Gonzaga broke UCLA’s heart in March Madness again with Julian Strawther’s logo 3

Julian Strawther’s bold game-winning shot was Gonzaga’s latest dagger to UCLA in March Madness

The Gonzaga Bulldogs and UCLA Bruins already had a deep and storied rivalry in the men’s NCAA tournament coming into their Sweet 16 matchup in the 2023 bracket on Thursday. The first lasting image of Zags basketball was Adam Morrison falling to the floor in tears after losing to the Bruins in the 2006 Sweet 16. Gonzaga got its revenge in the 2021 Final Four with an even more memorable moment: Jalen Suggs’ near halfcourt buzzer-beater to put the then undefeated Zags into the national title game.

Add the 2023 edition right to the top of the list. Gonzaga beat UCLA, 79-76, thanks to a thrilling game-winning shot in the final seconds that staved off an epic Zags collapse. Now Gonzaga is one win away from its third Final Four in the last five men’s NCAA tournaments.

The Zags led by 10 points with 2:30 left, but UCLA would storm back by forcing turnovers, making shots, and watching Gonzaga miss its free throws. The Bruins took the lead with 13 seconds left when senior point guard Tyger Campbell found freshman shooting guard Amari Bailey for the go-ahead three. Gonzaga called timeout and drew up a play for Strawther. To hear head coach Mark Few tell it after the game, Strawther had a read to get downhill after receiving a high pitch. That wasn’t the one he chose. Instead, Strawther bombed a deep and audacious three that found the bottom of the net.

The confidence it takes to even attempt that shot while down only one point in the final seconds is astronomical. That would be a bad look for most players in college basketball, but Few knew it was a good shot for Strawther. The coach said his team practices that play regularly, and Strawther often takes and makes that shot.

The play was immediately reminiscent of Suggs’ game-winning shot against UCLA in the 2021 Final Four.

In 2021, the score was tied, and the clock was running out. Suggs had no other choice but to attempt a near halfcourt shot. Strawther very easily could have tried to get to the rim or find an open teammate, but it sure seems like he was hunting the deep three the entire time.

The play that Gonzaga ran for Strawther was basically a carbon copy of what Jay Wright once ran for Kris Jenkins when he hit the game-winning shot in the national championship game of the 2016 men’s NCAA tournament.

Strawther hit a very similar game-winning shot for Gonzaga earlier this year:

Drew Timme was the star for Gonzaga most of the night, finishing with 36 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. However, Timme badly missed two free throws late in the game that led to Bailey’s go-ahead three. He said there’s no bigger Strawther fan than himself after the game.

Gonzaga now plays UConn, with the winner going to the Final Four.

The NCAA tournament is just more fun when Gonzaga plays UCLA.

The Warriors scored free basket on Mavs because of ref mistake, according to Dallas protest

The Mavs are alleging a ref mistake caused them to line up incorrectly and give the Warriors a free two points. Now Dallas is protesting Golden State’s win.

The Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks were separated by a half-game in the Western Conference playoff standings entering their Wednesday night showdown in Texas, with the margin being the difference between making the playoffs outright or needing to go through the play-in tournament to qualify. A critically important game for both teams was swung by one of the strangest plays you will ever see, which resulted in the Warriors getting an uncontested layup. Golden State went on to beat the Mavericks, 127-125.

Late in the third quarter and coming out of a timeout, the Warriors inbounded the ball under their own basket. Only one problem: the Mavs were acting like they were receiving the ball on the other end of the court, and it ended up giving Golden State a free two points. This was incredibly bizarre in the moment, but proved to be even bigger in the end when the game was decided by only one score.

I swear I’ve never seen a play like this in NBA history before. Watch the video here:

Mavericks governor Mark Cuban tried explained Dallas’ side of the story after the game. According to Cuban, the refs originally called Mavs ball, then changed the call during the timeout, but never told Dallas. Here’s what Cuban wrote:

“For those wondering about the play with 1:54 to go on the 3rd, let me explain what happened. The ref called Mavs ball . The announcer announced it. Then there was a timeout . During the time out the official changed the call and never told us. Then when they saw us line up as if it were our ball, he just gave the ball to the warriors. Never said a word to us They got an easy basketball. Crazy that it would matter in a 2 point game. Worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA . All they had to do was tell us and they didn’t.”

The Maverick plan to file a grievance with the league over the referee mistake, according to NBA insider Shams Charania:

After the win, the Warriors are the No. 6 seed in the West, which is the final seed that makes the playoffs outright. After the loss, the Mavs fall to the No. 9 seed in the West, which means they would have to win consecutive play-in tournament games to make the playoffs. Golden State improves to 38-36, while Dallas falls to 36-37.

How do the officials let this happen in a pro game? Dallas also had plenty of other chances to win, but giving up a free two points has to hurt.

We’ll update this story as it develops.

Paul George injury updates: Clippers star out until NBA Playoffs after knee sprain

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Paul George is set to miss the rest of the regular season at least for the Clippers.

Since the Los Angeles Clippers made the biggest splash of the 2019 offseason by acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the franchise have been under the microscope. However, despite the superstar pairing, the biggest story hasn’t been their play but their lack of court time.

Between Kawhi Leonard’s load management and Paul George’s various injuries, the pairing hasn’t spent much time on the court together. It seemed the Clippers were finally getting their entire roster together in time for the playoffs, but unfortunately, the injury bug has bitten again. Paul George will miss the next two or three weeks with a sprained right knee, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

During the Clippers 101-100 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder, George went up for a rebound and came down awkwardly.

With his leg bent in the wrong direction, it did not look good, and George was helped to the locker room.

Here’s the outlook for the Clippers at the time of George’s injury:

Considering how it looked live and on replays, this is good news. George knows better than most how the injury could have been much worse. George missed an extended amount of time after he injured his leg during the USA Basketball scrimmage in 2014. George, as we know, fully recovered, but it was a long process.

