UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Raptors remain the only NBA team with a better record than the surging Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks won for the sixth time in seven games as Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-poh) delivered 31 points and 14 rebounds in a 112-96 rout of the Knicks. Khris Middleton added 25 points for the Bucks, who were coming off Tuesday’s 14-point win at New York.
Milwaukee trailed by 10 points in the first quarter, but the Bucks used an 18-2 run midway through the second to open a 44-37 lead.
The Knicks dropped their sixth in a row despite Luke Kornet, who tied a career high with 23 points in his first start of the season.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were unable to win without LeBron James. The Los Angeles forward sat out with a strained left hamstring as the Kings pulled out a 117-116 win over the Lakers on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Bogdan Bogdanovic (bahg-DAH’-noh-vihch). De’Aaron Fox contributed 15 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, while Bogdanovic had a team-high 23 points.
Kyle Kuzma had 34 points to help make up for James’ absence, but the Lakers lost for the fourth time in six games.
Checking out Thursday’s other NBA action:
— Damian Lillard capped his 21-point performance by nailing a go-ahead 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left in overtime to push the Trail Blazers past the Warriors, 110-109. Jusuf Nurkic (YOO’-suhf NUR’-kihch) had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, and Seth Curry scored 11 straight points down the stretch.
— James Harden scored 17 of his 45 points in the fourth quarter and had six assists as the Rockets beat the Celtics, 127-113 for their eighth win in nine games. Harden was 9-for-18 from beyond the arc, and Clint Capela added 24 points and 18 rebounds.
— Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) had 23 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks as part of the 76ers’ 114-97 win at Utah. JJ Redick had a game high 24 points, while teammate Ben Simmons recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.
Magic’s Ross fined
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando’s Terrence Ross has been fined $25,000 for throwing a ball into the stands following Wednesday’s 122-120 overtime loss to the Suns.
Ross displayed frustration following the Magic’s fourth straight loss.
NCAA confirms failed drug test by Clemson DL
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA has confirmed that Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence has been suspended for Saturday’s CFP semifinal game against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl following a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Lawrence was one of three Clemson players who tested positive for ostarine, a substance used to treat osteoporosis and can act like an anabolic steroid.
Lawrence took part in Clemson’s media day session on Thursday and said he has no idea what may have led to the failed test.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney announced earlier in the week the school had been notified by the NCAA about the failed tests by Lawrence, reserve offensive tackle Zach Giella and freshman tight end Braden Galloway.
In other CFP news:
— Alabama coach Nick Saban says three players suspended this week will not play the rest of this season, adding that their status beyond that is uncertain. Starting left guard Deonte Brown, tight end Kedrick James and offensive lineman Elliot Baker didn’t make the trip to Miami for Saturday’s semifinal game against Oklahoma.
— Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says quarterback Brandon Wimbush has taken the steps necessary to transfer after this season, but no final decision has been made. Wimbush did acknowledge Thursday that he has decisions to make about his future and would make them with his family after the season.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWLS
Taylor runs through Hurricanes
UNDATED (AP) — Jonathan Taylor turned the Pinstripe Bowl into a personal highlight package while leading Wisconsin to a rout of Miami.
Taylor ran for 205 yards and a touchdown as the Badgers ripped the Hurricanes, 35-3 at Yankee Stadium. He ripped off runs of 39 and 41 yards before topping 2,000 for the season.
Miami’s Malik Rosier threw three interceptions before he was replaced late in the third quarter.
In Thursday’s other bowl finals:
— Charlie Brewer’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Marques Jones broke a tie with under two minutes to play in Baylor’s 45-38 victory over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl. Brewer threw for 384 yards and two TDs, and he also ran for 109 yards and a score. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, ran for a pair of Commodore touchdowns and set a Texas Bowl record with 243 yards rushing.
— Duke has won the Independence Bowl as Daniel Jones threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns in the Blue Devils’ 56-27 rout of Temple. T.J. Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two scores in helping Duke end a two-game skid and finish 8-5. The 8-5 Owls took a 13-7 lead in the first half after Delvon Randall’s 52-yard interception return for a TD, but Duke scored the final 42 points to turn it into a rout.
UNDATED (AP) — Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (mar-ee-OH’-tah) returned to practice Thursday and hopes to recover from his latest injury in time to start against the Indianapolis Colts.
Mariota suffered a stinger in his neck against the Redskins that affected his right, throwing arm. Coach Mike Vrabel (VRAY’-bul) says Mariota did some work to make sure he’s progressing along.
In other NFL news:
— Saints veteran tight end Ben Watson says he’s retiring after this season, his 14th in the league. Watson began his NFL career with New England in 2004. He has 5,856 yards and 44 TDs receiving in his career, including 33 catches for 371 yards and two scores this season.
Caps stay 2 up on Jackets
UNDATED (AP) — The Washington Capitals entered the holiday break leading the NHL’s Metropolitan Division by two points over Columbus. The Caps kept that lead with their third straight win.
Braden Holtby turned back 28 shots and T.J. Oshie (OH’-shee) scored a power-play goal in the second period to put the Capitals ahead 2-0 in a 3-1 verdict over the Hurricanes. Chandler Stephenson added his second goal in three games as Washington won for the 15th time in its last 18 games.
Sebastian Aho (AH’-hoh) scored his team-leading 15th goal in the third period for the Hurricanes, who lost their third out of four games.
The Blue Jackets kept pace as Pierre-Luc Dubois (look doo-BWAH’) scored 31 seconds into overtime to send Columbus to its fifth consecutive win, 4-3 over the Rangers in New York. The Blueshirts led 3-2 until defenseman Zach Werenski tied it with 2:20 left in regulation.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— The Lightning wasted a 5-2 lead in the third period before Alex Killorn tallied 18 seconds into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 6-5 win against the Flyers. Steven Stamkos had two goals and two assists, while Nikita Kucherov (KOO’-cheh-rahv) added a goal and three assists to help the Lightning improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games.
— Johnny Gaudreau’s hat trick was the difference as the Flames dumped the Jets, 4-1. Mark Jankowski had a short-handed, third-period goal and Sean Monahan contributed three assists as Calgary halted a three-game skid.
— Anton Khudobin (koo-DOH’-bihn) claimed his first shutout of the season by making a career-high 49 saves to lead the Stars past the Predators, 2-0. Tyler Pitlick and Mattias (mah-TEE’-uhs) Janmark did the scoring as Dallas handed Nashville its fifth consecutive loss.
— The Golden Knights beat the Avalanche, 2-1 on Brandon Pirri’s (PEER’-eez) goal midway through the third period, hours after he was recalled from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Paul Stastny (STAS’-nee) also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves in his 50th victory since joining Vegas.
— The Penguins won for the ninth time in 13 games this month as Phil Kessel scored two power-play goals in a 5-2 victory against the Red Wings. Derick Brassard added a pair of goals and Matt Murray stopped 27 shots for his fourth straight win since returning from a lower-body injury.
— Robert Thomas had a goal and an assist and Jake Allen made 30 saves to lead the Blues to a 4-1 victory over the Sabres. Jay Bouwmeester (BOH’-mees-tur), Pat Maroon and Ryan O’Reilly also scored against Carter Hutton, who was making his first appearance against St. Louis after a two-year run with the Blues.
— The Devils knocked off the Bruins, 5-2 as Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 40 shots for his first NHL victory. Blake Coleman scored twice, Damon Severson tallied 25 seconds into the game and Kyle Palmieri added his team-high 19th goal in New Jersey’s fourth victory in 19 road games.
— Patrick Kane completed a hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 27 seconds left in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win against the Wild. Kane also provided the eventual game-winner and Brandon Saad (sahd) scored twice to support Collin Delia’s 46-save performance.
— Brent Burns scored midway through the third period of his 1,000th career game to send the Sharks past the Ducks, 4-2. Marcus Sorensen, Melker Karlsson and Tomas Hertl (HUR’-tul) also scored, and Barclay Goodrow had two assists as San Jose snapped a three-game losing streak.
— The Kings have a season-high four-game winning streak after Dustin Brown scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period of a 2-1 decision over the Coyotes. Jake Muzzin (MUH’-zihn) also scored and Jonathan Quick handled 26 shots for last-place Los Angeles.
— Elias Pettersson’s 18th tally of the season capped the Canucks’ four-goal first period in a 4-2 win at Edmonton. Pettersson and Antoine Roussel (roo-SEHL’) scored 61 seconds apart over the final 1:12 of the opening period to put Vancouver up 4-1.
Matthews, McDavid, MacKinnon, Ovechkin earn ‘C’ for All-Star weekend
NEW YORK (AP) — Two of the NHL’s youngest superstars will serve as captains at the NHL All-Star weekend in San Jose next month.
Oilers center Connor McDavid will captain the Pacific Division, while Toronto center Auston Matthews will wear the “C” for the Atlantic Division. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin will be the other captains following a fan vote for the first roster spots for the event in late January. MacKinnon will captain the Central Division and Ovechkin will head the Metropolitan Division.
The rest of the players for the Jan. 26 event will be determined by the NHL’s hockey operations department.
In other league news:
— Penguins forward Jake Guentzel (GEHNT’-sul) has received a five-year, $30 million contract extension in the midst of his finest NHL season. Guentzel has 15 goals and 33 points in 36 games this season for the Pens, who recalled him midway through the 2016-17 season. He has shined in the postseason, producing 23 goals and 42 points in 37 games.
— Netminder Carey Price will miss the Canadiens’ three-game trip because of a lower-body injury. Price is 15-10-4 with a 2.84 goals-against average in 30 games this season.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
LeBron is AP’s male athlete of 2018
UNDATED (AP) — LeBron James has been selected as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
James went to the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive year before leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers in the biggest free-agent move of the summer. He received 78 points in balloting by U.S. editors and news directors, 32 more than Red Sox outfielder and runner-up Mookie Betts.
Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (oh-VEHCH’-kihn) was third, followed by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (mah-HOHMZ’) and Triple Crown winner Justify.
Nationals get Anibal Sanchez
WASHINGTON (AP) — Anibal (AH’-nih-bahl) Sanchez has become a part of the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation after agreeing to a two-year deal with a team option for 2021.
Sanchez was perhaps the Braves’ most consistent starter as he posted a 2.83 ERA in 25 games, including 24 starts. He was 7-6 and had 135 strikeouts in 136 2/3 innings.
Sanchez joins a rotation headed by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and newly-acquired Patrick Corbin.
Russian anti-doping seeks Putin’s help to release lab data
MOSCOW (AP) — The head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency has asked President Vladimir Putin for help in getting key doping data released to World Anti-Doping Agency inspectors.
WADA officials said this month they left Moscow empty-handed after Russian authorities prevented them from accessing data. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, however, told local media the WADA team would return.
WADA reinstated the suspended RUSADA in September on the condition Russian authorities hand over lab data, which could help confirm violations uncovered during an investigation that revealed a state-sponsored doping program designed to win medals at the 2014 Olympics and other major events.