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Miami Heat rally past Boston Celtics for 2-0 series lead

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Miami Heat mounted another comeback to beat the Boston Celtics 106-101 and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night.

The Heat were down by as much as 17 points in the second quarter and trailed the Celtics by 13 at halftime before exploding for 37 points in the third frame. Miami had been 0-21 in postseason games when trailing by at least that many at the half.

The Heat are now 1-21 in such games and sit two wins away from their first NBA finals since 2014.

“We like to make it hard on ourselves,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “We like being down double digits and being the comeback kids.”

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 25 points and five assists. Bam Adebayo, who had a clutch block in the closing seconds of Game 1, recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range to end his offensive woes. In the Heat’s last two playoff games, he was 2 of 9 from deep and scored a combined eight points.

Butler finished with 14 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Jae Crowder scored 12 points, and Tyler Herro added 11 off the bench.

Kemba Walker had a team-best 23 points for the Celtics, who also got 21 apiece from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Brown failed to make a corner 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 15 seconds left, and Butler sealed it with two free throws with 7.4 seconds left.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is set for Saturday.



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NBA considering 72 games, pre-Christmas start for 2020-21 season

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Oct. 23 (UPI) — The NBA is eyeing a pre-Christmas Day start and a reduced regular-season schedule for the 2020-21 season.

League sources told ESPN and The Athletic on Friday that the league proposed multiple changes to next season that include a 72-game regular season, a play-in tournament and the likelihood of no All-Star weekend in Indianapolis. According to the outlets, the NBA is targeting Dec. 22 to begin the upcoming season.

The league also is considering a two-week break at the halfway point of the season, according to ESPN. The NBA shared its plans in a conference call with team owners on Friday afternoon, and the league wants to move quickly to finalize negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association to implement the plan.

The reduction in the number of regular-season games — which would help accommodate a play-in tournament format for the Eastern and Western conferences — would allow the NBA to finish its season before the Summer Olympics in Japan next year.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA wants to avoid another bubble format, according to reports. Instead, the league continues to discuss travel and game schedules that would keep teams in cities for a longer amount of time to play multiple games, similar to a Major League Baseball series.

The NBA and the NBPA agreed that Oct. 30 would be the deadline to complete ongoing talks on modifications to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 campaign. That deadline date requires the league or players’ union to provide 45 days notice if either side opts to terminate the CBA.

The league recently completed its 2019-20 season in a bubble format on the Walt Disney World Resort campus near Orlando, Fla. A limited number of family members and friends were allowed to attend during the playoffs, but games were mostly held without anyone in attendance.



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Washington fines Dwayne Haskins for violating team’s COVID-19 protocols

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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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World Series: Rays’ red-hot Arozarena ties Jeter record, eyes Bonds mark

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Oct. 22 (UPI) — Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena got his 22nd hit of the playoffs in Game 2 of the World Series to tie Derek Jeter‘s rookie record. He also is one home run away from tying a Barry Bonds playoff mark.

Arozarena went 1 for 3 in the 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. He is hitting .361 with seven home runs and 10 RBIs in 61 games this postseason.

“I try not to pay attention to the statistics,” Arozarena told reporters before Game 1 of the World Series. “With the internet and everybody bringing it up, you are aware of it.

“I don’t pay attention to statistics. I [pay attention to] what I can control when playing.”

Jeter hit .361 with 22 hits, one home run and three RBIs to help the New York Yankees win the World Series during the 1996 postseason.

Arozarena — the 2020 ALCS MVP — hit a single in the ninth inning off Dodgers relief pitcher Jake McGee on Wednesday for his first hit of the World Series. He now has the second-most total bases in a single postseason (48), which is two off the record owned by David Freese from 2011.

Bonds (2002), Carlos Beltran (2004) and Nelson Cruz (2011) own the record for most home runs in a single postseason, with eight. Arozarena will join that group if he takes a Dodgers pitcher deep in one of his next few games. He also could set the record outright with two more home runs.

He needs four hits to tie Pablo Sandoval‘s record for hits in a single postseason (26).

Arozarena, 25, was born in Havana, Cuba. He grew up playing soccer before he started playing baseball at 8 years old. He said his energy this postseason has been inspired by Juventus soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He is one of the best soccer players in the world and he works so hard to be the best,” Arozarena said. “If you want to be the best, you have to practice like the best.”

The 5-foot-11 outfielder said he escaped Cuba in 2015 with an eight-hour boat trip to the United States. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 14, 2019, with the St. Louis Cardinals before he was traded to the Rays in January. He hit .281 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs in 23 games during the 2020 regular season.

The Dodgers have taken a cautious approach when Arozarena steps into the batter’s box. Dodgers pitchers walked the Rays outfielder twice on Wednesday and once in Game 1.

“I don’t blame anybody for being very careful with him,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday. “They are throwing him a heavy dose of breaking balls. He is going to get one here eventually. He will get timed up and see it.

“We saw him make adjustments against the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. He is going to do it again.”

The Rays face the Dodgers in Game 3 at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Friday in Arlington.

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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