The Rundown for Dec. 31, 2018

THE BALL DROPS TONIGHT… Americans already gathering at New York City’s Times Square to lead the nation in ushering in 2019 tonight. City officials say all systems are a go and security measures have been implemented to keep revelers safe. A force of some 7,000 police officers and a drone will be keeping watchful eyes on those gathered. Police Commissioner James O’Neill emphasizes there are have been no known, credible threats.

TEXAS JUDGE PAUSES ACA RULING… The Texas judge who struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional announced yesterday that his ruling should be postponed while states appeal his decision. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor said he based his mid-December ruling on the “individual mandate” portion of the ACA. Seventeen states, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, are asking the judge for further explanation about his ruling so they can file an immediate appeal.

McCHRYSTAL SLAMS TRUMP… Retired General Stanley A. McChrystal offered harsh words for President Trump yesterday during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” McChrystal said he considers the president “immoral” and wouldn’t work in Trump’s administration because of concerns about his honesty. McChrystal commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan but resigned in 2010 after he and his aides criticized the Obama administration in an interview published in Rolling Stone.

KELLY BLAMES IMMIGRATION POLICY ON SESSIONS… Outgoing White House Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, in an interview published in the Los Angeles Times, blamed former attorney general Jeff Sessions for the controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy that led border officials to separate children. Kelly also claimed that President Trump’s administration “abandoned” the idea of a solid concrete border wall after asking border patrol agents what they needed to prevent illegal immigration. Kelly, who is scheduled to leave the White House on Wednesday, stopped short of calling Trump’s claims of a migrant “invasion” exaggerated, but he maintained that people fleeing chaos in their home countries have caused an immigration problem.

NEWSPAPERS TARGETED IN CYBERATTACKS… Several major American newspapers were targeted over the weekend in a cyber attacks thought to have originated outside the U.S. The attacks reportedly disrupted printing and delivery operations. The Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times were among newspapers impacted.

RUSSIA SAYS IT’S WILLING TO TALK… Reuters reported yesterday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has informed President Trump that the Kremlin was “open to dialogue” on a “wide-ranging agenda.” Putin reportedly made the claim in a New Year Letter to Trump, which followed multiple failed efforts to arrange a new summit. The Kremlin says it is especially interested in discussing Trump’s plans to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons agreement.

ENTERTAINMENT
21 SAVAGE TOPS ALBUM CHART… 21 Savage’s new release, “I Am > I Was” sold 131,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 albums chart. Rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s “Hoodie SZN” opened in second place with 90,000 copies sold. Michael Bublé’s “Christmas” climbed into third place on sales of 75,000 units. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born’ soundtrack finished fourth after selling 62,000 copies. “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack capped the top five with 56,000 units sold.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE… The top five films remain unchanged in the weekend box office. “Aquaman” made $51.5 million to remain at No. 1. “Mary Poppins Returns” finished a distant second with $$28 million. “Bumblebee” came in third with $20.5 million. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” took in $18.3 million to finish fourth. “The Mule” was fifth with $11.7 million.

SPORTS
NFL SCORES
HOUSTON 20 – Jacksonville 3… The Texans (11-5) shut down the Jaguars (5-11) to lock up the AFC South title. Deshaun Watson and Lamar Miller ran for second-quarter touchdowns. Watson also passed for 234 yards. DeAndre Hopkins had 12 receptions for 147 yards.

KANSAS CITY 35 – Oakland 3… The Chiefs (12-4) walloped the Raiders (4-12) to clinch their third straight AFC West title and the top seed in the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes passed for 281 yards and completed 67- and 89-yard scoring strikes to Tyreek Hill and DeMarcus Robinson, respectively. Mahomes joins Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to reach 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes in the same season.

BALTIMORE 26 – Cleveland 24… The Ravens (10-6) used a late defensive stand to hold off the Browns (7-8-1) and claim the AFC North title. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for two touchdowns. Kenneth Dixon rushed for 126 yards to lead the ground game.

NEW ENGLAND 38 – N.Y. Jets 3… The AFC East-champion Patriots (11-5) breezed past the Jets (4-12) to clinch their ninth straight first-round bye in the playoffs. Tom Brady threw for three first-half touchdowns. Kyle Van Noy returned a fumble 46 yards for a score. The loss was New York’s ninth in 10 games.

L.A. Chargers 23 – DENVER 9… The AFC wild-card Chargers (12-4) clawed their way past the Broncos (6-10) to win at Denver for the first time in six years. Philip Rivers threw for a touchdown and Austin Ekeler ran for a score.

Indianapolis 33 – TENNESSEE 17… The Colts (10-6) pulled away in the fourth quarter to down the Titans (9-7) in a battle for the AFC’s final playoff spot. Andrew Luck passed for 285 yards and hit three different receivers with touchdown passes. Marion Mack rushed for 119 yards and a TD.

L.A. RAMS 48 – San Francisco 32… The NFC West-champion Rams (13-3) outgunned the 49ers (4-12) to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. Jared Goff threw two touchdown passes apiece to Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds. Cory Littleton led the defense with two interceptions, including one he returned 19 yards for a touchdown.

