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(Portland, OR)  --  The Portland Timbers are going to the CONCACAF Champions League.  Portland beat Orlando City SC 2-1 in the MLS is Back final to win the month-plus-long World Cup style event.  Larrys Mabiala scored in the 27th minute and Dario Zuparic deflected a shot into the net in the 66th minute to put the Tims ahead for good.  Mauricio Pereyra scored the loan goal for the Lions.  For winning the event, the Timbers receive an automatic qualification into the CONCACAF Champions League. 



(Portland, OR)  --  The Portland Trail Blazers are celebrating a narrow win over the Mavericks.  Damian Lillard dropped 61 points, including nine three-pointers, as the Trail Blazers clipped the Mavericks 134-131 in Orlando.  Lillard tied it up at 130 with 1:29 left before assisting on Hassan Whiteside's dunk to put the Blazers ahead.  Portland jumped into the number-eight seed with their win, and the Grizzlies' loss and clinched a spot in the play-in, which starts Saturday.  The Blazers face the Nets tomorrow.



(San Francisco, CA)  --  The Pac-12 is postponing all sports through the end of the year due to coronavirus concerns.  In a statement, the conference said its GEO Group made a unanimous decision after consultation with athletic directors and medical experts.  When safety conditions improve, the league will consider a return to competition after January 1st.  Impacted student-athletes will have their scholarships guaranteed.  In addition, the Pac-12 encourages the NCAA to grant an extra year of eligibility to students who opt out. 



(Orlando, FL)  --  The NBA is handing out awards for great bubble performances.  The league announced it will have an All-Seeding Games Team and Player of the Seeding Games Award, which will be handed out before the playoffs begin on Saturday.  The regular season ends on Friday.  Suns guard Devin Booker,  Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Pacers forward T.J. Warren are some of the standouts so far in Orlando.



(Orlando, FL)  --  The Clippers clash with the Denver Nuggets tonight at the NBA bubble in Orlando.  With a win, the Clippers will clinch the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.  L.A. is second at 47-and-23, while Denver enters at 46-and-25.



(Orlando, FL)  --  The Lakers close out their regular season on Thursday when they face the Sacramento Kings in Orlando.  The Lakers have already locked up the top-seed in the Western Conference playoffs.  Portland, Phoenix, Memphis and San Antonio are all battling for the eighth seed.



(Anaheim, CA)  --  Dylan Bundy tossed a gem as the Angels blanked the A's 6-0 in Anaheim.  Bundy struck out 10 and scattered four hits over seven shutout innings to get the win.  Jason Castro laced a three-run homer to highlight a five-run fourth inning for the Halos, who also got solo shots from Anthony Rendon and Brian Goodwin.  David Fletcher went deep in the eighth.  Mike Fiers got chased in the fourth and took the loss for Oakland.   The A's will try to prevent the sweep today in Anaheim.



(Houston, TX)  --  Brandon Crawford singled in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning as the Giants outlasted the Astros 7-6 in Houston.  The Giants trailed by four runs entering the seventh, but Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer to bring them within one and Darin Ruf tied it on an RBI-single in the ninth.  Trevor Gott got the win in relief and Wilmer Flores went deep in the first. The rubber match is in Houston tonight.



(Los Angeles, CA)  --  Manny Machado unleashed a grand slam in the third inning as the Padres dropped the Dodgers 6-2 in Los Angeles.  Machado's blast broke a one-all tie.  Ross Stripling didn't make it out of the fifth and fell to 3-and-1 for the Dodgers.  They have dropped three-of-four and face the Friars again today in the third of a four-game set.



(Oakland, CA)  --  A's outfielder Ramon Laureano is being suspended six games by Major League Baseball for his role in a benches-clearing brawl against the Astros on Sunday.  Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron has been suspended 20 games for comments he made towards Laureano that incited him.  Both men were also fined.  Laureano is appealing his suspension.



Damian Lillard has no shortage of motivation.

 

There's the painful kind, the kind that comes from dealing with the death three months ago of a cousin who was very close to him. There's the made-up variety, stemming from the belief he shared Tuesday night that people who cover the league don't respect his work. There's the silly stuff, like a back-and-forth on social media with other NBA players.

And then there's probably the biggest sort - his want to get the Portland Trail Blazers back to the playoffs.

 

He topped a 51-point performance on Sunday by offering a 61-point performance on Tuesday, doing all that with the Blazers' postseason fate still not secure and knowing that any loss would put a sizable dent in those playoff hopes. He's the 12th player in NBA history to have consecutive 50-point games, and just the second - joining only Wilt Chamberlain - to have three 60-point games in a season.

 

''Couldn't have been a better time for that type of game,'' Lillard said Tuesday, after he helped the Blazers beat Dallas and move pass Memphis into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. ''So, like I said, it's a pleasure and honor to be company with Wilt. And hopefully, you know, it can continue.''

