Golf Clap: Sixers Clinch Playoffs, Winning Record With Win in New Jersey

Golf Clap: Sixers Clinch Playoffs, Winning Record With Win in New Jersey

Bust out the Canada Dry. The Philadelphia 76ers have clinched a playoff
spot—their fourth in the last five years, a feat matched in the East by
only Boston, Miami, Orlando and Atlanta—by defeating the Deron Williams-less New Jersey Nets
in the Nets' last-ever game in the Garden State. The win not only
ensures that the Sixers will be playing May basketball, but also
guarantees the Ballers their first season with a winning record since
2004-05. The Sixers now sit at 34-30, the same record as the New York
Knicks, though the Knicks have the tiebreaker due to winning the season
series.

The win was the kind of team-wide, bench-centric effort that the team
used to breeze through lesser squads earlier in the year. Thaddeus Young
and Evan Turner went a combined 13-16 from the field for 28 points,
while Andre Iguodala posted a trademark near-triple-double with 14
points, seven boards and nine assists. Even Lavoy Allen got into the
mix, playing in the stead of an ineffective Nik Vucevic (just 2:20 of
game time after starting at center), scoring nine points on 4-5 shooting
with four rebounds. Things got a little sticky in the third, but Thad,
Evan and Sour Patch Lou Williams helped the team separate going into the
fourth, and the Nets fans took one last chance to boo their team on
their home floor.

 
So...yay? Making the playoffs, that's a good thing, right? Depends on
who you ask, I suppose. Watching your team in the post-season is
supposed to be the reward for sticking with your team through the entire
regular-season grind, but obviously it's hard to get too enthused about
this Sixers team that had gone 6-13 before their recent three-game
winning streak, demolishing all of the excitement this team had started
the season with. It's probably still a preferable finish to last year,
when the team lost five of their last six (including a humiliating home
loss to the Detroit Pistons at season's end) to finish the year at .500
again, but it's not exactly the Phils clinching the NL East or anything.

Now, the Sixers have two games left, at Milwaukee and at Detroit, while
the Knicks play the Clippers at MSG and the Bobcats in Charlotte.
Optimally, both teams will win both remaining games, so the Sixers can
enter the playoffs feeling good about themselves while still slotting
into the eighth seed, allowing them to face the maybe-less-superhuman
Chicago Bulls instead of the Miami Heat in the first round. Regardless
of who they face, it's hard to believe that they can do better than the
ol' First Round Tough Out playoff warmup, though against the Bulls, at
least they'd have a (very, very distant) shot. Is that worth the
possible difference between (roughly) the 17th pick and the 12th pick in
next year's draft? You be the judge.

On an even-less-triumphant note, I'd like to issue a fond farewell to
the New Jersey Nets. Yes, the team sucked for a long time, yes, their
games against the Sixers were always unwatchable, but I still feel a
great deal of affection and sympathy for the beleaguered Nets. That
Prudential Center was a very underrated place to watch a basketball
game—my friends and I could basically get an entire section to ourselves
for about $2 each on StubHub. They'll be infinitely cooler in Brooklyn,
but likely a lot less lovable. Godspeed, New Jersey basketball.

MLB Notes: White Sox scratch Chris Sale after 'clubhouse incident'

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USA Today Images

MLB Notes: White Sox scratch Chris Sale after 'clubhouse incident'

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale has been scratched from his start against the Detroit Tigers after he was involved in what the team says was a "non-physical clubhouse incident."

The White Sox declined to describe the incident, but said it's "currently under further investigation by the club" and that Sale was sent home from the park.

The move was announced less than a half hour before Saturday's game. Sale was going to attempt to become the first 15-game winner in the majors.

The White Sox planned to use multiple relievers in his place. The start of the game was delayed by rain.

With the White Sox fading from playoff contention, Sale's name has been mentioned as a possible trade target for contending teams.

The left-hander is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA.

TWINS: Suzuki leaves game after taking foul ball off mask
BOSTON -- Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki left Saturday night's game against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning after getting hit in the mask with a foul ball.

