Biles fights through kidney stone at world championships
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Sunday, October 28
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Simone Biles spent a portion of the night before her return to world championships in the emergency room. The sensation she chalked up to the usual pre-meet stress evolved into searing agony that at times left her crawling on the floor.
When a CT scan revealed a kidney stone — one she nicknamed “the Doha Pearl” — the reigning Olympic gymnastics champion grabbed her stuff and discharged herself from the hospital, telling the staff she’ll deal with the pain later.
“I heard rollercoasters might help kidney stones,” Biles said. “And I’m like ‘Well, I’m basically like my own little rollercoaster out there.’”
One that turns each performance into a thrill ride of its own. Smiling through each twist, flip and turn, the 21-year-old Biles was nearly flawless during qualifying on Saturday, posting the highest scores on balance beam, floor exercise and vault on her way to a total of 60.965 on a day when the Americans put up a team score of 174.429, a staggering 12 points clear of second-place Japan through six of 11 qualifying groups.
“She’s Simone,” U.S. high performance coordinator Tom Forster said. “You’d expect the same out of a Michael Jordan or a Tiger Woods and that’s who she is in our sport. And she showed it.”
Even though she didn’t get back to the hotel room she shares with teammate Riley McCusker until after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. Even after skipping the early workout as a precaution. Even though she couldn’t be treated with the same pain medication typically given those dealing with kidney stones because doing so would put her in jeopardy of failing a drug test.
No matter. Biles did what she always seems to do when the rest of her sport is watching: She dominated. Her all-around total marked the highest in the world since her gold medal-winning total at the 2016 Summer Olympics. And still she sees room for improvement.
Asked what she’d give herself on a day she completed a vault in competition that will end up bearing her name the next time the code of points is updated, Biles shrugged and said “6 or 7.”
Not bad considering Biles was initially concerned she had appendicitis, which would have forced her to sit out the competition entirely. Instead it’s “just” a kidney stone, albeit one Biles believes she won’t be able to pass, meaning she’s going to have to deal with it throughout a very busy week that will include team finals, the all-around final and all four event finals.
Biles believes she’ll be fine. Even if she’s not quite 100 percent, the gap between herself and the rest of the world is so sizable it might not matter. She finished more than four points ahead of teammate and 2017 world champion Morgan Hurd, whose score of 56.465 edged Japan’s Mai Murakami for second halfway through qualifying and assured Hurd of a spot in the finals.
The public address system played a bell akin to the start of a boxing match when the U.S. headed to uneven bars. What happened over the next 90 minutes was the gymnastics version of a technical knockout. Hurd led off with a 14.466 that seemed to send a message that while the faces with the stars-and-stripes leotards change, the expectations and results do not.
“There’s clearly a lot of pressure there,” Hurd said. “How many world championships has the U.S. won? We have to keep the pedestal.”
Looking for a way to give McCusker, Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker — each of whom is making their world championship debut — a breather before stepping onto the podium, Forster opted to have Hurd lead off in three of the four events. Forster called the move a “gut feeling,” one Hurd eagerly accepted.
“It honestly makes me a little less nervous because I have less time to get even more anxious,” said Hurd, who hardly looked nervous while qualifying for event finals on floor exercise and uneven bars.
McCallum competed in three of four events, and her 14.6 on vault probably earned her a berth in the event finals. Kara Eaker, who turns 16 next month, drilled a 14.466 on balance beam and McCusker overcame a stumble on beam that she admitted left her “frazzled” to finish fifth in the all-around.
McCusker, however, won’t qualify for the all-around finals thanks to the rules that limit countries to two athletes per event in the individual competition. Still, she’ll be part of the team final, and extending the U.S. win streak — the Americans have won every major international competition since the 2011 world championships — has always been the focal point.
“We all have different qualities that we can bring to the team,” McCusker said. “We can all shine in different places.”
Or, in the case of Biles, every place.
She’s intent on pushing the sport forward, and her astounding opening vault — a roundoff, half-twist onto the table, front double full off that has only previously been done in competition by men — sent a jolt through the crowd. More importantly to Biles, the vault will carry her name when it’s added to the code next month.
Another remarkable step in a remarkable career that keeps rolling no matter what her body throws at her.
This story has been corrected to update with Biles having the top score on balance beam, not uneven bars.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
IndyCar driver Wickens reveals crash left him a paraplegic
By The Associated Press
Saturday, October 27
IndyCar driver Robert Wickens is paralyzed from the chest down from injuries suffered in an August crash at Pocono Raceway.