 

This is where the Blazers are: Win Thursday's seeding-game finale against nothing-to-play-for Brooklyn, and they're in the West play-in series that starts on Saturday as the No. 8 seed. Lose Thursday, and nothing is guaranteed.

 

Portland is eighth at 34-39. Memphis and Phoenix are tied for ninth at 33-39. San Antonio is 11th at 32-38, but only a half-game out of eighth. How those teams fare on Thursday - they all play their seeding-game finales that day - will determine who goes to the play-in series.

 

And Lillard, even with those stakes, is putting on the best show in the bubble.

 

''If we lose this game, we might not make it to the playoffs,'' Portland coach Terry Stotts said Tuesday night. ''So, the magnitude of this game, even though it's in an empty gym and in a bubble ... this was the season was on the line.''

 

The three-point win Tuesday had some help from above, Lillard said. He took a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter from somewhere between 35 and 40 feet away, felt it was good when it left his hand, then saw it hit the back of the rim and bounce straight up - way, way, way up - in the air.

 

Lillard's cousin and chef, Brandon Johnson, died suddenly and unexpectedly in May. Chef B, they called him. Lillard knelt over his body and prayed moments after Johnson died. Blazers teammate CJ McCollum, who was also close with Johnson, came over soon afterward. Lillard and McCollum sat and cried together. And in the bubble, Chef B is in their mind. ''I just tried to continue what I feel like he would want me to do,'' Lillard said.

 

Back to that 3-pointer. A shot from that far away, moving with that much energy, typically doesn't hit the rim and bounce straight up. They tend to bounce outward. Not this one. It went up, up, up and fell for three points.

 

A reminder: The Blazers beat the Mavericks by three points.

 

''Rest in peace, Chef B,'' Lillard said. ''I think that was him dropping that in.''

 

Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony said he knew that 3-pointer, as he watched the ball go up and then in, was special.

''I probably said about 20 please, like please-please-please-please-please like repeatedly,'' Anthony said. ''It wasn't meant for us to lose when that shot went in. It just wasn't meant for us to lose.''

 

When the night was done, when the last of the 61 points had hit the books, Lillard said he shouted ''put some respect on my name'' to the media area, because as he put it ''those were the people who usually have something to say or put out whatever they put out.'' In the bubble, there's pretty much only been marveling, for good reason.

 

Lillard got into a bit of a social-media beef a few days ago, after the Los Angeles Clippers' Patrick Beverley and Paul George reveled in how he missed two late free throws in what became a Portland loss. That fired him up, too - in the two games since, he's 33 for 34 from the line, those shots all critical given how close the games were.

 

The NBA said Tuesday that there will be an All-Seeding Games team and MVP selected by reporters and broadcasters who are covering the restart. Lillard is pretty much a lock to be a strong candidate. Those awards will be handed out Saturday before Game 1 of the West play-in series. He didn't come here to be on that award list. He came here for the playoffs, and thanks to him, the Blazers are now in the driver's seat for a chance to play the Los Angeles Lakers in Round 1.

 

And that will deliver even more motivation.



Damian Lillard tied his career high with 61 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Dallas Mavericks 134-131 on Tuesday night to move into eighth place in the Western Conference. The Blazers will clinch a spot in the play-in series for the last playoff spot out West with a win Thursday against Brooklyn. Lillard made nine 3-pointers in his sixth 50-point game of the season. He's the 12th player in NBA history to score 50 points in back-to-back games after dropping 51 on the 76ers on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony added 26 points on 10-of 17 shooting for Portland. Kristaps Porzingis scored 36 points and Luka Doncic had 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Mavericks, who will finish No. 7 in the West. 



A crumbling college football season took a massive hit Tuesday when
the Big Ten and Pac-12, two historic and powerful conferences,
succumbed to the pandemic and canceled their fall football seasons.

Five months almost to the day after the first spikes in coronavirus
cases in the U.S. led to the cancellation of the NCAA basketball
tournaments, the still raging pandemic is tearing down another
American sports institution: fall Saturdays filled with college
football.

 

''This was an extremely difficult and painful decision that we know
will have important impacts on our student-athletes, coaches,
administrators and our fans,'' Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
said. ''We know nothing will ease that.''

 

Despite pleas from players, coaches and President Donald Trump in
recent days to play on, 40% of major college football teams have
now decided to punt on a fall season, a decision that will cost
schools tens of millions of dollars and upends traditions dating
back a century.

 

Both conferences cited the risk of trying to keep players from
contracting and spreading the coronavirus when the programs are not
operating in a bubble like the NBA and NHL are doing. They also
cited the broader state of the pandemic in the United States, which
has had more than 5 million cases of COVID-19.

