The Point-Scoring Palooza

02/16/2021

Good Morning,

We just watched four 40-point performances in the NBA, then settled in for the 3:00 am (ET) match between Serena Williams and Simona Halep. All so you could have an up-to-date newsletter feed bright and early.

We’re not tired. It’s what we do.

Letter Rip!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

NBA

The Point-Scoring Palooza

Photo: Alex Goodlett / Getty Images

Four NBA Players Score 40-Plus in Night of Epic Shootouts

We’re calling it “Get Buckets” February. Last night in the NBA was chock-full of sharpshooting explosions as a record number of players poured in massive scoring nights. The stats were off the charts, but unfortunately we don’t have room to highlight everyone. Ten players went for 30-plus across just seven games, and four of those ten went for 40, including two career-highs (Ben Simmons and Jordan Clarkson). If you thought regular season NBA action was boring, February is proving otherwise.

Fun Fact: Steph Curry became the first player since Michael Jordan (1993) to score 25 points or more on 50% shooting (or better) in ten consecutive games.

40-Point Performers

Julius Randle (Knicks): 44 points

Ben Simmons (76ers): 42 points

Jordan Clarkson (Jazz): 40 points

Kyrie Irving (Nets): 40 points

30-Point Performers

Bradley Beal (Wizards): 37 points

Steph Curry (Warriors): 36 points

Tobias Harris (76ers): 36 points

Marcus Morris (Clippers): 32 points

Jimmy Butler (Heat): 30 points

Zach LaVine (Bulls): 30 points

Other Notable Performances

John Wall (Rockets): 29 points, 11 assists

James Harden (Nets): 29 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists

Bam Adebayo (Heat): 27 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists

Top Highlight: Jazz def. 76ers (134-123)

Utah won its 8th straight game (19 of 20) by taking down the Sixers in a matchup between the top two teams in each conference. The Jazz became the first team in NBA history to win 17 games by double digits in a 20-game span.

NBA Trade Rumors

NBC SportsDetroit Pistons to Sit Blake Griffin While Pursuing Trade or Buyout

ESPN: Cleveland Cavaliers Won’t Play Andre Drummond After Putting Him on Trade Block

_________________________________________________________________________________________

TENNIS

One Step Closer for Serena

Photo: Paul Crock / Getty Images

(10) Serena Williams Blows Past (2) Simona Halep to Reach Australian Open Semi-Finals

Serena is on a mission. At 39 years old, the greatest women’s tennis player of a generation is carving through the Australian Open with one thing in mind — Grand Slam No. 24. But the road isn’t easy. After surviving (7) Aryna Sabalenka in the Round of 16, she took down (2) Simona Halep in straight sets (6-3, 6-3) early this morning. Only for a moment did Serena stumble, dropping the opening two games of the second set before recovering with dominance.

“I definitely think this was the best match I’ve played this tournament, for sure.” — Serena Williams

Next Up: It’s a star-studded showdown with (3) Naomi Osaka in the semi-final. The winner is likely to face Australian (1) Ashleigh Barty on her home turf in the finale. No Aussie has won the Australian Open in 43 years.

Quarter-Final Highlights (Men’s)

A. Karatsev def. (18) G. Dimitrov (2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2)

Quarter-Final Highlights (Women’s)

(3) N. Osaka def. S. Hsieh (6-2, 6-2)

(10) S. Williams def. (2) S. Halep (6-3, 6-3)

Still in Action: (1) N. Djokovic vs. (6) A. Zverev

Tonight’s Matches

W: (1) A. Barty vs. (25) K. Muchova (7:00 pm ET)

W: (22) J. Brady vs. J. Pegula (9:00 pm ET)

M: (4) D. Medvedev vs. (7) A. Rublev (11:00 pm ET)

M: (2) R. Nadal vs. (5) S. Tsitsipas (3:30 am ET)

Additional Storylines

TENNIS.com: How It Happened: Serena Overpowers Halep, Sets AO Semifinal With Osaka

AUS: Russian Aslan Karatsev Makes History as First Man in Open Era to Reach Semis in Grand Slam Debut

_________________________________________________________________________________________

SOCCER

The Champions League Returns

Photo: Nicolo Campo / Getty Images

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Kicks Off Today

The Champions League is back! The group stage action in Fall 2020 trimmed the field to 16 for the spring knockout stage, and it starts today. Leg 1 of the Round of 16 is this week and next week before Leg 2 in March and a push for the title in April, May and June. After more than 60 days since the group stage conclusion, the stretch run for Europe’s futbol crown is back on.

Today’s Schedule

Barcelona vs. PSG (3:00 pm ET)

RB Leipzig vs. Liverpool (3:00 pm ET)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

FC Porto vs. Juventus (3:00 pm ET)

Sevilla vs. Borussia Dortmund (3:00 pm ET)

Next Week’s Schedule

Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea (Tues. Feb. 23)

Lazio vs. Bayern Munich (Tues. Feb. 23)

Atalanta vs. Real Madrid (Wed. Feb. 24)

Monchengladbach vs. Man. City (Wed. Feb. 24)

Additional Storylines

The Athletic: The Athletic’s Guide to the Champions League Knockout Phase (+Paywall)

UEFA: Meet the Champions League Round of 16 Contenders (Team Profiles)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

NCAA

College Basketball Rankings

Men’s Basketball: Gonzaga & Baylor Flirting With Undefeated Seasons

Still perfect at the top. While the Big Ten shuffle continues to load the top-five, the top two teams in the country are still unblemished. #3 Michigan and #4 Ohio State are set for a top-five clash next Sunday (Feb. 21). One will have to fall, and teams 5-9 are trending upwards quickly.

