BASKETBALL

Sam Hauser scored 29 points, Bruno Fernando had 22 points and nine rebounds, and recently acquired NBA veteran Denzel Valentine had 19 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists for the Maine Celtics in a 138-126 win Thursday afternoon against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in Indianapolis.

Hauser made 7 of 15 3-pointers, Valentine was 5 for 9 and Jaysean Page was 4 for 7 while scoring 16 points. Maine also got 17 points and seven assists from Deonte Burton.

It was the third straight game with at least 129 points for the Celtics, including a season-high 142 against the Westchester Knicks on Saturday.

Gabe York scored 43 points for Fort Wayne.

Maine continues its road trip with a game in Detroit against the Motor City Cruise on Sunday.

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NBA: LeBron James will return to Cleveland as an All-Star Game captain, and Ja Morant and Andrew Wiggins are headed there as first-time selections.

MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Warriors superstar Stephen Curry joined them Thursday as the other Western Conference as starters.

The starters from the East were Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid in the frontcourt, along with Atlanta’s Trae Young and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan.

Reserves for the game, voted on by the head coaches in each conference, will be announced on Feb. 3.

• The NBA has announced Charlotte Hornets forward PJ Washington and Toronto Raptors forward Justin Champagnie have been fined $15,000 apiece for their roles in an on-court altercation on Tuesday.

On the play before the confrontation, Washington knocked Champagnie to the floor with a hip check. On the next possession, Champagnie shoved Washington in the back, initiating the altercation. Washington escalated the matter by shoving Champagnie. Both were ejected with 1:46 remaining in the first quarter of Toronto’s 125-113 home victory.

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SOCCER

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: Iran became the first team from Asia to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar with a 1-0 win over Iraq in Tehran.

Medhi Taremi’s goal early in the second half secured a third straight World Cup appearance for Iran with three Group A games still remaining.

Iran has 19 points from seven games, two ahead of South Korea, which is within touching distance of a 10th successive World Cup appearance after a 1-0 win over Lebanon.

GOLF

PGA: Top-ranked Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas made the birdies they needed to keep pace on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines on Thursday and shared the lead with hard-charging Adam Schenk after two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.

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Schenk made eight straight birdies to shoot a career-low, 10-under 62, also on the North Course, and joined Rahm (65) and Thomas (63) at 13-under 131. All three leaders opened Wednesday on the South Course, where Rahm won the U.S. Open last year for his first major. Rahm also got his first PGA Tour victory in 2017 at Torrey Pines, a municipal facility on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The final two rounds will be played on the South Course.

LPGA: Lydia Ko continued take steps toward the top of women’s golf again on Thursday with birdies on half of her holes for a 9-under 63 and a two-shot lead over Danielle Kang in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Raton, Florida.

Ko has been winning on the LPGA Tour for so long – she won her first title as a 15-year-old – that it’s easy to forget she is only 24. Ko, a 16-time winner on tour, has seen it all, from winning two majors and becoming No. 1 in the world, to watching her ball-striking, her results and her confidence plummet.

She ended a nearly three-year drought by winning in Hawaii last year. She is back to No. 3 in the world.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to maintain the ‘goods’ from today the rest of the week,” Ko said.

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Kang, coming off a season-opening victory last week at Lake Nona, had eight birdies (one of them after hitting the flagstick with her tee shot on the par-3 17th) for a 65. Aditi Ashok (66) was alone in third.

EUROPEAN TOUR: JB Hansen shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 and held a two-stroke clubhouse lead in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Three months ago, Hansen won the Dubai Championship for the second title of his career and followed that up a week later with a ninth place at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship – also staged in Dubai. They are his only top-10 finishes since June.

Justin Harding was a stroke back on 6 under when the horn sounded while he was on the 18th fairway, signaling an end to the day’s play because of darkness.

Collin Morikawa birdied seven of his first 11 holes but bogeyed three of his last four and was in a group at 4-under 68 that also contained Viktor Hovland.

OLYMPICS

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CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: A coronavirus outbreak is spreading inside the powerful Norwegian team, with double Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Kruger becoming the third skier in two days to test positive ahead of the Beijing Games.

Norway’s team doctor, Øystein Andersen, told a news conference Thursday that Hegstad Kruger was self isolating and was not showing any symptoms. His positive test comes after two-time overall World Cup winner Heidi Weng was among two members of Norway’s women’s team to test positive on Wednesday.

Hegstad Kruger won gold in the 30-kilometer skiathlon race and silver in the 15K event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, where he also helped Norway win the men’s relay.

The entire men’s team has been in isolation in Italy after head coach Arild Monsen tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday on his return to Norway. The team is planning to fly back to Norway on Sunday and then leave for Beijing on Monday, and it’s unclear whether Hegstad Kruger and Weng will be able to join them later.

Anyone who has recently been infected with the virus is required to submit five negative tests to enter China for the Olympics, which start on Feb. 4.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The ECHL suspended Jacob Panetta for the rest of this season after the brother of longtime NHL player P.K. Subban accused the minor league defenseman of making “monkey gestures” in his direction.

Panetta was released by his Jacksonville team Sunday, a day after his actions toward Subban, who is Black. Panetta said his gestures were “not racially motivated.”

Panetta, 26, will be able to apply for a reduction of the suspension and reinstatement after March 17, pending completion of a learning experience conducted in conjunction with the NHL’s player inclusion committee.


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