 

''Every life is critical,'' first-year Big Ten Commissioner Kevin
Warren told the AP. ''We wanted to make sure we continually, not
only in our words but in our actions, do put the health and safety
and wellness of our student-athletes first.''

 

Two smaller conferences, the Mid-American and Mountain West, had
already announced the uncertain move to spring football. The
decisions by the deep-pocketed Big Ten and Pac-12, with hundred
million-dollar television contracts and historic programs, shook
the foundation of college sports.
 



(Orlando, FL)  --  The Portland Trail Blazers are gearing up for a game against the Mavericks this afternoon in Orlando.  Portland has won three of its last four games, including Sunday's win over the 76ers, to get to 33-and-39.  The Blazers' final seeding game will be against the Nets on Thursday.  They're currently a half-game behind Memphis for the number-eight seed.



(Undated)  --  The Pac-12 is expected to vote on whether to hold fall sports or not today.  ESPN reports that Pac-12 leadership is expected to meet and discuss the issue and a decision is expected.  The Mountain West and Big Ten Conferences have both reportedly cancelled all fall sports for 2020.  The Big Ten has not ruled out playing in the spring.



(Orlando, FL)  --  Kyle Kuzma nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with point-four seconds left as the Lakers edged the Nuggets 124-121 at the NBA bubble in Orlando.  Kuzma's 25 points aided the Lakers in a thrilling game, while Anthony Davis scored 27 and LeBron James added 29 plus 12 assists.  L.A. has clinched first place and ended a three-game slide.  The regular season finale is Thursday against the Kings.



(Anaheim, CA)  --  Mike Trout homered twice as the Angels rallied past the A's 10-9 in Anaheim.  The Halos trailed 9-4 entering the bottom of the fourth before Trout launched a two-run shot.  His solo homer in the eighth put the Halos up for good.  Trout has homered six times in seven games since returning from the paternity list.  Shohei Ohtani [[ sho-HAY oh-TAW-nee ]] and Anthony Rendon [[ ren-DOAN ]] also went deep as the Angels ended a three-game slide.  Matt Chapman drove in six runs on two homers and a triple for Oakland.  Yusmeiro Petit took the loss as the A's saw their nine-game win streak come to an end.  The series continues in Anaheim tonight.



(Orlando, FL)  --  The Clippers continue battle for playoff positioning tomorrow as they face the Denver Nuggets.  The Clippers are second in the West at 47-and-23 and can clinch the two-seed by beating Denver, which sits one-and-a-half games back.  In other team news, forward Montrezl Harrell has re-joined the team after being gone since last month due to the death of his grandmother.



(Houston, TX)  --  The Giants were shut out until the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Astros in Houston.  Austin Slater homered in the eighth and Donovan Solano stayed hot with a two-run double in the ninth.  Logan Webb didn't make it out of the fourth and took the loss as the Giants fell to 7-and-11.  Tyler Anderson gets the start tonight in Houston.



(Undated)  --  The A's Ramon Laureano says a vile remark from Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron is what led him to charge the Houston dugout Sunday in Oakland.  He tells ESPN that Cintron made a comment in Spanish about his mother.  Laureano was hit by a pitch three times in the series.



(Los Angeles, CA)  --  The Dodgers' offense didn't manage much in a 2-1 loss to the Padres in Los Angeles.  Cody Bellinger's RBI-single in the first inning was it for L.A.  Dustin May took the tough loss with six innings of two-run ball.  Ross Stripling takes the mound for the 11-and-6 Dodgers tonight.  San Diego will sent out Garrett Richards.



(Costa Mesa, CA)  --  The L.A. Chargers are one of six NFL teams who have not had a player test positive for COVID-19.  NBC Sports reports the Chargers join the Patriots, Seahawks, Cardinals, Panthers and Texans as teams who have yet to have a positive test through last Saturday.  Earlier reports stated Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung was considering retirement due to COVID-19 concerns.



(Portland, OR)  --  The Trail Blazers are celebrating a narrow win over the 76ers.  Damian Lillard dropped 51 points, 18 in the fourth quarter, as the Trail Blazers got by the 76ers 124-121 in Orlando.  Carmelo Anthony added 20 points and seven rebounds for Portland, which improves to 33-and-39. The Blazers take on the Mavericks tomorrow.



(Orlando, FL)  --  The Nets built up a 21-point first quarter lead as they knocked off the Clippers 129-120 at the NBA bubble in Orlando.  Kawhi Leonard racked up 39 points for the Clippers, who tied the game twice in the third quarter but never regained the lead.  Lou Williams scored 18 off the bench.  The Clips are a game ahead of Denver for the two-seed in the West and face them on Wednesday in Orlando. 



(Undated)  --  Lakers star LeBron James is one of three finalists for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award.  L.A. native and Rockets star James Harden is in the running, along with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Lakers forward Anthony Davis is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, and Clippers guard Lou Williams is up for Sixth Man of the Year.


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