NBA: Stephen Curry scored 34 points with an MVP-worthy performance, and the Golden State Warriors went up big before holding off the New Orleans Pelicans 106-99 in their playoff opener Saturday in Oakland, California.
Klay Thompson added 21 points, and Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut dominated down low as the Warriors looked every bit like the NBA’s top seed – at least for three quarters.
The Pelicans pulled within four in the final minute behind Anthony Davis, who scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, to make the contest seem closer than it really was.
• Rose returns to postseason, fuels Bulls: Derrick Rose had 23 points and seven assists in his first postseason game in three years, Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the host Chicago Bulls opened the playoffs with a 103-91 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Rose was at his fearless best, driving hard to the rim in the early going, and mixed in three 3-pointers in the second half. He shot 9 of 16 and got serenaded with “MVP! MVP!” chants.
• Wizards take opener in OT: Paul Pierce scored five of his 20 points in overtime, Nene had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 93-86 in Toronto in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
• Harden leads Rockets: James Harden had 24 points and Corey Brewer scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the host Houston Rockets to a 118-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of their Western Conference series.
Logano wins Xfinity race at Bristol
AUTO RACING: Joey Logano led flag-to-flag to win the Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.
Erik Jones started from the pole but was passed by Logano before he completed the first lap. Logano led all 300 laps in cruising to his second Xfinity Series win of the season. In three starts in NASCAR’s second-tier series, Logano has two wins and a second-place finish for Team Penske.
• Hamilton takes pole at Bahrain: Defending champion Lewis Hamilton will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position for the first time after clinching his fourth straight pole of the season, finishing well ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at Sakhir, Bahrain.
• Castroneves sets Long Beach track record: Helio Castroneves will start on the pole for the Grand Prix of Long Beach after setting a track record during qualifying at Long Beach, California.
Williams holds off Giorgi; Italy-US tied
TENNIS: Top-ranked Serena Williams overcame a stiff challenge in the opening set for a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi in a Fed Cup World Group playoff at Brindisi, Italy.
Italy’s Sara Errani then evened the best-of-five series with the United States at 1 by routing 57th-ranked Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-2.
Williams improved to 19-0 this year and 15-0 for her career in Fed Cup.
• Djokovic beats Nadal, reaches final: For the second time in three years, top-ranked Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal’s run at the clay-court Masters tournament, overcoming a strong challenge from the Spaniard to reach the Monte Carlo Masters final with a 6-3, 6-3 win in Monaco.
Djokovic, who extended his current winning streak to 16 matches, will face sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych as he bids for a second title in the principality after ending Nadal’s eight-year reign in 2013.
• Hingis loses in return to singles: Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis played and lost her first competitive singles match since 2007 as Switzerland and Poland tied at 1 on the first day of the Fed Cup World Group playoff in Zielona Gora, Poland.
Agnieszka Radwanska beat Hingis 6-4, 6-0 while her younger sister Urszula Radwanska lost to Timea Bacsinszky 2-6, 1-6 on the hard indoor court.
Merritt maintains RBC Heritage lead
GOLF: Troy Merritt shot a 2-under-par 69 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, while defending champion Matt Kuchar and Masters winner Jordan Spieth stayed within reach.
A day after tying the course record with a 61 to build a four-stroke advantage at Harbour Town, Merritt had four birdies and a double bogey to reach 14-under 199.
• Watson ponders one last Masters: Two-time Masters champion Tom Watson said his next visit to play Augusta National might be his last.
A fatigued, 65-year-old Watson said at the RBC Heritage that it’s getting more difficult for him to compete on the PGA Tour and he didn’t know how much longer he wanted to take away a spot in events from younger players.
He says the 2016 Masters “may be my last.”
• Browne, Langer match record 64s: Olin Browne shot a tournament-record 8-under 64 to take the second-round lead in the Champions Tour’s Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Georgia, and then watched Bernhard Langer match the mark to stay close.
Browne was at 12 under, a shot ahead of Langer. Langer won the tournament in 2013 and finished second last year.
• Kim wins in Hawaii: Sei Young Kim holed out from 154 yards for eagle to win the LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship at Kapolei, Hawaii, on the first hole of a playoff with Inbee Park.
After driving into the water in regulation on the par-4 18th, Kim forced the playoff with an 18-foot chip-in for par. She then won on the hole with her 8-iron shot that barely cleared the water.
The 22-year-old South Korean player became the first two-time winner on the LPGA Tour this year.
MISCELLANY: Michael Phelps roared from last to first on the final lap to win the 100-meter freestyle against rival Ryan Lochte in the Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona.
Swimming in the seventh lane, Phelps trailed the field at the turn before pouring it on down the stretch to touch in 49.72 seconds.
Lochte and Phelps returned later to compete in the 200 individual medley. Lochte led all the way in winning that race in 1 minute, 58.70 seconds. Phelps trailed Lochte after the opening 50 meters, then dropped back to third and finished there in 2:00.01.
• Oklahoma senior ties record: Oklahoma senior Lauren Chamberlain hit her 90th home run to tie the NCAA career softball record set by former UCLA star Stacey Nuveman in 2002.
• Crawford wins WBO junior welterweight: Terence Crawford remained undefeated by winning the vacant WBO junior welterweight title with sixth-round technical knockout of Thomas Dulorme in Arlington, Texas.
• Whiskey Ticket wins Illinois Derby: Whiskey Ticket held off fast-charging Conquest Curlinate by a nose to win the $400,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, Illinois.
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