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Nuggets stun Clippers in Game 5 to stave off elimination

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Sept. 11 (UPI) — The Denver Nuggets overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half to shock the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 on Friday night in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals series near Orlando, Fla.

The Nuggets — trailing by as much as 16 in the first half — fell behind 61-46 with 9:42 left in the third quarter before rallying behind 35-year-old forward Paul Millsap. The four-time All-Star scored 14 of his 17 points in the third frame to keep the Nuggets afloat in the best-of-seven series.

Denver took its first lead after Nikola Jokic’s 3-pointer with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. After Kawhi Leonard sank two free throws to pull the Clippers to within a basket, Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. drilled a key 3-pointer with 1:11 left to keep his team ahead for good.

Jamal Murray finished with a team-best 26 points for the Nuggets, who still trail the Clippers 3-2 in the series. Jokic recorded 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in the win.

Nuggets reserve guard Monte Morris had 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Porter scored seven points and brought down five rebounds.

Paul George scored 26 points and Leonard notched 36 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Clippers, who are still looking for their first appearance in the conference finals. The Clippers hold a 0-6 record in games where they could clinch a spot in the conference finals.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets earned their fourth elimination-game win of this postseason — the franchise’s most since winning six elimination matchups during the 1994 NBA playoffs. Denver rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win its first-round series against the Utah Jazz.

Game 6 of the series is set for Sunday.



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Houston-Baylor, FAU-Georgia Southern games postponed due to COVID-19

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Sept. 18 (UPI) — The Houston-Baylor and Florida Atlantic-Georgia Southern football games scheduled for Saturday have been postponed because of the coronavirus, the schools announced Friday.

Baylor said that one of its position groups didn’t meet the Big 12 Conference COVID-19 thresholds for competition, forcing the game’s cancellation.

Houston and Baylor agreed to honor their home-and-home agreement and will monitor dates for future scheduling opportunities.

“The loss of this game is a devastating blow, but in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, we believe we made the necessary decision,” Baylor athletic director Mack B. Rhoades said in a statement Friday.

“We are incredibly disappointed with the continued delay to the start of our season and empathize with our student-athletes, fans, coaches and administrative staff. We are grateful for the support and understanding of the University of Houston, athletic director Chris Pezman and Chancellor [Renu] Khator. We look forward to a future home-and-home matchup.”

Both schools worked quickly to schedule the game last week after previous postponements. Houston was set to face Memphis on Friday night, but the contest was scrapped due to a rise in positive coronavirus tests at Memphis. Baylor’s initial opener — a Sept. 12 meeting against Louisiana Tech — was postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak at Louisiana Tech.

Earlier Friday, FAU’s opener against Georgia Southern was postponed following the results of the Owls’ coronavirus testing Thursday.

An FAU spokesperson told the Sun Sentinel that 18 members of the football program — 12 student-athletes, four staff members and two student-staff members — tested positive for COVID-19 this week.



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U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who won the 2020 U.S. Open last week, announced Thursday night that she will skip this month’s French Open.

Osaka — ranked third in the world — said she decided to withdraw from the upcoming major because of a lingering left hamstring injury and a lack of preparation time on the clay surface.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” Osaka wrote on social media. “My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay — these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time. I wish the organizers and players all the best.”

The French Open is set to begin Sept. 27 in Paris after being rescheduled from its traditional spring dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Osaka, 22, has never advanced past the third round of the French tournament.

Osaka, who had her hamstring taped throughout the U.S. Open, earned her third major title in New York after a three-set comeback win over Victoria Azarenka.



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Chicago White Sox beat Minnesota Twins to clinch AL playoff spot

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — The Chicago White Sox are back in the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade after earning a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

With the victory, the White Sox clinched their first postseason berth since 2008. It is only the franchise’s second trip to the playoffs since the club won the World Series in 2005.

The White Sox are the first American League team to clinch a spot in the 2020 postseason. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first NL club to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

“Everybody in there is extremely happy,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work over the years. Hopefully, it’s just a first step, and we continue to move forward.”

White Sox slugger Jose Abreu fueled the win with his 17th home run of the season. The homer — which tied the game at one run apiece in the fourth inning — gave Abreu 50 RBIs in the team’s first 50 games this year, making him the first MLB player to reach 50 RBIs in 2020 and the first to do it in 50 contests since the Detroit TigersMiguel Cabrera in 2013.

Abreu tied the game again in the seventh inning when he legged out an infield single to score Jarrod Dyson from third. That sequence set up the winner — a line drive double to left field by Eloy Jimenez to plate pinch runner Yolmer Sanchez.

“For me, that was a really special moment,” Jimenez said. “It’s really fun, you know. At the beginning of the year, I would have been disappointed if we didn’t make the playoffs. Now, we’ve made it, and we have to continue to play hard and win our division.”

“We’re not done,” Renteria said. “This is just one phase of it. Hopefully, we’re continuing to be better.”

This week in Major League Baseball

New York Yankees Luke Voit (L) celebrates with Aaron Hicks after hitting a solo home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in New York City on Thursday. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 10-7. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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