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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Weekend Run-down

The Mesmerizing Masters: What a captivating weekend finish we witnessed on golf’s grandest stage. Rory McIlroy played brilliantly thru the first three days and looked as if he would don his first green jacket as he had a four stroke lead heading into Sunday. But the young Irishman could not handle the pressure and the wheels on his game fell completely off. McIlroy shot a 43 on the back nine that opened the door for everyone else. The stage was set for an epic battle as Tiger Woods showed he still has considerable game and growled his way back from 7 strokes down to take the lead at -10. Everyone surely takes notice when Tiger is in position to pounce on Sunday’s at a major. Tiger would miss some key putts along the way that could have made for an even better score but it was good to see him rounding into form. After Tiger’s round, things heated up for a trio of younger but fearless challengers. Adam Scott, Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel all shared or lead on the 16th and 17th holes. Scott took command as he made an array of dazzling shots. Not to be one upped, Day and Schwartzel were hot on Scott’s tail. In the end it would be Schwartzel finishing with four straight birdies to take the championship. Great stuff from Augusta this year; it surely was one of the best I’ve ever witnessed.

NBA: Top Teams Battle for Playoff Positioning.

Chicago 102 Orlando 99 - Chicago held on for a 3 point victory over Orlando and the win all but locked up the number one seed in the east for the Bulls. Derrick Rose also put the final touches on his MVP caliber season as he pasted the Magic for 39 points and five assists. The Magic were without their MVP candidate Dwight Howard who was suspended for this game due to receiving his 18th technical foul of the year.

Miami 100 Boston 77 - The Miami Heat finally beat the Boston Celtics and did it emphatically. Boston had previously owned the Heat this season as they pounded and punked them in their three previous meetings. This time Miami was having none of it. Lebron lead all scorers with 27 and he set the tone for Miami early. The Heat outrebounded the Celtics 42-26 and that was a season low for Boston. Miami was superb defensively as Dwayne Wade rejected Ray Allen on numerous occasions and closed out on his three point attempts. In what was likely a preview of the Eastern conference semifinals, this game was physical as the teams scuffled after a hard foul by Jermaine O’neal on Lebron James that led to some pushing and shoving under the basket. The playoff intensity showed but it was Miami taking control of the number two seed in the East.

OKC 120 L.A. Lakers 106 – This is the fifth straight loss for the two-time defending champions and it officially is a sign of panic in tinsletown. After beginning the post all-star break at 18-1, the Lakers lackadaisical play of late has them reeling. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook controlled the game and combined for 57 points as the Thunder won their fourth in a row and their first against the Lakers on the road since March 12, 2006. The Lakers looked sluggish out the gates but came on in the fourth quarter and took the lead but the Thunder would close the game out on a 16-2 run. Kobe Bryant finished with 31 points and Pau Gasol added another 26 but it would not be enough. The danger the Lakers now face is in the standings. The Lakers latest loss has them tied with Dallas in the standings and the surging Thunder are now only one game back for the number two seed in the West.

NHL: Nashville Predators nab the 5th seed in the West - The Preds have scratched and clawed their way to yet another playoff berth. For the sixth time in seven years, Nashville will be chasing Lord Stanley, this time as the 5th seed in the West. The Predators finished the season 14-4-3, moving from 11th going into a game on March 10 to their current position and clinched their playoff ticket with a win over Columbus this past Friday. Nashville will face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the four vs. five match-up. It bodes well for the Preds as they have beaten the Ducks 3 out of 4 times this year. Nashville has been in this position before and knows it’s time to bring a playoff victory to music city. “For us, it’s the next step,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Sunday. “Sooner or later we’re going to break through that, and that’s been our goal since losing out last year is to take the next step. Hopefully, we’ll take it this year. From our standpoint, that’s our goal.” Hopefully this is the year that Smashville tastes some playoff success. Coach Trotz and the Predator faithful deserve it.

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