Zion Williamson, the top choice in last year’s NBA Draft, is scheduled to make his regular-season debut for the Pelicans Jan. 22 when New Orleans hosts the San Antonio Spurs, Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin said Wednesday. “Everything’s moving in the right direction,” Griffin said. “I really believe very strongly he is a radically improved physical version of himself in way that frankly we took the extra time to ensure.” The former Duke star has missed New Orleans’s first 41 games this season while rehabilitating from arthroscopic surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his right knee. The timeline for his return calls for him to miss three more games, starting with Thursday night’s home game against Utah.
Syracuse dominates BC
Buddy Boeheim scored 22 points, Marek Dolezaj had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, the Syracuse (10-7, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) defense held Boston College (9-8, 3-3) to 33 percent from the field, and the host Orange routed the Eagles, 76-50. Syracuse, which won its first conference home game after three straight losses at the Carrier Dome, went on a 29-8 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half to take control. The Eagles were just 5 of 27 from the field in the first half and 0 for 14 from beyond the arc. BC, which shoots just 30 percent from 3-point range, missed its first 18 threes until Julian Rishwain connected from long range with 13:43 remaining in the game . . . Dominick Welch recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead Saint Bonaventure to a 74-61 win over UMass. Kyle Lofton had 19 points and six assists for Saint Bonaventure (12-5, 4-0 Atlantic 10 Conference), which won its fourth consecutive game. Tre Mitchell scored a season-high 28 points and had three assists for the Minutemen (7-10, 1-3).
Vegas fires coach Gallant
Gerard Gallant was abruptly fired by the Vegas Golden Knights less than two years after leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of existence and winning NHL coach of the year honors along the way. Peter DeBoer, fired last month by the San Jose Sharks, takes over immediately and will be the Vegas coach the rest of the season. The Golden Knights have lost four in a row, matching the longest point drought in their brief franchise history . . . Twenty of the top women’s hockey players in the world will take part in a 3-on-3 game at a new-look NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis next week. National team players from the US and Canada will be split into two 10-player teams and compete in a 20-minute 3-on-3 scrimmage during the skills competition.
Mets are mum on Beltrán
The Mets are refusing to say whether their new manager, Carlos Beltrán, stays or goes. Beltrán was implicated in the Houston Astros cheating scandal that cost Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Red Sox manager Alex Cora their jobs. In commissioner Rob Manfred’s nine-page statement, Beltrán was the only player identified as a participant in the cheating scheme. “They have to fire Carlos Beltrán,” said former Yankees teammate Mark Teixeira, an analyst for ESPN. ‘‘There’s no way that Carlos Beltrán, especially in the pressure cooker of New York, there’s no way he can be the manager of the Mets . . . You cannot have that guy lead your team. The New York papers, the Daily News and the Post and all of the tabloids, will eat up Carlos Beltrán every single day until he’s fired.’’ . . . Lefthander Alex Wood agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers . . . The Texas Rangers formally reunited with catcher Robinson Chirinos and added third baseman Todd Frazier after completing one-year deals with the free agents. Chirinos and Frazier got contracts that included club options for 2021. Chirinos gets a $5.5 million salary this season, with a $6.5 million club option for 2021 that includes a $1 million buyout. Frazier will make $3.5 million, and the two-time All-Star’s 2021 club option has a $1.5 million buyout . . . Lefthander Stephen Tarpley was traded from the New York Yankees to the Miami Marlins for third baseman James Nelson and $50,000 payable on Feb. 15. Tarpley was 1-0 with two saves and a 5.88 ERA last year in one start and 30 relief appearances. Nelson, 22, was a 15th-round draft pick in 2016 and hit .228 with 13 doubles, four homers, and 36 RBIs in 121 games last season for Single A Jupiter of the Florida State League.
Wildfire relief gets $3.5m
A capacity crowd of more than 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena watched Roger Federer defeat Nick Kyrgios in a one-set finale to the Australian Open’s Rally for Relief to aid wildfire charities in Melbourne. Tennis Australia said the night helped raise nearly 5 million Australian dollars ($3.5 million) for the victims of recent and ongoing fires in Australia . . . Serena Williams will be part of the US team for its Fed Cup qualifier against Latvia, Feb. 7-8 in Everett, Wash. It will be the first time Williams has participated in the Fed Cup since 2018 . . . A report on the death of Mongolian Groom in the Breeders’ Cup Classic horse race at Santa Anita said veterinarians missed opportunities to remove the gelding from the $6 million race because of time constraints or deficiencies in the process used to evaluate horses. Dr. Larry Bramlage identified six suggested improvements aimed at refining safety and evaluation protocols for future events. Mongolian Groom suffered what Cup officials described as “a serious fracture” of his left hind leg in the late stages of the Classic last November, which was shown on national television. Four vets recommended that he be euthanized.