Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player for 2021, while Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies took home the National League award. 

It was the first time since 1987 neither league's MVP appeared in the postseason, but Ohtani and Harper were rewarded for their overall dominance. 

The 27-year-old Ohtani electrified baseball with an all-round game not seen in the 100 years since Babe Ruth gave up pitching to focus on hitting full-time and was the runaway winner in voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes for a total of 420 points. Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. received all but one second-place vote as he compiled 269 points, and Marcus Semien of the Toronto Blue Jays was third with 232 points. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (171 points) and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros (163) were next in the voting. 

Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs and an MLB-leading eight triples and also stole 26 bases while posting a .865 on base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

He was also dominant at times as a pitcher, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts while striking out 156 in 130.1 innings. 

Harper received 348 points, taking 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals was second with 274 points and six first-place votes, while Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres was third with 244 points and two first-place votes.

Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (213, four) and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers (185, one) rounded out the top five. 

Harper, 29, led the majors with a 1.044 OPS as he hit .309 with 35 home runs and an MLB-best 42 doubles.

He also won the NL MVP award in 2015 while playing for the Washington Nationals. 

 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist "no irregularities were observed" after a report contained the claim that Antonio Brown procured a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

A story from the Tampa Bay Times featured the allegation that wide receiver Brown was willing to pay his former live-in chef Steven Ruiz $500 if he could obtain a vaccine card for the NFL star.

The report says Ruiz was unable to secure cards but claimed he was later shown fake documentation by Brown.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement: "We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter."

While players in the NFL do not have to be vaccinated in order to play, those who are not jabbed face stricter restrictions under the league's protocols put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn, was quoted by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport as saying "be like Antonio Brown and get the vaccine", and insisted his client is indeed vaccinated against COVID-19.

Defending Super Bowl champions the Bucs have now also reacted to the claims.

A team statement read: "After an extensive educational process conducted throughout our organisation this past offseason highlighting the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines, we received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and submitted the required information to the NFL through the established process in accordance with league policy.

"All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed."

Brown missed the Bucs' week three game against the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19. He featured in the team's following three games before being sidelined by an ankle injury.

Michael Maguire of the USA sank a long birdie putt on Wednesday to clinch the 54th Jamaica Open Golf Championships in a dramatic play-off with countryman Ryan Sullivan on Wednesday as Dustin Risdon, who after the first two days collapsed during the final round to finish fifth.

Meanwhile, Justin Burrowes stormed back to pip defending champion William Knibbs for the amateur title.

Maguire and Sullivan each ended the regulation 72 holes on 8 under par 208 with scores 69 and 65, respectively, forcing a play-off for the title.

On the first hold, Sullivan made par. Maguire seized the opportunity with a birdie to improve on his third-place finishes in 2017 and 2019.

Sullivan's nine-under-par 65 was the best one-day score of the championship, just missing out on the record of 63 scored by Hernan Borja in 2017 at the Half Moon Golf Course while winning the Jamaica Open that year.

Stephen Grant, also of the USA, scored a four-under-par 68 for a three-day total of 209 which placed him third overall. Fourth went to Trinidad and Tobago’s Benjamin Martin, who shot 71 for a total score of 210.

Dustin Risdon of Canada, who led after the first and second days, respectively, lost his way after posting 3 over par 75 on the final day to end on 211 to take the fifth spot.

Meanwhile, Wesley Brown was the best local golfer along with Aaron Bailey after they carded rounds of 78 and 75, respectively, to end on nine-over-par 225.  Brown was not happy with his overall position of joint ninth. Bailey, on the other hand, was pleased with his placing even though he believed he could have played better.

Among the amateurs, Burrowes began Wednesday’s final day six strokes behind the day one and day two leader Knibbs but the two-time winner rallied with a three-under-par 69 for an overall score of one over par 217 to deny Knibbs, who carded his worst score, a 10-over-par 82 and eight-over 224 for the tournament.

Rocco Lopez was third on 231 after scoring 79 on the last day.  Fourteen-year-old Ryan Lue was joint third with Shamar Wilson.  They shot 79 and 83, respectively, to end on 237.

Jamaica Golf Association president Jodi Munn-Barrow and presenting sponsor Scott Summy of Aqua Bay Resort were pleased with the tournament this year.  Summy promised to be back as a sponsor.