Chicago 24 – MINNESOTA 10… The NFC North-champion Bears (12-4) went on the road and knocked the Vikings (8-7-1) out of the playoffs. Jordan Howard rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Dallas 36 – N.Y. GIANTS 35… Dak Prescott connected with Cole Beasley on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 remaining and threw to Michael Gallup for the go-ahead two-point conversion in the NFC East-champion Cowboys’ (10-6) win over the Giants (5-11). Prescott finished with 387 yards passing and four TDs.

Carolina 33 – NEW ORLEANS 14… The Panthers (7-9) cruised past an NFC South-champion Saints (13-3) team that was resting several starters for the playoffs. Kyle Allen passed for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

SEATTLE 27 – Arizona 24… Sebastian Janikowski booted a 33-yard field goal on the game’s final play and the Seahawks (10-6) secured an NFC wild-card spot with the win over the Cardinals (3-13). Chris Carson rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Philadelphia 24 – WASHINGTON 0… The defending Super Bowl-champion Eagles (9-7) throttled the Redskins (7-9) to claim an NFC wild-card berth. Nick Foles tied Philip Rivers’ NFL record by completing 25 straight passes and threw two touchdown passes before he was forced out of the game with a chest injury. Nelson Agholor had two scoring receptions.

PITTSBURGH 16 – Cincinnati 13… Newly acquired kicker Matt McCrane booted three field goals to yards and the Steelers (9-6-1) held off the Bengals (6-10) on a day in which they were eliminated from the postseason. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 287 yards and a touchdown.

BUFFALO 42 – Miami 14… Rookie quarterback Josh Allen threw for three touchdowns and ran for a pair of scores as the Bills (6-10) pounded the Dolphins (7-9). Zay Jones had two TD receptions.

Detroit 31 – GREEN BAY 0… The Lions (6-10) defense held the Packers (6-9-1) to 175 total yards in the season-ending shutout. Matt Stafford passed for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Powell had six catches for 103 yards.

Atlanta 34 – TAMPA BAY 32… Matt Ryan threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Falcons (7-9) past the Buccaneers (5-11). Ryan also caught a 5-yard TD pass on a trick play.

SATURDAY’S NFL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
AFC wild-card Indianapolis is at AFC South-champion Houston…
NFC East-champion Dallas hosts NFC wild-card Seattle

SUNDAY’S NFL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
AFC wild-card L.A. Chargers are at AFC North-champion Baltimore…
NFC North-champion Chicago hosts NFC wild-card Philadelphia

NFL HEAD-COACHING VACANCIES… The New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired their head coaches yesterday following losses on the final day of the NFL’s regular season. The Jets parted ways with Todd Bowles, who went 24-40 in four seasons with no playoff appearances. Tampa Bay dismissed Dirk Koetter, whose teams compiled a 19-19 record over his three seasons in charge.

NBA SCORES
ORLANDO 109 – Detroit 107… Evan Fournier’s floater at the buzzer lifted the Magic over the Pistons. D.J. Augustin scored a game-high 26 points. Nikola Vucevic and Alex Gordon had 22 points apiece. Vucevic also had 11 rebounds. Gordon had 10.

TORONTO 95 – Chicago 89… Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points and the Raptors downed the Bulls for the seventh straight time. Pascal Siakam tallied 20 points and 12 boards.

Minnesota 113 – MIAMI 104… Kari-Anthony Towns powered his way to 34 points and 18 rebounds in leading the Timberwolves past the Heat. Five other players scored in double figures for Minnesota.

DALLAS 105 – Oklahoma City 103… The Mavericks took control with a big third quarter and held on to beat the Thunder. Luka Doncic led the way with 25 points. DeAndre Jordan gathered 17 rebounds to go with his 12 points.

PORTLAND 129 – Philadelphia 95… The Trail Blazers built a 29-point halftime lead and never looked back in their drubbing of the 76ers. CJ McCollum made 13 of 18 field-goal attempts and finished with a game-high 35 points. Portland outshot Philadelphia 59%-34.5% and held a 59-36 rebounding advantage.

Sacramento 121 – L.A. LAKERS 114… The Lakers rallied past the Kings in the fourth quarter after trailing by double digits earlier in the contest. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came off the bench to score 26 points. L.A. also got 22 points from Josh Hart and 21 from Brandon Ingram.

TONIGHT’S NBA SCHEDULE
Atlanta is at Indiana…
Charlotte hosts Orlando…
Memphis is at Houston…
San Antonio hosts Boston…
Dallas is at Oklahoma City…
New Orleans hosts Minnesota…
Golden State is at Phoenix

NHL SCORES
Vegas 5 – ARIZONA 1… The Golden Knights scored three unanswered goals in the third period to put away the Coyotes. Paul Stastny and Brandon Pirri each had a goal and an assist. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves.

TONIGHT’S NHL SCHEDULE
Nashville is at Washington…
New Jersey hosts Vancouver…
Pittsburgh is at Minnesota…
Carolina hosts Philadelphia…
the N.Y. Islanders are at Buffalo…
St. Louis hosts the N.Y. Rangers…
Ottawa is at Columbus…
Detroit hosts Florida…
Tampa Bay is at Anaheim…
Colorado hosts Los Angeles…
Montreal is at Dallas…
Edmonton hosts Winnipeg…
San Jose is at Calgary

NCAA MEN’S HOOPS TOP 25 SCORE
#2 MICHIGAN 74, Binghamton 52

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