Wakeup Call: An anti-Rockets weapon

Wakeup Call: An anti-Rockets weapon
April 24, 2014, 9:30 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy and/or interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, April 24:

AUTO RACING

RGIII will be driving the pace car Saturday night at Richmond . . . (AP)

. . . and Richard Petty will be in the field, the first time he's raced since the March 25 death of his wife of 57 years. (AP)

BASEBALL

Talk about the quintessential Cubs: They blow a three-run lead in the ninth inning and lose on Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary. (CSN Chicago)

Welcome to Cubs Nation, young man. (CSN Chicago)

The Cubs did throw quite the party to celebrate Wrigley's birthday, but Sammy Sosa wasn't invited. (Yahoo! Sports)

I guess there are easier ways to start your season than pitching against Zack Greinke, but look at this way, Cole Hamels: There's nowhere to go but up. (CSN Philly)

Greinke's fellow Dodger ace, Clayton Kershaw, will pitch a rehab game Friday night at Rancho Cucamonga. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Martin Perez is quietly emerging as quite the ace in Texas. (AP)

The Diamondbacks will have to play for a while without Mark Trumbo, who has a stress fracture in his foot. (Hardball Talk)

R.I.P., Connie Marrero. (CSN Washington)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Boston College may have been successful in freezing Connecticut out of the ACC, but the Eagles can't prevent the national champion Huskies from playing spotlight games against the league's brethren. Like a December meeting against Duke at the Izod Center in New Jersey. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

In today's edition of Not Declaring For The NBA Draft, we have Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress of Kentucky . . . (AP)

. . . and Jordan Mickey of LSU. (AP)

Former Georgetown forward Moses Ayegba is transferring to Nebraska. (College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Shakim Phillips transferred out of BC before the 2011 season and ended up at UConn. Now he may be going back to the Heights. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Tyler Murphy has cemented the job as the Eagles' starting quarterback. (College Football Talk)

Sorry, but the good folks of Happy Valley are going to have their statue of Joe Paterno, by God. (AP)

Dabo Swinney's not going to let a formal complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation change the way he coaches at Clemson. (AP)

TCU wide receiver Brandon Carter is charged with possession of marijuana. (AP)

GOLF

When the U.S. Open moves to FOX next year, it'll be Joe Buck and Greg Norman behind the microphones. (AP)

The Tiger Woods update: Zero setbacks, no timetable. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY

They were all fit to be tied in the Stanley Cup playoffs last night. The Blackhawks beat the Blues in overtime to tie their series at 2-2 . . . (AP)

. . . the Blue Jackets beat the Penguins in overtime to tie their series at 2-2 . . . (AP)

. . . and the Stars beat the Ducks -- in regulation -- to tie their series at 2-2. (AP)

Columbus' win over Pittsburgh once again raises question about Marc-Andre Fleury, and how far the Pens can go with him in goal. (Yahoo! Sports)

At least Mario Lemieux has his back. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Matt Cooke gets a seven-game suspension from the NHL for the knee-to-knee hit that injured Avs defenseman Tyson Barrie, but Colorado's Erik Johnson's not sure that's enough. "I don't even know if there's a place for him in this game," Johnson said of Cooke. "It's disgusting what he's done to guys' careers." (AP)

Logan Couture says the Sharks have to complete the sweep of the Kings tonight because "[you] can't give a team like the L.A. Kings any life." (AP)

Despite their four-game ouster at the hands of the Canadiens, the Lightning are looking back with pride at all they accomplished this year. (AP)

OLYMPICS

Tonight's the night that Michael Phelps returns to the pool. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

And Ryan Lochte finds that very inspirational. (Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL

LaMarcus Aldridge scores 40-plus points again -- and this time he doesn't foul out -- as he leads the Blazers to another victory in Houston and a 2-0 series lead. (AP)

