Update on the latest sports


Thunder’s Hill out at least 4 weeks after thumb procedure

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder point guard George Hill had a procedure on his right thumb Tuesday and will be out of action for at least four weeks.

Hill joined the Thunder in the four-team deal that sent Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams to New Orleans. He is averaging 11.8 points and 3.1 assists per game in 14 games. He is shooting 50.8% from the field and 38.6% percent on 3-pointers.

Rookie Theo Maledon, a 19-year-old from France, has been starting in Hill’s absence. The second-round pick scored 24 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 29 and went 6 for 6 from 3-point range. He averages 7.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.


NHL postpones Sabres-Islanders due to snowstorm

UNDATED (AP) — The NHL has postponed Tuesday’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders because of travel and weather-related concerns linked to coronavirus protocols.

The snowstorm that hit the East Coast postponed the Sabres’ flight until game day, which altered COVID-19 testing and contact tracing and led to the postponement.

The Sabres played two games this past weekend against the New Jersey Devils, who were shut down through at least Saturday with 10 players on the league’s COVID protocols list.


Grant Jackson, winning pitcher in ‘79 World Series Game 7, dies at 78

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Grant Jackson, the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has died from COVID-19 complications. He was 78.

Jackson was a reliable left-hander for 18 seasons in the majors. He was 86-75 with 79 saves and a 3.46 ERA in 692 games from 1965-82. He was 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 postseason appearances. Jackson was an NL All-Star in 1969 with pitched in the World Series with Baltimore in 1971, the New York Yankees in 1976 and the ’79 Pirates.

In that 1979 Game 7, Jackson entered in the fifth inning with the Pirates trailing Baltimore 1-0. He pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings at Memorial Stadium and was replaced by Kent Tekulve in the eighth with Pittsburgh ahead 2-1. Pittsburgh won 4-1, completing a comeback from a deficit of three games to one.

In other baseball news:

—Pitching coach Mickey Callaway has been suspended by the Los Angeles Angels after allegations of inappropriate behavior toward several women who work in sports media. The Angels announced their decision a day after the allegations against the former New York Mets manager appeared in a report by The Athletic. Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey says the team “will work closely with MLB to conduct a full investigation.” The five women who spoke to The Athletic on condition of anonymity gave detailed accounts of multiple instances of aggressive, inappropriate acts by Callaway over five years while he was employed by three teams.

— Former major leaguer Denard Span has been hired by the Tampa Bay Rays as a special assistant in baseball operations. The 36-year-old native of Tampa batted .281 with 71 homers and 490 RBIs over 11 seasons with the Rays, Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners. He’s among six new additions to Tampa Bay’s baseball operations department.


Thomas, Johnson headline US roster for AmeriCup qualifying

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — USA Basketball has finalized the 14-player roster for the final round of AmeriCup qualifying later this month, a group led by NBA All-Stars Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas.

Both Johnson and Thomas have past USA Basketball experience as well. Johnson was a member of the U.S. team that won the bronze medal at the 2006 World Cup. Thomas was a member of the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team.

The roster includes five other players with NBA regular-season experience: Josh Boone, Treveon Graham, James Nunnally, Dakota Mathias and Jordan Sibert. Mathias played in eight games with Philadelphia this season.

Also on the team that will compete in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are Paul Atkinson, Cat Barber, Chris Daniels, Will Davis II, KJ Feagi, Ra’Shad James and Tre’Shawn Thurman.

Former Milwaukee Bucks coach and longtime NBA assistant Joe Prunty will coach the squad, with Othella Harrington and Yale coach James Jones on his staff.


FIBA holds draws for Olympic basketball tournaments

UNDATED (AP) — USA Basketball won’t have to wait long for intrigue at the Tokyo Olympics. The U.S. men will face France in its group opener and the U.S. women were placed in the same group as host Japan when the draw for the rescheduled Tokyo Games was held Tuesday.

The U.S. men will also face Iran and the winner of the qualifying tournament in Canada as its other Group A rivals.

The last time the Americans played France was in 2019 in the quarterfinals of the Basketball World Cup in China. France prevailed to end the U.S. medal hopes.

The U.S. men are seeking a fourth consecutive gold medal.

The Tokyo Games open July 23, one day after the NBA says is the last possible date for this season’s NBA Finals. USA Basketball’s roster won’t likely be finalized until June at the earliest and will undoubtedly hinge on how deep some players like LeBron James go into the postseason.


Tokyo Olympic organizers reiterate ‘we will hold the games’

TOKYO (AP) — The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has a simple message for fellow members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party: The games will happen.

Yoshiro Mori, who is also a former Japanese prime minister, told lawmakers Tuesday that “No matter what situation would be with the coronavirus, we will hold the games.”

Mori has been the main cheerleader for several weeks in Japan, backed in Switzerland by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach as reports have swirled that the Olympics might be canceled.

The IOC has aggressively pushed back and says the Olympics will open on July 23 with 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of judges, officials, media, broadcasters, sponsors and VIPs. The Paralympics follow on Aug. 24 with 4,400 athletes.

A decision about fans at venues is to be made in the spring, but it seems likely that fans from abroad will be excluded.

Recent polls show about 80% of the Japanese public believe the games should be — or will be — canceled or postponed again. Organizers must convince them that the Olympics will happen and will be safe in a country that has controlled COVID-19 better than most.


Federer targets tournament comeback in Qatar next month

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Roger Federer is aiming to play his first tournament after two knee surgeries and more than one year away next month in Qatar (KUH’-tur).

Federer told Swiss radio station SRF on Tuesday he has targeted the Doha Open from March 8-13. The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he preferred a smaller tournament where he “wouldn’t be in the spotlight too much and the stress is also a little less.”

Now 39, Federer last played in January 2020 at the Australian Open, losing in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic while clearly struggling with injury.

Federer said he could play one more event after Doha and then focus on the clay-court season. His main targets are Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and, after he turns 40, the U.S. Open.


Virus may reduce total Super Bowl bets, but online to surge

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Here’s one more thing the coronavirus pandemic has ruined for at least some people: betting on the Super Bowl.

The American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group, released a report Tuesday predicting that the number of people planning to make a bet on the big game will decrease this year. That’s largely because many people still haven’t returned to work settings, where office pools and squares pools are often circulated and filled out, as well as because fewer people are planning to make bets at in-person sports books, including casinos and horse tracks.

But at the same time, the report predicts that the rapid growth of legal sports betting in the U.S. should easily smash records in terms of the amount wagered online — the manner in which most sports bets are made.

The AGA report says 23.2 million Americans plan to bet on the game that pits defending champions Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That would be a decline of 12% from last year’s levels.

It says the $4.3 billion they are projected to wager, both legally and otherwise, would be down 38% from last year’s Super Bowl.

But it also forecast a record 7.6 million Americans betting with online sportsbooks, up 63% from last year.