Tagged in: coronavirus

Curry leads Warriors past Knicks as fans return to MSG

Stephen Curry welcomed fans back to Madison Square Garden with another big night in the building, scoring 37 points and leading the Golden State Warriors to a 114-106 triumph over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Curry, who owns a 50-point game and a triple-double in the arena, returned from a one-game absence to make the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 left. He scored 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds and six assists.

This performance came in the first NBA game at Madison Square Garden with fans since the Knicks defeated Detroit last March 8, days before the season was suspended as the coronavirus was about to start pummeling New York.

Julius Randle went from the high of his first All-Star selection to the low of getting thrown out in the final seconds after picking up his second technical foul. He had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted New York’s arenas to open to fans at 10% capacity, which meant roughly 2,000 at Madison Square Garden.

They greeted the Knicks with loud cheers early on, but there were the familiar noticeable groans after a turnover during a dismal stretch of the third quarter, when the Warriors opened a 13-point lead.

New York recovered from that and had the game tied at 97 before Curry’s 3-pointer. He converted a three-point play about two minutes later to make it 105-100 and helped finish it off at the foul line.

Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for the Warriors, who got centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney back from injuries and won for the first time after two rough losses on their four-game trip.

They blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost by four in Orlando, then fell 102-100 in Charlotte when Draymond Green got two technical fouls and was ejected in the closing seconds before Terry Rozier made a jumper at the buzzer.

Randle was the first Knicks player selected to the All-Star Game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Randle addressed the crowd before the game, but the start of his remarks were drowned out by fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”

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Ashleigh Barty offers no guarantees beyond Melbourne Park

Sports fans should savour Ash Barty’s return to tennis because it could be fleeting.

While Barty hopes Friday night’s [AEDT] comeback match in Adelaide marks the beginning of a “long season” ahead, the world No.1 is offering no real guarantees beyond the Australian summer.

Barty hasn’t played since last February, deciding not to leave Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 24-year-old sat out the US Open in September and even opted against defending her French Open crown three weeks later in Paris.

With coronavirus still rampant around the world, the Queenslander confesses she and coach Craig Tyzzer have yet to commit to a concrete calendar beyond the Australian Open starting on Feb. 8.

“Not a lot’s changed. Obviously it’s still quite a delicate situation and we have a couple of plans,” Barty told AAP ahead of her exhibition match versus world No.2 Simona Halep on Friday night.

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“We have options A, B, C and D to kind of go through and we have to wing it a little bit, honestly, because we can’t know quite what to expect.

“But what ‘Tyzz’ and I have spoken about is that our kind of stance remains the same – the priority for us is the health and wellbeing of not only us two on the road, but also our families back home.

“So, for us, that’s a really important thing, regardless of what tournaments may be on.

“Our decisions will always be prioritized by our health and by the bigger picture for us of more than just hitting tennis balls.”

And with that approach, Barty plans on enjoying the summer – and her second Australian Open bid as top seed – rather than fretting about trying to break the country’s infamous 43-year singles title drought in Melbourne.

“It’s been a trying time for everyone down here in Victoria, in particular. So we have to be extremely grateful and understand just how lucky we are that we have an opportunity to play,” she stated.

“So I’ll go out there to try and do the best that I can to enjoy it but also go out there and try and do everyone proud knowing that we’ve got the tennis back and hopefully it’s going to be a really good month.”

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Peter Malnati shoots 63, leads PGA Bermuda Championship

Peter Malnati saw his infant son at a PGA Tour event for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic, which brought a smile to his face and another birdie on his card for an 8-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the Bermuda Championship.

The tournament is the first to permit limited fans — no more than 500 a day at Port Royal — since the opening round of The Players Championship on March 12.

The final birdie was the ninth of the round for Malnati, who has gone from the South to the West to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and keeps playing some of his best golf.

It was the third time in his past three events he posted a 63 or lower. Malnati was runner-up at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi and followed that with a tie for fifth in Las Vegas. This round gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Armour and Doug Ghim, who birdied his last two holes.

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“With everything in the world right now — and this island is doing a phenomenal job with their testing protocol and keeping everyone safe — I just didn’t know if it was actually going to work for them to get out here,” Malnati said of about his wife and 1-year-old son.

“So coming off that disappointing bogey on 17, I hit a nice drive on 18 and before I even get my yardage or anything, I see my wife and boy standing out there.

“It just brought a huge smile to my face,” he said. “To see them and then to finish with that birdie, I’m a happy man.”

Malnati ran off five straight birdies starting with No. 9, and he was looking to finish strong.

Among the shorter hitters in the modern power game, he had made up his mind to take on the bunkers down the right side of the par-5 17th hole and turn it into an easy birdie.

Instead, he turned it left into the water for a penalty stroke and made bogey.

“So that stunk,” Malnati stated. “But how can I complain about much? We’re on the island of Bermuda and I sure played great.”

The Bermuda Championship matches the weakest field of the year on the PGA Tour, though it receives full status this year because the HSBC Champions in Shanghai was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning Bermuda is not the same week as a World Golf Championship.

The winner receives an invitation to the Masters next year. It also is the start of consecutive PGA Tour events permitting limited fans. The Houston Open has said it will sell no more than 2,000 tickets a day. The Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, the first event on 2021, also announced this week it would limited fans.

Doc Redman, Vaughn Taylor and Chase Seiffert were at 65, while Hunter Mahan was in the group at 66. It was Mahan’s lowest opening round in more than two years.

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Holm-Aldana UFC weekend main event called off

The organized main event for the Aug. 1 UFC Fight Night card between Holly Holm and Irene Aldana has been called off.

Aldana took to Instagram on Wednesday to announce that she had to withdraw after testing positive for the coronavirus.

According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the main event will be Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan with Holm vs. Aldana no longer on the card.

Helwani added that the current plan is to rearrange Holm vs. Aldana for Oct. 5 as the main event.

The 32-year-old Aldana has won five of her past six fights and is among the fastest-rising stars in UFC’s female ranks. Holm was set to be arguably the biggest challenge of Aldana’s career despite her recent inconsistency.

Holm is best known for her shocking upset victory over Ronda Rousey in 2015, but she is just 3-5 since the win of her life. She has fallen to big names such as Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes, but she is coming off a win over Raquel Pennington at UFC 246 in January.

Aldana lost to Pennington last year, but she has bounced back with victories over Vanessa Melo and Ketlen Vieira.

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Overall, Aldana is 12-5 with six wins by way of knockout and three submission victories professionally, while the 38-year-old Holm is 13-5 with eight knockouts. Holm is ranked second in the UFC women’s bantamweight division, and Aldana is sixth.

Whenever the Holm vs. Aldana fight does take place, the winner could be in line for a title shot versus Nunes.

The middleweight bout between Brunson and Shahbazyan will be a classic case of a clash between a grizzled veteran and an up-and-coming youngster.

Brunson, 36, is 20-7 professionally and has faced some of the biggest names in the sport, including Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya and Lyoto Machida. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Shahbazyan is a perfect 11-0 with nine of those wins by knockout.

Shahbazyan hasn’t faced the big names Brunson has, but he is 5-0 under the UFC banner and viewed as one of the top prospects in the sport.

If Shahbazyan manages to defeat Brunson, it will be the biggest win of his career and should help him rise significantly from his No. 9 ranking in the middleweight division.

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Vergil Ortiz on Golden Boy’s first card during coronavirus pandemic

Highly regarded welterweight Vergil Ortiz will face veteran Samuel Vargas on July 24 in Golden Boy’s first fight card since the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to boxing events across the world in mid-March.

The card will take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resort in Indio, California.

“We’re just excited, happy to be back with our fighters,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “Especially a guy like Vergil who was scheduled to fight before the shutdown. He was 10 days out from fighting, so I’m just happy he gets to fight again, and we’re back at it.”

For the time being, Golden Boy’s cards in California will be held without an audience.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s best young fighters. The 22-year-old native of Grand Prairie, Texas, has stopped everyone he has faced thus far as a professional. In 2019, Ortiz stopped Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, and then Antonio Orozco in six.

Ortiz and Vargas were initially organized to clash on March 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, before that card was canceled. “I’m very thankful and excited to be headlining the first Golden Boy event after the quarantine,” said Ortiz, who has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside for the past few weeks.

“I’m happy that it’s still with the same opponent, so basically we’re picking up where we left off. It’s going to be a tough fight, and it’ll be a great way to kick off the year for me.”

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Ortiz is facing a seasoned veteran in Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs), who has faced Amir Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence over the course of his career.

“I think that everything happens for a reason,” said Vargas, who has been in Las Vegas in recent weeks, preparing for this fight. “I think this time off benefited me. I’m ready to upset the world. I believe I can come out with the win. The world is a weird place right now. The show will be different. There will be no supporters, but I have no doubt I’m going to win.”

As Golden Boy officials started to put this card together, they found a rather limited pool of options to draw from, in terms of selecting boxers.

“There’s a lot of guys that just weren’t ready,” Gomez said. “They hadn’t been to the gym because [gyms] were closed, they didn’t train, do road work, sparring or anything. Now it’s a little better, but we’re not in the clear yet.”

The co-feature arranged for July 24 is a 10-round lightweight contest between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs). Other fights include an eight-round middleweight fight between Shane Mosley Jr. (15-3, 9 KOs) and Jeremy Ramos (11-8, 2 KOs), a women’s junior flyweight fight between Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) and Jacky Calvo (12-5-2, 1 KO), and a clash between prospects Hector Valdez and Evan Sanchez.

There’s no indication when spectators will be allowed back into any sporting events, and from Golden Boy’s perspective, the hope at this point is just to try to get the first few cards off the ground smoothly.

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Broncos star Von Miller tests positive for coronavirus

Super Bowl hero Von Miller of the Denver Broncos has tested positive for the coronavirus after having come down with flu-like symptoms, the player and the team stated Thursday.

Miller, 31, a superstar linebacker, “elected to share his diagnosis publicly to emphasize that anyone can be afflicted with coronavirus,” according to a team statement.

“It’s true,” Miller told NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver. “I’ve just been here in the crib, and I started to get a little cough. You know, I have asthma, and I started getting a little cough a couple days ago. My girlfriend, she told me when I was asleep, she said, my cough, it didn’t sound normal.”

Miller stated he’s still in a good mood and not in any obvious pain.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but I tell you what, I’m in good spirits. I’m still Von,” he told KUSA. “I’m not feeling sick or hurting or anything like that.”

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The Broncos stated he’s the first person in their organization to have tested positive for the virus.

“Von is doing well and recovering at home in self-isolation,” the team said. “He remains under the care of team doctors, who are following all coronavirus treatment procedures to ensure a safe environment for Von and our community.”

Miller is among only a handful of defensive players ever to win the Most Valuable Player award in pro football’s ultimate game, leading his Broncos to a 24-10 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016.

Miller was asked April 6 how he was adjusting his offseason schedule, given the restrictions of Colorado’s stay-at-home guidelines. He gave no indication that he was ill, said he felt good about his offseason and said he had canceled his travel plans for the foreseeable future, including a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

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Rams center Brian Allen tested positive for coronavirus

The 24-year-old is the first active NFL player to publicly recognize that he tested positive for the virus.

Allen, who is preparing for his third campaign in the league, was spending his offseason at the Rams’ training facility to undergo rehabilitation treatment on a knee injury when he started to feel symptoms three weeks ago.

The Rams’ training facility was closed for two weeks and cleaned thoroughly, according to a Rams spokesperson. Players who must undergo rehabilitation returned this week.

Allen told Fox Sports that he lost his sense of smell and taste and had a sore throat, fatigue and headaches. He is expected to be cleared of the virus this week.

Rams coach Sean McVay told Fox Sports that he has spoken with Allen, adding that the offensive lineman is “feeling good, he’s healthy, and he’s on the road to recovery.”

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McVay said the team’s facility was closed as soon as Allen notified the Rams that he had tested positive for the virus in an effort to ensure no one else was potentially exposed.

The symptoms lasted for three or four days when he decided to return to his doctor last week and was re-tested.

Allen tested positive again, but because of how long he has had it, doctors say he should be in the “all clear” this Thursday. Doctors have reportedly told Allen that he will regain his sense of taste and smell in the next six or eight months. 

A fourth-round pick from Michigan State in 2018, Allen played a limited role on offense as a rookie. Last season, he took over as the starting center and started nine matches before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He has appeared in 22 games in his two seasons.

