Heat get past Pistons
UNDATED (AP) — The Miami Heat struggled against one of the NBA’s worst teams before winning for the sixth time in eight games.
Tyler Herro scored 29 points and Max Strus finished with 26 as the Heat topped the short-handed Pistons, 115-112. The game was tied at 112 until Strus hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game, putting Miami ahead with 40 seconds left.
Kyle Lowry finished with 21 points and Gabe Vincent had 15 points for the Heat.
The Pistons learned hours before the game that four players entered the league’s health and safety protocols. Rookie Cade Cunningham, the team’s second leading scorer, was placed on protocols on Wednesday.
Trey Lyles scored a career-high 28 points for the Pistons. Saddiq Bey had 23 points, including the tying jumper in the final minute.
Checking out Wednesday’s other NBA action:
— Bogdan Bogdanovic hit several clutch shots down the stretch and finished with 15 points as the Hawks tripped the 76ers, 98-96. Bogdanovic missed his first 10 shots before getting hot in the fourth quarter, hitting three straight to put Atlanta ahead by six with 1:25 remaining. Cam Reddish scored 18 points and John Collins had 17 for the Hawks, who played without seven players because of health and safety protocols and lost two more during the game to injury.
— The Knicks wasted Kemba Walker’s performance in a 124-117 loss to the Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie had 21 points and 12 assists for Washington, which played hours after All-Star guard Bradley Beal was placed in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Rookie Corey Kispert filled in with a career-high 20 points in his first start.
— Myles Turner and Caris LeVert each had double-doubles in the Pacers’ 118-106 win over the Rockets. Turner made 14 of 18 shots as the Pacers hit 52.8% from the field. He finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds, while LeVert contributed 24 points and 11 assists.
— The Pelicans have a four-game winning streak after Brandon Ingram delivered 31 points and Josh Hart hit a pair of key 3-pointers in the second half of a 110-104 victory at Orlando. Hart scored 22 points and Devonte Graham added five 3-pointers to finish with 20 points. Cole Anthony returned after missing three games with a sprained ankle to score 22 points for Orlando.
Browns’ Tretter tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president who has been pushing for daily COVID-19 testing all season, has tested positive for the virus. Tretter posted on Twitter that he was experiencing symptoms and chose to be tested at the team’s facility in Berea, Ohio.
The Browns have been hit hard by a spate of positive tests in the past week and were missing 22 players, including Baker Mayfield as well as coach Kevin Stefanski, for Monday night’s rescheduled game against Las Vegas. Stefanski returned to the team Wednesday while Mayfield hasn’t produced a negative test to clear protocols.
In other NFL news:
— Saints veteran quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian have tested positive for COVID-19. That leaves rookie Ian Book as the only QB on the roster, and he’s been inactive for the first 14 games.
— Minnesota star running back Dalvin Cook has also tested positive for COVID-19. Cook has been following protocols for unvaccinated players. He already has his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season and is the only player in the NFL with 1,200-plus yards from scrimmage in each of the last three years.
— Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke was activated off the COVID-19 list and was back at practice running the offense. Heinicke is expected to start Sunday night at the Dallas Cowboys after missing the game at Philadelphia while in virus protocol along with backup Kyle Allen.
— Running back Cam Akers has returned to practice with the Los Angeles Rams. The move means he is taking one of the final steps in his rapid comeback from a torn Achilles tendon. The Rams also designated Akers for return from injured reserve. That means he is in a 21-day window for reactivation to the roster.
Nets will be able to play on Christmas
NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have enough players to fly to Los Angeles and play their Christmas showdown against the Lakers, though Kevin Durant might not be among them.
Coach Steve Nash says James Harden has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols but the Nets don’t expect any of their players still in the protocols to come out in time for Saturday’s game. That would include Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer. The Nets have had their last three scheduled games postponed when a coronavirus outbreak left them with 10 players in protocols.
Meanwhile, a person with direct knowledge of the matter says the NBA and players union are discussing whether to change the current protocols about returning to play after a positive test. That’s typically taken 10 days or more in most cases.
In other NBA news:
— The Chicago Bulls have used the NBA’s COVID-19-related hardship allowance to sign forward Ersan Ilyasova and guard Mac McClung to 10-day contracts. The Bulls had two games postponed this month because of a COVID-19 outbreak with the team. The 6-foot-9 Ilyasova appeared in 17 games with Utah last season, averaging 3.8 points. McClung, who turns 23 on Jan. 6, is looking for his NBA debut.
— The NBA’s Board of Governors has approved a plan where teams may now add sponsorship patches to their shooting shirts and warmup jackets. It’s similar to the jersey patch program, which has been in place since 2017. Teams are now permitted to add a patch — a 3-inch square — on either the right sleeve or left chest of the shirts and jackets. The patch may depict a marketing partner or team initiative
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-FRISCO FOOTBALL CLASSIC
Miami-Ohio gets bowl win
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Brett Gabbert completed 22 of 31 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, Kenny Tracy scored on an 8-yard run and Graham Nicholson kicked two field goals as Miami of Ohio beat North Texas 27-14 in the first Frisco Football Classic. The brother of former NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Kenny Davis late in the second quarter and an 11-yarder to Nate Muersch early in the third quarter for Miami, which won a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season. Tracy’s touchdown run came late in the first quarter.
SEC, Big East alter policies
UNDATED (AP) — The Southeastern Conference and Big East Conference have updated their policies for basketball game postponements, cancellations and rescheduling. These updates give more leniency to teams that are unable to play because of spiking COVID-19 cases.
The policies for both conferences establish that men’s and women’s teams will be required to play if seven scholarship athletes and one countable coaching staff member are available. The SEC gives teams the option to play with fewer players or coaches if they choose. If a team can’t play, the game will be rescheduled or declared a no contest.
Elsewhere around college sports:
— Rutgers will replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest after the NCAA’s football oversight committee decided to adhere to existing policy. Texas A&M pulled out of the Jacksonville, Florida, game scheduled for Dec. 31 on Wednesday because of a lack of available players. The Aggies were having issues with COVID-19, plus they already had been depleted by injuries, opt-outs and players transferring. NCAA rules allow teams with 5-7 records, such as Rutgers, to be bowl eligible if there are not enough six-win teams to fill all the spots. The 5-7 teams with the highest Academic Progress Rate scores have first crack at open slots, and Rutgers was atop that list.
Andy Murray gets wild-card entry in Melbourne
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray has received a wild-card entry for the tournament’s main draw.
Murray last played at Melbourne Park in 2019 when he made a teary retirement announcement before undergoing a second hip surgery to extend his career. The former top-ranked Murray also had accepted a wild-card entry last year but didn’t go after testing positive for COVID-19 shortly before he was due to board a charter flight to Melbourne.
The Australian Open begins Jan. 17.
Deal craters for USADA to oversee horse racing anti-doping
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A deal for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to police drugs in horse racing cratered after months of negotiations that the agency’s CEO said did not give it “a reasonable chance to put in place a credible and effective program.”
USADA was set to become the regulator for anti-doping and medication control for thoroughbred racing under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which is set to go into effect next July. But in a surprising announcement, CEO Travis Tygart said the deal stalled.
The lack of uniform rules across the nation came into focus after Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned substance after the Kentucky Derby. Earlier this month, Medina Spirit collapsed and died after a workout at Santa Anita.
Pele out of hospital
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian soccer great Pelé has been released from a Sao Paulo hospital but will continue being treated for a colon tumor.
The 81-year-old Pelé was hospitalized at the start of December for sessions of chemotherapy. He was also previously hospitalized for almost a month after having surgery to remove the tumor.
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