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AP Scorecard
December 23, 2021
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December 23, 2021
AP Sports

 

Update on the latest sports

 

NBA-SCHEDULE
Celtics top Cavs
UNDATED (AP) – The Cleveland Cavaliers’ six-game winning streak is over.
Jaylen Brown poured in 34 points and Robert Williams III had a double-double as the Celtics beat the Cavaliers, 111-101. Williams delivered a career-high 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help the Celtics cool off Cleveland.
Jayson Tatum added 18 points for Boston, which led by as many as 23.
The Cavaliers were missing starters Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, each of whom is in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Darius Garland led Cleveland with 28 points, Kevin Love had 18 and Cedi Osman 13.

 

Checking out Wednesday’s NBA schedule:
– Jrue Holiday scored 24 points, Khris Middleton added 23 in his return from injury and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Houston Rockets 126-106 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game skid. Middleton missed three games because of a hyperextended left knee. The two-time All-Star played 28 minutes and had six assists. The Bucks were missing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for a fourth straight game as he remains in the NBA’s health and safety protocols along with teammates Bobby Portis and Donte DiVincenzo.

 

– Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded his second career triple-double as the Thunder dumped the Nuggets, 108-94. Gilgeous-Alexander delivered 27 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in the first triple-double by a Thunder player at home since Russell Westbrook more than 2 1/2 years ago. Darius Bazley had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Lu Dort had 15 points in the Thunder’s largest margin of victory.

 

– Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points, Paul George had 17 in his return to the Clippers lineup, and Los Angeles held off the Sacramento Kings 105-89. Serge Ibaka added a season-high 17 points – 12 in the fourth quarter including three dunks to help the Clippers end a three-game losing streak. Tyrese Haliburton had 22 points and a career-high 13 assists for his fourth consecutive double-doubles for Sacramento.

 

– The Magic dealt the Hawks their seventh consecutive home loss, 104-98. Franz Wagner furnished 25 points for Orlando, and Robin Lopez chipped in 10 points and a career-high 11 assists. Cam Reddish finished with a season-high 36 points and John Collins had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks. Collins was the only Atlanta regular to play after Kevin Huerter was pulled after a positive COVID test.

 

NBA-NEWS
More COVID woes: NBA postpones two games Toronto-Chicago and Nets-Blazers
UNDATED (AP) – Dallas star Luka Doncic has entered the league’s health and safety protocols. That news came on the same day the NBA has postponed Toronto’s game scheduled for Wednesday at Chicago and Brooklyn’s game scheduled for Thursday at Portland.
It is the third consecutive Nets game to be pushed back. And it means that Brooklyn’s next possible game would be Saturday. That’s part of the NBA’s five-game Christmas slate, with the Nets scheduled to visit the Los Angeles Lakers. But with Kevin Durant, James Harden and others in the health and safety protocols, that game may also be in jeopardy.
The league is allowing teams to sign replacements to hardship contracts when a player tests positive for the virus, with hopes such moves can minimize the need for postponements.
Toronto’s Fred VanVleet is one of seven players in protocols for the Raptors, but the team – anticipating some roster reinforcements – flew to Chicago on Tuesday in anticipation of a the game there against the Bulls tonight.

 

Also in the NBA:
– Knicks guard Derrick Rose had surgery Wednesday on his right ankle and could miss two months. Already short-handed with six players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Knicks have now lost the former league MVP whose arrival jump-started their run to the playoffs last season. Rose had missed the last two games with what the team said was ankle soreness.

 

– The Boston Celtics signed 40-year-old Joe Johnson to a 10-day contract Wednesday. Johnson started his NBA career with Boston when he was drafted 10th overall in 2001. The seven-time All-Star played 1,276 regular-season games through the 2017-18 season, averaging 16.0 points with the Celtics, Phoenix, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Miami, Utah and Houston.

