NBA: Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


Damian Lillard keeps on scoring, and the company he joins keeps getting better and better. Lillard scored a career-high and franchise-record 71 points in the Trail Blazers' 131-114 win over the Rockets. He's just the eighth player in NBA history to score 70-plus in a game.

  • The others to hit 70 or more? Wilt Chamberlain (six times) and Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Kobe Bryant, David Robinson, David Thompson and Elgin Baylor (once each).
  • The 71 points tie the eighth-most in an NBA game.
  • Lillard made 13 threes, tied for second-most in a game with Stephen Curry and Zach LaVine. Klay Thompson holds the record with 14.

Lillard had 41 points by halftime and, after a "quiet" nine in the third quarter, exploded for 21 more in the fourth. Our Sam Quinn broke down the incredible performance by the numbers.


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Last Tuesday, the Hawks fired their coach. Five days later, they hired their new one, and it is an excellent choice: Quin Snyder is heading to Atlanta on a five-year deal and is expected to coach the team tomorrow night.

  • Snyder, 56, coached the Jazz for eight seasons (2014-15 to 2021-22). Utah posted the seventh-best winning percentage over those eight seasons and had the league's best record in 2020-21.
  • The Jazz's lack of playoff success -- no conference finals appearances in six playoff trips under Snyder -- eventually led to overhaul, with Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Snyder all leaving over the offseason.
  • Snyder replaces Nate McMillan, who was fired during the All-Star break. The Hawks went 2-0 under interim head coach Joe Prunty. Atlanta is currently eighth in the East.

Snyder helped turn Donovan Mitchell into a star, which is a good sign for a team that has two lead guards in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Snyder would have had plenty of suitors this summer had the Hawks waited. Instead, they moved quickly and couldn't have asked for a much better result.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Lakers pull off their largest comeback in over 20 years to top Mavericks 🏀

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Don't look now, but here -- kind of, sort of, maybe (?) -- come the Lakers. They overcame a 27-point deficit to beat the Mavericks, 111-108. It's the largest deficit any team has overcome this season and the largest by the Lakers since 2002. 

  • Teams had been 138-0 this season when leading by 27 or more.
  • Anthony Davis (30 points, 15 rebounds) and LeBron James (26 points) led the way offensively.
  • But really, it was the defense that fueled the comeback: Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic combined for just 21 points on 23 shots in the second half.

The Lakers have won three straight, tying their second-longest winning streak this season.

Manny Machado agrees to record-breaking extension with Padres ⚾

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Manny Machado turned an outstanding season into an unprecedented payday. The Padres star signed an 11-year, $350 million extension on Sunday that will likely keep him in San Diego the rest of his career.

  • The deal is the largest ever for a third baseman in terms of total value and fourth-largest for any position, behind Mike Trout ($426.5 million), Mookie Betts ($365 million) and Aaron Judge ($360 million).
  • Machado, 30, finished second in NL MVP voting last year, the best finish of his career and his fifth career top-10 finish. He also led the Padres to their first NLCS since 1998.

Good on the Padres for going all-in on a strong core. Along with Machado, the Padres have long-term contracts in place with...

Could Juan Soto be next? Our Matt Snyder says probably yes. Meanwhile, our R.J. Anderson updated his 2023-24 free agent class  rankings, now that Machado is off the board.

College basketball recap: More Brandon Miller controversy, plus buzzer-beaters galore 🏀

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Alabama

Even over a weekend of outstanding on-court action, the biggest story in college basketball remained Alabama's Brandon Miller. If you need a reminder of that backstory, here are detailsThe latest in the Miller saga came during pregame introductions before the No. 2 Crimson Tide's eventual win over Arkansas, when Miller took part in a "pat-down" of sorts with a teammate. Given the circumstances, it was distasteful and reinforced how poorly the entire program has handled the situation, writes our Matt Norlander.

In game-related news: North Carolina entered the weekend with the possibility of becoming the first preseason No. 1 team to miss the NCAA Tournament since the bracket expanded in 1985. They aren't out of the woods yet, but their 71-63 win over No. 6 Virginia helped. It was the Tar Heels' first Quad 1 win this season -- they were 0-8 in such games -- but our Bracketologist Jerry Palm still has the Tar Heels in his "First Four Out."

The Tar Heels were one of the weekend's big winners, but you know who was also a big winner? College basketball in general. It was an incredible weekend, making me all the more excited for what's ahead. We could have an entire section on buzzer beaters alone:

The Iowa men had an even crazier finish: After trailing by 13 with 90 seconds left, the Hawkeyes forced overtime with Michigan State and then won. Elsewhere in the Big Ten, No. 17 Indiana finished off its sweep of No. 5 Purdue. We have grades here and winners and losers here.

MLB's new pitch clock is already a gamechanger ⚾

Seattle Mariners v San Diego Padres
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There are three big MLB rule changes this season -- bigger bases, restrictions on shifts and a pitch clock. That third one found itself in headlines over the weekend's Spring Training action.

That second scenario won't happen in the regular season, obviously. Games would just continue into extra innings. But that first one is one we may see plenty, especially early on. Here are the exact rules:

  • Pitchers have 15 seconds when the bases are empty -- and 20 seconds with a runner on -- from when they get the ball to begin their motion. If they don't do so, it's an automatic ball.
  • Batters must be ready to hit with at least eight seconds left on the clock. If they're not, it's an automatic strike.
  • Here are more details on the new rules.

I get that it might not be popular. Baseball is historically played at a leisurely pace. But slight chances produce big results. Game times are way down so far in Spring Training. There's more action and less standing around, less adjusting of batting gloves, less... everything that doesn't impact the game.

I love it. It will take some time to get used to, but I think it'll ultimately have a very positive impact. Matt Snyder took a look at which pitchers could be affected most by the pitch clock, and -- spoiler alert -- a former MVP is on the list.

What we're watching Monday 📺

🏀 Heat at 76ers, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 No. 9 Baylor at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 West Virginia at No. 23 Iowa State, 9 p.m. on ESPN2