Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE CHICAGO BULLS...
It looked like the Bulls' frustrating season would end with a thud against the Raptors in the play-in. Then Zach LaVine, DeMar Derozan and his daughter Diar DeRozan -- more on that in a second -- took over.
Chicago overcame a 19-point deficit to surge past Toronto, 109-105 and will face the Heat on Friday for the No. 8 seed in the East.
- LaVine scored 30 of his 39 points in the second half. DeRozan had 23 points.
- But Diar DeRozan was as valuable as anyone. DeMar's daughter , and Toronto went 18-36 from the stripe. The 18 misses were second-most in any game in franchise history.
- Looking ahead, Chicago is 3-0 against Miami this season. The game will pit DeRozan against former teammate Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler against the franchise that drafted him.
... AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
By all preseason projections -- betting odds, expert predictions, you name it -- the only major contending the Thunder were expected to do was in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes this summer.
Now, they're one win away from a playoff berth.
Breakout star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and backcourt mate Josh Giddey combined for 63 points as the Thunder beat the Pelicans, 123-118. Oklahoma City will face the Timberwolves tomorrow for the 8 seed.
- Gilgeous-Alexander scored 25 of his 32 points in the second half, and Giddey nearly had a triple-double (31 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds). Luguentz Dort added 27 points.
- Remember, Oklahoma City is the youngest team in the league -- average age under 23 -- and Gilgeous-Alexander is the "oldest" core player at 24.
- Oh yeah, and No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren hasn't even played this year.
I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. We've seen really young, promising teams not fulfill their potential. But it's really hard to not be excited about this team. Gilgeous-Alexander is a legit star, Giddey (20 years old) is on a massive upward trajectory and Dort (23) and Jalen Williams (21) both look like key players for years to come.
Looking to tomorrow, Minnesota won the season series 3-1, but all of those games were in 2022.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2020. I think we're all glad he didn't.
- USC after Allyson Felix.
- Anthony Black .
And not such a good morning for...
It wasn't that long ago that the Pelicans kind of resembled the Thunder. Exciting postseason team even without a potential franchise cornerstone? Check. Players with star potential around them? Check. Last year, the Pelicans even pushed the No. 1 seed Suns to six games in the first round -- without Zion Williamson.
Now, a year later, they're not even in the playoffs, and Williamson's absence is no longer an "Imagine how good they'll be with him" and rather a "Will we ever see them with him?"
- There's no doubting Williamson's ability to dominate: 25.8 points per game in just 32 minutes per game in his career.
- There's also no doubting Williamson's inability to stay healthy: He has played in 114 games over four seasons and just 29 over the last two. The injury history -- hamstring, foot, finger, knee -- grows and grows, and he doesn't heal particularly quickly.
Just like I don't want to anoint the Thunder future NBA champions, I don't want to write off the Pelicans. Ingram is a star, CJ McCollum can still fill it up, Trey Murphy III made a huge jump and Herbert Jones is a valuable asset. New Orleans had brutal injury luck this year and can bring back much of its core.
But is that core good enough -- or ever healthy enough -- to become a serious contender? This year was a step back.
Not so honorable mentions
- Saquon Barkley and Dexter Lawrence the start of the Giants' offseason program.
- Former Wizards teammates Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie .
UEFA Champions League quarterfinal: Real Madrid cruise, Milan tops Napoli ⚽
The more things change, the more they stay the same: Karim Benzema is unstoppable in the Champions League. The French superstar broke the deadlock, and Marco Asensio later doubled the lead as Real Madrid cruised by Chelsea, 2-0.
- Dani Carvajal floated a wonderful ball to Vini Jr., and Benzema had a tap-in in the 21st minute. Benzema has scored 14 goals in his last nine Champions League knockout stage games.
- Asensio made it 2-0 in the 74th minute -- just two minutes after coming on -- with a one-timer from the top of the box.
- Ben Chilwell's red card didn't help Chelsea, which now has gone goalless in four straight matches. CBS Sports Champions League studio analyst Thierry Henry .
It was domination from Los Blancos, and manager Carlo Ancelotti led the charge, writes our Roger Gonzalez in.
As for Chelsea, the club name rings hollow. This is about what you'd expect from a mid-table Premier League team,, writes our James Benge.
- Benge: "There is no tactical wheeze, no systemic adjustment that is going to bridge the chasm. Chelsea just need better players. ... Barring this most miraculous turn of events... all that lies in wait at Stamford Bridge is another harsh reminder of how vast the abyss is between the middle of the pack in the Premier League and Europe's very best sides."
Stanley Cup Playoffs teams are set, plus final Power Rankings 🏒
The Stanley Cup Playoffs field is set thanks to the Islanders'over the Canadiens, which officially eliminated the Penguins from postseason contention .
With the final day of the regular season nearing and only seeding to sort out, it's time to look back on the beginning of the season, because we here at CBS Sports hold ourselves accountable. That's what our Austin Nivison did in, comparing them to his preseason rank.
Here's his final top five:
- 1. Bruins (preseason: 4) -- "I still thought they could compete atop the Atlantic Division. What I did not see coming was the best regular season in NHL history."
- 2. Oilers (preseason: 11) -- "Coming into the 2022-23 season, the Oilers hadn't addressed many of the issues that plagued them the year before. However, Edmonton used the trade deadline to bolster its defense and Stuart Skinner has played like a No. 1 goalie."
- 3. Avalanche (preseason: 8) -- "Colorado got off to a slower start than expected, but the Avalanche have won seven straight games, and a second straight Stanley Cup is very much on the table for this group."
- 4. Devils (preseason: 15) -- "The development of Jack Hughes and the rest of the young core has allowed the Devils to take a big step forward."
- 5. Stars (preseason: 6) -- "For the first time in years, the Stars have gotten reliable scoring outside its first line."
So, what happened to Austin's preseason No. 1? Well...
- Nivison: "20. Flames -- Yikes is not a strong enough word. ... Calgary has the makeup of a talented team, and its underlying numbers have been pretty strong all season. However, the goaltending and general vibes have been subpar all season. It wouldn't be shocking to see the Flames make some significant changes."
Overall, though, not too shabby, Austin, and thanks for holding yourself accountable (and letting me hold you accountable).
Rays are 12-0, the third-best start in MLB history ⚾
Make it a dozen! The Rays a 9-7 win over the Red Sox.with
- Taj Bradley, making his MLB debut, delivered five solid innings and earned the win.
- Wander Franco continued his hot start with three hits, two RBI and two runs, and Randy Arozarena hit a three-run home run and finished with four RBI.
- The 1987 Brewers and 1982 Braves have the best start in MLB history at 13-0. The Rays will try to match that today behind starter Jeffrey Springs (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 13 IP).
As for other top storylines around MLB...
- Bryce Harper .
- Jordan Walker's to begin his career ties Eddie Murphy (1912) for the longest by a player 20 or younger since 1900.
- Jarred Kelenic crushed Wrigley Field has ever seen.
- Umpire Larry Vanover .
What we're watching Thursday 📺
🏒 Blues at Stars, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Golden Knights at Kraken, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN