AP Thursday Sports Roundup
Warriors knock out Blazers...Raptors take control
UNDATED (AP) — The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA's Western Conference finals after closing out the pesky Portland Trail Blazers in five games.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to hit 11 3-pointers and score 62 points as the Warriors got past the Blazers 125-121. Curry was 5-for-11 from beyond the arc, including a huge trey that put Golden State ahead 121-116 with 24.9 seconds left. Curry finished with 29 points and 11 assists after receiving his second consecutive MVP award before the opening tip.
Thompson paced all scorers with 33 points, shooting 13-for-17 from the field and 6-for-9 from 3-point range. He contributed all of his points by the third quarter.
The Trail Blazers had three players with at least 20 points. Damian Lillard topped Portland with 28 points and finished with seven rebounds and seven assists. C.J. McCollum finished with 27 points, while Allen Crabbe came off the bench to add five 3-pointers and 20 points.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors are on the verge of reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in club history.
DeMar DeRozan matched his playoff career high with 34 points and the Raptors took a three-games-to-two lead in the conference semifinals by beating Miami 99-91. DeRozan sealed it by going 4-for-4 from the line in the final 21 seconds, minutes after jamming his sore right thumb.
Kyle Lowry finished with 25 points for the Raptors, while Bismack Biyombo had 10 points and six rebounds in place of injured center Jonas Valanciunas.
The Heat trailed by 20 and were down by 13 at the start of the fourth quarter before getting within 88-87 on a pair of free throws by Dwyane Wade with 1:54 left. DeRozan answered with two free throws and Lowry added a long 3-pointer that made it 93-87 in the final minute.
Wade had 20 points for the Heat, who will try to stay alive when they host Game 6 on Friday.
Blues thrash Stars
DALLAS (AP) — The St. Louis Blues are in the NHL's Western Conference finals for the first time in 15 years following a decisive Game 7 victory in Dallas.
Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer each had a goal and two assists as the Blues hammered the Stars 6-1. Fabbri put the Blues ahead with a power-play goal 5:23 after the opening faceoff before Stastny and Patrik Berglund scored 94 seconds apart to make it 3-0 late in the first period.
David Backes added a second-period goal and Vladimir Tarasenko capped the scoring with an empty-netter.
Brian Elliott was superb after surrendering three goals on seven shots in Game 6. He made 31 saves and blanked the Stars until Patrick Eaves beat him early in the third period.
The Blues will begin the conference finals on home ice against either San Jose or Nashville. The Sharks and Predators play Game 7 on Thursday.
Scherzer ties K mark
UNDATED (AP) — Max Scherzer tied a major league strikeout record on Wednesday while facing his former team for the first time.
Scherzer fanned 20 and tossed a six-hitter in the Nationals' 3-2 win over the Tigers in Washington. He struck out Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton in the ninth to match the nine-inning mark shared by Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson. Clemens did it twice, and Tom Cheney of the old Washington Senators fanned 21 during a 16-inning game against Baltimore in 1962.
Scherzer had a chance to break the record until James McCann hit into a game-ending forceout. The 20-strikeout performance comes almost 20 years after Clemens did it to the Tigers.
Scherzer also yielded homers by Jose Iglesias and J.D. Martinez before improving to 4-2 and lowering his ERA to 4.15.
The loss went to Jordan Zimmermann, who was also facing his ex-team for the first time. Zimmerman gave up three runs in seven innings, including a solo blast by Danny Espinosa.
Nats second baseman Daniel Murphy was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, lifting his average to .409.
While Scherzer was dazzling with his arm, Noah Syndergaard was sizzling at the plate as he became the second Mets pitcher to homer twice in a game. Syndergaard hit a solo shot in the third and added a go-ahead, three-run blast in the fifth inning of the Mets' 4-3 win over the Dodgers. He also gave up two runs and six hits in six innings as the NL East leaders stayed a half-game ahead of Washington.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— The Cubs' eight-game winning streak ended as Brett Wallace belted a three-run homer while the Padres scored four times with two out in the seventh inning of San Diego's 7-4 win at Chicago in Game 1 of a day-night twinbill. Matt Kemp had two RBIs and Derek Norris went 3-for-5 to help the Padres stop a three-game skid.
— The Cubbies have their first losing streak of the season after Drew Pomeranz tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in six innings of the Padres' 1-0 shutout of Chicago in the nightcap. Christian Bethancourt's long home run ruined a great outing by John Lackey, who allowed just one run and three hits in eight innings.
