Friday’s Sports In Brief
PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 29 points, Chris Paul had a triple-double with 21 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds and the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns won their ninth straight game, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124.
Cam Johnson — who has recently moved into a starting role with several key players are injured — hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through fourth to help push the Suns past the pesky Timberwolves. He finished with 23 points. The 6-foot-8 forward also had the assist on two more 3-pointers in the closing minutes — one by Landry Shamet and another by Paul.
Phoenix played without starters Deandre Ayton (right ankle sprain) and Jae Crowder (left wrist contusion) and key backups JaVale McGee (left knee soreness) and Cameron Payne (right wrist sprain).
The Suns improved to 39-9, the best start in franchise history. They moved to 30-0 when leading after three quarters, using the veteran savvy of Paul to take control in key moments. Phoenix hit 20 3-pointers to tie a season high. It was Paul’s 18th career triple-double and third since joining the Suns last season.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Miles Bridges had 26 points, Ish Smith provided a huge boost off the bench with 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting and the Charlotte Hornets held off the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 117-114.
Russell Westbrook scored 35 points for the Lakers, but missed a potential winning 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left.
LeBron James missed his second straight game because of left knee soreness, and Anthony Davis did not play due to right wrist soreness.
LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier each had 20 points for the Hornets. Carmelo Anthony added 19 points for the Lakers, and rookie Austin Reaves had 16.
The Hornets were coming off a game Wednesday night where they scored a franchise-record 158 points against Indiana.
Charlotte opened on a 16-3 run and never trailed.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The co-owners of the New York Giants wanted a head coach who new general manager Joe Schoen could work well with.
In hiring Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on Friday, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch got someone who Schoen has worked with well the last four years in Buffalo. Daboll, 46, replaces Joe Judge, who was fired two days after the Giants finished a 4-13 season, their fifth straight double-digit losing season.
Daboll was the first person Schoen interviewed after being hired last Friday, and he quickly got a second interview Tuesday.
Daboll came to the Bills in 2018 after helping Alabama win its 17th national championship as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The Giants interviewed six candidates for the vacant position, giving a second interview to Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier earlier Friday. They also spoke to former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores; defensive coordinators Lou Anarumo of Cincinnati, Dan Quinn of Dallas and the Giants’ Patrick Graham.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Will Zalatoris and Jason Day charged past Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas on Friday at Torrey Pines to share the third-round lead at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Zalatoris posted the day’s best round with a 7-under 65, and two-time Farmers champion Day shot a 67. They were at 14 under heading to the final round of the tournament, which will finish Saturday to avoid a television conflict with the NFL’s two conference championship games.
Rahm and Aaron Rai were 13 under, and Thomas, Sungjae Im and Cameron Tringale were another shot back. There were 24 players within five shots of the co-leaders after an eventful moving day.
Zalatoris surged from six shots back after two rounds and moved into contention for his first career PGA Tour victory, yet his round could have been several strokes better if his putter had kept up with the rest of his formidable play. The 25-year-old missed several birdie putts, including a pair inside 5 feet, but stayed in the lead alongside several more accomplished pros.
Day, who won a playoff in 2018 to claim the Farmers title, finished his third round superbly with four birdies on the final six holes. The Australian former top-ranked pro buried a 27-foot birdie putt on the 16th and got firmly into contention on the course where he also won in 2015.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has agreed to a contract extension to remain on the Plains.
Athletic director Allen Greene announced in a video on social media along with Pearl on Friday night that “we locked him up,” beneath the words “for life.” The 61-year-old Pearl led the top-ranked Tigers to their first Final Four in 2019.
They secured the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history this week and enter Saturday’s Oklahoma game riding a 16-game win streak and with a 19-1 record.
Auburn didn’t release any details of the new deal, which Pearl said “wasn’t that hard” to agree on.
The Tigers made back to back NCAA Tournament appearances and were 25-6 when the tournament was canceled because of COVID-19 in 2020. Auburn is 113-39 over the last four-plus seasons even with a 13-14 record last season.
NEW YORK (AP) — The King has taken his throne in the rafters at Madison Square Garden.
Henrik Lundqvist became the 11th player to have his number retired by the New York Rangers when a banner with his name and No. 30 was raised at the Garden before the team’s 3-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild.
The Swedish goalie spent his entire 15-year playing career with the Rangers after being selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL draft, finishing with a record of 459-310-96 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .918 save-percentage. After the 2019-20 season, he had the final year of his contract bought out by New York and signed with Washington for the ensuing shortened season but did not play after having heart surgery.
The 39-year-old Lundqvist, a fan favorite in New York from the start of his stellar career, received an ovation and cheers of “Hen-rik! Hen-rik!” from the crowd when he was announced and walked out on the blue carpet on the ice, and then again when he was called to the podium by Rangers broadcaster Sam Rosen.
Lundqvist appeared in five All-Sar games and is sixth in NHL history in wins. He also holds the Rangers’ franchise records for victories (459), playoff wins (61), shutouts (64) and games played (887). He currently serves as a studio analyst on MSG Networks’ pregame, intermission and postgame shows.