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Timberwolves cruise to 128-98 win against Jokic-less Nuggets

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — D’Angelo Russell had 14 of his 18 points in the first quarter and added 10 assists, Anthony Edwards scored 20 and the Minnesota Timberwolves cruised to a 128-98 win Sunday night against the Denver Nuggets, who were missing two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and three other starters on the second night of a back-to-back.

Rudy Gobert had 16 points for Minnesota, which never trailed and opened a 20-point advantage in the second quarter on the way to a seventh win in 10 games.

Along with Jokic (left hamstring tightness), Denver was without Jamal Murray (left knee injury management), Aaron Gordon (left ankle sprain) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right ankle sprain), who didn’t travel after playing in the Nuggets’ 128-108 win at home against Atlanta the previous night.

Michael Porter Jr., the lone regular starter in the lineup, led Denver with 22 points. Christian Braun added 19 points for the Nuggets. Denver shot just 39.5% from the field and committed 14 turnovers in the first half, trailing by 25 at one point.

Nuggets coach Mike Malone called the timing and travel of the back-to-back to Minnesota “ridiculous” before the game, pointing out there were just 22 hours between tip-offs.

“When I told our players that, a veteran like Jeff Green looked at me like I was crazy,” Malone said before the game. “He said, ‘That’s not allowed. That’s not legal.’ And, obviously, it is.”

Without Jokic and Murray, and choosing not to play Bones Hyland, Denver was without a primary ball-handler. Bruce Brown, a reserve swingman, was the de facto point guard. He finished with 16 points and seven assists.

The Nuggets finished with a season-high 21 turnovers leading to 32 points for Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Minnesota did what it needed to do against a short-handed team, controlling play from the beginning.

The Timberwolves closed the first quarter on a 12-2 run for a 32-21 lead, and never looked back.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Hyland, who is rumored to potentially be on the move prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, didn’t play despite the lack of a primary ball handler. … Jokic had played four games in a row but did miss four games in January. … Braun, Brown, Vlatko Cancar and DeAndre Jordan were the fill-in starters.

Timberwolves: Backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin returned after missing 30 games with a left calf strain. … Starting forward Kyle Anderson left the game with a recurrence of back spasms. He didn’t play in the second half after playing less than five minutes in the previous game due to the injury. … Austin Rivers served the first of his three-game suspension for his part in Friday’s fight between Minnesota and the Orlando Magic.

UP NEXT

The two teams play Tuesday in Denver.

___

More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Murphy scores season-high 30, Pelicans top Kings 136-104

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Trey Murphy III highlighted his season-high 30-point performance with six 3-pointers — a couple from well behind the arc — and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of several starters to beat the Sacramento Kings 136-104 on Sunday night.

CJ McCollum scored 24 points for the Pelicans, who shot 57.1% overall and combined to hit 14 of 26 from 3-point range after struggling from deep throughout their recent 10-game losing streak.

Willy Hernangomez had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Naji Marshall scored 17 points for New Orleans, which led by as many as 35 points en route to a second straight victory.

In addition to being without All-Star forward Zion Williamson (right hamstring) for an 18th straight game, the Pelicans also took the floor without high-scoring wing Brandon Ingram and starting center Jonas Valanciunas.

Ingram, who recently returned from a left big toe injury, was given the night off after scoring 35 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. Valanciunas sat out after leaving the game against the Lakers with a sore right quadriceps muscle.

Malik Monk scored 16 for the Kings, who lost their second straight game without De’Aaron Fox. He is away from the team for unspecified personal reasons. Domantas Sabonis had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Trey Lyles scored 12.

New Orleans scored the first five points of the game, led by as many as 20 in the first half and never trailed. Its first double-digit lead came when McCollum’s 3 made it 16-5 less than six minutes in.

After allowing 70 first-half points in their previous two games, the Pelicans scored that many in the first half against Sacramento, going ahead 70-50 on Kira Lewis Jr.’s 3 before Monk’s driving finger-roll made it 70-52 at halftime.

The lead grew to 30 when Larry Nance Jr.’s free throw made it 80-50 less than six minutes into the third period. Minutes later, Murphy’s rainbow 3 from 29 feet made it 93-60.

TIP-INS

Kings: Davion Mitchell, Kevin Huerter and rookie Keon Ellis each scored 10 points. Ellis’ points came in the final minutes and he hit twice from deep. … Shot 42.7% (35 of 82). … Missed 31 of 42 from 3-point range. … Got 63 points from reserves. … Committed 15 turnovers, leading to 20 Pelicans points.

