Thursday Morning Sports Update-07/15/2021

NBA – 2021 NBA Finals – Best of 7
Last Night
Milwaukee Bucks 109, Phoenix Suns 103                                              (Series tied 2-2)

Bucks 109, Suns 103 – Middleton sends Bucks past Suns to tie NBA Finals at 2-2
Khris Middleton scored 40 points, including 10 straight for the Milwaukee Bucks down the stretch to send them past the Phoenix Suns, 109-103 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Middleton’s hot hand and a big block from Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks their second straight victory in the first close game of the series. Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. His streak of two straight 40-point games ended but the only number that matters for the Bucks is on the series scoreboard. Devin Booker had 42 for Phoenix, which hosts Game 5 on Saturday.

WNBA – Women’s National Basketball Association – 2021 All Star Game
Last Night
WNBA All-Stars 93, US Olympic Team 85

Team WNBA 93, Team USA 85 – Ogunbowale leads WNBA All-Stars over US Olympic team 93-85
Arike Ogunbowale scored 26 points and the WNBA All-Star team beat the U.S. Olympic team 93-85 in the league’s All-Star Game. It wasn’t a typical All-Star Game with the teams playing hard on both ends of the court for the entire game. Usually there isn’t much defense played until late in the fourth quarter. The WNBA team led 75-73 midway through the fourth quarter before Ogunbowale had a four-point play to extend the advantage to six. The Olympic squad rallied within 83-78 before Ogunbowale, who earned MVP honors for the game, hit another 3-pointer and posed to the crowd.

WNBA – Candace Parker to be first woman on cover of NBA 2K game
Candace Parker grew up playing video games and now she’ll be the first female basketball player on the cover of one. The Chicago Sky star will appear on the NBA 2K22 cover for the WNBA 25th Anniversary special edition when it’s released on Sept. 10. Parker joins Luka Dončić, who was named cover athlete for the game’s regular edition, and Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who were recognized as cover athletes for the NBA 75th Anniversary Edition.

WNBA/Olympics – AP sources: Ogwumike denied by FIBA to play for Nigeria
Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams have been notified by FIBA that their petitions to play for Nigeria in the upcoming Olympics were denied because they played for the U.S. for too long, says two people familiar with the situation. The people spoke to The Associated Press Wednesday night on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made. One person says Nigeria will appeal the decision and that both players are exploring their options of how to potentially still play for Nigeria in the Tokyo Games that start next week.

MLB – AP source: No word by weekend on Blue Jays’ return
The Toronto Blue Jays won’t find out by this weekend whether they will get permission from the federal government to play in Canada soon, a government official familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. A team spokeswoman said the club continues to work with the federal government toward playing games at Rogers Centre starting July 30, and expected to receive a response by Friday. But the government official familiar with the talks said the Blue Jays will not learn whether they will get to play in Toronto by the weekend. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no one has been authorized to discuss the talks publicly. The Blue Jays started this season in Dunedin, Florida, before moving to Buffalo, New York.

MLB – On deck for MLB’s 2nd half: Trades, playoff races and prizes
The second half of the major league baseball season starts Thursday night when Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox visit Yankee Stadium. In a season already featuring big hitting by Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. and a modern-day record seven no-hitters, what will the stretch run hold? Up soon is the July 30 trade deadline, with Trevor Story and Nelson Cruz sure to attract interest. The San Francisco Giants own the best record in the majors, a surprising showing in a division with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Many playoff contenders are counting on key players to come off the injured list, including stars Mike Trout, Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard.
NHL – Moving on from past is first step in this NHL offseason
Moving on from the past is the early theme of the NHL offseason. Chicago parted ways with longtime defenseman Duncan Keith. Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne announced his retirement, and Minnesota moved toward buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter nine seasons into their 13-year contracts. Consider it like summer cleaning before most of the jumbling for next season happens after the Seattle expansion draft. Plenty of conversations are ongoing between general mangers this week to set the table for what could be a frenzy of moves in the latter part of July.

NFL – Police: NFL’s Richard Sherman tried to break in at in-laws’
Authorities say former Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers star Richard Sherman has been jailed after crashing his SUV at a construction zone and then trying to break into his in-laws’ home in suburban Seattle. Police said Sherman walked away from officers early Wednesday and then resisted when they told him he was under arrest. They subdued him with a police dog, and Sherman was treated at a hospital for cuts to his lower leg. Sherman’s wife, Ashley Moss, told The Seattle Times that no one was injured. Sherman played seven seasons with the Seahawks, three with the 49ers and is now a free agent.

NFL – Peyton Manning doesn’t rule out future role with Broncos
Peyton Manning isn’t ruling out a possible role with the Denver Broncos given the franchise’s uncertain ownership situation. Manning was asked about that possibility on Wednesday during a Zoom call ahead of his Hall of Fame induction. Manning said he’s watching the ownership issue with interest. Earlier this week a judge dismissed a lawsuit by two of late owner Pat Bowlen’s children challenging the trust that runs the team. The trustees will either select one of Bowlen’s children to run the team or will put the team up for sale.

Golf – LPGA – LPGA-Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational – Korda sisters share lead
Nelly and Jessica Korda teamed to shoot a 5-under 65 in alternate-shot play for a share of the first-round lead in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Defending champions Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura joined “Team Jelly” and Pajaree Anannarukarn-Aditi Ashok and Jillian Hollis-Lauren Stephenson atop the leaderboard at Midland Country Club. The teams will play best ball Thursday, alternate shot Friday and close with best ball Saturday.  Nelly Korda is making her first start since winning the Meijer LPGA Classic and the KPMG Women’s PGA in consecutive weeks to take the No. 1 spot in the world ranking.

