Will Zalatoris was frustrated to have finished second at The Masters, but the Augusta debutant basked in his "dream" week at the iconic major.

Zalatoris did not look out of place in his rookie Masters appearance, the 24-year-old earning the runners-up cheque, just a stroke behind history-making champion Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday.

Tied for sixth at last year's U.S. Open, Zalatoris – who had no status when the 2020-21 PGA Tour started in September as the coronavirus pandemic meant there was no Qualifying Tournament for the developmental Korn Ferry Tour in 2020 – catapulted himself into Masters contention.

Attempting to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win his Masters debut, Zalatoris carded a two-under-par 70 in the final round, which included five birdies and three bogeys.

Zalatoris, who now has six top-10 and 11 top-25 finishes in his 15 Tour starts this season, said: "Absolute dream. To be in a situation, I've been dreaming about it for 20 years.

"I thought I did a really good job this week of just enjoying the moment, but not letting it get to me. I think I kind of let everything soak in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then back to work on Thursday.

"So it was an absolute treat, and obviously to come up one short and be disappointed is motivating but obviously very exciting."

Zalatoris – the only player to shoot under par in all four rounds at this year's Masters – said: "I think the fact that I'm frustrated I finished second in my third major says something, and the fact that I didn't let any moment really get to me, was really exciting.

"And obviously my two majors as a pro, I finished sixth and runner-up. I know if I keep doing what I doing, I'm going to have a really good chance in the future."

"I've wanted to be on this stage for forever, for basically my entire life. So I think, if anything, it's like you finally get to this moment, and why shy away now? I've gotten here. So let's go do some damage. It was a fun week," Zalatoris continued.

"I can play with the best players in the world."

Xander Schauffele has no regrets after a rare triple-bogey ended his Masters hopes in another close call at a major tournament.

Schauffele – runner-up at the 2019 Masters and 2018 Open Championship, having also finished third at the U.S. Open almost two years ago – had to settle for a share of third position alongside Jordan Spieth on Sunday.

The former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year closed within two shots of eventual champion Hideki Matsuyama before losing his way on the 16th hole at Augusta, where he ended up finishing four strokes adrift.

A run of four consecutive birdies heaped pressure on Matsuyama, but Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee – found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

An ill-timed triple-bogey sent Schauffele down to equal third – it was his first triple-bogey in a major championship, a run of 1,042 holes.

"I hit a perfect eight iron. It was 184 yards. I can hit my eight iron 180 yards out here," Schauffele said when asked about the 16th tee. "I turned it right to left. The wind was into left to right. It got smoked and eaten up. You could kind of see it. The ball hovered there.

"So I was chasing. I was still two back. Hideki is a great left to right iron player. I figured, if I hit it close, he was going to hit it right on top. I was in full chase mode, so I have no regrets from that aspect."

Schauffele added: "I never gave up. It was pretty wild. Kind of a weird start. It almost took the edge off.  I knew the first through five, if you could be even par, it would be a really good score. I imagined to play five the way I did all week, which is five-over for the week or even worse.

"I fought hard. I felt like I made it exciting at the end, hit a really good shot on 16. I committed to it. I hit a perfect shot. We thought it was down left to right. It was not down left to right, and the rest is history."

After his latest close call, Schauffele said: "It's another lesson to put in the memory bank. 2019, I had a rookie hiccup moment of, oh, my goodness, I'm leading the Masters. This year I was chasing. I'm playing better than I was in 2019, and I made a mistake on shot selection and wind.

"If you look at my second shot after I dropped, I hit a nine iron that went downwind. I think the way that thing flew, it flattened out and flew 160 yards. Austin and I just kind of painfully laughed at each other and said, 'Well, I guess it switched again'. It is what it is. I think I just need to hit a different shot in there."

"It's hard to win out here," the 27-year-old said. "Especially at this tournament. I think I'll throw 16 in the memory bank. I think a lot of great shots into 16 are left to right. High cuts into that mound. I've been hitting a good high cut all week. I just didn't think of it at that time. I hit like a hard draw eight-iron, and it wasn't the shot.

"Moving forward, just kind of throw it in the memory bank. I'm going to keep collecting thoughts. Hopefully, I keep coming back here for years to come, and the goal is to win one day."

