Shooters Gotta Shoot

02/17/2021

Good Morning,

The greatest thing I saw yesterday wasn’t sports, but a throwback to sports movie nostalgia. Adam Sandler reenacted the famous Happy Gilmore golf swing on the movie’s 25th anniversary. And crushed it

“Shooter McGavin, this is for you.”

What a classic. Speaking of shooters…

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NBA

Beard in Brooklyn: How Harden is Embracing New Role

Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

James Harden Scores 38, Sparks 24-Point Nets Rally Without Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving

James Harden isn’t who you thought he was. The Beard led a furious franchise-record 24-point comeback last night to beat the Suns (128-124), and he did it without Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving in uniform. Phoenix looked unstoppable in the first half, but Harden (38 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds) came alive. After pulling Brooklyn to within striking distance, he hit the dagger 3 in the final minute for the Nets’ first lead of the game. They’re just one game out of first place in the East, but this game was just a microcosm of what ‘The Beard’ has become in his new Brooklyn home.

Harden’s New Role

Notorious for being a ball-hog who shoots too much, the Beard’s new identity is proving otherwise. Harden is 18th in the league in scoring this season, but his assist numbers? They rank number one. If Harden truly is embracing his role as the NBA’s assist leader, the Nets could be Finals bound.

NBA Assist Leaders

James Harden: 11.3 apg

Luka Doncic: 9.4 apg

Russell Westbrook: 9.4 apg

Trae Young: 9.3 apg

Nikola Jokic: 8.7 apg

Watch: Harden Sparks Franchise Record 24-Point Comeback

Other NBA Highlights

Celtics Survive 43 From Joker: Nikola Jokic poured in 43 points Tuesday night in Boston, but Jamal Murray had nine turnovers in a 112-99 loss to the Celtics.

Zion Beats Ja, Again: Zion Williamson and the Pelicans took down Ja Morant and the Grizzlies (144-113) for the fifth straight time (5-0) since the duo was drafted 1-2 in 2019. Zion had 31 points on 81-percent shooting and Morant had 28 points on a 75-percent night.

LeBron Carries LA Without AD: LeBron James put up a 30-point double-double Tuesday night to take down the T-Wolves (112-104) sans Anthony Davis. The Lakers have won 8 of their last 10.

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TENNIS

The Aussie Gets Ousted

Photo: William West / Getty Images

1) Ashleigh Barty Exits AUS Open After Controversial Comeback by (25) Karolina Muchova

Women’s Bracket: It was Ashleigh Barty’s tournament to lose, and lose she did. The top-ranked Australian was the last hope for her country to finally see a home-grown talent claim the Australian Open crown after 43 years. Barty won the first set convincingly, 6-1, before 24-year-old Czech star Karolina Muchova called a nine-minute medical timeout. Muchova returned and rallied in Sets 2 and 3, completely flipping the match momentum. Barty’s loss means (10) Serena Williams and (3) Naomi Osaka are the last remaining top-20-ranked players in the women’s bracket.

Men’s Bracket: (1) Novak Djokovic dropped another early set for the fourth straight match before rallying late to eliminate (6) Alexander Zverev. (4) Daniil Medvedev knocked off (7) Andrey Rublev in the all-Russian quarter-final meeting while (2) Rafael Nadal and (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas play into the morning hours.

Match Highlights

Men’s Quarter-Finals

(1) N. Djokovic def. (6) A. Zverev (6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6)

(4) D. Medvedev def. (7) A. Rublev (7-5, 6-3, 6-2)

Women’s Quarter-Finals

(25) K. Muchova def. (1) A. Barty (1-6, 6-3, 6-2)

(22) J. Brady def. J. Pegula (4-6, 6-2, 6-1)

In Action This Morning: (2) R. Nadal vs. (5) S. Tsitsipas

Men’s Remaining Semi-Finalists

(1) N. Djokovic, (4) D. Medvedev, A. Karatsev, TBD (Nadal/Tsitsipas)

Women’s Remaining Semi-Finalists

(3) N. Osaka, (10) S. Williams, (25) K. Muchova, (22) J. Brady

Additional Storylines

ESPN: Tennis Crowds Able to Return at Australian Open as Melbourne Ends Lockdown

EuroSport: Ashleigh Barty Stunned by Rejuvenated Karolina Muchova After Medical Timeout

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SOCCER

Mbappe’s Hat Trick Powers PSG

Photo: Alex Caparros / Getty Images

Champions League: PSG & Liverpool Win Leg 1 Matches With Flying Colors

The Champions League returned with some of the biggest clubs in Europe taking the pitch on Tuesday, and the road teams won both. PSG stormed into Camp Nou and routed Barcelona (4-1) behind a hat-trick from superstar Kylian Mbappe. Barca scored first on a Lionel Messi penalty strike (’27), but PSG’s 22-year-old dominated for the final 60 minutes. Up in Germany, a five-minute surge from Liverpool broke the tie against RB Leipzig (2-0). Mo Salah (’53) and Sadio Mane (’58) both scored to help the Reds claim a significant Leg 1 advantage. There’s more action today…

Match Highlights (Leg 1)

PSG def. Barcelona (4-1)

Liverpool def. RB Leipzig (2-0)

Today’s Schedule (Leg 1)

Sevilla vs. Dortmund (3:00 pm ET)

Porto vs. Juventus (3:00 pm ET)

Additional Storylines

CNN: Kylian Mbappe Outshines Lionel Messi as PSG Thrashes Barcelona

CBS SportsSalah & Mane Set Reds on Course for Champions League Quarters

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THE STORYLINES 

🏈 How to Dethrone the Tampa Bay Bucs

Some clubs are much closer to title contention than others, but let‘s try to help them all. As we approach the official start of the 2021 offseason, here’s one thing each of the Buccaneers’ NFC foes needs to do to unseat the reigning champs. (CBS Sports)

⚾️ Things to Watch as Spring Training Begins

Eleven months after Major League Baseball told its players, fans and executives to scatter, they have returned to Florida and Arizona – tentatively hopeful, relieved there is any baseball at all, wisened by several months of living through pandemic protocols. (USA Today)

🏀 NBA (Literally) Becoming Make-or-Miss League

Three-point shooting is dictating outcomes more than ever before, and there isn’t much defenses can do to stop it. The NBA is taking the “make-or-miss league” maxim to an extreme, injecting increased randomness into an already scattered season. (The Ringer)

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📰 THE HEADLINES

🗓 TODAY’S SCHEDULE

The Must-Watch List

February’s unique blend of tennis, soccer, basketball and hockey continues with a doozy of a sports slate today. Things get crazy about 10:00 pm ET tonight. Here’s what we’re watching:

Australian Open

(10) S. Williams vs. (3) N. Osaka (10:00 pm)

Champions League

Sevilla vs. Dortmund (3:00 pm)

Porto vs. Juventus (3:00 pm)

NBA

Heat vs. Warriors (10:00 pm)

Jazz vs. Clippers (10:00 pm)

NHL

Jets vs. Oilers (10:00 pm)

*All Times Eastern

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