The Houston Astros returned home on Friday night in a win-or-go-home situation, so it's only fitting that they sent their newly-acquired ace to the hill to keep their season alive. Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston in his ninth appearance, throwing seven shutout innings, while striking out eight, as the Astros forced a Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees. Verlander earned his second win of the ALCS and fourth of the postseason, including one in his first career relief appearance during the ALDS. The one jam he faced on Friday came in the seventh inning, when the Yankees had two on while down by three. Todd Frazier nearly tied the game with one swing of the bat, but George Springer made a leaping grab at the wall to end the inning and the Yankees' threat. Jose Altuve led the offense with a home run and three RBI, while Brian McCann, Alex Bregman, and Evan Gattis all drove in runs. Aaron Judge's solo blast in the eighth was good for the only run of the game for New York. The decisive Game 7 will take place in Houston on Saturday night, with Charlie Morton getting the start for Houston against C.C. Sabathia. The winner of that game will be matched up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series beginning on Tuesday night.
Ball Falls Short of Triple-Double in Lakers' Win
LaVar Ball had plenty of excuses as to why Lonzo Ball struggled in the Los Angeles Lakers' season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. There were no excuses needed on Friday night, as Ball scored 29 points, and fell one assist shy of becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double in the Lakers' 132-130 win over the Phoenix Suns. Ball added 11 rebounds and nine assists on the night, while shooting 9-of-27 from the field, including 4-of-9 from three in his second career game. In his one college season at UCLA, his career high in points was 24. The Suns did have a chance to tie the game with 1.2 seconds left, but T.J. Warren missed the first of two free throws, and then intentionally missed the second to give his team a chance at the rebound. The Lakers did lead by eight with 1:35 to play, but Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker led the rally late to give Phoenix a shot. Booker also fell just short of a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists, while Bledsoe led the scoring for the Suns with 28. Ball helped the Lakers hold off the Suns late by scoring 17 of his points in the fourth quarter, while Brandon Ingram finished with 25 for Los Angeles. They will look to make a win streak out of this as they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night, while the Suns look for their first win in L.A. against the Clippers on Saturday.
Celtics, Warriors Earn First Win of Season
The Boston Celtics' season has not gotten off to the start they expected after acquiring Kyrie Irving and adding Gordon Hayward in free agency. Not only is Hayward done for the season following his injury five minutes into the season, but the Celtics dropped their first two games, including their home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks. They refused to start 0-3, as they got their first win on Friday night by pulling away from the Philadelphia 76ers for a 102-92 victory. Irving led the scoring for Boston with 21 points, as they outscored the Sixers by 13 in the final 12 minutes to pull away for good. Al Horford added 17 points and nine rebounds, helping the Celtics earn their first win without Hayward. Boston used an 11-4 run in the fourth to initially take the lead, and never looked back from there. They will now return home to host the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, after blowing a big lead and having a buzzer-beater waved off in the season opener, the Golden State Warriors earned their first win on Friday night as well. Klay Thompson went off for 31 points on the road, as the Warriors erased an early double-digit deficit for a 128-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans led by as many as 15 in the first half, but could not hang on, as they dropped to 0-2 on the young season. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis had 35 points apiece, both finishing with a double-double in the Pelicans' home-opening loss. Steph Curry had 28 points, while Kevin Durant added 22 and a career-high seven blocked shots on the night, as the Warriors overcame a tough loss Tuesday night to the Houston Rockets. The two teams combined for 34 three-pointers on Friday, including 18 from the Warriors, who had Thompson go 7-for-12 from beyond the arc. They will be back in action on Saturday night when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies.