Lindsay Whalen, center, smiles with her teammates during a ceremony honoring her last regular season game for the Minnesota Lynx Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Minneapolis. Whalen scored 10 points in the final regular-season home game of her career. The Lynx closed the WNBA basketball season with a 88-83 victory over the Washington Mystics. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA playoffs are set after a wild, unpredictable regular season came to an end Sunday.As expected, Los Angeles and Minnesota will meet in the postseason for a third straight year. Unexpectedly, it’s in the first round.The two-time WNBA finalists finished a surprising sixth and seventh in the regular season and will face off in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.“Minnesota is a good team. You can throw records out the window right now,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “They have two of the elite offensive players in the league, one inside and one outside, they have veteran savviness, tough minded championship pedigree and we have played them enough, over 20 times in three years, so we know each other pretty well.”Phoenix will host Dallas, which earned the final playoff spot Friday, in the other first-round elimination game.“I mean, you obviously want to finish as high up as you can. There was a point there when we thought we were going to be in that top two, top four, but you have to win regardless. I think we’re playing well,” Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi said. “I think we found our groove a little bit on the things that we want to do. Getting a home game, but we still have to go out there and play hard and play really well to win.”Seattle and Atlanta earned byes to the semifinals by finishing first and second. The Dream clinched the No. 2 spot on the final day of the regular season. Washington and Connecticut earned first-round byes.“We are thrilled. There is a whole lot of parity in the league,” WNBA President Lisa Borders told the AP on Sunday night. “Clearly anyone can beat anyone on any given day. We are thrilled with the unpredictability.”Here are a few things to watch for in the opening round of the playoffs:ONE LAST RIDE: Minnesota Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen announced she would retire after the season ended. She’s won four titles with the Lynx and hopes to have one more shot at a championship.The Lynx would have to beat Los Angeles and either Washington or Connecticut to get a chance to play at home again.“It was Lindsay Whalen’s last time at Target Center as a competitor in the WNBA during the regular season. I think we would all like to give her another chance to come back here but we’ll just take it one day at a time,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said.NEW LIFE: Dallas backed its way into the postseason, losing nine straight games before beating Las Vegas to reach the playoffs Friday.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald laughs with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) in the second half of an NFL preseason football game in New Orleans, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. The Cardinals won 20-15. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)Anyone who pays attention to the NFL knows that Tom Brady is 41 as he heads into the season. He’s hardly the only geezer, in football terms, still on the field or hoping to be when the season kicks off next month.Indeed, Brady isn’t even close to the oldest guy suiting up these days. His former teammate in New England, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, is 45.There are plenty of players currently on rosters who are older than Rams coach Sean McVay, now 32. Hey, that’s in the midst of the prime competing years for most positions.Here’s a look at six 30-somethings who could be impactful this season. We’re steering away from the kickers, who tend to age a lot more slowly than anyone else.Drew Brees, Saints quarterback — There are no signs of Brees slowing down at age 39. He’s in the perfect offense, which he knows so well he could probably run it from a rocking chair.Helping mightily are skill position players such as Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram when he returns from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., and Benjamin Watson (37 himself).Also aiding Brees: A defense can’t throw anything at him he hasn’t seen — again and again.“I understand that I don’t have a whole lot of time left,” says Brees, who’ll be 40 in January and whose contract expires after the 2019 season. “You’ve got to work and have high expectations and sacrifice and do maybe even more now than I ever have.”Andrew Whitworth, Rams left tackle — Whitworth was a stud for Cincinnati for 11 seasons, but the Bengals must have believed he was through in 2016 because they let him walk as a free agent. Now 36, he comes off an All-Pro first year in which the Rams were dominant on offense.Despite all those years in the trenches, Whitworth looks as sharp and powerful as the day he came out of LSU in 2006. He has a shot at his first Super Bowl with a supremely talented roster around him.Julius Peppers, Panthers defensive end — Like Brees, Peppers will someday wind up with a bust in Canton, Ohio. At 38, he’s no longer an every-down player, but he’s an every-day leader.Peppers can provide ample force as a pass rusher if he’s mixed in efficiently, something Carolina is quite good at with its D-line. That’s essential in the league’s best division, facing Brees and Matt Ryan twice a season.Peppers was placed on the physically unable to perform list in July, but the Panthers don’t seem too concerned about his availability — or production — when the games count.Terence Newman, Vikings cornerback — Now this is really impressive: a DB who will be 40 before the season kicks off, yet can handle the speed- and agility-based duties in an increasingly fast-paced game.Newman enters his 16th pro season — he was the fifth overall selection by Dallas in 2003 — and this will be his fourth year in Minnesota. The league’s oldest defensive player likely will see some time at safety on a game-changing defense. To see any time at all in an NFL secondary at such an advanced age is stunning.