The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach David Fizdale on Monday, with the team at 7-12 and a day after he benched center Marc Gasol for the fourth quarter of an eighth straight loss. The Grizzlies lost to Brooklyn, 98-88. Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been named interim head coach. The move caught the NBA by surprise. Dwyane Wade, who played with the Miami Heat when Fizdale was an assistant coach, wrote on Twitter he needed answers. LeBron James retweeted a comment on Twitter calling the firing so stunning that the writer triple-checked the original ESPN report to make sure he wasn’t being duped by a fake account. ‘“Feels like my man was a fall guy,’’ James wrote.
Duke men unanimous No. 1
Duke pulled off two big comebacks to become the unanimous No. 1 in the AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll. Now Arizona could use one of its own from a holiday-tournament stumble that dropped the Wildcats from No. 2 to out of the poll in a week. The Blue Devils (8-0) were atop all 65 ballots after they won the PK80 Invitational’s Motion Bracket in Portland, Ore., beating Texas in overtime despite trailing by 16, then overcoming a 17-point deficit to top Florida. The Blue Devils picked up the 11 first-place votes that last week went to Arizona, with the Wildcats (3-3) turning in a stunning 0-3 showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. That made them the first team to go from No. 2 to unranked in a week since Louisville in 1986-87 after its own November tournament flop in the Great Alaska Shootout . . . UConn (5-0) remained No. 1 in the women’s poll.
Auburn RB Johnson may play
Auburn tailback Kerryon Johnson is downplaying the right shoulder injury that knocked him out of last Saturday’s victory over Alabama, saying he’s just ‘‘banged up’’ and trying to get healthy for the fourth-ranked Tigers’ SEC championship game against No. 6 Georgia on Saturday in Atlanta . . . Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said quarterback J.T. Barrett is ‘‘probable’’ to play in the Big Ten Championship game against No. 3 Wisconsin on Saturday. Meyer said Barrett, who left last Saturday’s win over Michigan with a knee injury in the third quarter, is ‘‘really doing a nice job with all the rehab.’’ The decision whether to start Barrett or backup Dwayne Haskins will be made later in the week. Barrett did not practice Sunday.
IOC endorses whistleblower
In a blow to the credibility of Russia’s denials that it operated state-backed Olympic doping, an IOC judging panel endorsed a key whistleblower and the investigator who exposed the plot. Orchestrated cheating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games was ‘‘a conspiracy which infected and subverted the Olympic Games in the worst possible manner,’’ an International Olympic Committee commission prosecuting a slew of Russian cases said. Former Moscow and Sochi laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov was a ‘‘truthful witness,’’ the panel said in publishing its first detailed verdict on the same day it sanctioned five more Russian athletes to bring the total to 19. Rodchenkov is living in the United States under FBI protection as a cooperating witness.
Woods to return in Hero golf
Tiger Woods is playing the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas this week, making it the 10th time he has returned from layoffs of 10 weeks or longer. The most recent layoff was caused by fusion surgery on his lower back, his fourth back surgery since March 2014. The Hero World Challenge has an 18-man field with no cut. . . . The Texas Rangers agreed on a contract with free agent righthander Doug Fister. Fister was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 18 games for the Red Sox in 2017 . . . USA Hockey added former BC star Haley Skarupa and Sidney Morin to the United States women’s national team training for the Pyeongchang Winter Games.