Hideki Matsuyama hopes his history-making Masters triumph will pave the way for more Japanese success among men.

Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta on Sunday.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Will Zalatoris (70) to complete a memorable performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

After replicating the major success of countrywomen Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) on the men's circuit, Matsuyama said: "Hopefully I'll be a pioneer in this and many other Japanese will follow.

"I'm glad to be able to open the floodgates hopefully, and many more will follow me."

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

"My nerves really didn't start on the second nine," Matsuyama said. "It was right from the start today. Right to the very last putt."

With his final-round 73, Matsuyama became the eighth player (nine instances) to claim The Masters despite an over-par final round – Trevor Immelman was the last to do so in 2008.

Asked what moment he realised he was going to win The Masters, the 29-year-old added: "Hitting the fairway with my tee shot at 18."

Hideki Matsuyama's breakthrough Masters triumph will "impact the entire golf world", according to 15-time major champion Tiger Woods.

Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta on Sunday.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Will Zalatoris (70) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

Five-time Masters champion and American superstar Woods – who is recovering after a near-fatal single-car collision in February – congratulated the 29-year-old Matsuyama via social media.

"Making Japan proud Hideki. Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment for you and your country," Woods wrote on Twitter.

"This historic Masters win will impact the entire golf world."

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

It was Schauffele's first triple-bogey in a major championship – a run of 1,042 holes.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

Veronika Kudermetova became the first winner of the Charleston Open since Serena Williams to triumph without dropping a set all week.

The 23-year-old Russian crushed the hopes of Montenegrin rival Danka Kovinic in Sunday's final, landing her maiden WTA Tour title with a 6-4 6-2 victory.

It meant Kudermetova sealed a perfect tournament, winning all six of her matches without being taken to a deciding set, just as superstar and 23-time grand slam champion Williams managed in 2012.

World number 38 Kudermetova said, quoted on the WTA website: "All the matches were really tough. It's really tough matches for nerves, and the tennis part, but I'm really proud of myself that I can take the first title. I'm really happy.

"It means a lot. It shows me that I can play really well, that I can beat good players, and if I play like this and keep working, I think I can be in the top 10 or higher."

The Copa Colsanitas title went to Colombian 19-year-old Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, a former US Open junior champion who entered the tournament on a wildcard but came through the field to also grab a first senior singles title.

She sank the trophy prospects of Slovenian fifth seed Tamara Zidansek, with the world number 180 recording a 5-7 6-3 6-4 victory, describing her success as "unreal".

Hideki Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta.

Matsuyama was on the cusp of history heading into Sunday's final round, the 29-year-old carrying a four-stroke lead as he looked to replicate the major success of countrywomen Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) on the men's circuit.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Will Zalatoris (70) earned outright second position, two strokes ahead of former world number one and 2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth (70) and 2019 runner-up Schauffele.

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

It was Schauffele's first triple-bogey in a major championship – a run of 1,042 holes.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

Elsewhere, Jon Rahm (66) and Marc Leishman (73) shared fifth position at six under, while one-time major champion Justin Rose had to settle for seventh – five shots off the pace – following his final-round 74 as 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed (69) surged into a tie for eighth.

Hideki Matsuyama held a five-shot lead as he hit the turn in the final round of The Masters.

Matsuyama went into the last 18 holes four strokes ahead and in the box set to claim the first major title of his career.

Amid windy conditions at Augusta National, the Japanese made a shaky start on Sunday, two-putting for bogey on the first as he paid the price for a wayward tee shot.

He appeared to be in trouble again on the next after finding the bunker with his approach, but he sent an exquisite shot out of the sand to four feet and made no mistake with the putt to birdie the par-five second.

Matsuyama performed similar recovery work on the eighth. He sent his approach off the edge of the green but an excellent third shot left him with just three feet for another gain.

That restored his overnight advantage and a wondrous approach on the ninth saw that lead extended, with Will Zalatoris, who had threatened to erase Matsuyama's margin with a birdie-birdie start, struggling to keep pace.

Zalatoris, making his first competitive start at The Masters, bogeyed the eighth and the 10th but, at eight under, still stood as Matsuyama's closest challenger. 

Justin Rose, Marc Leishman and Xander Schauffele had been four adrift after Saturday's play but all fell further back on Sunday.

