avoid their sixth straight loss Monday night against the visiting Winnipeg Jets. Despite two goals from captain Connor McDavid, Edmonton's slide continued Saturday with a 7-4 setback to the San Jose Sharks. Even though McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have combined for more than 45 percent of the Oilers' points this season, coach Ken Hitchcock, who took over behind the bench six weeks ago, continues to tout the need for grit over glitz." When you play with skill, you play with high risk and we're not built that way," he said Sunday. "When we get down a goal or we get down two goals, we've tried to break it wide open, and now we're down three or four goals." The losing streak has helped drop Edmonton (18-17-3) into 11th place in the Western Conference." If you're going to continue to collect points, you're going to have to defend," Hitchcock said. "In this conference, you can't skill your way through games. You've got to work your way through games." Hitchcock's comments came after the Oilers acquired Alex Petrovic from the Florida Panthers for blueliner Chris Wideman and a conditional third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Petrovic had one assist in 26 games with the Panthers this season and is well-known to Nugent-Hopkins." Big body, can really shoot the puck and he's a smart player who knows when to move it and jump up in the play," Nugent-Hopkins said of his juniors teammate, adding that Petrovic plays with an edge. Hitchcock said Petrovic will make his team "sturdier" as the Oilers' defensive corps has been decimated by injuries. Kris Russell could be back Monday from an undisclosed injury that's sidelined him since Dec. 11, but high-scoring Oscar Klefbom (hand) will be out for up to another month. Later on Sunday, Edmonton picked up defenseman Brandon Manning and prospect Robin Norrell from the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Drake Caggiula and blueliner Jason Garrison. Now in his seventh season, Manning had three points in only 27 games with Chicago after career highs of seven goals and 12 assists with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017-18. Football Picks. Three years ago, Manning and McDavid were involved in a hard collision along the end boards in Philadelphia. McDavid, then a rookie, missed almost three months with a broken collarbone. Winnipeg (24-12-2) will also have to get by without a key on defense after Dustin Byfuglien suffered a lower-body injury during a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Byfuglien, who has four goals and 25 assists, won't need surgery but is expected to be out until after next month's All-Star break." We're going to miss the guy, for sure, in almost every facet of your game -- size, physicality, offense, zone time; If it gets a little wobbly out there, calming a game down," coach Paul Maurice said. "But we've got other men who can each do a piece of what Dustin does." The Jets, who are tied with the Calgary Flames atop the West, have won seven of their last eight on the road. Maurice said the Oilers shouldn't be taken lightly despite not winning since Dec. 14." Anybody on the outside (of the top eight in the conference) now is going to fight like playoff hockey right until the All-Star break," he said. Maurice could also be calling on the Jets to take up that mindset as they've been held to one goal in each of their last three games and fo ur of the past five. Patrik Laine leads the team with 24 goals but has only three in December, while Mark Scheifele (22 goals) scored once in his last five games. Heading into the finale of the season series, Winnipeg is 4-0-1 in its last five meetings with Edmonton.

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NHL Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota Wild - 12/31/2018 - 6:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota Wild - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 6:00 PM EST Venue: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN, 55102 / There have been glimpses of brilliance during an otherwise puzzling five-week stretch for the Minnesota Wild that have seen them win four of 14 matches. But forgive Minnesota if it feels as though a page was turned Saturday during a 3-1 victory in Winnipeg that snapped a five-game losing streak. Sports Experts. The Wild not only got two points out of the trip to Manitoba, but may have found something else: Their identity." It's amazing how much a win can kind of lift the weight off a team's shoulders," forward Eric Fehr told the team website Sunday after practice. "When you start sliding, it seems like it's never going to end. It's a little quieter around the room. It's just not as much fun around the rink. You start winning, and you can already see, it's lighter around the room today." Minnesota will try to keep the mood a good one Monday when it closes the page on the 2018 part of the schedule against the surging Pittsburgh Penguins at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Despite their struggles since late November, the Wild (18-16-3) remain only four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. And with the Central Division's top three teams -- Winnipeg, Nashville and Colorado -- having combined for 12 consecutive defeats, there's still plenty of time for Minnesota to make a run." You have to raise your level of the game, especially to the teams you're playing," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If we don't keep the game at the level we have to to succeed, we'll be in trouble. We can't afford to win one, lose one. At some point, you've got to put a run together." Minnesota looked like a team capable of putting that run together in winning at one of the league's tougher barns. It scored first and second, then put the clamps on after a Patrik Laine marker drew the Jets within a goal in the third period. Simply put, it was textbook road hockey, the same type of hockey Pittsburgh (20-12-6) displayed Saturday night in routing St. Louis 6-1 at Enterprise Center. Sidney Crosby scored 48 seconds into the game and the Penguins led 4-0 before the Blues finally countered with a goal. Pittsburgh scored on all four-power play chances and blocked 23 shots in front of Matt Murray, who bagged 30 saves, as it upped its winning streak to five games and improved to 8-2-0 in its last 10 contests. What the Penguins have done lately -- they've come from out of the playoff picture to third in the Metropolitan Division -- is what the Wild are aiming to do as the calendar flips to 2019." It's part of human nature, we have ups and downs," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "Your ability to respond the right way in those situations is what's most important. Our guys -- they know how to do that, and they did that again tonight." The Penguins practiced Sunday without defenseman Olli Maatta and forward Bryan Rust. Both are nursing lower-body injuries.

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NBA Game Preview: Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Hornets - 12/31/2018 - 6:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Hornets - Date: 12/31/2018 Dec 30, 2018CHARLOTTE -- Two teams in far better shape this New Year's Eve than a year ago hope to take gathered momentum into 2019 when the Orlando Magic visit the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.The Magic wrapped up their 2018 home schedule with a 109-107 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon, giving them a 16-19 record.That's five games better than where they were at this point a year ago, when they had the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference (12-25) and already were nine games out of first place in the Southeast Division.The Hornets, meanwhile, are coming off a 130-126 loss at Washington on Saturday that dropped them to 17-18.Nonetheless, that's a 4 1/2 game improvement over last year's mark on New Year's, when they were tied for the third-worst record in the East (13-23) and were 7 1/2 games out of first place i n the division.The Hornets have a chance to end 2018 in a playoff position, while the Magic are just a half-game out.The meeting will be the second of the season, with the Hornets having gone to Orlando in October and come away with one of their most impressive wins of the season, 120-88, behind Kemba Walker's 26 points.The output was one of 17 times this season that Charlotte has scored 113 or more points. Sports Handicapping. The Hornets are 11-6 in those games.Improved scoring is one big reason for Charlotte's move up the standings this season. After averaging 108.2 points per game last season, they're scoring at a 113.4 points-per-game clip this season, the seventh-best in the NBA.If there's been a negative for the Hornets, veteran Marvin Williams noted, it's been allowing at least a handful of winnable games to slip away.Charlotte has suffered losses to Atlanta, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland a nd New York this season."Tonight (at Washington), at Atlanta, at Cleveland ... those were games we had a chance to win," Williams told reporters after the loss to the Wizards. "But they played a lot harder than we did and that (losing) is what happens." Orlando's big improvement this season has been on defense, where they rank seventh in the NBA in points allowed (107.0 per game). Last year, they ranked 21st.Sunday's win over Detroit was another example of the improved defense, with the Magic limiting the Pistons to just 48 points in the second half.Evan Fournier came through with the game-winner at the buzzer on Sunday, assuring that the Magic's defensive effort wouldn't go for naught."To win consistently in this league, it can't be just defending," Magic coach Steve Clifford preached to reporters Saturday. "It is balance. Balanced play is what wins." The season has been an offensive struggle for the Magic, who on Sunday topped 100 points for just the 19th time. Soccer Picks. They've gone 12-7 in those games.Orlando shot just 38.3 percent in the first meeting.The Magic has lost six straight in Charlotte and been held under 100 points in four of those games.

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NBA Game Preview: Boston Celtics vs. San Antonio Spurs - 12/31/2018 - 7:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Boston Celtics vs. San Antonio Spurs - Date: 12/31/2018 Dec 30, 2018The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA's best home teams this season and will put that prowess to the test on Monday when they host the Boston Celtics at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.The meeting between two of the leagues perennial heavyweights is the first of the two for the season. CBS Sports Picks. The Spurs and Celtics split their two games in 2017-18, and San Antonio has won the past six dustups at home and has a 52-39 all-time advantage.San Antonio (20-17) is 14-5 at home and has won seven of their past eight games on its home floor. Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. The Spurs have even started to put things together on the road, with the latest example a 122-111 win at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturda y in the second game of a road back-to-back."On a back-to-back, a lot of guys are tired and that sort of thing," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Road wins are good, so we're happy about it." LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 38 points in the win and keyed a mid-third quarter run that cemented the game. San Antonio busted open a game that was tied at the half by outscoring the Clippers by 20 points in the third period.All five of the Spurs' starters and one bench player scored in double figures. DeMar DeRozen added 25 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio, with Rudy Gay and Derrick White contributed 12 points each."It was about the defense, getting stops, getting out in transition, getting easy buckets," Gay told the San Antonio Express News. "Sometimes we make it hard on ourselves. We forget to play defense. But if we get the ball out, we get easy baskets that way. Pop emphasized that at halftime, getting into transition and not work so hard to score, because sometimes we get into the mud and it slows down." Despite two losses in their past four games, the Spurs are 9-3 over their last 12.Boston heads to the Alamo City on the heels of a rousing come-from-behind 112-103 win at Memphis on Saturday.The Celtics were down by as many as 19 points early in the second half but used 26 points from Kyrie Irving and 18 point by Al Horford to leapfrog the Grizzlies and garner the win. Marcus Morris added 22 points for Boston, while Gordon Hayward hit for 14 off the bench.Irving also had 13 assists, which matched his season-high, while Horford's five 3-pointers equaled his career-best performance from beyond the arc."I didn't think our offense, attention to detail, or physicality was enough in the first half, and it turned up with 20 minutes to go," Boston coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the win. "We got some loose balls. We got some runouts, got down the floor, ma de some shots, felt better about ourselves, and gave ourselves a chance." Boston (21-14) has won three of its past four games after losing three straight."We're making progress every day -- we know that," Stevens said. "We've just got to keep going. It's going to click and when it clicks, it's going to continue to click. We're going to have some days where it's off, but we can't let one game determine us as a team and as a season." Forward Robert Williams, who's missed consecutive games with a strained left groin, is likely to sit for Monday's game against the San Antonio Spurs as well and remains day-to-day.

