Thunder escape a near meltdown, plus Nelly Korda’s historic win

Thunder escape a near meltdown, plus Nelly Korda’s historic win

By Oghale Apr22,2024

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Good morning! The poll results are in. Ugh.

While You Were Sleeping: Thunder pass first test — barely

We all expected some brief jitters for the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, a young crew with scant playoff experience. Maybe a quarter or two of nerves against the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans, but then steady before cruising to a nice win, right?

Wrong. Almost really, really wrong. The Thunder survived what would’ve been a game-winning 3-pointer from C.J. McCollumn with 3 seconds left, the end to what was our best NBA game of the day by far. Thunder 94, Pelicans 92

The two questions remaining: Was that it for the ailing Pelicans? They already had a slim chance to compete in this series anyway. And what will the Thunder address? The stuff they put on tape last night won’t fly against any other Western Conference foe. 

Other NBA playoff notables, with all series reaching 1-0: 

We also have hockey playoffs happening: 

  • The Rangers and Matt Rempe are here. The brash 21-year-old has made headlines all season, but he shone in yesterday’s 4-1 Rangers win over the Capitals in front of the home crowd … and his mom. They are calling this kid the “Rempire State Building.” However this turns out will be fun.
  • Elsewhere, we had chalky results in Winnipeg (7-6 win over Colorado), Florida (3-2 Panthers win over the Lightning) and Vancouver (4-2 win over Nashville). 

Whew. It’s going to be a busy few weeks. Moving on.

Big Days: She really did it

Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Some events become a little too anticipated. Weeks of buildup can lead to pressure and the ultimate fizzle-out. That did not happen with Nelly Korda: 

  • Korda won the Chevron Championship yesterday, her fifth straight LPGA win. The streak ties the longest in LPGA history (Annika Sorenstam did it in 2004-05, and Nancy Lopez did it in 1978).
  • None of it has been easy. The first two wins saw Korda win in playoff holes. Yesterday’s victory came by just two strokes, and Korda bogeyed two holes on the back nine to make her second major victory a little more stressful than necessary. “I can finally breathe now,” Korda said after the round. No joke. 

Korda now heads to the JM Eagle LA Championship in Los Angeles, looking for her sixth straight win. We will be watching. 

Meanwhile, Korda had to share a little spotlight. The men’s game has a pretty dominant player as well, I’d say: 

  • Scottie Scheffler is oh-so-close to bagging his fourth win in five starts after darkness forced the RBC Heritage to call yesterday’s round early. Up five shots up with four holes to play, he’s about to become the first golfer since Bernhard Langer in 1985 to follow a Masters win with a victory the next week.
  • A 15-year-old finished in the top 20 at a Korn Ferry Tour event, his first pro start ever. Everything in that sentence sounds wrong, but teenager Miles Russell appears to be very real. The kid finished 14-under-par and became the youngest player to make a cut at a Korn Ferry event. Plus he’s a lefty. Buy the proverbial stock now. 

And yes, Korda did jump into a lake after the victory.

News to Know

MJ’s NASCAR love affair
A car bearing the Jordan Brand logo and the No. 45 crossed the finish line first at Talladega yesterday, a huge win for the driver, Tyler Reddick, and team owner Michael Jordan. The basketball legend has long had an affinity for racing and has owned 23XI Racing for four years. Yesterday’s win was the first Jordan saw in person. His comments are worth a read if only for the giddiness that an icon from one sport exhibits for another. So fun.

Dest could miss Copa America
USMNT defender Sergiño Dest suffered a “serious knee injury” in training with Dutch club PSV, where he is stationed on loan from FC Barcelona. Dest, a key USMNT contributor, will likely miss the Copa America, which takes place in June and July. It’s a huge blow, as Nnamdi Onyeagwara and Jeff Rueter wrote.

More news

Feedback Loop: OK fine, the black jerseys are cool

I feel jilted. 

Rarely do I disagree so fervently with the Pulse audience. Yet here we are after last week’s poll on the Lions’ new alternate jerseys, which I think look weird and off. Most of you disagreed, as you can see above. 

Fine. It’s fine.

Watch This Game

NBA: Sixers at Knicks
7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
I think this is our most interesting first-round series. Game 1’s New York win was tight, and these teams are much closer roster-wise than a normal 2-7 matchup. This will be feisty. 

NHL: Golden Knights at Stars
9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Easy choice. The defending Stanley Cup champs against this year’s favorite. Buckle up.

Pulse Picks

Per the Kings’ historical standards, Mike Brown’s two years have been a smash success. But this is Sacramento, where coaches and front offices have been scrapped for less. Sam Amick and Anthony Slater have an intriguing report about the uneasy future ahead

This is it: Dane Brugler’s final, 300-player NFL Draft rankings before the first round Thursday. Eat up. 

Also ahead of the NFL Draft, Vic Tafur has an interesting look at how college NIL money has affected the draft, from the vantage point of NFL execs. 

Ken Rosenthal has a new in-depth report on why we should believe in — and maybe worry about — the Mets so far this season. The other New York team remains one of our most interesting storylines. 

What can prospective NHL cities learn from Utah’s pursuit of a team? Ian Mendes writes on the organization’s startling rise

Most-clicked in the newsletter yesterday: Our story from Anthony Edwards’ swaggy performance against the Suns and his childhood favorite player, Kevin Durant. Fun series. 

Most-read on the website yesterday: Our live blog from the, erm, classic Real Madrid in yesterday’s Clasico against FC Barcelona. Jude Belllingham continues to weave magic on the pitch.

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(Photo: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)

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