Rose and Leishman were each five under through nine, with Schauffele within seven shots of Matsuyama on six under.

The youth of the CARIFTA region were treated to an excellent performance by Alex Sobers of Barbados who hit three Tokyo Olympic B times at the ISCA International Senior Cup.

David Goffin made an encouraging start to the Monte Carlo Masters as he beat Marin Cilic, though Jordan Thompson found things much harder against Benoit Paire.

World number 14 Goffin had lost his previous three matches heading to Monaco, but the Belgian delivered a sharp performance on Sunday, winning 6-4 3-6 6-0.

Open Sud de France champion Goffin did not start well, and had to come from 3-0 down in the first set, but Cilic made 52 unforced errors to help his opponent progress.

"It’s a good win. [This is my] first tournament on clay [in 2021]. Starting with a victory is good," said 2017 Monte Carlo semi-finalist Goffin, quoted on the ATP website.

"I did what I needed to do to win that match. I was playing better and better. In the first and second set, I had problems with the returns. In the third set, I was more consistent. It was a good match."

Goffin will face Marco Cecchinato or Dominik Koepfer in the second round, where he has been joined by Australian Jordan Thompson.

Thompson, the world number 62, needed three hours and two tie-breaks to beat Paire 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5), as the Frenchman's dismal string of results in 2021 continued.

Paire has now won just one of 10 matches this calendar year, while Thompson registered a fifth win of the season.

Pablo Carreno Busta won his first home ATP Tour title at the Andalucia Open on Sunday, while Lorenzo Sonego triumphed in Cagliari.

Hunting a fifth Tour title, top-seed Carreno Busta needed three sets to overcome compatriot Jaume Munar 6-1 2-6 6-4 in Marbella.

It is his 200th tour-level win, though it took him two hours and 21 minutes to claim his maiden Spanish title, and his first win since 2019.

Carreno Busta certainly had to work hard for it, with Munar having battled to 4-4 in the decider.

Yet a seventh break point of the ninth game was taken by Carreno Busta, whose powerful backhand return forced his 23-year-old opponent into an error.

Meanwhile, Sonego became the first Italian since Filippo Volandri in October 2006 to win an ATP Tour title on home soil as he overcame Laslo Djere in the Sardegna Open. 

Serbian Djere was on a nine-match winning streak in Italy, but Sonego – who won the doubles title on Saturday – succeeded 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

Sonego is the first player since Feliciano Lopez at the 2019 Queen's Club Championships to win both the doubles and singles titles, and the first Italian to do so since Matteo Berrettini at the 2018 Swiss Open Gstaad.

It represents a second tour-level triumph for world number 34 Sonego, who previously won the 2019 Antalya Open.

Frank Vogel felt the depleted Los Angeles Lakers' 126-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets was one of their best of the year.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma were among the Lakers' absentees at the Barclays Center on Saturday, but they came out on top against a Nets side who occupy second place in the NBA Eastern Conference.

Lakers guard Dennis Schroder and the Nets' seven-time All-Star Kyrie Irving were ejected after clashing in the third quarter.

The defending champions went on to improve to 33-20, Andre Drummond weighing in with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, with Talen Horton-Tucker laying on a career-high 11 assists.

Lakers coach Vogel said: "When you see guys out and you see a great opponent like the Nets, you can be a little bit overwhelmed and not sure if you're going to have a chance to win it.

"But you want to have a go-after-these-guys mindset. And we knew coming in that if we were able to prevail short-handed against this opponent that it would feel good and it would be one of the best wins of the year. So, we're happy about that."

Vogel added: "Like I said all along, all season long, when we play scrappy on the defensive end, we always have a chance. I'm super proud of our group."

Drummond was impressed with the character shown by his team-mates in a big victory on the road.

"I learned a lot from today's game: that we have a lot of guys in this locker room that are very tough," he said.

"Despite who is on the other side of the court, they're going to come out and play. No matter how many minutes guys play, they're going to play to the best of their ability. And we have fun doing it. We had a lot of fun tonight playing and getting this win."

The Crusaders sealed a golden-point victory over the Hurricanes as David Havili's drop goal settled a memorable contest in extra time.

Havili's heroics secured a 30-27 triumph for the four-time defending champions against Super Rugby Aotearoa's rock-bottom side on Sunday.

It was a thrilling clash in Wellington, in which the Crusaders bounced back from last weekend's surprise loss to the Highlanders, who on Saturday were on the wrong end of Super Rugby's first golden-point result.

The win takes Scott Robertson's Crusaders eight points clear of the Blues at the summit.

George Bridge touched down twice early on as it appeared the visitors were setting themselves up for a routine win.

But the Hurricanes had other ideas, Ngani Laumape showing a turn of speed to sprint clear and dot down.

Then, after Richie Mo'unga's penalty, Julian Savea collected James Blackwell's pass to cross the line, with Jordie Barrett levelling matters with the conversion.

Laumape's yellow card did little to stifle the Hurricanes' momentum as Wes Goosen exploited a gap in the Crusaders defence to grab a try, the hosts taking a 27-20 lead.

That, however, was as good as it got for the Hurricanes, with Seva Reece's converted try taking the game to extra time, where Havili had the final say.

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid believes he is still in consideration for the NBA's MVP, insisting he has been the best player all season when fit.

Embiid was reportedly the frontrunner for the league's Most Valuable Player award before missing 10 games with a knee injury.

The four-time All-Star scored 24 points in his return against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 3, and he followed that up with 35 points in a win over the Boston Celtics.

Embiid struggled in Friday's loss against the New Orleans Pelicans – posting 14 points on just five-for-15 shooting – but he was close to his best with 27 points and nine rebounds as the 76ers took down the Oklahoma City Thunder 117-93 on Saturday.

"When it comes to the MVP stuff, I feel like I'm still right there," Embiid said post-game.

"When I'm on the floor, I feel like I've been the best all season, just doing my thing.

"Just dominating with the help of my team-mates and the coaches putting me in the right positions to succeed."

Embiid finishing 10-of-17 from the field, making seven of nine free-throws to lift the 76ers on the road against the Thunder.

The 76ers big man had 21 points in the first half – his 12th 20-point first half of the season – matching Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic for the most in the NBA.

Embiid is now one of three players with at least 20 20-point halves (first or second), joining Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors superstars Stephen Curry.

"To get 21 by half-time, I was shocked by that," said 76ers head coach Doc Rivers. "I didn't see that 21 which tells you how efficient he was being.

"I thought he did a great job of facilitating tonight as well. The brace bothers him, there's no doubt about that. He's gonna have to wear it for a couple more weeks I think, hopefully, less, but he's getting through it, and he's doing the best that he can."

In 2020-21, Embiid is averaging 29.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the 76ers – who are top of the Eastern Conference alongside the Brooklyn Nets.

On wearing a knee brace, Embiid added: "It just feels like every shot that I take, I just have a hitch and it's not a full motion or it's not as smooth as it was in the past, even though the makes, when I make him. I just got to get used to it and get back to where I was before.

"When you have a brace cutting that blood flow and blood circulation on your legs, my legs get tired fast. It's an adjustment, but it's there to protect me so I just got to keep doing it."

The short-handed Toronto Blue Jays claimed a much-needed 15-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels as unheralded duo Josh Palacios and Santiago Espinal stepped up on Saturday.

Toronto had lost four consecutive MLB games and were without some key weapons for the third matchup of the Angels series, including star recruit George Springer and Silver Slugger Teoscar Hernandez.

But the Blue Jays returned to form thanks to the likes of Palacios and Espinal – Toronto, who had scored seven runs across their previous 31 innings, using a seven-run second inning to blitz the Angels in Dunedin after rain delayed the start of proceedings for almost three hours.

Palacios managed his first MLB hit and scored on a three-run double from Randal Grichuk as he finished with four runs and as many hits against the Angels.

The 25-year-old became the second player in American League (AL) history with four-plus hits and four-plus runs in one of his first two career games, per Stats Perform. The other was Wid Conroy in 1901.

Espinal – called up to the Blue Jays from the alternate training site on Saturday – had two runs and three hits in five at-bats as Toronto registered 15 runs without homering.

Bo Bichette had five RBIs with three runs and two hits, while Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also scored.

Steven Matz impressed in his start for the Blue Jays, allowing just one run and five hits across six strong innings, while Angels pitcher Jose Quintana was tagged with the loss after giving up five hits, seven runs – five earned – in less than two innings.

 

Dodgers flex muscles in LA, Locastro makes history

Chris Taylor hit a three-run homer as World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 9-5. The Dodgers improved to 7-2 for the season after AJ Pollock also drove in three runs. Juan Soto homered twice but it was not enough for the visiting Nationals.

Tim Locastro became the first player on record (since 1951) to start a career with 28 consecutive stolen bases without being caught. It came as the Arizona Diamondbacks topped the Cincinnati Reds 8-3.

Jacob deGrom matched a career best with 14 strikeouts over eight innings, but the New York Mets were blanked 3-0 by the Miami Marlins.

Avisail Garcia homered, doubled and drove in five runs as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the St Louis Cardinals 9-5. Keston Hiura hit a three-run homer in a five-run seventh inning for the Brewers.

 

Yankees shut out as German pays the price

It was a miserable outing for Domingo German and the New York Yankees, who were blanked 4-0 by AL East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays. Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena homered off German. The Yankees optioned German to the club's alternate site after the shut-out loss. 

 

Memorable day for Espinal

Toronto's Espinal will not be forgetting Saturday's game any time soon. Prior to starring for the Blue Jays, the 26-year-old Dominican infielder met iconic countryman and MLB legend Albert Pujols thanks to team-mate Guerrero. Angels star Pujols is a two-time World Series champion, three-time National League (NL) MVP, 10-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glove winner and one of the Dominican Republic's most famous names.

 

Saturday's results

Miami Marlins 3-0 New York Mets
Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 New York Yankees
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 St Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants 4-3 Colorado Rockies
Oakland Athletics 7-3 Houston Astros
Cleveland Indians 11-3 Detroit Tigers
Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 Chicago Cubs
Boston Red Sox 6-4 Baltimore Orioles
San Diego Padres 7-4 Texas Rangers
Atlanta Braves 5-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Arizona Diamondbacks 8-3 Cincinnati Reds
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 15-1 Los Angeles Angels
Kansas City Royals-Chicago White Sox (postponed)

 

Angels at Blue Jays

The Blue Jays (4-5) will look to level their series with the Angels (6-3) in Sunday's decider in Dunedin.

Kyrie Irving's ejection proved costly as the high-flying Brooklyn Nets were humbled 126-101 by reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nets star Irving (18 points) and Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (19 points) were both ejected in the third quarter at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the pair were jawing with each other before the officials stepped in.

Leading 66-62 at the time, the injury-hit Lakers surged clear – using a 15-2 burst to extend their advantage to 88-71 away to the Nets, who had their nine-game home winning streak snapped.

In the absence of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma, Lakers recruit Andre Drummond had 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Talen Horton-Tucker (14 points and 11 assists) also put up a double-double.

Nets star Kevin Durant posted 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his second game back following a 23-game absence.

The Utah Jazz extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 24 games after topping the Sacramento Kings 128-112.

Donovan Mitchell led the way with a season-high 42 points – the All-Star tallying his 18th 30-point game of the season.

Mitchell became the fourth Jazz player to score 35-plus points in three consecutive games, joining Karl Malone, Adrian Dantley and Pete Maravich.

Mike Conley (26 points) and Joe Ingles (20) made contributions for the Jazz, while Kings pair De'Aaron Fox (30 points) and Richaun Holmes (25 points and 10 rebounds) impressed.

 

Curry sizzles, Trent has game to remember

Stephen Curry scored 23 of his 38 points in the third quarter to lead the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets 125-109. Curry had his sixth consecutive 30-point game, the longest streak of his career. The two-time MVP is the first Warrior to score at least 30 points in six straight games since Ricky Barry in 1974.

The Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 135-115 behind Gary Trent Jr., who went off for a new career-high 44 points on 17-for-19 shooting. He joined Chris Bosh (40 points on 14-16 field goals made in 2008) as the only Raptors players to have 40-plus points on 80 per cent shooting or better in a game. Trent's 89.5 field goal percentage marked the second highest figure for any player with 44-plus points in a game during the shot-clock era (1954-55), trailing only Mike Woodson (48 points on 91.7 field goal percentage) in 1983.

The Phoenix Suns maintained their solid form by easing past the Washington Wizards 134-106. Phoenix have won 17 of their last 21 games after Devin Booker posted 27 points and Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Suns only tallied three turnovers against the Wizards to tie the franchise record. Wizards star Russell Westbrook (17 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds) recorded his NBA-leading 22nd triple-double of the season.

Enes Kanter's 24 points and franchise-record 30 rebounds fuelled the Portland Trail Blazers' 118-103 win over the lowly Detroit Pistons. Team-mate Damian Lillard had 27 points and 10 assists.

 

Porter struggles

Kevin Porter Jr. was four-for-13 shooting from the field, while he made just one of six three-point attempts for nine points in 33 minutes as the Rockets went down to the Warriors.

Detroit's Cory Joseph finished with just four points after going two-of-seven from the field.

 

Korkmaz enjoys career night

Furkan Korkmaz put on a show at both ends of the floor as the Philadelphia 76ers returned to the top of the east alongside the Nets following a 117-93 win at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Korkmaz put up a season-high 20 points and a career-high five steals.

 

Saturday's results

Utah Jazz 128-112 Sacramento Kings
Toronto Raptors 135-115 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 126-101 Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers 117-93 Oklahoma City Thunder
Golden State Warriors 125-109 Houston Rockets
Phoenix Suns 134-106 Washington Wizards
Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 Detroit Pistons

 

Celtics at Nuggets

On Sunday, the Boston Celtics (27-26) will face the streaking Denver Nuggets (34-18), who have won eight straight games.

Joe Smith Jr. claimed a majority decision over Maxim Vlasov to clinch the vacant WBO light heavyweight title on Saturday.

Smith postponed his honeymoon in order to face Vlasov in the championship bout at Osage Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It proved to be a wise decision as the judges scored the fight 114-114, 115-113 and 115-112 in favour of American Smith (27-3).

Smith was forced to dig deep against Russian opponent Vlasov (45-4), landing 68 of his career-high 174 power punches over the final two rounds.

In the 11th round, Smith thought he had registered a knockdown, but the referee saw it differently, ruling he had hit Vlasov behind the head.

"It's a great feeling," Smith said as he looks ahead to an overdue honeymoon with his wife after the encounter was originally scheduled for February 13 before Vlasov tested positive for coronavirus.

"It was definitely a close, tough, tough fight. Vlasov is a great fighter and he really put on a great show tonight and toughed it out.

"In that [11th] round I hurt him, I believe he stuck his head down and I should have gotten the knockdown.

"I believe I would have gotten the stoppage. ... I landed the bigger, harder shots, but he landed a lot of punches, too. It was a great fight."

Smith added: "I want the other belts. I want the big fights out there. I believe I'm going to start unifying the belts."

Justin Rose remains hopeful of overhauling Hideki Matsuyama for his first green jacket after struggling in the penultimate round of The Masters.

Rose had set the pace heading into the third round at Augusta, but the one-time major champion fell four strokes adrift of red-hot challenger Matsuyama on Saturday.

Consecutive birdies to begin the round appeared to have Rose on track to maintain his advantage but back-to-back bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes saw the two-time Masters runner-up come unstuck.

One shot ahead during the weather delay, Rose fell away when play resumed – the Englishman signing for a second successive 72 in Georgia.

"I didn't play well enough today, simple as that really," said Rose as he eyes his maiden Masters crown.

"I think all in all, to have a shot tomorrow, I'm delighted. I have that freedom to take a run at it, and of course I'd love to kind of stay with it just a little bit better.

"I've been playing with the lead the whole week, and obviously there's been an hour of golf where Hideki has moved out there in front.

"You know, all the guys chasing at seven under are all capable of that little run that Hideki has had, so it's all up for grabs tomorrow."

Rose added: "I was pretty happy just to be able to walk into the clubhouse before I dropped another shot."

Rose heads into Sunday's final round level at seven under alongside 2019 runner-up Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman and Will Zalatoris.

Schauffele improved 10 positions thanks to a third-round 68, which included an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys.

"It's moving day. It's Saturday," Schauffele said of playing alongside Japan's Matsuyama, who gained six shots in seven holes to seize control. "You want to play with someone who's going to shoot seven-under. You hope that it's yourself, and if not, you chase.

"You'd rather play with someone that's shooting 65 than shooting 74. It was nice to chase after him. He's an incredible iron player. This is a great course for him. I think he has a great record out here at Augusta National, and obviously he showed it this afternoon."

Leishman (70) – who finished tied for fourth in 2013 – enjoyed a strong finish, with two birdies from his final bogey-free six holes leaving him in a mix to become just the second Australian to win a green jacket after Adam Scott (2013).

"Obviously if Hideki plays well, he can control his own destiny," Leishman said. "But a lot can happen around here. I've seen it. I mean, I played with Scottie the year he won. I've seen what can happen.

"I've had bad rounds here myself and I've had good rounds. You can make up four shots fairly quickly, but you have to do a lot of things right to do that."

Hideki Matsuyama is embracing the new experience of leading a major as the Japanese golfer stands on the brink of history following a red-hot performance at The Masters.

Matsuyama seized control of the tournament at Augusta, where the five-time PGA Tour champion earned a four-stroke lead thanks to his flawless third-round 65 on Saturday.

After inclement weather halted proceedings, Matsuyama – chasing his maiden major title – jumped out of the blocks and gained six shots in seven holes to blitz the field in Georgia.

Matsuyama heads into Sunday's final round as the player to beat at 11 under through 54 holes, ahead of Xander Schauffele, March Leishman, Justin rose and Will Zalatoris, while looking to become the first Japanese man to win a major event.

"This will be a new experience for me, being a leader going into the final round in a major," said Matsuyama, who was one under before the weather delay.

"All I can do is just relax as I can tonight, prepare well and just do my best tomorrow."

Matsuyama – making his 87th start since his last victory at the 2017 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational – posted the first bogey-free round this week and his best score in 37 rounds at The Masters.

The 29-year-old, who birdied the seventh hole on a bogey-free front nine, was red hot following the turn, birdieing the 11th and 12th.

Unstoppable, Matsuyama eagled the 15th before following that up with back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th as he soared to 11 under through 54 holes.

"During the rain delay, or right before the rain delay, I probably hit the worst shot I've hit this week," he said. "And during the rain delay, I just figured, I can't hit anything worse than that. And so maybe it relieved some pressure."

"Before the horn blew, I didn't hit a very good drive, but after the horn blew for the restart, I hit practically every shot exactly how I wanted to," continued Matsuyama.

Matsuyama was off the pace at the start of the day but turned the tables to soar to the summit.

Asked what he would have thought had he been told he would end the day four strokes lead, Matsuyama added: "Maybe I wouldn't have believed it, but I did play well today.

"And my game plan was carried out, and hopefully tomorrow I can continue good form."

Matsuyama has been paired with 2019 Masters runner-up and former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Schauffele in the final round.

Of the last 30 Masters champions, 25 have come from the last pairing.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant said he is no longer motivated by titles, with the former NBA MVP focused on development and further improvement.

Durant has won it all in his illustrious basketball career – two championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards, to go with his 2014 Most Valuable Player gong and 11 All-Star selections.

The 32-year-old arrived in Brooklyn in 2019, having claimed both of his NBA titles with the Golden State Warriors.

Having battled Achilles and hamstring injuries during his time with the star-studded Nets – who are eyeing their maiden championship – Durant said he is not driven by silverware.

"I wasn't expecting to be a happy human being from a title," Durant told ESPN. "I was just expecting like, you know, the ending of a movie -- once you worked so hard and everybody tells you like, 'Yo, this is what you need to be working for, is this gold ball and these rings'.

"And I'm just like, 'All right, cool, let me lock in on that.' And I locked in on wanting to achieve that, but I also realised it's a lot of stuff that factors in it that's out of my control.

"And once I won a championship [with Golden State], I realised that, like, my view on this game is really about development. Like, how good can I be? It's not about, you know, let's go get this championship.

"I appreciate that stuff and I want to win to experience that stuff, but it's not the end-all, be-all of why I play the game."

Durant added: "I've been around, been out of the game for two years and having anxiety about like, 'What am I doing when I get back?

"Being out with an Achilles has you thinking about the game differently. And my goal is to be out there, you know. Who knows what's gonna happen when I'm out there.

"I just want to be available. And I think that's all I really want out of this, to be available for as long as I can. And we'll see what happens between the lines."

Durant is averaging 28.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists for the Nets this season, while he is boasting a career-best three-point percentage (44.3).

The Nets (36-16) are a game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (35-17) atop the Eastern Conference.

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