Here’s a look at today’s big sports stories.
Embiid returns to lead Sixers to 2-1 series lead
Joel Embiid made a successful return to the Philadelphia 76ers after missing 10 games following surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone.
Embiid wore a face mask to protect his face as he scored 23 points in the Sixers’ 128-108 thumping of the Heat in Miami. Embiid was listed as doubtful in the morning and was upgraded to probably hours later before taking the opening tip.
Marco Bellinelli and Dario Saric each added 21 points as the 76ers took a 2-1 lead in the NBA’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Ben Simmons had another strong game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in Philadelphia’s 18th victory in 19 games.
Goran Dragic had 23 points and Justise Winslow had 19 for the Heat, who host Game 4 on Saturday.
The Warriors have a 3-0 lead in their first-round series with the Spurs after Kevin Durant delivered 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a 110-97 win at San Antonio. Klay Thompson finished with 19 points for Golden State, which closed the first half on a 20-9 run to eliminate a five-point deficit and take a 52-46 lead. Durant had 17 points in the first half to counter 10 points each from Rudy Gay and Tony Parker.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a team-best 19 points for the Spurs, who played without head coach Gregg Popovich one day after the death of his wife, Erin, following a long illness.
Game 4 is Sunday at San Antonio.
The Pelicans need one more victory to advance to the second round for the first time in 10 years, and they can finish up a sweep at home on Saturday. Nikola Mirotic scored 21 of his playoff career-high 30 points in the first half and finished with eight rebounds and three steals as New Orleans dumped the Trail Blazers, 119-102 to take a three-games-to-none series lead.
Anthony Davis had 28 points and 11 boards for the Pelicans, who led by 18 in the first quarter and coasted to victory.
CJ McCollum had 22 points and Al-Farouq Aminu added 21 for the Blazers.
Bruins hold off Leafs, Caps square series
The Boston Bruins are heading home with a three-games-to-one lead in the first round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
Brad Marchand scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and Tuukka Rask stopped 31 shots as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs, 3-1 at Toronto. Torey Krug and Tomas Plekanec traded first-period goals before Marchand beat Frederik Andersen with 3:05 left in the middle stanza.
David Pastrnak set up to tallies to run his point total to a league-high 11 in just four games.
Jake DeBrusk added an insurance goal for the Bruins, who can advance to the second round on Saturday.
Thursday’s other NHL playoff game had the Capitals beating the Blue Jackets, 4-1 to knot the opening-round series at two games apiece. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist for Washington, which took both games in Columbus after replacing Philipp Grubauer with Braden Holtby in goal. Holtby stopped 23 shots and was perfect until Boone Jenner scored 6:22 into the third period. Game 5 is Saturday in Washington.
Hammond to start for Avs
The Colorado Avalanche will go with backup goaltender Andrew Hammond for Game 5 Friday in Nashville after starter Jonathan Bernier suffered a lower-body injury. Colorado trails the Predators 3-1 in the first-round series.
Hammond stopped all eight shots he faced after replacing Jonathan Bernier in the third period of Wednesday’s loss to Nashville. It was Hammond’s first playoff appearance in three years.
In other NHL news:
Astros rout M’s
The Houston Astros didn’t let a triple-play grounder stop them from whipping the Seattle Mariners this afternoon.
Charlie Morton scattered three hits over seven scoreless innings of the Astros 9-2 win over the Mariners. Jose Altuve was 3-for-4 with a three-run double and four RBIs to help the defending champs beat the Mariners for the third straight game after dropping the series opener. Max Stassi and Josh Reddick homered for Houston.
The blowout allowed Evan Gattis to laugh off his base-runner miscue. Gattis hit a grounder that Kyle Seager grabbed for what became a triple play when Gattis didn’t pay attention to the number of outs. Gattis jogged back to the dugout without touching first base and said he was annoyed at his check-swing grounder. He said, “I got so mad I couldn’t think straight.”
Elsewhere in the majors:
Reds fire Price after 3-15 start
The axe has fallen on Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price, making him the first major league manager to be fired this season. Price is the first manager since 2002 to be dismissed in April, getting the hook after the Reds opened 3-15 for their worst 18-game start since 1931. Bench coach Jim Riggleman will manage the team on an interim basis, the fourth time in his career he’s been promoted during a season.
In other baseball news:
Tennessee AD Fulmer signs new deal worth at least $900,000
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer has signed a contract that runs through 2021 and increases his annual pay to at least $900,000.
The 67-year-old Fulmer was paid $575,000 by the school when he took over as Tennessee’s athletic director Dec. 1 during a tumultuous football coaching search. Fulmer hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as football coach six days later.
Murray leads through 18
Grayson Murray has a one-stroke lead over five others through one run of the PGA’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.
Murray carded seven birdies in a 5-under 67 under blustery conditions. His only mistake was a double-bogey on the par-3 seventh hole.
Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel, Chesson Hadley and Matt Atkins share second.
Jeff Maggert, Jesper Parnevik lead Legends of Golf
Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik shot an 8-under 63 in better-ball play to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.
Maggert and Parnevik eagled the par-5 eighth and had six birdies for a one-shot edge over Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin.