BASEBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP)The Los Angeles Dodgers are cutting ties with pitcher Trevor Bauer, whose unprecedented 324-game suspension over sexual misconduct allegations was reduced two weeks ago, allowing him to resume his career with the start of the new season.

A person familiar with the situation said Friday the 31-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment, which means the Dodgers have seven days to pull off an unlikely trade or just release him. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the roster move.

If the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner is released, Los Angeles would remain responsible for the more than $22.5 million remaining on Bauer’s contract.

The Dodgers had until Friday to restore Bauer to the roster under baseball’s rules and they didn’t announce their decision until late afternoon. The team has rarely commented on the divisive case since Bauer was put on paid administrative leave in July 2021.

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) – NFL owners have approved a resolution that could lead to a neutral site for the AFC championship in response to the cancellation of Monday night’s Bills-Bengals game after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field.

The league held a special meeting Friday to consider the recommendation of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s competition committee.

The league chose to cancel the Bills-Bengals game instead of resuming it this week or next week to avoid disrupting the start of the postseason and impacting the remainder of the playoff field.

Hamlin is breathing on his own and able to talk after having his breathing tube removed, his agent said Friday. It’s the latest step in his remarkable recovery in the four days since going into cardiac arrest during the game at Cincinnati. Hamlin even joined the Bills’ team meeting via videoconference.

The Bills-Bengals game had major playoff implications for the AFC. Buffalo (12-3) entered Monday night needing a win to maintain the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) now hold that spot. The Bengals (11-4) had a chance to earn that top seed with two more wins and a loss by the Chiefs.

The AFC championship will be played at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games and both could have been the No. 1 seed and hosted the game had all AFC clubs played a full 17-game regular season. The league is considering several sites, including indoor and outdoor stadiums.

BEREA, Ohio (AP) – Jadeveon Clowney’s last move with the Cleveland Browns happened off the field – a public bashing born of frustration and disappointment.

The team countered accordingly.

Clowney was sent home from practice on Friday, one day after he harshly criticized the organization and coaching staff in an explosive interview that effectively ended his second season in Cleveland just ahead of the finale in Pittsburgh.

Coach Kevin Stefanski refused to directly address Clowney’s status – or provide any specifics about his decision to punish the defensive end – as the Browns (7-9), who always seem to be embroiled in drama, prepared to face the Steelers (8-8) on Sunday.

However, Stefanski did indicate Clowney won’t be on the trip.

Angry that he wasn’t being showcased more in Cleveland’s defense, Clowney said in an interview Thursday with cleveland.com that he didn’t feel appreciated and was ”95% sure” he wasn’t coming back for a third season. Clowney further claimed the Browns have given four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett preferential treatment and were focused only on getting him to the Hall of Fame. He added he needs to be around ”somebody that believes in me and my ability.”

Clowney made it clear he has no personal issues with Garrett, who has 15 sacks going into the Week 18 matchup with Pittsburgh.

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) – LeBron James had 25 points and 10 assists in his return from an illness, Russell Westbrook added 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 130-114 for their first four-game winning streak in just under a year.

Kendrick Nunn had 23 points in the highest-scoring performance of his tenure with the injury-depleted Lakers, who never trailed while beating the Hawks for the second time in eight days. Los Angeles won in Atlanta on Dec. 30 with James scoring 47 points on his 38th birthday.

The Lakers jumped to a 26-point lead in the first half of the rematch and hung on comfortably for their fifth win in six games overall. They hadn’t won four straight since Jan. 7, 2022, when they also beat Atlanta in Los Angeles.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Zach LaVine made 11 of 13 3-pointers and scored 41 points and the Chicago Bulls beat Philadelphia 126-112 to end the 76ers’ home winning streak at 11.

LaVine made three 3-pointers in less than a minute and a half of play to give Chicago an 88-74 lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter. He was two short of his career high for 3-pointers.

Nikola Vucevic had a triple-double for the Bulls with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Chicago shot 57.1% from the field and was 20 of 34 from 3-point range.

Vucevic took advantage of Philadelphia’s undersized center tandem of PJ Tucker and Montrezl Harrell with Joel Embiid missing his second straight game because of soreness in his left foot.

DENVER (AP) – Nikola Jokic had 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, Jamal Murray scored 18 points in his first back-to-back games since knee surgery, and the Denver Nuggets took advantage of Donovan Mitchell’s absence to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-108.

Jokic hit 10 of 17 shots, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range in his NBA-leading 10th triple-double of the season. Michael Porter Jr. scored 16 points for Denver, which shot 51.5% from the floor and hit 17 of 33 3-pointers in its 12th win in 15 games.

Mitchell sat out to rest four days after scoring 71 points in an overtime win over Chicago.

GOLF

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) – Winless last year for the first time in his young career, Collin Morikawa is playing as though he wants to put that behind him quickly.

Morikawa was dialed in with his irons early and took advantage of some of the scoring holes late in his second round for a 7-under 66 that gave him a two-shot lead in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

He was at 16-under 130 and without a bogey over two rounds on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

J.J. Spaun, who played with Morikawa and posted a 68, fell two behind. Masters champion Scottie Scheffler had a good laugh on the first tee with U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick and then ran off nine birdies in his round of 66, leaving him two shots behind along with Spaun, a newcomer to Kapalua.

Scheffler can return to No. 1 in the world this week with a two-way tie for third at better, with Rory McIlroy choosing to sit out this week.

Jordan Spieth had two eagles – one a 7-iron that came inches away from an albatross on the par-5 fifth hole – and had a 66. He was three shots behind.