Update on the latest sports
Raptors stretch Rockets’ skid into double digits
UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Raptors were without one of their top players and most of their coaching staff on Friday against Houston. The absences didn’t stop the Raptors from ending a two-game skid and dealing the Rockets their 10th straight loss.
Norman Powell scored 30 points and Kyle Lowry had a triple-double in Toronto’s 122-111 victory over Houston. Lowry had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in only his second game after missing four straight with a sprained left thumb.
Lowry and Powell led Toronto on a 44-21 run over a 13-minute span that put the Raptors in command at 65-50 late in the first half.
Victor Oladipo (oh-lah-DEE’-poh) led the Rockets with 27 points. John Wall had 21 points and 12 assists for Houston, which hadn’t lost 10 straight since 2001.
Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam), head coach Nick Nurse and five others from his coaching staff missed the game due to NBA health and safety protocols regarding the coronavirus. A positive test, a presumed positive test or contact tracing data are among the reasons league players and coaches are placed in protocols. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo was promoted to coach the team.
Checking out Friday’s other NBA action:
— Kawhi (kah-WY’) Leonard scored 30 points and the Clippers bounced back from Thursday’s lopsided loss in Memphis by posting a 20-point win over the Grizzlies, 119-99. Lou Williams chipped in 17 points and the Clippers closed the half on a 13-1 run for 63-47 lead at the break. Jonas Valanciunas (YOH’-nuhs val-ehn-CHOO’-nuhs) led Memphis with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
— Phoenix won for the 10th time in 12 games as Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton each scored 22 points in a 106-97 victory at Chicago. Chris Paul added 14 points, 15 assists and six rebounds for Phoenix. Zach LaVine scored 24 points for Chicago, which had won three in a row.
— The Thunder knocked off the Hawks, 118-109 as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points in the victory. Lu Dort scored 19 points and Darius Bazley added 18 with 12 rebounds while Oklahoma City held Trae Young to 17 points on 7 of 21 shooting. The Thunder had to change uniforms at halftime because a mix-up left the teams wearing similar colors at the start.
— Kemba Walker poured in a season-high 30 points and hit two big free throws with 11.6 seconds left to help the Celtics beat the Pacers, 118-112 and end a three-game losing streak. Daniel Theis added 17 points and Jaylen Brown finished with 15 for Boston, which trailed by 14 in the first quarter. Indiana lost for the third time in four games despite Domantas Sabonis (doh-MAHN’-tahs sah-BOH’-nihs), who led the Pacers with 24 points and nine assists.
Durant out through All-Star Game
NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets will be spending more time without Kevin Durant.
The team says the forward will be out through the All-Star break because of a hamstring injury that already has forced him to miss the Nets’ last six games. Durant was the top vote-getter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
The Nets are riding an eight-game winning streak, their longest since moving to Brooklyn. They will play at least three more games without Durant.
Bruins ripped in New York again
NEW YORK (AP) — The Boston Bruins’ three-game swing through New York hasn’t been very productive.
The Bruins have followed Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Islanders by getting blasted by the Rangers, 6-2.
Ryan Strome (strohm) had a goal and an assist for the Blueshirts, who had fans in the stands for the first time since last March. Chris Kreider added a goal and an assist as the Rangers won for the third time in four games.
Patrice Bergeron (pah-TREES’ BEHR’-zhuh-rahn) got the Bruins within 2-1 early in the second, but the Rangers regained control when Colin Blackwell and Krieder scored 12 seconds apart late in the period.
Brad Marchand netted his 300th NHL goal for Boston.
Sharks back at practice
UNDATED (AP) — The San Jose Sharks have returned to practice and are set to play the St. Louis Blues as scheduled on Saturday night after having one game postponed because a player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Tomas Hertl was placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday, leading to the team canceling practice that day and postponing Thursday’s game against Vegas. With no other players or staff testing positive since then, the Sharks were allowed to return to practice Friday and will host St. Louis the next night.
Braves extend manager Brian Snitker through at least 2023
UNDATED (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have extended the contract of manager Brian Snitker through the 2023 season with a club option for 2024.
The 65-year-old Snitker took over the Braves on an interim basis in 2016 when the club was in the midst of a massive rebuilding job. Atlanta has captured the last three NL East titles and recently won a playoff series for the first time in 19 years, coming within one victory of the 2020 World Series.
The Braves are 353-317 in four seasons under Snitker, including a 72-90 mark as a rookie skipper
In other MLB news:
— Veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez has re-signed with the Angels on a minor league deal. Chavez will join the Angels’ spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, after he clears their intake protocols. Chavez spent the past two seasons back with the Rangers, struggling last season with a 6.88 ERA.
— Three players were positive for COVID-19 among 900 samples during the second week of spring training testing. Major League Baseball says there had been 15 positives overall among more than 5,200 tests thus far during spring training, a positive rate of 0.3%.
— The Rockies say they’ve been approved to allow 12,500 fans per game at Coors Field this season, or 25% of the stadium capacity. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment agreed to the club’s request to allow fans back into the stands.
NFL minority hirings spike
UNDATED (AP) — The number of minority hires for open positions in the NFL nearly doubled to 34.6% in 2021. That’s according to a league demographics study obtained by The Associated Press.
The minority hirings include three general managers, two head coaches, three offensive coordinators, six defensive coordinators, four special teams coordinators, three quarterbacks coaches.
The minority hiring rate was 18.8% in 2020. Interview requests for minority candidates increased to 47% from 22% in 2020.
NCAA lifts Ga Tech hoop scholarship, recruiting sanctions
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA has overturned scholarship and recruiting limitations placed on Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team in 2019.
The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee overturned the reduction of one scholarship per year for four years. It also restores Georgia Tech’s freedom to schedule official recruiting trips in conjunction with home games. The Committee on Infractions will reconsider the sanctions at a date which has not been announced.
The penalties were the result of the NCAA finding major recruiting violations were committed by former Georgia Tech assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie as well as coach Josh Pastner’s former friend, Ron Bell. Pastner was not directly named in the findings.
In other college basketball news:
— Indianapolis will relax coronavirus restrictions on the city’s bars and restaurants starting next week ahead of the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments. The changes will allow bars to operate at 50% capacity instead of 25% starting Monday. Restaurants will see their indoor restaurant capacity increase from 50% to 75%. Bars, restaurants and music venues will also be able to close two hours later, at 2 a.m.
Koepka on top
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Brooks Koepka (KEHP’-kah) is the leader through two rounds of the WGC Workday Championship in Florida.
Koepka followed Thursday’s 67 with a 6-under 66 that puts him 11 under, one shot ahead of Collin Morikawa, Cameron Smith and Billy Horschel.
Morikawa made up ground quick with six birdies over his last 10 holes.
Tony Finau (FEE’-now), Webb Simpson and Matthew Fitzpatrick are two strokes back and one ahead of Patrick Reed and Kevin Kisner.
PGA-PUERTO RICO OPEN
Wu leads through 36
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Brandon Wu is the leader at the midway mark of the PGA’s Puerto Rico Open.
Wu birdied the final two holes for a 5-under 67 and an 11-under total.
Greg Chalmers is a stroke back after a 68. Home star Rafael Campos and South Africa’s Branden Grace are at minus-9.
Mickelson in contention in Champions event after mud birdie
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Phil Mickelson is in contention for a third straight victory to open his PGA Tour Champions career.
Mickelson opened with a 3-under 70 at the Cologuard Classic.
Mickelson was four shots behind Mike Weir, who had a bogey-free 66 in windy conditions at Tucson National. Lefty is bidding to become the first player to win his first three starts on a PGA-sanctioned tour.
Former British gymnasts allege physical, psychological abuse
UNDATED (AP) — Three Olympians and several other former gymnasts are taking legal action against British Gymnastics, saying Friday they have been the victims of decades of physical and psychological abuse by coaches.
The litany of allegations by 17 female claimants includes bullying, controlling behavior and inappropriate use of physical force against athletes as young as 6 years old in a “winning at all costs” mentality.
British athletes have come forward over the past year following allegations of abuse in gymnastics in the United States.