Men’s Top-10

1. Gonzaga (20-0) | —

2. Baylor (17-0) | —

3. Michigan (14-1) | —

4. Ohio State (17-4) | —

5. Illinois (14-5) | ↑1

6. Houston (17-2) | ↑2

7. Virginia (15-3) | ↑2

8. Alabama (17-5) | ↑3

9. Oklahoma (13-5) | ↑3

10. Villanova (13-3) | ↓5

NCAA Men’s Top-25 (AP Poll)

Women’s Basketball: UConn Lays Claim to No. 1 Spot

As expected, UConn women’s basketball is back atop the AP Poll after taking down South Carolina in last week’s 1-2 matchup. The Huskies and Gamecocks swap the top spot, along with Texas A&M and Stanford in the 5-6 line, while the rest of the Top-10 holds steady. Good luck breaching the top-10 with more than two losses.

Women’s Top-10

1. UConn (16-1) | ↑1

2. South Carolina (17-2) | ↓1

3. Louisville (19-1) | —

4. NC State (13-2) | —

5. Texas A&M (19-1) | ↑1

6. Stanford (18-2) | ↓1

7. Baylor (18-2) | —

8. UCLA (12-3) | —

9. Maryland (14-2) | —

10. Arizona (14-2) | —

NCAA Women’s Top-25 (AP Poll)

Additional Storylines

USA Today: Bracketology: Which No. 2 Seeds Could Overtake A No. 1 Seed? (Men’s)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

🎥 THE HIGHLIGHTS

🏒 NHL: Ottawa Rips Off 4-Goal Comeback

The Ottawa Senators garnered the top highlight in the NHL last night after completing a four-goal comeback against the Maple Leafs (6-5, OT). Ottawa overcame a 5-1 deficit by scoring five unanswered goals, including four in the third period and OT. Evgenii Dadonov tallied the game-tying and game-winning scores.

⚽️ EPL: Chelsea Climbs Into Top-4

Make it three straight for the Blues. Chelsea were 2-0 winners over Newcastle on Monday thanks to first-half goals from Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner. They’re 5-1-0 since new manager Thomas Tuchel took over in late January, and they’re now fourth in the EPL table.

🏀 NCAAM: FSU Lights Up #7 Virginia

The 16th-ranked Florida State Seminoles caught fire last night in a 21-point rout over 7th-ranked Virginia (81-60). FSU hit 13 3-pointers, and the ‘Noles are now 12-3 and undefeated against ranked teams after having five games postponed.

🏀 NCAAW: #6 Stanford Survives Pac-12 Thriller

A Pac-12 rivalry came down to the wire on Monday night as #6 Stanford survived #13 Oregon (63-61) on Cameron Brink’s last-minute free throws. The Cardinal is back on an eight-game win streak.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

THE STORYLINES 

⚾ Winners & Losers of MLB Offseason

The Mets have Francisco Lindor, the Cardinals have Nolan Arenado, and the Padres have a staff that can push the defending champs. Plus, what happened to those involved in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal? (The Ringer)

🏈 Vets We’d Like to See Ring Chase

Having a realistic shot at lifting the Lombardi Trophy can be a motivating factor for aging veterans in free agency. Here are some of the veteran players we’d like to see go chase a ring in free agency. (Bleacher Report)

🏒 NHL Power Rankings Through Mid-February

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings the two Stanley Cup Final teams from last season find themselves trending in two very different directions in recent weeks. Find out where your team sits after one month. (NBC Sports)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

📰 THE HEADLINES

UCF Football Hires Former Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn

(ESPN)

Former Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson Found Dead in Florida Hotel Room

(USA Today)

Duke Freshman Jalen Johnson Opts Out of Remaining College Basketball Season for NBA Draft

(Sports Illustrated)

Former NFL Cornerback Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones Arrested for Assault

(CBS Sports)

Lakers’ Anthony Davis Sidelined 2-3 Weeks With Calf Strain

(Yahoo! Sports)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

🗓️ TODAY’S SCHEDULE

The Must-Watch List

The mid-week must-watch list returns for a big night on the sports docket. From Champions League to NBA and NHL, here’s what we’re watching today.

Champions League (Round of 16)

Barcelona vs. PSG (3:00 pm)

RB Leipzig vs. Liverpool (3:00 pm)

NBA

Nuggets at Celtics (7:00 pm)

Pelicans at Grizzlies (7:30 pm)

Nets at Suns (10:00 pm)

NHL

Capitals at Penguins (7:00 pm)

Avalanche at Golden Knights (10:00 pm)

*All times Eastern

_________________________________________________________________________________________