— Jaime Garcia led St. Louis to a 5-2 win over the Angels by limiting the Angels to a pair of unearned runs and four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings. Matt Adams and Kolten Wong hit RBI singles in the Cardinals' four-run second.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. stretched his hitting streak to 17 games with two home runs and six RBIs in Boston's 13-3 laugher over Oakland. Bradley finished 8 for 14 with three homers and 13 RBIs to lead a three-game sweep.
— Houston won a marathon by downing Cleveland 5-3 on a two-run homer by Marwin Gonzalez in the bottom of the 16th. George Springer also went deep for the Astros, who went eight innings without a hit before Carlos Correa singled and scored on the tiebreaking blast.
— Chris Iannetta led off the bottom of the 11th with a solo shot to give Seattle a 6-5 win against Tampa Bay. Nelson Cruz hit a solo homer and had two RBIs in the Mariners' eighth victory in 10 games.
— Baltimore crushed Minnesota 9-2 as Chris Davis went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and four RBIs. Mark Trumbo homered twice and Adam Jones was 4-for-5 with two ribbies in the Orioles' third straight win.
— Salvador Perez ripped a three-run homer and Lorenzo Cain followed his three-homer performance with a two-run single as Kansas City beat the Yankees 7-3 in New York. Kendrys Morales added a solo shot to help the Royals win for only the fourth time in their last 15 games.
— Adrian Beltre atoned for his first error in 45 games by delivering the tiebreaking, RBI single in the sixth inning of the Rangers' 6-5 victory over the White Sox in Texas. Ian Desmond and Prince Fielder drove in two runs apiece as the Rangers beat the American League's top team for the second straight day.
— Buster Posey walked with the bases loaded in the 13th inning to complete San Francisco's 5-4 win over Toronto. Giants starter Madison Bumgarner allowed just one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings but had to settle for a no-decision after Toronto erased a 4-1 deficit.
— Jordy Mercer's RBI single in the ninth completed Pittsburgh's comeback in a 5-4 win at Cincinnati. The Pirates trailed 4-2 in the seventh and were in danger of their seventh loss in nine games until Jung Ho Kang and Josh Harrison homered.
— Colorado squandered a three-run lead in the eighth inning before Nolan Arenado slammed his major league-leading 13th home run in the bottom half to give the Rockies an 8-7 triumph over Arizona. Charlie Blackmon also homered and was 3-for-5 with three RBIs to help the Rockies end a seven-game home losing streak.
— Williams Perez was terrific just hours after being recalled from the minors, holding Philadelphia to a run and two hits in eight innings of Atlanta's 5-1 win over the Phillies. Freddie Freeman was 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored as the Braves won for only the second time in 18 home games.
— Wei-Yin Chen tied a career high with 12 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings to help Miami beat Milwaukee 3-2. Justin Bour smacked a two-run homer to help the Marlins win despite just five hits.
NL MVP appealing one-game suspension
UNDATED (AP) — Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is appealing the one-game suspension he received Wednesday from Major League Baseball for his behavior following an ejection this week.
Harper remains eligible to play until the process is finished. He was punished for running back onto the field to celebrate with teammates and curse out the umpire who ejected him for arguing a called third strike from the dugout. Players are required to leave the dugout following an ejection.
In other major league news:
— Mets left-hander Steven Matz will miss his next turn in the rotation Saturday at Colorado because of a sore pitching elbow. Matz had a torn lat muscle that kept him out for two months last season. He also underwent Tommy John surgery as a prospect in 2010.
— The Atlanta Braves have shipped right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to the Los Angeles Angels for minor league left-hander Adam McCreery. Chacin had been scheduled to start Wednesday against Philadelphia after going 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts this season.
Date set for Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The people in charge of the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis have set Feb. 4 as the day for the game at the new U.S. Bank Stadium. The stadium is due to be completed in time for the upcoming Minnesota Vikings season.
Super Bowl 51 is scheduled for February 5, 2017, in Houston.
Crew chief suspended
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Busch's crew chief has been suspended by NASCAR for one race for violating the lug nut policy during the team's win at Kansas last weekend. Adam Stevens was also fined $20,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year, while front tire changer Josh Leslie is on probation until Dec. 31.
Lug nuts have been an issue in NASCAR since the series stopped policing whether teams were applying all five on each tire during pit stops. By using less than five, a team would have a faster pit stop and gain track position.
Overspending by Gophers' hoops coaches
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The men's and women's basketball coaches at the University of Minnesota both went over budget last season. An audit shows Gophers men's coach Richard Pitino spent more than double his allowance for private jet travel since his hiring. The audit of the men's and women's programs also showed both spent more than budgeted for hotels, private cars, parties, meals and valet parking. The women's coach is Marlene Stollings.