Heat win at home again to pass Celtics in East standings
UNDATED (AP) — The Miami Heat have leapfrogged over the Boston Celtics for the No. 2 spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference by improving to 18-1 at home.
Kendrick Nunn scored 33 points and Goran Dragic (DRAH’-gihch) added 17 in the Heat’s 106-100 victory over the Spurs. Nunn hit consecutive baskets to put Miami ahead, 94-83 with 3:42 remaining.
Bam Adebayo (ad-ah-BAY’-oh) contributed 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to help Miami beat coach Gregg Popovich, who cut him from USA Basketball’s national team last summer.
DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting for San Antonio.
In Boston, Sekou Doumbouya (SEH’-koo doom-boo-YAH’) scored a season-high 24 points and the Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak with a 116-103 win over the Celtics. Markieff Morris matched his season best with 23 points and Derrick Rose added 22 while Detroit was shooting a season-best 60.3%.
Gordon Hayward finished with 25 points and Jaylen Brown had 24 for the Celts, who played without Jayson Tatum because of soreness in his right knee.
Checking out Wednesday’s other NBA action:
— Markelle Fultz notched his second career triple-double and hit two big layups in the final minute as the Magic ended the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak, 119-118. Fultz provided 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, while Aaron Gordon had 21 points to help Orlando become the first team with a losing record to knock off Los Angeles this season.
— The Trail Blazers earned a 117-107 win at Houston as Damian Lillard scored 25 points and CJ McCollum added 24. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double with 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who pulled within five before McCollum and Carmelo Anthony drained consecutive 3-pointers for Portland to make it 111-100 with four minutes left.
— Luka Doncic (DAHN’-chich) recorded his league-high 12th triple-double by delivering 25 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists for the Mavericks in a 127-123 win at Sacramento. Seth Curry scored 21 points off the bench as Dallas won its third straight despite the absence of Kristaps Porzingis (KRIHS’-tahps pohr-ZIHN’-gihs), who sat out his ninth consecutive game.
— Rookie reserve Michael Porter Jr. scored 19 points and recent call-up P.J. Dozier had a big Denver debut as the duo led a 100-86 victory over the Hornets. Dozier finished with 12 points in 13 minutes after replacing Jamal Murray, who had to leave the game in the second half with a left ankle injury.
— Tobias Harris scored 34 points, including two big baskets in the final two minutes as the 76ers beat the Nets 117-106. Ben Simmons had 20 points and 11 assists to help the 76ers improve to 19-2 at home.
— Domantas Sabonis (doh-MAHN’-tahs sah-BOH’-nihs) matched a season high with 29 points and added 13 rebounds and six assists to lead the Pacers to their third straight win, 104-99 against the Timberwolves. Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points and Doug McDermott scored 14 off the bench for Indiana.
— Norman Powell scored 23 points, and the Raptors blew much of a 30-point lead before knocking off the Thunder, 130-121. Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) and OG Anunoby (an-oo-NOH’-bee) each added 21 points for Toronto, which shot a season-high 61.2% from the field.
— The Bulls earned a 115-106 win over the Wizards behind Zach LaVine’s (lah-VEENZ’) 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Thaddeus Young had 18 points and eight boards, and Tomas Satoransky scored 18 points against his former team.
Williams to make NBA debut next week
UNDATED (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans have announced that Zion Williamson will make his long-anticipated NBA debut next Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.
The first player taken on last year’s draft has missed New Orleans’ first 41 games this season and will sit out three more while rehabilitating from arthroscopic surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his right knee. His arrival comes at a good time for the Pelicans, who have won nine of their last 13 to pull within four games of a playoff spot.
Williamson played in four preseason games before his injury, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. He had surgery in mid-October.
In other NBA news:
— Hawks forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a car wreck after practice Wednesday. The team said Parsons sustained a concussion and whiplash. He will enter the NBA's concussion protocol and won't travel to Friday's game at San Antonio.
— The Suns have signed forward Tariq Owens to a two-way contract. The 6-foot-10, 205-pound Owens was already playing with the Suns' NBA G League affiliate in northern Arizona.
