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Celtics claim 8th straight win, beat Hawks 126-101

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/boston-celtics-atlanta-hawks-nba-sports-malcolm-brogdon-6597508d383fd727f9d2d2a94299d78b

ATLANTA (AP) — The Boston Celtics were missing two key members of their rotation.

There was no shortage of players to fill the void.

Jaylen Brown scored 22 points to lead a balanced attack and the East-leading Celtics stretched their winning streak to eight with a 126-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

The Celtics were missing injured guards Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon. It hardly mattered.

Led by Brown, the Celtics put seven players in double figures. Jayson Tatum had 19, Grant Williams 18, Derrick White 16, Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet 15 apiece, and Payton Pritchard 14.

White also had 10 assists, Kornet went 7 of 7 from the field, and Hauser did all his scoring on a 5-of-6 performance from 3-point range.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can do a lot of things to help us win games,” White said. “We trust every person on this roster. When they come in, they do good things for us. It’s a long season, there’s gonna be injuries, people out. We’re gonna need everybody.”

The Hawks were coming off a big win at Milwaukee and eager to show they could challenge the best in the conference.

Not on this night.

Boston took control in the first quarter against the cold-shooting Hawks, whose occasional spurts were quickly snuffed out by the Celtics’ stifling defense.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 27 points, but was held to 10-of-23 shooting, including a mere 2 of 7 from beyond the arc.

Shooting has been a problem for the Hawks early in the season — quite a change from their high-scoring offense of a year ago.

“We thinking about it too much,” Young said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and playing, playing free, getting back to playing with confidence.”

Even without two key members of their rotation, the Celtics shot 54.5% from the field and knocked down 21 3-pointers.

Since a loss to Golden State in last season’s NBA Finals, Boston’s backups have been eager to make up for a poor showing by the bench and a perceived lack of depth.

“It gets a little fire going,” Hauser said. “Everyone has kind of taken it personal a little bit.”

The Hawks got a glimpse of what this game would be like in the very first quarter. They connected on just 8 of 24 shots, missing all six of their attempts beyond the 3-point stripe, and quickly fell into a double-digit hole.

The Celtics led by as many as 16 points before the Hawks shaved into the deficit, trailing 62-53 at halftime. But Boston regained control in the third quarter and turned it into a total blowout down the stretch.

WHITE VS MURRAY

White, who was traded from San Antonio to the Celtics last February, got his first chance to go against former teammate Dejounte Murray.

The Hawks acquired Murray from the rebuilding Spurs over the summer. He had 19 points against the Celtics.

“I’ve got a lot of love for him,” White said. “I know he’s an ultimate competitor. I wanted to compete right back him.”

TIP-INS

Celtics: Brogdon missed his fourth straight game with an ailing right hamstring, while Smart was ruled out with right ankle inflammation. … Former Hawks C Al Horford led the Celtics with 11 rebounds.

Hawks: Young made his 294th career start, tying Paul Millsap for 17th on the franchise career list. … Atlanta was held to 18 points in the first quarter, its second-lowest output in a period this season. The Hawks managed only 17 points in the second quarter of a Nov. 10 game against Philadelphia.

UP NEXT

Celtics: At New Orleans on Friday night.

Hawks: At Toronto on Saturday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Source: https://apnews.com/article/boston-celtics-atlanta-hawks-nba-sports-malcolm-brogdon-6597508d383fd727f9d2d2a94299d78b

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Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.

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AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.

BIG PICTURE

Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.

POLL POSITION

Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.

UP NEXT

Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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