Update on the latest sports
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo’s (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-pohz) historic year has earned him a historic awards sweep. A person with knowledge of the situation says the Milwaukee forward is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league is not announcing the award until Friday afternoon. The 25-year-old Antetokounmpo becomes just the third player in league history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, joining only Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon (ah-KEEM’ ah-LAH’-zhoo-wahn).
Antetokounmpo’s numbers this season were unprecedented, with averages of 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Nobody had ever averaged those numbers over a full season; Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor both had seasons where they topped Antetokounmpo’s averages for points and rebounds, though both fell just shy of matching his assist average.
Nuggets and Lakers begin Western Conference finals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – The NBA Western Conference finals begin Friday with the Denver Nuggets taking on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lakers forward LeBron James is on the brink of his 10th trip to the NBA Finals and the Lakers are four wins away from getting there for the first time in a decade. The Nuggets are four wins from getting there for the first time.
The Nuggets have gone to Game 7 in each of their last four playoff series. The Lakers have beaten the Nuggets in all six postseason series between the clubs.
Denver is the first team in NBA history to rally from 3-1 series deficits twice in the same season – and the same decade, for that matter. The Nuggets prevented an all-Los Angeles series by rallying from 3-1 down and routing the Clippers in Game 7 of the semifinals.
Weather likely to make Round 2 tougher
MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) – It’s a cool and breezy day at the U.S. Open, setting up what is expected to be a tougher day than Thursday, when Justin Thomas shot the lowest U.S. Open score in history at notoriously difficult Winged Foot.
Thomas Pieters briefly took the lead Friday morning when he made two birdies on the front nine, but he went bogey-bogey on 10 and 11 to fall back into second place. He is at 4-under par, one shot behind Thomas, who tees off in the afternoon.
Daniel Berger had four birdies on the front nine to improve to 1 under, after shooting 73 on Thursday. He fell back a shot to even par on the tournament with a bogey on the 10th hole.
Tiger Woods has an afternoon tee time, as do Thomas and Patrick Reed, whose 66 left him one shot off the lead after the first day.
Mariners are ‘home’ team San Diego
UNDATED (AP) – The Seattle Mariners open a three-game series as the home team in San Diego after the set was relocated due to air quality concerns in the Seattle area. The Mariners already had two games against the Giants moved from Seattle to San Francisco this week because of unhealthy air quality from numerous West Coast wildfires.
The Padres could be in position to clinch their first playoff berth since 2006 while playing as visitors in their home ballpark.
Elsewhere in the majors:
– Atlanta Braves right-hander Max Fried is set to return from the injured list and resume his bid for an unlikely NL Cy Young Award. Fried has been out since Sept. 6 with a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. Prior to the injury, the 26-year-old looked like a prime candidate with a 6-0 record and 1.98 ERA. Fried is the only qualified starter in the majors who hasn’t allowed a home run this season, and he could be the first starter to finish a season with zero homers allowed since Slim Harriss in 1926.
– After losing three of four this week to the White Sox on Chicago’s South Side, the Twins hit the road — or at least Lake Shore Drive — to open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The good news for Minnesota is that inconsistent center fielder Byron Buxton has rounded into form. He homered twice Thursday and has seven of his 12 home runs this season over his past nine games.
– Emerging Marlins ace Sixto Sanchez makes his sixth career start and seeks a second straight seven-inning complete game in a doubleheader opener against Washington. Sanchez went the distance in Miami’s 2-1, seven-inning win over Philadelphia on Sunday. The 22-year-old has 29 strikeouts and five walks over 32 innings.
– The Cardinals are hoping for a speedy recovery for right-hander Dakota Hudson after he was pulled Thursday night after two innings with right elbow tightness. Hudson did not allow a run while walking two and giving up one hit against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts this season, one reason St. Louis remains in contention for a postseason spot.
Indy to open to fans with October doubleheader
UNDATED (AP) – Indianapolis Motor Speedway will open to fans for the first time in 2020 for the IndyCar doubleheader Oct. 3-4.
The speedway will allow up to 10,000 fans each of the three days of track activity. The facility holds more than 300,000 spectators and was closed for the NASCAR and IndyCar doubleheader in July, as well as the Indianapolis 500 in August.
Spectators who attend in October will be split into two groups — 5,000 fans seated in Turn 1 and 5,000 in Turn 4.
In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:
– The Italian government says 1,000 spectators will be allowed in to watch the semifinals and finals of the Italian Open tennis tournament. The tournament has so far been played without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. The event features nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich). The semifinals and finals for both men and women are scheduled for Sunday and Monday.
– Spectators will attend a European Tour event for the first time since the resumption of golf after the coronavirus outbreak when the Scottish Open is staged at The Renaissance Club in England next month. A total of 650 spectators each day on Saturday and Sunday will be allowed into the East Lothian venue. The tour says they will be subject to daily temperature checks and health questionnaires, the tour added, and must follow stringent health protocols including enhanced social distancing. It will be one of a number of pilot events being used to judge when fans can return to sporting events amid the pandemic.
– FIBA (FEE’-bah) is moving to “bubbles” for upcoming EuroBasket qualifiers and other continental cup tournaments. The governing body of international basketball says the November and February qualifiers “should be conducted in ‘bubbles’ instead of home and away games.” The FIBA executive committee took into consideration the “health and safety of players, coaches and officials” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Each regional bubble will consist of four or eight teams. Host cities will be announced later. The international basketball calendar has been re-arranged because of the pandemic. The EuroBasket final tournament was postponed one year and is now scheduled for September 2022.