Update on the latest sports
Clippers end first losing skid of season
UNDATED (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers’ first two-game losing streak of the season is over.
Kawhi (kah-WY’) Leonard had a season-high 36 points and Lou Williams added 27 off the bench in a 115-107 decision over the Timberwolves.
Leonard and Williams both hit shots down the stretch, including a late 3-pointer by Leonard.
Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 10 rebounds in his return to action after missing 13 games due to COVID-19 protocols.
Checking out Wednesday’s other NBA action:
— Denver’s three-game losing streak is over after Paul Millsap scored a season-high 22 points and Michael Porter Jr. added 19 in a 133-95 thrashing of the Cavaliers. The Nuggets opened a 23-point lead in the first half and saw it balloon to 34 in the third before establishing a season high for scoring.
— The Nets ended a three-game skid as Kyrie Irving had 35 points and eight assists in a 104-94 victory against the Pacers. Brooklyn led by as many as 36 points and held Indiana under 40 points until midway through the third quarter.
— Norman Powell scored 28 points and Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) added 26 while the Raptors were firing long-range shots in a 137-115 thumping of the Wizards. Seven Raptors hit at least one of the team’s 19 3-pointers, with Kyle Lowry shooting 5-for-9 while scoring 21 points.
— Luka Doncic (DAHN’-chihch) recorded a triple-double of 28 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks in a 118-117 win over the Hawks. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for Dallas, which trailed by 13 in the second half before winning for the fourth time in five games since a six-game slide.
— Zach LaVine (lah-VEEN’) scored a season-high 46 points and supplied nine of the Bulls’ franchise-record 25 3-pointers in a 129-116 downing of the Pelicans. Coby White made eight 3s and scored 30 points in helping Chicago shoot 25-for-47 from beyond the arc.
— Kyle Anderson nailed a career-high six 3-pointers and scored 27 points in the Grizzlies’ 130-114 trouncing of the Hornets. Dillon Brooks finished with 20 points while Desmond Bane and Grayson Allen scored 18 each to help Memphis end a four-game losing streak.
Mavs owner relents on anthem after NBA reiterates policy
DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has relented and the national anthem will be played before home games this season after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the song.
The league’s initial reaction to Cuban’s decision was to say teams were free to conduct pregame activities as they wished with the unusual circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic. Most teams don’t have fans at home games.
But the NBA abruptly reversed course with Cuban’s decision reverberating around the country, including a question put to White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her daily briefing.
The Mavericks said they would play the anthem starting Wednesday against Atlanta.
TOP 25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
Hawkeyes get much-needed win
UNDATED (AP) — Iowa needed a strong performance on Wednesday after dropping four of five to fall out of the top 10. The 15th-ranked Hawkeyes got one against No. 25 Rutgers as Joe Wieskamp (WEES’-kamp) scored 26 points for the Hawkeyes in a 79-66 victory.
Wieskamp had 16 points in the first half and finished with 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
National scoring leader Luka Garza missed his first five shots before finishing with 22 points and 10 boards for his ninth double-double of the season.
In other top-25 men’s basketball action:
— Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was the star in fifth-ranked Villanova’s 96-64 pounding of Marquette. Robinson-Earl poured in a season-high 27 points on 10 of 11 shooting. He also shot 5-for-5 from 3-point range and grabbed eight rebounds for the 13-2 Wildcats.
— Quentin Grimes provided 29 points as eighth-ranked Houston beat South Florida 82-65, spoiling the Bulls’ first game in 32 days because of coronavirus interruptions. The Cougars outscored USF 29-8 in the first 9:18 of the half to take a 72-44 lead.
— Trey Murphy III scored 18 points and ninth-ranked Virginia closed on a 16-5 run to beat Georgia Tech, 57-49. Kihei (KEE’-hay) Clark added 14 points and helped the Cavaliers overcome a 44-41 deficit in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
— Mississippi pulled off the stunner of the night as Jarkel Joiner scored 21 points in an 80-59 romp over No. 10 Missouri. Ole Miss used a 17-2 run spanning the two halves to build an insurmountable 51-37 lead.
— Jaden Springer poured in a career-high 30 points to lead No. 16 Tennessee to a 89-81 victory over Georgia. Santiago Vescovi (vehs-KOH’-vee) added 19 points and Josiah-Jordan James had 18 for the 14-4 Volunteers.
— Jonathan Davis scored 10 points and made a couple big baskets to help No. 21 Wisconsin pull away in the second half of a 61-48 stifling of Nebraska. D’Mitrik (dah-MEE’-trihk) Trice, Aleem (ah-LEEM’) Ford and Brad Davison each scored nine points for the Badgers, who won despite shooting 32%.
Hendrick sweeps front row for Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports has swept the front row for the Daytona 500 with Alex Bowman and William Byron.
Bowman posted a lap at 191.261 mph to earn Hendrick its sixth Daytona 500 pole in seven years. It’s the fourth consecutive year Bowman will start from the front row.
William Byron made it a Hendrick sweep with a lap at 190.219 mph.
Only the front row was set Wednesday night.
B’s top Blueshirts in OT
UNDATED (AP) — The Boston Bruins are looking more and more like frontrunners for a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
The B’s opened a two-game set at Madison Square Garden by defeating the Rangers, 3-2. Brad Marchand scored 36 seconds into overtime to leave the Bruins 8-0-1 in their last nine games.
Chris Wagner and Ander Bjork (byohrk) also scored and Tuukka (TOO’-kah) Rask made 33 saves to help Boston extend its winning streak to four.
The Bruins lead the East Division and are one of four teams with just one regulation loss.
Wednesday’s other NHL game had the Maple Leafs scoring three times in the third period to beat the Canadiens, 4-2. The game was deadlocked until Justin Holl and Ilya Mikheyev (mih-KY’-ehv) scored 42 seconds apart early in the final period.
