A slow sports Wednesday ended with a bang in the NBA last night. Damian Lillard made history and a number of NBA rivalries went down to the wire. Plus, we know the finalists for NFL MVP, and the semifinals of the Australian Open will be known by tomorrow’s edition. Keep plugging, team. Championship Sunday is almost here.
Dame Drops 60
Damian Lillard (60 Points) Scores 40-Plus for 4th Time in 2 Weeks (8 Games)
The year of buckets continues! Damian Lillard dropped a half-dollar and a dime on Wednesday night with a season-high 60 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in an electrifying performance that included the final 20 points of the third quarter. The Blazers beat the Jazz (134-124) for their second straight win, and Dame cashed in nine 3s on a 21-for-29 shooting night (72.4%). With his 60-piece, Lillard has now dropped 40-plus in four of his last eight games, including a 50-ball on Jan. 12. In his last ten outings, he’s averaging a ridiculous 38.0 ppg. That’s the best 10-game scoring stretch since Steph Curry averaged 40.8 ppg during a 10-game stint in 2021. Portland is still struggling, but Dame’s highlight-reel performances are a bright spot.
Fun Fact: Lillard is the third player to score 60 points in a game this season (all in the last month), joining Luka Doncic (60, Dec. 27) and Donovan Mitchell (71, Jan. 2).
60-Point History: Dame (4) joined Michael Jordan (4) and James Harden (4) for the third-most career 60-point games in NBA history. Only two players have more: Kobe Bryant (6) and Wilt Chamberlain (32)
Other NBA Highlights
Wild Finish in Dubs-Grizz: The Warriors and Grizzlies played the game of the night to a crescendo finish with Jordan Poole’s game-winning lay-up with 1 second left (122-120). Steph Curry (34 points) was hot in the 4th quarter before getting ejected for throwing his mouthpiece in the final minutes. The game featured 18 ties and 25 lead changes.
76ers Top Nets: The 76ers escaped the Nets (137-133) in an iconic rivalry showcase of two teams that really dislike each other. It was Philly’s sixth straight win thanks to a combined 76 points from the trio of Tyrese Maxey (27), Joel Embiid (26), and James Harden (23).
Bucks Best Nuggets: The Bucks beat the Nuggets (107-99) on a night when Nikola Jokic didn’t suit up. Giannis Antetokounmpo (33-14-4-3) had his way inside without the Joker, and the Bucks have won four of their last five.
Ant Goes Off: Anthony Edwards poured in 37 points to help the Timberwolves hand the Pelicans their sixth straight loss (111-102).
The MVP Finalists
Mahomes, Burrow, Hurts, Allen & Jefferson Up for 2022 NFL MVP Award
The Associated Press revealed the five players on the ballot for this year’s NFL MVP award, along with the finalists for other honors. There are no surprises in any category, but MVP is a four-horse quarterback race as it’s been all season long. WR Justin Jefferson (Vikings) is the only non-quarterback finalist, but he has the longest odds to win. Here’s a look at the awards finalists for the 2022-23 NFL season:
NFL MVP Finalists
QB Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) | Odds: -1400
QB Joe Burrow (Bengals) | Odds: +900
QB Jalen Hurts (Eagles) | Odds: +1500
QB Josh Allen (Bills) | Odds: +1600
WR Justin Jefferson (Vikings) | Odds: +20000
Defensive Player of the Year
DE Nick Bosa (49ers), LB Micah Parsons (Cowboys), DT Chris Jones (Chiefs)
Offensive Player of the Year
WR Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), QB Jalen Hurts (Eagles), QB Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), WR Justin Jefferson (Vikings)
Offensive Rookie of the Year
QB Brock Purdy (49ers), RB Kenneth Walker III (Seahawks), WR Garrett Wilson (Jets)
Defensive Rookie of the Year
CB Sauce Gardner (Jets), DE Aidan Hutchinson (Lions), CB Tariq Woolen (Seahawks)
Comeback Player of the Year
RB Saquon Barkley (Giants), RB Christian McCaffrey (49ers), QB Geno Smith (Seahawks)
Coach of the Year
Brian Daboll (Giants), Doug Pederson (Jaguars), Sean McDermott (Bills), Kyle Shanahan (49ers), Nick Sirianni (Eagles)
TENNIS: #4 Djokovic Smashes #5 Rublev
Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev clashed in Melbourne overnight for the fourth and final spot in the men’s Australian Open semifinals, but Djokovic cruised past Rublev with ease (6-1, 6-2, 6-4). He’ll face American Tommy Paul tonight (10:30 pm ET) for a shot at the finals.
Three out of five NHL games needed overtime on Wednesday night, but the nod goes to Mitch Marner for his miraculous diving goal to push the Maple Leafs over the Rangers (3-2, OT).
The Oklahoma women’s basketball team fell to Texas on Wednesday night (78-58), but OU guard Taylor Robertson notched two 3s to tie the all-time NCAA women’s basketball career 3-point record (497). She’ll undoubtedly break it in the coming days.
The Must-Watch List
It’s a Thursday rendition of the must-watch list thanks to high-stakes matches in the Australian Open and a number of marquee matchups in the NBA, NHL, and college hoops. Here’s what we’re watching today:
Australian Open (Semifinals)
W: #22 E. Rybakina vs. #24 V. Azarenka (In Action)
W: #5 A. Sabalenka vs. M. Linette (In Action)
M: #3 S. Titisipas vs. #18 K. Khachanov (10:30 pm ET)
M: #4 N. Djokovic vs. T. Paul (10:30 pm ET)
Knicks at Celtics (7:30 pm ET)
Mavericks at Suns (10:00 pm ET)
Bruins at Lightning (7:00 pm ET)
Penguins at Capitals (7:00 pm ET)
NCAA College Basketball
Women: #5 UConn at Tennessee (8:00 pm ET)
Women: #24 Florida State at #7 Notre Dame (8:00 pm ET)
Women: #2 Ohio State at #6 Indiana (8:30 pm ET)
Men: #1 Purdue at Michigan (9:00 pm ET)
Men: #8 UCLA at USC (9:00 pm ET)
Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)
Voting for baseball’s Hall of Fame is already challenging enough. Thankfully, one significant haze is about to clear. Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa all graced the Hall of Fame ballot between 2007 and 2022, and all fell well short. (USA Today)
It’s been a rollercoaster season for many of college basketball’s traditional blue-blood programs. Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina have struggled while Kansas is starting to lose their way. What should fans make of it all? (FOX Sports)
Who’s ready for another NFL draft with quarterback intrigue at the top? We lost a little bit of that last year. With two rounds of the NFL playoffs down, the order for the top 27 picks is set. Mel Kiper Jr. reveals his first-round NFL Mock Draft. (ESPN)