Monday Sports in Brief

April 12, 2022 GMT

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers fired Frank Vogel on Monday, choosing their championship-winning head coach to take the first fall for one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history.

Los Angeles wildly underachieved this season, finishing 33-49 and missing the 10-team Western Conference playoffs in a humiliating conclusion to a year that began with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and a veteran-laden supporting cast widely expected to contend for another championship.

Vogel was fired exactly 18 months after he led the Lakers to the franchise’s 17th title in his first season in charge. Almost nothing has gone right in the ensuing two seasons for the rosters assembled by general manager Rob Pelinka and coached by Vogel, who went 127-98 in his three seasons running the club. He was under contract through next season.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings fired interim coach Alvin Gentry on Monday, a day after the franchise missed the playoffs for an NBA-record 16th straight season.

The 67-year-old Gentry was promoted from associate head coach to interim coach when the Kings fired Luke Walton in November following a 6-11 start. Sacramento finished the season at 30-52.

Gentry had most recently served as head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans (2015-20). He has also made head coaching stops with Miami, Detroit, the Clippers and Phoenix. He has a career record of 534-636.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch signed a multi-year contract extension on Monday, after guiding the team to seventh place in the Western Conference and a play-in game berth.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Timberwolves also announced contract extensions for Finch’s assistants, the day before they host the Los Angeles Clippers for a spot in the playoffs.

Finch was hired midway through the 2020-21 season to replace the fired Ryan Saunders.

The 52-year-old Finch has a 62-61 record for the second-best winning percentage (.504) by a head coach in Timberwolves history. The late Flip Saunders (.521) is first. Minnesota went 46-36 this season, the second-best record for the long-languishing franchise over the past 18 years.

WNBA

NEW YORK (AP) — Rhyne Howard went to Atlanta with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft on Monday night moments after Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league is working very hard to help bring Brittney Griner back to the United States.

Griner, one of the league’s biggest stars, has been detained in Russia since arriving at a Moscow airport in mid-February. Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Howard, who was the first Kentucky player to go No. 1 in the draft.

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Indiana, which had four picks in the first round, drafted NaLyssa Smith from Baylor with the No. 2 pick and her Bears teammate Queen Egbo at 10. The Fever also snagged Louisville’s Emily Engstler at No. 4 and Lexie Hull of Stanford at 6.

The Mystics chose Shakira Austin from Ole Miss third and New York drafted Oregon’s Nyara Sabally in between Indiana’s top two selections.

MLB

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Lerner family that has owned the Washington Nationals since 2006 is exploring the possibility of selling the Major League Baseball franchise.

Manager Dave Martinez said before the team’s game at Atlanta that managing principal owner Mark Lerner called him Monday morning to deliver the news. Lerner, who has taken over a lead role with the team from his father, Ted, has in recent years said the family would never sell the team.

Forbes valued the team at $2 billion. Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen bought the New York Mets in 2020 for $2.4 billion.

The Lerners bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million 16 years ago after the team was moved to the U.S. capital from Montreal. The franchise won its first World Series title in 2019.

NHL

NEW YORK (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin has been suspended four games for cross-checking Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki in the face.

The NHL’s department of player safety announced the suspension Monday after holding a hearing with Malkin about the play. In a video explaining the suspension, the league called Malkin’s cross-check “retaliatory and aggressive.”

Malkin was initially given only a four-minute double-minor penalty after striking Borowiecki in the mouth with his stick at the end of the second period Sunday.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Carly Thibault-DuDonis was hired Monday as women’s basketball coach at Fairfield.

The 30-year-old Thibault-DuDonis replaces Joe Frager, who retired after leading the Stags to a 25-7 record and the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in his 15th season.

She spent the past four seasons as an assistant under Lindsay Whalen at Minnesota, where she also was the recruiting coordinator. She was previously on staffs at Mississippi State, Florida State and Eastern Michigan.

OBITUARY

Gary Brown, who rushed for 4,300 yards while playing on three NFL teams in the 1990s before going on to coach running backs in the pro and college ranks, has died. He was 52.

Wisconsin’s athletic department and the Dallas Cowboys announced that Brown died Sunday. No cause of death was disclosed. Brown had battled cancer on multiple occasions.

Brown had coached Wisconsin’s running backs last season before departing for health-related reasons. He coached the Cowboys’ running backs from 2013-19.

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