Wizards

Seattle shutouts Cascadia rival Portland 3-0

Seattle shutouts Cascadia rival Portland 3-0

SEATTLE (AP) Eddie Johnson scored his 14th goal of the season just minutes after an own goal gave Seattle the lead, Fredy Montero added another in the 62nd minute, and the Sounders raced past Cascadia rival Portland 3-0 on Sunday night before a record crowd of more than 66,000.

Johnson's goal in the 28th minute gave Seattle a 2-0 lead and helped the Sounders move into third-place in the Western Conference, two points clear of fourth-place Los Angeles. The fourth-place team in each conference must play an extra playoff game against the fifth-place team in the final regular season standings. Seattle is two points ahead of the Galaxy and three points behind second-place Real Salt Lake with games still remaining against Los Angeles and Salt Lake.

The official attendance of 66,452 was the second largest for a stand-alone match in league history.

The only other crowd to better Seattle's mark was the first match in league history when Los Angeles hosted New York at the Rose Bowl in 1996 in front of 69,255. Those in attendance for the latest installment of the Cascadia rivalry included MLS commissioner Don Garber, who jumped on a plane Sunday morning just to take in the atmosphere and was headed back to New York after the match on a red-eye.

``I knew this would be a historic event as it would lead in to this weekend. ... It's just another one of these great moments. We've been saying that a lot lately, but it's really true,'' Garber said.

It was the second-largest crowd to see a Sounders match, behind a friendly against Manchester United in the summer of 2011.

Seattle got the benefit of an own goal from Portland to take the lead when Mamadou Danso stepped in front of a cross intended for Montero in the 25th minute. Portland originally was charged with a second own-goal, this one by Jack Jewsbury, to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. But that goal was later changed and given to Montero with persistence likely the reason Montero earned his career-best 13th goal of the season. Montero was originally stopped twice by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and appeared to barely get his toe on the ball at the same moment Jewsbury got to it.

The result was the same, though; a three-goal lead in a match Seattle mostly dominated.

While two Seattle goals at least had the Timbers help, there was nothing but skill on Johnson's finish. Johnson made a quick cut to the middle of the penalty area where he was waiting for a long pass from Brad Evans on the wing. The pass was on target and Johnson took the short-hop and guided it past Ricketts with his left foot.

Johnson, who tweeted on Friday night he had received a call-up to the U.S. national team, ran over near a section of Portland supporters holding a finger over his lips while the remaining 65,000-plus fans erupted in celebration.

Seattle put itself in position to retain the Cascadia Cup as well. The Sounders said this week that avoiding the No. 4 seed in the playoffs was the priority, but claiming bragging rights over the Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps is nearly as important. Seattle now has nine points to lead the competition between the three teams and thanks goal differential, Portland must win at Vancouver later this month to claim the cup. A draw or a Vancouver victory would keep the regional trophy in Seattle.

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.