Update on the latest sports
Houston hosts Game 5 with series tied 2-2
HOUSTON (AP) – The Houston Rockets have a chance to take their first lead in the Western Conference finals with a home-court victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
The Rockets tied the series Tuesday with a 95-92 win in Game 4 that snapped Golden State’s NBA-record 16-game home playoff winning streak. But after two blowout losses in this series, including an embarrassing 41-point rout in Game 3, the Rockets know they don’t have any time to celebrate.
When they take the court for Game 5, the Rockets will be wearing patches on their uniforms in honor of the 10 people killed in last week’s school shooting in nearby Santa Fe.
Pitching rematch in Cleveland
UNDATED (AP) – Houston’s Charlie Morton and Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger (KLEH’-vihn-jur) get a rematch of their most recent outing when the Astros and Indians begin a series Thursday night in Cleveland.
Morton pitched Houston to a 4-1 victory last Friday, striking out eight over seven innings. Clevinger got his first loss of the season after allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
The past two AL champions are in very different places, with Cleveland hovering near .500 while Houston is off to the second-best start in franchise history at 32-18 – trailing only last year’s 34-16 opening.
Elsewhere in the majors:
– Minus injured sluggers Yoenis Cespedes (yoh-EHN’-ehs SEHS’-peh-dehs) and Todd Frazier, the Mets begin a stretch of eight road games in seven days against two teams currently in first place: Milwaukee and Atlanta. Left-hander Steven Matz opens the trip at NL Central-leading Milwaukee. Right-hander Zach Davies, who lost to Matz 6-5 on April 13 at Citi Field, comes off the disabled list to start for the Brewers after being sidelined since May 3 with right rotator cuff inflammation.
– Rick Porcello tries to recapture his April form when Boston concludes a three-game series at Tampa Bay. Porcello went 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six April starts, but he’s 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four outings since. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner faces hard-throwing left-hander Blake Snell at Tropicana Field.
– Oakland will have to power on without slugger Khris Davis after the outfielder hit the DL on Wednesday with a Grade 1 strain in his right groin. Davis has topped 40 homers the past two seasons and has a team-leading 13 this year. He was hurt Sunday in Toronto running out a grounder. The Athletics host Seattle in an afternoon game. Right-hander Felix Hernandez starts for the Mariners. He is 26-10 with a 2.64 ERA in 49 career starts against Oakland. Reliever Josh Lucas will make a spot start for Oakland.
TRIPLE CROWN-JUSTIFY GALLOPS
Justify gallops in preparation for Belmont and Triple Crown
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Justify has begun preparing for the Belmont Stakes and pursuit of the Triple Crown with an energetic gallop around Churchill Downs.
Back at work since returning from last weekend’s muddy half-length victory over Bravazo in the Preakness, the unbeaten chestnut colt galloped 1 3/8 miles under a clear sky on a dry, fast surface Thursday morning. Justify won the Kentucky Derby under sloppy conditions here on May 5. Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, said the horse “really seemed to enjoy it” this time.
Justify aims to follow muddy wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with a Belmont victory on June 9 to become the 13th Triple Crown champion and the first since American Pharoah in 2015. Baffert has trained both colts and has guided Justify to a 5-0 start as a 3-year-old.
Trump lauds NFL policy banning kneeling for national anthem
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump says the NFL is “doing the right thing” with a policy banning kneeling during the national anthem.
Trump spoke to “Fox & Friends” in an interview airing Thursday. The policy forbids players from sitting or taking a knee on the field during the anthem but allows them to stay in the locker room. Any violations of the new rules would result in fines against teams.
Trump says he doesn’t “think people should be standing in locker rooms,” but he praised the plan overall.
He says, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Trump criticized players kneeling during the anthem during a rally last fall.
SPORTS BETTING-INTEGRITY FEES
NBA defends quest for ‘integrity fee’ payment in sports bets
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – The NBA is defending its quest to receive part of the money that states or gambling companies take in as part of legal sports betting.
On Wednesday, New Jersey’s state Senate president called on all 50 states to reject so-called “integrity fees” as part of any sports betting legislation that might be enacted.
In a statement late Wednesday night, the NBA defended its position, saying its games are the foundation of what will be bet on.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass says the league bears all the risk, and will incur additional costs with expanded compliance and enforcement programs.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, deciding a case brought by New Jersey.
Michigan House voting on legislation after Nassar scandal
LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Victims of childhood sexual assaults would have more time to sue and athletic trainers would be required to report suspected abuse under wide-ranging legislation passing in Michigan after the Larry Nassar case.
The state House is voting Thursday on dozens of bills inspired by the scandal.
One measure would give Nassar’s victims a 90-day window to sue retroactively if they missed time limits. Many survivors reached a $500 million settlement with Michigan State University, but money was set aside for future claims and other entities such as USA Gymnastics still face lawsuits.
The legislation would give prosecutors more time to file charges in lesser-degree sexual assaults and require a third trained professional to be in the room when a physician gives treatment involving vaginal or anal penetration of a minor.