Yankees, Red Sox in tight battle for ... last place?


Yankees, Red Sox in tight battle for ... last place?

In first game without Durant, Westbrook's monster night lifts OKC to win

In first game without Durant, Westbrook's monster night lifts OKC to win


PHILADELPHIA -- Russell Westbrook had 32 points, 12 rebounds and took over late to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Westbrook scored the decisive points on opening night for the Thunder in their first game since franchise star Kevin Durantleft in free agency and signed with the Golden State Warriors.

Joel Embiid scored 20 points in 22 minutes in his first game for the Sixers since they made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Embiid had sat out the last two seasons with foot injuries. He received a roaring ovation when he was introduced and fans went wild on every shot.

The 76ers had a tripleheader of image faux pas on opening night: The scheduled anthem singer says she was booted because she wanted to wear a "We Matter" jersey; a fan was kicked out for extending two middle fingers at Westbrook; and halftime singer Desiigner was booed off the court for a shirtless performance where he dropped his pants to his ankles.

Westbrook and Embiid swapped jumpers that tied the game 97-all. Westbrook sank two free throws with 35 seconds left for a 99-97 lead in front of a raucous crowd. Enes Kanter silenced them for good and sent them toward the exits with a putback layup after the Sixers missed a shot on the other end.

Yes, it was another loss for the Sixers, but one that came with a 7-foot-2 asterisk.

Embiid's performance largely stole the show from the opening-night shenanigans that otherwise tarnished the night.

Sixers fans who had been waiting to cheer for Embiid for more than two years went wild every time he touched the ball. A group of fans held a sign that read, "In Embiid We Trust."

The Sixers just might prove they made the right decision to trust in Embiid.

The crowd of nearly 20,000 fans erupted when the "7-foot-2 center from Kansas, Joooooel, Embiiiiid" was introduced during game introductions. They stood and gasped when Embiid attempted his first shot of the game - a missed 3-pointer.

He grabbed a defensive rebound, pushed the ball up the floor and it helped lead to an alley-oop to fellow newcomer Gerald Henderson. He had a nifty spin in the post and a bucket for a quick 10-2 lead.

The Sixers, yes, the 10-72 Sixers, at last had a dose of good news.

Coach Brett Brown said he would limit Embiid to four, 5-minute spurts and the center spent at least one game break in the locker room on an exercise bike to stay loose.

Embiid starred on a nationally televised performance and gave a teasing glimpse that he just may be the franchise cornerstone player that can help shift the franchise toward respectability.

Westbrook, now The Man in OKC, refused to cede the spotlight entirely to Embiid. He scored 12 points in the first quarter and 22 through three to keep the Thunder within striking distance entering the fourth.

He closed the game with the jumper and free throws and showed life without Durant might not be so bad for the Thunder.


Thunder: Coach Billy Donovan said the Thunder will win without Durant, just "do it in a different way." "It will be a constant process throughout the season to get everyone to understand." ... Donovan said Westbrook can't try and play as a one-man show or else "it's just going to wear him out."

76ers: Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard rang the ceremonial opening bell. ... UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez was at the game. ... Fans chanted "Trust The Process" when Embiid was at the free-throw line. The catchphrase became a rallying cry under former team president Sam Hinkie.


Philadelphia 76ers national anthem singer Sevyn Streeter says she was told by the team she could not perform because of her "We Matter" jersey. Streeter wrote on Twitter, "Was suppose to sing the anthem at (at)sixers & (at)okcthunder game but mins b4 (at)sixers said I couldn't because I was wearing a "We Matter" jersey.


The Sixers ejected a portly fan in an Allen Iverson jersey who directed both middle fingers toward Westbrook from his courtside seat. The fan raised his arms in triumph and high-fived fans as he was escorted out of the arena.


Rapper Desiigner was booed off the court for a halftime performance where he ripped off his shirt and left with his jeans down to his ankles and his boxers exposed.


No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons says there is no timetable for his return to the Sixers from a broken bone in his right foot. He said he has not discussed the possibility of sitting out the season.

"I'll come back when I'm ready," Simmons said.


Thunder: Host Phoenix on Friday in their home opener.

76ers: Host Atlanta on Saturday. They open with three straight and five of their first six at home.