Serena Williams has said she is "devastated and shocked" by the case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, whose whereabouts have become a mystery sparking international concern.

Doubles grand slam winner Peng is said to have been missing since making sexual assault allegations against a former top Chinese government official.

She posted on Chinese social media site Weibo allegations against Zhang Gaoli – the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee – claiming he had forced her to have sexual relations with him.

The head of the women's tour, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon, has questioned the veracity of an email purportedly written by the two-time major doubles champion saying that she is safe.

Now 23-time grand slam singles winner Williams has added her powerful voice, stating: "I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent."

WTA boss Simon said he had "a hard time believing" the email in Peng's name had come from the 35-year-old player herself. The message stated the allegations of sexual assault were not true and that Peng was "resting at home".

Former world number one Williams said she was "sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time", adding the hashtag "#whereispengshuai" to her Twitter message.

Williams and Peng have faced each other four times in their careers, with the American winning each of their singles matches, the most recent in 2014, while Peng and Sun Tiantian beat Williams and sister Venus Williams in doubles in Bangalore in 2008.

There has been concern throughout sport and beyond for the wellbeing of Peng, a French Open and Wimbledon doubles winner.

On Wednesday, Simon said it was important that there was "independent and verifiable proof that she is safe", saying the statement issued in her name "only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts".

He said he had made efforts to contact Peng "via numerous forms of communication, to no avail", saying she must be allowed to speak "freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source".

Peng's social media post containing her allegations, along with all of her other content, has been removed from Weibo.

Four-time major winner Naomi Osaka also spoke up this week, with the Japanese star stating: "Censorship is never ok at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I'm in shock of the current situation and I'm sending love and light her way."

Max Verstappen did not appear concerned on Thursday by a looming decision over Mercedes' attempt to have an incident at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix reviewed.

Verstappen forced Formula One title rival Lewis Hamilton off the track in Brazil last week in defending his position at the front of the race.

That was initially deemed a fair move, and Hamilton eventually passed the championship leader anyway, cutting the gap at the top to 14 points with a precious win.

But Mercedes subsequently appealed for the incident to be reviewed again on the basis of "new evidence".

The FIA has said stewards will announce whether the clash will be fully re-examined on Friday ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, teeing up another nervous wait.

Both Verstappen and Hamilton were the subject of stewards' enquiries in Brazil, the latter handed his second penalty of the week due to a DRS issue.

But Dutchman Verstappen is not letting this latest controversy worry him ahead of a potentially pivotal grand prix.

"Listen, if it would have been the other way around in Brazil, it would have exactly played out like that," he told Sky Sports.

"It's hard racing. We are fighting for a championship; we are not here to be in a kindergarten."

Hamilton said: "I'm just putting all my energy to setting up the car and making sure I'm in the right headspace this weekend."

England captain Owen Farrell is a major doubt for the start of the Six Nations after it was revealed he must undergo ankle surgery.

Farrell limped off during England's 32-15 victory over Australia at Twickenham last Saturday.

Saracens on Thursday revealed the England skipper will be out for 10 to 12 weeks, with an operation required.

The versatile Farrell faces a battle to be fit for the Red Rose's opening game of the 2022 Six Nations against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 5.

Sarries also confirmed in a fitness bulletin that their England hooker Jamie George will be sidelined for eight to 10 weeks due to the knee damage he sustained in the win over the Wallabies.

The Premiership club were able to offer positive news of Elliot Daly, who is back in full training and available to return after recovering from a leg injury.

England head coach Eddie Jones has named Courtney Lawes as captain for the clash with South Africa on Saturday in the absence of Farrell.

Manu Tuilagi moves to inside centre to fill the void left by Farrell, with Joe Marchant starting on the right wing.

Rookie duo Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire will start in the front row, while hooker Nic Dolly could make his debut off the bench against the world champions.

Rookie duo Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire will start in the front row for England when they face world champions South Africa on Saturday.

Blamire, who has scored four tries in five games for his country, gets his chance from the start with Jamie George ruled out due to a knee injury and prop Rodd comes into the team alongside Kyle Sinckler.

Flanker Courtney Lawes captains the Red Rose for the second time in the absence of Owen Farrell, who suffered an ankle injury in the win over Australia last weekend.

Hooker Nic Dolly could make his debut off the bench as Eddie Jones' side go in search of revenge for the 2019 World Cup final defeat.

