Update on the latest sports
UNDATED (AP) — The Boston Celtics had dropped two straight and three of four before thumping the reigning Atlantic Division champs.
Semi Ojeleye (SEH’-mee OH’-zhah-lay) nailed six 3-pointers and had a career-high 24 points in the Celtics’ 120-106 win over the Raptors. Rookie Payton Pritchard also hit six 3s and added 20 points for the Celtics, who drained a season-high 20 shots from beyond the arc.
Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 24 points and six assists. Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) finished with 23 points for Toronto.
Checking out Thursday’s other NBA action:
— Stephen Curry knocked down 10 3-pointers on the way to 40 points in the Warriors’ 111-105 victory over the Magic. The two-time MVP has made at least four 3-pointers in a career-best 13 straight games.
— Jimmy Butler had a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Heat in their fourth straight win, 101-94 against the Rockets. Miami trailed by 13 in the first half, but used a big run and great defense in the third to take a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter.
— The Pacers’ four-game losing streak is over after Domantas Sabonis (doh-MAHN’-tahs sah-BOH’-nihs) had 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 111-95 decision over the Pistons. Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points and Jeremy Lamb scored 17 for the Pacers, who posted a season-low 94 points in a loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Raptors to call Tampa home for rest of season
UNDATED (AP) — The Raptors say they will stay in its adopted home of Tampa because of ongoing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic and how that affects the process of crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada.
Toronto made the move south last fall, knowing Thursday’s decision was a real possibility. The land border with Canada remains closed to nonessential travelers who are not Canadian citizens.
In other NBA news:
— NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal will be held out of a game to rest for the first time this season, sitting out Washington’s matchup with New York on Friday. Beal is averaging 32.8 points and 35.3 minutes per game for Washington.
Cats top Bolts
UNDATED (AP) — The Florida Panthers continue to steamroll through their NHL schedule by winning the first of three straight meetings with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Aaron Ekblad and Alex Wennberg each had a goal and an assist as the Panthers knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champs, 5-2. Frank Vatrano, Carter Verhaeghe (vur-HAY’-gee) and Brett Connolly also scored to help Florida end Tampa Bay’s six-game winning streak.
The Panthers are 8-1-2 and one point behind the Bolts for the Central Division lead.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Evgeni Malkin scored with 18 seconds left in regulation and Sidney Crosby provided the lone shootout tally in the Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Islanders. The Isles led the game three times, the last coming on Mat Barzal’s goal with 6:25 remaining in the third period.
— Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, Michael Del Zotto and Kevin Stenlund scored during a wild third period that pushed the Blue Jackets to a 6-5 win over Chicago, ending the Blackhawks’ three-game winning streak. Cam Atkinson set a franchise record with his 15th career short-handed goal and had three assists as Columbus won for the third time in four games.
— Nino Niederreiter (NEE’-dur-eye-tur) scored the tiebreaking goal about four minutes into the third period before the Hurricanes completed a 5-3 downing of the Stars. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho both had a goal and an assist in Carolina’s third win over the defending Western Conference champs.
— The Predators posted a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Dante Fabbro’s goal with 59.2 seconds remaining in regulation. Ryan Ellis and Matt Duchene (doo-SHAYN’) also scored and Pekka Rinne (PEH’-kuh REE’-nay) made 24 saves as Nashville snapped a three-game losing streak.
— Mike Smith picked up his 40th career shutout by turning back 38 shots in the Oilers’ third straight win, 3-0 over the Canadiens. The start of the game was delayed an hour after Edmonton forward Jesse Puljujarvi (pool-YAHR’-vee) was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
— Connor Hellebuyck (HEH’-leh-buhk) made 41 saves and the Jets improved to 4-0 against the Senators this season with a 5-1 victory. Paul Stastny, Dylan DeMelo and Blake Wheeler scored second-period goals after Hellebuyck stopped 18 shots in a scoreless first period.
NHL to implement game-day COVID tests
UNDATED (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that the NHL is adding game-day rapid tests for players to its safety protocols in its latest bid to stem potential COVID-19 outbreaks. That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
Rapid tests provide results within a half-hour, and will augment daily PCR testing already in place.
In other NHL news:
— The Coyotes have fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan without offering any details. Sullivan was hired by Arizona in 2014 under previous general manager John Chayka and was promoted to assistant GM three years later. He served as interim GM last year when Chayka left the team.
— Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy could be sidelined for two weeks with a right hip injury suffered in Tuesday’s win at Dallas. Andrew Shaw is facing an uncertain future after another head injury.
— The Blue Jackets have activated goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (murz-LEE’-kihnz) off injured reserve after he missed a week with an upper-body injury suffered in practice. He is 2-2-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in six games this season.
— The Bruins will wait to retire pioneering Black hockey player Willie O’Ree’s number until next year so that they can raise his No. 22 banner to the rafters with fans in the building. The NHL said it asked the Bruins and O’Ree to postpone the ceremony until Jan. 18, 64 years to the day that he became the league’s first Black player.
Dodgers introduce Trevor Bauer with 3-year deal
UNDATED (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have finalized contracts with two of their top starting pitchers.
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer was introduced to the media on Thursday after he and the Dodgers finalized a three-year, $102 million package. The Southern California native was 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 11 starts for Cincinnati last year.
The defending World Series champs also avoided salary arbitration with right-hander Walker Buehler (BYOO’-lur) by hammering out a two-year contract. The two-year, $8 million deal would escalate to more than $12 million if he starts regularly this year and wins a Cy Young Award.
The 26-year-old Buehler was the Dodgers’ ace in helping them win their first World Series title since 1988.
In other MLB news:
— The Mets and infielder Jonathan Villar (vee-AHR’) and the New York Mets have finalized a one-year, $3.55 million contract. Villar batted .232 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 185 at-bats while playing for the Blue Jays and Marlins last season.
— Right-hander David Phelps and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Phelps went 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 22 relief appearances with Milwaukee and Philadelphia last season.
—The Cubs have worked out a one-year, $1.5 million package with outfielder Jake Marisnick, a deal that is pending a physical. The contract includes a $4 million mutual option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout. The 29-year-old Marisnick hit .333 with two homers and five RBIs in 16 games with the Mets last year, but he is known more for his defense in center field.
— The Pirates have signed veteran catcher Tony Wolters to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training. The 28-year-old Wolters hit .238 with seven home runs and 123 RBIs in 391 games with the Rockies.
— The Indians are giving free agent Ben Gamel (GAM’-ul) a shot to win one of their open outfield jobs after working out a minor league agreement with an invitation to big league spring training camp. The 27-year-old has played 442 major league games for the Yankees, Mariners and Brewers.
— Catcher Bryan Holaday has agreed to a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks and will report to major league spring training. The 33-year-old hit .161 with four RBIs in 31 at-bats over 20 games for the Orioles last year.
— Veteran outfielder Jon Jay has agreed to a minor league contract with the Angels and an invitation to major league spring training. The well-traveled Jay is joining his seventh major league organization after spending last season in his second stint with Arizona, batting .160 over 18 games.
— The major league season is scheduled to open April 1 with the Yankees hosting Toronto and Detroit hosting Cleveland to start a full schedule of 15 games. The schedule envisions every team playing its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968.
— Seven Negro Leagues have been recommended for major league status by a task force of the Society for American Baseball Research. The announcement followed Major League Baseball’s decision on Dec. 16 that it was reclassifying the Negro Leagues to majors. They had been excluded in 1969 when a baseball records committee identified six official major leagues dating to 1876. If accepted, the move can inflate stats for all players who played in the majors and Negro Leagues, including Willie Mays, Monte Irvin and Hank Aaron.