“You have to figure out something else that you want to do, once you get to my age,” Newman said when he re-signed in May. “I think this will be my last year. No matter what happens, this will be it for me.”Vernon Davis, Redskins tight end — Once among the elite tight ends of the NFL, Davis remains at 34 enough of a force on the field and a positive influence off it to be a factor for Washington. He averaged 15.1 yards a reception for the Redskins a year ago, third best in his distinguished career.Alex Smith often targets his tight end — Travis Kelce became a star catching Smith’s passes in Kansas City — and Davis knows just about everything about playing the position.L.P. Ladouceur, Cowboys long snapper — At 37, this is his 14th year with the Cowboys; how many fans would recognize the Canadian in Big D without his jersey on?Long snappers always are unsung, fitting the cliche of only getting noticed when they mess up. Ladouceur almost never does, and he’s now the longest-tenured Cowboy with Jason Witten retired.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
STEELERS RUNNING BACK JAMES CONNER, in his first career start, scored two rushing touchdowns against the Browns, Sept. 9, at FirstEnergy Stadium. But his fumble in the fourth quarter sparked the Browns’ comeback in an eventual 21-21 tie. (Photo by Courier photographer Thomas Sabol)Le’Veon Bell had this to say on Twitter after the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns battled to a season-opening 21-21 tie at FirstEnergy Stadium: “No shade, just never witnessed a tie before.”Wow! What an astute observation by Bell. I am sure those very “team-like” words came straight to him after the game concluded. Jordan Culver, one of Bell’s fellow “Tweesters,” asked and answered his own question, saying: “Is this shade? I think this is shade.”By the way, Bell’s heir apparent, James Conner, had 31 rushes for 135 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Conner also had 5 receptions for 57 yards. I don’t know, yinzers, could the Steeler Nation soon be asking the question, Le’Veon who? Le’Veon Bell should navigate himself back to the Pittsburgh Steelers sidelines, post haste.Now as I have stated previously, I will not enter into the fray. It is not any of my business, nor should it be in regards to how much any athlete should be compensated for their services. It is entirely up to the performer to set his or her value and it’s up to the owner to honor or dishonor that value, period. In my opinion, Le’Veon Bell may be making an irreversible mistake in overvaluing his services. Maybe he is or maybe he isn’t worth all that he is demanding, but if I were due to make in excess of $850,000 per game, you would have to give me a lethal injection to keep me from making all of that cheese.Let’s hit rewind for a moment. The Steelers competed against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2017 divisional playoffs. “Big” Ben Roethlisberger threw for a zillion yards but had one pick and fumbled once. The two turnovers resulted in 14 points for the Jaguars. Roethlisberger’s miscues happened to be very significant because the Steelers lost, 45-42. However, after the loss all of the chatter was about how the Steelers defense was so atrocious and how Mike Tomlin was such an incompetent coach and how Steelers former offensive coordinator Todd Haley called such a bad game.Baloney. If the Steelers defense was so bad giving up 45 points, coupled with Ben Roethlisberger’s two turnovers, was the Jaguars defense bordering on pristine after giving up 42 points to the Black and Gold? No, it just confirms that the “prevent defense” oftentimes doesn’t prevent much at all.Todd Haley was not the offensive coordinator for the Steelers in this past weekend’s 21-21 fiasco, oops, I meant the game against the Browns. However, Roethlisberger tossed three picks. Had “Big” Ben converted just one of those possessions into three points the Steelers would have been 1-0 instead of 0-0-1, you dig? A tie game almost always indicates that on that day at least, your team was not better than your opponent. How can a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, shepherded by a supposedly Hall of Fame-bound quarterback, score only 21 points against a “fledgling” Cleveland Browns defense?The majority of the TV and radio networks talking heads are now backtracking on a few of the accolades that have been heaped upon the shoulders of one Ben Roethlisberger during the 2018 preseason. The Pittsburgh talking heads seem to remain possible disciples of Roethlisberger but it seems that folks in other markets are less giddy about the prospects of “Big” Ben winning another Lombardi trophy. Football is sometimes like real estate. What usually wins for your opponent is when your team commits turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hlFollow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier
