National Sports from the AP
December 28, 2019
Five straight wins for Celtics; Bucks rebound
UNDATED (AP) — The Boston Celtics picked up their fifth straight win on Friday as they try to pad their lead in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.
Jaylen Brown tied a career high with 34 points in the Celtics’ 129-117 win over Cleveland. Jayson Tatum provided 24 of his 30 points while the Celts were building a 62-47 halftime lead.
Enes Kanter added 14 points and Kemba Walker had 13 as Boston improved to 13-1 at home.
Meanwhile, the Bucks are a leading-best 28-5 by bouncing back from their Christmas Day loss at Philadelphia to crush the Hawks, 112-86. Khris Middleton scored 23 points and Ersan Ilyasova had season highs of 18 points and 17 rebounds as Milwaukee dealt Atlanta its ninth consecutive loss.
The Bucks played without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-poh) due to back soreness yet still managed to win for the 22nd time in their last 24 games.
— The Heat own the league’s best home record at 14-1 after Goran Dragic (DRAH’-gihch) scored in the lane with 6.8 seconds remaining to cap a wild finish in Miami’s 113-112 triumph over the Pacers. Jimmy Butler dropped in 20 points and Bam Adebayo (ad-ah-BAY’-oo) added 18 with 15 rebounds, including the offensive board that set up Dragic’s shot after the Heat wasted a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead.
— Evan Fournier scored 20 points and Aaron Gordon had 19 with 11 rebounds to help the Magic squeeze out a 98-97 victory against the 76ers. Nikola Vucevic (VOO’-seh-vihch) had 16 points and 12 rebounds as Orlando ended Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak.
— The Thunder earned a 104-102 overtime win against the Hornets as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 points and Dennis Schroder (SHROO’-dur) added 24 off the bench. Chris Paul furnished 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and OT to push Oklahoma City to its fifth win in six games.
— The Warriors earned their fourth straight win as D’Angelo Russell had 31 points and six assists in a 106-95 victory against the Suns. Alec Burks scored nine of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Golden State erase a 10-point deficit in the period.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-BOWL GAMES
Iowa, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Michigan State get bowl wins
Ihmir Smith-Marsette scored on a 6-yard run, a 98-yard kickoff return and a 12-yard reception, all in the second quarter of the 19th-ranked Hawkeyes’ 49-24 rout of No. 22 Southern California in the Holiday Bowl. Senior Nate Stanley threw two touchdown passes and Iowa won its fourth straight game to conclude its sixth 10-win seasons in 21 years under coach Kirk Ferentz.USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis (SLOH’-vihs) threw two touchdown passes but was knocked out of the game with an apparent arm injury early in the third quarter.
In the Cheez-it Bowl, Kadin Remsberg ran for 178 yards and stretched to the pylon for a 3-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to lift 24th-ranked Air Force to a 31-21 victory over Washington State. Donald Hammond III scored two touchdowns and Remsberg had his fourth-down TD confirmed by review to help the Falcons close the season on an eight-game winning streak. FBS passing leader Anthony Gordon kept the Cougars within reach by throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
Kellen Mond ran for a career-high 117 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown burst that put the Aggies ahead 21-14 in the fourth quarter of a 24-21 victory over No. 25 Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl. Mond relied on his feet while throwing for just 95 yards and losing two early fumbles that allowed the Cowboys to take a 14-0 lead.
Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard ran for 158 yards after finishing the regular season as the nation’s leading rusher. Braydon Johnson had 124 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Cowboys.
In other bowl action:
— Freshman Sam Howell completed 25 of 34 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns to lead North Carolina to its first bowl victory since 2013, a 55-13 rout of Temple in the Military Bowl. Howell also grabbed a scoring pass and ran for 53 yards to help the 7-6 Tar Heels end the season on a three-game winning streak. The Owls have made five straight bowl appearances but have won just once.
— Brian Lewerke (leh-WUR’-kee) threw for 320 yards and a touchdown in Michigan State’s 27-21 victory over Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Lewerke threw a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Cody White in the third quarter to put the 7-6 Spartans ahead, 27-21. Lewerke also ran for a TD, White had 97 yards receiving and Elijah Collins had 96 yards rushing.
TJ Oshie (OH’-shee) snapped the Capitals’ 0-for-19 skid on the power play by scoring in overtime to give them a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. Columbus led 1-0 until Carl Hagelin (HAG’-lihn) tallied early in the third period. Rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov (sam-SOH’-nahv) made 27 saves to win his first career start against Columbus. He was solid all night and couldn’t do much on the lone Blue Jackets goal by rookie Jakob Lilja (LEEL’-yah). Columbus had won their first two meetings of the season with Washington by a combined 8-2 margin. The Jackets have pinned the Capitals with two of their sixth regulation losses.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— The Blues picked up their seventh consecutive win by downing the Jets, 5-4 on David Perron’s (peh-RAHNZ’) goal 3:14 into overtime. Tyler Bozak scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo (peh-TRAN’-jeh-loh) had a goal and assist as the Western Conference leaders improved to 25-8-6.
— Patrice Bergeron (pah-TREES’ BEHR’-zhuh-rahn) scored twice for the third consecutive game and Jaroslav Halak (YAH’-roh-slahv hah-LAHK’) stopped 26 shots as the Bruins blanked the Sabres, 3-0. Brandon Carlo also tallied to back Halak, who notched his third shutout of the season and 50th of his career.