— The Warriors are keeping former two-way guard Damion Lee around for the remainder of the season after he signed a multiyear contract. Forward Marquese Chriss also is back with the team as a two-way player just more than a week after he was waived to clear room for Lee on the roster.
Larry Fitzgerald returning for 2020 season
UNDATED (AP) — Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has ended speculation that he will retire.
The Arizona Cardinals have re-signed the 36-year-old Fitzgerald to a one-year contract after he led the team with 75 receptions, 804 receiving yards and four touchdown grabs this season.
Fitzgerald is the Cardinals’ all-time leader with 250 games played, 1.378 receptions, 17,083 receiving yards, 120 receiving touchdowns, 120 total touchdowns and 49 100-yard games. He ranks second on the NFL all-time list in receptions and receiving yards, while his touchdown catches are sixth.
In other NFL news:
— Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (TAG'-lee-uh-boo) has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his fifth attempt. He and former New York Giants general manager George Young made it to Canton, Ohio, as contributors. Ex-Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris and former Cleveland receiver Mac Speedie completed the centennial class. Also going into the hall are Harold Carmichael, Donnie Shell, Steve Sabol, Bobby Dillon, Jim Covert, Winston Hill, Duke Slater, Ed Sprinkle, Alex Karras, Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson.
— Steelers president Art Rooney II says the team is confident quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH’-lihs-bur-gur) can return to form in 2020. Roethlisberger is in the early stages of rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his right elbow. Rooney says the team is confident Roethlisberger will be ready for his 17th season next fall.
— Former NFL player Steve Gleason has received the Congressional Gold Medal for his work as an advocate for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The 42-year-old Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. He says receiving the Congressional Gold Medal is a sublime honor which represents some joy, some encouragement and some triumphs for the tens of thousands of families living with ALS.
— Veteran referee Bill Vinovich will head the crew for the Super Bowl. Vinovich is in his 15th season as an NFL official and previously worked the 2015 game between New England and Seattle.
T25 MEN’S BASKETBALL
Alabama, Seton Hall, South Carolina pull off upsets
UNDATED (AP) — Three of the AP’s top-10 teams in the men’s basketball poll tasted defeat, including previously-unbeaten Auburn.
The fourth-ranked Tigers had been 15-0 until Kira Lewis Jr. torched them for 25 points to lead Alabama’s 83-64 romp over their archrivals. Herbert Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Crimson Tide, who led wire-to-wire and held Auburn to a season low for scoring.
Auburn shot just 31.7% in becoming the second-to-last Division One team to lose a game this season. Only San Diego State remains unbeaten.
In the other top-10 upsets:
Myles Powell scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half as 18th-ranked Seton Hall rallied past No. 6 Butler, 78-70 at Indianapolis. Gill matched his career high with 17 points for the Pirates, who trailed by 10 at halftime and closed on a 13-4 run to earn their eighth straight victory. The Bulldogs ended a six-game winning streak despite Kamar Baldwin’s 19 points and six assists.
South Carolina pulled off the other upset as freshman Jermaine Couisnard (KOOZ’-nahrd) hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Gamecocks an 81-78 triumph over No. 10 Kentucky. Couisnard had a career-high 26 points and completed South Carolina’s rally from a 14-point hole in the second half. Keyshawn Bryant scored 15 points for the Gamecocks, who had four players in double figures.
In other top-25 finals:
— Freddie Gillespie had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 2 Baylor to its 13th straight win, 68-55 versus Iowa State. Jared Butler had 19 points and Davion Mitchell added 17 as the Bears moved to 14-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12.
— Devin Vassell (vah-SEHL’) scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in the final seconds to send ninth-ranked Florida State to its eighth consecutive victory, 54-50 over Virginia. Anthony Polite came off the bench to drill four 3-pointers for the Seminoles, who have won 15 of their last 16.
— Quinton Rose scored 19 points and Temple used a strong defensive performance to upset No. 16 Wichita State 65-53. Jake Forrester and Monty Scott each chipped in 11 points as the Owls held the Shockers to 30% shooting while ending a three-game losing skid.
— Georgetown was an 83-80 winner against No. 25 Creighton as Omer Yurtseven had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the 12-6 Hoyas. Mac McClung scored 19 points for the Hoyas, who pulled away for good during a 13-2 run early in the second half.
