BASKETBALL

Reserve guard Jaysean Paige scored 22 points to lead the Maine Celtics to their fifth straight win, 110-100 over the Westchester Knicks in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Monday night.

Paige scored 16 points in the first half, including 13 in the second quarter when the Celtics put together a 23-9 run and built a 51-47 lead by halftime.

Maine extended its lead to 82-67 in the third quarter. Westchester cut the lead to eight, 92-84, on a 3-pointer by Miles McBride with 7:37 left in the game, but the Knicks got no closer the rest of the way.

Theo Pinson added 20 points and Brodric Thomas finished with 19 for Maine, which beat Westchester 131-106 on Saturday.

Luka Samanic led the Knicks with 29 points, followed by McBride with 28 and Tyler Hall with 25. The trio combined for 16 3-pointers.

SOCCER

Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending seventh time on Monday, ending the year in style after a brilliant final season with Barcelona and earning his first major international trophy with Argentina.

Alexia Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award for an outstanding season with Barcelona and Spain.

The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals.

Messi finished with 613 points to top prolific Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski on 580.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men every year since 1956 when Stanley Matthews won.

The 33-year-old Lewandowski set a single-season scoring record for the Bundesliga with 41 goals – one more than late Germany great Gerd Muller – when he scored in the last minute of the last game.

Lewandowski scored in 19 consecutive games in all competitions for Bayern from February to September and he just missed out on equaling the record of scoring in 16 Bundesliga games in a row. Overall, he already has 25 goals in 20 games for Bayern this season.

His 11 goals in 12 games for Poland this year took his international tally to 74 in 128 games, just six less than Messi.

Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third with 460 points after helping the London club win the Champions League and his nation win the European Championship. Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema was fourth on 239.

Putellas helped Barca win the treble and scored 26 goals in 42 games overall. The midfielder netted in the Champions League final against Chelsea, and in August she was named UEFA women’s player of the year.

The only previous women’s award winners are Norway striker Ada Hegerberg in 2018, and U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe in 2019. The 2020 awards were canceled because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season.

MLS: Bruce Arena won a record fourth Major League Soccer Coach of the Year award after leading the New England Revolution to a league-record 73 points.

The 70-year-old, a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, also won the award with D.C. United in 1997 and the LA Galaxy in 2009 and 2011. He tied Sigi Schmid’s record of 240 regular-season wins.

New England hosts New York City on Tuesday in the playoffs. Arena is seeking his sixth MLS title and is trying to become the first coach to win with three different teams.

He received 57.97% of the vote by MLS club technical staff, media and current players. Colorado’s Robin Fraser was second with 20.8% and Seattle’s Brian Schmetzer was third with 4%.

PORTUGAL: Portuguese health authorities identified 13 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant among members of a professional soccer club and were investigating whether it was one of the first reported cases of local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa.

The Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute said that one of those who tested positive was a player from the Lisbon-based Belenenses SAD soccer club who had recently traveled to South Africa, where the omicron variant was first identified.

The others, including players and other members of the club’s staff, hadn’t reportedly traveled to southern Africa, where most of the cases have been recorded so far.

The institute said that those who had been in contact with the positive cases were in isolation regardless of their vaccination status.

Players of Lisbon’s biggest team, Benfica, which played Belenenses SAD on Saturday, were also being tested for the virus.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN: Forward Neymar will be out for up to eight weeks with a sprained left ankle.

Neymar was taken off on a stretcher during the French league leader’s 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

He also tore ligaments in his ankle, PSG said in a statement.

NWSL: Former Canadian national team player and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Rhian Wilkinson has been named coach of the Portland Thorns.

Wilkinson, 39, replaces Mark Parsons, who stepped down at the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season to take over as head coach of the Netherlands national team.

TENNIS

DAVIS CUP FINALS: Croatia became the first team to reach the semifinals after seeing off Italy 2-1 at Turin, Italy.

With the singles squared, the top-ranked doubles team of Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic had no trouble seeing off Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4 in the decider.

Sinner replaced Simone Bolelli after winning his singles, which took nearly three hours. But he and Fognini couldn’t get a break point against Pavic and Mektic, winners of Wimbledon and the Olympics this year.

Croatia, a two-time champion, awaits Serbia or Kazakhstan. Their quarterfinal is on Wednesday in Madrid.


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