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Embiid returns to lead 76ers past Warriors

UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers had their big man back in the lineup tonight. Other than his jersey number, it looked like nothing had changed.

Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) delivered 24 points to lead the Sixers to a 115-104 win over the Warriors. Embiid was in the starting lineup three weeks after surgery on a torn ligament in his left ring finger. The All-Star center wore No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant instead of his usual No. 21.

Embiid was granted permission from Hall of Famer Bobby Jones to wear the retired No. 24. He played with a splint on his hand that didn't affect him when he buried a 3 that sent the Sixers into halftime with a 59-54 lead.

Ben Simmons added 17 points to the victory.

While the Sixers welcomed back their big man, the Bucks did just fine without theirs. Playing without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-poh), Milwaukee received a career-high 51 points from Khris Middleton in a 151-131 thumping over the Wizards. Middleton also had 10 rebounds and six assists while hitting 16 of 26 shots, including 7 of 10 3-pointers.

The Bucks scored a franchise-record 88 points in the first half and improved to an NBA-best 41-6 despite Bradley Beal’s 47 points for Washington.

Checking out Tuesday’s other NBA action:

— Kyle Lowry became the Raptors’ all-time assists leader while furnishing 12 points and 11 helpers in a 130-114 thrashing of the Hawks. Serge Ibaka (ih-BAH’-kah) had 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) added 24 points in Toronto’s season-high eighth consecutive victory.

— The Celtics pulled out a 109-101 victory at Miami behind Gordon Hayward’s 29 points and nine rebounds. Jaylen Brown scored 25 points as Boston handed the Heat their first home loss in 14 games versus Eastern Conference teams this season.

— Devin Booker furnished 20 of his 32 points while the Suns were outscoring the Mavericks, 48-22 in the third quarter of a 133-104 thrashing of the Mavericks. Deandre Ayton had a season-high 31 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to help Phoenix win for the fourth time in five games.

— First overall pick Zion Williamson played his first NBA road game and contributed 14 points with nine boards in a season-high 30 minutes to help the Pelicans down the Cavaliers, 125-111. Jrue (juh-ROO’) Holiday led New Orleans with 26 points and Brandon Ingram chipped in 24.

— The Grizzlies posted their third straight win as Dillon Brooks scored 24 points in a 104-94 verdict over the Nuggets. Jonas Valanciunas (YOH’-nuhs val-ehn-CHOO’-nuhs) had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Memphis, including seven straight points to give the Grizzlies a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead.

— Terry Rozier scored 30 points and the Hornets ended a season, high, eight-game losing streak by rallying from a 13-point deficit to beat the Knicks, 97-92. Miles Bridges added 15 points and Malik Monk 13 as Charlotte halted its longest skid since the 2014-15 season.


Kobe remembered from LA to Milan

UNDATED (AP) — Admirers from as far away as China continued to crowd the plaza leading to the Staples Center for a third day in tribute to former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday. Arena officials opened adjacent Chick Hearn Court to pedestrian traffic, allowing the placement of still more memorials of flowers, balloons, photos, paintings, jerseys, hats, basketballs and thousands of heartfelt written messages. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was among nine people who died in the crash.

Meanwhile, AC Milan and its fans paid tribute to Kobe Bryant with lights and applause before and during Tuesday's Italian Cup game against Torino at the San Siro stadium.

Bryant grew up in Italy between the ages of 6 and 13 and was a devout Milan fan.

Federal officials say the helicopter carrying Bryant didn’t have a recommended warning system to alert the pilot he was too close to land. The officials added that it’s not clear it would have averted the crash because he may have lost control as the aircraft plunged into a fog-shrouded mountain.


Surgery for Mavs' Powell

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell has undergone surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon.

Powell suffered the season-ending injury in the Mavs’ 110-107 loss to the Clippers last Tuesday. The 28-year-old Powell could be ready for training camp in early October, although the timetable could be more in line with the start of the regular season.

Powell has averaged nearly 10 points and six rebounds over six NBA seasons.


Cavaliers stun Seminoles

UNDATED (AP) — Virginia has put an end to Florida State’s 10-game winning streak, which could take the Seminoles out of the top five in The Associated Press men’s basketball poll on Monday.

Kihei (KEE’-hay) Clark scored 15 points, including a go-ahead layup with 59 seconds left in the Cavaliers’ 61-56 downing of the fifth-ranked Seminoles.

