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Stiff punishment awaits NBA teams that fail to follow COVID-19 protocols this season

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could dole out punishment if teams are lax about following coronavirus rules.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

NBA teams that do not comply with league rules designed to minimize the spread of the coronavirus this season could face major penalties such as forfeiting games or draft picks, the league told its franchises Saturday. The league also said that it and the Players’ Association will discuss players, coaches, and other staff “being required to receive a coronavirus vaccine” when available, strongly urged teams to encourage getting flu shots, and said that effective immediately Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel — which basically means players, coaches, and some essential staff — must avoid bars, lounges, clubs even if food is served, most live entertainment or gaming venues, public gyms, spas, and pool areas. Also off-limits: indoor gatherings of 15 or more people. Those rules apply both when teams are at home or on the road, the NBA said. Preseason games start Friday and the regular season begins Dec. 22. The protocols document, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, has much more detail than the draft version that was distributed to teams last weekend. The rules and protocols in the updated document — which even includes examples of how seating charts on planes and buses could be set up — have been agreed upon by the NBA and the NBPA. One key addition: When teams go on the road, they will have some freedoms and won’t be forced to stay in their hotels when not practicing or playing.

COLLEGES

No. 8 UMass men’s hockey gets past Merrimack

Josh Lapina had a goal and an assist to help the eighth-ranked UMass men’s hockey team skate away with a 3-1 win over Merrimack at the Mullins Center. Lapina opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 14:08 of the second period for the Minutemen (2-2-1). Eric Faith and Bobby Trivigno added goals in the third and Matt Murray made 16 saves. Chase Gresock scored for the Warriors in their season opener … Tamara Thiérus scored twice and Lauren Martin potted the winner 7:15 into the third period as host UNH (1-3-0) eked out a 4-3 win over No. 8 BU (1-1-0) in women’s hockey. Clare O’Leary and Jesse Compher gave the Terriers a 2-0 lead after one period and Julia Nearis tied it at 3 just 32 seconds before Martin scored … Olivia Finocchiaro scored on the power play in the first period while Savannah Norcross and Kelly Browne each struck for their fourth goal of the season in the second as No. 10 Boston College (4-2-0, 4-0-0 Hockey East) completed a weekend sweep with a 3-1 win over UConn (0-3-1, 0-2-0) at Conte Forum. Maddy McArthur made 35 saves for the Eagles … Nahziah Carter left the Washington basketball program this week after being suspended by the university following investigation of two sexual assault allegations against him earlier this year. The senior guard said Friday he was leaving the Huskies to begin his professional career. Carter, who was expected to be Washington’s top player this season, averaged 12.2 points last season.

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SOCCER

Americans hit the mark in Europe

Three Americans scored in Europe’s top five leagues on the same day for the first time in 15 years — since the father of one of the trio was among the US players to score. Gio Reyna scored his second Bundesliga goal in German club Borussia Dortmund’s 1-1 tie at Eintracht Frankurt. Weston McKennie got his first goal for Juventus in a 2-1 victory over Turin city rival Torino in Italy’s Serie A. Christian Pulisic scored his first goal this season in Chelsea’s 3-1 English Premier League win over Leeds in London. The previous time three Americans scored in Europe’s top five leagues was on Aug. 27, 2005. Fulham’s Brian McBride scored in a 1-0 win over Everton, Manchester City’s Claudio Reyna (Gio’s father) scored the first goal in a 2-1 victory over Portsmouth, and Eintracht Frankurt’s Jermaine Jones scored in a 1-0 win over Nuremberg … Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood, and Marcus Rashford scored in a span of 13 minutes in the second half as Manchester United came back to beat West Ham, 3-1, at London, in the first English Premier League match with fans in attendance since the coronavirus outbreak in March. Tomas Soucek scored in the 38th minute to give visiting West Ham a 1-0 lead in front of 2,000 spectators at Olympic Stadium. England is the first of the major soccer nations to allow fans back into games during COVID-19′s second wave … Forward Sebastian Soto was added to the US men’s roster for Wednesday’s exhibition against El Salvador in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The 20-year-old became available when he received a red card in Netherlands second-tier club Telstar’s win on Monday, causing an automatic suspension. He has six goals in nine matches this season and scored twice in his US debut, a 6-2 exhibition win over Panama on Nov. 16 … Striker Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to score his 100th goal for Paris Saint-Germain as the French league leader secured a 3-1 win at Montpellier.

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Weston McKennie spreads his arms in celebration after scoring for Juventus.Valerio Pennicino/Getty
MISCELLANY

Bottas captures F1 pole position in Bahrain

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas took pole position ahead of temporary teammate George Russell for Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain. Bottas came in just .026 seconds ahead of Russell, driving in a Mercedes for the first time in the absence of world champion Lewis Hamilton (recovering from COVID-19), and .056 clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Hamilton sealed his record-equaling seventh F1 title last month in Turkey. Drivers raced at the Bahrain International Circuit but on a smaller outer track of 2.2 miles (instead of 3.3) and with 87 laps rather than 54 … Racing in dense snowfall in the Italian Alps, Croatian skier Filip Zubcic had a blistering second run to edge half-time leader Zan Kranjec and win a World Cup giant slalom in Santa Caterina Valfurva. Zubcic was almost seven-tenths off the lead after the opening run but posted the second-fastest time in the final and beat Kranjec by 0.12 seconds. Overall World Cup leader Alexis Pinturault was eight-tenths off the lead in fifth, followed by American Tommy Ford … Heavy snowfall and strong winds in St. Moritz, Switzerland, forced the cancellation of a World Cup women’s super-G race. A second super-G is scheduled for Sunday, which would be the first speed race of the World Cup season. American Mikaela Shiffrin is not present after opting to focus on training in her specialties: slalom and giant slalom. The three-time overall World Cup champion is scheduled to compete next weekend in two giant slaloms at Courchevel, France.

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