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NBA Game Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns - 12/31/2018 - 9:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns - Date: 12/31/2018 Dec 30, 2018By Jack MagruderThe Sports XchangeThe Phoenix Suns will ring out the no-so-happy old year with its third consecutive game against the cream of the Western Conference when the Golden State Warriors come to town Monday.The Warriors will follow Oklahoma City and Denver into Talking Stick Resort Arena in the third game of the Suns? season-long seven-game homestand.Golden State (24-13) is one-half game behind division-leading Denver, which held off a spirited Suns comeback for a 122-118 victory Saturday. Oklahoma City is one-half game behind the Warriors, who have beaten the Suns in 16 straight, including once this season.As if that dominant run were not enough, Warriors guard Klay Thompson may have rediscovered his shooting rhythm in the Warriors' 115-105 victory at Portland on Saturday.Thompson had 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting, and he made 4-of-5 threes, a run that got him talking.To his right hand.After hitting his final 3-pointer midway through in the fourth quarter, Thompson brought the hand in front of his face and whispered sweet nothings."I missed you," Thompson told reporters after being asked what he said."It's good to see you again." Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant had 25 points apiece when the Warriors won the second half of the home-and-home set against the Trail Blazers, but Thompson's resurgence may have been the most significant part of the victory.Thompson, who set an NBA record with 14 3-pointers in a 25-point victory at Chicago on Oct. 29, had been 11-of-48 from distance in eight games beginning with a loss to Toronto on Dec. 12.A career 41.6 percent three-point shooter, Thompson is at 34.2 percent this season after Saturday."It's been a five-game absence or so where he (right hand) hasn't been in the game, so to finally see the ball go in at a high rate felt really good, Thompson said.Warriors coach Steve Kerr had an analytic perspective."I think the law of averages just took over," Kerr told reporters. "Shots just went in. I didn't think the quality of his shot attempts looked that much better." The Warriors have won three of their last five games and nine of their last 13 after a rocky stretch in mid-November that included their first four-game losing streak in almost four years while they played through injuries to Curry and Draymond Green.While they are scoring at about the same rate they have while playing in the last four NBA Finals and winning three, their point differential is at its lowest in that stretch and their opponents' field goal percentage is 45.1, the highest in has been in that run.With defensive freshness in mind, Kerr expanded his rotation Saturday, when 10 players played at least 12 minutes and the Trail Blazers shot 42.9 percent."I didn't like what I did the other night, playing eight guys," Kerr told reporters. "I thought everybody who stepped on the floor did a really good job for us." The Suns (9-28), who have won five of eight, have encountered trouble stopping explosive guards Russell Westbrook and Jamal Murray in their last two games.Westbrook had 40 points and 12 rebounds in the Thunder's 118-102 victory Thursday, and Murray had 46 points and a career-high nine threes while playing through ankle pain Saturday."We are searching," Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. "We are looking for a group that can bring presence defensively and some defensive stops." At times down the stretch in recent games, the Suns have put rookie starter Mikal Bridges and athletic reserves Oubre Jr. and Josh Jackson on the floor with Devin Booker and rookie Deandre Ayton, although all five starters played at least 30 minutes against Denver.Ayton, who made himself available as the Nuggets consistently trapped Booker, had a career-high 33 points and had 14 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards. He also had four steals."He's unselfish," Kokoskov said. "He sometimes is too unselfish, just being a good teammate and trying to make the right play. But (when) you're rolling to the basket and nobody is there, dunk the ball. Sports Handicappers. That's the first option, which he did. I think he was more aggressive." Booker had 27 points and eight assists despite leaving briefly after suffering a bruised lower back when he took a charge in the second quarter. He has at least 25 points and eight assists in his last six games. Michael Jordan, Westbrook, James Harden, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the only others with such a streak since 1983-84."That's dope, for sure," said Booker, who is listed as questionable for Monday, "To be mentioned with guys of that caliber, it just says a lot. Sti ll grinding every day to get better, still trying to get wins. Once you get wins, then everyone is going to have stats like that."

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NHL Game Preview: San Jose Sharks vs. Calgary Flames - 12/31/2018 - 9:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: San Jose Sharks vs. Calgary Flames - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 9:00 PM EST Venue: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Canada, T2G 2W1 / CALGARY, Alberta -- Erik Karlsson made a huge impact upon his return to the lineup for the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Sports Handicapping Monitor. The 28-year-old defenseman from Landsbro, Sweden, would like nothing more than to carry his momentum into New Year's Eve when his Sharks (21-12-7) take on the Calgary Flames (23-12-4) in a battle of the top two teams in the Pacific Division at the Scotiabank Saddledome." We have a tough stretch coming up here the next few games," said Karlsson after tallying a goal and three assists to help lead the Sharks to a 7-4 road victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. "We're going to have to play at the top of our level to be able to compete with the teams that we're playing." Now, we've just got to go into Calgary and have the mentality that we're going to win that game, too, and play to the best of our ability and clean some things up from (Saturday) and take the good things with us." Karlsson sat out San Jose's previous two games as a result of being suspended for an illegal check to the head of Los Angeles Kings forward Austin Wagner in the second period of a 3-2 overtime loss at home on Dec. 22." It's nice to be back," said Karlsson, who has put up three goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Sharks this season after playing his first nine NHL campaigns with the Ottawa Senators. "It's never fun to be out of the lineup, especially for the reason that I was out for. Sometimes it's good to watch the games from afar, too. You figure a few things out. I was excited to get back (in the lineup) and I did everything I can to stay in it." San Jose coach Peter DeB oer was also happy to have Karlsson back on the blue line for the Sharks." You can see his impact on the game, on our team, on the players around him," DeBoer said. "You take him for granted a little bit. When he's out, you realize the hole there is there. Every week he's getting more comfortable here." Meanwhile, the Flames will be looking to bounce back following a 3-2 overtime setback at home to the surging Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, two days following a 4-1 road win over the Winnipeg Jets." I thought we faded a little bit as the game went along, didn't have the same jump, but we skated much better here tonight than we did in Winnipeg and I expect us to skate a lot better Monday, too," Calgary coach Bill Peters said following the OT loss to the Canucks. Despite the loss, the Flames still sit tied atop the Western Conference standings at 50 points with the Jets (24-12-2), who have a game in hand." We've played a lo t of good hockey this year, but there's a long way to go and as a group we feel like we've let it slip over the last few games," Calgary captain Mark Giordano told the team website. "We've got to get back to details, be a lot sharper on the defensive side of things and we'll be fine." We've put ourselves in good position. Now, we either let the pack make up ground and catch us over the next 20 or we ramp up, take off and solidify what we've worked for to get to this point. We're looking to solidify -- to take off."

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NHL Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. Dallas Stars - 12/31/2018 - 8:38 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. Dallas Stars - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 8:30 PM EST Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX, 75219 / DALLAS -- The Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars enter their New Year's Eve tilt at American Airlines Center heading in opposite directions, but both clubs hope to end 2018 with a victory. Montreal (20-14-5) is concluding a six-game road trip and is 3-2-0 on after a 6-5 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday." I'd say we played our game. We're fast, we can create things," Montreal coach Claude Julien said postgame. "I thought defensively we were closing them quickly. I thought we did a pretty good job of getting on them." The Canadiens are 10-7-3 on the road this season. Heading into the third period against the Lightning, Montreal held a 5-4 advantage only to allow the high-powered Lightning offense to score two unanswered goals to prevail by one goal." ; There are some things we can take that we did well," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said postgame. "We've been decent at that (holding leads heading into the third period) this year, so it's disappointing to let one slip." Montreal and Dallas have already met once this campaign with the Stars defeating the Canadiens 4-1 at Bell Centre on Oct. 30. Dallas (20-16-3) is on a two-game winning streak after a 5-1 drubbing of Detroit on Saturday, making the Stars 12-5-1 at home. And even though Dallas started a crucial stretch where 10 of its next 13 contests are on home ice with a victory, rookie coach Jim Montgomery moves forward with guarded optimism about whether these past two wins are signs that the ship has finally been righted." I think it's too early to say we're building anything," Montgomery said after Saturday's win. "I think we've got to do it over a more extended period of time. In tonight's (Satur day's) win there were moments where we were a very good hockey team and there's moments where we weren't again. It's not a consistent thing of how we're playing together." One aspect of Saturday's win Montgomery wants to clean up is the Stars putting the Red Wings on the power play four times, leading to Detroit's lone tall -- from Dylan Larkin in the third period." Not happy with it, I think it took away the momentum," Montgomery said. "You can't give refs the opportunity (to call penalties) by taking your stick off the ice. You've got to defend with your stick on the ice and you've got to skate to the defensive side. We had three stick penalties and one elbow." As for Dallas' win in Montreal two months ago, Montgomery said after Sunday's practice that the victory was one starting goaltender Ben Bishop, who will also start Monday, stole by stopping 34 of 35 shots." Claude (Julien) is a n excellent coach and he's got them playing real good hockey in my opinion," Montgomery said of the Canadiens. "Coming off the Detroit game, it's going to be a much faster game and a harder game for us. We need to be ready for it." Bishop is 12-4-3 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .936 save percentage against the Canadiens.

