BASBETBALL

Sam Hauser scored 27 points to lead the Maine Celtics to a season-opening 116-103 G League win over the College Park Skyhawks on Friday in College Park, Georgia.

Luke Kornet added 18 points and 11 rebounds while three players – Theo Pinson, Chris Clemons and Jaysean Paige – scored 13 each.

Sharif Cooper led the Skyhawks with 23 points.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The Florida Everblades opened a three-goal lead and held off the Maine Mariners for a 4-1 ECHL win on Friday in Portland.

Goals by Dylan Vander Esch and Alex Aleadry early in the third period gave Florida a 3-0 lead after a first-period goal by Blake Winiecki. Maine got on the board with a goal by Lewis Zerter-Gossage, assisted by Brendan Robbins and Andrew Romano, but could get no closer. John McCarron added an empty-net goal for the Everblades.

Maine goalie Jeremy Brodeur made 29 saves, while Cam John son had 24 for Florida.

SKIING

SHIFFRIN INJURED: Mikaela Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is not able to ski and prepare the way she would like to currently because of a hurt back that she likened to “a very severe muscle spasm or kind of a strain.”

Speaking via video conference from Edwards, Colorado, the American Alpine star said she hasn’t “really been able to do much of any skiing at all” since Oct. 23, when she won the season-opening giant slalom in Sölden, Austria, for her 70th career World Cup victory. Expected to be one of the main faces of the Beijing Games in February, Shiffrin already owns three medals from past Winter Games, along with three World Cup overall titles. She has the third-most race wins in World Cup history, trailing only Lindsey Vonn and Ingemar Stenmark.

“I just need to let it heal. It doesn’t take that long if I just take the time. But I want to be training right now. So I take a day, and then I’m like, ‘All right, maybe it’s good enough; I can go out and ski.′ And then I go out and ski and I take a few turns, and I’m like, ‘Ow. It’s really painful,’” the 26-year-old said.

Her aim is to enter every individual race in Beijing: slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super-G and the combined (which adds times from downhill and slalom).

AUTO RACING

NASCAR CUP: Kyle Larson was the best of NASCAR’s four title contenders Friday in the final practice before the championship is decided in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

Larson turned in the top speed of 135.293 mph among the four finalists and was second-fastest overall in 10-lap average at 131.935 in the No. 5 Chevrolet. Larson also set the fastest five-lap average.

The championship showdown Sunday at the mile track comes down to Hendrick Motorsports vs. Joe Gibbs Racing. Larson and reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott represent Hendrick, the winningest team in NASCAR history. Martin Truex Jr. and Hamlin will race for the checkered flag for JGR.

Elliott was fifth with a top lap of 135.019, Hamlin was eighth at 134.118 and Truex was 18th at 133.427. Elliott was right behind Larson for best 10-lap average at 131.776. The starting order for the championship race will be set at Saturday’s qualifying session.

GOLF

PGA: Matthew Wolff was on the verge of building a big lead Friday at Mayakoba until a pair of late bogeys forced him to settle for a 3-under 68 and a two-shot lead over fast-closing Scottie Scheffler in the World Wide Technology Championship in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Scheffler, who has performed well in majors and in the Ryder Cup but hasn’t won on the PGA Tour, was closer to the cut line than the lead until he ran off five straight birdies, the last one a 35-foot putt on the par-3 eighth. He finished with a par for a 64 and wound up within two shots of the lead.

Carlos Ortiz of Mexico and defending champion Viktor Hovland of Norway each had 65 and were three shots behind. Hovland overcame a bizarre break on No. 1 after he made the turn when his approach took a wild bounce and went out-of-bounds, leading to double bogey.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Nino Bertasio carded a 2-under 69 to hold a two-shot lead after the second round of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura, Portugal.

Bertasio entered the day with a four-shot lead after shooting a 61 on Thursday but saw it halved, with Adri Arnaus, Lucas Bjerregaard, Matthieu Pavon and Thomas Pieters all two strokes back heading into the weekend.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: The opening round of the TimberTech Championship in Boca Raton, Florida, was washed out by rain, and the plan is to play 36 holes on Saturday.

The tournament is the second of three in the postseason for the Charles Schwab Cup.

TENNIS

BILLIE JEAN KING CUP: Russia won the decisive doubles match to beat the United States 2-1 and reach the final in Prague.

Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova defeated the American pair of Shelby Rogers and Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3 after the teams split the two singles matches.

Russia took a 1-0 lead when Samsonova rallied from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Danielle Collins leveled the match with a 6-7 (9), 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

PARIS MASTERS: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic beat unseeded American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-3 to reach the  semifinals and remain on course for a record-extending sixth title at the tournament.

Djokovic next faces seventh-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, who beat James Duckworth 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-5 to secure the last spot for the season-ending ATP Finals.

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, saved three set points at 5-4 and 0-40 in the first set before beating French qualifier Hugo Gaston, 7-6 (7), 6-4.

SOCCER

MLS: Major League Soccer’s 2022 season will start Feb. 26 and its postseason final will be on Nov. 5, a month earlier than this year, to complete play before the World Cup starts on Nov. 21.

The league said that its regular season will end Oct. 9.


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