NEW YORK (AP) - With five games called off this week already and more teams dealing with virus-related issues, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association enacted additional rules in the hope of keeping the season going safely.
For “at least the next two weeks,” the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road - with exceptions primarily for practices and games.
Utah’s game in Washington on Wednesday was postponed because contact-tracing issues among the Wizards meant they wouldn’t have eight available players for that matchup. Orlando’s game in Boston on Wednesday is also off, the third postponement since Sunday involving the Celtics.
Boston’s most recent list showed eight players as unavailable because they are adhering to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which means they either tested positive or contact-tracing data showed they may have been exposed to someone who is positive.
HOUSTON (AP) - James Harden publicly acknowledged his discord with the Houston Rockets for the first time following back-to-back blowout losses to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We’re just not good enough,” Harden said. “I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
Harden had remained quiet through months of speculation that he is unhappy in Houston. Numerous reports have indicated he’s looking to be shipped to Brooklyn to play with former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant, who became an NBA champion with Golden State. For all his accomplishments, Harden is still seeking an NBA title.
He’s been asked repeatedly to address the trade rumors since the season began but has deflected questions and refused to reveal any frustration.
That all changed after a 117-100 blowout loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night. The Lakers led by 30 points in the third quarter after leading by 27 during a 120-102 on Sunday.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Joel Embiid had 45 points and 16 rebounds, Dakota Mathias’ only basket of the game was a go-ahead 3-pointer with 26.1 seconds left and the Philadelphia 76ers hung on to beat the undermanned Miami Heat 137-134 in overtime.
Embiid had one of the great games of his career and carried the Sixers with a perfect third quarter and clutch buckets in OT to put them on the brink of victory.
Mathias, who went undrafted in 2018 and signed this season with the Sixers as a two-day G League player, got the ball from the top of the arc and buried it for the 134-132 lead.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Mike Smith had 16 points and six assists, and No. 7 Michigan remained unbeaten with another dominant performance, routing No. 9 Wisconsin 77-54.
The Wolverines (11-0, 6-0) turned this Big Ten showdown into a blowout with a 43-6 run that spanned parts of both halves. It was another masterpiece for coach Juwan Howard’s team, which became the first in college basketball history to beat three ranked opponents in a row by at least 19 points.
Michigan set the one for this one with its rim protection. The Badgers (10-3, 4-2) struggled to finish plays around the basket early on, and the Wolverines had six blocked shots in the first half alone.
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Cade Cunningham scored 18 points, and Oklahoma State held off a late rally to beat No. 6 Kansas 75-70.
Kansas trailed by three in the closing seconds and had possession, but Oklahoma State’s Bryce Williams stole the ball, drove the length of the floor and and dunked as time expired.
The Cowboys blew a 19-point lead in a loss to West Virginia eight days earlier and squandered a 16-point lead in the second half of this one before scoring the game’s final eight points.
Williams scored 17 points and Avery Anderson III added 14 for the Cowboys (9-3, 3-3 Big 12). It was the fifth time in the past eight tries that Oklahoma State has beaten the Jayhawks at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
BOSTON (AP) - More than 60 years after he broke the NHL’s color barrier, Willie O’Ree will soon add another milestone to his career.
The Boston Bruins announced O’Ree will have his No. 22 jersey retired prior to the team’s Feb. 18 game against the New Jersey Devils. It will make the 85-year-old O’Ree the 12th player in team history to have a sweater hung in TD Garden.
O;Ree became the league’s first Black player when he suited up for Boston on Jan. 18, 1958, against the Montreal Canadiens. O’Ree, who was legally blind in one eye, played two seasons for the Bruins, retiring from professional hockey in 1979.
He also donned Nos. 18 and 25 during his time with the Bruins but wore No. 22 in the bulk of his games with the club.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Wild signed forward Marcus Foligno to a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension, coming off the best season of his NHL career.
The deal takes a potential free agent off the market next summer and keeps Foligno in the fold through 2024. The 29-year-old had 25 points and a plus-8 rating, both career highs, in 2019-20 despite playing in only 59 games. Foligno also led the Wild with 184 hits.
He is ninth in the league with 1,446 hits since the start of the 2013-14 season and has given the team consistent elements of defense, toughness and leadership that can be difficult to find.
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