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NHL Game Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche - 12/31/2018 - 8:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 8:00 PM EST Venue: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo., 80204 / A few years ago the Los Angeles Kings were celebrating their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons and looking like a budding dynasty. Winning Sports Gambling. The once-formidable franchise is occupying the basement of the NHL these days and thinking more about positioning for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft than winning another title. At least that was the narrative a few weeks ago. Sports Handicapper Reviews. The Kings have shown life lately, winning four straight -- three against teams in playoff position -- before falling to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night. Los Angeles will try to keep its momentum going when it plays at the struggling Colorado Avalan che on Monday night. Free Sports Picks Twitter. The Kings (15-21-3) are still eight points out of the second wild card in the West with half the season left. How thing unfold over the next couple of weeks could determine if the franchise becomes a seller before the trade deadline. The players are just focusing on what is happening on the ice." I think we're trying to just take it one game at a time, quite honestly," Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. "We have a lot of new guys with not a lot of experience of what it takes to win at this level." The Kings are surging as the Avalanche are stumbling. Colorado has lost four in a row, including an overtime setback to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. Scoring has become an issue after the Avalanche were one of the top offensive teams through the first two months of the season. In five of the last six games, Colorado has scored two goals or fewer and the one contest it had four goals was a loss at Arizona. The struggles led to coach Jared Bednar shaking up his top two lines to create a spark. Despite the trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog combining for 160 points before Saturday's game Bednar moved Landeskog to the second line and put Matt Nieto with MacKinnon and Rantanen. By the second period, Landeskog was back on the top line. He played well but his double minor late in the third period led to a Chicago power-play goal in overtime." Landy is a heck of a player," Colorado forward Alexander Kerfoot told HockeyBuzz.com about the team's captain. "Whatever line's he's playing on, he'll help them produce and help them be consistent. We're lucky to play with him tonight. He's very consistent in what he brings every night. You know what you're getting out of him." Colorado (19-13-7) has three games left on this homestand and needs to turn things around. Despite going 3-7-2 in the last 12 games the Avalanche are still in third place in the Central Division. They will try to shore up some of their defensive issues, which may help get the offense going." We want to be dangerous offensively, but we've got to be better on the defensive side, both on the rush and in our zone," Bednar said Saturday night.

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NHL Game Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Anaheim Ducks - 12/31/2018 - 8:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Anaheim Ducks - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 8:00 PM EST Venue: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA, 92806 / When the Anaheim Ducks face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday at Honda Center, it might seem like nothing has changed since the last time they met five weeks ago. Winning Sports Handicappers. The Ducks (19-15-6) are trying to work their way out of a five-game losing streak, while the Lightning continue to wear out opposing nets and stack up victories with their high-scoring offense. Professional Sports Handicappers. The Lightning (30-7-2) have won 13 of their past 14 games (13-0-1). Basketball Picks. The last time they didn't earn at least a point was a 3-1 loss against the visiting Du cks on Nov. 27. That was also the last time Tampa Bay has been held to fewer than three goals. The Lightning had combined for 16 goals during a three-game winning streak when Anaheim arrived earlier this season. The Ducks were two days removed from a 5-2 loss at the Nashville Predators, dropping them to 5-9-4 over a five-week stretch with two goals or fewer in 13 of those games. But the Ducks scored two goals within the same minute early in the third period and held on for the much-needed win behind 34 saves from backup goalie Ryan Miller. The win was the start of a 9-1-0 surge, but the run seemed to hit a wall when the New York Rangers scored twice in the final 40 seconds of regulation in a 3-1 victory Dec. 18. The Ducks haven't won since. After combining for four goals in the first four games of the current losing streak, Anaheim was looking good as it built a 4-2 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the second period against the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, but the Coyotes erased a two-goal deficit for the third time and won 5-4 in overtime. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle remains confident the Ducks have the personnel and style of play to be successful against any type of opponent." We feel if we stick with it and stick with our template, if we can continue to play that strong forecheck and cycle down low, we'll get our opportunities to score," he said after the loss to the Coyotes. "Right now, with our lineup and the way we're made up, we have to develop that blue-collar and stay-at-home type of defending through the middle of the ice much better than we did tonight." The Ducks breathed a sigh of relief when goalie John Gibson was able to play against the Coyotes after leaving a 4-2 loss at the San Jose Sharks on Thursday with an upper-body injury. Miller is already out another four weeks after sustaining a knee injury earlier this month. He and Gibson have combined to give Anaheim the top save percentage in the NHL at .916. That number took a hit when Gibson gave up five goals on 30 shots against Arizona, which came in as the third-lowest scoring team in the NHL at 2.49 goals a game. Tampa Bay has shown it can give up a high volume of goals as well. Its last two opponents have scored five goals apiece, and five of the past six have scored at least three." We've got to grow a little more here in that regard and not expect the track-meet game, although we can play it, but it's not the ideal formula as we move forward," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said after a 6-5 victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The Lightning's Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL with 63 points, including six goals and 15 assists during a 10-game point streak.

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NHL Game Preview: Florida Panthers vs. Detroit Red Wings - 12/31/2018 - 7:38 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Florida Panthers vs. Detroit Red Wings - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 7:30 PM EST Venue: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI, 48201 / DETROIT -- The Florida Panthers made a trade and the Detroit Red Wings are reeling. Detroit hosts Florida at Little Caesars Arena Monday night. Free Winning Sports Picks. The Panthers (16-15-6) dealt defenseman Alex Petrovic to the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Chris Wideman and a conditional third-round pick in the 2019 Draft on Sunday. Best Sports Picks of the Day. The third-round round pick will be the higher pick between the Edmonton Oilers' third-round draft pick and the New York Islanders' third-round draft pick, which was previously acquired by Edmonton. Wideman, 28, has two goals and five assists in 24 games with Edmonton and the Ottawa Senators this season. Handicapper Directory. The Oilers acquired Wideman in a trade on Nov. 22Petrovic, 26, has one assist in 26 games with Florida. Both players will be unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Panthers came from behind to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Saturday at the BB&T Center on Jonathan Huberdeau's goal with 1:06 left. Mike Hoffman's power-play goal tied it with 6:44 remaining." We had so many chances that wouldn't go in," Huberdeau said. "Just at the end, it worked out for us, and it's a big two points. Me and 1/8center Aleksander Barkov 3/8 were talking to each other and we were like, 'There's no way nothing is going to happen. We had so many chances.' Finally, it happened at the end. We just stuck with it, and it worked out for us." Barkov, also Florida's captain, set up Huberdeau for the goal. The Red Wings (15-19-6), who begin a five- game homestand, lost 5-1 on the road to the Dallas Stars on Saturday for their fourth-consecutive loss (0-3-1) and eighth in their last 10 games (2-6-2)." It's snowballing on us right now. It can't get away from us like that," center Frans Nielsen said. Detroit has been hamstrung by long-term injuries to forward Darren Helm (upper body), right winger Anthony Mantha (broken hand) and defensemen Danny DeKeyser (hand) and Mike Green (lower body). Defense has been a particular concern. The Red Wings have given up five goals in each of their last three games." We need to quit giving up so many goals," coach Jeff Blashill said. "I talked to our team the other day about not letting a goal bother us, but when you're giving up five or six goals, you're not going to win." Detroit was totally outclassed on Saturday night." We deserved to lose, 100 percent," Blashill said. "They outplayed us, without question. They were fa ster than us all over the ice and I don't think they are faster than us, so that's the way we played. We have to be better than that." The only positive was that center Dylan Larkin extended his point streak to 13 games (7-10-17) with a power-play goal in the third period. It is the longest current run in the NHL. It was Larkin's 17th goal, which surpasses his total from last season." He's been consistent all year," Nielsen said. "He competes every night, shows up and works as hard as he can. You can see he's determined. It's fun to watch him grow as a player."

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NHL Game Preview: Ottawa Senators vs. Columbus Blue Jackets - 12/31/2018 - 7:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Ottawa Senators vs. Columbus Blue Jackets - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 7:00 PM EST Venue: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, 43215 / COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets will close out 2018 against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night at Nationwide Arena without their captain. Sports Handicappers Rankings. The club announced Sunday that Nick Foligno will be away from the team to be with his 5-year-old daughter Milana, who will undergo heart surgery in Boston. She was born in 2013 with a congenital heart defect and had surgery a few weeks later. She had battled a virus this fall and Foligno missed a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 17 to be with her while she was hospitalized. Foligno, who has 10 goals and 10 assists in 37 games, will be back with the team as soon as possible, the club said. In the meantime, the Blue Jackets (22-13-3) w ill try to bounce back from a 4-2 loss at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night in a game of missed opportunities. Sports Experts. The shot chart showed the Blue Jackets with 65 attempts against the Maple Leafs, but only 29 were on goal. Free Picks and Parlays. Thus, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella emphasized shooting accuracy in Sunday's practice." Before practice, I put the stat up on the board today," Tortorella said, according to the team's website. "Usually, when you're in practice, you hear pucks ringing off the boards and glass. I didn't hear many. I watched it very closely." The first shot we took in our shooting drill went wide, and then I don't think another one went wide. I didn't hear much noise on the boards." It may sound silly, but I do believe when you do bring focal points to the group and you put a little bit of pressure on concentrating on that part of it, I think they get it quickly." Before Foligno left to be with his daughter, he said, "It's so crucial just to even get a puck on net. It creates a rebound. Even if a goalie makes a save, it's amazing how many times it pops back to you or you gain possession again." During the Blue Jackets' five-game winning streak that ended Friday, they weren't exactly peppering the back of the net with pucks. In the last seven games, they've averaged 2.4 goals, but they kept beating opponents because of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky's stellar play and winger Cam Atkinson's offensive contributions." We played hard, but right now goal scoring is a problem," Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg said. "We've got to score more goals. That's the focus right now." The Senators (15-20-4) might provide a cure. The last-place team in th e Atlantic Division is giving up an NHL-worst 3.93 goals per game. On the flip side, the Senators possess the ability to generate goals at a rate of 3.15 per game. Mark Stone leads the team with 18 goals and 43 points and Matt Duchene is next with 15 goals and has 37 points -- one fewer than defenseman Thomas Chabot. But the Senators are mired in a four-game losing streak and coach Guy Boucher decided at Sunday's workout before leaving for Columbus to break up his top line of Stone, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk. Chris Tierney centered a line with Tkachuk and Stone. White moved to a wing with alongside Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan, and winger Ryan Dzingel was placed on the fourth line with Tom Pyatt and Nick Paul." Those three guys (White, Stone and Tkachuk) have worked so hard and they're great to watch," Boucher said, "but we need to have a team. It's not that I wanted to split the line up, but I have to spread my hard-working elements througho ut the lineup." Ottawa is coming off a 3-2 loss at home to the Washington Capitals on Saturday in which it played without Chabot, who is out for three weeks after sustaining a shoulder injury on Friday night against the New York Islanders." Whether you're having a good season or not, it always (stinks) to be hurt," Chabot said, according to the Ottawa Sun. "It's part of the job. It always happens in hockey and you have to expect this. It is what it is and now we've got to look on the recovery road and hopefully be back as soon as possible." Starting goaltender Craig Anderson also may miss Monday's game with a concussion and so the Blue Jackets could see rookie Marcus Hogberg in net." We're going into a barn that's hard to play in because (Columbus) is a very, very hard-working team," Boucher said. "We're not going to out-skill anybody. We don't have that. The minute we don't work harder than the opponent, we don't get on top."

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NBA Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets - 12/31/2018 - 7:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets - Date: 12/31/2018 Dec 30, 2018HOUSTON -- The stride that proved so elusive for the Rockets in November has finally fallen into their grasps, with only a constant spate of injuries serving as the remaining disruption.The Rockets (20-15) have won 9 of 10 games, including four in succession without guard Chris Paul (hamstring). Handicapping Sports. Their resiliency continues to be tested, however, with the latest tribulation unfolding on Saturday when guard Eric Gordon suffered a knee contusion in the Rockets' 108-104 win at New Orleans.Gordon has been ruled out for Monday when the Rockets host the Memphis Grizzlies at Toyota Center seeking to extend their homecourt winning streak to nine.Gordon could return to action later this week, but his shelving will necessitate Austin Rivers, who signed on Christmas Eve, join ing the starting lineup plus the recall of Brandon Knight from the G-League.The Rockets are hopeful that forward James Ennis will return to the rotation after missing nine games with a hamstring injury. Ennis has been listed as questionable.At some point, the Rockets would prefer to present a fully healthy roster, one capable of utilizing the depth necessary to exploit matchups and provide the starters the rest they need."The more bodies you have the better it's going to be," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We'll get James Ennis back, Chris back, Eric back. If we can stay that way for a while it'll be great. And then, obviously, rotations will change, but we'll have to figure that out." Until then, Houston will continue to lean on guard James Harden, whose December output (35.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 7.5 assists) puts him squarely in the Player of the Month discussion. Interestingly, Harden has excelled despite the avalanche of injur ies around him, logging a manageable 36.6 minutes over 14 games this month. He averaged 37.1 minutes in November.The Grizzlies (18-17) continued their December swoon against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, blowing a 19-point, second-half lead in a 112-103 home loss that dropped their record to 5-9 this month. Memphis, once atop the Western Conference standings, has lost 8 of 11 games.The Grizzlies can link much of their decline to their continued struggles offensively.Playing at the slowest pace in the league (95.8 possessions per 48 minutes) overall this season, Memphis can't afford to score inefficiently (27th in offensive rating this month) or fail to rebound (dead last in rebounding percentage in December at 46.1). When the Celtics made the necessary adjustments after falling behind, Memphis struggled to develop a counter to right the ship.The Rockets lack the Celtics' defensive reputation, but the Grizzlies are aware of what Houston aims to accomplish defensivel y and what problems its scheme might pose."They're going to do something similar defensively," Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said of the Rockets. "They're going to switch the top and maybe a three-way switch once the roller gets past the free-throw line into the weak side. Expert Sports Picks. They're going to do the same things sort of defensively so we'll see how we adjust and prepare for that on the offensive side."

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NHL Game Preview: New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres - 12/31/2018 - 6:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 6:00 PM EST Venue: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N. Y., 14203 / The New York Islanders have everything working right now as demonstrated by the 4-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night. Sports Betting Profit. The game never felt like it was ever in doubt, Islanders coach Barry Trotz said after Mathew Barzal scored three goals in the victory at Toronto. Professional Sports Handicappers. The Buffalo Sabres, on the other hand, cannot seem to get results even when they play well as they did Saturday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins." I thought we played a very strong 60 minutes and overtime," Sabres coach Phil Housley said after the Bruins tied the game at 17:31 of the third period on a power play and won in overtime. Todays Free Sports Picks. The Islanders, winners of three in a row and six of their past seven games, will try to keep it going Monday when they visit the Sabres, who have lost three of their past four." I liked the fact that we stayed with the game plan for the full 60 minutes," Trotz said after his team dominated Toronto and former Islanders captain John Tavares in his first game against his former team. "We didn't really deviate and that to me was real good growth. We have to continue to do that. We knew we were up against a real good hockey team and we had to do things the right way and we did." "I can't fault our effort," Housley said after Sean Kuraly's overtime winner for Boston. "We attacked the game. It's going to be like this throughout the rest of the season where it's going to be tight. I thought we felt really comfortable in the situation." This will be the first meeting between the teams this season. Barzal, who also scored two goals in a win over the Ottawa Senators Friday, scored a natural hat trick in a span of just fewer than eight minutes in the second period on Saturday. He has 10 goals on the season. Robin Lehner made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season and 10th of his career." You could tell before the game that the guys were dialed in, Barzal said. "They were ready to go. We knew what was at stake against one of the top teams in the league. If we play like that, this team can be pretty special." Barzal has six goals and two assists on his four-game point streak." He's shooting the puck," Lehner said. "He's one of the most skilled players in the league and one of the fastest. Just seeing him shooting more in practice, he's starting to trust his shot and have confidence in his shot. He has a good shot. He just has to keep shooting and he'll score a lot of goals." Buffalo is 4-6-4 since its 10-game winning streak Nov. 8-27. The Sabres are struggling to score goals. Jack Eichel has one goal in five games and Jeff Skinner has one in four and they are the team's top two scorers. Jason Pominville has no points in 12 games and no goals in 14, Conor Sheary has one goal in 19 games, Casey Mittelstadt has one goal in 16 games and no points in seven and Tage Thompson has no goals and one point in 13 games. Eichel missed practice Sunday for what Housley termed as "maintenance" and is expected to play Monday. Goaltender Linus Ullmark returned to practice after being unavailable Saturday because of illness. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood was returned to Rochester of the American Hockey League. Right winger Kyle Okposo was used on the fourth line Sunday with Johan Larsson and Remi Elie. Okposo, a former Islander, has not scored a goal in 21 games." Everybody knows the pro duction, right," Housley told reporters Sunday. "You look at the statistics, but I think (Okposo) just has to get back to work. I wouldn't read too much into the lines. We're just trying to create more balance, and I think (Larsson) has played terrific hockey."

