Tuesday, March 21 2023
New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

LUKA DONCIC

There are good games, there are great games and then there are all-time games. Luka Doncic had one of those all-timers last night.

The Mavericks superstar had 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in a thrilling 126-121 overtime win over the Knicks. The numbers are astonishing. Here’s a few:

  • It’s the first 60-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game ever.
  • It’s the second 60-point triple-double ever. James Harden had one in 2018.
  • It’s the first 60-point, 20-rebound game since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
  • The 60 points are a franchise record.

Obviously there are plenty of highlights to this masterpiece, but one stands out above the rest: With 4.2 seconds left and trailing by three, Doncic got fouled. He made the first free throw, purposely missed the second, somehow tracked down the rebound and, while still in mid-air, made the shot to force overtime.

And let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Mavericks won the game after trailing by nine with under 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. It was Doncic, of course, leading that comeback with six points and an assist in the last 16 seconds of regulation alone, notes Sam Quinn.

There’s never been a player quite like Doncic in NBA history. Now he has this historic triple-double to remind us all.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Sam Hartman enters transfer portal, has expected landing spot 🏈

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Sam Hartman etched his name all over the Wake Forest record book. Now, he’s taking on a new challenge at a new program.

The star quarterback entered the transfer portal Tuesday and is expected to land at Notre Dame.

  • Hartman’s 110 career touchdown passes are not only a Wake Forest record but an ACC record. His 12,967 career passing yards are second in conference history, only behind Philip Rivers.
  • Notre Dame lost 2022 starting quarterback Drew Pyne to the transfer portal (he’s now with Arizona State), and the only other quarterback on the roster with experience, Tyler Buchner, struggled.
  • Hartman, meanwhile, brings not only the individual accolades but also a strong history of team success. In 2021, he led the Demon Deacons to their first ACC Championship Game since 2006.

Though Hartman ran the unique slow-mesh offense at Wake Forest and will have to adjust to Tommy Rees‘ scheme, this seems like a strong match, notes Shehan Jeyarajah.

  • Jeyarajah: “There’s a strong belief that playing in a more pro-style offense could help Hartman’s NFL Draft stock. Regardless, Hartman’s addition would make Notre Dame one of the programs to watch in 2023.  … But perhaps more importantly, Hartman would provide a stopgap before Notre Dame adds blue-chip quarterback CJ Carr — the grandson of legendary former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and No. 5 quarterback in the Class of 2024, according to 247Sports.”

J.J. Watt will call it a career after season ends 🏈

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J.J. Watt, one of the best defensive players in NFL history and a truly dominant force of his era, announced he plans to retire once this season ends.

Watt tweeted pictures that included his wife, Kealia, and son, Koa, and captioned them, “Koa’s first-ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game. My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.”

  • Watt, 33, has won three AP Defensive Player of the Year awards, tied with Aaron Donald and Lawrence Taylor for most ever.
  • At the top of his powers — from 2012 to 2015 — Watt won his three Defensive Player of the Year awards, earned four first-team All-Pro honors, made four Pro Bowls and finished runner-up for league MVP in 2014. You can read about all of Watt’s eye-popping numbers here.
  • Off the field, Watt was named the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for helping raise relief funds following Hurricane Harvey.
  • Plenty of those throughout the football community congratulated Watt on social media.

Watt’s story is incredible. He started his college career as a tight end at Central Michigan, returned home, later walked on at Wisconsin, and the rest, as they say, is history. Picked 11th overall by the Texans in 2011, Watt spent 10 seasons in Houston and is easily the best player in franchise history. He joined the Cardinals in 2021 and leads them in both sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (14) this season.

It’s clear Watt can still play at a high level, but it’s not necessarily surprising he’s ready to call it quits. He’s had plenty of injuries along the way, and earlier this season, he had a particularly scary episode in which he went into atrial fibrillation and had to have his heart shocked back into rhythm.

We should consider ourselves lucky that we got to see Watt play for as long as we did and be happy he can go out on his own terms.

NFL Power Rankings: Deciphering the middle of the pack 🏈

Here we are entering Week 17 in the NFL season, and if you’re having trouble figuring out the middle of the league, don’t worry: You’re not alone.

Just two of Pete Prisco’s top 12 teams moved spots in his latest NFL Power Rankings. Here’s the top 10:

After that it gets interesting. Every single team from No. 13-26 changed spots from last week. Leading the charge among that bunch is the Jaguars, whose jump from 17 to 13 tied the largest improvement of any team. A lot of that has to do with Trevor Lawrence‘s outstanding play of late, and Pete gave him his strongest endorsement yet.

  • Prisco: “Lawrence can be the small-market quarterback for Jacksonville like what Patrick Mahomes is to Kansas City, what Josh Allen is to Buffalo and what Joe Burrow is to Cincinnati. Those passers give their teams sustainable success, not just aberrational playoff seasons where the ball bounces your way all year. They are contenders as long as the quarterbacks are healthy. … Lawrence is [Jacksonville’s] first truly home-grown player at the position who can change the trajectory of the franchise. One victory over the Titans puts them in the postseason. That’s unreal, considering where they were six weeks ago.”

The Panthers also jumped up four spots, from 25th to 21st, as they remain in the NFC South race. You can read up on Pete’s entire rankings here.

What’s next for Russell Wilson, Broncos? 🏈

USATSI

Speaking of changes to the Power Rankings, we have a new team at the bottom: the Broncos fell to 32nd after a Christmas disaster against the Rams that preceded Nathaniel Hackett getting fired.

Now that Hackett’s gone, the next obvious question is, “What happens to Russell Wilson?”

As we discussed Tuesday, Wilson’s been awful in his first year in Denver, and that five-year, $245-million extension looks worse and worse by the day. Obviously that contract won’t be easy to move on from, but what options do the Broncos have? Cody Benjamin answered that very question.

  • Benjamin: A standard release of Wilson following this season is practically impossible. … GM George Paton is most likely to give Wilson another year under a fresh staff, then address the fork in the road in 2024, when the QB can be cut as a post-June 1 release with no financial penalty other than the dead-cap hit. But he, or whomever is actually calling the shots under new ownership, will almost assuredly listen to any calls that come in before then

What we’re watching Wednesday πŸ“Ί

πŸ€ Lakers at Heat, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
πŸ€ No. 8 Alabama at No. 21 Mississippi State, 9 p.m. on SEC Network
πŸ€ Colorado State at No. 22 New Mexico, 9 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
πŸ€ Nuggets at Kings, 10 p.m. on NBA TV

Source: CBSSports.com

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