Hawks fire Nate McMillan with team stuck in 8th in East
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have fired Nate McMillan, who was unable to follow up on the success of leading the team to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals. Hawks general manager Landry Fields announcing the firing Tuesday. The Hawks are 29-30 and eighth in the East this season, struggling to remain in playoff contention. McMillan was 99-80 record as Atlanta’s coach, including a 27-11 record as interim in the second half of the 2020-21 season. His success that season earned him the full-time position. Overall in 19 seasons, McMillan has a 760-668 record with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers and Hawks.
Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar back in concussion protocol
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is back in concussion protocol. Makar left his first game back after taking contact to his head Saturday early in the third period against St. Louis. The reigning Norris Trophy winner and playoff MVP had missed the previous four games after taking a hit to the head on Feb. 7 from Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter. Coach Jared Bednar says Makar’s head injuries are related. The 24-year-old is expected to miss at least Colorado’s next two games Friday and Saturday.
Nuggets’ Jokic has a chance to join some exclusive clubs
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Nikola Jokic might be on the cusp of entering some highly exclusive clubs. There’s the three-consecutive-MVP club, with only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird as its current members. Then there’s the averaged-a-triple-double club, which includes only Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook. Jokic doesn’t care about being added to either of those lists. It might happen anyway. The best team in the Western Conference so far has been the Denver Nuggets, and the biggest reason why is the 28-year-old Serbian big man who might be the NBA’s MVP for the third year in a row.
On the clock: New timer will affect more than just pitchers
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Of all of baseball’s tweaks under Commissioner Rob Manfred, the pitch clock might be the one that affects the most players. Whether you’re a pitcher, a catcher, a hitter or a baserunner, there’s no hiding from this rule change. The goal is to speed up play by limiting the parts of the game fans find particularly tedious. The clocks will count down from 30 seconds between batters. Between pitches, it will be 15 seconds with nobody on and 20 if there’s a baserunner. There are also limits on pickoff attempts that could help potential base stealers.
Column: LIV resumes after break that was anything but loud
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The PGA Tour is coming off two big weeks with Scottie Scheffler winning in raucous Phoenix and Jon Rahm at Riviera. Tiger Woods caused the biggest buzz of all. Now it’s LIV Golf’s turn. The Saudi-funded league begins its second season and will be compared with two loud weeks on the PGA Tour, with two more to follow. AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson says this wasn’t a great offseason for LIV. It signed six players, none prominent. It also had four executives leave. The LIV season starts Friday in the Mexican resort of Mayakoba. One upside is a new television partner in The CW Network.
Woods, McIlroy break ground on high-tech golf league site
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are closer to seeing their high-tech golf league become reality. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the arena that will house the league that’s being called TGL was held Tuesday at Palm Beach State College. Woods and McIlroy are among the co-founders and were there for the first step of actual construction. Play will begin early next year. Woods and McIlroy so far have 11 players committed to the league. Besides them, the league will include world No. 1 Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele.
Major league teams searching for advantages with new rules
PHOENIX (AP) — The only certainty about Major League Baseball’s new rules for the 2023 season is that everyone is going to push and pull on them in search of an edge. The size of the bases has been increased to 18-inch squares from 15. The new pitch clock is 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. The increasingly frequent infield shift has been eliminated, and there is a limit of two of what MLB calls disengagements — pickoff attempts or steps off the rubber — per plate appearance.
AP sources: Westbrook could make Clippers debut Friday
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two people with knowledge of the matter say Russell Westbrook could make his debut with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday once he clears waivers. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Westbrook still needs to clear waivers before he can sign with a new team. The nine-time All-Star was waived by the Utah Jazz on Monday. He is expected to clear waivers Wednesday since no team has the salary cap space to take on the remaining $47 million he is owed on his expiring contract.
ESPN’s ex-top exec describes how soccer’s World Cup was lost
NEW YORK (AP) — Testimony from a former ESPN executive is underscoring the high stakes and corruption that has enveloped the world of soccer. Former ESPN President John Skipper told a U.S. District Court in New York Tuesday that his broadcasting company bid $450 million for U.S. broadcasting rights to the two most recent World Cups, including the recent one in Qatar. Fox reportedly bid $425 million, but won the rights anyway. The U.S. government is accusing two former Fox executives of bribing soccer officials to undermine competing bids and help Fox win the rights. The Fox network is not a defendant in the case and has denied any wrongdoing.
Lindy La Rocque leads homegrown UNLV to new heights
LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV women’s basketball coach Lindy La Rocque might be the exception as the coach who stays at a mid-major even if Power Five athletic directors try to lure her away. La Rocque is in her third season at UNLV and keeps taking the program up a step each year. The Lady Rebels went 15-9 in her first season, turning around a team that was 13-17 the previous year. Last season, La Rocque guided the Lady Rebels to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years. This season, they are repeat Mountain West champions with a 25-2 record and ranked at No. 24 in the AP poll.