TOP-25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
No. 24 Purdue falls
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — No. 24 Purdue is still looking for its first winning streak since its four-game run was snapped on Jan. 22
Marcus Carr scored 19 points and Minnesota rallied late for a 71-68 victory against the visiting Boilermakers.
Gabe Kalscheur chipped in 16 points and Brandon Johnson added 15 for the Golden Gophers, who trailed by five with two minutes to play.
Trevion Williams led Purdue with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
In other top-25 action:
— The Mobley brothers led No. 20 Southern California to an easy win over Washington, 69-54. Evan Mobley scored 17 points, while Isaiah Mobley added 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Trojan’s 11th victory in 12 games.
Almirola takes Daytona qualifier
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Aric Almirola has earned a spot in the second row for Sunday’s Daytona 500 by winning the first of two 150 qualifying races.
Almirola held off a charge from Joey Logano, who pulled alongside Almirola on the final lap of the first 150-mile race. Almirola led 52 of 60 laps in his first qualifying race victory at Daytona.
Fans barred from Australian Open following outbreak
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Day 5 at the Australian Open had begun when government officials announced that fans will be banned from attending the tournament for five days beginning Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel. The Grand Slam tournament had been the first in a year to allow sizeable crowds.
The No. 7-seeded Aryna Sabalenka had already beat American Ann Li 6-3, 6-1 in front of a small morning crowd in Rod Laver Arena. She’s reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
A year after a surprising loss in the third round at Melbourne Park, Serena Williams managed to get past that stage by beating Russian teen Anastasia Potapova, 7-6, 6-2 to advance to the Round of 16. Potapova served for the opening set at 5-3 before double-faulting five times in that game, including twice on set point.
Other third-round winners on the women’s side include 14th seed Garbine Muguruza (moo-guh-ROO’-thah) and No. 19 Marketa Vondrousova.
In the men’s bracket, 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov (dih-MEE’-trahv) was leading 6-0, 1-0 when No. 15 Pablo Carreno Busta retired due to injury.
PGA-PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
Cantlay leads following a 62
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Cantlay birdied seven of his first eight holes and closed with two straight birdies for a 10-under 62 at the PGA’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Cantlay tied the course record at Pebble Beach last matched 24 years ago by David Duval, and it gave him a two-shot lead through one round.
Henrik Norlander and 19-year-old Akshay Bhatia were at 8 under.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE SPORTS
More men’s basketball games postponed
UNDATED (AP) — College conferences are still planning to hold basketball tournaments where the winner earns the automatic bid to the NCAAs. But the leagues also have until Feb. 26 to notify the selection committee if there will be any changes in how their bids are awarded.
Some coaches are split on the feasibility of having the tournaments and pandemic concerns could still lead to changes.
The NCAA has mandated that teams must have seven straight days of negative tests prior to arriving in Indiana for the tournament. There must be an additional two negative PCR tests before teams start practice.
In other pandemic-related news:
— The ACC has announced that Louisville’s men’s basketball game at Virginia Tech scheduled for Saturday has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The postponement is the fourth in a row for the Cardinals and head coach Chris Mack, who is among those who tested positive.
— Saturday’s men’s basketball game between Texas A&M and Florida has been postponed due to a combination of positive COVID-19 tests, contact tracing and quarantining of individuals within the Texas A&M program. It’s the third straight Florida men’s game affected by the coronavirus.
—The Ivy League will allow current senior athletes to play sports as full-time grad students at their current university next year in a break with longstanding policies. The change is a result of COVID-19, which canceled a full year of sports.
Mori expected to step down Friday
TOKYO (AP) — Yoshiro Mori was expected to resign Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee following sexist comments implying women talk too much.
Mori’s departure at an executive board meeting comes after more than a week of non-stop criticism about his remarks earlier this month. He initially apologized but refused to step away, which was followed by relentless pressure from television pundits, sponsors, and an on-line petition that drew 150,000 signatures.