The 29-year-old Wickens has been updating his rehabilitation progress on social media and posted a video Thursday of his “first slide transfer as a paraplegic” that showed him moving from a table to his wheelchair. His videos had shown for the past month that he is working daily to move his legs again, but Thursday’s post was the first time he publicly confirmed his paralysis.
“I’ve only been posting videos of the small movement in my legs, but the reality is I am far away from walking on my own,” Wickens wrote. “Some people are a bit confused with the severity of my injury, so I wanted let you know the reality of it. I’ve never worked harder for anything in my life, and I am giving it all I’ve got to spark those nerves in my legs.”
Wickens recently left an Indianapolis rehabilitation facility for one in Colorado.
“Two people with the same injury may heal differently,” Wickens tweeted Friday night. “One may walk again and one may not. Each body heals differently. So we can not tell you a definitive answer if I will walk again. But I have full intentions of doing just that!
“The good news is, I already have most feeling and some movement in my legs, so there is hope over the course of 24 months that I may regain enough movement to walk again! So far the signs are promising, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself! I am just keeping my head down and working until my therapist and doctors tell me to stop.”
The Canadian crashed at Pocono on Aug. 19 and suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, fractured right forearm, fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion. Earlier Thursday, three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart told The Associated Press he is reconsidering a return to the Indianapolis 500 because of Wickens’ crash.
A video earlier this week showed Wickens successfully moving each leg slightly and he declared he’d be dancing in no time. He is scheduled to be married next September and fiance Karli Woods also posts regular videos to her Instagram stories of Wickens’ rehabilitation.
“He sure as hell is showing amazing results so far, and he’s working hard as possible,” Woods posted Friday.
More AP Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Michigan State halts Purdue’s run, 23-13
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, October 27
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Rocky Lombardi made his first start at quarterback for Michigan State, and the Spartans didn’t hold back.
Lombardi threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns, and the Spartans halted Purdue’s four-game win streak, beating the Boilermakers 23-13 on Saturday. With Brian Lewerke out with a shoulder injury, Lombardi guided the offense, and the redshirt freshman attempted 46 passes.
“Forty-six attempts is a lot,” Lombardi said. “I’m happy that I got that many attempts and got to show what I did.
Matt Coghlin kicked three field goals, and the Spartans (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) held on defensively toward the end. Michigan State’s Mike Panasiuk blocked a field goal with 3:42 remaining, and Jalen Nailor broke free for a 48-yard touchdown reception to put the Spartans up 23-13 with 1:58 to play.
David Blough threw for 277 yards for Purdue, but he was intercepted three times, including once while the Boilermakers (4-4, 3-2) were in field goal range in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State has won eight straight games in this series.
“They executed better than us. I thought they played harder than us and I thought they made fewer mistakes,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “It’s a good learning experience for our team. That’s why we say it’s a one-game season. We did not get ready to play this game, come out and do the things necessary in order to win.”
Purdue was coming off a 49-20 win over Ohio State, but the Boilermakers missed too many opportunities against the Spartans. On fourth-and-3 from the Michigan State 44 in the final quarter, Blough completed a pass to Rondale Moore, who was tackled short of the line to gain.
Later, Blough threw to Brycen Hopkins near the Michigan State 20, but Hopkins took a hard hit from Tyriq Thompson of the Spartans and lost the ball. Thompson grabbed it before it hit the ground for an interception with 10:02 to play.
Spencer Evans had a chance to tie it with a 41-yard kick, but Panasiuk got a piece of it.
“It was a very winnable game,” Blough said. “It was a close game all the way throughout and they were banged up. It feels bad because I didn’t play very well and didn’t do enough to help my team win.”
Lombardi’s first touchdown pass came with 56 seconds left in the first half — an 11-yarder to Darrell Stewart. The Spartans led 16-6 before Terry Wright’s 1-yard scoring run late in the third brought Purdue within three.
Purdue: The Boilermakers were shut down for much of the first three quarters, but they certainly had their chances late. Their inability to come away with points in the fourth quarter on repeated trips into Michigan State territory made this loss a frustrating one.
Michigan State: The Spartans were coming off an emotional loss to rival Michigan, and their offense had its ups and downs with the backup quarterback in the game. But Michigan State remains a solid defensive team, and the Spartans were able to prevent Moore (11 catches for 74 yards) from breaking free for too many big plays.
“People took notice today,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “People all across the country took notice that the Spartans got up and played — against a good football team that just had a huge win last week.”
