Weekend Sports In Brief | Charlotte Observer

NFL

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as their head coach Sunday, making him the first minority candidate to get hired so far this offseason.

McDaniel, who is biracial, replaces Brian Flores, who was fired despite posting winning records in the final two of his three seasons in Miami.

Flores sued the NFL, the Dolphins and two other teams last week over alleged racist hiring for practices coaches and general managers, saying the league remains “rife with racism” even as it publicly condemns it.

McDaniel had worked under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for the past 11 seasons and gets his first shot as a head coach after only one year as offensive coordinator.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — From Darius Leonard’s rambling pick-6 on the opening drive to Mac Jones’ blissfully enthusiastic Griddy dance at the 2-minute warning, the Pro Bowl’s Vegas debut was a messy, chaotic show.

And Justin Herbert, Maxx Crosby and the AFC stars all won big.

Herbert hit Mark Andrews with two touchdown passes, leading the AFC to a 41-35 victory over the NFC on Sunday in the return of the Pro Bowl.

Jones passed for 112 yards and threw a touchdown pass, and the New England rookie also did a memorable rendition of the Griddy in the first Las Vegas edition of the NFL’s annual All-Star game, back from a one-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Herbert won the offensive MVP award after passing for 98 yards and finding the Baltimore tight end for two TDs in the first half of the Los Angeles Chargers star’s first Pro Bowl appearance. Andrews had five catches for 82 yards.

Crosby, from the hometown Raiders, won the defensive MVP award with two sacks, three batted passes and three tackles for loss in a pleasingly sloppy game featuring seven interceptions, with at least one thrown by each of the six quarterbacks.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears hired Richard Hightower as special teams coordinator under new coach Matt Eberflus.

Hightower spent the past five seasons as San Francisco’s special teams coordinator and has 15 years of NFL coaching experience. He replaces Chris Tabor in Chicago, where Hightower was assistant special teams coach on John Fox’s staff in 2016.

Special teams played a big role in San Francisco’s NFC championship game run this season. The 49ers blocked a punt and returned it for a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter of their divisional-round game at Green Bay, and former Bear Robbie Gould kicked the winning field goal. San Francisco also blocked a field goal by Green Bay at the end of the first half.

The 49ers then lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC championship game.

NHL

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux scored three goals and the Metropolitan Division beat the Central Division 5-3 on Saturday in the final 3-on-3 match to win the NHL All-Star Game.

New Jersey’s Jack Hughes, at 20 the youngest All-Star, also scored three goals for the Metropolitan team in the All-Star extravaganza’s first trip to Las Vegas, which has become a major stage for hockey’s top league since the expansion Vegas Golden Knights entered in 2017.

The 34-year-old Giroux won his first All-Star MVP award with two goals in the final and another in the semifinal. He also picked up the $1 million check shared among the winning team as the captain of the Metropolitan squad. Giroux got the job at late notice in place of Alex Ovechkin, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.

Carolina’s Frederik Andersen was the standout goalie, allowing just three goals and picking up an assist.

NBA

CLEVELAND (AP) — Pulling off a major move ahead of this week’s NBA trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers added another young star to its roster by agreeing in principle to acquire swingman Caris LeVert in a deal from Indiana.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle confirmed the proposed deal shortly before the teams played at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Sunday.

The Cavs are sending Ricky Rubio and his expiring $17.8 million contract, a lottery protected first-round draft pick in 2022 and two second-round picks to the Pacers for LeVert, a familiar with the trade told The Associated Press.

Cleveland will also get a second-round pick in 2022, said the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the teams have not yet participated in the required conference call with the league for approval.

LeVert is averaging 18.7 points and 4.4 assists for the disappointing Pacers, who are 19-35 and already thinking about their future.

GOLF

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Another cliff-hanger at Pebble Beach, this one memorable for Tom Hoge delivering all the right shots on the back nine to surge past Jordan Spieth and win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his first PGA Tour title.

Hoge, one of seven players who had at least a share of the lead Sunday, came within inches of holing out from the 16th fairway, tapping in for birdie to catch Spieth. Then after Spieth made bogey from the bunker on the par-3 17th, Hoge rolled in a birdie from just outside 20 feet.

He closed with a par for a 4-under 68.

Spieth looked like a winner when he birdied the 12th and 13th holes, and he reached the 15th tee with a two-shot lead. But he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 17th, and only as he stood under the pine in fairway on the par-5 18th did he realize he needed an eagle. He caught a sandy lie that left him in a fairway bunker, and the best he could do was par for a 69.

Hoge had to wait for Beau Hossler, one of three players who shared the 54-hole lead, who needed eagle on the 18th to force a playoff. Hossler sent his fairway metal right into a bunker, blasted out long and three-putted for bogey for a 71 to finish alone in third.

AUTO RACING

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joey Logano won the exhibition Busch Light Clash on a temporary quarter-mile track built inside Memorial Coliseum for a spectacular made-for-TV intended to hype NASCAR’s upcoming season.

NASCAR moved the Clash to Los Angeles from Daytona International Speedway, its only home since its 1979 inception, as part of a focused effort to break from its dated traditions via innovative big ideas.

The Clash was a success before a single racecar drove through the Southern California football team’s tunnel and onto the smooth, black asphalt that covered the Trojans’ field. Ice Cube performed a six-minute set from the Peristyle during a brief “halftime,” and Pitbull with backup dancers outfitted in a checkered-flag theme used the same stage for his pre-race concert.

A handful of Los Angeles sporting greats served as the grand marshals, and Jeff Gordon lit the cauldron built for the 1932 Summer Olympics before the race began. Celebrities walked a red carpet, the USC student section filled in early, and the crowd booed pole-sitter Kyle Busch like a bunch of old pro’s during driver introductions.

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