Golf – British Open – Johnson’s short memory comes in handy at Royal St. George’s
One of Dustin Johnson’s best traits is a short memory. And considering some of the misfortune he’s had in the majors, he needs it. He has mostly happy memories of Royal St. George’s because he was a runner-up in 2011. He has a vague memory of hitting a 2-iron out-of-bounds in the final round when he was two shots out of the lead. The British Open starts Thursday. Or is it The Open Championship? Phil Mickelson took to Twitter to say both were acceptable. That’s a sensitive topic in the UK.

NCAAFB – MAC – ‘Not bad for 55 years’: Ohio coach Frank Solich retires
Ohio football coach Frank Solich is retiring after leading the program through 16 seasons of unprecedented success to focus on his health. The school announced that Solich was stepping down less than two months before the start of the season and his 77th birthday. Offensive coordinator Tim Albin was promoted to head coach. He received a four-year contract. Solich is the winningest head coach in the history of the Mid-American Conference with 115 victories. Including a stint as head coach at Nebraska, his alma mater, Solich is 173-101 as a major college football head coach.

Nassar – Watchdog: FBI mishandled Nassar-USA Gymnastics abuse case
The Justice Department’s inspector general says the FBI made numerous serious errors in investigating allegations against former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar and didn’t treat the case with the “utmost seriousness.” The long-awaited watchdog report raises serious questions about how the Justice Department and the FBI handled the case. The inspector general’s investigation was spurred by allegations that the FBI failed to promptly address complaints made in 2015 against Nassar.

Horse Racing – Judge nullifies horse trainer Bob Baffert’s NY suspension
A New York federal judge has nullified the suspension of horse trainer Bob Baffert, finding that the New York Racing Association acted unconstitutionally by failing to let him adequately respond to claims made against him. The ruling came Wednesday from Brooklyn Judge Carol Bagley Amon. She ruled after a hearing on Monday attended by Baffert, who was suspended by the racing association after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test. Amon said a prompt post-suspension hearing where Baffert could refute the claims was required to meet constitutional muster.

Soccer – CONCACAR – El Salvador asks to play qualifier in US amid virus surge
The head of El Salvador’s soccer federation says he will ask CONCACAF to allow his country to play its Sept. 2 World Cup qualifier against the U.S. team in the United States. Hugo Carrillo said Wednesday that the match “can’t be played in our country because of COVID. ” The game has been scheduled to be played in El Salvador, but the country’s congress voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to impose a 90-day ban on sporting events, concerts, festivals and other mass gatherings because of a surge in coronavirus cases.

MLS – Toronto, Montreal back home in MLS return to Canada
Toronto FC and Montreal have been given the green light to play at home Saturday, with a limited number of fans in the stands. Major League Soccer said Wednesday that Toronto will host Orlando City on Saturday and the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday at BMO Field and that Montreal will play FC Cincinnati on Saturday at Saputo Stadium. The third Canadian team, the Vancouver Whitecaps, will play “home” matches July 17 and July 20 in Sandy, Utah, as conversations continue with the Canadian government. A Toronto FC spokesman said 7,000 fans will be allowed Saturday and 15,000 next week, with Saturday’s crowd made up of front-line health-care workers, first responders and season seat members. Montreal will allow 5,000 fans.

Olympics – Navy blazers, stripes and flag scarves for Team USA in Tokyo
The Team USA flag bearers in steamy Tokyo will likely be the coolest members of their packs. Ralph Lauren built a personal air conditioning system into a white jacket for flag bearers at opening ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics. The rest of the team will walk in tailored navy blazers made of U.S.-grown wool. They’ll wear a horizontal blue-and-white striped T-shirt dyed in a process that uses less water, chemicals and energy. Team attire also includes slim blue denim pants and a flag-print scarf, along with striped belts made of recycled plastic water bottles. Ralph Lauren didn’t forget the masks. They’ll be solid navy in cotton with a tiny American flag on one side.

Olympics – Olympic athletes to put on own medals at Tokyo ceremonies
Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks to protect against spreading the coronavirus. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says it’s a “very significant change” to traditional medal ceremonies. Bach says medals "will be presented to the athlete on a tray and then the athlete will take the medal him or herself.” Medals will be placed on a tray by a person wearing disinfected gloves. Medalists and ceremony officials will have to wear masks.

MILB – Minor League Baseball – High-A Central
Yesterday
Fort Wayne Tin Caps 2, West Michigan Whitecaps 1
South Bend Cubs 8, Cedar Rapids Kernels 7 – F/10
Lake County Captains 17, Lansing Lugnuts 10
Great Lakes Loons 7, Dayton Dragons 5 – F/9 – Game 1
Great Lakes Loons 7, Dayton Dragons 0 – Game 2

Tonight
Fort Wayne Tin Caps at West Michigan Whitecaps, 6:05 p.m. (Doubleheader)
Cedar Rapids Kernels at South Bend Cubs, 7:05 p.m.
Lake County Captains at Lansing Lugnuts, 7:05 p.m.
Great Lakes Loons at Dayton Dragons, 7:05 p.m.