— The Islanders lost for the fourth time in five games as Dennis Gilbert, Dominik Kubalik (koo-BAH’-lihk) and Alex DeBrincat (deh-BRIHN’-kat) scored in a 4:22 span of the first period to chase Thomas Greiss (grys) in Chicago’s 5-2 victory against New York. Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome (strohm) each had two assists as the Blackhawks won for the third time in four games.
— Mats Zuccarello (zoo’-kah-REH’-loh) and Victor Rask scored 77 seconds apart in the third period to send the Wild past the Avalanche 6-4. Devan Dubnyk (DOOB’-nihk) made 14 of his 40 saves in the third period to help Minnesota deal Colorado its third straight home loss.
— Tristan Jarry stopped 30 shots and Juuso Riikola had a goal and an assist in the Penguins’ fifth victory in six games, 5-2 at Nashville. Alex Galchenyuk (gal-CHEHN’-yuk) netted his third goal of the season while Pittsburgh was scoring three times in its first six shots to chase Pekka Rinne (PEH’-kuh REE’-nay).
— Mika Zibanejad (MEE’-kuh zih-BAN’-eh-jad) had two goals and an assist to support Henrik Lundqvist’s 39-save performance in the Rangers’ 5-3 win over the Hurricanes. Artemi Panarin (ahr-TEH’-mee pah-NAH’-rihn) had a goal and two assists, while Chris Kreider added a goal and an assist as the Blueshirts won for the second time in six games.
— The Maple Leafs were able to celebrate a 5-4 win over the Devils after New Jersey defenseman Damon Severson backhanded the puck into his own net in overtime. William Nylander (NEE’-lan-dur) and John Tavares each had a goal and two assists, with Nylander getting credit for the game-winner.
— Andrew Mangiapane (man-jah-PAN’-ee) had a goal and two assists in the Flames’ 5-1 thumping of the Oilers. Elias Lindholm scored just 11 seconds into the first period as Calgary won for just the second time in its last six games.
— Cam Fowler had a goal and an assist while the Ducks scored three times in a 97-stretch of the second period to beat the Golden Knights, 4-3. Adam Henrique (hehn-REEK’) and Max Comtois (KAHM’-twah) also scored during the decisive barrage that allowed Anaheim to knock off Vegas for just the second time in their 10 meetings.
— Jeff Carter’s goal 91 seconds into overtime completed the Kings’ comeback in a 3-2 triumph over the Sharks. San Jose carried a 2-0 lead into the third period before Martin Frk (furk) scored twice in his season debut, both on assists from Carter.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (oh-VEHCH’-kihn) says he’ll skip NHL All-Star Weekend for the second consecutive year to get rested and ready for the second half of the regular season and playoffs. The 34-year-old Ovechkin was named captain of the Metropolitan Division and has scored 23 goals in 39 games.
He’ll be suspended one game for skipping All-Star festivities, either Jan. 18 at the Islanders or Jan. 27 in Montreal.
UNDATED (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons are keeping coach Dan Quinn for another season despite a second straight losing record. The Falcons are 6-9 this season after finishing 7-9 in 2018. They lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl 50, their second season under Quinn The team also announced that general manager Thomas Dimitroff will remain in his current role, and that former Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris will be Atlanta’s defensive coordinator. The Falcons will go through an organizational restructuring, giving team president and CEO Rich McKay a bigger role in the football operations. Quinn and Dimitroff will now report directly to McKay, with Blank retaining oversight of football operations.
In other NFL news:
— Saints coach Sean Payton says the club has no immediate plans to sign Antonio Brown after including him in a workout with six free-agent receivers Friday morning. Payton says the Saints are looking at how available players can help the team as it prepares to enter the playoffs. Brown has not played since the New England Patriots cut him Sept. 20 amid multiple sexual assault accusations which have spawned an ongoing league investigation of the receiver.
— Former star Bills receiver Elbert Dubenion has died at 86. He played key roles in the Bills winning consecutive American Football League championships in the mid-1960s. The team says he died Thursday, 55 years to the day after Buffalo won its first AFL title with a 20-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Royals sign 3B Franco
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have finalized their one-year, $2.95 million contract with third baseman Maikel (MY’-kehl) Franco, a deal that includes up to $1.05 million in incentives. The 27-year-old Franco hit .234 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs in 123 games for the Phillies last season, but he lost his starting job over the summer and played 12 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Franco belted 71 home runs and drove in 232 from 2016-18.
Russia will appeal Olympic ban
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has confirmed that it will appeal its four-year Olympic ban for manipulating doping data. The Russian anti-doping agency known as RUSADA has sent a formal letter disagreeing with the sanctions imposed earlier this month by the World Anti-Doping Agency. RUSADA says it disputes the WADA notice “in its entirety” including the evidence of tampering with the data archive. The WADA sanctions ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years including the 2020 Olympics.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
UNDATED (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi (kah-WY’) Leonard is The Associated Press’ male athlete of the year for 2019. Leonard was an easy winner in the voting conducted by AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, finishing ahead of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Patrick Mahomes (mah-HOHMZ’). Leonard was the NBA Finals MVP for the second time, leading Toronto to its first championship. He is the fifth NBA player to win the award.