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December 23, 2020
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December 23, 2020
AP Sports



Update on the latest sports


Durant returns with 22 and a 125-99 Nets rout of Warriors
NEW YORK (AP) – Kevin Durant looked good as new against his old team, Kyrie Irving was even better and the Brooklyn Nets emphatically kicked off the Steve Nash era with a 125-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s season opener.
Durant shook off 18 months of rust and finished with 22 points in 25 minutes of his first official game since rupturing his Achilles tendon while playing for Golden State in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Irving led Brooklyn with 26 points as the Nets led by as many as 38. Stephen Curry had 20 points and 10 assists for the Warriors.


In other opening night action:
)- On the night in which they were presented their NBA championship rings, the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t have their A-game in a 116-109 lost to their hometown rivals, the Clippers.
Paul George, who recently signed a contract extension, was dominant. He finished with 33 points. The defending champions trailed badly in the first half of their opener before attempting a comeback in the second half.


Pierce, Collins lead 1st-time nominees for basketball hall
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce and longtime player, coach and broadcaster Doug Collins lead the first-time nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Also making their debut on the list of candidates are Michael Cooper, Howard Garfinkel, Lou Henson, Val Ackerman, Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson. Finalists are scheduled to be announced at NBA All-Star Weekend and those elected would be unveiled at the NCAA Final Four. The Class of 2021 Enshrinement ceremony is scheduled to take place in Springfield next September. The Class of 2020 ceremony, headlined by Lakers star Kobe Bryant, was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been rescheduled for May.


In other NBA news:
-Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will miss the season opener on Wednesday night against Charlotte because of a strained right calf. The team officially ruled Love out on Tuesday, hours after Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he was preparing not to have the five-time All-Star in the lineup. Love got hurt during the first preseason game against Indiana earlier this month.


– The NBA is still looking at scenarios that could allow teams to play in Europe and China again next season. The league says the season-opening doubleheader Tuesday night was made available in China on Tencent, a league streaming partner. But the coronavirus pandemic is preventing the league from playing any games outside the U.S. this season, except possibly a return by the Toronto Raptors to Canada.


UNDATED (AP) – Drew Timme scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds as top-ranked Gonzaga held off a late challenge to beat Northwestern State 95-78 for the second night in a row. Jalen Suggs added 19 points and Corey Kispert had 18 for Gonzaga, which owns the nation’s longest home winning streak at 41 games. Jairus Roberson scored 15 points to lead Northwestern State, which was playing its fourth game in five nights. The Zags cruised to a 95-57 victory over Northwestern State on Monday.


In other T-25 action:
-Christian Braun hit six 3-pointers and had 22 points, Jalen Wilson made four 3s and scored 17, and No. 3 Kansas shrugged off a mid-game malaise before cruising past seventh-ranked West Virginia 79-65 on Tuesday night. Marcus Garrett finished with 15 points, Ochai Agbaji had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and David McCormack added 10 points and 11 boards as the Jayhawks won their fifth straight against the Mountaineers.


-Luka Garza scored 22 points, Joe Wieskamp added 17 and No. 4 Iowa beat Purdue 70-55. Garza, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring at 29.3 points per game, scored 10 of the first 16 points for the Hawkeyes, who were coming off a 99-88 loss to No. 1 Gonzaga on Saturday. Garza has scored 20 or more points in 17 consecutive Big Ten games, the longest streak in the conference since Ohio State’s Dennis Hopson had 16 in 1987.


-Quentin Grimes had 22 points and seven rebounds, Justin Gorham had 14 points and 12 boards, and No. 6 Houston beat Temple 76-50 on Tuesday night in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams. Grimes scored at least 20 points for the third straight game as the Cougars shot 48%, including 10 of 26 on 3-pointers. Reggie Chaney had 13 points and Tramon Mark scored 12 for Houston. J.P. Moorman II scored 12 points and Brendan Barry had nine for Temple, which shot 29%.


-Brad Davison had 15 points and a career-high seven assists, and No. 9 Wisconsin overcame a dreadful start to beat Nebraska 67-53 Tuesday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Micah Potter added 10 points and 11 rebounds and sparked a key 14-0 run late in the first half. Fifth-year senior Aleem Ford celebrated his 24th birthday with 13 points and eight rebounds to help the Badgers earn their ninth straight conference victory and 15th straight home win.


-Jeremiah Tilmon’s three-point play with a second left lifted No. 14 Missouri to a 54-53 victory over Bradley. Down eight with under four minutes to go, unbeaten Missouri went on a 6-0 run in the final 1:33 to spoil Bradley’s upset bid in dramatic fashion.


-Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 21 points and Marcus Santos-Silva had 18 to help No. 15 Texas Tech hold off Oklahoma 69-67. Mac McClung added 16 points for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were coming off a one-point home loss to Kansas. The Sooners made just 17 of 27 free throws. Brady Manek finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting for Oklahoma. He entered the night as the team’s scoring leader.


– Trey Murphy III scored seven of his 15 points during a 13-0 first-half run and No. 16 Virginia returned from a long coronavirus-related pause to beat William & Mary 76-40. The Cavaliers were playing for the first time since they beat Kent State on Dec. 4 but showed few signs of rust as they cashed in on their first five possessions to take an 11-2 lead.


-Devon Daniels scored 21 points to help North Carolina State beat 17th-ranked North Carolina 79-76. Freshman Shakeel Moore had 17 points for the Wolfpack, who blew nearly all of a 17-point first-half lead. But N.C. State responded with a 14-2 run after UNC got within a point, then did just enough down the stretch to hold off UNC’s late rally for just its fifth win in 37 meetings.


Keyontae Johnson heads home
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Florida forward Keyontae Johnson is being released from the hospital. It comes 10 days after he collapsed on the court at Florida State and needed emergency medical attention.
The school released a statement from his family saying, “We continue to be amazed at the pace of his recovery and look forward to spending Christmas together as a family.” The family added that it will share “any information we think could help others” regarding the cause and extent of Johnson’s illness.
Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer and it’s unclear if his collapse was related to that.


South Carolina pauses
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina’s men’s basketball team has paused activities for a second time this month, canceling a game Wednesday night with South Carolina State after its latest round of COVID-19 testing.
The Gamecocks already have missed games against Wofford and rival Clemson due to the coronavirus. They returned to practice Saturday after more than a week away from the court and had hoped to resume their schedule against South Carolina State. Instead, the program said it will wait for further testing to determine when it can play.


Washington quarterback apologizes for partying unmasked
WASHINGTON (AP) – Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins has publicly apologized after photo evidence came to light of him partying with several people unmasked after his game Sunday.
Haskins says he spoke with coach Ron Rivera and took full responsibility for putting the team at risk during the pandemic. He called it “irresponsible and immature” and said he was sorry for creating a distraction during Washington’s playoff push. The team is aware of the situation and handling it internally.
Haskins started Sunday for the first time since early October. It’s unclear if he’ll play in Washington’s next game against the Carolina Panthers that could be the NFC East clincher.


In other NFL news:
– The Detroit Lions have closed their training facility after two people within the franchise tested positive for COVID-19. The Lions say players and coaches will have virtual meetings Tuesday. Detroit is scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win, on Saturday at Ford Field.


– Quarterback Derek Carr hopes not to miss a start for the Las Vegas Raiders after leaving last week’s game with a groin injury. Carr returned to practice on a limited basis five days after leaving a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers with the injury in the first quarter. He shared time with backup Marcus Mariota at practice as the Raiders prepare for Saturday night’s game against Miami.


-Nick Mullens will miss the rest of the season with a serious elbow injury, moving third-stringer C.J. Beathard into a starting role for the final two games and sending the San Francisco 49ers on a desperate search for a backup. Coach Kyle Shanahan says Mullens will likely need reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo has been cleared to return to practice from an ankle injury that has sidelined him the past six games but won’t be ready to play against Arizona.


in Potato Bowl win over Tulane
BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Carson Strong threw for 271 yards and five touchdowns, Devonte Lee and Toa Taua each rushed for over 100 yards, and Nevada beat Tulane 38-27 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Tuesday. Nevada finished 2020 the same way it started the year – by playing in the same bowl game, which the Wolfpack lost 30-21 to Ohio on Jan. 3. This year’s Potato Bowl allowed Nevada to end with a win after losing its regular-season finale to San Jose State, which cost the Wolfpack a spot in the Mountain West title game. Tulane failed in its bid to win three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history.


Clemson’s Lawrence, Alabama stars Maxwell Award finalists
UNDATED (AP) – Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama stars Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith are the finalists for the Maxwell Award given to college football’s top player.
The finalists for nine college football awards have been announced, including those honoring the top defensive player, quarterback and running back. The winners will be announced Jan. 7 during ESPN’s college football awards show. Lawrence and Jones are also finalists for Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, along with Florida’s Kyle Trask.


