Update on the latest sports
A year after Finals, Lakers and Heat set to play before fans
UNDATED (AP) — On their respective ways to the NBA Finals last season, there was one important element missing for both the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. No fans were there.
That changes for last year’s finalists on Thursday night, when the Lakers play host to Phoenix and the Heat return home to face Milwaukee in a pair of Round 1, Game 3 matchups. Those are two of the three games on Thursday’s slate, the other being Denver heading to Portland for a Game 3 contest.
Portland and the Lakers are going home having taken away home-court advantage from higher-seeded opponents in their respective series by getting splits of the first two games, at third-seeded Denver and second-seeded Phoenix. Miami is limping home, the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, down 2-0 against the third-seeded Bucks and after getting simply blown out in Game 2.
The Lakers, who won last season’s NBA championship in the restart bubble at Walt Disney World, haven’t won a playoff game in their home arena since May 18, 2012.
76ers and Knicks issue bans after incidents
UNDATED (AP) — The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers each banned a fan and issued apologies Thursday for actions directed at opposing players during playoff games, and the NBA said that rules surrounding fan behavior will be “vigorously enforced” going forward.
The Knicks said they banned a fan from Madison Square Garden for spitting on Atlanta guard Trae Young, and the 76ers banned the fan who threw popcorn on Washington guard Russell Westbrook. Both incidents occurred Wednesday night.
Hawks coach Nate McMillan summed up the behavior, saying, “We’re just living in a society where people don’t have respect anymore.”
The 76ers went even further than the Knicks could, since the fan involved in the Westbrook incident was a season ticket holder. Those tickets have been revoked, and he was also banned from all events at their arena.
Neither the Knicks nor the 76ers released the names of the fans who were involved. The Knicks said they forwarded information to authorities.
Nashville, Montreal try to avoid elimination in first round
UNDATED (AP) — The Nashville Predators need to win Thursday night in Game 6 of their first-round series against Carolina to avoid elimination. The Montreal Canadiens need to win at Toronto to force a Game 6 or go home for the season.
Nashville has increased capacity to just over 14,000 fans, 2,000 more than the crowd for Games 3 and 4 that already sounded like a full-barn sellout. A positive trend for the Predators is that the home team is undefeated this series.
Carolina already has approval to allow more than 15,000 fans for a potential Game 7 in Raleigh.
If the Canadiens beat Toronto Thursday night they’ll return home to play in front of 2,500 Saturday night in what would be the first sporting event with fans in Canada since the pandemic began.
Bieber allows 1 hit in 7 innings, Indians top Tigers 5-2
UNDATED (AP) — Shane Bieber struck out 12 in seven one-hit innings, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 5-2.
Bieber took a no-hitter into the seventh before Jonathan Schoop led off the bottom of that inning with a home run to left. The Cleveland right-hander then struck out three more hitters before leaving after 103 pitches.
Eddie Rosario homered for the Indians, who helped Terry Francona to his 700th victory as Cleveland’s manager. Matthew Boyd allowed four runs and six hits in five innings for the Tigers, who have lost five of six.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— Marcus Stroman ended a six-start winless streak, allowing three hits over six innings to lead the New York Mets over the Colorado Rockies 1-0 in a doubleheader opener. José Peraza homered leading off the third inning, and the Mets won their second straight over Colorado. The Rockies dropped to 3-19 with eight shutout losses on the road, a sharp contrast from their 16-12 record and at mile-high Coors Field, where they have scored in every game.
— The Chicago Cubs took advantage of some heads-up baserunning by Jose Baez to edge the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3. Baez got in a rundown between home and first after a routine grounder, buying time for Willson Contreras to score all the way from second. Baez reached second on the play then scored on a single by Ian Happ to help the Cubs win for the ninth time in 11 games.
— Odubel Herrera tripled leading off the ninth inning and scored the tiebreaking run on Ronald Torreyes’ comebacker, giving the Philadelphia Phillies a 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins for a four-game split.
Syndergaard shut down 6 weeks because of elbow inflammation
UNDATED (AP) — Mets manager Luis Rojas says right-hander Noah Syndergaard won’t throw for six weeks after an MRI revealed right elbow inflammation.
Syndergaard, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, appeared to be a few weeks away from rejoining the Mets before he left his second rehab start with Class A St. Lucie on Tuesday after just one inning. Any subsequent delays in his rehab will likely cost Syndergaard a second straight season and perhaps bring an end to his time in New York. The 28-year-old is eligible for free agency after the season.
Syndergaard is one of several Mets on the injured list and one of four pitchers along with Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker and Jordan Yamamoto. Carrasco, expected to serve as the Mets’ No. 2 pitcher in Syndergaard’s absence, is on the 60-day IL and not expected to return until at least July. Ace Jacob deGrom returned Tuesday after missing a little more than two weeks with a right side injury.
In other MLB news:
— Nick Senzel of the Cincinnati Reds is scheduled to have knee surgery on Friday and could miss four to six weeks. The Reds also announced that right-handed starter Jeff Hoffman has been put on the 10-day injured list with a sore shoulder. Senzel, who began the season as the center fielder before moving to third base, has been on the 10-day injured list with left knee inflammation since last Friday. He hasn’t played since May 17.
— The Oakland Athletics will return to full capacity at Oakland Coliseum starting with a June 29 game against Texas. Only Texas among the 30 major league teams began the season at 100% after fans weren’t permitted during the shortened 2020 regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Atlanta went to full capacity in early May. Others making the move to full capacity in-season are Arizona and Boston in May, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Milwaukee in June, and Minnesota in July.
Browns sign restricted free agent Hodge, special teams star
UNDATED (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have signed restricted free agent wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, one of their top special teams players. The team had placed a tender worth $2.33 million on Hodge.
The 26-year-old Hodge appeared in nine games last season with Cleveland, making 11 catches for 180 yards. He missed the Week 4 game against Dallas after injuring a hamstring during warmups. Hodge sat out two other games when the hamstring flared up, and he was one of several Browns wide receivers who had to sit out a game against the Jets and wild-card playoff matchup with Pittsburgh after he tested positive for COVID-19.
In other NFL news:
— Houston coach David Culley refused to say if quarterback Deshaun Watson was with the Texans this week as they began on-field practices. Watson’s future with the team is in question after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them. Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, leaving his future with the team up in the air.
Djokovic, Nadal, Federer grouped in same half
PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich), Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all are in the same half of the French Open men’s field. That means only one of them could reach the final. It is the first time the Big Three all wound up in the same half of the bracket at any Grand Slam tournament.
Nadal beat Djokovic in the 2020 French Open final. This year, they could meet only in the semifinals. Federer and Djokovic could play in the quarterfinals.
Serena Williams is in a quarter of the women’s draw filled with familiar faces. Among her possible matchups are three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the third round and two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova (kuh-VIHT’-oh-vuh) in the fourth.
The tournament starts Sunday in Paris.