 

NFL-NEWS-PLAYOFFS
Record 27 teams remain in playoff hunt with 3 weeks to go
UNDATED (AP) – While no team has clinched a postseason spot in the jam-packed AFC, there never have been more teams alive in the playoff hunt this late in a season.
Only Chicago, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston and the New York Jets have been eliminated so far, with 27 teams still with at least a sliver of a postseason chance, tied for the most ever with three weeks left in the season.
The only team that has clinched a spot is the Green Bay Packers, who have won the NFC North after beating Baltimore on Sunday.

 

Elsewhere around the NFL:
– Browns second-year coach Kevin Stefanski cleared COVID-19 protocols Wednesday and returned to the team after missing Monday’s home loss to Las Vegas, a 16-14 setback that damaged Cleveland’s playoff hopes. Jets coach Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 after feeling symptoms in the morning in the latest in what has been a surge of coronavirus cases on the team. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni also tested positive.

 

– Drew Lock is preparing for his first – and maybe final – start of 2021 for the Denver Broncos. Coach Vic Fangio ruled out starter Teddy Bridgewater, who has a concussion, for their game Sunday against the Raiders but said it’s possible he’ll return next week against the Chargers if he’s medically cleared: “Whatever’s best for his health moving forward is what we’ll do.”

 

– Pittsburgh has placed linebackers Devin Bush and Marcus Allen and offensive tackle Zach Banner on the COVID-19 list.
– With a surge of COVID-19 cases threatening to disrupt the NFL season, the league discussed canceling three games last week for the first time since the pandemic began. Two player reps said canceling was never a No. 1 plan. Instead, the games were moved from the weekend to Monday and Tuesday.

 

– Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Cam Newton will start Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have a big role in the game. And Sam Darnold also is set to get playing time at quarterback. Darnold is 4-5 as the team’s starter this season, while Newton is 0-4. Darnold hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder and going on injured reserve Nov. 12. He was cleared medically to practice Wednesday with the Panthers. Kicker Zane Gonzalez is on injured reserve. Lirim Hajrullahu was signed off Washington’s practice squad to replace him.

 

– The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have addressed the need for experienced depth at running back by signing former All-Pro Le’Veon Bell. With starter Leonard Fournette out after suffering a hamstring injury, there’s an opportunity for Ronald Jones to move back into a role he lost to Fournette late last season. Bell is a three-time 1,000-yard rusher who was attractive to the Bucs because of his experience.

 

– The Jacksonville Jaguars signed running back Ryquell Armstead off Green Bay’s practice squad. The move reunites the 2019 fifth-round pick with the team that drafted him and later cut him. Armstead fills Carlos Hyde’s spot on the 53-man roster. Jacksonville placed Hyde on injured reserve for a concussion.

 

– While he wanted to play again this season, Daniel Jones said his sprained neck caused him discomfort in certain positions and made it impossible for him to play quarterback for the New York Giants. Jones says he felt he made progress in his third season but admitted the Giants did not win enough games. He doesn’t think the injury will affect his play next season, other than he may be more willing to get down sooner to avoid hits.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-NEWS
Texas A&M won’t play in Gator Bowl due to COVID-19 issues
UNDATED (AP) – If a team is unavailable to play in College Football Playoff semifinals because of COVID-19 issues, the game will be declared a forfeit and the available team will advance to the championship game. With COVID-19 cases spiking across the country due to the omicron variant, the CFP announced contingency plans for the semifinals and national championship game, scheduled for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.
While there will be no rescheduling of either semifinal, the championship game could be delayed until as late as Jan. 14.
Meanwhile, No. 23 Texas A&M won’t play in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest on Dec. 31 because of COVID-19 issues and season-ending injuries.
The team did not provide any details on the COVID-19 issues or injuries on the team.

