The Utah Jazz have moved themselves up the Western Conference standings after a slow start to their year, and they officially clinched a spot in the postseason on Sunday night. Rookie of the Year candidate, Donovan Mitchell, scored 28 points to lead the Jazz to a 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, clinching a playoff berth in the west. They became the fourth team to seal their playoff fate in the conference, doing so for a second straight season, even after losing Gordon Hayward in the off-season. Mitchell added nine rebounds and eight assists for the Jazz, who got 22 points from Joe Ingles on 9-of-12 shooting. Jae Crowder also added 18 points off the bench for the Jazz, who led by as many as 22 on the night. The Lakers struggled at just 40 percent shooting on the night, including just 5-of-25 from three-point range. Josh Hart led the way with 25 points in a losing effort. Julius Randle finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost six of eight overall. Utah wasted little time to jump ahead of Los Angeles, scoring the game's first nine points, and holding a 19-4 lead in the first quarter. They currently sit in the fourth spot in the west, in position to host a first-round playoff series. They do still have regular season games to play, including on Tuesday night at home against the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers move on to host the Houston Rockets that same night.
Lightning Win East as Bruins Fall to Panthers
The final NHL regulars season game was a makeup contest on Sunday night after a postponed game due to snow in January. This game ended up having a lot of Stanley Cup Playoff implications, despite the Florida Panthers already being eliminated from contention. The Boston Bruins had a chance to win the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, but fell at home to the Panthers, 4-2, on Sunday night. The win gives the idle Tampa Bay Lightning the top seed in the east and the division title, as they end just one point ahead of the Bruins in the standings. Roberto Luongo came off the bench to relieve the injured James Reimer for the Panthers, and kept the Bruins off the scoreboard for the rest of regulation. Luongo made eight saves in 8:07 between the pipes, combining for 41 saves with the starter, Reimer. Henrik Borgstrom, Frank Vatrano, Maxim Mamin, and Evgenii Dadanov all scored in the win for the Panthers, who were eliminated from contention when the Philadelphia Flyers clinched with a win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. David Backes and David Pastrnak both scored for the Bruins, who will host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the postseason, beginning on Thursday night. The Lightning, as the top seed, will begin their series with the New Jersey Devils that same night.
Ohtani Flirts With Perfection in Second Start
Shohei Ohtani has put on a show early on with the Los Angeles Angels, both on the mound and at the plate. Just one week after recording his first win, and two days after hitting a home run in three straight games, Ohtani dominated the Oakland Athletics on the mound in a 6-1 win. The Japanese sensation took a perfect game in to the seventh inning, before it was broken up with one out by a Marcus Semien single. Ohtani retired the first 19 batters and finished with 12 strikeouts and just one walk over seven shutout innings in what was his second victory, both of which have come against the A's. The 23-year-old stranded two runners by striking out Matt Olson to officially end his home pitching debut. He was supported at the plate by home runs from Mike Trout and Ryan Schimpf, while Albert Pujols also doubled home a run in the Angels' seventh win in nine games. Kendall Graveman pitched three-plus innings and allowed five hits and four walks,,while falling to 0-2 on the season. Matt Joyce went deep in the ninth inning to prevent the shutout for Oakland, who has dropped seven of their past 10 games. They will hope to find some type of stride when they visit the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers, beginning on Tuesday. The Angels hit the road to battle the Texas Rangers, with game 1 of the series taking place on Monday night.