South Carolina opts out of Gasparilla Bowl
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – South Carolina has opted out of the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Florida, this weekend citing positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing reasons. The Gamecocks say it would be impossible for them to play Saturday’s game against UAB.
South Carolina went 2-8 this season and fired coach Will Muschamp. The NCAA waived bowl eligibility requirements, allowing the Gamecocks to accept the bowl bid.
It wasn’t immediately known if the bowl will find a replacement to face UAB.


Florida gets a year of probation
GAINESILLE, Fla. (AP) – The University of Florida has been given a year of probation by the NCAA. Football coach Dan Mullen has also been sanctioned after the school and the NCAA agreed to resolve an infractions case involving impermissible contact with recruits last year.
None of the infractions were deemed to be Level I, the most serious. Many penalties were already served this year. Those include reduced evaluation days for recruits and a smaller number of permissible phones calls to prospects. Mullen says he is disappointed and will learn from the mistakes.


Phillies make front office moves
UNDATED (AP) – The Philadelphia Phillies have promoted Sam Fuld to general manager. The team also promoted Jorge Velandia to assistant general manager and Terry Ryan to special assistant to the general manager. Dave Dombrowski was hired to run baseball operations two weeks ago. The 39-year-old Fuld joined the Phillies in November 2017 as the major league player information coordinator, working closely with the coaching staff to integrate advanced metrics into the team. He also worked as an outfield instructor.


Elsewhere in the majors:
– Reliever Nick Wittgren has avoided salary arbitration with the Cleveland Indians by agreeing to a $2 million, one-year contract. The right-hander has become a dependable piece in Cleveland’s bullpen for manager Terry Francona. Wittgren went 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA in 25 games this season. He is 7-1 with a 2.99 ERA in 80 games over two seasons for Cleveland, which acquired him in a trade with Miami in 2019.


– The Chicago Cubs have claimed outfielder Phillip Ervin off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. Ervin spent time with Cincinnati and Seattle during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, batting .149 with four RBIs in 37 games. He was designated for assignment by the Mariners last week.


-The Milwaukee Brewers have claimed utilityman Tim Lopes off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. The 26-year-old Lopes batted .238 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 46 games for Seattle last season. He posted a .278 on-base percentage and a .364 slugging percentage. He hit .270 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 41 games in 2019.


Engelland is among retiring NHL veterans
UNDATED (AP) – Deryk Engelland is the latest NHL veteran to announce his retirement. The 38-year-old is moving on after 11 seasons to move into a role with the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation. Engelland played the past three seasons for the Knights after living in Las Vegas most of his career. Last week, St. Louis Blues forward Alex Steen announced his retirement because of a back injury. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist says a heart condition will prevent him from playing. New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk retired last month with an eye injury.


In other NHL news:
– The Washington Capitals have signed winger Conor Sheary to a one-year contract worth $735,000. Sheary’s signing just above the NHL’s veteran minimum gives them forward depth going into training camp. Sheary played for Buffalo and Pittsburgh last season, finishing with 10 goals and 13 assists in 63 games.


– The New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators became the first teams to unveil advertisements on players’ helmets for the 2021 season. The NHL approved teams selling ads on helmets as a way to make up for revenue lost to the pandemic. Each of the first three teams got a deal done with the company that sponsors the naming rights for its arena.


Court: Nassar won’t be resentenced despite judge’s remarks
DETROIT (AP) – The Michigan appeals court says a judge who sentenced sports doctor Larry Nassar to 40 years in prison made “wholly inappropriate” remarks about him. But the court says they’re not enough to violate Nassar’s rights and upset the punishment for sexual assault.
The appeals court notes that Judge Rosemarie Aquilina stuck to the sentencing agreement. Nassar was a doctor at Michigan State University and at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. In 2018, Aquilina sentenced him to at least 40 years in prison after listening to more than 150 victims describe how he had molested them with his hands. The judge called Nassar a “monster” who is “going to wither” like the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”


Congress approves bill to crack down on racehorse doping
WASHINGTON (AP) – A bill to ban race-day doping of horses and set national medication and track-safety standards for the horse-racing industry is nearing the finish line. Lawmakers gave final approval to the bill late Monday as part of the massive legislation on spending and pandemic relief.
Passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act comes after a series of doping scandals and a rash of horse fatalities in recent years. More than two dozen people were charged last March in what authorities described as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them run faster. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill in the next few days.



AP-WF-12-23-20 1145GMT