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Saturday sports: Warriors beat Celtics in finals; Tampa Bay wants third Stanley Cup

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The Warriors roar back. Tampa Bay Lightning near a three-peat, and a controversial week in golf. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Hi there, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: So last night, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 107-97, evens the series at 2-2. Steph Curry, playing on a sprained foot, scored 43 points and further cemented his place in history.

GOLDMAN: And I am so sorry you probably had to miss it - sleeping, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF SNORING)

GOLDMAN: Wake up, Scott.

SIMON: That's how I prepare for our conversations, my friend.

(SOUNDBITE OF SNORING)

SIMON: Yes.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) When - I'll wake you up now...

SIMON: Oh, oh.

GOLDMAN: ...When Steph Curry is elected to the Hall of Fame, which will be a very quick process, this is one of the games they'll look back on. A must-win for the Warriors - they didn't want to fall behind 3-1 to Boston - so there was desperation, and that brought out the best in the best. A lot of Curry's 43 points were on really tough shots. He was an active part of Golden State's great defense in rebounding last night. He had 10 rebounds, too. And he pretty much willed this series back to Golden State's favor as the Warriors reclaimed home court advantage. A memorable night - sorry, Scott. Now it's the best 2 out of 3 with a high desperation level for both teams. Should be a great finish.

SIMON: I just read a few tweets about it. Listen, in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning - they're on their way to a three-peat, but it hasn't been easy.

GOLDMAN: No, down 2-0 to a hot New York Rangers team, but the Lightning apparently weren't ready to call it a season after back-to-back titles, so they have come back with three straight wins over New York. A win tonight in Tampa Bay sends the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Final again, so the potential is still there for the first NHL three-peat in 40 years.

SIMON: Another dominant team, the Oklahoma Sooners softball team, just won the 2022 Women's College World Series, beating the Texas Longhorns 10-5. That must be especially satisfying to a team from Oklahoma to beat Texas. They're being called the best women's softball team ever. How good are they?

GOLDMAN: I will answer you with some numbers. This season, their record was 59-3. Most of those games ended early in accordance with the rules because Oklahoma had a lead of eight or more runs after five innings. They were led by two-time National Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo of Hawaii - called the home run queen - the first Division I softball player to have three seasons with 30 or more home runs. And as dominant as Oklahoma's offense was, so is its pitching. This was the Sooners' second title in a row, fifth in the last nine seasons, led by their outstanding head coach, Patty Gasso - a special team and a special program.

SIMON: Finally, let me - I have been in recent weeks learning about the term sportswashing (ph) as applied to the LIV Golf tour, the new Saudi-backed series. Seventeen players suspended earlier this week for joining that tour. All players in this week's inaugural event in London have been criticized for taking Saudi money and essentially helping the Saudi regime polish its image tarnished by human rights abuses. A very powerful turn in the criticism yesterday, wasn't there?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, 9/11 Families United, an organization of families and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, sent a letter to U.S. players who joined the LIV series - including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau - denouncing the players' involvement and reminding them of the Saudis' involvement in 9/11. You have sold us out, the letter read. This is a betrayal not only of us, but of all your country. And the letter ends by asking the golfers to rethink their involvement with the LIV series. Incredibly strong stuff, by far the most pointed criticism these golfers have faced for playing on tour. Fair or not, Scott, because there are those who will play - say these golfers are easy targets when so many others in public life should be criticized for making moral compromises. Seems like this letter and the questions about it are going to be a lot harder for the players to deal with.

SIMON: Tom Goldman, thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.