The Mavs blew a 10-point lead in the final eight minutes and lost Game 1 to the Spurs, but that bitterness didn't linger: They romp to a 21-point victory in San Antonio, breaking a 10-game losing streak to the Spurs, and tie their series at 1-1. (AP)

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle reacts to Gregg Popovich being named Coach of Year by suggesting Popovich be named Coach of the Century. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The Heat hold off the Bobcats and go up 2-0 in their series. (AP)

Miami does get a scare, though, when LeBron James takes an elbow to the throat from Josh McRoberts. (Yahoo! Sports)

The Zen Master says it again: He's not going to coach the Knicks. (AP)

So who will? Maybe Ron Harper. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Why do I think Jackson's suggestion that 'Melo accept less money to stay in New York won't be greeted with wild enthusiasm in the Anthony camp? (Pro Basketball Talk)

The Suns' Goran Dragic is named Most Improved Player in the NBA. (AP)

Remember Paul PIerce's boasting after he led the Nets to a Game 1 victory over the Raptors? Well, things didn't go nearly as well in Game 2 on Tuesday -- he shot only 2-for-11 and, worse, Toronto took advantage of a size mismatch and exposed him on defense -- but Jason Kidd says he's not worried about The Truth heading into Game 3 in Brooklyn on Friday. (AP)

Frank Vogel better be worried about the Pacers' performance tonight and beyond because, according to reports, he's coaching for his job. (Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL

All of a sudden, Jeremy Jacobs has risen to the top of the list of potential buyers of the Bills. And he has two vows: 1. He won't sell the Bruins if he wins the bidding for the Bills, and 2, He'll keep the team in Buffalo. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Turns out Doug Morrone made a public admission that he'd had a cancerous mole removed because the Bills inadvertently published the news on their Web site and the Buffalo News saw it before it was taken down. Now the team is doing an internal investigation to see how such a mistake was made. (AP)

To the victors go the spoils, as long as the Orioles aren't involved: The Seahawks, as is tradition with defending Super Bowl champions, will kick off the season on the Thursday night before opening weekend when they host the Packers. It didn't happen last year, you remember, because the O's refused to reschedule their Thursday night game to accommodate the Ravens, whose stadium is next door to Camden Yards, and Baltimore had to open on the road. (AP)

You may be surprised to learn that that's the only prime-time home game the Seahawks will play all year. But that's because they usually win by blowouts at home, and the league -- and networks -- like close games to keep viewers tuned in. (Pro Football Talk)

In other Seahawks news, Richard Sherman takes about race during two discussions at Harvard, one at the Business School and the other with undergraduates. (AP)

And Russell Wilson announces that he and his wife of two-plus years are getting divorced. (AP)

And Marcus Trufant, who played his entire career with Seattle before being let go after 2012, is returning for one day to retire as a Seahawk. He was in training camp with the Jaguars last summer, but was released before the season started. (AP)

Getting back to the schedule: A tough early season road may sink Rex Ryan and the Jets. (Yahoo! Sports)

So who has it hard and who has it easy in 2014? Click here to find out. (Yahoo! Sports)

DeSean Jackson returns to Philadelphia in Week 3, but it won't be a national TV game. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

His other meeting against the Eagles will come in Washington during the unique Saturday doubleheader on December 20. (Pro Football Talk)

Now that CBS has part of the package, that Thursday night schedule is a lot more attractive than it used to be. (Yahoo! Sports)

First we had 53-year-old Willie Gault claiming he's still faster than most guys in the NFL. Now we have 52-year-old Herschel Walker announcing he can still play in the league. I know denial is a river is Egypt, but what's delusion? (Pro Football Talk)

Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington gets a year of supervised probation after pleading guilty to the assault of a former girlfriend who is the mother of his daughter. Now we'll see what punishment the NFL has in store. (AP)

TENNIS

Being given a civic honor in his hometown of Dunblane, Scotland, drives Wimbledon champ Andy Murray to tears. (AP)