Clippers host Kings at Staples Center
LOS ANGELES (AP) â The Los Angeles Clippers, who have won six of their last seven, host the Sacramento Kings in the first NBA game at Staples Center since Kobe Bryantâs death. The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to hold their second practice while they continue to grieve for Kobe Bryant. The Lakers held a light shooting workout Wednesday as they resumed basketball activities after the death of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash.
In other NBA action tonight, the Washington Wizards hosts Charlotte Hornets, the Toronto Raptors are in Cleveland against the Cavaliers, the Hawks hosts the 76ers, the Celtics host Golden State and the Jazz face the Nuggets in Denver.
Kobe Bryantâs jersey number, goal to reach
UNDATED (AP) â Kobe Bryantâs final jersey number will be something this yearâs NBA All-Stars play to reach. The NBA says this yearâs game will have a new format. The team that wins each quarter will receive money for charity. Scores will be reset at the start of the second and third quarters. Theyâll be restored to begin the fourth quarter, which will be untimed. The winning team in the All-Star Game will be the first team to add 24 points to whatever the leading score is after three quarters. The 24 is a tribute to Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
The NBA said there will be multiple tributes to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the seven others who lost their lives in Sundayâs helicopter crash throughout All-Star weekend, including the showcase game on Feb. 16. The target score is just one of them.
Pat Valaika is back with the Orioles,
UNDATED (AP) â The Milwaukee Brewers have signed free agent pitcher David Phelps to a one-year contract with a club option for 2021. The 33-year-old right-hander was a combined 2-1 with one save and a 3.41 ERA in 41 games for Toronto and Cubs last season. Phelps missed the 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. Phelps is 32-34 with six saves and a 3.86 ERA in seven seasons with the New York Yankees, Miami, Seattle, Toronto and the Cubs. The Brewers designated right-hander Deolis Guerra for assignment on Thursday. The 30-year-old Guerra pitched in one game for Milwaukee last season.
Elsewhere in the majors:
Pat Valaika (vuh-LAYâ-kuh) is back with the Orioles, who claimed the infielder off waivers from Arizona after the Diamondbacks took him from Baltimore earlier this month. Valaika began the offseason with Colorado before being claimed off waivers by the Orioles in late October. Arizona selected him off waivers in mid-January, then designated Valaika for assignment 11 days later. That opened the door for Baltimore to take him back today.
â Pablo Sandovalâs time with San Francisco is over. Now the popular Kung Fu Panda is returning to the Giants on a minor league contract. The 2012 World Series MVP would get a $2 million, one-year agreement if added to the 40-man roster, and his deal includes $750,000 in potential performance bonuses. The 33-year-old is working back from season-ending Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.
Sharks forward Tomas Hertl out for season with knee injury
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) â Tomas Hertl will miss the rest of the season for the San Jose Sharks with a serious knee injury. The Sharks say Hertl tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during the first period of a loss against the Vancouver Canucks. Hertl is the second significant Sharks player to be sidelined with a significant injury. Captain Logan Couture has a broken ankle.
The Sharks entered the day with 48 points and are nine points out of a playoff spot. San Jose has missed the postseason only once since the start of the 2003-04 season.
Hertl is second on the team with 36 points this season. He has 16 goals and 20 assists.
Djokovic beats Federer, reaches Australian final
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) â Novak Djokovic (NOHâ-vak JOHâ-kuh-vich) has reached an eighth Australian Open final with a straight-set win over Roger Federer, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3. The second-seeded Djokovic maintained his record of never losing a semifinal match at Melbourne Park and is one win from extending another streak.
He will meet the winner of Fridayâs match between No. 5 Dominic Thiem (teem) and No. 7 Alexander Zverev in Sundayâs championship match.
It was an all-upset womenâs semifinal at the Australian Open as American Sofia Kenin and unseeded GarbiĂ±e Muguruza (gahr-BEENâ moo-gah-ROOâ-thah) moved into the final. It is Muguruzaâs fourth time with a major championship on the line and she already owns two such trophies. She won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017.
Kenin is a 21-year-old American who upset top-seeded Ash Barty in the semifinals. Kenin never has been past the fourth round of a major until now. She credits a big win against Serena Williams at last yearâs French Open with helping propel her to her surge since.
NFL-CLERGY-ABUSE-NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Saints helped shape accused clergy list, victim lawyers say
NEW ORLEANS (AP) â The New Orleans Saints maintain their behind-the-scenes public relations work on the areaâs Roman Catholic sexual abuse crisis was âminimal,â but attorneys suing the church allege hundreds of confidential Saints emails show the team actively helping to shape a list of credibly accused clergy that appears to be an undercount.
