Update on the latest sports
Rockets whip Spurs…Griffin a winner in Pistons debut
UNDATED (AP) – The Houston Rockets have put further distance between themselves and the San Antonio Spurs atop the NBA’s Southwest Division.
The Rockets have a five-game lead after James Harden delivered 28 points and 11 assists in a 102-91 win at San Antonio. Clint Capela added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who led by as many as 19 after posting a 15-point victory in their last meeting with the Spurs.
San Antonio got within 82-76 with 10 minutes remaining, but Chris Paul nailed three straight jumpers to put Houston up by 12.
Danny Green had 22 points to lead the Spurs.
Also in the NBA, Blake Griffin had 24 points and 10 rebounds in his Pistons debut, a 104-102 victory over the Grizzlies. The big man was in action for the first time since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Griffin was the first Detroit starter announced before the game and received a big hand from the crowd.
Anthony Tolliver’s 3-pointer with under two minutes remaining gave the Pistons a 101-100 lead in their second straight win since an eight-game skid.
Andre Drummond had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit.
Checking out Thursday’s other NBA action:
– Gary Harris nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 25 points to send the Nuggets past the Thunder, 127-124. Nikola Jokic added his third triple-double of the season with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists, including the inbounds pass to Harris with 1.4 seconds remaining.
– Bradley Beal erupted for 27 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter to send the Wizards past the Raptors 122-119. Otto Porter Jr. was among eight Washington players to score in double figures, finishing with 16 points along with 11 rebounds.
– Jimmy Butler scored 28 points and Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his league-leading 46th double-double as the Timberwolves downed the Bucks, 108-89. Towns had 24 points and 11 rebounds in helping Minnesota improve to 21-6 at home.
Pelicans acquire Mirotic from Bulls
UNDATED (AP) – The New Orleans Pelicans have acquired forward Nikola Mirotic and a second-round draft pick from the Chicago Bulls for center Omer Asik, guards Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen, and a future first-round pick.
The deal comes less than a week after New Orleans lost All-Star DeMarcus Cousins for the season to a left Achilles tear.
Mirotic has averaged 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game since missing the first 23 games this season with two broken bones in his face stemming from a fight in practice with Bobby Portis.
Also in the NBA:
– It appears Tyreke (TY’-reek) Evans is about to become a former member of the Memphis Grizzlies. The veteran guard was not at tonight’s game in Detroit, and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff confirmed that Evans isn’t likely to play before the Feb. 8 trade deadline. Evans is averaging 19.5 points, five assists and five rebounds this season.
– Heat guard Goran Dragic is a first-time All-Star after being selected by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as an injury replacement for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. Dragic will play for Team LeBron in the Feb. 18 game at Los Angeles. He leads the Heat with averages of 17 points and 4.8 assists per game this season, and will be Miami’s lone representative in the All-Star Game.
– The NBA is rounding out its list of participants for All-Star Saturday on Feb. 17. Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (oh-lah-DEE’-poh), Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Lakers rookie forward Larry Nance and Mavericks rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. will compete in the Slam Dunk competition. Rockets guard Eric Gordon will be back to defend his 3-point shooting title, while Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (KRIHS’-tahps pohr-ZIHN’-gihs) will try to win the Skills Challenge for the second straight year.
Gronkowski cleared…Business as usual for Eagles
UNDATED (AP) – The Gronk has been cleared for the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been approved to play in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles after being cleared from the concussion protocol.
Gronkowski participated fully in practice Thursday and said he’s ready to go, adding that he never doubted he’d be able to play. He had been sidelined since taking a helmet-to-helmet hit during the AFC championship game.
Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise also practiced after being cleared from the concussion protocol.
Meanwhile, the Eagles practiced without starting defensive tackle Tim Jernigan for the second straight day because of an illness. Coach Doug Pederson said he expects Jernigan to play Sunday, even if he doesn’t practice the rest of the week.
Steelers’ Shazier released from hospital
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (shuh-ZEER’) has been released from the hospital, nearly two months after suffering a spinal injury in a victory over Cincinnati.
The Pro Bowler underwent spine stabilization on Dec. 6 and while he was able to travel a bit, including visiting team practices and making appearances at Heinz Field for games, he returned to the hospital each evening.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says Shazier will transition to an outpatient therapy program.
Injured Arizona RHP Miller wins in arbitration; players 2-0
UNDATED (AP) – Major league players are 2-0 in arbitration after pitcher Shelby Miller won his salary arbitration case against Arizona.
Miller was awarded a $200,000 raise to $4.9 million after the Diamondbacks argued at Wednesday’s hearing that he should be paid the same salary as in 2017.
The 27-year-old right-hander was 2-2 in four starts last year, missing the last five months with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament that required surgery.
In other MLB news:
– Indians utility man Michael Martinez has torn an Achilles tendon, an injury that could put his career in jeopardy. The 35-year-old Martinez got hurt while doing agility drills in the Dominican Republic last week. The team says he will be sidelined at least six months.
– The Cubs and outfielder Peter Bourjos have worked out a minor league deal that includes an invitation to major league camp for spring training. The 30-year-old Bourjos hit .223 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 100 games last season with Tampa Bay.
– Major League Baseball says all 30 major league ballparks will have expanded protective netting that reaches to at least the far ends of each dugout by opening day. The call for more protection came last year after a series of fan injuries.
– Major League Baseball has offered to drop its proposal for a pitch clock this year and also would go without one in 2019 if the average time of a nine-inning game drops to at least 2 hours, 55 minutes this season. Speaking at the end of an owners meeting, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says owners had authorized him to implement management’s proposal from last offseason, which calls for a 20-second pitch clock, if an agreement cannot be reached with the players’ association.
Knights outlast Jets in OT…Rask, Bruins win again
UNDATED (AP) – The best NHL matchup of the night went into overtime before the expansion Golden Knights stayed atop the Western Conference standings.
The Knights celebrated a 3-2 win at Winnipeg following David Perron’s (peh-RAHNZ’) goal at 3:57 of overtime. Reilly Smith had a short-handed goal and Erik Haula tallied in the Golden Knights’ 34th win, the most by an expansion team in its first season.
The Jets picked up a point on Kyle Connor’s goal with 2:36 left in regulation, leaving them two points ahead of Nashville in the Central Division.
Vegas now leads the Pacific Division with 72 points, 12 more than the Sharks and Ducks.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
– The Predators inched closer to the Central Division lead as Pekka Rinne (PEH’-kuh REE’-nay) stopped 19 shots in his fifth shutout of the season, a 5-0 rout of the Kings. Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist, while teammate Ryan Johansson set up three scores.
Tuukka (TOO’-kah) Rask is 17-0-2 in his last 19 starts after handling 32 shots in the Bruins’ 3-1 verdict over the Blues. Patrice Bergeron (pah-TREES’ BEHR’-zhuh-rahn) provided the eventual game-winner as Boston improved to 15-1-4 in its last 20 games, leaving the B’s five points behind the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning.
– Alex Killorn scored the tying goal and set up Cory Conacher’s game-winner while the Lightning outscored the Flames 4-0 in the third period of a 7-4 win at Calgary. Killorn tallied twice and collected four points, while Matthew Peca had a goal and two assists as Tampa Bay stayed one point ahead of Vegas for the league’s best point total.
– The Maple Leafs posted their second straight shutout of a New York team as Curtis McElhinney stopped 25 shots in a 4-0 blanking of the Rangers. Justin Holl scored for the second straight night after making his NHL debut in Wednesday’s 5-0 rout of the Islanders.
– Nico Hischier’s (HEE’-shurz) goal with 1:27 remaining gave the Devils a 4-3 triumph over the Flyers. Damon Severson tied it with nine minutes left before Hischier’s first goal in 11 games sent New Jersey to just its fourth win in 14 games.
– Devin Shore had a goal and an assist while the Stars were scoring three times in the second period of a 4-1 win at Arizona. Tyler Seguin (SAY’-gihn) got his team-leading 24th goal and John Klingberg picked up his 43rd assist to help Dallas beat the Coyotes for the seventh straight time.
– Colorado’s three-game skid is over after J.T. Compher scored 2:28 into OT to complete a 4-3 victory at Edmonton. The Avalanche were moments away from a 3-2 regulation victory until Connor McDavid scored his second goal of the night.
– Vancouver’s Brendan Gaunce scored twice and Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves in a 4-2 win against the Blackhawks. The Canucks have won five of eight since a 2-11-3 slump.
– Carolina was a 2-0 winner over the Canadiens as Cam Ward handled 27 shots in his second shutout of the season. Brett Pesce and Brock McGinn did the scoring in the Hurricanes’ third consecutive win.
– Keith Yandle had a goal and two assists as the Panthers doubled up the Sabres, 4-2. Mike Matheson, Denis Malgin and Colton Sceviour also tallied for Florida, which has won two in a row for the first time since winning five straight in December.
– Ottawa pulled out a 2-1 win over Anaheim on Erik Karlsson’s goal 32 seconds into overtime. Bobby Ryan had a third-period goal and Mike Condon stopped 30 shots as the Senators ended a six-game losing streak.
Sheary ‘week to week’
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) – Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says forward Conor Sheary is week to week with a lower-body injury suffered in Tuesday’s win over San Jose.
Sheary has 12 goals and 19 assists in 52 games. Bryan Rust took Sheary’s spot on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Dominik Simon during practice Thursday.
TOP 25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
UNDATED (AP) – Top-ranked Villanova had no problem picking up its eighth straight win.