Pelicans: Nance finished with 10 points and nine rebounds while starting for Valanciunas. … Murphy, a 2021 first-round draft choice out of Virginia, surpassed 1,000 career points. … Outscored Sacramento in the paint, 66-44. … Got 50 points from reserves despite having three of their usual reserves elevated to the starting lineup. … Outrebounded the Kings 48-38.

UP NEXT

Kings: At Houston on Monday.

Pelicans: Host Atlanta on Tuesday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Knicks rally from 21 points down, beat 76ers 108-97

NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Jalen Brunson scored 21 points and the New York Knicks overcame an early 21-point deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 on Sunday night.

Evan Fournier came off the bench to add 17 points for the Knicks, who were playing a night after an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It was great,” Randle said. “I think the biggest difference between last night and tonight, where I thought we could have won, was tonight it was our defense.”

Joel Embiid had 31 points for the 76ers, going 18 of 19 from the free throw line, and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Philadelphia had won nine of its previous 10 games. The 76ers also blew a 21-point lead in a 119-109 loss to Orlando on Monday.

“It’s never easy,” Embiid said. “A 20-point lead in the NBA, that’s nothing. Any team can come back and that’s what they did tonight.”

Philadelphia went ahead by 21 points in the first quarter, but the Knicks continued to chip away and cut it to 53-51 at halftime.

Randle’s 3-pointer to start the second half put New York ahead 54-53, its first lead since 2-0.

Philadelphia went back up by eight and led 79-76 heading into the fourth quarter.

Tyrese Maxey opened the final quarter with a three-point play, but the Knicks scored the next 10 points and capped a 15-2 run on Fournier’s 3-pointer, giving them a 91-84 lead.

They never trailed again.

“I thought our second unit came in and struggled,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “This is the second time that has happened. The same thing happened in Orlando. Both times, we were scoring too easy. The second group comes in and thinks this is an offensive game and they didn’t see the reason the first group got the lead was because of defense.”

The 76ers pulled within three, but Randle’s floater made it 102-92 with 2:18 remaining.

Philadelphia never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

“It was a great team win all-around,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It was great. We digged in the fourth quarter.”

Miles McBride had 14 points and Isaiah Hartenstein tied a season high with 14 rebounds for the Knicks.

De’Anthony Melton and Tobias Harris each had 14 points for the 76ers. James Harden had 12 points and 12 assists.

“They played harder,” Rivers added. “They got everything. They were the more physical team. They were tougher.”

TIP-INS:

76ers: Philadelphia had won eight straight road games. … No 76er has played in all of their games this season. Georges Niang and PJ Tucker have each played in a team-high 50. Tucker’s appearances have all been starts, while Niang’s have all come off the bench.

Knicks: RJ Barrett did not play due to a non-Covid illness. … The Knicks overcame a 20-point deficit to win a game for the first time this season. … New York is 14-15 at home, the only team in the NBA with a winning record to have a losing record at home.

UP NEXT:

76ers: At Boston on Wednesday.

Knicks: At Orlando on Tuesday.


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Siakam, Raptors rally past Grizzlies 106-103 as Morant sits

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Pascal Siakam scored 19 points, including a pair of free throws with 9 seconds left, and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 106-103 on Sunday.

Jaren Jackson Jr. missed a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left that would have tied the game for the Grizzlies, who played without star Ja Morant because of right wrist soreness.

Toronto won its second straight game and went 4-3 on its season-long seven-game road swing. Memphis has lost three straight and eight of nine.

Chris Boucher scored 17 points and matched his season high with three 3-pointers for the Raptors. Scottie Barnes scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of key baskets down the stretch. Fred Van Vleet had 15 points and seven assists.

“Things got tight in the fourth quarter,” Barnes said. “It was just the ball was coming to me, and I was having a ball. I was just trying to get downhill and win the game.”

Desmond Bane led Memphis with 26 points, while Jackson had 18 points and four blocks. In addition to Morant, the Grizzlies were missing center Steven Adams (right knee) and forward Dillon Brooks, who served a league-assessed one-game suspension for his confrontation with Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell on Thursday.

Toronto put the game away by outscoring Memphis 28-17 in the fourth quarter, and Bane said there are obviously things that need to change.

“I think just valuing every possession,” the Grizzlies guard said. “Understanding the magnitude of every possession for a full 48 minutes, but especially down the stretch. When it comes down to it, we’ve got to be able to rebound the basketball and not allow teams to get second chances.”

Memphis led most of the game before Toronto asserted itself late. The Grizzlies were ahead 81-66 with 4:44 left in the third quarter. The Raptors got within 86-78 entering the fourth.

“You don’t want to try and come down and out-jump-shoot teams,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “They were open shots, but we needed to get in attack mode and attack the paint. (Jump shots) are great when they all go in, but when none of them go in, it looks and feels really bad, and you put yourself in a big hole.”

Precious Achiuwa got free for a baseline dunk with 2:32 left that gave the Raptors a 100-99 lead. From there, the teams traded baskets until Barnes hit a pair of shots, the latter with 20.1 seconds left for a 104-103 advantage.

“It was a great win … to close it out with that fourth quarter,” VanVleet said. “Things were not really going our way. We just hung in there and made a couple of more plays at the end.”

TIP-INS

Raptors: F O.G. Anunoby, whose name has been mentioned in trade rumors, missed his fifth straight game with a left wrist sprain. … VanVleet handed out his 2,000th career assist in the first quarter. … Barnes had his 100th career block in the third quarter. … Gary Trent Jr. had 10 points, ending his streak at 11 straight games with at least 15 points.

Grizzlies: Santi Aldama finished with 15 points. … Tyus Jones recorded his 500th career steal in the first quarter. … The loss prevented Memphis from sweeping the series with Toronto. It hasn’t won both games against the Raptors in the regular season since 2012-13.

MORANT FRIEND PUNISHED

Morant tweeted that a friend of his has been banned from games at FedExForum for a year. The punishment stems from a confrontation on Jan. 29, when the Grizzlies hosted Indiana. During the game, there was barking between Pacers players and friends of Morant seated along the sideline. The talking apparently continued into the players’ parking area after the game, leading to an investigation by the league. Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said he was aware of the league’s investigation and that the team addressed the matter internally. He did not elaborate further.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Host San Antonio on Wednesday night.

Grizzlies: Host Chicago on Tuesday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Garland leads hot-shooting Cavs to 122-103 win over Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Darius Garland scored 24 points, Isaac Okoro added 20 and the Cleveland Cavaliers made 15 3-pointers Sunday in a 122-103 rout of the Indiana Pacers.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Cavaliers, who shot 52.3% percent from the field, including 15 of 37 (40.5%) from long range, to complement a top-ranked defense that held Indiana to 43.5% shooting.

Jarrett Allen contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds, Evan Mobley had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Donovan Mitchell added 19 points and six assists for the Cavs. Garland — a Gary, Indiana, native who was not named an All-Star despite averaging 22 points and 8.2 assists — made four 3s and had six assists.

“No extra fuel,” Garland said. “I think I was a snub, but I’ve just got to come out and prove it every night.”

Myles Turner had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana, which has lost 12 of 14. All-Star Tyrese Haliburton finished with 15 points and 11 assists, while Buddy Hield had 16 points.

After alternating wins and losses over its prior eight games, Cleveland took control in the second quarter, led 62-46 at halftime and stretched its advantage to 23 points in the third quarter and as many as 26 in the fourth.

“There’s a seriousness to our approach and an attitude to how we are playing,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I think we are taking steps in the right direction. Sometimes when the offense comes easy, you just get in a back-and-forth, but in the fourth we did a much better job of tightening back up and controlling the tempo. We are growing in that area of understanding the intensity level that it takes.”

The Pacers were within 27-25 at the end of the first quarter but couldn’t keep up after that.

“They did a good job controlling us in the pick-and-roll,” Haliburton said. “We weren’t able to get stops, and that allowed them to set their defense. Kudos to them. A lot of different guys contributed for them. They just outplayed us.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: This was Cleveland’s NBA-best 23rd double-figure victory. … Caris LeVert, who played parts of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons with the Pacers, sat out his second straight game with a sore right hamstring. He is averaging 12.5 points per game. … Backup point guard Ricky Rubio finished with seven points and nine assists.

Pacers: Indiana has lost two of the three games in the season series, which wraps up April 2 at Cleveland. … Reserve guard Chris Duarte, averaging 7.8 points, was out with soreness in his right ankle. … The Pacers’ high-frequency 3-point attack, which entered fifth in the league in attempts and sixth in makes, wound up 8 of 32 (25%). … Indiana coach Rick Carlisle declined to comment on the substance of a report published Sunday by The Athletic that said members of the organization’s traveling party were aggressively confronted by associates of Grizzlies star Ja Morant following Indiana’s Jan. 29 loss at Memphis. Carlisle said he was in the locker room when the incident occurred and received a call about it.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Washington on Monday night.

Pacers: At Miami on Wednesday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Kevin Harvick to join Fox both as NASCAR analyst in 2024

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kevin Harvick won’t spend a single day in retirement when his NASCAR driving days are over: Fox said Sunday it has hired Harvick for its broadcast booth next season.

Harvick announced last month that he will retire from NASCAR competition at the end of the 2023 season.

He will then transition into a broadcast roll for Fox, which has used Harvick regularly as a guest analyst since 2015. He is scheduled to call four Xfinity Series and three Truck Series races this year for FS1, and next season he will join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer for Fox’s entire portion of the Cup schedule.

“I knew that this was something that I wanted to do because it gives you such a unique position to be able to talk about the sport and be able to use your knowledge and relationships to be able to give the fans and people a great perspective,” Harvick told The Associated Press.

“This has really been a conversation that’s been happening for several years, the timing just was never really right. Now it’s all worked out and it’s a great time to be able to transition and have a voice in the sport and remain a part of NASCAR racing on a weekly basis and talk about the things I love.”

Harvick was the centerpiece of Fox’s “Drivers Only” broadcasts that began in 2015. The network began using a combination of active drivers and crew chiefs to call lower-level races and Harvick, who has called more than 25 races for the network, was a natural fit from the very beginning.

He is so steady in the booth that many predicted Harvick would develop into a play-by-play announcer and lead a broadcast team. Harvick, who is beginning his 23rd Cup season, is the 2014 Cup champion and is tied for ninth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list with 60 career victories.

Harvick has 13 consecutive playoff appearances.

“The credibility is off the charts. His longevity in NASCAR will only help him explain to the viewers the evolution the sport has taken,” Fox Sports executive producer Brad Zager said. “For him, that next step of being in the booth is something that’s almost been fait accompli since he first stepped into the booth with us.”

Zager said the network had to do very little to prepare Harvick for the booth.

“We never want to try to convince somebody they should be a broadcaster, and with Harvick, we didn’t have to,” Zager said. “He is someone who has a passion for it already. We’re very excited about everything that he brings, and we think he will be the perfect third man for Clint and Mike with his style, his personality and his credibility.”

Fox primarily has been a two-man booth since Jeff Gordon stepped down at the end of the 2021 season. The network used guests in place of Gordon but has been content waiting for the right person to fill the role full-time.

For Harvick, it will be his third different job as a co-worker with Bowyer.

The two were teammates at Richard Childress Racing early in their career, were reunited at Stewart-Haas Racing and in 2024 will be side-by-side as Fox analysts.

“We obviously have totally different approaches in the things that we do and say, and I think that makes it fun,” Harvick said. “Clint and I became good friends over the years, and we have a good relationship, but we’ve never been able to have a relationship outside the car that’s not been competitive.”

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Kirk Cousins rallies NFC to 35-33 win over AFC in Pro Bowl

LAS VEGAS (AP) — For Kirk Cousins, it wasn’t quite the NFL-record 33-point comeback against the Indianapolis Colts to win the NFC North.

However, Cousins was the quarterback for the third and final flag football game at the Pro Bowl on Sunday for a reason.

NFC coach Eli Manning wanted Cousins in that spot to decide the overall winner, and the Minnesota Vikings QB responded by throwing three touchdowns passes to rally the NFC to a 35-33 victory over the AFC in the Pro Bowl Games and end that conference’s five-game losing streak.

Cousins completed 15 of 19 passes for 150 yards in the NFL’s reformatted all-star contest, which gave the NFC the victory.

“It’s hard to wait around that long to play, but I appreciate Eli letting me be the third guy and fun to go in there and be the closer,” Cousins said.

Based on the earlier flag games and skills competitions, the AFC took a 21-15 lead into the final flag game.

The Pro Bowl changed its format this season, eliminating the traditional game and replacing it with three flag games played on a 50-yard field and a series of skills competitions.

Each of the first two flag games was worth six points and each skills event was three. The total points were accumulated to form the score entering the final flag game.

“I thought it was awesome,” San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey said. “Guys had fun. It got intense there at the end.”

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams noticed the NFC took the game more seriously than expected, such as sending Cowboys safety KaVontae Turpin at the quarterback.

“Hopefully, next year the NFC will actually play some man and not sit back in Cover-2 the whole time and blitz one of the fastest men in the league,” Adams said. “Interesting technique by them, but it was still a good time.”

BROTHERLY COMPETITION

Brothers Eli and Peyton Manning each have two Super Bowl rings, but Eli has this Pro Bowl victory over his older sibling.

“I am the greatest coach of the Mannings,” Eli said tongue-in-cheek on the NFL’s Twitter account. “I am so much better at coaching than Peyton, it’s unbelievable.”

