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Murray, Nuggets hang on to win, cut Lakers' lead to 2-1 – TSN

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — They had just lost a playoff heartbreaker, and two nights later the Denver Nuggets quickly went from in control to in trouble.

Escaping trouble is what these Nuggets do best.

“Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go,” coach Michael Malone said. “For some reason we love this bubble.”

They’ll get at least two more games in it.

Jamal Murray had 28 points, 12 assists and two late 3-pointers to halt a Lakers charge, helping the Nuggets to a 114-106 victory Tuesday night that cut Los Angeles’ lead to 2-1 in the Western Conference finals.

The Nuggets lost almost all of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter but held on, avoiding a 3-0 hole that would have been daunting even for this never-out-of-it team.

“We feel that we should be up 2-1 right now, to be honest,” Murray said. “So we’re just going to move on to Game 4.”

Denver has set a record by erasing two 3-1 deficits in this post-season, but no NBA team has ever come back from 3-0.

Jerami Grant added a playoff career-high 26 points and Nikola Jokic had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to even the series on Thursday.

LeBron James had 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — his 26th playoff triple-double — for the Lakers, who remain two wins from their first NBA Finals appearance in a decade. Anthony Davis, who made the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Game 2, scored 27 points.

The Nuggets led by 20 with 10 1/2 minutes left and soon after were hanging on after the Lakers charged back with a 19-2 run, turning to a zone defence and forcing turnovers that led to easy baskets.

“We played some pretty good ball in the fourth quarter, but those first 36 minutes, that hurt us obviously,” James said.

With Denver’s lead down to four, Murray made a 3-pointer with 2:16 remaining. He then found Paul Millsap under the basket for a score before hitting a long 3 to push the lead back to 111-99 with 53 seconds to play.

Coach Frank Vogel acknowledged the Lakers were fortunate to win Game 2, in which they committed 24 turnovers, and would have to be better Tuesday.

Instead, it was the Nuggets who raised their game and played from ahead, ending a streak of six straight games where they trailed at halftime.

“Maybe they can beat us by 20, 30, they can beat us by a last shot, but we just cannot quit,” Jokic said. “Effort needs to be there.”

The Lakers built leads of 15 or more in the second quarter of the first two games. This time it was the Nuggets who started to run away in that period, even with Jokic on the bench resting for their big run that started it.

Denver began with a 7-0 spurt, the last five from Michael Porter Jr., to open a nine-point lead. After a dunk by James, Murray made a 3-pointer and Monte Morris scored the next five to make it a 15-2 start to the period and give the Nuggets a 44-29 advantage.

It would grow to 18 and could have been worse if not for Davis, who scored nine straight Lakers points. Markieff Morris’ 3-pointer trimmed it to 63-53 at halftime.

The Lakers got the first five points of the third to cut the lead in half, but Denver regained control and led 93-75 after three.

Murray finished with eight rebounds.

TIP-INS

Lakers: The Lakers had a six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 10-3 in these playoffs. … Dwight Howard started the second half at centre, replacing JaVale McGee.

Nuggets: Denver’s last halftime lead had been a 59-57 edge over the Clippers in Game 3 of the West semifinals. … Malone wished his parents a happy anniversary during his interview after the third quarter. His father, Brendan, was a longtime NBA assistant coach who also coached the Toronto Raptors in 1995-96, their inaugural season.

THE AIR UP THERE

The Lakers came into the game 4-0 in the playoffs as the designated road team. Vogel said nothing really changes in the Walt Disney World bubble except the benches the teams are sitting on, but he joked about the big difference that would have awaited his team in a normal situation.

“You know, I did make sure our guys did whatever they needed to do to adjust to the altitude of playing in Denver tonight because Game 3, you’ve always got to account for that altitude,” he said. “Maybe we don’t have to account for it tonight in Orlando.”

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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No bodychecking allowed in upcoming OHL season, says Ontario sport minister – CBC.ca

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The Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this coming season, according to Lisa MacLeod.

Ontario’s minister of sport said Friday afternoon in a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19

“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” said MacLeod. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”

The OHL announced on Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.

WATCH | MacLeod says bodychecking barred from OHL:

Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries discusses the OHL’s return to play proposal during the pandemic. 1:04

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions. After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend.

The Western Hockey League said earlier this month it plans to start its season on Jan. 8.

MacLeod said the decision to ban bodychecking was influenced by the outbreaks in the QMJHL.