Joe Marchant gets the nod to start on the right wing, with Manu Tuilagi moving to inside centre.

Prop Joe Marler is among the replacements, having missed the defeat of the 32-16 of the Wallabies after testing positive for coronavirus.

England have not lost to the Springboks at Twickenham since 2014, when they were edged out 31-18.

 

England team: Freddie Steward, Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Bevan Rodd, Jamie Blamire, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes (captain), Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Nic Dolly, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

Alexander Zverev will face Novak Djokovic in the last four of the ATP Finals after beating Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets on Thursday.

Zverev knew a victory over Hurkacz would see him through to the semi-finals from the Red Group along with Daniil Medvedev and the third seed duly prevailed 6-2 6-4.

The 2018 champion did not face a break point as Hurkacz bowed out after losing all three matches on his debut at the season-ending tournament in Turin.

Zverev's commanding win also ended alternate Jannik Sinner's hopes of qualifying on home soil at the Pala Alpitour.

The German will do battle with world number one Djokovic for a place in the final after losing only 11 points behind his serve in his final round-robin match.

Zverev got off to a storming start and never looked back, surging into a 4-0 lead in the opening set and breaking once in the second to put himself two wins away from claiming the title for a second time.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Zverev  – 22/8
Hurkacz – 20/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Zverev  – 11/0
Hurkacz – 11/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Zverev – 3/7
Hurkacz – 0/0

Rory McIlroy leads the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after the opening round, but Race to Dubai frontrunner Collin Morikawa was Thursday's big winner.

A seven-under 65 gave McIlroy a two-stroke advantage at the top of the leaderboard at Jumeirah Golf Estates, with Tapio Pulkkanen, Joachim B. Hansen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a three-way tie behind him.

McIlroy, whose 14th and most recent European Tour win came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019, made a flying birdie-eagle start and only dropped a single shot all day at the ninth.

After turning in 31, the Northern Irishman protected his day-one advantage over a steady back nine.

McIlroy, who beat Morikawa at the CJ Cup last month, believes he has "got [his] golf game back" since contributing only a single point to Europe's Ryder Cup defeat.

"I'm just excited for the road ahead, because I feel like I'm on the right path," he said.

But the main focus this week is on the Race to Dubai, in which McIlroy is 20th and out of the running.

First-placed Morikawa has competition chiefly from fellow American Billy Horschel this week following Jon Rahm's withdrawal, although four other players could also yet scoop the seasonal title with 2,000 points on the line in Dubai.

Of the six contenders, Morikawa is best placed heading into Friday after his four-under 68 secured a share of fifth.

Crucially, Horschel endured a difficult start as three bogeys across four holes on the back nine set him back and he carded a two-over 74 – a hugely damaging deficit given his need to outperform Morikawa.

Rounds of 70 for Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey kept the English trio in the mix, although each need to win and see Morikawa struggle. Min Woo Lee, the sixth man in contention, has work to do from even par.

Josh Adams has been passed fit to start for Wales and Pete Samu replaces Michael Hooper in the Australia team for Saturday's Test at the at Principality Stadium.

Adams missed the 38-23 defeat of Fiji last weekend due to a calf injury, but the winger will face the Wallabies.

Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins are Wayne Pivac's centre pairing, while the fit-again Aaron Wainwright is back at number eight.

Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis return to the starting line-up for what will be the final Test of the year for both sides.

Samu comes into the Australia team in the absence of Hooper, who suffered a foot injury in the loss to England at Twickenham last Saturday.

Props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa return after missing the defeat to the Red Rose due to concussion, while Tolu Latu starts at hooker and Filipo Daugunu gets the nod on the wing alongside Andrew Kellaway.

Centre Lalakai Foketi is set to make his debut off the bench, with James Slipper taking over as skipper.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Uilisi Halaholo, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Ellis Jenkins (captain), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Ben Carter, Christ Tshiunza, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Johnny McNicholl.

Australia team: Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Nic White; James Slipper (captain), Tolu Latu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Will Skelton, Lachlan Swinton, Tate McDermott, Lalakai Foketi, Tom Wright.

The MCG Ashes Test and the Australian Open will be watched by capacity crowds following the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Victoria.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced there will no longer be limits on gatherings in the state.

Andrews had revealed last month, when the latest lockdown ended, that he was hopeful at least 80,000 will be able to attend the Boxing Day Test.

