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Sports

Time Out For Sports: Panthers Almost Knock Off Chiefs; NBA Restart Date Is Official; Tee Time For Masters

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Christian McCaffery of the Panthers runs during Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Carolina Panthers almost beat Super Bowl champs the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The NBA, meanwhile, announced the start date for the new season. And it is tee time for the Masters in Augusta with Charlotte's Webb Simpson, who played for Wake Forest, on the roster.

Langston Wertz Jr. with the Charlotte Observer joins us to talk about those and other sports stories.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Langston.

Langston Wertz Jr, a longtime sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer.
Langston Wertz Jr.

Langston Wertz Jr.: Gwen, how are you?

Glenn: All is well. Well, let's start with the Panthers. They almost pulled it off with Christian McCaffrey back on the field. Give us a rundown, Langston.

Wertz: That was amazing. The Panthers threw out the kitchen sink at the Chiefs. I mean, they went for it on fourth down. They tried fake punts. They tried everything unconventional you could think of, they tried the hook and ladder in the middle of the game. They went for the fourth-and-14. They were successful in a lot of that stuff. You got to give the Panthers credit for playing really, really hard.

Glenn: Yeah, that's what I was going to ask you: Were you surprised that they played so well and they almost pulled it off? What did they need to work on, do you think?

Langston Wertz Jr.: They just don't have enough talent in some cases. And that's what you would expect in a young team. But, you know, I really think the guys respond to Matt Rhule really well. And I think the future's bright for Carolina. They've been in every game. I mean, they just haven't been wiped out like a lot of people thought they were going to be, you know, to go to Kansas City to play the Super Bowl champs like that says a lot.

Glenn: So that's four straight losses for the Panthers. They haven't won a game since Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons. Their next game is against Tampa. Any predictions?

Wertz: Tom Brady threw three interceptions in the second half last night. He's going to be angry. It's probably not the best week to get Tampa Bay, but given the way the Panthers have been playing. I give them a fighting chance.

Glenn: OK, well, let's stick with professional sports and go to the NBA, which has announced its scheduled start. When is it?

Wertz: The NBA is going to start Dec. 22. Some of the players want to start later. You have to really feel for the Heat and the Lakers. They were playing championship basketball in October, and are going to turn around and play in December. Normally you have four months off. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the stars sit out the first couple of weeks, maybe play Christmas Day, but don't play any other games.

Glenn: Will they be in a bubble again?

Wertz: That's yet to be determined.

Glenn: OK, well, the NBA draft is also coming up next week. Two names I'm hearing the most in terms of players the Hornets are said to want badly are Lamelo Ball, who played in Australia last year, and James Wiseman, a 7-1 center. He only played three games at Memphis. Tell us more about them and what they could bring to the Hornets.

Wertz: Well, Wiseman is a traditional big man with a lot of upside. He's kind of rough offensively now. He's a lefty. He could really run the floor, block shots, and he has a body that's just going to grow and grow. I mean, you talk about a guy who could become one of the dominant big men of his generation. (Lamelo) Ball is the 6-7 point guard, doesn't shoot the ball very well. He has incredible passing skills and vision like his brother in New Orleans. I think either one of those guys would be great players for the Hornets to pick up.

Glenn: Do you think the Hornets can get them with the third pick?

Wertz: They will get a good player at three. I don't think they should trade the farm to try to move up to No. 1, because this is not one of those traditional drafts where you have, you know, definite stars. I think they sit at three and get the best player they could get. And I think a good player is going to fall to them.

Glenn: That's WNBA 2020 MVP Aja Wilson, who was a guest on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" game show this weekend. She's from South Carolina and played for the USC Gamecocks. And tell us more about her.

Wertz: She's been great ever since I saw her in high school. She's, you know, a big, dominant player. Has a little bit of guard skills to her game, she's great defensively. Played for Dawn Staley at South Carolina, actually (Staley) benched her freshman year. Well, she came off the bench and then she became SEC player of the year three straight years in a row. She was WNBA MVP. I mean, she's the best player in the world. I mean, she's she led the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA championship. They lost to the Seattle Storm, where they definitely have the ability to get back again next year with her.

Glenn: OK, well, any updates on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools allowing teams to play during the pandemic? And what's happening on the private school level?

Wertz: CMS started practice last week. They have not released an official statement yet on whether or not they're going to allow teams to play. Volleyball and Cross Country is slated to start playing real games Nov. 16, so I would hope they're going to put out a statement here shortly. The private schools have kind of rolled on. They've had very little interruption. They've done a really good job with the temperature checks and the screenings and, you know, the players ultimately have to do the best job of not going out to parties and clubs and you know going to the mall and doing things that might put their other teammates in jeopardy.

Glenn: The Masters will be played this week in Augusta without that roar. Tell us the latest.

Wertz: Yeah, it's going to be different this year playing in November. First of all, not having fans is going to be different. Not hearing those roars, you know, coming around Amen Corner like they normally do and up 18. But ultimately it's the Masters, it's golf's greatest event. It's a tradition unlike any other. And I think by Sunday, I hope we have a good finish. But I think the golf will be fantastic.

Langston Wertz Jr. is a veteran sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer.

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