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NHL Game Preview: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Carolina Hurricanes - 12/31/2018 - 6:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Carolina Hurricanes - Date: 12/31/2018 Time: 6:00 PM EST Venue: PNC Arena, Raleigh, N. C., 27607 / RALEIGH, N. C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes are taking their shots, but that's the extent of the offense in many situations. Sorting out those shortcomings remains a priority as the team goes into Monday night's game against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers at PNC Arena. Winning Sports Handicappers. The Hurricanes have lost four of their last five games. In those defeats, they've been shut out twice and scored one goal in the two others." There's only so much we can do," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said of potential changes. World's Best Handicapper. The disappointment mounts because the Hurricanes have felt that in many cases the y've done the right things -- except putting the puck in the net." It still looks pretty much the same. We're getting our chances," Brind'Amour said. "Five-on-five, the game is there every night. We've changed lines and we've done that. We've got to obviously get special teams rolling, to at least not hurt us. Sports Picks Today. The 5-on-5 game, I think, is fine." Switching lines up, we'll make a couple little adjustments but I don't know if that's really the answer." The Hurricanes could be pressing at times, something that might not make things better right away." I think that has been weighing on the guys all year, really," Brind'Amour said. "There's no easy answer to it. You have to do it right." Philadelphia isn't without its problems. The Flyers have gone four straight games without winning in regulation, holding a 1-2-1 mark in those games." It's frustrating and disappointing, but we have to move on," Philadelphia left winger James van Riemsdyk said. The Flyers dropped a 2-1 decision at Florida on Saturday, but it was notable on some fronts. Philadelphia won 69.4 percent of its face-offs for its second-best rate in that category this season. Center Sean Couturier was 18-for-24 on draws, coming a game after winning a career-high 19 face-offs at Tampa Bay. Goalie Carter Hart is coming off a 34-save outing for the Flyers. But Florida scored two late goals to pull out the victory." I have to bear down," Hart said. "We'll regroup and get ready for Carolina." Said Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas: "I thought we had the game under control." For the Flyers, Monday night's game marks the fourth stop in a stretch of five consecutive road games. The Hurricanes have been hurt by the absence of center Jordan Staal, who has missed the l ast three games and eight of the last 10 games while dealing with injuries. Staal didn't practice Sunday so it's unlikely he'll be back until January. With the situation facing the Hurricanes, they don't have the luxury to wait for all the pieces to be together." Where we are, every game is important," Brind'Amour said. "If there are points out there, we've got to have them." For Carolina, this is part of consecutive games against the Flyers. The teams meet Thursday night in Philadelphia, though the Flyers have a game in between with Tuesday night's game at Nashville. The other two matchups between the Hurricanes and Flyers come in the final eight days of the regular season.

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NBA Game Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers - 12/31/2018 - 3:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers - Date: 12/31/2018 Dec 30, 2018INDIANAPOLIS -- The fact that the Indiana Pacers are one of the hottest in the Eastern Conference right now is not necessarily surprising given their play all season.The fact that the Pacers' New Year Eve's opponent is one of the other hottest is, though. Entering Monday's game, Atlanta (11-24) has won five of its last six gamesThe Pacers (24-12) have won four games in a row and 11 of the past 13 games.The Hawks' lone defeat in those six games was a 129-121 loss to visiting Indiana Wednesday."So many guys are contributing and doing great things," Atlanta'sVince Carter said.At 41 years and 337 days old, Carter became the oldest player to lead or tie for the lead on a team in scoring with 21 points in 111-108 victory over Cleveland. Carter shared the team scoring lead with Trae Young."I have no idea how he does it and what's going on, but he is amazing," Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. "He's half-man, half-amazing. We needed everything he had. Sports Free Picks. The dunk on the baseline, the four 3s, a big rebound. Sports Handicapper Records. That's kind of what you expect every veteran to do." Carter is averaging 7.7 points per game."I'm not the youngest guy but I want to play the hardest," Carter said. "Hopefully, playing that way is contagious for our team." One negative for the Hawks from the victory over Cleveland is they will be without guard Kent Bazemore for a while. Bazemore left Saturday's game in the third quarter with a right ankle injury. A magnetic resonance imaging test performed Sunday revealed a sprain. Bazemore is expected to miss at least two weeks.Indiana has had seven or more players score in d ouble figures in nine different games this season, including the past three games.Friday night, the Pacers had seven in double figures in a 37-point victory over Detroit despite season scoring leader Victor Oladipo scoring just seven points on a 2-of-9 shooting performance, well below his 19.5 average."None of this is even possible without our best player, Vic," point guard Darren Collison said. "None of this is even possible. We don't play the way we play at the level we're playing at if it's not for Vic. It's not just his game, it's his demeanor, his attitude. You see other players and they're sulking if they're not scoring, or they're not happy. Vic doesn't care. He allows us to be ourselves." Oladipo knows he is drawing more attention as the Pacers' top scorer."With great power comes great responsibility," he said. "I brought that on myself with the year I had, the beginning I had, so I have to ad just. At the end of the day I'm just going to do what's needed to help our team win. I just have to find other ways to score and be effective. I'm going to make the right play, whatever play's there. Just keep getting better. My flow and my rhythm will come back." Collison said the Pacers' true success comes from more than scoring and rebounds."If you look at the box score with this team, you're not watching," Collison said. "What makes the team special is that we do things that don't show up in the box score." The Hawks assigned Omari Spellman and transferred Alex Poythress to the Erie Bay Hawks in the G-League. Polythress scored 11 points Saturday night.Atlanta guard/forward Justin Anderson is listed as probable for Monday's game with flu-like symptoms. Also for Hawks, center Dewayne Dedmon is doubtful with left knee soreness and forward Taurean Prince is out with a left ankle sprain.

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NCAAB Game Preview: Marshall vs. Virginia - 12/31/2018 - 1:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Marshall vs. Virginia - Date: 12/31/2018 Dec 30, 2018CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. -- Playing just their third game over the past couple of weeks during the holiday season, No. 4 Virginia closes out their non-conference schedule on Monday afternoon when they host Marshall.The New Year's Eve tilt gives the undefeated Cavaliers one more tune-up game before a brutal ACC schedule grabs them by the throat. Virginia (11-0) will face three top-10 opponents in the first three weeks of the season beginning on Saturday when they welcome No. 9 Florida State into John Paul Jones Arena.Marshall (7-5) is in the midst of a five-game road trip and will face the Cavaliers in their final non-conference game as well before heading in to Conference USA action.The Herd have lost three of their last five games after starting the season 4-0 and they are matching up against Virginia for the first time since 1992. Sports Handicapper Tracker. The Cavaliers own a 6-2 series record against Marshall.Virginia head coach Tony Bennett will be looking for his 300th career victory on Monday and he has his team off to an 11-0 start for the second time in five seasons after they started 19-0 back in 2014-15."I told the guys before the game that you should feel good about yourselves," Bennett said after his team's win over William & Mary eight days ago. "Not too good about yourselves, but good. Competition will continue to step up, and we'll keep knocking, like we like to say." The Cavaliers continue to boast the nation's top scoring defense (50.3), which seems to be a yearly tradition in Charlottesville. William & Mary became the sixth Virginia opponent already this season to be held under 50 points as the Tribe managed just 17 second-half points.Marshall has had no problem scoring the basketball this season, but it has b een less than stellar on the defensive end. Sports Handicapping Monitor. The Herd are 321st out of 353 Division I teams in scoring defense (80.2) and are coming off a game where they surrendered 92 to Texas A&M.Senior Jon Elmore, the Herd's "do all guard" will be Virginia's focus on defense as he enters Monday's game averaging a team-high 19.6 ppg. Elmore is shooting 37 percent from deep this season and chips in with five assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.Joining Elmore is fellow senior C. J. Burks, who helps carry the offensive load. Burks is scoring at an 18 ppg clip this season and plays 33 minutes to go along with Elmore's 34.6 minutes per game.Sophomore De'Andre Hunter pulled himself out of a mini-slump when he scored 18 points in Virginia's win over William & Mary."I definitely think I was more aggressive on offense," Hunter said. "In the past two games, I had been kind of passive and just letting the game come to me, and I just tried to be more assertive this game." Hunter (14.8 ppg) and junior guards Ty Jerome (14.2 ppg) and Kyle Guy (14.1 ppg) have been the catalysts on offense this season for the Cavaliers. Free Sports Picks. The trio has proven to be impossible to shut down as if one is shut down, another steps up to lead the offensive attack.A win over Marshall would be Virginia's 17th straight against a non-conference opponent in the friendly confines of John Paul Jones Arena. Bennett owns a 71-6 record at Virginia at home against out of conference teams.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

NBA Game Recap: Sacramento Kings (114) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (121) - 12/30/2018

NBA Game Recap: Sacramento Kings (114) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (121) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 31, 2018LOS ANGELES Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 26 points, Josh Hart added 22 and the Los Angeles Lakers won for the first time since LeBron James was sidelined with a groin injury, beating the Sacramento Kings 121-112 Sunday night.Brandon Ingram added 21 points, including seven during the game-deciding run. Good Return on Investment. The Kings led 110-103 with 4:30 remaining when the Lakers scored 12 straight points over a three minute span. Ingram hit a 3-pointer with 2:13 remaining to give Los Angeles a 113-110 lead.A steal and layup by Iman Shumpert brought the Kings within three, but Caldwell-Pope made a driving layup to make it a two-possession game.De'Aaron Fox led Sacramento with 26 points, while Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 21 apiece.It was the second time in four nights that the Kings and Lakers played. Sacramento won 117-116 on Dec. 27 on a 3-pointer by Bogdanovic at the buzzer. Free Sports Handicappers. That was the first game James had missed since injuring his groin during the Dec. 25 game at Golden State. Expert Sports Picks. The Lakers were 0-2 in James' absence.James, who was celebrating his 34th birthday on Sunday, arrived just after tipoff.Sacramento led by four at halftime and was up 85-74 with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter before the Lakers scored 12 straight points to take the lead. Caldwell-Pope keyed the run with nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers.The Lakers' lead lasted only 15 seconds, however, as Hield hit a 3-pointer and the Kings outscored Los Angeles 11-6 over the remainder of the quarter.TIP-INSKings: Willie Cauley-Stein had 11 points and 12 reb ounds. ... Fox also had seven assists, marking the 29th game he has had five or more, which is the fifth-most in the league.Lakers: Kyle Kuzma added 18 points and Lonzo Ball 13. ... JaVale McGee scored eight points in his first game since Dec. 15. The 11-year center had missed seven games due to a respiratory infection. ... Hart's 17 first-half points is a career high, surpassing the 16 he had in the first 24 minutes against Memphis on Dec. 8.UP NEXTKings: Host Portland on Tuesday.Lakers: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday.---More NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/-Sports