Even though the Clippers are currently in fifth place in the west, they are only 2.5 games up on the 11th-place Lakers. As a result, the west is a very tight race from spot four to spot 12. This will put more pressure on players like Leonard, who will not be able to rest as many games as he has for most of the season.

With the news that he will be re-evaluated in a few weeks, there is hope he can be ready before the playoffs or, at the very least, at some point in the first round. Now they could evaluate him in a couple of weeks and find additional damage that could prolong his rehab, but let’s hope that is not the case and George is back on the court in the near future.

Shohei Ohtani versus Mike Trout is how the WBC needed to end

Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

In a moment you dream of as a child, Ohtani squares off with Trout to close out the WBC

It was everything you dream of as a young child playing baseball in the backyard.

3-2 count. Two outs. Ninth inning.

And a world championship on the line.

That was what we saw in the ninth inning of the championship game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night. Japan, with a 3-2 lead in the championship game, turned to baseball’s unicorn, Shohei Ohtani, to close out the win.

After leadoff hitter Jeff McNeil worked a walk, daring to lay off a 3-2 fastball just below the strike zone, Ohtani induced a ground ball from leadoff hitter Mookie Betts to erase the walk, and push Japan one out away from a championship.

Standing in Ohtani and Japan’s way?

Ohtani’s teammate in MLB, Mike Trout. One of the game’s best hitters.

Ohtani started Trout with a slider, the pitch he seemed to have the most command of during the inning. But the first pitch slider was low, giving Trout the 1-0 advantage.

That’s when Ohtani turned to his fastball.

He put a 100-mph fastball right down the heart of the plate, and Trout gave it everything he had with his swing. But the ball settled in the mitt of catcher Yuhei Nakamura, evening the count at 1-1.

Trout gave a nod to his teammate before settling in for the next pitch.

This was another fastball from Ohtani that missed outside. Advantage Trout again, at 2-1.

On the next pitch, Ohtani again dialed up the fastball. Another 100-mph heater right down the plate.

Another swing-and-a-miss. Another nod from Trout to his teammate.

With the count now 2-2, what would Ohtani do? Would he go back to the fastball, or try and sneak another slider by his teammate?

Ohtani wanted to punch him out with the heater, and put everything he had into the next fastball. It hit 102 on the radar gun, but bounced low and outside.

3-2. Two outs. Ninth inning. A championship on the line.

And then? The nastiest slider you might ever see:


For good measure, here is the call from Japanese TV:

To put Ohtani’s WBC run, and his status as the game’s true unicorn, in perspective, consider these numbers:

But let’s return to the ending.

The at-bat, and the battle between MLB teammates, delivered the kind of moment WBC organizers were dreaming of, capping off a tremendous tournament. Since its launch in 2006, the WBC has not been without criticism. Whether the timing of the event — and the injuries that we have seen in this year’s installment — as well as the need for the event itself, the WBC has seen its share of critics.

But on Tuesday night, the WBC delivered everything its organizers and proponents imagined. Two of the game’s best players, staring each other down, in the ninth inning with everything on the line.

The kind of moment you dream of as a child, now on a global stage.

A great deal of ‘motivation’ around Mercedes following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images

After a solid week in Jeddah, can Mercedes continue their comeback?

For Mercedes, the 2023 Formula 1 season began much as the 2022 campaign did, with the team searching for answers. After a fifth-place finish from Lewis Hamilton and a seventh-place finish from George Russell in the Bahrain Grand Prix — a day Team Principal Toto Wolff called “one of our worst days in racing” — Mercedes bounced back this past week, with Russell finishing P4 and Hamilton right behind him in P5.

Now, the mood around the team is much, much different.

In a video posted to social media on Tuesday Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, can be seen addressing the entire team back at their Brackley headquarters. In the video, Shovlin talks about the motivation within the organization, and the ideal that something special could still be possible this season:

“Thank you for all your efforts. Particularly, what’s nice is coming back and sort of sensing the energy, because you think there’s a lot that this team gets from how we all collectively bounce off each other. And coming back even after Bahrain you got this sense of people wanting to put it right,” Shovlin tells the team. “Coming back after Jeddah, we’re now starting to see what those building blocks are going to look like, and you can sense that there’s a great deal of motivation. And hopefully, we can turn this year into something special still. So, well done.”

Shovlin’s optimism mirrors recent comments made from Wolff. Following the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Mercedes Team Principal indicated in comments to the media that the team is making “bigger gains” with their car development than in recent years. “The kind of gains that are coming in our [research and development] and in aero are much bigger than we’ve had over a long time. We’ve unlocked some potential because we simply look at things from a different angle now,” noted Wolff. “We have a different perspective because of our learnings of the Bahrain test and Bahrain race. So there was no step back, on the contrary there was immediately two steps forward.”

That optimism was shared by Russell following his finish in Saudi Arabia. Speaking at the post-race press conference — when it was believed Russell had secured a third-place finish due to a ten-second penalty handed down to Fernando Alonso — the Mercedes driver talked at length about the developments already made to the W14, and what could be coming.

“We definitely made a step in the right direction. I think, above all, we just truly maximize the potential of the car. We had a really strong qualifying yesterday, which was really enjoyable,” said Russell after the Grand Prix. “I’d really pleased to come home in P4 on the road because I felt like that was the maximum that was possible. And I was having fun up there. The car was feeling good.”

Russell then concluded his comments with a look ahead.

“And we know we’ve got some more performance in the locker, in some races to come.”

Over the next few days, the men and women Shovlin was addressing back in Brackley will be working to find that performance.

We’ll see if they can find that performance in the Australian Grand Prix, the third race of the F1 season.

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