Lombardi’s strong outing raised an obvious question: Would the Spartans have been better off going with him in last weekend’s 21-7 loss to Michigan?
“We were second-guessing that a week ago today,” said Dave Warner, Michigan State’s co-offensive coordinator. “Probably put (Lewerke) in a bad situation by playing him without practicing, without going full tilt all week.”
Dantonio was noncommittal about the quarterback situation going forward.
“Those decisions can be made at another time,” he said. “First thing we’ve got to do is get (Lewerke) healthy.”
In addition to the blocked kick in the fourth quarter, Evans missed a 57-yard kick at the end of the second. The attempt was pushed back to that distance when Purdue was called for a false start.
Coghlin had made a school-record 18 consecutive field goals until he had a kick blocked in the third quarter.
Purdue: The Boilermakers host No. 18 Iowa next Saturday in a game that could have major implications in the Big Ten West race.
Michigan State: The Spartans play at Maryland next weekend.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister
Thompson sets 3-point record, Warriors beat Bulls 149-124
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 30
CHICAGO (AP) — Klay Thompson popped to the wing off a screen from Stephen Curry, caught the pass from Kevin Durant and dribbled to his left before launching the record 3-pointer.
The ball swished through the net. He raised both arms, pumped his fist and got mobbed.
Thompson broke Curry’s NBA record with 14 3-pointers and finished with 52 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 149-124 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Thompson set the mark when he nailed a 3 with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. He celebrated with teammates as they headed to the sideline for a timeout, with the Warriors leading 113-69. Curry hit 13 3-pointers in a win over New Orleans on Nov. 7, 2016.
“That’s what I do this for is those moments that you share with your teammates,” Thompson said. “That’s why we play basketball. It’s a collective effort. And I don’t know if I would be able to break these records I have gotten in my past like tonight without the system I play in or the team I play with, the guys I play with.”
Thompson hadn’t scored more than 19 this season and made just 5 of 36 3-pointers in the Warriors’ first seven games. But he broke out in a huge way, making 14 of 24 from beyond the arc. And he did it in just 26 minutes before sitting out the fourth quarter. About the only thing that slowed down Thompson on Monday night was when he suffered a cut above his right eye that needed two stitches in the third quarter. He returned a few minutes later sporting a yellow headband.
The four-time All-Star guard hit 10 3’s and scored 36 as Golden State built a 92-50 halftime lead. It was the second-highest scoring half ever by an NBA team. Phoenix had 107 in the first half of a 173-143 victory over Denver in 1990.
The Warriors also set an NBA record for 3-pointers in a half with 17 through the first two quarters.
“This is what it’s been like,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I can’t even tell you how lucky I am and how I feel every night watching these guys, how unselfish they are.”
Curry scored 23. Kevin Durant had 14 points and eight assists. And Chicago product Alfonzo McKinnie added 19 points and 10 rebounds as the two-time defending NBA champions improved to 7-1.
Zach LaVine and Antonio Blakeney led the Bulls with 21 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. scored 18.
Chicago probably would have been overmatched even at full strength. But with Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine all out with injuries, this one got ugly in a hurry because of Thompson.
“He was due for a game like this,” LaVine said. “He saw one go in, and his eyes got as big as the basketball. It’s tough after that, because they’re looking for him. He’s running off of screens, and you can’t touch him anyway. It’s tough.”
Thompson nailed his first three 3-pointers and made six while scoring 22 in the first quarter.
By the time the second half rolled around, the Warriors were determined to see him set the mark. And it seemed teammates were doing all they could to assist on the record shot.
Durant was glad it was him.
“The most important thing was I passed it to him on his 14th,” he said. “And I also passed it to Steph on his 13th. … They wouldn’t have made those shots without me.”
Actually, Draymond Green had the assist on Curry’s record 13th 3 against New Orleans two years ago. Either way, this was quite a night.
“It’s the best feeling in basketball or one of the best feelings in basketball when you touch the ball and feel like it’s going in every time,” Thompson said.
Warriors: G Shaun Livingston missed his second consecutive game because of a sore right foot. He also missed two in a row last week because of a bruised left knee. … McKinnie hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in his second NBA game in his hometown. As a rookie with Toronto last season, he played about five minutes in a game at Chicago.
Bulls: Former Bulls C Joakim Noah got a standing ovation when he was shown on the video board late in the first half. He was waived by the New York Knicks with two years and $37.8 million remaining on his contract on Oct. 13.
Warriors: Host New Orleans on Wednesday.
