A. Atletico Madrid
. Fourteen matches remain in La Liga, but Atletico can just about kiss its
title chances goodbye. The Club lost to FC Barcelona 2-1 last weekend when
Lionel Messi scored the game-winner for the visitors in the 86th
minute. Atletico is now tied for fourth on the table, 10 points back of
Real Madrid. Barcelona is one point behind Real in second place.
Real is -200 favorite
at Bovada Sportsbook to win the league title.
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B. Brooklyn Nets . The annual race for the most ping-pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery is often a hotly-contested affair that goes down to the wire. Not so much this season! The Nets, who have lost 16 straight, are a hopeless 9-49 and at least eight games "ahead" of all other teams for the worst record (Phoenix is 18-42).
C. Cleveland Cavaliers . Calling the Cavaliers "the best fit for me," veteran point guard Deron Williams-who was recently waived by Dallas-signed with Cleveland on Monday. Yeah, no wonder it was the best fit. Let's be honest; you don't hear people calling teams like Brooklyn and Phoenix the "best fit" for them. MyBookie.ag has the Cavs as +1 underdogs at Boston on Wednesday.
D. Duo . Well, that's now how the Pelicans envisioned their first few games with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis going. New Orleans, which traded with-er, more like "ripped off"-Sacramento to acquire Cousins prior to the deadline, is 0-3 since the deal and has lost by a combined 51 points.
E. Embiid, Joel . The process was always going to be long one in Philadelphia, and now it may be even longer. Embiid is out indefinitely due to swelling in his left knee. An MRI is pending, but here is the result of said MRI: this is guy you don't want to rush back to the court until he is 110 percent. 5Dimes Sportsbook has the 76ers as +9.5 underdogs at Miami on Wednesday.
F. Fowler, Rickie . The best golf photo of 2016 featured all of the American Ryder Cup players-except Fowler-kissing their significant others during the victory celebration. The unattached Fowler was in the middle of it all with a sheepish grin on his face. Well, he shouldn't have any trouble changing that if he wants to. Already an eligible bachelor, Fowler added $1.152 million to his bank account by winning last week's Honda Classic.
G. Gonzaga . Only one game stood in the way of the Zags an an undefeated regular season. It proved to be one game too many. Previously 29-0, Gonzaga lost as a 20.5-point home favorite 79-71 to BYU last Saturday night. Thus there will be no perfect teams heading into the NCAA Tournament later this month. By the way, how good do "NCAA Tournament" and "this month" sound in the same sentence?
H. Hamilton, Josh . Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six…. No, Josh Hamilton has now undergone 11 knee surgeries during his career. The 11 th one took place on Monday and all but ended his already slim chances of making the Rangers' Opening Day roster. It could be a career for the 35-year-old. Texas is +900 atBookMaker to win the American League Pennant.
I. Ibaka, Serge . Ibaka was sent from Orlando to Toronto at the trade deadline. Talk about an upgrade! Playing inspired basketball on a winning team, Ibaka has scored 15, 18, and 15 points with 21 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals in three games with the Raptors-all wins.
J. John Gillon . Duke losing is nothing new this season. The Blue Devils have been doing that at an alarming rate by their standards, especially based on their preseason No. 1 ranking. But the way in which they went down at Syracuse last week was stunning. As time expired, Gillon banked home a three-pointer that had no business going through the hoop to give the Orange a 78-75 victory. Duke is +1000 at GT Bets to win the National Championship.
K. Kurt Busch . The older Busch brother had come close at the Daytona 500 before. But just ask Ricky Bobby-close doesn't mean anything. If you're not first, you're last. Busch looked like he was in line for another "last" place finish (also known as second or third) this past Sunday until other cars began running out of fuel left and right on the final lap. One such car was driven by race leader Kyle Larson, whom Busch sped past to triumph at Daytona for the first time.
L. Leicester City . What a difference a year makes. Exactly 298 days after Leicester City captured the most improbable title in English Premier League history, it fired manager Claudio Ranieri last week. The Foxes are 6-14-16 (they are 1-0 since Ranieri got the boot) and just barely avoiding relegation status.
M. Mumps . As if the Canucks needed anything else to go wrong (they have lost three straight games, five of their last six, and haven't won in regulation since Feb. 12), they are dealing with the mumps. Seven players have shown symptoms over the past week. Symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle pain, drowsiness, and a whole lot of awful hockey.
N. Nerlens Noel . Here's how Mavericks' head coach Rick Carlisle summarized Noel's first game with his new team: "Good trade." Noel, recently acquired from Philadelphia, finished with nine points and 10 rebounds in last Saturday's win over New Orleans. The former Kentucky star made all three of his shots and grabbed six boards in Monday's defeat of Miami. Dallas is a +6 underdog at Atlanta on Wednesday, according to BetOnline Sportsbook.
O. Oscars . What was that? How did it happen? Whatever the case,La La Land-which won Best Picture and then lost it to Moonlight-will have company at the shrink in the form of the Warriors, Indians, and Falcons.
P. Pat Perez . Perez (who?) said during an interview last Thursday that Tiger Woods "knows he can't beat anybody" these days. That may be true, but Perez has 14 major titles to win and 77 more PGA tournaments to win before he can start talking smack about Tiger. Bovada Sportsbook has Tiger at +5000 to win the Masters; Jordan Spieth is a +600 favorite.
Q. Quick, Jonathan . The Kings' goalie has finally returned from a groin injury, which he sustained in the very first game of the season. Results are mixed so far, as Quick helped beat Anaheim 4-1 last Saturday before giving up five goals in a 5-4 overtime loss at Minnesota on Monday. L.A. also traded for goalie Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay last week. The Lightning are -195 home favorites over Carolina on Wednesday, as indicated by MyBookie.ag.
R. Richest receiver
Antonio Brown signed a five-year, $72.7 million extension with the
Steelers on Monday, making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
And that means the rest of us can all watch Pittsburgh's post-game
celebrations in the locker room on Facebook Live for the next five
years! Well, maybe not.
S. Shaquille O'Neal . Both the Warriors and JaVale McGee's mom have complained about the incessant mockery Shaq has heaped upon the Golden State big man on the TNT segment "Shaqtin' a Fool." It is "doing unnecessary damage to McGee's reputation," the Warriors argued. Um, McGee didn't even have a reputation until this brouhaha. At least it's making him relevant-sort of.
T. Tevin Mack . Texas has granted Mack's release from the school following a mid-January suspension for a violation of team rules. Mack was the team's leading scorer. The Longhorns are +8 underdogs at Texas Tech on Wednesday, per GT Bets.
U. Unrestricted free agent . The Vikings on Tuesday declined their 2017 option on running back Adrian Peterson. That means it's now free agency for the 31-year-old.
V. Vermette, Antoine . Initially suspended 10 games for slashing an official, Vermettewas reported to have the ban reduced to five games. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stepped in last week and upheld the 10 games. Anaheim's center is eligible to return on March 12.
W. World Golf Championship . Occasional dominance-including at the 2015 PGA Championship-and physical problems have been the story of Jason Day's career. So far this season, the latter has been the prevailing trend. Day, who recently lost his world No. 1 ranking to Riviera champion Dustin Johnson, has withdrawn from this week's World Golf Championship in Mexico City because of a double ear infection and the flu. Johnson is a +650 favorite at BetOnline Sportsbook .
X. Denotes clinched playoff berth .The Warriors became the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff berth when they locked one up following last Saturday's win over Brooklyn. They will, however, be without Kevin Durant for at least four weeks because of a sprained MCL that he suffered in Tuesday's loss at Washington.
Y. Yadier Molina . Name that Molina: 34 years old, potential Hall of Famer, currently in contract negotiations with the Cardinals. Yes, that would be Yadier. He is heading into the final season of his deal with St. Louis and the two sides are apparently working on an extension.
Z. Zara, Alexander . The hits just keep on coming at Baylor. Zara, a former men's basketball manager, was arrested on Tuesday for sending sexually explicit social media messages to women he didn't know. The 27-year-old had been relieved of his managing duties in January. Women's head coach Kim Mulkey, meanwhile, told the crowd following her team's win last Saturday to "knock them right in the face" if anyone tells them not to send their daughter to Baylor.
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