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Sports Log

Miami Heat to deploy COVID-sniffing dogs in return of fans to arena

Kelly Olynyk (No. 9) of the Miami Heat shoots over Aron Baynes (No. 46) of the Toronto Raptors during a game  at Amalie Arena on Jan. 22. Miami will welcome back ticket holders to American Airlines Arena Thursday, but not before being screened by COVID-sniffing dogs.
Kelly Olynyk (No. 9) of the Miami Heat shoots over Aron Baynes (No. 46) of the Toronto Raptors during a game at Amalie Arena on Jan. 22. Miami will welcome back ticket holders to American Airlines Arena Thursday, but not before being screened by COVID-sniffing dogs.Mike Ehrmann/Getty

The Miami Heat are bringing back some fans, with help from some dogs. The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at American Airlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They’ve been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season where the team has allowed a handful of guests — mostly friends and family of players and staff. Starting this week, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first. The first Heat game with ticket holders is set for Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Monday is the first day that season ticket holders will be able to start securing their seats . . . Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists, Serge Ibaka added 17 points and the host Los Angeles Clippers beat Oklahoma City, 108-101, for their seventh consecutive victory and second straight over the Thunder. At 13-4, the Clippers are tied with the Lakers for the best record in the NBA.

Golf

Korda bests Kang in LPGA playoff

Jessica Korda closed with a 5-under 66 and holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Danielle Kang in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and start the LPGA Tour season on a good note. Korda, who shot a career-best 60 on Saturday, won for the sixth time on the LPGA Tour, and it was her first victory in nearly three years. Kang started the final round at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando with a two-shot lead, which she quickly stretched to four shots with an opening birdie and Korda dropping a shot on the third hole. Kang, who shot 68, had a two-shot lead with four holes to play when she made her first bogey of the tournament — and her first bogey in 65 holes dating to last season — on the 15th. Korda caught her with a birdie on the 16th. Kang had to make a 4-foot par putt on the par-3 18th to force a playoff at 24-under 260 . . . Englishman Tyrrell Hatton shot a sparkling 6-under par 66 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship to win the season-opening European Tour event by four strokes after overnight leader Rory McIlroy faded with an uninspired even-par 72 to drop into third. It was Hatton’s sixth European Tour victory, one that will likely go a long way towards securing a second Ryder Cup appearance in September.

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MLB

Yankees add RHP Taillon to rotation

The New York Yankees bolstered their 2021 rotation by acquiring Jameson Taillon, a righthanded starter working his way back from Tommy John elbow surgery, in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for four minor leaguers. Taillon, 29, was the second pick in the 2010 draft — he was selected between star players Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. He has a career 3.67 ERA and looked like a future star in 2018, when he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA and 179 strikeouts. That progress was interrupted when he missed the entire 2020 season after the second Tommy John surgery of his career. He is expected to be healthy for the start of 2021 and is under contract for $2.25 million and eligible for salary arbitration in 2022 . . . Closer Brad Hand, whose $10 million option was declined by Cleveland in exchange for a $1 million buyout, agreed with the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $10.5 million contract, he told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The 30-year-old lefthander had another solid season as the closer for the Indians in 2020, with a major league-leading 16 saves, but fell victim of the team’s salary purge heading into 2021.

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Mixed Martial Arts

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Poirier stuns McGregor in UFC 257

Conor McGregor limped off, using a crutch, after his upset loss to Dustin Poirier on Sunday morning, a result that left the future of UFC’s lightweight division, as well as that of the sport’s biggest star, in flux. Poirier (27-6) used 18 significant leg strikes to score his second-round knockout of McGregor (22-5) in the co-main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was McGregor’s third MMA fight since 2016. “It’s hard to overcome inactivity over a long period of time,” McGregor said. “I just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be, you know what I mean? It’s inactivity, and that’s it.” Poirier, 32, landed a left hand shot that sent McGregor, 32, reeling against the cage midway through the second round and followed with shots that floored McGregor, with the TKO arriving at 2 minutes 32 seconds. It wasn’t the anticipated result for many, including UFC president Dana White anticipated. The upset likely dims the possibility of Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) being lured out of retirement for a blockbuster rematch with McGregor. White told reporters he believed Poirier will fight Michael Chandler (22-5) for the lightweight title after a recent conversation with Nurmagomedov, who holds the lightweight title but said in October that he was walking away from competition.

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College basketball

Northeastern men suffer first CAA setback

The James Madison men’s basketball team avenged a 72-63 loss to Northeastern on Saturday by handing the Huskies (8-6, 7-1 Colonial Athletic Association) their first conference loss of the season, 79-72, at NU’s Solomon Court at the Cabot Center. Vado Morse scored a career-high 30 points for James Madison (7-5, 2-1 CAA) to keep pace with NU’s Tyson Walker, who tallied a season-high 30 points . . . Kellan Grady scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as Davidson (10-5, 6-2 Atlantic 10) topped UMass, rallying from a 32-27 halftime deficit in a 69-60 come-from-behind win in Amherst, Mass. Tre Mitchell had 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Minutemen (5-4, 4-2). T.J. Weeks Jr. also scored 16 points and Noah Fernandes added 15 . . . Marques Wilson had 20 points and Evan Taylor added 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds as Lehigh (3-5, 3-5 Patriot League) defeated Holy Cross, 82-74, to complete a weekend sweep in Worcester. Gerrale Gates scored a career-high 27 points for the Crusaders (2-6, 2-6), whose losing streak stretched to four games.

Miscellany

Crouser sets shot put world record

Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, 28, broke the world indoor shot put record at an American Track League meet in Fayetteville, Ark., with a toss of 74 feet, 10½ inches on his first attempt to break the mark (74-4¼) set by Randy Barnes on Jan. 20, 1989. Crouser’s heave went so far it nearly landed out of the area designed for the competition. He also had another toss that went 74-5. “It’s a pretty good start to 2021,” Crouser said on ESPN. “I feel like there is more there.” Crouser, who trains at Arkansas, will have a chance to break his own record next Sunday in the second installment of the four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas, which has given Olympic hopeful athletes an opportunity to compete and see how they stack up in a time where finding meets has been extremely difficult because of the pandemic. Crouser is hoping to defend his Olympic title at the delayed Tokyo Games that are set to begin in July. He also earned the silver medal at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar . . . Four players and the president of Brazilian soccer club Palmas died in a plane crash in the northern state of Tocantins, the team said. The accident occurred when the plane suddenly plunged to the ground at the end of the runway while on takeoff, the club reported in a statement. The players were on their way to Goiania, in the central region of the country, to play a match against Vila Nova . . . George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s, has died. He was 90. His death was announced Sunday by the Maple Leafs, who said he died of heart complications, citing his family.

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