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AP Source: Warriors star Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Some called him too small. Others too fragile. Stephen Curry has another label now: NBA MVP. The Golden State point guard has won the league's most coveted individual award, a person familiar with the decision said Sunday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league has not released the voting results. An official announcement and news conference are expected Monday, and Curry will be presented with the award on the court before Game 2 of the Warriors' Western Conference semifinal series against Memphis on Tuesday night. Curry had 22 points and seven assists in Golden State's 101-86 victory over the Grizzlies on Sunday. Asked about the MVP award following the game, Curry said he had no idea. "It's obviously just, in the middle of a playoff series, it's hard to kind of separate yourself with other things that may or may not happen," he said. "Obviously, I know what the situation is, and just trying to focus on the game, and if I get a call (Monday), I'll definitely be happy, and there will be a lot of people that can be proud of that moment, as well, and we'll enjoy it." Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the official television partner of the Warriors, first reported Curry won. He beat out Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, among others, for MVP honors. Curry carried the top-seeded Warriors to a franchise-record 67 wins, surpassed his own record for most 3-pointers in a season and added to his growing reputation as one of the most entertaining spectacles in sports. He's the franchise's first MVP since Wilt Chamberlain in 1960, when the Warriors played in Philadelphia. Curry, nicknamed the "Baby-Faced Assassin" and a member of the "Splash Brothers" duo with teammate Klay Thompson, has overcome obstacles at every level. He grew up in the shadow of his famous father, former NBA player Dell Curry. Most major colleges didn't offer him a scholarship coming out of high school in Charlotte, North Carolina, believing he was too small. And some professional scouts wondered whether his game could transition to the NBA, where point guards are bigger and defenses are tougher. Instead, Curry has gone from a shooting guard who dazzled at Davidson during the NCAA Tournament to a polished professional point guard who can shoot, dribble and distribute with the best of them. In a game dominated by big men and played by some of the world's greatest athletes, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Curry controls the flow without physically overpowering defenders. But there were times when it seemed Curry's potential might not be reached. Two surgeries on his right ankle in his first three seasons with Golden State fueled questions about his durability. He even had to prove his worth to the team that drafted him seventh overall in 2009. Curry signed a $44 million, four-year contract extension with the Warriors before the 2012-13 season. Back then, the deal looked like a major risk for the Warriors considering Curry's injury history. Now? Well, Curry is clearly one of basketball's best bargains. Curry eclipsed his own record of 272 3-pointers set two years ago, hitting 286 from beyond the arc this season. He already owns three of the five most prolific 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history. Curry averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and two steals this season. He shot 48.7 percent from the floor and 44.3 percent from 3-point range. Off the floor, his popularity is also soaring. Curry received more All-Star votes than any player, won his first 3-point contest and joined James and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the league's biggest marketing events during All-Star weekend in New York, where his face plastered posters in subway stations and televisions in taxi cabs. With the revitalized Warriors winning at a historic pace, Curry's case for MVP echoed around the league as loud as the nightly chants at rowdy Oracle Arena. He beat out Harden, James - a four-time MVP - and Westbrook despite the incredible seasons they had. --- Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Mon, 04 May 2015 03:47:00 +0000
Ducks top Flames 3-0 in Game 2, stay unbeaten in playoffs

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Frederik Andersen made 30 saves in his first career postseason shutout, Matt Beleskey scored in the first period and the Anaheim Ducks remained unbeaten in the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night in Game 2 of their second-round series. Hampus Lindholm scored his first career playoff goal with 8:45 to play for the Ducks, who have followed up their first-round sweep of Winnipeg with two solid victories over the upstart Flames. Nate Thompson added an empty-net goal as Anaheim won six straight playoff games for the first time since 2006. Although Calgary showed more fight after the Ducks' 6-1 win in the opener, the Ducks methodically moved halfway to their first Western Conference finals since 2007, Anaheim's only championship year. Game 3 is Tuesday night in Calgary.

Mon, 04 May 2015 04:57:00 +0000
Counsell replaces Roenicke with Brewers after 7-18 start

