Tuesday’s Sports in Brief

Sports

NFL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)The Panthers fired coach Ron Rivera with four games left in the NFL season.

Secondary coach Perry Fewell was named interim head coach. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will transition to special assistant to the head coach, and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner will serve as offensive coordinator.

Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement that ”I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team. I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community.”

Tepper will begin a search for a new coach immediately.

Rivera was hired in 2011 and is the team’s winningest coach, but since losing to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 four seasons ago, the Panthers are 29-31 and have not won a playoff game. The team is 5-7 this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – Ohio State will go into championship weekend as the top team in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings, followed by LSU, Clemson and Georgia.

Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor are on deck, and that could turn out to be the great debate by Saturday night.

Utah was fifth, Oklahoma sixth and Baylor seventh in the committee’s second-to-last top 25 released. The final rankings to set the pairings for the national semifinals come out Sunday after each FBS conference plays a championship game. The most pivotal games will be LSU-Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday; Oklahoma-Baylor in the Big 12 championship Saturday; and Utah-Oregon – 13th this week – for the Pac-12 title Friday night.

Wisconsin was eighth, followed by Florida and Penn State. Alabama was 12th, its lowest ranking in the six years the committee has been doing a weekly top 25 over the final third of the season.

NBA

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Lonnie Walker IV had a career-high 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame James Harden’s 50 points by rallying from a late 10-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 135-133 in double overtime.

DeMar DeRozan added 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds as the Spurs won their second straight at home and snapped the Rockets’ two-game winning streak.

Harden played a season-high 49 minutes coming off a 60-point outing Saturday over three quarters against Atlanta. He was whistled for two charges in the second overtime. The second came against DeRozan with 0.8 seconds remaining, sealing San Antonio’s victory.

DENVER (AP) – LeBron James had 25 points, nine assists and a crucial dunk off a miss late in the fourth quarter to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-96 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Anthony Davis shook off flu-like symptoms to score 25 points and add 10 rebounds for the Lakers.

Both teams were coming off losses that ended long winning streaks, but it was Los Angeles that bounced back behind James and Davis.

Davis missed the morning film session and his status for the game was questionable until before tip. He showed no effects of illness, scoring 13 points in the third while shooting 5 of 7 in the period.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Jordan Nwora had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and top-ranked Louisville held No. 4 Michigan to a season-low 26% shooting mark for a 58-43 victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in its first game since returning to No. 1.

The Cardinals (8-0) shot just 37% but their defense stifled Michigan (7-1) much of the night as they earned a signature victory one day after claiming the top spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time in six years.

The Cardinals kept the Wolverines and first-year coach Juwan Howard from adding another top-10 upset to the ones that helped them enter the Top 25 and match Kansas (1989) for the biggest jump from being unranked in the 70-year history of the poll.

Steven Enoch had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Dwayne Sutton had 11 boards as Louisville topped Michigan 48-41 in that category.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Vernon Carey had 26 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to help No. 10 Duke dominate No. 11 Michigan State in an 87-75 victory.

The Blue Devils (8-1) looked like one of the top teams in the country and not a rebuilding one a week after losing at home to Stephen F. Austin. Duke guard Tre Jones scored 20 points, matched a career high with 12 assists and made three steals as part of a defensive effort that forced 14 turnovers.

The Spartans (5-3) went into the game ”a little fragile,” according to coach Tom Izzo, and they looked out of sync and overmatched.

Duke went on an 8-1 run midway through the first half to build a double-digit cushion and led 45-29 at halftime.

NHL

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – John Hynes paid the price for the New Jersey Devils failing to deliver on the high expectations created by having three No. 1 overall draft picks in the lineup.

Hynes was fired as coach after a 9-13-4 start that left the team in last place in the Metropolitan Division and with the NHL’s second-worst record.

General manager Ray Shero announced the move roughly 20 minutes before Hynes was schedule to speak to the media before the Devils’ game against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Hynes had been coach for four-plus seasons.

Shero said assistant Alain Nasreddine would become the interim coach and Peter Horachek, a pro scout for the team, would join the coaching staff as an assistant.

The dismissal came a day after the Devils were ripped by the Buffalo Sabres 7-1. That game followed a 4-0 loss at home to the rival New York Rangers on Saturday.

TORONTO (AP) – Former NHL forward Akim Aliu expects ”big change” in hockey after a meeting with top league executives.

Aliu met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly in Toronto to discuss his allegation that former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters used a racial slur several times during the 2009-10 season while the two were with the Chicago Blackhawks’ top minor league affiliate in Rockford, Illinois.

The Flames investigated Aliu’s claim, and Peters resigned last Friday. Peters apologized to the Flames and general manager Brad Treliving for using ”offensive language” in Rockford.

The NHL has said it is continuing to review the matter.

BASEBALL

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Left-handed reliever Jake Diekman agreed to a $7.5 million, two-year contract to return to the Oakland Athletics after joining the club in a trade from Kansas City before last July’s deadline.

Diekman’s deal includes a $4 million team option for the 2022 season. Oakland, which earned the top AL wild card last season before losing at home to Tampa Bay, re-signed Diekman a day after declining to offer a contract to former closer Blake Treinen, letting the 2018 All-Star become a free agent.

NEW YORK (AP) – Two players from Japan, Shun Yamaguchi and Ryosuke Kikuchi, have been made available to major league teams through the posting process.

Clubs have until Jan. 2 (5 p.m. EST) to negotiate with them, Major League Baseball said.

Yamaguchi, a 32-year-old right-hander with the Yomiuri Giants, was 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 170 innings. He led the Central League in wins and strikeouts, helping Yomiuri to its first Central League pennant in five years.

Kikuchi, a second baseman who turns 30 in March, hit .261 with 13 homers, 48 RBIs and 14 stolen bases for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Yokohama outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo was posted last month and is available until Dec. 19.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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