NBA Game Recap: Philadelphia 76ers (95) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (129) - 12/30/2018

NBA Game Recap: Philadelphia 76ers (95) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (129) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018PORTLAND, Ore. C. J. McCollum scored 35 points to break out of a brief shooting slump, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 129-95 Sunday night.McCollum made four 3-pointers and hit 13 of 18 from the floor to lead Portland. In his six previous games, McCollum was 35 percent from the floor while going 16 percent from 3-point range.Al-Farouq Aminu had 16 points, Damian Lillard 15 and Jusuf Nurkic 14 for Portland.Ben Simmons scored 19 points to lead the 76ers, who were without center Joel Embiid due to soreness in his left knee. Embiid leads Philadelphia in scoring (26.5 points) and rebounds (13.3).His absence was felt inside, as the Blazers outrebounded the 76ers 59-36.Early on, it appeared as though Philadelphia might get by without Embiid. Best Bets of t he Day. The 76ers hit their first four shots and led 13-7. Nothing went right the rest of the first half for Philadelphia, however, as Portland quickly erased the deficit and ran away from the 76ers.The Blazers had runs of 12-1 and 8-0 to take a 31-20 lead after the first quarter. It was a warmup act for Portland's 39-point second quarter, where the Blazers started by scoring the first 12 points. McCollum scored 19 of his 26 first-half points during the second quarter, as the Blazers built a 70-41 halftime lead.After making its first four field goal tries, Philadelphia hit just 4 of its next 27 shots. It was no match for Blazers, who shot 67 percent (29 of 43) during the first half.Portland didn't let up, increasing its lead to 39 points by the end of the third quarter, when the Blazers emptied their bench.TIP-INS76ers: Coach Brett Brown said Embiid was held out of Sunday's game as a precaution. ''It's not anything we're concerned about,& #39;' Brown said. ... Replacing Embiid was Amir Johnson, who made his second start of the season.Trail Blazers: Forward Maurice Harkless (knee) didn't play. Evan Turner replaced Harkless in the starting lineup. ... Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. The 34-point margin is Portland's most lopsided win of the season.UP NEXT76ers: At Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.Trail Blazers: At Sacramento on Tuesday night.---More NBA: www.apnews.com/NBA and www.twitter.com/-Sports

NFL Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts (33) vs. Tennessee Titans (17) - 12/30/2018

NFL Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts (33) vs. Tennessee Titans (17) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018NASHVILLE, Tenn. Andrew Luck threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 33-17 on Sunday night for the final spot in the postseason as the AFC's No. 6 seed. With the Texans winning the AFC South title earlier Sunday with a victory over Jacksonville, that left the Colts and Titans playing for the second wild-card berth and a visit to Houston on Saturday. Luck remained perfect against the Tennessee Titans, notching his 11th victory for the most wins by a quarterback since at least 1970 to win his first 11 starts against one franchise. He helped the Colts (10-6) - under first-year coach Frank Reich - earn the franchise's first postseason trip since the 2014 season. Expert Sports Picks. The Titans (9-7) snapped a four -game winning streak with quarterback Marcus Mariota sidelined by neck and foot injuries. They missed a second straight playoff berth under first-year coach Mike Vrabel. Profitable Sports Handicappers. The Colts intercepted two of Blaine Gabbert's passes in the final 9:05 to finish off their 13th win in the last 15 games in the series. Marlon Mack ran for 119 yards and a TD for the Colts. Adam Vinatieri kicked field goals of 53 and 25 yards. The NFL's oldest active player missed his final extra point. Derrick Henry, who took the Titans' first offensive snap out of the wildcat, finished with 93 yards. Sports Bettors Phone Leads. Tennessee was missing three defensive starters with four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey placed on injured reserve Monday and linebacker Brian Orakpo scratched for a third straight game. That left the Tita ns unable to pressure Luck even with the Colts missing center Ryan Kelly because of a neck injury. And Luck simply shredded a Tennessee defense that came in as the NFL's No. 2 scoring defense giving up just 18 points a game and sixth against the pass. He drove the Colts 92 yards before hitting Dontrelle Inman with an 11-yard TD pass and finished off a 90-play drive that used up nearly 10 minutes with a 9-yard pass to Eric Ebron. That left the Colts up 14-0, having held the ball for nearly 17 of the first 21 minutes. Luck also added a 1-yard TD toss to Ryan Hewitt on the opening drive of the third quarter for a 24-10 lead. Titans linebacker Jayon Brown almost singlehandedly kept the Colts from putting the game away before halftime. Brown returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. After Adoree Jackson inexplicably grabbed at a bouncing punt that put the Colts at the Tennessee 9, the Colts had a TD run by Mack erased by a holding penalty on center Evan Boehm. Two plays later, Brown stripped Mack of the ball and recovered it. Ryan Succop kicked a 38-yard field goal that pulled Tennessee to 17-10 at halftime. Gabbert threw a 22-yard TD pass to Luke Stocker to pull the Titans to 24-17 late in the third quarter. INJURIESThe already banged-up Titans had tight end Luke Stocker leave with an injured knee early in the second quarter followed by receiver Tajae Sharpe being helped to the sideline with an ankle. Stocker returned. Sharpe didn't. Colts defensive end Tyquan Lewis hurt his knee late in the first half and did not return. Colts receiver Ryan Grant hurt a toe. UP NEXT:Colts: Wild-card game in Houston on Saturday. Titans: Try to get Mariota healthy and find a better backup. ---Follow Teresa M. Walker at www. twitter. com/teresamwalker---More NFL: https://apnews. com/NFL and https://twitter. com/-NFL

NCAAB Game Recap: UC Davis (55) vs. USC (73) - 12/30/2018

NCAAB Game Recap: UC Davis (55) vs. USC (73) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018LOS ANGELES Bennie Boatwright scored 19 points, Derryck Thornton added 16, and Southern California pulled away late to defeat a pesky UC Davis squad 73-55 Sunday night.Elijah Weaver chipped in 14 points as USC (7-6) shot 64 percent in the second half to finish its nonconference schedule with its second straight victory after losing four in a row.TJ Shorts II scored 14 points and Silas Schneider added 13 to lead UC Davis (3-10), which fell to 0-7 on the road this season. Football Picks Today. The Aggies were held to 40 percent shooting, managing to make just 4 of 17 3-pointers.Leading 51-49 with 8:50 to play, USC reeled off four consecutive baskets, taking a 60-49 lead on Elijah Weaver's 3-pointer. After the Aggies answered with consecutive baskets by Shorts, Thornton hit a 3-point er and Boatwright added a fadeaway jumper for a 65-53 lead with 5:20 to play.USC outscored UC Davis 22-6 over the final nine minutes of the game.The Trojans erased a 28-21 deficit with an 11-2 run, capped by Boatwright's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in the first half for a 32-30 lead.This was the first meeting between these two schools.BIG PICTUREUC Davis: The Trojans were the second Pac-12 opponent on the Aggies schedule. Winning Sports Gambling. The defending Big West Conference champions, who went 22-10 a year ago, nearly upset Arizona before falling 80-78 in Tempe, Arizona, on Dec. 22. Last year, the Aggies also beat Washington State 81-67.USC: The Trojans' six nonconference losses so far have come against teams with a combined 59-12 record. USC won its 36th straight game when it held an opponent to 70 points or less.UP NEXTUC Davis: The Aggies finish up their nonconference schedule against Holy Names at home on Saturday. Good Sports Handicappers. They open their Big West schedule at UC Irvine on Jan. 10.USC: The Trojans open the Pac-12 Conference schedule at home against California on Thursday night, followed by a home game against Stanford on Sunday night.

NHL Game Recap: Vegas Golden Knights (5) vs. Arizona Coyotes (1) - 12/30/2018

NHL Game Recap: Vegas Golden Knights (5) vs. Arizona Coyotes (1) - Date: 12/30/2018 / GLENDALE, Ariz. Brandon Pirri and Paul Stastny each had a goal and an assist and Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 shots in the Vegas Golden Knights' 5-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night. Brad Hunt, Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter also scored to help Vegas win its third straight and extend its points streak to six games. NBC Sports Picks. The Golden Knights have won five of six games against Arizona since Vegas entering the NHL last season. Vegas improved to 3-4-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. Arizona played for just the fourth time in a back-to-back situation and lost the second game for the first time this season. A large following of Golden Knights fans made plenty of noise for the visiting team in the most recent installment of the fledgling rivalry, and saw their team take control with three goals in the third period. Sports Handicappers Rankings. The third was a short-handed goal from Carpenter, his second goal of the season. Just when the Golden Knights' first power play ended, Pirri got a rebound behind the net and backhanded the puck back toward the crease, where Stastny was waiting to stuff it in the net at 3:35 of the first. Pirri has seven points in the six games this season. Arizona's Nick Schmaltz appeared to tie at 1 with 8:54 left in the second period, but the goal was reviewed on a coaches' challenge and overturned for offside. Vegas made it 2-0 with 3:57 to play in the second. Brad Hunt tipped a loose puck in front, and Smith got to it first for a shot that zipped past Kuemper. Kuemper finished with 33 saves. Top Rated Sports Handicappers. The Coyotes took ad vantage of a 5-on-3 power play with two Golden Knights in the penalty box to get their lone goal at the 2:58 mark of the second. Alex Galchenyuk scored, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson getting the assist. Ekman-Larsson reached 312 career points, passing Keith Yandle for the most points in franchise history for a defenseman. Galchenyuk ran his points streak to five games, in which he has totaled seven points. Eakin edged the puck over the goal line at 4:21 of the third for his 12th goal of the season, and Pirri scored on a breakaway less than three minutes later. Notes: Coyotes F Brad Richardson missed his third straight game with an illness. ... D Kevin Connauton was shaken up and went back in to the dressing room late in the first period but returned for a shift in the final seconds of the period and stayed in the game. ... Vegas F Valentin Zykov, just claimed off waivers on Saturday, was scratched. So were D Jon Merrill and F Tomas Nosek, who missed his first game since Dec. 20. ... F Alex Tuch was given a penalty for a check to the head when he drove a shoulder into Arizona's Nick Cousins, which led to the Coyotes' power-play goal in the second. UP NEXTKnights: Hosts Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Arizona: Hosts Edmonton on Wednesday night.---More NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/-Sports