Australia and England can now look forward to playing in front of a full house of 100,000 next month.

The first grand slam of the year, starting at Melbourne Park on January 17, is also set to be played without a cap on the number of spectators allowed in.

"Whether it's 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day or a smaller group of people standing up at the … local pub, this is the COVID-normal that every Victorian has built," he said at a press conference.

Crowds for the 2021 Australian Open were limited to 30,000 people per day – around half capacity – prior to a snap lockdown being implemented during the tournament.

No more than 30,000 were permitted in the MCG for Australia's Boxing Day Test against India last year.

LeBron James hopes to return for the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Boston Celtics on Friday but is still rated as "day to day" by head coach Frank Vogel.

The Lakers were toppled 109-102 by defending NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday to fall to 8-8 for the season.

It also means they are 4-6 for games this season in which they have been without superstar James, who has missed eight in a row and 10 of 16 overall with an abdominal strain.

When leaving the Fiserv Forum after the loss to the Bucks, James was asked by ESPN if he would be back against the Celtics, to which he replied: "I hope, I hope."

Having James back would be a timely boost to a star-studded Lakers side that has yet to gel this season. In 54 regular-season games played in Boston, James averages 28.9 points. Only in Cleveland, where he has averaged 29.1 points in 17 games as an opposing player, does he have a better average.

James was put through his paces by Lakers assistant Phil Handy prior to Wednesday's game and was seen stretching out his abdomen on several occasions.

With James in the team, the Lakers are 4-2 even though his 24.8 points per game is his lowest return since averaging 20.9 as a rookie, while his 5.5 rebounds are the least since that same season and 7.0 assists his worst return since 2015-16.

 

When asked about James' potential return, Vogel said: "I was hoping he was going to play each of the last seven games or whatever it's been since he's been out. 

"I always hope he's going to play. I'm always optimistic. He's still day to day. No decisions are made."

Vogel said any conditions that need to be met for James to come back will be left to the Lakers' medical team.

"I'll leave that to the medical team," he added. "I know he did some work today. I haven't gotten the reports on how that went yet. 

"But I'll leave that between him and the medical team to make the decision of when he's ready to go."

James' team-mate Anthony Davis believes injuries have been a disrupting factor for the Lakers through the first part of the season.

"We put a team together and we haven't seen it yet," he said. 

"Once we get everybody back, we can kind of see, to be honest. Until then, just got to fight with what we got."

Now, Muguruza – at the age of 28 – is the oldest year-end champion since Serena Williams seven years ago and is up to third in the rankings.

For Muguruza it was never a question of if she had the game to be back among the elite players, merely just the need to prove so.

"I'm just very happy I proved to myself once again I can be the best, I can be the 'maestra,' like how we say in Spanish," Muguruza said. "That puts me in a very good position for next year, a good ranking.

"The last couple of years, I didn't play the same way I played before. But I didn't play bad tennis, either. 

"I was just here, there, not going into the deep rounds at grand slams that made the difference. I always felt I had the tennis. I was just not putting the battle together.

"I always believe I [could make] finals of a grand slam, [climb] the rankings, I'm like 'I have the tennis, I just have to show it'. It's hard, of course."

 

Now, Muguruza – at the age of 28 – is the oldest year-end champion since Serena Williams seven years ago and is up to third in the rankings.

For Muguruza it was never a question of if she had the game to be back among the elite players, merely just the need to prove so.

"I'm just very happy I proved to myself once again I can be the best, I can be the 'maestra,' like how we say in Spanish," Muguruza said. "That puts me in a very good position for next year, a good ranking.

"The last couple of years, I didn't play the same way I played before. But I didn't play bad tennis, either. 

"I was just here, there, not going into the deep rounds at grand slams that made the difference. I always felt I had the tennis. I was just not putting the battle together.

"I always believe I [could make] finals of a grand slam, [climb] the rankings, I'm like 'I have the tennis, I just have to show it'. It's hard, of course."

Giannis Antetokounmpo insisted he is at his best when he is aggressive after the Milwaukee Bucks superstar posted 47 points in Wednesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Antetokounmpo was unstoppable in Milwaukee midweek, erupting for a season high as NBA champions the Bucks took down the LeBron James-less Lakers 109-102.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

"I feel like the past games I wasn't as aggressive as I want to be, wasn't initiating the contact, wasn't getting into the pain as much," Antetokounmpo told reporters post-game.

