Following the recommendation from the league’s competition committee, the NBA’s board of governors voted Thursday to keep the coach’s challenge going forward. It was introduced last year on a one-year trial. Coaches challenged 700 calls last season, including the playoffs. Calls were overturned 308 times, or a rate of 44%. Also approved by the board of governors: a plan to let teams expand their active roster on game nights from 13 to 15 this season — a move largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic and in anticipation of the likelihood that teams will be missing players from time to time. The trade deadline was set for March 25, or about two weeks into the “second half” of the schedule. The schedule is known through March 4, with the remainder to be determined in the coming weeks. The league tweaked two parts of the challenge rule. Teams can no longer challenge the preceding call if they incur a delay of game violation before asking for the review, and — in situations where officials meet to determine what call to make — the time window that a team has to challenge that call will not begin until they get the final ruling on the play. Teams must have a time-out remaining to use their challenge, are limited to one challenge per game, and keep the time if they win the challenge.
Capitals’ Lundqvist to miss season with heart ailment
Longtime goalie Henrik Lundqvist will sit out the upcoming season because of a heart condition, he said Thursday, about two months after he signed with the Washington Capitals following 15 years with the New York Rangers. Calling it “a pretty tough and emotional day” in a video posted on social media by the Capitals, Lundqvist said he has been taking various tests on his heart “for several weeks.” The 38-year-old was bought out by the Rangers and signed a $1.5 million, one-year deal with Washington in October to try to earn his first Stanley Cup. Lundqvist, who has played 887 regular-season games and 130 in the playoffs, had been expected to share goaltending duties with 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov.
Sun Belt football title game off due to COVID-19
Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference football championship game between No. 9 Coastal Carolina (11-0, 8-0) and No. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette (9-1, 7-1) was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within host Coastal Carolina’s program. An entire position group would have been unavailable to play because of contact tracing. Both schools were in line for a New Year’s Six bowl spot with a victory … Saturday’s football game between Maryland and Michigan State was canceled a second time after an outbreak of COVID-19 in College Park, Md. Maryland said 15 players tested positive for COVID-19 from Dec. 10-16. Antigen tests conducted Thursday morning resulted in three more presumptive positives, and there were six positive cases among staff over that same time period. The teams were originally slated to play Nov. 21 … UCLA’s game against Stanford on Saturday will be its final one of the season after the Bruins (3-3) announced they would decline any bowl invitations. The Bruins (3-3) and Oregon State are the only Pac-12 teams to play all six weekends … Indiana’s Tom Allen swept the Big Ten Coach of the Year awards, getting picked by both the coaches and media. The No. 7 Hoosiers (6-1) would be playing in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game had the league not dropped the six-game requirement, clearing the way for Ohio State.
Nelson-Ododa leads UConn women’s basketball
Olivia Nelson-Ododa hit all nine of her shots from the floor and scored 24 points to lead No. 3 UConn to an 80-47 rout of Creighton in the Huskies’ Big East home opener at Storrs, Conn. Christyn Williams added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies (3-0, 2-0). Anna Makurat scored 12 points and freshman Paige Bueckers had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. UConn was playing its third game in six days after its first four games were postponed or canceled due to a positive coronavirus test. Emma Ronsiek scored 11 points for Creighton (2-4, 1-1) … Florida postponed home men’s games against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Florida A&M on Sunday, and James Madison on Tuesday, while forward Keyontae Johnson continues to progress. Johnson collapsed during Saturday’s game at Florida State and remains hospitalized. He is alert, moving, and talking … No. 17 Virginia will not play Saturday against No. 7 Villanova but added top-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 26 in Fort Worth. Virginia (3-1) is set to resume practicing Saturday after pausing due to at least one positive coronavirus test and contact tracing. Gonzaga (3-0) returned to practice Wednesday following a two-week break due to COVID-19 cases.
Lewandowski, Bronze, named FIFA’s top players
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was named the FIFA Best Men’s Player for 2020 after his 55-goal season lifted German club Bayern Munich to a sweep of international and domestic trophies. Lewandowski got 52 voting points to beat Cristiano Ronaldo (38) and Lionel Messi (35). Voting was by a global jury of national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists and fans. Lewandowski and Luka Modric (2018) are the only players in the past 13 years to deny Messi and Ronaldo the honor. Lucy Bronze was voted the best women’s player. A Champions League winner with Lyon, she has since joined Manchester City. Bronze (52 points) beat Wolfsburg’s Pernille Harder (40 points) and ex-Lyon teammate Wendi Renard (35). Jurgen Klopp was named best coach for a second straight year after guiding Liverpool to its first top-league English title in 30 years. Sarina Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to the 2019 World Cup final, was voted best women’s coach.
Thompson grabs LPGA lead in Florida
Lexi Thompson shot a 7-under-par 65 to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Championship at Naples, Fla. Thompson birdied five of the first seven holes at Tiburon Golf Club. She played the next nine holes in even par with a birdie and a bogey, then birdied the final two holes. The 11-time LPGA Tour winner had her lowest score of the year a week after missing the cut in the US Women’s Open. Nanna Koerstz Madsen was a stroke back after a bogey-free round. Rockland’s Megan Khang was at 67 with defending champion Sei Young Kim and Caroline Masson … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he isn’t sure whether third baseman Justin Turner or pitcher David Price will play with the team in 2021. Turner became a free agent in October after the Dodgers won their first World Series title since 1988. Acquired from the Red Sox in February, Price opted out of pitching his first season with the Dodgers because of the coronavirus pandemic.