Friday Sports in Brief

The Associated Press
·5 min read

NHL

The National Hockey League and players reached a tentative deal Friday to hold a 56-game season in 2021 beginning Jan. 13, pending the approval of each side's executive board and Canadian health officials.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the sides have an agreement, pending the approval of various executive boards.

The NHL Players' Association's board is meeting Friday night to discuss it, while the league's Board of Governors could vote on the plan as soon as this weekend. Approval from health officials in the five Canadian provinces that have teams is still needed before the NHL can go ahead with the season.

Training camps for the seven non-playoff teams would open Dec. 31 and then Jan. 3 for the other 24 teams.

NFL

The San Francisco 49ers will finish out the regular season practicing and playing home games in Arizona after a ban on contact sorts in their home county was extended into January.

The Niners relocated to Arizona at the beginning of December after Santa Clara County announced a three-week ban on contact sports games and practices to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. That ban was initially supposed to be lifted on Dec. 21 but now has been extended until at least Jan. 8, meaning San Francisco's home game Jan. 3 against Seattle will be played in Arizona.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Saints record-setting quarterback Drew Brees ''looked good'' in his first practices since returning from rib fractures and a punctured lung, and is slated to start against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, coach Sean Payton said.

Brees has missed four games since his injury, which occurred when he was sacked against San Francisco.

Taysom Hill has started in Brees' place, going 3-1.

NBA

ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta Hawks first-round pick Onyeka Okongwu will miss at least the first two games of the regular season because of a foot injury.

The team said Friday the 6-foot-9 center from Southern California was continuing his rehabilitation for an inflamed sesamoid bone in his left foot, including modified participation in contact practices. He has yet to be cleared for full team practices.

Okongwu's condition will be re-evaluated Dec. 28, the day of the Hawks' home opener against Detroit.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The NBA's Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale Friday of the Utah Jazz to a group led by technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, ending the Miller family's 35-year run as owners of the franchise.

The deal includes Vivint Arena, the team's G League affiliate and management of a Triple-A baseball club. Part of the sales agreement calls for the team to remain in Utah.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - The Victorian state government has confirmed that all players at the Australian Open will be required to quarantine in Melbourne for 14 days before the delayed start of the Feb. 8-21 first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year.

The government said Saturday that quarantine plans have been endorsed by the Chief Health Officer and that it would work with Tennis Australia to finalize a COVID-safe plan that ''ensures the safety of all parties . . . rigorous infection prevention and control measures will be central to these arrangements.''

Players are expected to arrive in Melbourne from mid-January, undertaking a mandatory two-week quarantine period that permits them to train for a maximum of five hours per day at Melbourne Park, site of the Australian Open.

SOCCER

CHICAGO (AP) - Midfielder Weston McKennie has won the U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year award for the pandemic-abbreviated schedule.

McKennie, of Little Elm, Texas, appeared in two of three U.S. games in 2020, earning man of the match at Wales last month.

At 22, he is the fourth youngest to win the award behind Christian Pulisic, Landon Donovan and Peter Vermes.

He played in 15 of 16 Bundesliga matches for Schalke, then transferred to Juventus and appeared in 13 games in all competitions, including five in the Champions League. He finished with four goals and two assists in 29 club appearances.

ATLANTA (AP) - Hoping to recreate the success of its first coach, Atlanta United hired Argentina's Gabriel Heinze on Friday to manage the Five Stripes, who endured a miserable season just two years after winning the MLS Cup championship.

The 42-year-old Heinze spent the last two-plus seasons leading Velez Sarsfield in Argentina's top division. He will become the fourth head coach in Atlanta United history, succeeding interim coach Stephen Glass.

BERLIN (AP) - Youssoufa Moukoko became the Bundesliga's youngest ever goal-scorer on Friday but couldn't prevent Borussia Dortmund losing at Union Berlin 2-1.

Moukoko, aged 16 years, 28 days, equalized with a fierce strike on the hour-mark for his first goal in his sixth league appearance and on his second start under new Dortmund coach Edin Terzic.

BOXING

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) - Gennady Golovkin made his record 21st defensive of his middleweight titles Friday night, knocking down previously unbeaten Kamil Szeremeta four times before their fight was stopped after the seventh round.

Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) surpassed Bernard Hopkins' division record for title defenses and retained his IBF and IBO 160-pound belts with a one-sided victory in his first fight in 14 months.

The Kazakh star ended the longest ring absence of his 14-year professional career with a systematic dismantling of Poland's Szeremeta (21-1) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

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