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#SportsReport: Celtics Down Raptors; Fans Barred From Australian Open After Outbreak

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Semi Ojeleye nailed six 3-pointers and had a career-high 24 points in the Celtics' 120-106 win over the Raptors. Rookie Payton Pritchard also hit six 3s and added 20 points for the Celtics, who drained a season-high 20 shots from beyond the arc.In other Thursday NBA action:

The Philadelphia 76ers have won six of their last eight games, but the two losses have come at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 30 points and the Blazers won for the fourth time in five games by outlasting the Sixers, 118-114. Carmelo Anthony added 24 points off the bench, including 16 in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid had a team-high 35 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers, while Ben Simmons added 23 points and 11 boards in Philadelphia's first loss in five road games.

Stephen Curry knocked down 10 3-pointers on the way to 40 points in the Warriors' 111-105 victory over the Magic. The two-time MVP has made at least four 3-pointers in a career-best 13 straight games.

Jimmy Butler had a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Heat in their fourth straight win, 101-94 against the Rockets. Miami trailed by 13 in the first half, but used a big run and great defense in the third to take a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The Pacers' four-game losing streak is over after Domantas Sabonis had 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 111-95 decision over the Pistons. Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points and Jeremy Lamb scored 17 for the Pacers, who posted a season-low 94 points in a loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday.

In NBA news, the Raptors say they will stay in its adopted home of Tampa because of ongoing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic and how that affects the process of crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada. Toronto made the move south last fall, knowing Thursday's decision was a real possibility. The land border with Canada remains closed to nonessential travelers who are not Canadian citizens.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

In women's college basketball, Florida State bested Syracuse 67-52. 

In top-25 men's basketball:

No. 24 Purdue is still looking for its first winning streak since its four-game run was snapped on Jan. 22. Marcus Carr scored 19 points and Minnesota rallied late for a 71-68 victory against the visiting Boilermakers. Gabe Kalscheur chipped in 16 points and Brandon Johnson added 15 for the Golden Gophers, who trailed by five with two minutes to play. Trevion Williams led Purdue with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Mobley brothers led No. 20 Southern California to an easy win over Washington, 69-54. Evan Mobley scored 17 points, while Isaiah Mobley added 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Trojan's 11th victory in 12 games.

In college basketball news:

College conferences are still planning to hold basketball tournaments where the winner earns the automatic bid to the NCAAs. But the leagues also have until Feb. 26 to notify the selection committee if there will be any changes in how their bids are awarded. Some coaches are split on the feasibility of having the tournaments and pandemic concerns could still lead to changes. The NCAA has mandated that teams must have seven straight days of negative tests prior to arriving in Indiana for the tournament. There must be an additional two negative PCR tests before teams start practice.

The Ivy League will allow current senior athletes to play sports as full-time grad students at their current university next year in a break with longstanding policies. The change is a result of COVID-19, which canceled a full year of sports.

NHL

Evgeni Malkin scored with 18 seconds left in regulation and Sidney Crosby provided the lone shootout tally in the Penguins' 4-3 win over the Islanders. The Isles led the game three times, the last coming on Mat Barzal's goal with 6:25 remaining in the third period.

Elsewhere on the ice:

The Florida Panthers continue to steamroll through their NHL schedule by winning the first of three straight meetings with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aaron Ekblad and Alex Wennberg each had a goal and an assist as the Panthers knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champs, 5-2. Frank Vatrano, Carter Verhaeghe and Brett Connolly also scored to help Florida end Tampa Bay's six-game winning streak. The Panthers are 8-1-2 and one point behind the Bolts for the Central Division lead.

Max Comtois scored with 7:42 left to back John Gibson's 21-save performance in the Ducks' 1-0 shutout of the Golden Knights. It marked just the fifth time Vegas was blanked at home in its history, and the first time the Golden Knights lost in their own building by a score of 1-0.

Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, Michael Del Zotto and Kevin Stenlund scored during a wild third period that pushed the Blue Jackets to a 6-5 win over Chicago, ending the Blackhawks' three-game winning streak. Cam Atkinson set a franchise record with his 15th career short-handed goal and had three assists as Columbus won for the third time in four games.

Nino Niederreiter scored the tiebreaking goal about four minutes into the third period before the Hurricanes completed a 5-3 downing of the Stars. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho both had a goal and an assist in Carolina's third win over the defending Western Conference champs.

The Predators posted a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Dante Fabbro's goal with 59.2 seconds remaining in regulation. Ryan Ellis and Matt Duchene also scored and Pekka Rinne made 24 saves as Nashville snapped a three-game losing streak.

The Kings halted a five-game losing streak as Anze Kopitar, Carl Grundstrom and Jaret Anderson-Dolan each had a goal and an assist in a 6-2 rout of the Sharks. Alex Iafallo and Jeff Carter added power-play goals, Drew Doughty had three assists and Cal Petersen made 28 saves for Los Angeles.

Mike Smith picked up his 40th career shutout by turning back 38 shots in the Oilers' third straight win, 3-0 over the Canadiens. The start of the game was delayed an hour after Edmonton forward Jesse Puljujarvi was placed on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list.

Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves and the Jets improved to 4-0 against the Senators this season with a 5-1 victory. Paul Stastny, Dylan DeMelo and Blake Wheeler scored second-period goals after Hellebuyck stopped 18 shots in a scoreless first period.

