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Orange Crush: Clemson topples No. 1 ’Bama for national title

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Orange Crush Clemson topples No 1 Bama for national title

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Dabo Swinney kissed the championship trophy and proclaimed this Clemson team the greatest of all time.

He’s got a case.

With stunning ease — and a freshman quarterback — Clemson toppled college football’s greatest dynasty again to become the first perfect playoff champion.

Trevor Lawrence passed for 347 yards and three touchdowns and the second-ranked Tigers beat No. 1 Alabama 44-16 on Monday night in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

In the fourth consecutive playoff meeting between the Tigers and Tide, Clemson evened the series and beat ’Bama for the national championship for the second time in three years. Clemson is the first college football team to finish 15-0 since the 1800s, and the first team since the playoff started five seasons ago to get through a season unscathed.

“I mean, our guys had the eye of the tiger, but I’m so proud, and then for our seniors to be able to go out 15-0 and truly be the best ever — there was a lot of talk about best ever all year long,” Swinney said, talking about Alabama. “We were never in that conversation. But tonight, there’s no doubt. First 15-0 team, to beat Notre Dame and to beat Alabama to do it, this team won 13 games by 20 points or more and led by an unbelievable group of seniors, amazing group. I’m just thankful to be a part of it.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban and the Tide (14-1) were looking for a sixth national championship in 10 years, trying to add to an already unprecedented run in the sport. Instead, Clemson crushed Alabama, becoming the first opponent to beat the Tide by more than 14 points since Saban became coach in 2007.

Swinney’s Tigers sealed their status as a superpower, no longer just 1A to Alabama’s 1.

“We’re 15-0, we beat the best team ever, nobody’s taking that away from us,” Clemson All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said.

Two seasons ago it was Deshaun Watson dethroning the Tide with a last-second touchdown pass. Clemson’s new star quarterback didn’t need the late-game heroics. The long-haired Lawrence cut though Alabama’s defense with the help of another fabulous freshman. Justyn Ross made a juggling grab, a one-handed snare and broke a 74-yard touchdown about midway through the third quarter that made it 37-16 and had Swinney high-stepping down the sidelines.

Ross, who scored two touchdowns in the semifinal rout of Notre Dame, had six catches for 153 yards against his home-state team.

Swinney takes a different approach than Saban, running a more fun-loving program than Alabama’s all-business organization. But the results have been every bit as good. And on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium, in a championship game played more than 2,000 miles away from Clemson’s South Carolina campus, the Tigers were way too much for an Alabama team that had spent the season mauling its opposition. The Tide won their first 14 games by an average of 31 points.

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa threw two crucial interceptions in the first half, the first returned 44 yards for a touchdown by A.J. Terrell to put Clemson up 7-0. The Tide came in scoring 48 points per game, but was shut out over the final 44 minutes by an opportunistic Clemson defense.

Saban lamented numerous mistakes: blown coverages on third down (Clemson was 10 for 15), stall outs in the red zone and special teams mishaps, including a fake field goal that flopped on the first possession of the second half.

He laid the blame on himself. The Alabama program has set a championship-or-bust standard under Saban, but he didn’t want this season looked at as a failure.

“One game doesn’t define who you are,” Saban said. “But I also told the players that sometimes we learn more when things don’t go well, when we lose.”

Tagovailoa, the sophomore who came off the bench to win the championship game last year for the Tide, went 22 for 34 for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

“We had a great season, but five words: Good is not good enough,” Tagovailoa said. “We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish. We didn’t do the things we needed to do to execute and be successful in this game, and that’s all it is.”

The Heisman runner-up was also the second-best quarterback on the field in the championship game. Lawrence finished 20 for 32, and went 18 for 25 for 277 yards over the final three quarters.

The teenager who took over as the starter four games into the season raised the Tigers’ play, giving them an explosive offense to match a suffocating defense, led by All-American linemen Clelin Ferrell and Wilkins.

“Just these seniors, just taking me in, and they kind of dragged me along until I got my feet under me, and they just — they’re awesome people as well as players,” said Lawrence, the first freshman starting quarterback to lead his team to a national title since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985.

Clemson hit Alabama with a 31-point first half, capitalizing on the Tide’s mistakes and unleashing Lawrence’s rocket arm.

Tagovailoa threw a second interception in the second quarter, this time into triple coverage, and Trayvon Mullen’s 46-yard return put Clemson in Alabama territory. That led to Travis Etienne’s third touchdown of the half, a 5-yard shovel pass from Lawrence.

