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Houston Rockets’ Daryl Morey steps down as general manager



Oct. 15 (UPI) — Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is stepping down from his role after 13 seasons running the franchise’s basketball operations, the Rockets announced Thursday.

After Houston’s elimination from the NBA playoffs inside the bubble in Orlando, Fla., Morey approached team owner Tilman Fertitta about leaving the position, according to ESPN. Both sides worked through an agreement to end his 13-year tenure as general manager and 14 years overall with the organization.

“After discussing my thoughts with family and close friends, I’ve decided I’ll be stepping away from the Rockets organization effective November 1st,” Morey said in a statement Thursday. “Tilman and I have had many conversations since I returned, and his unwavering support and counsel during our time together has been critical to our success.

“It has been the most gratifying experience of my professional life to lead the Rockets basketball organization, and I look forward to working with Tilman and the management team on the transition. I am very confident that the future — for the Rockets, and for our incredible fans — is in great hands, and that the Rockets will continue to perform at the highest level.”

Morey, who hasn’t ruled out a future return to the NBA on the team side, will remain in an advisory role for a brief period to help in the Rockets’ head-coaching search, according to ESPN. Former head coach Mike D’Antoni and the Rockets parted ways last month.

The Rockets are planning to promote executive vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone to general manager. According to reports, Houston also is promoting Eli Witus to assistant general manager.

“On behalf of the entire Rockets organization, I would like to thank Daryl Morey for his hard work and dedication over the past 14 seasons,” Fertitta said in a statement. “Daryl is a brilliant innovator who helped the Rockets become a perennial contender.

“I have truly enjoyed working with Daryl and couldn’t have asked for a better general manager to have at the start of my ownership. I wish him and his family all the best.”

Under Morey, the Rockets have reached the postseason in each of the past eight seasons — the league’s longest current streak. That streak has included two trips to the Western Conference finals.

Despite the Rockets’ success on the court, Morey’s final season on the job became engulfed in scrutiny after his tweet supporting freedom in Hong Kong led to China pulling the NBA off its broadcasts and suspending sponsorship agreements. China ended its one-year ban of NBA games during the NBA Finals this month.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Fertitta supported Morey, despite China’s calls for his firing. Silver later estimated that the league lost about $400 million in revenue due to the severed relationship with China.

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Watch: Andy Dalton suffers concussion in Cowboys’ loss to Washington



Oct. 25 (UPI) — Already without starter Dak Prescott due to a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, backup quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of the Dallas Cowboys‘ 25-3 loss to the Washington Football Team on Sunday because of a concussion.

Dalton, who was making his second start in place of the injured Prescott, took a violent hit to the helmet from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic as he slid to the turf with under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Officials ejected Bostic for the illegal hit to the head of Dalton, who went straight to the locker room for further examination.

Before the injury, Dalton completed 9 of 19 pass attempts for 75 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble on the Cowboys’ first possession, which resulted in a safety. Third-stringer Ben DiNucci replaced Dalton in the matchup.

A team spokesman told ESPN that Dalton was alert and in “good spirits” following the hit, and he will be flying home with the team. If Dalton is unable to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol by next week, DiNucci would get the start.

After the game, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said he was unhappy with the passive reaction teammates had to Bostic’s hit.

“We speak all the time about playing for one another, protecting one another,” McCarthy said. “It definitely was not the response you would expect.”

Washington finished with 208 rushing yards in the win over Dallas, including Antonio Gibson’s 128 yards and one score on 20 carries. Kyle Allen completed 15 of 25 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.

The Cowboys (2-5) are set to play the Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1) next Sunday, while Washington (2-5) will take on the New York Giants (1-6).

This week in the National Football League

Philadelphia Eagles’ Boston Scott (L) makes the 18-yard, game-winning touchdown catch at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Thursday, to defeat the New York Giants 22-21. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov beats Justin Gaethje, announces retirement



Oct. 24 (UPI) — Khabib Nurmagomedov, while fighting with a broken foot, submitted Justin Gaethje via triangle choke during the second round in the main event of UFC 254 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

It was Nurmagomedov’s first bout since his father and head coach, Abdulmanap, died in July from COVID-19 complications. After the fight, an emotional Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.

The 32-year-old Nurmagomedov said his mother didn’t want him to continue competing without his father. He told her his fight against Gaethje would be his final.

“I want to say this was my last fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “… I promised her this was going to be my last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this. … It was my father’s dream.”

Nurmagomedov put the final touches on his MMA career as he took Gaethje down and locked in the triangle choke to make him go unconscious at one minute, 34 seconds of the second round. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Nurmagomedov’s submission finish was only the third ever in UFC title history.

Nurmagomedov’s win unified the UFC lightweight title. Nurmagomedov entered as the UFC lightweight champion, and Gaethje was the interim titleholder.

“I know he made his father so proud,” Gaethje said.

Nurmagomedov (29-0) went into the fight undefeated. The victory ties him with B.J. Penn and Benson Henderson for the most title defenses in UFC lightweight history (three).

Nurmagomedov, a native of Dagestan in Russia, also improved his record to 13-0 in the UFC, becoming only the second fighter after Anderson Silva to begin a UFC career with 13 consecutive wins.

“What this guy has been through, we’re all lucky that we got to see him fight [Saturday],” UFC president Dana White said. “… Apparently, he was in the hospital and he broke his foot three weeks ago. So he has two broken toes and a bone in his foot that’s broken. That’s what his corner told me.

“He’s the toughest human being on the planet. He’s the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”

Gaethje (22-3) was on a four-fight winning streak going into the bout against Nurmagomedov. He beat Tony Ferguson to win the UFC interim lightweight belt at UFC 249 in May.

The fight between Gaethje and Nurmagomedov took place without fans at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, which the UFC has dubbed “Fight Island.”

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World Series: Dodgers top Rays in Game 5, take 3-2 lead



Oct. 25 (UPI) — The Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed an early three-run lead and held on for a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

With the victory, the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and sit one win away from their first championship since 1988. Game 6 of the series is Tuesday night.

Corey Seager, the National League Championship Series MVP, continued his red-hot hitting this postseason with a single that scored Mookie Betts in the first inning. A few at-bats later, Cody Bellinger pushed the Dodgers’ lead to 2-0 with an infield single.

Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson led off the second inning with a solo homer to deep center field, giving Los Angeles its early 3-0 advantage.

The Rays’ offense finally got going in the third when Yandy Diaz tripled to right, scoring Kevin Kiermaier. Rookie sensation Randy Arozarena then singled to shallow left to score Diaz from third base to cut the Rays’ deficit to 3-2.

Arozarena’s run-scoring single was his 27th hit in the 2020 playoffs, setting a MLB record for most hits in a single postseason. The 25-year-old star already set the record for most home runs in one postseason (nine) during Game 4 of the series.

In the fifth inning, the Dodgers got a much-needed insurance run when Max Muncy blasted a 434-foot home run to right. The Rays stranded two runners in the eighth and another in the ninth, failing to replicate the miraculous comeback they had in the ninth inning of Game 4.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw allowed only two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He recorded six strikeouts to become the all-time postseason strikeout king with 207, breaking the record of 205 set last year by the Houston AstrosJustin Verlander.

Blake Treinen shut the door in the ninth for his first career postseason save. He gave up a leadoff single, but settled down with two strikeouts to seal the Dodgers’ win.

Tyler Glasnow gave up all four runs on six hits in five innings for the Rays. He struck out seven batters, but issued three walks. The Rays’ bullpen didn’t allow any hits after Glasnow departed.

The Rays are expected to send ace Blake Snell to the mound in Game 6, while the Dodgers have yet to reveal their starter.

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