Joe's Morning Sports-Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Phoenix Suns have a two-games-to-none lead in the NBA's Western Conference Finals after pulling out a 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.  Deandre Ayton capped his 24-point, 14 rebound performance by jamming home an alleyoop pass with 0.7 seconds left.  Cameron Payne finished with a career-high 29 points and nine boards and Devin Booker had 20 points for the Suns.  Paul George scored 26 points with six rebounds and six assists for the Clippers, but missed two free-throws with 8.2 seconds remaining that would have given his team a three-point lead.

Detroit Pistons fans finally have something to celebrate after the team finished with the NBA’s second-worst record during the regular season.  The Pistons have won the NBA Draft lottery and will have the first pick next month.  Detroit just recorded a 20-52 record that was the worst in the Eastern Conference.  If the Pistons keep the pick, it’ll be the first time they select first overall since taking Bob Lanier in 1970.  Houston will choose second after finishing with the league’s worst record.  Cleveland will select third, followed by Toronto, and Orlando.  Oklahoma State freshman guard Cade Cunningham is the top prospect in the draft.  

Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso was arrested and released yesterday for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to ESPN.  Both are misdemeanor charges.  Lt. Bobby Richardson of the Texas A&M Police Department told ESPN that around 2:00, Caruso tried to board a flight in College Station, Texas, and the Transportation and Security Administration searched Caruso's bags and found an herb grinder that contained marijuana.  According to online records, Caruso was arrested for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.  He was released after posting bond.  Caruso played collegiately at Texas A&M.  He is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.  Since signing with the Lakers in 2017, the 27-year-old has played a key role off the bench the last four seasons.

The Kansas City Royals rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to beat the home-team New York Yankees 6-5 last night in a game heard on Newstalk WJAG 105.9 FM.  Ryan O’Hearn, Jarrod Dyson, Hunter Dozier and Michael A. Taylor drove in runs in the eighth inning off Jonathan Loaisiga.  Yankees starter Gerrit Cole allowed two runs and just three hits over seven innings, but his strikeouts and spin rate dropped as he pitched for the first time since Major League Baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances.  The Royals improve to 33-38.

The eleven university presidents and chancellors who oversee the College Football Playoff have authorized the continued evaluation of a proposed twelve-team playoff.  Any plan could still be another five years away.  There are many details to sort through to determine the feasibility of tripling the size of the playoff field.  The presidents and chancellors say the next step is a summer review phase to hear the opinions from a wide array of people, including athletes, campus leaders and coaches.

The Creighton men’s basketball program has been placed on two years’ probation and docked scholarships each of the next two seasons by the NCAA.  The organization investigated allegations that a former assistant coach accepted cash from a management agency.  The penalties are the latest in a wide-ranging FBI probe into college basketball corruption that has ensnared numerous coaches and several high-profile schools, including Kansas and North Carolina State.  The NCAA says Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen violated ethics rules after he conducted his own investigation without notifying or coordinating with the compliance office.

Kellum Clark’s eighth-inning home run ended Griff McGarry’s bid for a no-hitter and Logan Tanner went deep three batters later to lead Mississippi State past Virginia 6-5 at the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.  The sudden turnaround gave the Bulldogs control of their bracket and left them one win from reaching the best-of-three finals next week.  McGarry was trying for the first CWS no-hitter since 1960.  Freshman Tanner Witt pitched 5 2/3 innings of shutout relief and Silas Ardoin hit a tie-breaking, two-run single as Texas eliminated Tennessee from the College World Series with an 8-4 victory.  The Longhorns picked up their first win in Omaha since 2014 while Tennessee went two-and-out in its first appearance since 2005.  Texas never trailed after Eric Kennedy's three-run homer in the second.  In today’s lone contest, Stanford plays Vanderbilt in a 6:00 elimination game.

Heritage Hills Golf Course in McCook hosted the first day of the 32nd Nebraska Junior Match Play Championship yesterday.  Omaha’s Jake Boor won the stroke play qualifying portion with a round of 70 (-2).  He won by three strokes, to earn the top seed in today's Round of 32.  Regarding Northeast Nebraska golfers, Columbus’ Brock Kuhlman shot 73, Wayne’s Tanner Walling carded a 78, Wisner’s Rockney Peck put up an 81, and Columbus’ Seth Vuncannon shot an 86, Nolan Fleming carded an 89, and Nicklaus Fleming put up a 91.  Kuhlman & Walling made the cut.

The 59th Nebraska Girls' Match Play Championship also got underway yesterday at Heritage Hills Golf Course in McCook.  Wahoo's Lauren Thiele won stroke play qualifying with a 71 (-1).  She won by five strokes, to earn the top seed in today's Round of 16.  Albion’s Abby Brodersen shot an 86 and Snyder’s Livia Hunke carded a 90.  Both made today’s cut.

Local Scores:  Omaha Storm Chasers at Iowa (Bsbl-Ppd. Rain); Hastings 13-3 Nfk Seniors 3-8 (Bsbl DH); Wayne Dirt Devils 2-9 Nfk Rogue 18’s 1-7 (SB DH).

Local Schedule:  Omaha Storm Chasers at Iowa (Bsbl DH-4:05).

Newstalk WJAG 105.9 FM & 780 AM the home of the Kansas City Royals & Kansas City Chiefs!

INTERLEAGUE

Final    Cincinnati    10    Minnesota    7    

Final    Toronto    2    Miami    1    

Final    Pittsburgh    6    Chicago White Sox    3    

Final    Detroit    8    St. Louis    2    

Final    Chicago Cubs    7    Cleveland    1    

Final    San Francisco    5    L.A. Angels    0    

Final    Seattle    2    Colorado    1    

___

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Final    Houston    3    Baltimore    1    

Final    Kansas City    6    N.Y. Yankees    5    

Final    Oakland    13    Texas    6    

Final    Boston    9    Tampa Bay    5    

___

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Final    Atlanta    3    N.Y. Mets    0    

Final    Washington    3    Philadelphia    2    

Final    Milwaukee    5    Arizona    0    

Final    San Diego    3    L.A. Dodgers    2    

___

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS

Final    Phoenix    104    L.A. Clippers    103    

___

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Final    Montreal    4    Vegas    1    

___

WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final    Chicago    92    New York    72    

Final    Connecticut    80    Dallas    70    

Final    Washington    87    Seattle    83    

___

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

Final    Orlando City    5    San Jose    0   

In other news

The Milwaukee Bucks own a two-games-to-one lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals following a comeback win in Atlanta.  The Bucks have regained home-court advantage by taking Game Three, 113-102 over the Hawks.  Khris Middleton scored 20 of his playoff career high-tying 38 points in the…

Paul George delivered 27 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Phoenix Suns, 106-92 to pull within two games to one in the NBA's Western Conference Finals.  Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, who took control with a 21-3 run that gave them a…

For the first time since 2018, Nebraska men's basketball program will host the annual intrastate matchup with Creighton, as the pairings for the 2021 Gavitt Tipoff Games were announced today by the Big Ten and the Big East Conferences.