Cubs come alive behind Schwarber, Arrieta; World Series tied 1-1


Cubs come alive behind Schwarber, Arrieta; World Series tied 1-1


CLEVELAND -- Jake Arrieta made a teasing run at history, Kyle Schwarber drove in two runs and the Chicago Cubs brushed off a shutout to even the World Series with their first Fall Classic win in 71 years, 5-1 over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Arrieta carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, briefly invoking Don Larsen's name, before the Indians touched him for two hits and a run. However, the right-hander helped give Chicago just what it needed - a split at Progressive Field - before the Cubbies return to their Wrigley Field den for the next three games starting Friday night.

The Cubs hadn't won in the Series since beating Detroit 8-7 in 1945 to force Game 7.

The free-swinging Schwarber, who made it back for Chicago's long-awaited Series return after missing most of the season with an injured left knee, hit an RBI single in the third off Cleveland's Trevor Bauer and had another in the Cubs' three-run fifth - highlighted by Ben Zobrist's run-scoring triple.

Even the presence of star LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers, sporting their new rings, couldn't stop the Indians from losing for the first time in six home games this postseason.

And Cleveland manager Terry Francona's magical touch in October finally fizzled as he dropped to 9-1 in Series games.

With rain in the forecast, Major League Baseball moved the first pitch up an hour in hopes of avoiding delays or a postponement.

It turned out to be a good call as the game went on without a hitch and ended after more than four hours as light rain was beginning to fall.

Arrieta and the Cubs provided the only storm.

The bearded 30-year-old coasted through five innings without allowing a hit, the first pitcher to get that deep in a Series game with a no-hitter since David Cone of the New York Yankees in 1998.

For a brief period, Arrieta looked as if he might challenge Larsen's gem - a perfect game - in 1956 before Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, a die-hard Cubs fan as a kid, doubled with one out in the sixth.

Before that, Cleveland hitters had a couple good swings, and drew three walks, but couldn't mount a real threat. Arrieta has two career no-hitters, in fact, including the only one in the majors this year.

Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery replaced Arrieta and worked two scoreless innings before Aroldis Chapman came in and unleashed his 103 mph heat while getting the last four outs.

The teams will have an off day before the series resumes with Game 3 at Wrigley, which will host its first Series game since Oct. 6, 1945, when tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave with his pet goat, Murphy, and a curse was born.

Josh Tomlin will start for the Indians, who will lose the designated hitter in the NL ballpark, against Kyle Hendricks.

Schwarber might also wind up on the bench after two days as the DH.

With a gametime temperature of 43, the weather was more fitting for the Browns and Bears to bang heads than the boys of summer.

The Cubs were the ones who came up thumping after being blanked 6-0 in Game 1 by Corey Kluber and Cleveland's shut-down bullpen.

Zobrist's one-out triple triggered the fifth as the Cubs opened a 5-0 lead, not that Arrieta needed it.

After Anthony Rizzo walked following a 10-pitch at-bat, Zobrist laced a ball off Zach McAllister that was going to be a double until right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall slipped and fell. Rizzo was waved around and Zobrist hustled into third.

Schwarber followed with his second RBI and reliever Bryan Shawn later walked No. 9 hitter Addison Russell with the bases loaded.

Unlike his start in Toronto on Oct. 17, when his stitched cut opened up and Bauer was forced to make a bloody departure in the first inning, his finger held up fine.

The Cubs, though, put a few nicks in him in 3 2/3 innings.

The drone accident has brought attention to the quirky Bauer, and one Chicago fan tried to rattle the right-hander by sending a smaller version of the remote-controlled, flying object that cut him.

Bauer posted a photo of it on Twitter, saying "I see the (at)Cubs fans love me! How nice of them to send me a gift!"

The Cubs, who were off balance from the start against Kluber, scored their first run in a Series game since `45 in the first on Rizzo's RBI double.

Bauer needed 51 pitches to get through two innings, and he was one strike from getting out of the third unscathed when Chicago turned a walk and to singles into a 2-0 lead.

Cubs: Hendricks is coming off his brilliant performance in Game 5 of the NLCS when he pitched two-hit ball for seven innings as the Cubs clinched their first pennant in 71 years. The right-hander went 16-8 during the regular season with a league-leading 2.13 ERA.

Indians: It will be an emotional night for Tomlin, who will pitch on 12 day's rest with his ailing father, Jerry, in attendance. The elder Tomlin became stricken with a spinal condition in August, when Tomlin was struggling on the mound. The right-hander more than recovered and rescued Cleveland's rotation in the postseason, winning both starts.