Flyers stop Blues’ home winning streak
UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers needed overtime before halting the St. Louis Blues’ team record-tying nine-game home winning streak.
The Flyers wasted a 3-1 lead in the last half of the third period before Jakub Voracek scored in the extra session to complete their 4-3 triumph over the Blues. Tyler Pitlick, Michael Raffl and Travis Konecny scored to give Philadelphia a two-goal cushion, but the defending Stanley Cup champs tied it on tallies by Ryan O’Reilly and Alexander Steen over the last 9:25 of regulation.
The Blues managed to gain a point to take over the NHL’s overall lead by one over Washington, but the Capitals have a game in hand.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Zack Smith scored twice and Corey Crawford handled 32 shots as the Blackhawks won for the seventh time in 10 games, 4-1 at Montreal. Alex DeBrincat (deh-BRIHN’-kat) and Drake Caggiula also scored for the Hawks, who are within four points of a postseason berth after slipping to 12-15-6 on Dec. 14.
NHL-GOLDEN KNIGHTS-GALLANT FIRED
DeBoer replaces Gallant in Vegas
UNDATED (AP) —The Vegas Golden Knights have fired coach Gerard Gallant less than two years after he led them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of existence.
Peter DeBoer was named as his replacement a month after being fired by the San Jose Sharks. Vegas has lost four in a row to fall out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. The team is just three points back of first place in the Pacific Division. Gallant is the seventh coach to lose his job this season and the fifth for performance reasons. DeBoer joins his fourth NHL team as head coach.
Higgins leaving Clemson for NFL draft
UNDATED (AP) — Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins is forgoing his final college season to enter the NFL draft.
Higgins grabbed 59 passes for 1,167 yards and 13 yards as the Tigers won the ACC championship and the CFP semifinal before losing to LSU in the championship game. He had a team-record 27 touchdown catches in three seasons with the Tigers.
In other college football news:
— Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, receiver Justin Jefferson and safety Grant Delpit are among seven players from LSU's national championship team who've stated their intention to enter this spring's NFL draft. Offensive linemen Saahdiq Charles and Lloyd Cushnberry also announced they are turning pro, as did linebackers Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips.
— Bobby Petrino is the new head football coach at Missouri State. He replaces Dave Steckel, who was fired last week after winning just 13 games in five seasons. Petrino has a 119-56 record in 14 seasons at Arkansas, Western Kentucky and Louisville.
— An LSU spokesman says the school has contacted NCAA and SEC officials following Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s apparent cash payments to Tigers players on the field after the national championship game. Michael Bonnette said initial information suggested that Beckham handed out “novelty bills” to players after the top-ranked Tigers defeated Clemson on Monday night. However, further investigation showed that Beckham may have given away real money, Bonnette added.
Dodgers bring back Wood
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have brought back Alex Wood by working out a one-year, $4 million deal with the left-hander.
Wood helped the Dodgers win the 2018 National League pennant before being traded to Cincinnati. He made just seven starts for the Reds while struggling to overcome a back injury that didn’t allow him to pitch for the team until late July.
Wood went 16-3 with a 2.02 ERA in 2017, earning his first All-Star selection.
Serena Williams to highlight Fed Cup roster for US
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — The USTA says Serena Williams will be part of the U.S. team for its Fed Cup qualifier against Latvia.
It will be the first time Williams has participated in the Fed Cup since 2018. Williams is 13-0 in singles and 3-2 in doubles in 10 previous Fed Cup competitions since her first appearance in 1999.
The U.S. will face Latvia on Feb. 7-8 in Everett, Washington.
AUSTRALIA OPEN-AIR QUALITY
Australian Open defends playing despite poor air quality
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The tournament director for the Australian Open is defending the decision to hold qualifying matches even though the air quality in Melbourne has been among the worst in the world.
Smoke from wildfires devastating parts of Australia has reached the tennis site and some players had trouble breathing.
Tournament director Craig Tiley says the Australian Open's medical team was “satisfied” the conditions were OK for competition.
Play was delayed for an hour one day and two hours another day. Some rain has helped improve the air quality at Melbourne Park.