With a chance to stamp itself as the best team in Saban’s remarkable 12 seasons at Alabama, the Crimson Tide played maybe the worst half of the coach’s tenure. The 15-point halftime deficit was the largest the Tide has ever faced under Saban.

Alabama seemed panicked in the third quarter, running a fake field goal into a waiting Clemson defense instead of kicking from 40. Three plays later, Lawrence faced down a pass rush and slung a pass to Ross, who was alone after Alabama defensive back Saivion Smith went down with an apparent leg injury.

Ross sprinted away and the shocking rout was on.

Almost as shocking as Clemson, a program that promoted an obscure receivers coach to lead the program 10 years ago, climbing over the traditional powers to the top of college football. Clemson finished No. 1 in the AP poll for the third time.

“Our goal is not to win a national championship. People don’t believe that. Our goal is to win the closer right there. The national championship is just a byproduct of that. It’s never been my goal,” said Swinney, who now has as many titles as Hall of Famers Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. “I don’t measure teams by that, and I know we’ve got some rabid people that that drives them crazy, but I measure our team based on did we get better, did we reach our potential.”

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

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Harden scores 48 points Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.

Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.

The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.

“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.

Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.

Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.

“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”

Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.

Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.

It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.

Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”

Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.

Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.

Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.

Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.

“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”

The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.

They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.

Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.

Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.

Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.

“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”

TIP-INS

Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.

Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

THEY SAID IT

D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”

UP NEXT

Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.

Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is coming back, only ‘Stranger’

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Unsolved Mysteries is coming back only Stranger

Robert Stack brought us over 500 Unsolved Mysteries episodes from 1987 to 2010 across three networks. Apparently, that’s not enough, and now the executive producer of Stranger Things wants a shot at rebooting the iconic television show for Netflix.

Netflix Reboots ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ With ‘Stranger Things’ Shawn Levy

https://deadline.com/2019/01/netflix-unsolved-mysteries-shawn-levy-1202537462/The series, which was hosted by Robert Stack and ran for over 500 episodes between 1987 and 2010, is being refreshed by Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment and Netflix.

The 12-part show will use re-enactments in a documentary format to profile real-life mysteries and unsolved crimes, lost love, cases involving missing persons and unexplained paranormal events. Each episode will focus on one mystery. In the original series, actors played the victims, criminals and witnesses but family members and police were regularly interviewed.

My Take

This is one of those shows that really doesn’t have a conclusion. It could conceivably go on indefinitely because there are always new and interesting mysteries to be solved. Since each one has its own spin and attachment to reality, there’s no need to worry about fatigue.

Some shows need to be buried forever. Others have a valid reason to keep going and get a reboot. Unsolved Mysteries falls in the latter category.


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Trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum reveals everything we need and nothing we don’t

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Trailer for John Wick Chapter 3 - Parabellum reveals everything we need and nothing we dont

Fans of action movies have been foaming at the mouth over the John Wick series since it was launched in 2014. The first movie was amazing, scoring an uncanny 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, a rarity for action flicks. The sequel in 2017 was even better, scoring an 89% and breaking from the Hollywood tradition of completely botching things the second time around.

As the series reaches its cinematic climax, hopes are high that the long journey of the titular character, played by Keanu Reeves, will be the exception to the rule by delivering on three great movies. Few series have been able to do this, especially in the action genre. One can argue the Mission ImpossibleFast and Furious, and James Bond series were able to do it, but none of them did it consecutively. There were stinkers mixed in.

Lord of the Rings was a fantasy series with action while the original Star Wars trilogy did science fiction action like no other. Can John Wick be the first purely action trilogy to pull the trifecta?

If the trailer is any indicator, yes. Yes they can.

It has motorcycle sword fights. There’s a giant in the mix. We even get to see gun play on horseback. Throw in Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and the amazing supporting cast that has returned and suddenly there’s hope that the impossible can happen. They might be able to go from great to greater to greatest. Thankfully, this is a rare “good” trailer that gives us just enough information to know where we stand in the series but does’t have real spoilers that ruin the whole thing.

It’s noteworthy that this series has been one continuous series of events. Chapter 2 picked up shortly after the first, while Chapter 3 is an immediate continuation from Chapter 2.

The subtitle of the film, “Parabellum,” is Latin for “prepare for war.” That may not be possible since nothing can prepare fans to wait for it to come out, but we’re almost there. The film hits theaters on May 17.


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