Bulls: Host Denver on Wednesday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Will big numbers in NBA continue? Curry says wait and see
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
Monday, October 29
Blake Griffin had this season’s highest-scoring game for all of about 24 hours before Stephen Curry bettered it — in just three quarters.
Then in Golden State’s next game after Curry poured in 51 points in a rout of Washington, Kevin Durant scored 25 in the fourth quarter, the best total of his career, and finished with 41 in a victory at New York.
With the Warriors teammates’ big nights and Griffin’s 50-point outburst for Detroit coming in just a four-night span, it continued a torrid start for scorers that Curry said made it seem like “everybody’s clicking at the same time.”
But count Curry among those who isn’t sure the offensive onslaughts being seen now are will still be seen in a few months.
“Those are just great players just making plays, having great nights. That’s not any different than any other year,” he said after Durant’s big night.
“We’re six games in. We’ll see how it goes.”
Damian Lillard has already had a pair of 40-point nights and Kemba Walker is one point shy of doing the same. That comes after there were 13 50-point performances last season, with MVP and league scoring champion James Harden doing it four times, including a 60-point night.
The increased emphasis on the 3-point shot and the league’s focus on allowing freedom of movement on the perimeter have opened up the offenses. Players who aren’t known as scorers can have big nights, and guys who were think they would have been unstoppable.
“I’d average easily 35-40 points a game. Easily ,” two-time scoring champion Tracy McGrady said in a quote tweeted by the Orlando Magic. “I mean, I averaged 32 without even shooting that many 3s.”
Curry has made at least five 3-pointers in every game, but even guys who don’t stray outside the arc are benefiting from it.
“I know the uptick isn’t that great but what goes with the teams shooting so many 3s is it spreads your defense out,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “So now you’re chasing those guys out to 4-point land and now that opens up driving.”
That’s usually how a guy like Griffin has traditionally gotten his points, but as he showed Philadelphia in his big night, his game also extends now into 3-point territory. Of course, so do Curry’s and Durant’s, and both are averaging more than 30 points.
Can they both keep that up for an entire season?
“Why not? Curry said. “We’ll see.”
With LeBron James gone to the West, Kawhi Leonard or Giannis Antetokounmpo could be the best player in the Eastern Conference.
And one of their teams could replace James’ as the class of the conference.
Toronto and Milwaukee are the NBA’s lone remaining unbeaten and they meet Monday night in the first big game at the Bucks’ new arena.
Milwaukee is 6-0 and can equal the best start in franchise history, set by the 1971-72 team. Toronto, also 6-0, is already off to its best start.
The Raptors led the East with 59 wins last season but were swept by James’ Cavaliers in the second round. They needed something different and it looks like it may have been Leonard, who is averaging 26.6 points after playing in just nine games last season for San Antonio.
Just behind him is Antetokounmpo, but only because he was held to 21 points while playing a season-low 19 minutes after being evaluated for a concussion Saturday in a victory over Orlando. Before that, he’d started the season with 25 points and 15 rebounds in each of the first four games.
In their first season under Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks were leading the league in rebounds per game, and opponents field goal percentage in scoring margin during their perfect start.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
New Orleans at Portland, Thursday: The Pelicans’ first-round sweep was a painful end to Portland’s 49-win season.
Houston at Brooklyn, Friday. The Rockets will hope to start their road trip by getting James Harden back from a hamstring injury.
Detroit at Philadelphia, Saturday. His matchup with rival Andre Drummond is an afternoon tip, giving Joel Embiid plenty of time for social media taunting after.
Toronto at the Lakers, Sunday. If Leonard does want to be in Los Angeles, here’s a chance for LA fans to show the feeling is mutual.
Steve Kerr has coached against him in the last three NBA Finals, so he knows how good of a coach Tyronn Lue is.
Yet he wasn’t surprised when Cleveland decided to fire Lue on Sunday.
“Nothing really surprises me in the NBA,” Kerr said.
“Circumstances dictate everything in this league and as coaches we all know we are completely reliant on our talent, and if you’ve got talented players than you have a chance. And when LeBron left and the team sort of split up, it left Ty in a very precarious situation.”
Larry Drew will be the interim coach for the Cavaliers, who try to end their 0-6 start when they host Atlanta on Tuesday.
As for Lue, Kerr expects to see him again.
“Guy’s done a hell of a job,” Kerr said. “I know from coaching against him in the finals several years in a row he’s good. He knows what he’s doing, he’s well-prepared every night and if he wants another shot, he’ll get one.”
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports