Off the wire

FILE - Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant is shown during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzilies guard Ja Morant eight games without pay, after determining that his holding a firearm at a club in suburban Denver earlier this month was “conduct detrimental to the league.” Morant will miss his sixth game on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, when the Grizzlies play in Miami.(AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht, File)
FILE - Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant is shown during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzilies guard Ja Morant eight games without pay, after determining that his holding a firearm at a club in suburban Denver earlier this month was “conduct detrimental to the league.” Morant will miss his sixth game on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, when the Grizzlies play in Miami.(AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht, File)

BASKETBALL

Morant suspended 8 games

Ja Morant will be back with the Memphis Grizzlies next week, after the NBA handed the All-Star guard an eight-game suspension without pay Wednesday and saying his displaying a firearm at a club in suburban Denver earlier this month was "conduct detrimental to the league." Morant missed his sixth consecutive game when the Grizzlies played in Miami on Wednesday night. He will miss the next two games -- at San Antonio on Friday and home against Golden State on Saturday -- then be eligible to return on Monday when Memphis plays Dallas, though he is not expected to play that night. The games he already missed will count toward the suspension, and Morant will forfeit about $669,000 in salary. Silver met with Morant in New York before announcing the league's decision. Other league officials, as well as representatives from the National Basketball Players Association, were part of that meeting. Grizzlies Coach Taylor Jenkins said he doesn't expect Morant to play Monday, saying the team is "going to be respectful of the time off he's had."

Kings forward suspended

Sacramento Kings forward Trey Lyles was suspended one game without pay and Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez was fined $25,000 for their involvement in an altercation at the end of a game Monday night, the NBA announced Wednesday. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo was dribbling out the clock in the final minute of the Bucks' 133-124 victory over the Kings when he was fouled by Lyles, who then pushed the two-time MVP. Lopez then confronted Lyles. Lyles struck Lopez in the face and grabbed and held the 7-footer around the neck area. Both players were ejected from the game.

Towns nears return

Injured star Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to return to action "in the coming weeks," the Minnesota Timberwolves announced Wednesday. Minnesota's game against Boston on Wednesday night marked the 49th consecutive game missed by the three-time All-Star big man with a severely strained right calf muscle. Towns was hurt on Nov. 28 in a game at Washington. He recently began ramping up his on-court basketball activity, but there are only 3 1/2 weeks remaining in the regular season with the Timberwolves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

BASEBALL

Diaz injured in celebration

All-Star closer Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets was taken off the field in a wheelchair after appearing to seriously injure his right leg celebrating Puerto Rico's victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night. Diaz was swarmed by teammates after pitching a perfect ninth inning in a 5-2 win that clinched Puerto Rico a spot in the WBC quarterfinals. The group was jumping together in the infield when Diaz collapsed to the ground, and he immediately reach for his right leg. Diaz was in tears and did not put any weight on his right leg as a coach and trainer helped him limp toward the dugout. Diaz's brother, Alexis, was also crying as Edwin was wheeled away. Mets teammate and Puerto Rico shortstop Francisco Lindor stood nearby with his hands on his head.

TENNIS

Tiafoe advances

Frances Tiafoe defeated 10th-seeded Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. The 14th-seeded American ended the 2021 champion's eight-match winning streak to earn his first semi berth in a Masters 1000 tournament. Tiafoe hit 22 winners and had just nine unforced errors. He punctuated the victory, which was briefly interrupted by rain, by serving a love game. Tiafoe hasn't dropped a set in four matches during the tournament. Tiafoe hasn't dropped a set in four matches during the tournament. Next, he'll play No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, who beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5. Medvedev won his 18th consecutive match and improved to 23-2 this year. He hurt his right ankle in a three-set win over Alexander Zverev a day earlier. On the women's side, No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka defeated sixth-seeded Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Sabalenka improved to 16-1 this year.

TRACK & FIELD

Shot putter receives ban

Raven Saunders, the U.S. silver-medal shot putter who used her triumph at the Tokyo Olympics to bring attention to social injustice, has been suspended for 18 months for failing to show up for doping tests. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced the sanction Wednesday for the 26-year-old, saying she had committed three "whereabouts failures" within a 12-month period ending on Aug. 15. She will miss this year's world championships, but would be eligible for the Paris Olympics next year. Saunders often comes to meets with brightly colored hair and wearing an "Incredible Hulk" mask. At the end of the medal presentation at the 2021 Olympics, she stepped off the podium and formed an "X" with her wrists. She explained the "X" stood for "the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet." Saunders has been outspoken about growing up in poverty and her bouts with depression. She went to the University of Mississippi, is a four-time NCAA champion and won USA Track and Field's Humanitarian Award in 2021.

SKIING

Stuhec first at Andorra

One year after almost quitting Alpine skiing in frustration, Ilka Stuhec was back at the peak of her form on Wednesday in Soldeu, Andorra. The two-time world champion completed her downhill season by beating Sofia Goggia, the season's standout speed racer, for victory at the World Cup Finals. Stuhec raced down the sun-bathed slope to finish 0.51 seconds ahead of Goggia, a five-time downhill winner this season who already secured the discipline title. Lara Gut-Behrami was third, 0.81 seconds back. Stuhec added a second victory in an impressive season when she was also runner-up at two of Goggia's victories. They were the 32-year-old Slovenian skier's first podium finishes since retaining her world championship title in downhill in February 2019 in Are, Sweden.

SOCCER

Reyna added to U.S. roster

Gio Reyna, whose parents tried to oust U.S. Coach Gregg Berhalter after the 20-year-old midfielder was sparingly used at the World Cup, was selected Wednesday by interim coach Anthony Hudson for CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador. Reyna made two substitute appearances during the World Cup totaling 52 minutes and Berhalter later said he almost sent a player home because of lack of hustle -- remarks Reyna admitted were aimed at him. His parents, former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna and women's national team midfielder Daniele Egan Reyna, then complained to U.S. Soccer Federation officials and notified them of a 1992 domestic violence incident involving Daniele's college roommate and Berhalter's future wife. The USSF commissioned a law firm to investigate, which determined Berhalter did not improperly withhold information of the incident. Hudson was appointed interim coach during the probe and will remain on until after a new USSF sporting director is hired and supervises the coach search. Berhalter is still a candidate.

  photo  FILE - Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 3, 2023, in Denver. The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzilies guard Ja Morant eight games without pay, after determining that his holding a firearm at a club in suburban Denver earlier this month was "conduct detrimental to the league." Morant will miss his sixth game on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, when the Grizzlies play in Miami.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 3, 2023, in Denver. The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzilies guard Ja Morant eight games without pay, after determining that his holding a firearm at a club in suburban Denver earlier this month was "conduct detrimental to the league." Morant will miss his sixth game on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, when the Grizzlies play in Miami. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
 
 

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