Friday Sports in Brief
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Paolo Banchero scored 21 points to lead No. 5 Duke over No. 1 Gonzaga 84-81 on Saturday night.
Duke (7-0) handed Gonzaga (6-1) its first loss since April’s national title game, when Baylor beat the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga battled back from a nine-point deficit thanks to Julian Strawther’s offensive prowess early in the second half, as he scored eight of the Bulldogs’ first 14 points to help them get within two. But Gonzaga suffered through a 0-for-5 span down the stretch and turned the ball over three times to allow Duke to seize the momentum and close the game on a 13-9 run.
Wendell Moore Jr. scored 20 points and Mark Williams added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Blue Devils.
NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James was fined $15,000 for an obscene gesture Friday by the NBA, which also warned the Lakers superstar about using profane language.
James made the gesture after making a shot late in Los Angeles’ 124-116 overtime victory in Indiana on Wednesday night.
He had missed a loss at New York a night earlier after he was suspended one game for hitting Detroit center Isaiah Stewart in the face and drawing blood last Sunday. He used profanity in his postgame interview after the victory in Indiana when discussing the suspension.
Also Friday, the NBA fined Portland’s Robert Covington $15,000 for throwing his facemask at a referee Wednesday.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the club announced Friday, but there remains no specific timetable on when the 2019 top overall draft choice out of Duke will play.
The upgrade in Williamson’s status came after he underwent imaging Wednesday on his right foot, which he fractured during an offseason workout.
COVID-19 NEW VARIANT
Golf, cricket and rugby became the first major sports to be affected by the new COVID-19 variant on Friday, prompting fears of renewed travel restrictions and disrupted events just as they were returning to normal nearly two years into the pandemic.
European golfers withdrew midway through the season-opening DP World Tour tournament in Johannesburg and were scrambling to catch flights out of South Africa. Visiting cricket and rugby teams were doing the same.
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets and All-Star infielder Eduardo Escobar have agreed to a free agent contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday night because the agreement was pending a physical and hadn’t been announced. MLB Network reported the contract will pay Escobar $20 million over two years.
The 32-year-old Escobar was a first-time All-Star in 2021, when he batted .253 with 28 homers, 90 RBIs and a .786 OPS for Arizona and Milwaukee.
— By Baseball Writer Jake Seiner.
GREEN BAY, Wisc. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t practiced all week due to a toe injury but is expected to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
Rodgers said Wednesday he has a toe fracture and that the injury occurred while he was working out at home during his quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
The toe injury caused Rodgers to practice one day last week, though the reigning MVP still threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-31 loss at Minnesota.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will take a temporary leave to deal with an undisclosed medical issue.
The Sharks said Friday that assistant general manager Joe Will will take over the team’s day-to-day operations during Wilson’s absence.
The 64-year-old Wilson has been the general manager for the Sharks since 2003.
Wake Forest has signed football coach Dave Clawson to what it calls a long-term contract extension as Clawson guides the No. 21 Demon Deacons through a historically successful season.
The school announced the deal Friday night, a day before Wake Forest plays at Boston College to clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division title and a trip to the league championship game. The private university didn’t release specific terms or deal length to keep Clawson, who had been discussed as a possible candidate for open jobs around the country.
The International Ice Hockey Federation council held a call Friday to review the Olympic eligibility of Chinese men’s national team players, though no decisions were made about the host country’s status for the upcoming tournament in Beijing.
Officials are set to review information from the Chinese Ice Hockey Association about players on the host country’s potential player list. Another meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.
Several players on China’s national team are North Americans who moved to play for a Chinese-owned club in the Kontinental Hockey League in an attempt to naturalize and gain Olympic eligibility. But the pandemic-forced move of KHL club Kunlun Red Star out of China and to Moscow adds a layer of uncertainty about whether players meet the eligibility standard.
Former Netherlands international John van’t Schip resigned as Greece coach Friday after failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
The 58-year-old former Ajax winger stepped down five weeks before his contract expired on Dec. 31, the Greek soccer federation said in a statement.
Greece has not reached a major tournament since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
ZURICH (AP) — European champion Italy and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were drawn in the same World Cup qualifying playoffs bracket Friday, meaning at least one of them will miss next year’s tournament in Qatar.
Italy will face North Macedonia at home in a playoff semifinal next March, and the winner will play away at either Portugal or Turkey for a spot in the World Cup.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Nani’s 2022 option was declined by Orland of the MLS on Friday, allowing the 35-year-old forward to leave on a free transfer.
Nani scored 28 goals and had 23 assists in 84 matches over all competitions in three seasons.
He had a base salary of $2,333,333 this year and total compensation of $2,486,250, including a prorated share of his signing bonus.
IGLS, Austria (AP) — There was a three-way tie for the top spot on the World Cup skeleton circuit.
China won. So did Britain. So did Germany.
Geng Wenqiang gave China its first World Cup skeleton win on Friday — part of a historic three-way tie for the top spot. Geng, Britain’s Matt Weston and Germany’s Christopher Grotheer all finished two runs in 1 minute, 46.04 seconds.
There had never been a three-way tie for the win in any World Cup skeleton race since the sport was added to the circuit in 1986.
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