Mikal Bridges pumped in 21 points and the Wildcats tied a program record with 19 3-pointers in a 98-78 romp over Creighton. Jalen Brunson had 19 points for the 21-1 Wildcats, including a four-point play during a 22-4 run in the first half.
Brunson hit four of his five 3-point attempts, while Bridges, Eric Paschall (PAS’-kul) and Donte DiVincenzo each made three.
In other top-25 finals:
– Jock Landale bounced back from his lowest scoring game of the season by scoring 18 of his 26 points in the second half to lead No. 13 Saint Mary’s 79-43 smothering of San Francisco. Landale had 18 of the Gaels’ first 20 points in the second half and provided a driving dunk as part of a 19-0 spurt that put the Gaels ahead 68-30.
– Johnathan Williams scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as 14th-ranked Gonzaga held off San Diego 69-59. Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell Jr. each scored 13 points to help the Bulldogs improve to 20-4 overall and 10-1 in the West Coast Conference.
– No. 16 Wichita State lost for the third time in five games by blowing a 12-point, first-half lead in an 81-79 overtime setback against Temple. Quinton Rose scored 19 points for the Owls, who won it on Obi Enechionyia’s two free throws with 18.1 seconds left.
– Washington knocked off No. 25 Arizona State 68-64 behind Noah Dickerson’s 21 points and 16 rebounds.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-TENNESSEE-BARNES VIOLATION
Vols’ Barnes used his own money to boost assistant’s salary
Tennessee says men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes inadvertently committed a minor NCAA violation by paying money out of his own pocket to supplement the salary of assistant coach Desmond Oliver.
School officials say Barnes was unware NCAA rules prohibited him from supplementing an assistant’s pay with personal funds. Barnes was told to stop and that the assistant would get a raise.
Barnes received rules education and got no additional punishment. The Southeastern Conference didn’t impose any additional penalty.
Haas leads through 18
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Bill Haas is the first-round leader at the Phoenix Open after firing a 7-under 64.
Haas carded three birdies and an eagle during a five-hole stretch on the back nine. He later birdied Nos. 2 and 4 before parring his final five.
Rickie Fowler bogeyed the 16th in a 66 that left him tied with Billy Horschel, Bryson DeChambeau, Chris Kirk and Chesson Hadley.
DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT-POLICE APOLOGY
Nassar lawyer doubts some assault victims
Nassar victim accepts apology from police
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – A lawyer for Larry Nassar says she has doubts about the large number of women and girls who say they were sexually assaulted by the Michigan sports doctor.
Shannon Smith tells radio station WWJ that she has a “very hard time” believing that Nassar could have assaulted more than 250 victims. She says it’s “really unfortunate” if some girls stepped forward only because of all the attention in the last few weeks.
A victim of Nassar has accepted a public apology from a police department near Lansing, Michigan, nearly 14 years after officers took a complaint from her but didn’t seek criminal charges. Brianne Randall-Gay says the remorse by Meridian Township police eases her pain but doesn’t erase it.
Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. He’ll return to Eaton County court on Friday for the second day of another sentencing.
WADA says CAS ruling creates ‘very chaotic’ situation
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – The vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency says the situation “is very chaotic” after 28 Russian athletes had their Olympic doping bans overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Linda Hofstad Helleland says “clean athletes and sport fans around the world have lost confidence in the system.”
Hofstad Helleland, who is also a member of the Norwegian government, adds “this has to stop. This situation can’t be accepted any longer.”
CAS made the landmark legal ruling Thursday.
N. Korea Olympic skaters begin training in South; 1 injured
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) – North Korean skaters have begun training a day after arriving in South Korea to take part in this month’s Winter Olympics.
But short-track speed skater Choe Un Song fell and slid into a padded wall during his first practice at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Friday. He was taken to a nearby hospital, and media officials later said an examination showed he wasn’t injured seriously.
A pair of North Korean figure skaters also practiced at the same venue.
They are among 10 North Korean athletes who arrived Thursday in the second and final group of a total of 22 athletes from North Korea who will attend the Winter Games.
WORLD CUP-WOMEN’S DOWNHILL TRAINING
Course conditions cancel training for pre-Olympic downhills
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) – Organizers have called off another training session for the last women’s World Cup downhill races before the Pyeongchang Olympics on Friday, a day after bad weather canceled the first session.
The international ski federation says course workers need more time as “conditions on the slope” after Thursday’s rain and snowfall are not good enough for training, despite improved weather with spells of sunshine.
The federation plans to announce a new program for the weekend at a meeting with coaches later Friday. At least one training is mandatory before a downhill race.
The initial schedule consists of a two-run sprint downhill on Saturday, followed by a regular downhill the next day.
The Pyeongchang Games open next week, with the women’s downhill scheduled for Feb. 21.