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Friday’s Sports In Brief

March 12, 2022 GMT

NBA

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gregg Popovich became the winningest coach in NBA regular-season history, getting his 1,336th victory when the San Antonio Spurs rallied to beat the Utah Jazz 104-102.

Popovich broke a tie with Don Nelson, the friend and mentor he served as an assistant under while with Golden State for two seasons.

The milestone came in Popovich’s 2,030th game and 26th season with the Spurs, the only franchise he has served as head coach for.

Unsurprisingly, the evening was met with zero fanfare. That is, until the end — players mobbed Popovich when the game was over, jumping around and hugging him until he could break free and headed to the locker room. Popovich was doused with a cooler of water as huge roars could be heard from the locker room as the Spurs celebrated along with Hall of Famer David Robinson.

He is the fourth coach, going back to the end of the NBA’s first season, to stand atop the wins list. Red Auerbach held the mark for about a half-century, followed by Lenny Wilkens, followed by Nelson — and now, Popovich.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James scored 50 points for the 15th time in his career and helped rally the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half to a 122-109 victory over the Washington Wizards.

The 37-year old superstar became the oldest player to have multiple 50-point games in a season. Bernard King was the previous oldest to do it at 34 in 1990-91 with Washington.

It is the second straight home game during which James has scored at least 50 and the third time he has done it with the Lakers. He had a season-high 56 in a win over Golden State last Saturday.

James is the first Lakers player since the late Kobe Bryant in 2008 to have back-to-back, 50-point home games. James also had six rebounds and moved past Dikembe Mutombo into 12th place on the NBA’s career defensive rebounds list with 8,553.

BASEBALL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A day after owners and players reached agreement to end a 99-day lockout, all 30 spring training camps opened across Arizona and Florida. Now the four-week sprint begins in earnest to get ready for an April 7 opening day.

Cleveland ace Shane Bieber limbered up in Guardians gear, Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. began taking grounders and new St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol signed autographs as spring training for major leaguers finally began.

Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner, and All-Star third baseman José Ramírez were among the players sporting Guardians garb who went through light workouts following check-in physicals. The team formally changed its name from Indians following last season.

Bo Bichette and José Berríos were among those joining Guerrero in getting busy at the Blue Jays’ camp in Dunedin, Florida. Sunday is the mandatory reporting date for players, but many were eager to get to to work early.

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In Tampa, Florida, New York Yankees star DJ LeMahieu was among a multi-team group working out for the last time at a high school field less than a mile from New York’s complex. Boston’s Rafael Devers and Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Andrew McCutchen also have been taking part over the last month.

NEW YORK (AP) — If the next All-Star Game in Major League Baseball goes deep into the night, a slugger may get a chance to decide it by going deep — in a Home Run Derby.

That’s right, say going, going, goodbye to extra innings in the Midsummer Classic. Instead, bring on Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryce Harper and the big boppers for a winner-take-all blast-off.

Because buried deep in the 182-page memorandum of understanding signed Thursday by MLB and the players’ association is a radical new method of potentially deciding the All-Star Game.

“If the All-Star Game remains tied after nine innings, the game will be decided by a Home Run Derby between the teams, subject to the parties’ agreement on details and format,” reads exhibit 13, titled “Tentative Agreement — All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.”

Plus, a new flavor to MLB’s international mix — there will be a regular-season game in Paris in 2025.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and the players’ association resumed drug testing after an absence of nearly 3 1/2 months.

Testing with penalties had been in place from 2004 through last Dec. 1. It was halted the following day because of management’s lockout.

Opiates and opioids were clarified on the banned substance as prohibited both naturally and synthetically under drugs of abuse in the Joint Drug Program, part of the memorandum of agreement signed Thursday. MLB said they have been tested for since spring training in 2020.

Mandatory unannounced urine testing will be conducted at random times throughout spring training rather than in conjunction with physicals. Blood testing for Human Growth Hormone will be conducted by dried blood spots rather than blood draws, subject to agreement by outside experts, although draws are allowed for reasonable cause.

NFL

HOUSTON (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson following a police investigation sparked by lawsuits filed by 22 women who have accused him of sexual assault and harassment.

The grand jury’s decision came about a year after the women first filed their suits, accusing Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments. One woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex.

Houston police began investigating Watson in April 2021 after a criminal complaint was filed. The FBI also was reviewing the allegations.

Prosecutors presented evidence and testimony to the grand jury for over six hours on Friday related to nine criminal complaints against Watson, Johna Stallings, chief of the adult sex crimes and trafficking division with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tyrece Radford scored 19 points and Quenton Jackson made five throws in the final minute as Texas A&M beat fourth-ranked Auburn 67-62 in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, a loss that could wind up costing the Tigers a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson also had a dunk and a key block late, finishing with 17 points to help Texas A&M (22-11) follow up an 83-80 overtime victory over Florida with another strong outing that enhanced the surging Aggies’ chances of landing at least an at-large berth in the NCAA field.

NEW YORK (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 18 points and 11 rebounds and No. 7 Duke held off Miami with free throws in the final minute as the Blue Devils — and retiring coach Mike Krzyzewski — beat the Hurricanes 80-76 to advance to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Top-seeded Duke will face seventh-seeded Virginia Tech on Saturday night.

AJ Griffin scored 21 points, including three free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal Coach K’s 22nd appearance in the ACC title game. Krzyzewski has won a conference-record 15 ACC championships.

GOLF

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Players Championship delivered only four hours of golf Friday before rain saturated the TPC Sawgrass, assuring the PGA Tour’s premier event will not end until Monday.

Based on the forecast of overnight rain and raging wind, the tour said there was no chance of even making the cut until Sunday.

Play was stopped at 11:15 a.m. The conditions and the forecast were so bad the first round was not scheduled to resume until 11 a.m. Saturday, and that was described as a best-case scenario.

It will be the eighth Monday finish since The Players Championship began in 1974, and the first since 2005. All the Monday finishes have occurred in March. The Players was held in May for 12 years until returning to its earlier date in 2019.