He wasn’t the only brother to earn bragging rights. Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs intercepted a pass off a trick play from Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

MYLES GARRETT INJURED

The Cleveland Browns, however, announced defensive end Myles Garrett dislocated a toe Sunday, but X-rays were negative.

Garrett played with a sprained shoulder this season from a car accident in September, but still had a team-record 16 sacks.

Injuries were something the NFL hoped to avoid by switching to this new format.

Though tackling wasn’t allowed, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey leveled Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill at the goal line.

PLAYGROUND FOOTBALL

Cousins said he hopes youngsters watching the Pro Bowl will want to participate in flag football and help that version of the sport grow.

The change to a flag game took some getting used to, but Cousins said that also made it more fun.

“You’re kind of drawing stuff up in the dirt,” he said. “It’s not as defined of a plan, so some of our guys were coming into the huddle saying, ‘Hey, I think if we did this.’ You try to listen to them and incorporate it. So it was fun, but also a little hectic.”

McCaffrey agreed.

“Learning the rules was a little tricky because this was so different,” McCaffrey said. “But I think everybody learned pretty quick and had fun.”

FANS COME OUT

The Pro Bowl has received quite a bit of criticism in recent years, but the NFL keeps the event for a reason — fans pay attention.

The announced crowd of 58,331 was more than 2,000 more than last year, also played at Allegiant Stadium.

No site has been announced for next year’s Pro Bowl, but it’s unlikely the NFL will want that event to be played in the same venue just before the Super Bowl, which will be in Las Vegas.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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Chiefs, Eagles land in Phoenix, prepare for Super Bowl 57

PHOENIX (AP) — A few minutes after the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes landed in Phoenix, the pilot hung a “Chiefs Kingdom” flag out of the window as players, coaches and staff got off the plane and walked across the runway.

About an hour later, it was the Philadelphia Eagles who arrived in Arizona, with an “It’s a Philly Thing” flag fluttering in the runway as quarterback Jalen Hurts, coach Nick Sirianni and others made their way to a fleet of buses.

Super Bowl 57 is just one week away.

The Chiefs will face the Eagles on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Both teams landed at Goldwater Air National Guard Base in ideal Phoenix winter weather — bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s. Team personnel occasionally stopped to take pictures and videos on the runway.

Former Chiefs star Christian Okoye was on hand to pass out hats to Kansas City’s players as they got off the plane. The former star running back lives in Southern California and made the short trip to Phoenix.

“They called me and wanted me to come over here and welcome the team,” Okoye said. “So I said ‘Yes, of course’ — my team’s over here getting ready to win the Super Bowl.”

Oddsmakers are expecting a good game, though they disagree with Okoye and are giving the Eagles a slight edge. Philadelphia opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

The Chiefs advanced to their third Super Bowl in four seasons when Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to push Kansas City past the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game last weekend.

The Eagles routed the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the NFC title game. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33.

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by Hurts and Sirianni — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The teams will both take part in the “Super Bowl LVII Opening Night” on Monday in downtown Phoenix, where all the players and coaches from both teams are available for the annual media extravaganza.

Then it’s down to business. The Chiefs will practice throughout the week at Arizona State’s football facilities while the Eagles will do their preparation at the Arizona Cardinals’ practice facility.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his former team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Hurts.

There’s also a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

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Panthers hire Evero as new defensive coordinator

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with Ejiro Evero on Sunday to be their new defensive coordinator.

The 42-year-old Evero was the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator last season and was one of nine candidates to interview for the Panthers head coaching position before owner David Tepper hired Frank Reich.

The Broncos ranked seventh in the league in total defense in 2022 under Evero and were 14th in points allowed. Evero previously worked as the Broncos secondary coach before being promoted to coordinator.

He has also experience coaching with the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Steve Wilks was Carolina’s defensive coordinator to start the 2022 season, but was later promoted to interim head coach after Matt Rhule was fired. Al Holcomb took over as interim defensive coordinator and remained in that role for the rest of the season.

Carolina’s defense, led by defensive end Brian Burns and safety Jeremy Chinn, finished 22nd in the league last season in yards allowed per game and allowed the 19th-most points in the league, but the defense is generally considered the strength of a team that finished 7-10.

Evero has ties to Carolina.

Dom Capers, who served as Carolina’s first head coach, was a senior defensive assistant on Evero’s staff last season in Denver. Evero also spent four years on the 49ers staff under Vic Fangio, the Panthers defensive coordinator from 1995-98 under Capers.

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Islanders sign Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

The New York Islanders have signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

The team announced the contract Sunday, after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat on Monday. He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division on Saturday despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

“I want to get going,” Horvat said Saturday after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.

“Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena on Thursday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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