Denver's cruising. The Nuggets won their seventh straight on Sunday, over theT-Wolves, and were pulling away in the Northwest Division. Good omens? Howabout guard Chauncey Billups (above) getting his first dunk of the season. SaidBillups, "My kids were talking stuff to me because they didn't think Icould dunk no more."
He's on the button. The Formula One ace took the Malaysian Grand Prix, hissecond straight win. It was historic, too. The Brit's team, Brawn GP, is thefirst new F/1 operation to win its first two races since Alfa Romeo in 1950."We had a fairy-tale start to the season," Button said. "I am soproud."
That's Lincicome, the 23-year-old who won her first LPGA major by eagling thefinal hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Take note, swing coaches andcaddies with nervous clients: Lincicome kept her nerves in check on the backnine by singing tunes by Kenny Chesney and Sugarland.
On opening night the Braves' new ace made his $60 million contract look like awise investment. The sinkerballer shut down the Phillies—no runs, two hits—ineight innings, and Atlanta took down the champs 4--1. Props too to outfielderJordan Schafer. He homered in his first big league at bat.
Phoenix is fading. After being hammered by the Mavs on Sunday, the Suns trailedDallas by four games for the last Western Conference postseason spot with justfive to play. But Shaq & Co. could pull off a miracle and avoid thefranchise's first playoff miss since 2004, couldn't they? Said guard Steve Nash(above), "We're not holding our breath."
She's cute as a button ... until things go wrong on the track. The IRL starexited the Honda Grand Prix early when Raphael Matos tried to pass on a turn,causing a crash that took them both out. Later, Patrick pounded the rookie'shelmet during a tense chat: Think! "Not exactly the ideal spot topass," she said.
That's Maradona, the 48-year-old soccer legend who's off to a rocky start asArgentina's coach. After winning his first World Cup qualifier, over Venezuela,Maradona saw his team get rocked by Bolivia 6--1, the Argentines' worst losssince '58. Said Maradona, "Every Bolivian goal was a stab in myheart."
While Lowe, his old Boston mate, answered the bell, the unemployed Martinez,37, waited for the phone to ring. Teams might be put off by his '08 ERA (5.61)and asking price (reportedly $5 million). There's another Martinez out there,too: His son Pedro E., 21, a minor league pitcher, was cut by the Mets.
SI PLAYERS NHL POLL
Whom would you most want to take the last shot in ashootout?
Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings C 21%
Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals LW 11%
Jussi Jokinen, Hurricanes LW 8%
Wojtek Wolski, Avalanche LW 6%
Evgeni Malkin, Penguins C 5%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Through Sunday, Datsyuk (page 48) hadmade 49% of his career shootout attempts, 11th among active players with atleast 15 shots.... Wolski is the active leader at 67% and has converted 9 of 10this season.... Ovechkin, the NHL's top goal scorer over the past four seasons,with 218, has netted only 11 of 38 (29%) shootout tries.
[Based on a survey of 324 NHL players] • For more onthe poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.
BILL FRAKES (BILLUPS)
GREG NELSON (NASH)
SIMON BRUTY (PATRICK)
EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES (LOWE)
FRED VUICH (DATSYUK)
ROBERT BECK (OVECHKIN)