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BC-AP Sports Digest

December 25, 2018

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Doug Feinberg at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. For up-to-the-minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport@ap.org or 877-836-9477. All times EST.

Broadcaster Ernie Johnson gives a behind-the-scenes look at “Inside the NBA” colleague Charles Barkley in the latest episode of PodcastOne Sports Now co-hosted by the AP’s Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

TOP STORIES

BKN--LAKERS-WARRIORS

OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James, ever the Christmas fixture, again headlines the NBA’s holiday card. He faces Golden State for the fourth straight year on Dec. 25, though this time with the Lakers. Los Angeles trails the Warriors by 3 1/2 games in the Pacific Division. By Janie McCauley. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.

FBC--GENERATION Z QBS

Quarterbacks who grew up with personal coaches, 7-on-7 spring leagues and all they ever wanted to know about two-deep coverage on YouTube have taken over college football. The passing game has reached new heights this season. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

FBN--PLAYOFF PICTURE

Barring ties in Week 17 — and there are some head-spinning scenarios should certain games end that way Sunday — the road to the playoffs is quite straight in the NFC. The path to a first-round bye in the AFC has a bunch of curves in it. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 650 words, photos.

YEAR-END STORIES

YE--FEEL-GOOD MOMENTS OF THE YEAR

Sports inspired the usual agita this year, but more than its share of wry smiles. A 98-year-old nun commanded the Final Four. A homecoming queen kicked the game-winner for her high school football team. And random acts of kindness stretched from hockey rinks in Calgary to a soccer stand in the Netherlands. By Jim Litke. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.

YE--SURPRISES OF THE YEAR

Maryland-Baltimore County made history at this year’s NCAA Tournament, becoming the first No. 16 to beat a No. 1 when it took down Virginia. The Retrievers’ run became one of the biggest sports surprises of 2018. By John Marshall. SENT: 700 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

HKW--USA HOCKEY-CAREER WOMEN

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Kelly Pannek is to graduate from the University of Minnesota this spring with a finance degree and internship experience in wealth management. But she’s putting her career on hold. The 2018 Olympian can afford to do that because of a landmark deal USA Hockey reached with its elite female players. By Hockey Writer Larry Lage. SENT: 700 words, photos.

COMMENTARY

GLF--ON THE FRINGE-TALES FROM THE TOUR

The young girl stood atop a trash bin at Carnoustie to see over the crowd and catch a glimpse of Tiger Woods. He was must-see golf, as always. There were plenty of other moments that went beyond the birdies, bogeys and trophies. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 900 words, photos.

— With:

— GLF--GOLF NOTES — By Doug Ferguson. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--76ERS-CELTICS

BOSTON — The Celtics play the 76ers on Christmas Day — and the only other time that happened was in 1961 when the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals. Boston, winners of seven of 10, trails second-place Philadelphia by two games in the Atlantic Division. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 5:30 p.m.

BKN--THUNDER-ROCKETS

HOUSTON — James Harden and the first-place Rockets go for their seventh win in eight games when they meet the Oklahoma City Thunder, winners of four of five. This is the third straight year Chris Paul of Houston won’t play on Christmas because of injury. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 3 p.m.

— Also:

— BKN--BUCKS-KNICKS — By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game started noon.

— BKN--BLAZERS-JAZZ — UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 10:30 p.m.

NFL

FBN--FIRST-ROUND IMPACT

From Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield at the top to Leighton Vander Esch of Dallas roughly in the middle to Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson at the end, plenty of first-round draft picks have had an impact as rookies in the NFL. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. SENT: 800 words, photos.

FBN--UNDRAFTED ROOKIES

Philip Lindsay wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine and his name wasn’t called during the draft, but the talented running back heads the list of undrafted rookies who have made an impact this season. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. SENT: 800 words, photos.

FBN--STEELERS-UP AGAINST IT

PITTSBURGH — A free fall through the second half of the season leaves the Steelers in a precarious spot. To make the playoffs, they need to beat Cincinnati and hope Cleveland defeats Baltimore. SENT: 750 words, photos.

— Also:

— FBN--BEHIND THE CALL — By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. SENT: 800 words, photos.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Wednesday Games:

FBC--T25-SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL

DALLAS — Boston College will have its play-caller for one more game — the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl against No. 23 Boise State — before Scot Loeffler becomes Bowling Green’s coach full time. Loeffler spent most of this month getting ready for his new job. By Schuyler Dixon. SENT: 650 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--QUICK LANE BOWL PREVIEW

DETROIT — Paul Johnson simply wants some time off. First things first, though: Before the coach heads into retirement, he will lead Georgia Tech for the final time against Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl. By Larry Lage. SENT: 750 words, photos. With capsule.

— Also:

— FBC--CHEEZE-IT BOWL PREVIEW — TCU vs. California in Phoenix. By John Marshall. SENT: 700 words. With capsule.

OTHER

— OLY--RUSSIA-BIATHLON — Russian biathlon champion in doping scandal retires. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 300 words, photos.

— SAI--SYDNEY-HOBART — Annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race starts. UPCOMING: 300 words, photos. Race starts 10 p.m.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

___

Tuesday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Milwaukee at New York, noon

Oklahoma City at Houston, 3 p.m.

Philadelphia at Boston, 5:30 p.m.

L.A. Lakers at Golden State, 8 p.m.

Portland at Utah, 10:30 p.m.

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