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Friday Sports In Brief

February 26, 2022 GMT

BASEBALL

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Baseball players and owners took a first step toward salvaging opening day, nearing agreement on an amateur draft lottery during lockout negotiations that included a surprise one-on-one meeting between Commissioner Rob Manfred and union head Tony Clark.

While an agreement on the draft was not complete, the talks gained momentum for the first time as Major League Baseball’s end of Monday deadline approached for a deal that would preserve opening day on March 31 and a 162-game schedule.

Talks will continue Saturday, the 87th day of baseball’s first work stoppage since 1995. The sides remain far apart on the big-money issues of the competitive balance tax thresholds and rates, salary arbitration eligibility, the size of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration-eligible players and the minimum salary.

In another sign of the disruption caused by baseball’s ninth work stoppage, MLB canceled three more days of spring training games through March 7. Exhibition games were to have begun Saturday.

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But for the first time all week, both sides expressed a feeling they had moved in a positive direction.

NBA

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — James Harden had 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in his 76ers debut, Joel Embiid added 34 points and 10 rebounds and Philadelphia routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102.

Philadelphia finally got to see how its star twosome worked together after Harden missed his first two games following the trade from Brooklyn with a hamstring injury. The results were promising, particularly where Embiid and Harden thrive – at the free-throw line.

Embiid, who had 21 free throws in a double-overtime loss to Minnesota in November, was 11 of 13 from the line. Harden was 8 of 9 as the 76ers went 30 of 36 overall.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Terance Mann had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Amir Coffey added 12 of his 14 in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers returned from the All-Star break with a 105-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Luke Kennard scored 18 points for the Clippers. They earned their sixth consecutive victory over the Lakers in the latest meeting between Los Angeles’ two underachieving, injury-plagued NBA franchises.

The Clippers also moved one game ahead of the Lakers in the loss column while clinching the season series victory in this local derby. Both advantages could be important at playoff time for two teams that appear headed for the play-in tournament if they make the postseason at all.

Carmelo Anthony missed a long go-ahead jumper with 4 seconds to play and LeBron James missed a tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer for the Lakers, who fell five games under .500 with their fourth loss in five games.

GOLF

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Daniel Berger had a three-shot lead through two rounds of the Honda Classic, after a second consecutive round of 5-under 65.

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First-round leader Kurt Kitayama eagled the par-5 18th as darkness was closing in, finishing a round of 69 and ending the day tied for second at 7 under with Chris Kirk (68). Mark Hubbard (64) was another shot back at 6 under, as was Adam Svensson — who hit all 18 greens on his way to a 65 and finished with a par.

Berger’s 10-under 130 tied the third-lowest score through 36 holes since the Honda moved to PGA National in 2007; Aaron Wise was 12 under through two rounds last year, Rory McIlroy was 11 under at the midway point in 2014 and Brendon De Jonge was 10 under that same year. None of them went on to win.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Miguel Angel Jimenez had a hole-in-one during a 6-under 66 in breezy conditions to match Jeff Sluman for the first-round lead at the Cologuard Classic.

Jimenez won the PGA Tour Champions’ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii and kick-started his round at Tucson National by acing the 193-yard par-3 seventh hole. The 58-year-old Spaniard overcame a bogey on the par-5 eighth with three birdies on the back nine to match Sluman.

Tom Lehman tied the lead at 6 under with a birdie on the par-5 17th, but failed to get up and down at No. 18 for a bogey to shoot 67. Woody Austin had seven birdies and Rod Pampling went bogey free to both shoot 67. Chris DiMarco and Jerry Kelly were among six players at 68.

Reigning Charles Schwab Cup season champion Bernhard Langer had three birdies, but bogeyed No. 18 after hitting into the water on the par 4 to shoot 2-under 70.

HOCKEY

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jonathan Quick became the fourth American-born goalie to reach 350 victories in the NHL, Adrian Kempe scored twice and the Los Angeles Kings extended their winning streak to four with a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Quick stopped 24 shots and improved to 25-13-9 against the Kings. He is the 24th goalie overall in league history to reach the 350-victory milestone. Ryan Miller tops U.S.-born goalies with 391 victories, followed by John Vanbiesbrouck (374) and Tom Barrasso (369).

Kempe, who also had an assist, posted his fifth multigoal game of the season — three times in the last four games — and has seven goals in six February games.

Carl Grundstrom scored and Anze Kopitar added a goal and an assist for the Kings, who evened this season’s Freeway Faceoff series at one game apiece. It was Kopitar’s first goal in seven games.

UKRAINE INVASION & SPORTS

The invasion of Ukraine drew more punitive measures across the sporting world when Russia was stripped of the Champions League final in St. Petersburg and Formula One dropped the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee also urged sports federations to move their events out of Russia or Belarus, which Moscow is using as a staging ground for its troops moving into Ukraine from the north.

The IOC statement signaled an ostracising of President Vladimir Putin, who has lavishly funded sports events and was still courted by IOC President Thomas Bach and FIFA President Gianni Infantino despite the country corrupting sport with state-sponsored doping schemes in the last decade.

But the backlash against the embrace of Russian state-owned companies as sponsors in sports has seen Manchester United drop Aeroflot’s commercial deal. The English Premier League giant cited “events in Ukraine” after the airline was banned in Britain as part of sanctions against Putin’s regime.