Orlando point guard Markelle Fultz, selected No. 1 overall in the 2017 NBA draft by the 76ers, suffered a season-ending tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first quarter of the Magic’s 105-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Fultz was driving to the basket less than five minutes into the game when he was cut off by Isaac Okoro and his left knee buckled without contact. Fultz writhed in pain on the floor for several minutes before he was helped into a wheelchair … Cavaliers starting guard Darius Garland might miss another week with a shoulder sprain, while guard Danté Exum could miss two months with a calf strain sustained in Monday’s loss at Atlanta … The Pistons said rookie guard Killian Hayes has a torn labrum in his right hip but gave no timeline for his return.
NBA puts emphasis on mental health
The NBA is urging teams to make increased commitments toward providing mental health resources to players and staff, releasing updated guidelines to reflect the challenge of playing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The league told teams they should establish “education and awareness materials focused on managing mental health during times of uncertainty and coping strategies for addressing the emotional toll of the pandemic.” The NBA has mandated that teams offer access to mental health professionals in recent seasons — a program the league calls Mind Health was launched nearly three years ago — but that predates the pandemic and how countless aspects of day-to-day life have changed in recent months. Part of the new guidance from the league: that social distancing guidelines still need to be followed when mental health services are provided at a team facility, and that teams should offer “ample availability for telehealth services” where players can meet with mental health professionals. Those are in addition to existing requirements put in place last year regarding making mental health professionals available to players on a voluntary basis, having a licensed psychiatrist available to assist players with any issues, having procedures in place to ensure confidentiality and, more recently, offering services that “should be culturally competent ... and meet the needs of the diverse NBA community.”
Blue Jackets give Bjorkstrand 5-year extension
The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Oliver Bjorkstrand to a five-year extension worth $27 million through the 2025-26 season. The 25-year-old led the team in goals with 21, despite playing just 49 games due to injury in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season. A third-round pick by Columbus in 2013, Bjorkstrand has 65 goals and 68 assists in 246 games with the Blue Jackets … Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons is expected to miss the season after having surgery to repair a hamstring injury he suffered in a team scrimmage on Monday. The team said the timetable for recovery is about six months. The 2012 first-round draft pick was re-signed to a three-year, $6.6 million contract in October. Buffalo captain Jack Eichel made his training camp debut after missing the first four days with a lower-body injury. The Sabres also added Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn to their camp roster a day after the two played for Canada in the gold-medal game at the world junior championships in Edmonton. Spencer Knight made 34 saves, tournament MVP Trevor Zegras had a goal and an assist, and Alex Turcotte also scored as the United States beat the Canadians, 2-0, for its first gold medal at the event since 2017. Cozens, Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2019, scored a tournament-best eight goals and was second with 16 points in seven games. Quinn, the No. 8 pick in October, had a goal and four assists in seven games … Nashville signed forward Luke Kunin, the 15th overall pick in 2016 acquired from Minnesota in October, to a two-year, $4.6 million pact.
UMass men’s basketball game postponed
The Atlantic 10 men’s basketball game between UMass and George Washington scheduled for Wednesday night in Washington was postponed after a city curfew was imposed after angry protestors stormed the United States Capitol building. Washington mayor Muriel Bowser announced a 6 p.m. curfew in the nation’s capital in response to protests that turned chaotic as supporters of President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol while Congress was voting to certify the presidential election. The schools will try to reschedule the game … MaCio Teague scored 17 points, Matthew Mayer had 16, and No. 2 Baylor improved to 10-0 (3-0 Big 12) for the fifth time in team history with a 76-61 win over visiting Oklahoma. Teague had 8 points with two 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game, helping push Baylor to an early 16-2 lead. Mayer had consecutive baskets 33 seconds apart to ignite a half-ending 14-2 run after the Sooners (6-3, 2-2) had moved within 5 late in the first half … Saturday’s Louisville-Georgia Tech men’s game was postponed following positive tests within the Yellow Jackets’ program … The men’s games between American and Lehigh scheduled for Saturday and Sunday were postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test within American’s program … Ryan Ayers, an assistant coach who left the Notre Dame men’s team in September, was charged with three counts of voyeurism and one count of domestic battery stemming from his relationships with two women over a four-year span … No. 3 UConn’s women’s game Jan. 13 game at Xavier was postponed because the Musketeers paused activities due to contact tracing … Seventh-ranked Arizona’s game at Washington scheduled for Friday was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Huskies’ program … In men’s hockey, No. 9 UMass (9-3-1 Hockey East) got two goals from Matthew Kessel in a 4-0 win over visiting UNH (2-3-1).
Rapinoe, Lloyd back with US women’s team
Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd are back after missing most of last year as the United States women’s soccer team prepares to open training camp this weekend in Orlando, Fla. Coach Vlatko Andonovski announced the 27-player roster for the camp, which will be capped by two exhibitions against Colombia at the end of the month. Also returning is Mallory Pugh, also sidelined for much of last year. Alex Morgan, who has COVID-19, was among those off the roster. Tobin Heath and Christen Press will remain with Manchester United of England’s FA Women’s Super League. Hanson native Samantha Mewis and Rose Lavelle, currently playing for Manchester City, are on the roster. Lindsey Horan, who missed the camp in November with COVID-19, is back … For the second year in a row, Manchester City beat Manchester United in the English League Cup semifinals, 2-0, at Old Trafford thanks to second-half goals by John Stones and Fernandinho, setting up a title match against Tottenham at London’s Wembley Stadium on April 25. American Zak Steffen got the start in goal for Manchester City … For a second straight season, Spanish club Atlético Madrid, the current league leader, was ousted by a third-tier opponent in the Copa del Rey, losing, 1-0, at Barcelona-based Cornellà in the round of 32 on Adrian Jiménez’s goal in the eighth minute.
Kasatkina opens WTA season with win
Daria Kasatkina won the first match of the WTA season, beating Wang Qiang, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, after trailing, 2-0, in the deciding set at the Abu Dhabi Open. Veronika Kudermetova beat No. 10 Anett Kontaveit, 7-5, 6-1, while American Bernarda Pera ousted No. 16 Donna Vekic, 7-6 (12-10), 2-6, 6-4. The event in the United Arab Emirates will be the only warm-up tournament outside Melbourne for the Australian Open, which was moved from January to mid-February … Linus Strasser became the first German skier since November 2017 to win a World Cup slalom, improving from eighth place after the opening run to beat Austrians Manuel Feller, by 0.10 seconds, and Marco Schwarz, by .16, in Zagreb, Croatia … Mike Whan is leaving the LPGA Tour after 11 years as commissioner. Whan did not offer a reason nor set a date for his departure … IndyCar moved what was supposed to be its season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla., from March 7 to April 25. IndyCar’s opener will now be at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on April 11.