You can’t script this stuff. Manchester City fires Manuel Pellegrini, effective the end of the season, and then his Blues beat Paris Saint-Germain to reach the European Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history.Pellegrini, a dignified Chilean, must have a sly smile on his face.In this age of big money, a football manager’s contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. A blip in team performance can get wealthy club owners like those of Manchester City nervous enough to pull the plug even if it’s due to a rash of injuries.Pellegrini and the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho know this all too well.The latter two were both let go by Russian Roman Abramovic at Chelsea in the season following wins in the English Premier League. The same thing happened at the same club to Claudia Ranieri, the current Leicester City boss, after a 2004 season in which Chelsea placed second in the Premiership. Truly, he who pays the piper calls the tune.In those situations, only winning is enough.In this context, it seems hardly likely that Louis van Gaal will see out his three-year contract at Manchester United. The highly successful Dutchman hasn’t endeared himself to United with his possession-oriented departure from that club’s traditional winger-based attacking style.The besieged veteran came to United after carrying The Netherlands to within a penalty shoot-out of the 2014 World Cup final. He might rightly claim that he took United back to Champions League football.TOO LATE FOR VAN GAALHis inconsistent United, however, haven’t met the benchmark, set by Alex Ferguson. Fans want him out. From the moans of the United faithful, even a return to Champions League football won’t save the day for Van Gaal.He will have to hustle as his team is fifth, four points behind Manchester City.Six months after his arrival at Liverpool, the charming German Jurgen Klopp is still enjoying a honeymoon at the Anfield home of the five-time European champions. His Reds are currently eighth in the Premiership, two places behind last year’s sixth-spot finish.Yet, the accomplished Klopp is generally viewed as a better coach than the man he replaced, Brendan Rogers. Time will tell.Managerial musical chairs are present in Jamaica, too. For example, Waterhouse Football Club has had two managers already this year.If Raineri’s Leicester can emerge from last season’s battles against relegation to be a real challenger for domestic top honours, then Pellegrini can dream of a triumphant exit.Even though giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all remain in contention, scriptwriters in Manchester are probably penning their view of Champions League success.If that happens and if Manchester City meet and beat Bayern, who are currently coached by Pep Guardiola Pellegrini’s replacement as manager at City that would be irony indeed.n Hubert Lawrence has attended the Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics.
‘I’m out!’: PewDiePie releases last video before taking break from YouTube Pao Javelona topped the Skippers’ all-out assault, pouring 16 points, three assists, and two rebounds as seven others scored in double-digits in the dominant victory.Joseph Marata fired all of his 15 markers in the first half, where Marinerong Pilipino raced to a comfortable 57-41 halftime edge.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’Ralph Salcedo and Renzo Subido both logged 12 points and five assists in the win.The Skippers can book a seat to the playoffs with a victory against AMA Online Education next Thursday, and coach Koy Banal has his eyes set on that goal. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return Indian national gunned down in Camarines Sur End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Kawhi Leonard, Clippers rally to beat Pelicans “Miracles still happen. Who knows, maybe we can pull off another miracle,” he said. “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to be smart in our preparation so that we’ll be ready for the next level.”Marinerong Pilipino has now won its fourth consecutive game to hike its standing to 5-4.Playing-coach Leo Avenido captained the skidding Gamboa Coffee Mix (1-8) with 24 points, while Ken Acibar poured 14 markers and nine rebounds in the team’s eighth straight defeat.The Scores:MARINERONG PILIPINO 138 – Javelona 16, Marata 15, Salcedo 12, Subido 12, Isip 11, Javillonar 11, Moralde 11, Publico 10, Gumaru 8, Iñigo 8, Sargent 8, Lopez 7, Alabanza 6, Gavieres 3.ADVERTISEMENT LeBron James scores 31 points, Lakers beat Rockets 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Joseph Marata. PBA IMAGESMarinerong Pilipino continued its dream sail to the playoff round, moving a win away from clinching a spot in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup quarterfinals, crushing Gamboa Coffee Mix, 138-69 Monday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.The 69-point spread set the second-most winning margin in league history, seven points shy of the 76-point record set by Tanduay against Zark’s Burgers last July 10.ADVERTISEMENT GAMBOA COFFEE MIX 69 – Avenido 24, Acibar 14, David 6, Montuano 6, Parala 6, Acuña 3, Padilla 3, Jumao-as 2, Riva 2, Sarangay 2, Arellano 1, Vidal 0.Quarters: 24-16, 57-41, 92-54, 138-69.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ MOST READ LATEST STORIES Star taps Malcolm Hill to replace import Cinmeon Bowers View comments