Zach Hyman had a goal and an assist, Jake Muzzin (MUH’-zihn) set up three scores and Frederik Andersen stopped 33 shots to help Toronto move to 11-2-1.
Barty advances, Kenin loses
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The top-ranked women’s tennis player has advanced to the third round of the Australian Open, but the defending champ is out after just two matches.
Top-ranked Ash Barty blew a big lead in the second set and survived a shaky tiebreaker to beat fellow Aussie Daria Gavrilova, 6-1, 7-6.
Barty is trying to become the first Australian to win the women’s title at Melbourne since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Sofia Kenin’s Australian Open defense has ended with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Kaia Kanepi. The loss further opens the door for Barty to claim an elusive grand slam title on home soil.
Other second-round winners on the women’s side include former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova (PLIHSH’-koh-vah) and American Shelby Rogers.
Phillies finalize $28M, 2-year deal with Gregorius
UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies and shortstop Didi Gregorius (DEE’-dee greh-GOHR’-ee-uhs) have finalized a two-year, $28 million contract.
Gregorius batted .284 with 10 homers, 40 RBIs and an .827 OPS in 60 games in his first season with the Phillies. He hit .274 and averaged 20 homers and 75 RBIs over four seasons with the Yankees between 2015-18.
The Phillies also agreed to minor league contracts with right-hander Brandon Kintzler and outfielder Matt Joyce, inviting both to spring training as non-roster players.
In other MLB news:
— The Yankees have signed side-arming reliever Darren O’Day to a one-year deal that includes a mutual club option for 2022. O’Day was 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over 19 games last year with Atlanta, striking out 22 and walking five while allowing eight hits.
— Infielder Jed Lowrie has accepted a minor league contract that could lead to his third stint with the Athletics. Lowrie has played five seasons total for Oakland between 2013-18, spending the 2015 campaign with the Astros. A switch-hitter with a career .261 batting average, Lowrie hasn’t played the field since 2018 and didn’t see any game action last year.
— The Twins have finalized their $13 million, one-year contract with designated hitter Nelson Cruz. The 40-year-old led the Twins in home runs in both 2019 and 2020.
— Free agent right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (fohl-tih-NAY’-vihch) has signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Rangers. Foltynewicz made only one start for Atlanta last season, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings in a loss at Tampa Bay.
— Former Red Sox outfielder Billy Conigliero has died at 73. Conigliero was Boston’s first-ever draft pick and played the outfield with his brother, Tony, before winning a World Series ring with the 1973 Athletics. His best season was in 1970, when he played 114 games and batted .271 with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs.
Texans president resigns after 20 years
UNDATED (AP) — Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes has resigned after more than 20 years, the team’s latest move in an offseason of upheaval. An announcement said Rootes was leaving to pursue interests as a writer, public speaker, consultant and professor at the University of Houston.
Rootes was hired in 2000 as the Texans began preparations for their expansion season in 2002.
Houston finished 4-12 last season.
In other NFL news:
— Washington has re-signed quarterback Taylor Heinicke (HY’-nih-kee) to a two-year, $8.75 million contract. Heinicke was out of football when Washington signed him to the practice squad in December. The 27-year-old impressed in his NFL playoff debut despite losing to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers. Heinicke was 26 of 44 for 306 yards, a touchdown pass and an interception against Tampa Bay.
— A person familiar with the situation says the Denver Broncos are releasing cornerback A.J. Bouye after one tumultuous season. Bouye’s injury-riddled season in Denver was cut short when he received a six-game suspension in December for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
— The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers celebrated their victory with a boat parade amid continued concern over the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, quarterback Tom Brady was captured on video tossing the championship Lombardi Trophy from his boat to his shirtless teammate Rob Gronkowski in another boat. That brought wild cheers from fans and players.
NY opening arenas to fans at
UNDATED (AP) — Large arenas and stadiums in New York can soon reopen for sports and entertainment at 10% of their normal capacity under a plan announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.
The Nets already have received state approval to play their home games in front of some fans beginning Feb. 23 against the Kings. The Knicks and Rangers said they plan to host about 2,000 fans at every game, starting with Feb. 23 and Feb. 26 games.
In other pandemic news:
— Louisville’s men’s basketball game at Virginia Tech has been postponed from Saturday to March 3 following continued quarantining and contact tracing within the Cardinals’ program.
— The University of Hartford has become the third women’s basketball program in the America East Conference to end its season early, joining Vermont and UMBC.
R&A has ‘cautious optimism’ that British Open will go ahead
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — British Open organizers said Wednesday they have “cautious optimism” that golf’s oldest major will go ahead at Royal St. George’s in July.
The event had been run every year since 1946 before being canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the R&A effectively pushing its schedule back one year. That meant the 149th Open would still be held on the links in Sandwich in southeast England this year.
NBC will air opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics live
UNDATED (AP) — NBC plans to air the opening ceremony from the Tokyo Olympics live on Friday, July 23. With Tokyo 13 hours ahead of New York and 16 ahead of Los Angeles, the opening ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. in Japan, which is 7 a.m. ET and 4 a.m. PT.
The executive producer and president of NBC Olympics said the global significance of gathering in Tokyo during the time of the coronavirus pandemic as well as changing viewing habits were the main factors in deciding to air the opening live in the morning for the first time.
Lee says transgender girls shouldn’t play grade school sports
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says transgender girls should be banned from playing on middle and high school sports teams or they will “destroy women’s sports.”
Lee told reporters that it will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships and recreate a glass ceiling for women.
The comments come as Tennessee Republicans began advancing a proposal this week requiring student athletes to prove that the student’s sex matches the student’s “original” birth certificate in order to participate in public school sports.
Lee is up for re-election next year.