The Flames earned their third straight win as Mark Giordano had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 verdict over the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom had 33 saves to help Calgary deal Vancouver its sixth loss in a row.

In NHL news: 

The Associated Press has learned that the NHL is adding game-day rapid tests for players to its safety protocols in its latest bid to stem potential COVID-19 outbreaks. That's according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. Rapid tests provide results within a half-hour, and will augment daily PCR testing already in place.

The Bruins will wait to retire pioneering Black hockey player Willie O'Ree's number until next year so that they can raise his No. 22 banner to the rafters with fans in the building. The NHL said it asked the Bruins and O'Ree to postpone the ceremony until Jan. 18, 64 years to the day that he became the league's first Black player.

Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy could be sidelined for two weeks with a right hip injury suffered in Tuesday's win at Dallas. Andrew Shaw is facing an uncertain future after another head injury.

The Blue Jackets have activated goaltender Elvis Merzlikins off injured reserve after he missed a week with an upper-body injury suffered in practice. He is 2-2-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in six games this season.

NASCAR

Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon were the winners in last night's 150-mile qualifying races for Sunday's Daytona 500. However, both drivers now have a chance to move from the second to the front row following car issues for pole-sitter Alex Bowman and William Byron. Almirola held off a charge from Joey Logano, who pulled alongside Almirola on the final lap of the first 150-mile race. Almirola led 52 of 60 laps in his first qualifying race victory at Daytona. Dillon used a cross-over move on Bubba Wallace to beat Wallace to the checkered flag. However, Almirola will slide up to the front row after Byron wrecked his car in the second race. And in another disappointment for Hendrick Motorsports, Bowman could be moved to the back if his motor needs to be changed. Bowman had engine trouble in the first race.

TENNIS

Day 5 at the Australian Open had begun when government officials announced that fans will be banned from attending the tournament for five days beginning Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel. The Grand Slam tournament had been the first in a year to allow sizeable crowds.

The No. 7-seeded Aryna Sabalenka had already beat American Ann Li 6-3, 6-1 in front of a small morning crowd in Rod Laver Arena. She's reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time. A year after a surprising loss in the third round at Melbourne Park, Serena Williams managed to get past that stage by beating Russian teen Anastasia Potapova, 7-6, 6-2 to advance to the Round of 16. Potapova served for the opening set at 5-3 before double-faulting five times in that game, including twice on set point. Naomi Osaka is back in the fourth round for the first time since her title run in 2019. Osaka overcame 28 unforced errors and saved six of seven break points she faced in a 6-3, 6-2 win over 27th-seeded Ons Jabeur. Other third-round winners on the women's side include 14th seed Garbine Muguruza and No. 19 Marketa Vondrousova.

In the men's bracket, 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov was leading 6-0, 1-0 when No. 15 Pablo Carreno Busta retired due to injury.

PGA

Patrick Cantlay birdied seven of his first eight holes and closed with two straight birdies for a 10-under 62 at the PGA's Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Cantlay tied the course record at Pebble Beach last matched 24 years ago by David Duval, and it gave him a two-shot lead through one round. Henrik Norlander and 19-year-old Akshay Bhatia were at 8 under.

OLYMPICS

Yoshiro Mori says he is resigning as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. The decision follows sexist comments in which Mori implied that women talk too much. Mori's departure at an executive board meeting comes after more than a week of non-stop criticism about his remarks earlier this month. He initially apologized but refused to step away, which was followed by relentless pressure from television pundits, sponsors, and an on-line petition that drew 150,000 signatures.

MLB

The Los Angeles Dodgers have finalized contracts with two of their top starting pitchers. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer was introduced to the media on Thursday after he and the Dodgers finalized a three-year, $102 million package. The Southern California native was 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 11 starts for Cincinnati last year. The defending World Series champs also avoided salary arbitration with right-hander Walker Buehler by hammering out a two-year contract. The $8 million deal would escalate to more than $12 million if he starts regularly this year and wins a Cy Young Award. The 26-year-old Buehler was the Dodgers' ace in helping them win their first World Series title since 1988.

In other MLB news:

The Mets and infielder Jonathan Villar and the New York Mets have finalized a one-year, $3.55 million contract.

Right-hander David Phelps and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The Cubs have worked out a one-year, $1.5 million package with outfielder Jake Marisnick, a deal that is pending a physical.

The Pirates have signed veteran catcher Tony Wolters to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training.

The Indians are giving free agent Ben Gamel a shot to win one of their open outfield jobs after working out a minor league agreement with an invitation to big league spring training camp.

Catcher Bryan Holaday has agreed to a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks and will report to major league spring training.

Veteran outfielder Jon Jay has agreed to a minor league contract with the Angels and an invitation to major league spring training.

The major league season is scheduled to open April 1 with the Yankees hosting Toronto and Detroit hosting Cleveland to start a full schedule of 15 games. The schedule envisions every team playing its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968.

Seven Negro Leagues have been recommended for major league status by a task force of the Society for American Baseball Research. The announcement followed Major League Baseball's decision on Dec. 16 that it was reclassifying the Negro Leagues to majors. They had been excluded in 1969 when a baseball records committee identified six official major leagues dating to 1876. If accepted, the move can inflate stats for all players who played in the majors and Negro Leagues, including Willie Mays, Monte Irvin and Hank Aaron.

© The Associated Press 2021. All Rights Reserved.