"At the end of the day, you try to develop your weaknesses and forget your strengths. Had two days in between, talk to the coaches, watch a lot of tape. I want to be aggressive, initiate the contact and get into the pain. Play with an edge.

"At the end of the day, I just let my instincts take over…"

 

Antetokounmpo added: "There's been so much I've been asked to do – lead, be vocal, pass the ball, rebound the ball, score the ball. I just try to compete. Moving forward, I just want to be aggressive. I'm my best when I'm aggressive."

All-Star team-mate Khris Middleton returned after an eight-game absence due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

"Feels good to have him back. We've missed him. Just having him out there, he draws a lot of attention. People have to guard him," said Antetokounmpo of Middleton.

"As much as I was complaining in the past, just an inside joke with him about seeing him too much, we have to get some space... I kind of missed him. Having him out there helped the team. He made great plays down the stretch."

It has been a topsy-turvy start to the season for the Bucks (7-8) in their title defence due to injuries and COVID-related absences – Milwaukee are 11th in the Eastern Conference.

"We have to start winning games. It's not the most important thing," Antetokounmpo continued. "The most important thing to get better and build good habits. Play good basketball down the stretch in May and June but at the end of the day, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you keep losing.

"We have to start putting teams away. When we're up 15, we can't step back, we have to attack and keep playing with that edge. Don't be satisfied. With Khris back, it's a good opportunity to get back on track. We're in a good place right now."

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 47 points as the NBA champions took down the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.

Antetokounmpo dominated the Lakers, making 18 of his 23 field goals, while collecting nine rebounds and three assists for the Bucks (7-8) on Wednesday.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP became the fifth player in the last 20 seasons to score 45-plus points on 75 per cent shooting from the field and 75 per cent shooting from three-point range.

Antetokounmpo is the first player to post at least 45 points on 75-plus per cent field-goal percentage against the Lakers since Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in 1995.

 

All-Star Bucks team-mate Khris Middleton made his return after eight games out due to COVID-19 and tied Milwaukee's franchise record for career three-pointers.

Middleton – who finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds – matched Ray Allen for first place with his 1,051st career three.

The Lakers (8-8), again without superstar LeBron James, were led by double-doubles from Talen Horton-Tucker (25 points and 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (19 points and 15 assists).

 

Suns stay hot

The Phoenix Suns celebrated their 10th straight victory after outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 105-98. Devin Booker (24 points) and Deandre Ayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the Suns, who are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 2010. Chris Paul had 14 assists without a turnover – his 46th career game with 10-plus assists and 0 turnovers, tying Muggsy Bogues for most by any player since 1985.

Damian Lillard's 22 points and 10 assists helped the Portland Trail Blazers upstage the Chicago Bulls 112-107. Zach LaVine (30 points), DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Alex Caruso (12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) starred but the Bulls still lost on the road.

The Miami Heat defeated the New Orleans Pelicans behind Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Kevin Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list for threes made with 1,687, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash. The Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99.

 

Knicks continue to struggle for form

After returning to the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks have made a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign amid plenty of hype. They were sensationally upstaged by the lowly Orlando Magic 104-98 – their fourth defeat in six games.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash labelled Kevin Durant as "one of the best who has ever played the game" after the superstar's latest achievement.

Durant posted 23 points in the NBA championship-chasing Nets' 109-99 win at home to Eastern Conference rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Two-time champion Durant nailed two three-pointers to move 26th on the all-time NBA list with 1,687 threes, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Nash.

"He's one of the best who has ever played the game so it's no surprise. It was coming I'm sure," Nash said after the Nets bounced back from Tuesday's blow-out loss to the league-leading Golden State Warriors.

James Harden fuelled the Nets with 27 points, while Patty Mills added 21 points to give Brooklyn four 20-point scorers for the first time this season.

The Nets have won eight of their past 10 games to be 11-5 to open the 2021-22 campaign.

"A lot of ups and downs. In the second half, we just had a meltdown and they capitalised. They made shots," Harden said post-game.

"We are fortunate they missed a lot of open shots. In the second half, they made a lot of them, so the good thing is we came away with the win and we just got to keep improving. No excuses.

"It wasn't a good showing for four quarters, but we came away with the win and we just got to keep pushing forward."

Mills added: "Nothing's gonna be handed to us on a silver platter. It's a grind, it's a marathon.

"And nights like tonight, you just got to dig deep and find a way to be infectious in a good way and be able to spread those good vibes on the court, on the bench, no matter what it is."

 

 

Garbine Muguruza became the first Spaniard to win the WTA Finals after defeating Anett Kontaveit 6-3 7-5 in a history-making victory.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was the only other player from Spain to reach the WTA Finals decider, finishing runner-up to Stefanie Graf in 1993.

But Muguruza exceeded that result as the former world number one proved too strong for Kontaveit at the prestigious year-ending championship on Wednesday.

Muguruza – a two-time grand slam champion – also celebrated her 10th WTA Tour title, having been the only player to beat Kontaveit within the last month following her group-stage success in Guadalajara.

After exchanging breaks in the opening set, Muguruza struck for a 4-3 lead, winning the last four games to seize control midweek.

Kontaveit claimed the early break in the second set as errors started to mount for Muguruza, who eventually found herself 5-3 adrift.

But as Kontaveit served for the set, Muguruza rallied in a dominant display, reeling off four consecutive games like she did in the opener to take home the WTA crown.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Kontaveit – 15/39
Muguruza – 16/25

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Kontaveit – 3/6
Muguruza – 2/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Kontaveit – 2/4
Muguruza – 5/11

The Cleveland Indians will officially become the Cleveland Guardians on Friday as the MLB franchise usher in a new era.

Known as the Indians since 1915, the organisation announced in December 2020 that they were to begin the search for a new nickname, having held discussions with a number of different groups, including the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and the National Congress of American Indians.

Guardians was announced as the choice through a video in July, though the red, white and navy colour scheme will remain, and the team will begin the transition following Wednesday's announcement.

From Friday, Cleveland's name will switch to the Guardians on all their social media platforms, while new merchandise will be released at Progressive Field.

At the time of the announcement of the name change, team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said: "Hearing first-hand the stories and experiences of Native American people, we gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them.

"We also spoke to local civic leaders who represent diverse populations in our city and who highlighted the negative impact our team name has had on our broader population and on under-represented groups across our community.

"I am truly grateful for their engagement and input, which I found enlightening and insightful. When a sports team is aligned with its community, it unlocks the ability to unite people from different backgrounds and bring people together in support of their home team.

"While Indians will always be a part of our history, it is time to move forward and work to unify our stakeholders and fans through a new name."

World Series champions in 1920 and 1948, the Indians failed to reach the playoffs in 2021.

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers plans to face the Minnesota Vikings this week after sitting out Wednesday's practice.

Rodgers – the reigning NFL MVP – did not practice midweek due to a toe issue ahead of Sunday's clash with the Vikings.

A Super Bowl champion, Rodgers returned last week from COVID-19 quarantine as the Packers (8-2) blanked the Seattle Seahawks 17-0.

Rodgers refused to shed light on his toe injury, though the 37-year-old quarterback is preparing to play against the Vikings in Minnesota.

"I'm not sure what my status will be tomorrow [Thursday] or Friday, but I'd like to get out there if I'm feeling good enough," Rodgers told reporters.

"But it's definitely a better week than last week being separated [during the quarantine], being able to go through all the meetings.

"I plan on being at practice on the field tomorrow, not sure how much involvement I'll do though."

Rodgers completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards in his return against the Seahawks, but the Packers' only touchdowns came on fourth-quarter runs by AJ Dillon. 

Green Bay's Rodgers returned to the line-up and threw for 292 yards – his second most of the season (344 against the Cincinnati Bengals). However, he did not complete a TD pass for the first time since Week 1 and had his worst QB rating (75.5) since Week 1 also (36.8).

"Obviously, the body is really looking forward to that, as is my toe," Rodgers said. "But we've got two games until then. It's kind of a day-to-day how I'm feeling, whether or not I'm going to practice, but I didn't find any issues with recovery, standard Monday and Tuesday, as I've done throughout the season.

"So I feel good wind-wise. I definitely took a few shots on Sunday, but I feel good today on Wednesday."

The Packers and Vikings have met five times in Minnesota since the start of the 2016 season. Minnesota won the first three consecutive games, but Green Bay have claimed the last two games giving them a 2-3 record over that span.

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