Virginia trailed 56-55 before Clark drove down the left side of the lane, reached across and banked his shot in on the right side. Mamadi Diakite (MAH’-mah-dee dee-ah-KEE’-tay) added a pair of free throws and finished with 19 points, along with nine rebounds in Virginia’s second straight win since a 1-4 skid.

Devin Vassell had a team-high 17 points for Florida State, which is 17-3 following its first loss since Dec. 3.

In other top-25 men’s basketball action:

— Eighth-ranked Villanova won its seventh straight as Saddiq Bey (sah-DEEK’ bay) contributed 23 points and Collin Gillespie had a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds in a 79-59 rout of St. John’s. Freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 13 points and 14 boards as the balanced Wildcats improved to 17-3.

— Vernon Carey Jr. had 26 points and 13 rebounds as No. 9 Duke toppled Pittsburgh, 79-67. Players for the Blue Devils and Panthers honored Kobe Bryant by warming up in T-shirts with purple and gold numerals 8 on the front and 24 on the back.

— Kamar Baldwin scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half and Sean McDermott supplied a go-ahead, 3-pointer with 49.9 seconds left as 16th-ranked Butler pulled out a 69-64 win at Georgetown. McDermott scored 11 of his 25 points during an 18-3 run early in the second half as the Bulldogs won their second straight since a three-game losing streak.

— Isaac Okoro converted a go-ahead 3-point play with 1:41 left in double overtime to propel No. 17 Auburn to an 83-82 triumph over Mississippi. Anfernee McLemore had a career-high 21 points to lead the Tigers.

— No. 25 Rutgers blew most of a 17-point lead before holding off Purdue, 70-63. Caleb McConnell was 12-for-12 from the line while scoring 16 points, including two free throws after the Boilermakers pulled within 62-59.


Blues, Sens end road droughts

UNDATED (AP) — The St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators have snapped sizeable road losing skids.

David Perron scored once in regulation and added another in the shootout as Blues nipped the Flames, 5-4. Zach Sanford tied it 51 seconds into the third period before Perron and Ryan O'Reilly furnished shootout tallies to end the Blues’ five-game road slide.

Perron and Sanford also had one assist apiece for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

The Senators were in an 0-4-3 skid away from Ottawa before Mike Reilly broke a 2-2 tie with 11:12 remaining in a 5-2 victory at Buffalo. Tyler Ennis had a goal and assist against his former team to support Senators netminder Craig Anderson, who turned back 37 shots. Anderson had surrendered 22 goals while going 0-4-1 in his previous five decisions.

Jack Eichel (EYE’-kul) notched his career-high 29th goal for the Sabres.


Baker finalizing deal to manage Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — Dusty Baker is working to finalize an agreement to become manager of the Houston Astros. That’s according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The 70-year-old Baker would become the oldest manager in the big leagues. He would take over from AJ Hinch, who was fired Jan. 13 just an hour after he was suspended for the season by Major League Baseball for his role in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.

The hiring of Baker is a sign the Astros want to bring an old-school mentality and stern presence to a franchise reeling from the dismissal of Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

Also around the majors:

— First baseman Mitch Moreland is staying with the Red Sox after accepting a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $3 million, including a $500,000 buyout for 2021. The 34-year-old hit .252 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs in 91 games last year, going on the injured list for a strained lower back and a strained right quadriceps.

— Ryan Zimmerman and the World Series champion Nationals finalized a one-year, $2 million contract. The 35-year-old has spent his entire 15-year big league career with the Nationals. Injuries limited Zimmerman to 52 games and a .257 average with six homers and 27 RBIs last year. But he was a key contributor in the postseason.

— Former 2016 All-Star infielder Eduardo Núñez has agreed to a minor league contract with the Mets and will report to big league spring training. The 32-year-old has a .276 average with 58 homers, 309 RBIs and 141 steals in 10 big league seasons with the Yankees, Twins, Giants and Red Sox. He helped Boston win the 2018 World Series, two years after receiving his only All-Star berth.

—The Cubs and free-agent reliever Jeremy Jeffress have agreed to an $850,000, one-year contract. Jeffress was one of baseball's most dominant relievers in 2018, going 8-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 15 saves in 73 games for Milwaukee. But the right-hander struggled with injuries last season before he was cut by the Brewers on Sept. 1.


Lawmakers urge baseball not to eliminate minor league teams

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four members of the House of Representatives introduced a resolution urging Major League Baseball not to follow through with its proposal to eliminate 42 current minor league teams.

MLB made the proposal last year to the governing body of the minors during negotiations for a Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires after this season.

MLB wants to cut short-season leagues and reduce the number of farm teams each big-league club affiliates with. It has proposed replacing the eliminated minor league teams with a not yet defined Dream League.


Brown freed from house arrest

UNDATED (AP) — NFL free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown has been freed from house arrest as he awaits trial on charges that he attacked the driver of a moving truck.

According to news reports, a Florida judge agreed to let Brown travel freely within the United States so he can fulfill contractual obligations with ESPN and comedian Kevin Hart.

Instead of wearing an ankle GPS monitor, Brown will have to check in with court personnel daily. His $110,000 bail remains in place and he still must surrender his passport, possess no weapons or ammunition and submit to a mental health evaluation and random drug testing.

In other NFL news:

— The Texans have added general manager to Bill O’Brien’s title after the coach had been filling the role since the firing of Brian Gaine in June. The team also says that Jack Easterby was promoted to executive vice president of football operations after serving as executive VP of team development.


Hall of Fame DE Doleman dies at age 58

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman, who became one of the NFL's most feared pass rushers during 15 seasons in the league, has died. He was 58.

The Minnesota Vikings and Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker offered their condolences in separate statements late Tuesday night. There was no word on the timing of Doleman's death, but he had surgery in January 2018 to remove a brain tumor and Baker said Doleman died “after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer."

Doleman played college ball for Pittsburgh before he was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft. He spent his first nine seasons with the Vikings, collecting a league-high 21 sacks in 1989.

The 6-foot-5 Doleman also played for Atlanta and San Francisco before finishing his career with Minnesota in 1999. He had 150 1/2 sacks in 232 games. He was a first-team All-Pro selection on two occasions, and also made eight Pro Bowls.


Nadal loses to Thiem

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Top-seeded Rafael Nadal has lost to Dominic Thiem (teem) in four sets in the Australian Open quarterfinals - 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (6).

Nadal had been trying to win his 20th Grand Slam title to tie Roger Federer's record for men.

Thiem won by doing to Nadal what Nadal does to so many opponents. He hustled after every ball, slugged away from the baseline and found the right spots to go to the net. Thiem had lost all five previous Grand Slam matches he played against Nadal. That includes each of the past two French Open finals.

Thiem reached his first Australian Open semifinal and will play Alexander Zverev for a berth in the title match.

Alexander Zverev (ZVEHR’-ehv) has reached the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career by eliminating three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets at the Australian Open.

The seventh-seeded Zverev shook off a slow start to beat Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on the hottest afternoon of the tournament so far. Zverev’s serve produced 13 aces and just one double-fault.

Zverev now faces Dominic Thiem (teem), who beat Rafael Nadal in four sets.

Roger Federer has been fined $3,000 for cursing during his quarterfinal victory at Melbourne Park. He had argued with the chair umpire after being warned for an audible obscenity during the third set of what became a five-set win over Tennys Sandgren.

Fourth seed Simona Halep (HA’-lehp) and unseeded Garbiñe Muguruza (gahr-BEEN’ moo-gah-ROO’-thah) will square off in one of the two Australian Open women’s semifinals.

Halep advanced by completing a 6-1, 6-1 dismantling of Anett Kontaveit in just 53 minutes. The No. 28-seeded Kontaveit held the opening game at love, but Halep was relentless in an 11-game winning streak that took the match away from her Estonian rival.

Halep is in the semifinals for the second time. She lost the final to Caroline Wozniacki (wohz-nee-AK’-ee) in three sets two years ago.

Muguruza took a little more than 90 minutes to eliminate No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (pav-luh-chehn-KOH’-vah) 7-5, 6-3. Five of the eight service breaks were in the first set, which lasted 56 minutes. The win earned Muruguza a spot in the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the first time, and her first at any Grand Slam tournament since the 2018 French Open.


Judge rejects Sandusky's latest request for shorter sentence

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A judge has flatly rejected Jerry Sandusky's latest request to have his 30- to 60-year child molestation sentence reduced during a brief hearing Tuesday.

Judge Maureen Skerda said she purposely fashioned the prison term to have an impact on the former Penn State assistant football coach and noted Sandusky continues to maintain his innocence.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of sexual abuse of 10 boys, ranging from grooming to sexual attacks.

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