MILWAUKEE (AP) Former Milwaukee infielder Craig Counsell was hired Monday to manage the Brewers, about 12 hours after the team fired Ron Roenicke. A major league-worst 7-18, the Brewers lost 40 of their final 56 games under Roenicke. The skid included a late-season collapse last year, after they led the NL Central for nearly five months, and a 2-13 start this season. Counsell, a 44-year-old Milwaukee-area native, spent the final five seasons of his 16-year big-league career with the Brewers, retiring after the 2011 season. He has no previous managing or coaching experience. "It's an honor, and it's humbling, but I feel like this is what I was meant to do," Counsell said. "I think I'll be better at this than I was at playing." Counsell was given a contract through the 2017 season. "He played the game with a chip on his shoulder and he played the game to win," general manager Doug Melvin said during a news conference. "He has a real edge for preparation." A two-time World Series champion, Counsell scored the winning run for Florida in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and was MVP of the 2001 NLCS for Arizona. Milwaukee is 38-65 since last July 1. The Brewers have won consecutive games on just three occasions since Sept. 1. "You think you could win two games in a row by mistake, where the other team's playing bad," Melvin said. "That's not acceptable, and it's hard to understand why." Counsell became a special assistant to Melvin in 2012 and also was a part-time broadcaster for Milwaukee last season. Counsell was among the candidates last offseason to succeed Joe Maddon as Tampa Bay's manager. "Are we a contending team right now? We're not," Counsell said. "We can't start over. Our record is our record. ... We can start being the team that we want to be." Counsell had a .255 average in the big leagues. He knows something about struggling, going hitless in 45 consecutive at-bats in 2011. The new manager's father, John Counsell, was a former minor league outfielder and worked for the Brewers from 1979-87, running the speaker's bureau and then becoming community relations director. Milwaukee started 20-7 last year and spent 150 of the regular season's 183 days alone in first or tied for the NL Central lead, including every day from April 5 through Aug. 31. The Brewers skidded to a 9-22 finish and wound up third in the division, eight games back of St. Louis and two behind Pittsburgh. Roenicke became the first manager fired 25 games or fewer into a season since 2002, according to STATS. Detroit's Phil Garner (six games), Milwaukee's Davey Lopes (15), Colorado's Buddy Bell (22) and Kansas City's Tony Muser (23) were all let go quickly that year. On March 19, Milwaukee exercised its 2016 option on Roenicke. But Melvin met with team owner Mark Attanasio on the off day last Thursday and discussed a possible change. "It didn't feel good," Melvin said. "Slept on it for a day or so, and then just decided to make the change." In 2011, in his first season as a major league manager, Roenicke led the Brewers to a 96-66 record - the best in team history - and the NL Central title. The Brewers beat Arizona in the first round and lost to St. Louis in the league championship series. Milwaukee was 83-79 in 2012, 74-88 in 2013 and 82-80 last season. "We have good players," Counsell said. "I hear it from other teams that we have good players."

Mon, 04 May 2015 16:32:00 +0000
Kane leads Blackhawks past Wild 4-1

CHICAGO (AP) Patrick Kane scored two goals, Corey Crawford made 30 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Sunday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals. Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist as Chicago improved to 5-0 at home in this year's playoffs. Jonathan Toews also scored in the second after a big play by Marian Hossa. Game 3 is Tuesday night in Minnesota. Defenseman Matt Dumba scored for the Wild, who are winless in eight postseason games at Chicago. Devan Dubnyk finished with 27 saves. Minnesota trailed 2-0 after two, but got back in the game when Dumba's power-play shot 1:20 into the third went off Crawford's glove and into the top of the goal. Dumba's second playoff goal came with Michal Rozsival in the box for interference. Dubnyk then made a couple of stops on Duncan Keith and Teuvo Teravainen before Sharp scored at 7:39 right after Wild captain Mikko Koivu got out of the box following a tripping penalty. Kane added an empty-netter as Chicago improved to 28-0 when leading after two periods, including three such games in the playoffs. Chicago and Minnesota combined for six goals in the first 29 1/2 minutes of the series opener, and Teravainen sent the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory with his first career playoff goal in the final minute of the second. Game 2 was a much different story, with shots at a premium and solid work by each goaltender for the first part of the night. Minnesota got its first power-play opportunity when Andrew Shaw was sent off for cross-checking at 10:45 of the second. But it turned into a disaster for the Wild when Hossa stole the puck from defenseman Ryan Suter alone the boards, skated in and fed Toews for his fourth goal of the playoffs. Toews' shot went off Dubnyk, popped up in the air and then went off the goaltender's stick before barely trickling over the goal line. The Wild then made a frantic push for the tying goal, but Crawford made a terrific stop on Kyle Brodziak on a breakaway and a couple of stellar saves on prime opportunities for Zach Parise. Crawford also used his left and then his right pad to make a pair of great saves on Thomas Vanek in the first. Chicago increased its lead to 2-0 when Keith made a long stretch pass right to Kane's stick, and the All-Star winger beat Dubnyk with a perfectly placed shot off the inside of the left post at 19:40. It was Kane's fourth goal of the playoffs. NOTES: Wild RW Chris Stewart was shaken up after he was taken down by Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya midway through the second. He slammed hard into the boards on his right side and went back to the locker room, but returned later in the period. ... Kane's first goal was his 100th career playoff point in 101 career games. ... Wild LW Erik Haula made his first appearance of this postseason, subbing for F Justin Fontaine (lower body). Haula had three goals and two assists in last year's playoff series against Chicago. --- Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Mon, 04 May 2015 03:33:00 +0000
Beal leads well-rested Wizards past Hawks 104-98 in Game 1

ATLANTA (AP) Bradley Beal shook off a sprained ankle to score 28 points and the Washington Wizards remained unbeaten in the postseason, knocking off the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 104-98 Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Taking advantage of a week off since their sweep of Toronto in the opening round, the Wizards wore down the Hawks in the fourth quarter. Otto Porter scored a couple of big baskets coming down the stretch and Marcin Gortat sealed it with a lay-in off a pass from John Wall with 14.6 seconds remaining. The Hawks needed six games to beat eight-seeded Brooklyn and had to open this best-of-seven series with about a 36-hour turnaround. After racing to a 37-26 lead after the first quarter, Atlanta couldn't make anything in the fourth. Even with plenty of good looks, the Hawks shot just 5 of 28 in the final period.

Sun, 03 May 2015 19:37:00 +0000