Hornets Win A Nail Biter, Carolina Hurricanes On A Roll And Carolina Panthers Clearing Cap Space
It's Time Out For Sports! The Charlotte Hornets are back in action after a week off due to COVID-19 protocols associated with opposing teams, the Carolina Hurricanes are on a roll and the Carolina Panthers pink-slipped several players to get the salary cap down. Joining "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn is sportswriter Langston Wertz Jr.
Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Langston.
Langston Wertz Jr.: Hey, how are you Gwen?
Glenn: All is well. So let's start with the Charlotte Hornets win over the Golden State Warriors 102-100 this weekend.
Eric Collins (from the Golden State Warriors/Charlotte Hornets game): Hornets don't have a time out. Chance to win it right here. Rozier... puts something up.
Glenn: Langston, folks always look forward to the Warriors and Charlotte native Steph Curry coming to town. Tell us what happened after Curry warmed up before the game and that ejection during the game over a controversial call?
Wertz: Well, Curry was going out to warm up for the games, he normally does. And it was like a team huddle and all of a sudden he was helped off. Turned out he was not feeling well. They said it's not COVID-related, but he wasn't feeling well.
Glenn: And that controversial call and ejection?
Wertz: There was a tie-up at the end of the game between Gordon Hayward and Draymond Green. Draymond did not like the call - got two technicals. The Hornets got possession, made two free throws and "Scary" Terry Rozier, who had a tremendous game, hit a fadeaway three-point shot. You just don't see the Hornets having that much fun. It was really great to see.
Glenn: In other NBA news, Zion Williamson former Duke star had 28 points in the New Orleans Pelicans' overtime win over the Boston Celtics Sunday. It was the Pelicans' biggest comeback in franchise history, Langston.
Marc Davis ESPN: Zion coming right down the pipe, got it with 1.8 left to play in the 3rd.
Wertz: Zion's playing really well and so is the team. You know he's had 28, 23, 36 (points) his last three games. He looks like the player they wanted him to be.
Glenn: Langston, the Carolina Panthers are making a lot of cuts to get that salary cap down. Tell us, if these moves are centered on making a credible bid for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson if he becomes available.
Wertz: The word is that Panthers owner David Tepper is fixated on Deshaun Watson. He knows he needs to have a star, and he's definitely cleared room to make a run at Deshaun Watson. That is his No. 1 target out there. And we'll see how it works out. I'm sure a lot of Panthers fans would be excited.
Glenn: Let's move on to the ice and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Audio from Carolina Hurricanes game against the Tampa Bay Lightning
Glenn: The Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Saturday, and they currently lead the Central Division. How are they doing the season?
Wertz: The Hurricanes are 12-3-1. They just beat the Stanley Cup champions the other night, the first of four straight games. They're looking like a team, again, that's going to make a playoff run. The Hurricanes have been very consistent and they're building their team. You know, they have given Raleigh fans something to be excited about each and every year.
Glenn: And what about the Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic? In Saturday's game, he had his first career shutout. Is he the team's goalie of the future?
Wertz: Tough to say right now. He certainly looked good against what may be the best team in the league. He's 25 years old, he's a former second-round draft pick. And I know a lot of that, a lot of his teammates are really happy. They all call him "Kid."
Glenn: OK, and before we leave the Hurricanes, today is the third anniversary of a non-player winning a game for them. Tell us about that quickly.
Wertz: Both of their goalies left because of injury. And they turn to David Ayers who's 42 years old, and he came in and had eight saves in a win. It was one of the best sports stories you probably will hear of against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Glenn: OK, and shifting gears to college basketball, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill men's basketball team beat the Louisville Cardinals by 45 points on Saturday. Langston, they've been hit with several postponed games. I'm sure you know, due to COVID cases on opposing teams and at a time when they're desperately trying to get into the NCAA tournament, how's it looking for them?
Wertz: They are really starting to round the corner. The guard play has gotten better. They've always had the best interior player in the country. And they made a really smart move last week by playing Northeastern because otherwise, it would've had a long break. But I do think the Tar Heels have kind of really turned the corner making a run for this tournament. They're going to be a dangerous team once they get there.
Glenn: So also in college basketball, the Rockhill-based Winthrop University Eagles have lost only one game all season. They are the Big South regular-season winner and are likely headed for their first NCAA tournament since 2017. Tell us about them. And how do you think they might fare in the tournament?
Wertz: Winthrop's 20-1 and you know, you got to pay attention to that. They don't really have a star. You got four guys averaging about 10 points led by Chandler Vaudrin. They have a kid, D.J. Burns who's a Rock Hill native, transferred in from Tennessee. He's playing really well averaging about 10 points. They're a balanced team, they play well together. You know, do I think they can get to the Sweet Sixteen? Maybe not, but they certainly can maybe win a first-round game. Absolutely.
Glenn: And Langston, last week we talked about tennis star Naomi Osaka, co-owner of the North Carolina Courage Soccer team, debuting the team's gear at the Australian Open, which she won this weekend.
Announcer: The victory puts Osaka on a 21-match win streak, and she becomes the first woman to win her first four Grand Slam finals since Monica Seles in 1991.
Wertz: She was down 2-0 to Serena Williams in the semifinals. And I thought maybe this is going to be Serena's time. Because everybody kind of knew whoever won that match was going to win the tournament. Osaka came back and just blitzed Serena after that, she blew away the championship match, she won her fourth Grand Slam match. She looks like the face of women tennis moving forward.
Langston Wertz Jr. is a long time sports reporter for The Charlotte Observer.