Suzuki appeared to have a cut on his chin as he walked to the dugout with a team trainer.

Boston's Dustin Pedroia was at the plate and fouled one off the catcher.

Suzuki was replaced by Juan Centeno.

PADRES: Cuban prospect signs deal with $7 million signing bonus
WASHINGTON -- Top Cuban prospect Jorge Ona and the San Diego Padres have agreed to a minor league contract with a $7 million signing bonus.

The 19-year-old outfielder receives $4.9 million within 30 days of the deal's approval by the commissioner's office and $2.1 million on Jan. 15. The deal is pending a physical.

Ona was ranked as the No. 8 international prospect of the 2016 class by MLB.com and the fourth-best available Cuban player earlier this year by Baseball America.

General manager A.J. Preller said during a conference call Friday that the contract is for 2017. He hopes Ona will play in the fall instructional league and then report for spring training and start his pro career next season.

Instant Replay: Pirates 7, Phillies 4

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Associated Press

Instant Replay: Pirates 7, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco and David Freese hit two-run singles during a five-run fifth inning to rally the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-4 victory over the Phillies on Saturday at PNC Park.

Polanco’s hit put the Pirates ahead 4-3 and chased starter Aaron Nola. Freese’s hit off Severino Gonzalez pushed the lead to three runs and Francisco Cervelli capped the inning with a sacrifice fly as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in six games.

Nola (5-9) allowed six runs in four-plus innings to take the loss. Center fielder Odubel Herrera went 3 for 4 with a triple as the Phillies outhit the Pirates, 12-7.

Catcher Cameron Rupp left the game in the third inning after being struck in the left ear flap of his helmet by a pitch from Pirates rookie right-hander Tyler Glasnow (see story). Rupp was found to have no concussion symptoms.

Starting pitching report
The bad Nola returned after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous outing Monday against the Miami Marlins. Prior to shutting down the Marlins, Nola allowed a combined 30 runs in five starts while failing to get past the fourth inning four times.

On Saturday, Nola gave up six hits, walked two and struck out five. He needed 80 pitches to get 12 outs.

Nola’s clunker came after Phillies starters allowed no more than one run or five hits in four of the previous five games. On Friday night in the opener of the three-game series in Pittsburgh, rookie right-hander Zach Elfin pitched a three-hitter for his first career shutout in the Phillies’ 4-0 victory over the Pirates.

At the plate
Herrera is 6 for 9 in the first two games of the series after going 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games. He tripled in the sixth inning and scored the game’s last run on a single by Andres Blanco.

Cesar Hernandez hit a pair of RBI singles and was one of four Phillies with two hits along with Blanco, Tommy Joseph and Carlos Ruiz, the last of whom took over behind the plate for Rupp. Joseph also hit an RBI single.

The Phillies held a 12-8 edge in hits.

Up next
The Phillies finish their three-game series with the Pirates at 1:35 p.m. Sunday then open a three-game series against the Marlins on Monday night at Miami.

The projected starters for the next four days:

Sunday afternoon --- RHP Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.15) vs. RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.44)

Monday night --- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 3.84) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 4.99)

Tuesday night --- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (6-11, 3.98) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (7-8, 4.42)

Wednesday afternoon --- RHP Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.40) vs. LHP Adam Conley (6-5, 3.58)

Former Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn signs 2-year deal with Coyotes

Former Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn signs 2-year deal with Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have signed former Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn to a two-year contract.

The 26-year-old defenseman had four goals and 12 assists in 72 games with the Flyers and Los Angeles Kings last season. Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier were traded by the Flyers to the Kings last January in exchange for Jordan Weal and a third-round draft pick in last month's entry draft.

In his career, Schenn has 28 goals and 100 assists in 566 games with the Kings, Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs. In three-plus seasons with the Flyers, Schenn scored 12 goals and added 30 assists.

Schenn was the first-round draft pick - fifth selection overall - by the Maple Leafs in 2008.

Coyotes general manager John Chayka called Schenn "a good, young defenseman" who will be "a solid addition" to the Arizona blue line.

- CSNPhilly.com contributed to this story.