QB Colin Kaepernick's 192 passing yards and TD helped Nevada to its best D-IA finish ever (13--1), with a 20--13 win over Boston College in Sunday's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The senior concluded his career as the first NCAA player to top 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in three straight seasons.
Dwight Howard (right), with 21.2 ppg, leads an Orlando squad that has won nine in a row, topped by a 117--107 comeback win over Dallas last Saturday. Since a Dec. 18 trade for ex-Wizard Gilbert Arenas, the Magic (25--12, second in the Southeast) has lost only twice.
PACK'S FRESH FACE
Sixth-round pick James Starks's 123 rushing yards in Green Bay's 21--16 win over Philly on Sunday was the first time a rookie from the fifth round or later had topped the century mark in the playoffs since 1988. The Niagara Falls native previously had just 101 yards on 29 carries.
Revived Knick Raymond Felton had his first career triple double last Friday; Derrick Rose slayed the Celts with 15 of 19 FTs on Saturday; and on Sunday 36-year-old Steve Nash (right) got his fifth 20-15 (points-assists) of the season, three more than all other NBAers combined.
Chilly temps in K.C. iced the Chiefs' offense in Sunday's 30--7 loss to the Ravens, as QB Matt Cassel finished his first postseason start since high school TD-less and with a 20.4 rating. Not that K.C.'s running game was any better. The NFL's No. 1 rushing attack managed just 108 yards, 56 below its season average.
PACERS A FRIGHT
The Pacers (14--20) are ranked 21st in ppg; they haven't scored in triple digits in three weeks; and haven't won a road game since Nov. 30, a stretch of nine straight L's. Opined guard Mike Dunleavy, correctly, "It can't be a whole lot of fun to watch us right now."
The network took two hits last week: first apologizing for the on-air high fives exchanged by Hannah Storm and Adam Schefter after Cleveland's Eric Mangini was axed, then dismissing announcer Ron Franklin after he berated sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards in sexist terms.
WEAK END FOR AKERS
Only four other times in playoff history has a kicker missed two FGs from 41 yards or less in a game decided by fewer than six points, as Eagles kicker David Akers did on Sunday against the Packers. "We can all count," Philly coach Andy Reid said. "Those points would have helped."
SI PLAYERS NBA POLL
WHO WILL WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2011?
Los Angeles Lakers 69%
Boston Celtics 22%
Miami Heat 3%
Orlando Magic 2%
San Antonio Spurs 1%
SI's survey was conducted throughout the month of December. The Lakers fell to 21--10 on Dec. 28, the earliest they have reached double-digit losses since '07; meanwhile, the Heat had won 21 of 22 through Monday, its best 22-game stretch ever years... . Only five other teams received votes. Neither the Mavs (who, at 26--10, sit in second place in the West) or the Jazz (25--13; No. 4 in the West) were among them.
Based on 157 NBA players who responded to SI's survey
BOB STANTON/ICON SMI (KAEPERNICK)
DOUGLAS JONES/US PRESSWIRE (HOWARD)
GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS (STARKS)
JENNIFER STEWART/US PRESSWIRE (NASH)
NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (HEAT)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (LAKERS)