NBA Game Recap: Oklahoma City Thunder (103) vs. Dallas Mavericks (105) - 12/30/2018

NBA Game Recap: Oklahoma City Thunder (103) vs. Dallas Mavericks (105) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018DALLAS Teenage rookie Luka Doncic scored 25 points, young backcourt mate Dennis Smith Jr. hit the go-ahead layup in the final minute and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-103 on Sunday night.Paul George scored the last 13 points for Oklahoma City and finished with 36, but he missed a pull-up jumper over Smith with 2 seconds left in the first of two straight meetings on back-to-back nights for these regional rivals.The Thunder still had a chance with 1.7 seconds left, but Russell Westbrook missed a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer to wrap up a rough night for the 2017 MVP. He was 4 of 22 from the field for nine points with nine rebounds and eight assists.The Thunder led by as many as six in the final two minutes after consecutive 3s from George, but the Mavericks chipped away thanks to missed shots and turnove rs by Oklahoma City.Smith's layup for a 104-103 lead came after he dribbled away from the basket and reversed course to the hoop. Profitable Sports Handicappers. The second-year guard who turned 21 last month scored 14 points.DeAndre Jordan, who had 12 points and 17 rebounds, pulled Dallas to 101-99 with a thunderous dunk. Sport Handicapping. The Thunder turned it over but Westbrook knocked away Harrison Barnes' pass to Doncic. Free Sports Picks Daily. Trailing the play, Jordan grabbed the loose ball and dunked without taking a dribble.George was 12 of 24 from the field but just 3 of 11 from 3 as the Thunder shot 24 percent from beyond the arc. Westbrook missed all eight of his attempts from long range.The Mavericks took their first 10-point lead on a 3 from the 19-year-old Doncic while th e Thunder went without a field goal for more than six minutes to start the third quarter. The lead reached 13 in the final minute of the third on a 3 from J. J. Barea.The Dallas lead was gone less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, with Oklahoma City getting even at 86 on a floater from Dennis Schroder, who scored 19 points.DUELING GERMAN 3sThe first of Dirk Nowitzki's six points came on a 3 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter, but the fellow German Schroder hit one in transition 5 second later to finish the scoring in an entertaining first quarter. Oklahoma City led 28-27 after the first.TIP-INSThunder: Westbrook got a technical after he didn't get a call on a bump from Maxi Kleber when he drove for a layup that was short. ... Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson scored 10 points apiece while Steven Adams had nine rebounds and eight points.Mavericks: Barnes had 16 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith added 10. ... G Wesley Matthews missed his second game with right foot soreness. ... Smith got a technical for complaining going into a timeout about a no-call when Westbrook made contact with his face.UP NEXTThe teams finish a back-to-back against each other Monday in Oklahoma City.---More NBA: www.apnews.com/NBA and www.twitter.com/-Sports

NCAAB Game Recap: Illinois Chicago (58) vs. Northern Kentucky (73) - 12/30/2018

NCAAB Game Recap: Illinois Chicago (58) vs. Northern Kentucky (73) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. Jalen Tate scored a career-high 25 points, Drew McDonald had 19 points and 20 rebounds, and Northern Kentucky beat Illinois-Chicago 73-58 on Sunday night.McDonald became the first Norse player in over 46 years to record at least 20 rebounds. Jim McMillan had 23 rebounds for the Norse (12-3, 2-0 Horizon League) on Dec. 18, 1972, against Anderson (Ind.)Dantez Walton added 15 points and eight rebounds for Northern Kentucky, which won its fourth in a row and improved to 10-0 at home this season.The Norse took control with a 9-0 run to lead 32-20 late in the first half and extended the margin to 44-28 at halftime. Northern Kentucky had its largest lead of 18 on the opening basket of the second half, but the Flames closed the gap to 65-57 on Tarkus Ferguson's 3-point play with 5:32 left in the game.Marcus Ottey h ad 18 points and Jacob Wiley scored 12 for the Flames (7-8, 1-1).

NCAAB Game Recap: Detroit U (73) vs. Cleveland State (61) - 12/30/2018

NCAAB Game Recap: Detroit U (73) vs. Cleveland State (61) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018CLEVELAND Antoine Davis scored 17 points, Derrien King and Josh McFolley added 15 apiece and Detroit Mercy handled Cleveland State 73-61 Sunday night, opening Horizon League play with two wins for the first time in a decade.Lamar Hamrick pulled down 11 rebounds for the Titans (5-9, 2-0), King added six assists and McFolley had three steals.Neither team shot well, Detroit Mercy finishing 25 of 65 with seven 3-pointers in 25 tries. Cleveland State (5-10, 0-2) shot a nearly identical 39 percent, 22 of 57, with six treys in 26 attempts.Davis, the NCAA leader with 67 3-pointers coming into the game was 1 of 11 from distance. He was the third-leading scorer in the nation at 26.1 points per game.Detroit Mercy turned the ball over just five times while scoring 17 points off 13 Cleveland State turnovers.Jaalam Hill led the Vikings with 13 points.The Titans face defending conference-tournament champion Wright State Thursday, beginning a five-game homestand.

NBA Game Recap: Minnesota Timberwolves (113) vs. Miami Heat (104) - 12/30/2018

NBA Game Recap: Minnesota Timberwolves (113) vs. Miami Heat (104) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018MIAMI Karl-Anthony Towns scored 34 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, leading six Minnesota players in double figures as the Timberwolves defeated the Miami Heat 113-104 on Sunday night.Towns added seven assists and six blocked shots for the Timberwolves. Sports Touts. The only other player in NBA history to have that many points, rebounds, assists and blocks in the same game was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, for the Los Angeles Lakers against Phoenix on Nov. 14, 1975. Abdul-Jabbar had 35 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists and eight blocks in that game.Robert Covington scored 16 and Taj Gibson added 14 for Minnesota. Free Sports Picks Today. The Wolves also got 13 apiece from Andrew Wiggins and Dario Saric, while Tyus Jones scor ed 12.Dwyane Wade led Miami with 21 points. Josh Richardson scored 17, Derrick Jones Jr. added 16 and Hassan Whiteside grabbed 13 rebounds for the Heat - who ended the 2018 calendar year with a 43-43 record.Miami led only once, and that was for all of 25 seconds. But Minnesota was never exactly running away with this one - the Wolves' lead was merely 55-54 at halftime, 86-77 after three quarters and was up to 90-79 early in the fourth.That's when Miami went on its last-gasp attempt to steal one.A three-point play by Wade, and 3-pointers by Olynyk and Tyler Johnson added up to a 9-0 run that got Miami within 90-88 and put the Heat in position to win down the stretch.Towns was having none of that.He ended the Minnesota scoring drought with a short hook, added a three-point play and his 3-pointer with 4:06 left put the Timberwolves up 103-92.TIP-INSTimberwolves: It was the 13th time Towns has posted at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game. Minnesota, somewhat surpr isingly, is now only 6-7 in such contests. ... Minnesota forced 19 turnovers, while committing only 10.Heat: Chris Bosh was back in the stands for a second consecutive game, plus was with Miami at practice on Saturday. ... Miami missed its first eight shots. ... Whiteside got three stitches over his left eye in the first quarter. He returned to the game. ... James Johnson missed the game with an illness. Jones Jr. started in his place, giving Miami its 15th starting lineup in 35 games.WAITERS CLEAREDHeat guard Dion Waiters returned after two days of practice with Miami's G League affiliate in Sioux Falls, complained about how cold it was there, but more importantly declared himself ready to play again. ''I feel great. You ask those guys out there, I don't think I missed a shot. I'm talking about a lot of deep shots, too,'' Waiters said. He hasn't been in a game for the Heat since Dec. 22, 2017 - but may make his season debut Wednesday in Cleve land.TWO POINTSMinnesota was without its two primary point guards: Derrick Rose missed the game with a right ankle sprain, and Jeff Teague missed his seventh consecutive game with left ankle inflammation. Rose hasn't appeared in a game at Miami since Dec. 6, 2016. Also out for Minnesota was Keita Bates-Diop, who was ill.UP NEXTTimberwolves: Visit New Orleans on Monday.Heat: Visit Cleveland on Wednesday.---More NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/-Sports