 

In other news:
– Nick Patti will be the starting quarterback when 13th-ranked Pittsburgh faces 10th-ranked Michigan State in the Peach Bowl. Patti will make his first start since 2019 after ACC Player of the Year Kenny Pickett opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi says the team has a lot of faith in Patti. A solid performance could give Patti an early head start to be the starter in 2022.

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
Vols first to beat Wildcats this season
UNDATED (AP) – No. 19 Tennessee jumped to a double-digit lead to start the game and kept No. 6 Arizona at bay handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season, 77-73.
Tennessee hit 7 of its first 11 shots and opened the game with a 16-2 advantage in the first 5 minutes.
John Fulkerson scored 24 points and had 10 rebounds, while Santiago Vescovi had 15 for the 9-2 Vols.
Bennedict Mathurin had 14 of his 28 points in the first half. He was the only Arizona starter to score in the first 20 minutes as Tennessee took a 34-21 lead. Kerr Kriisa scored 11 for Arizona.

 

In other college basketball action:
– Paolo Banchero had 23 points and second-ranked Duke shot 62% after halftime to beat Virginia Tech 76-65 in the Blue Devils’ Atlantic Coast Conference opener. Banchero scored 17 points in that dominant second half, fueled by the move to a smaller lineup around the versatile 6-foot-10 star freshman. That helped Duke erase an eight-point deficit early in the second half and improve to 11-1.

 

– Wendell Green Jr. and Jabari Smith both had double-doubles and No. 12 Auburn beat Murray State 71-58 for its eighth straight win. Green had 13 points and a career-best 10 rebounds off the bench for the Tigers, while Smith had 12 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. The 11-1 Tigers held Murray State to 28 points below its season average and out-rebounded the Racers 48-33.

 

– Josh Carlton scored a season-high 20 points, Kyler Edwards added 14 and No. 13 Houston defeated Texas State 80-47. Marcus Sasser had 13 points and Jamal Shead finished with 12 points and 10 assists as Houston moved to 11-2. The Cougars shot 55%, including 13 of 28 on 3-pointers, in winning for the seventh time in eight games.

 

– Dylan Disu scored 14 points and made three blocks and No. 16 Texas pulled away in the second half to defeat Alabama State 68-48. Marcus Carr scored 13 for Texas, Andrew Jones had 12 and Timmy Allen produced 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Gerald Liddell, a former Longhorn who transferred to South Alabama this season, led the Hornets with 16 points.

 

– Darius Days scored 21 points and No. 17 LSU stayed unbeaten with a 95-60 win over Lipscomb. Xavier Pinson scored a season-high 17 points for the 12-0 Tigers, who never trailed. Eric Gaines had a career-high 13 points, Brandon Murray and Efton Reid also had 13, and Mwani Wilkinson scored a season-high 11.

 

– Kellan Grady shot 6 of 9 from 3-point range and scored a season-high 23 points as No. 20 Kentucky stretched its home win streak to eight games, romping past Western Kentucky 95-60. TyTy Washington Jr. added 20 points and six assists for the Wildcats. Oscar Tshiebwe (SHEEB’-way) had 14 points and 28 rebounds for Kentucky.

 

– Kevin Obanor had 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists as No. 25 Texas Tech dominated Eastern Washington 78-46. Adonis Arms and Bryson Williams each had 12 points for the 9-2 Red Raiders. Kevin McCullar had 10 points and five assists. The Red Raiders played without starting guard Terrence Shannon, who missed his second game in a row because of back spasms. Rylan Bergersen had 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting for 6-6 Eastern Washington.

 

COLLEGE SPORTS-ACC CANCELLATIONS
UNDATED (AP) – The Atlantic Coast Conference is changing its rescheduling policy to avoid assigning forfeits for teams unable to play due to COVID-19 protocols.
Games that cannot be played will be rescheduled if possible. If those games can’t be rescheduled, they will be considered a “no contest” that doesn’t affect a team’s record.
The decision comes amid the rise in COVID-19 cases and cancellations or postponements nationally.