Although no active NFL players previously said they tested positive, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and one unidentified member of the Los Angeles Chargers organization tested positive, and two others on the Chargers have shown symptoms.

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Nets now free from coronavirus symptoms after testing positive

Fifteen days after the Brooklyn Nets announced that four players had tested positive for COVID-19, general manager Sean Marks stated that Brooklyn’s roster is free from coronavirus symptoms.

Speaking to reporters during a conference call on Wednesday morning, Marks said that the Nets’ traveling party has completed a two-week quarantine and will continue to adhere to the government issued social distancing guidelines.

“As it pertains to the team,” Marks said, “I sense like all of us, like the rest of New York and really the rest of the globe, we’re trying to deal with this as best we can.”

The symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, chills and extreme exhaustion.

Many people who have coronavirus do not have any symptoms at all. Three of the four Nets players to test positive were asymptomatic. Still, Marks said as of right now there is no plan for players to be retested.

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Marks said that he only foresees players being retested if it is something the government or NBA requires in order to return to playing.

The NBA campaign has been on pause since March 11 and since then, more than a dozen players and at least one team owner, the Knicks’ James Dolan, have tested positive for coronavirus. During the three week hiatus, many teams have distributed workout equipment to their players’ homes in order to keep them in shape. For the Nets, that has also meant that their injured players have had more time to heal.

Nets star Kyrie Irving had shoulder surgery in February and was expected to be out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Kevin Durant, who sustained an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals, had been ruled out for the entire campaign.

Marks did not definitively say how the extended postponement of the season could affect whether Durant — who tested positive for coronavirus — or Irving returns to the court this season. Marks stated that while both players are continuing their rehabilitation, the process could be slowed due to the practice facility being closed.

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NBA to pay players full salaries due April 1

The NBA and its players are in a very difficult financial situation. With matches suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak, teams have no revenue incoming.

Players have guaranteed contracts, though, so the two sides have to sort out how to approach this crisis in a manner satisfactory to all involved. While no long-term plan has been made, the NBA took a short-term step to appease the players on Friday.

Teams will pay players their next scheduled check on April 1, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Typical NBA contracts spell out payments on the first and 15th of every month during the season, though different pay schedules can be spelled out within individual contracts.

That means that, for the most part, the league’s next payday after April 1 would have come on April 15.

The league will give teams “additional guidance” on that payday in the near future.

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While short-term solutions are necessary, the league has a bigger long-term problem to solve if it hopes to settle its finances. As it presently sits, the owners stand to take the brunt of the fall for lost games.

While salaries are guaranteed in advance through contracts, the cap is based on projected revenue. The league didn’t build coronavirus into its plans, so players had been set to be paid as if this was a normal season. 

The league has tools it can use to force a compromise. All player contracts have force majeure clauses that allow teams to withhold 1/92.6th of their salary for every canceled game, and 10 percent of player salaries are held in escrow in case players wind up earning more in a given season than the CBA allows. That means that, in all likelihood, the players and the league will work together to find a compromise that splits the burden of these lost matches evenly among both sides.

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French Open postponed, now set for September

French Open 2020, the claycourt Grand Slam that was initially scheduled for May, will now be held between September 20 and October 4, the Roland Garros said on Tuesday.

The French Tennis Federation has determined to postpone the French Open tennis tournament by over 3 months due to the coronavirus pandemic which has brought the whole world to a standstill.

The Roland Garros will now be played from September 20 till October 4 rather than May 24-June 7.

“The whole world is affected by the public health crisis connected with COVID-19. In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from 20th September to 4th October 2020.

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“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May, the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned.

“In order to act responsibly and protect the health of its employees, service providers and suppliers during the organisation period, the FFT has chosen the only option that will allow them to maintain the 2020 edition of the tournament while joining the fight against COVID-19.

“At this important period in its history, and since the progress of the stadium modernisation means the tournament can be held at this time, the FFT was keen to maintain the 2020 tournament. Therefore, this year’s Roland-Garros will be held from 20th September to 4th October,” French Tennis Federation informed in a statement.

This is the second high-profile sports event which was postponed on Tuesday after the UEFA Euro 2020 and Copa America football tournaments.

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