NBA Game Recap: Chicago Bulls (89) vs. Toronto Raptors (95) - 12/30/2018

NBA Game Recap: Chicago Bulls (89) vs. Toronto Raptors (95) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018TORONTO Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points, Pascal Siakam had 20 points and 12 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat Chicago 95-89 on Sunday night, their seventh straight win over the Bulls.Danny Green and Fred VanVleet each scored 10 points as the Raptors bounced back from their largest defeat of the season, a 29-point loss at Orlando on Friday.Lauri Markkanen had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Wendell Carter Jr. had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who didn't score for the first 3:19 of the fourth quarter.Chicago's Zach LaVine fouled out with 13 points. It was a poor shooting night for LaVine, who went 3 for 17, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range.Kris Dunn scored 14 points, and Justin Holiday and Chandler Hutchison each had 11 as the Bulls fell to 5-8 under coach Jim Boylen.Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (sore lower back) sat for the seventh time in eight games. Best Sports Handicappers. Toronto is 5-3 without the four-time All-Star.Ahead 68-65 to start the fourth, the Raptors got back-to-back 3-pointers from Delon Wright and Siakam and held a 74-65 lead at 10:10.Carter ended Chicago's drought with a hook shot at 8:41. Chicago missed 12 of its first 15 shots in the final quarter.Markkanen's 3 at 1:21 brought Chicago within 85-82, but Leonard answered with a pair of free throws. After a missed shot by Dunn, Siakam was fouled and made a pair, giving Toronto an 89-82 advantage with 25 seconds to go.Toronto outscored the Bulls 13-2 in fast-break points and scored 21 points off 18 Chicago turnovers.Toronto missed 11 of its first 14 shots and matched a season-low for points in a quarter in dreary opening frame. Holiday scored six points for Chicago and the Bulls led 20-14 after one quarter.The Raptors led by one, 40-39, at halftime.TIP-INSB ulls: Chicago matched a season-low for opponent's points in the first half. ... F Bobby Portis missed his fifth straight game because of a sprained right ankle.Raptors: Coach Nick Nurse said Lowry is recovering and should be able to return soon. Lowry also missed time with a bruised hip during this stretch of absences. ... VanVleet snapped a streak of 16 consecutive missed shots with a fast break layup in the third. VanVleet missed his final eight attempts in Friday's loss to the Magic. ... Free Soccer Picks. Toronto went 8-7 in December.UP NEXTBulls: Host Orlando on Wednesday night.Raptors: Host Utah on Tuesday night.---More NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/-Sports

NCAAB Game Recap: Massachusetts (72) vs. Georgia (91) - 12/30/2018

NCAAB Game Recap: Massachusetts (72) vs. Georgia (91) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018ATHENS, Ga. Nicolas Claxton scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Georgia to a 91-72 win over Massachusetts Sunday.Rayshawn Hammonds chipped in 18 points and eight rebounds in the final tuneup for Georgia (8-4) before Southeastern Conference play begins. Free Sports Picks Daily. Tyree Crump came off the bench to score 14.Massachusetts (7-6) got 22 points from Luwane Pipkins. Jonathan Laurent added 11 and Rashaan Holloway 10.Georgia dominated the Minutemen in rebounding, 43-27. UMass also struggled on offense, hitting only 4 of 22 from the 3-point line, an 18-percent rate. Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. The Minutemen came in shooting 38 percent from long range.The Bulldogs shot well: 54 percent from the floor, 42 p ercent from behind the 3-point line, and 87 percent on free throws.Georgia's domination of Massachusetts on the boards started in the opening minutes, as the Bulldogs built a 12-2 lead less than five minutes into the game. NFL Handicappers. The Minutemen did not have a single rebound until the 14:19 mark when Laurent corralled a missed Georgia shot.The lead got as big as 23-10 after a corner 3 by Hammonds with 10:40 to go. But Samba Diallo sparked UMass on an 8-0 run with a backdoor layup and a putback, closing the gap to 23-18 with 8:27 to go.Georgia's long-range game late in the half built a 43-32 halftime lead as Claxton, Crump and Hammonds all hit 3s, the last a fallaway from the corner with just five seconds left in the half.Massachusetts scored the first basket of the second half to briefly close the margin to single digits, but that was the last time.Georgia was never seriously threatened and gradually built its lead. The final 19-point spread was as big as it got.BIG PICTUREUMass: Massachusetts was outrebounding its opponents in its first 12 games, but the Minutemen were no match inside for Georgia. They did not have a single rebound for nearly six minutes. UMass also failed to shoot up its standards. Luwane Pipkins' driving layups were the one highlight in the game.Georgia: The Bulldogs have shown a propensity for building big leads only to let them evaporate, as in a 76-74 loss to Arizona State, and in last week's 70-59 win over Georgia Tech. But the collapse never came in this game as Georgia held a comfortable lead throughout.UP NEXTMassachusetts begins Atlantic 10 play at home Saturday against LaSalle.Georgia opens Southeastern Conference play with the difficult assignment of traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee, to play the No. 3 ranked Volunteers Saturday.---More college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/-Top25

NFL Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers (32) vs. Los Angeles Rams (48) - 12/30/2018

NFL Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers (32) vs. Los Angeles Rams (48) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018LOS ANGELES Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds caught two touchdown passes apiece from Jared Goff, and the Los Angeles Rams secured a first-round playoff bye with a 48-32 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Cory Littleton returned one of his two interceptions for a TD as the Rams (13-3) forced four turnovers and wrapped up their winningest regular season since 2001 with a six-game sweep of their NFC West rivals. Goff passed for 199 yards for Los Angeles, which needed a win over the Niners or a loss by Chicago to clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC postseason. The Rams didn't mess around, playing nearly every starter except Todd Gurley and jumping to a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes before stretching it to 28-3 midway through the second quarter. Nick Mullens passed for 282 yards with three touchdowns and three interc eptions for the 49ers (4-12), who wrapped up their fifth consecutive non-winning season. San Francisco went winless on the road for the first time since 1979, Bill Walsh's first season in charge. George Kittle set the NFL's single-season record for yards receiving by a tight end with 1,377 when he caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Mullens with 2:20 left, while Richie James also caught a TD pass and Alfred Morris rushed for 111 yards and a score. San Francisco also set an NFL record with just seven takeaways all season after failing to force a turnover by Goff and his teammates. Sports Monitor. The Rams hadn't swept San Francisco since 2004, but coach Sean McVay dropped 87 points on his friend Kyle Shanahan's club in two meetings this season. C. J. Anderson rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown in his second 100-yard game in place of Gurley, who sat out again to rest his knees. Top Rated Sports Services. The Rams clinched the division four weeks ago, but missed the chance to secure a week off when they lost at Chicago two weeks later. The Bears pushed LA until the final week, but the Rams took control quickly at the Coliseum. On the game's fourth snap, Aqib Talib returned fullback Kyle Juszczyk's fumble inside the Niners 10. After Cooks caught a TD pass, Littleton returned his first interception 22 yards and Anderson punched it in. Littleton, the Rams' do-it-all linebacker and Pro Bowl special-teamer, took his second pick 19 yards to the house early in the second quarter. Cooks' second TD catch put the Rams up by 25, but McVay didn't pull his starters until the second half as the Niners kept pushing. Free Sports Picks of the Day. The Rams rested Gurley and safety Lamarcus Joyner, but otherwise used their regular lineup with a bye on the line. Gurley is expected to be ready for the postseason, and an extra week off will only help. KITTLE'S MARKKittle had nine catches for 149 yards, including five for 95 yards in the fourth quarter. He surpassed both Rob Gronkowski's 2011 record of 1,327 yards and the new mark set earlier Sunday by Kansas City's Travis Kelce, who finished this season with 1,336. The Niners were determined to get the record, targeting Kittle 14 times - including six times in the fourth quarter of the blowout. DONALD'S DOMINANCEAaron Donald had one sack to finish with 20 1/2 for the season. The Rams' peerless defensive tackle fell short of Michael Strahan's single-season sacks record of 22 1/2, but Donald still set an NFL record with 183. 5 total sack yards when he dropped Mullens for an 8-yard loss in the first half. INJURIES49ers: LG Laken Tomlinson left the field on a cart in the second quarter with an apparent right knee injury. Rams: LT Andrew Whit worth left the field gingerly in the second quarter with a knee injury, frightening fans who realize the veteran's importance to the Los Angeles offense. He didn't return, but rookie Joseph Noteboom appeared to play well in his absence. . . . S Blake Countess started in Joyner's place, but left the game early with a concussion. ---More NFL: https://apnews. com/NFL and https://twitter. com/-NFL

NCAAB Game Recap: Denver U (60) vs. Western Illinois (78) - 12/30/2018

NCAAB Game Recap: Denver U (60) vs. Western Illinois (78) - Date: 12/30/2018 Dec 30, 2018MACOMB, Ill. Kobe Webster scored 22 points with four assists, leading five players into double-digit scoring and Western Illinois won its Summit League opener, toppling Denver 78-60 on Sunday.Ben Pyle scored 15 points for Western Illinois (6-9, 1-0). C. J. Duff and Jordan Hughes 11 each and Isaac Johnson 10. Hughes also pulled down 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.Ade Murkey led the Pioneers (5-11, 0-2) with 13 points, Ronnie Harrell, Jr. added 10 with nine rebounds. Denver has lost three straight.After some early back-and-forth had Denver ahead 22-20 after a David Nzekwesi layup, Duff scored two from the foul line to tie, and Webster followed with a layup off a turnover for a 24-21 Western Illinois lead.The Leathernecks never trailed again and led by as many as 23, outscoring the Pioneers 46-24 in the paint and adding 20 point s off 12 Denver turnovers.