New court papers filed this week by lawyers for about two dozen men making sexual abuse claims against the Archdiocese of New Orleans gave the most detailed description yet of the emails that have rocked the NFL team and remain shielded from the public.
They accuse the Saints of issuing misleading statements by saying their work for the archdiocese involved only âmessagingâ and handling media inquiries as part of the 2018 release of the clergy names. The attorneys wrote that instead, âThe Saints appear to have had a hand in determining which names should or should not have been included on the pedophile list.â
That list, the Saintsâ involvement in it and how accurate it was have become key questions in a controversy that has swirled around the team since news of the emails broke last week.
CHINA OUTBREAK-RESCHEDULED SPORTING EVENTS
Major sporting events being rescheduled due to Coronavirus outbreak in China
UNDATED (AP) â Amid growing concern about the spread of the virus, international sports have been postponed and Olympic qualifying tournaments in soccer, basketball and boxing have been taken elsewhere. Plans to have bobsled, skeleton and luge athletes from around the world visit China in March to help certify the track that will be used for the 2022 Beijing Olympics have been delayed. On Wednesday, the indoor athletics world championships in Nanjing were postponed by one year to March 2021. The first alpine ski World Cup races next month at one of the 2022 Beijing Olympics courses in Yanqing were also called off.
The latest cancellation Thursday was equestrianâs Asia Horse Week from Feb. 13-16 in Hong Kong, which is cutting rail links with mainland China as a precaution to limit the virus spreading.
The F1 race in Shanghai, scheduled for April 19, may be at risk of being postponed or canceled.
Two World Cup ski races that were cancelled have been moved to Austria.
WORLD CUP-WOMENâS DOWNHILL TRAINING
Downhill training canceled again because of poor weather
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) â A second womenâs downhill training run was canceled Thursday on the 2014 Sochi Olympic course, putting Saturdayâs World Cup race at risk.
The International Ski Federation published a photograph showing the mountain shrouded in fog.
Something similar happened last season when the first World Cup races since the 2014 Games were wiped out by the weather for five days.
Three downhill training days lost last season forced the race the to be canceled for safety reasons. A revised plan for super-G races on both weekend slots also could not start because of the weather.
Organizers will try again Friday for the mandatory downhill training run. A super-G is scheduled for Sunday.
Spanish police bust ring that sold EPO to athletes online
MADRID (AP) â Spanish police say a doping ring that sold the blood-buster EPO to athletes both locally and abroad has been broken up. Spainâs Civil Guard said the 850 syringes of EPO they confiscated from the bust is the largest haul of the substance in Europe.
According to police investigations, the ring is composed of citizens of Serbia and Spain who spent 10 years illegally trafficking EPO via various websites in different languages targeting athletes both in Spain and in other countries.
Joe Gibbs will be inducted into NASCARâs Hall of Fame Friday night alongside Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) â Joe Gibbs will be inducted into NASCARâs Hall of Fame Friday night alongside Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. Both drivers won championships driving for Gibbs, who is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after winning three Super Bowls as a coach. The induction trio caps a historic year for Gibbs. A year ago, his eldest son died and his team went 1-2-3 in the Daytona 500 a month later. Gibbs drivers won a record 19 races and the Cup Series championship. Now he celebrates at the Hall of Fame.Â
Obit â John Andretti, Tony Kanaan closing IndyCar career
UNDATED (AP) â Former race-car driver John Andretti has died at the age of 56 after battling colon cancer. His death was announced by the IndyCar team Andretti Autosport owned by his cousin, Michael. Andretti was a member of one of the worldâs most famous racing families. Mario and Michael Andretti have been longtime fan favorites in the IndyCar Series and beyond. Mario Andretti is Johnâs uncle. John Andretti carved out his own niche by becoming the first driver to attempt running the Indianapolis 500 and Charlotteâs 600-mile NASCAR race on the same day. Â
Tony Kanaan (kuh-NAHNâ) is taking a farewell tour during the upcoming IndyCar season. He will get to race at five oval events, including the Indianapolis 500. The popular Brazilian will get his send-off in A.J, Foytâs No. 14 Chevrolet. He tells The Associated Press he could only get funding for the five oval races as Foytâs team needed sponsorship help. Kanaan will race the Indianapolis 500, then at Texas, Richmond, Iowa and at Gateway, outside St. Louis. He laughed off retirement and says he will shift his focus to bucket list events. He was the 2013 Indy 500 winner.