“I suspect [the OHL] will have to modify their play until there is a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we have contained the spread of COVID-19,” said MacLeod.

The MPP for Nepean said she normally has no problem with physical play in the sport, but the pandemic is an exceptional circumstance.

“I have done a lot of work on concussion awareness so I do take very seriously the safety but if done appropriately in regular times I wouldn’t,” MacLeod said.

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MLB owners approve sale of Mets to Cohen – TSN

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NEW YORK — The Wilpon family’s control of the New York Mets neared its end after 34 years when Major League Baseball owners voted Friday to approve the sale of the team to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

The vote was 26-4, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the balloting was not announced. Cohen needed 75% approval.

The transfer from the Wilpon and Katz families values the franchise at between $2.4 billion and $2.45 billion, a record for a baseball team that tops the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management in 2012. The Mets sale is likely to close within 10 days.

Cohen pledged to inject about $9.5 million in additional payments this off-season for pandemic-hit employees.

“I am humbled that MLB’s owners have approved me to be the next owner of the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a statement. “Owning a team is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility.”

An entity controlled by Cohen will own 95% of the franchise, and the Wilpon and Katz families will retain 5% of the team.

Former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will return as team president.

“My family and I are lifelong Mets fans, so we’re really excited about this,” Cohen said. “With free agency starting Sunday night, we will be working towards a quick close.”

Cohen said all Mets employees, including unionized groundskeepers, security guards and engineers, will receive restored pre-pandemic salaries as of Sunday that reverse 5-30% salary cuts begun in March. He valued the restoration at over $7 million.

A seasonal relief fund will start Sunday and run through opening day for about 1,000 Citi Field employees of subcontractors that makes each eligible for $500 monthly, a commitment of about $2.5 million.

Cohen pledged to “dramatically increase” giving by the Mets Foundation and to prioritize not-for-profits and causes in the Citi Field area. He agreed to donate $17.5 million to programs developed by New York City to make grants to area small businesses through the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Cohen made his announcement as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city does not object to the sale. The city had the right to review the proposed transfer of the lease of Citi Field, the Mets’ home since 2009.

The current Mets ownership group is headed by Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katz and Wilpon’s son, Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer. Fred Wilpon turns 84 on Nov. 22 and Katz is 81.

“We appreciate Fred’s decades of service to league committees and the governance of the game,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Steve will bring his lifelong passion for the Mets to the stewardship of his hometown team, and he will be joined by highly respected baseball leadership as well. I believe that Steve will work hard to deliver a team in which Mets fans can take pride.”

The 64-year-old Cohen is CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management. He first bought an 8% limited partnership stake in the Mets in 2012 for $40 million.

“I know that Steve Cohen and his family share the same passion we’ve had for the Mets and for this city,” Fred Wilpon said in a statement. “Steve will continue, and will build upon, this organization’s longstanding commitment to the support of our community, and of those in need, which is especially important at this time. He shares the view that Saul, Jeff and I have long held, that ownership of the Mets is a public trust.”

The publisher Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets on Jan. 24, 1980, from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95% of the team and Wilpon controlling 5%.

When Doubleday & Co. was sold to Bertelsmann AG, the publisher sold its shares of the team on Nov. 14, 1986, for $80.75 million to Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.

Wilpon and his Sterling Equities partners completed his buyout of Doubleday on Aug. 23, 2002, ending what had become an acrimonious partnership. Under the original appraisal, Doubleday would have received $137.9 million — half the team’s $391 million value after accounting for debt. Wilpon sued, and the sides then settled.

The Mets failed to win any titles under the Wilpons’ time of sole control and their final dozen years were hampered by financial losses from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

“It has been a privilege and honour for our families to have been a part of this great franchise for the past 40 years,” Fred Wilpon said. “We would like to express our deep appreciation for our loyal and passionate fans, who have consistently supported this organization through the years. We’d also like to thank the many great players, managers, coaches and dedicated employees with whom we’ve been privileged to work with through the years.”

Cohen controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Bodychecking in Ontario Hockey League banned to prevent spread of COVID-19 – ESPN

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Ontario’s minister of sport said in a speech that the Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this season.

Lisa MacLeod told the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” MacLeod said. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”

The OHL announced Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.

“Until such time as we arrive at an agreed upon Return to Play protocol with the Government of Ontario, the League will have no further comment on the matter of body contact,” the OHL said in a statement.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions.

After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend. The Western Hockey League plans to start its season on Jan. 8.

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