SPORTS DIGEST || Falcons hang on to defeat Saints


Falcons hang on to defeat Saints

ATLANTA

Deion Jones made a leaping interception in the end zone with 1:25 remaining and the Atlanta Falcons held on for a crucial 20-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, setting up a three-way race for the NFC South title.

Matt Ryan shook off three interceptions to guide the Falcons to Matt Bryant’s 52-yard field goal with 3:49 to go, snapping a 17-all tie.

The Saints (9-4) were in position to pull out the victory, driving to the Atlanta 11 after Drew Brees converted on fourth-and-1 with a quarterback sneak. On second down, Brees attempted to hit tight end Josh Hill in the back of the end zone.

Jones had other ideas. He leaped high to make the pick , landing flat on this back but holding on. The Falcons (8-5) climbed within one game of the division-leading Saints with three weeks to go.

NHL to consider expanding to Seattle

MANALAPAN, Fla.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league’s board of governors agreed to consider an expansion application from Seattle.

Bettman said the expansion fee has been set at $650 million for Seattle, which would become the league’s 32nd team, if approved. He made the announcement Thursday after the first day of the board of governors meeting.

“We’ve agreed as a league to take and consider an expansion application, and to let them run in the next few months, a season-ticket drive,” Bettman said. “This is a process that we go through.”

Bill Foley paid a $500 million expansion fee for the Vegas Golden Knights. They began play this season.

Seattle plans to have a new arena ready by 2020 with the intent of luring NHL and NBA teams as anchor tenants.

Bettman says Seattle is the only city being considered for expansion at the moment, which means an NHL team likely won’t be playing in Quebec City’s 18,259-seat Videotron Centre in the foreseeable future.

76ers trade Okafor to Brooklyn Nets

PHILADELPHIA

Buried on the bench in Philly, Jahlil Okafor has a chance to prove in Brooklyn he’s not a bust.

Okafor got his wish when the Philadelphia 76ers finally traded the No. 3 overall pick of the 2015 draft to the Brooklyn Nets. The deal ends the stalemate that had kept Okafor on the bench for all but two games this season.

Once a prized piece of The Process, Okafor rapidly fell out of favor with the rise of star center Joel Embiid.

“Love you. New beginnings,” Embiid said he texted Okafor. “Good luck. And I made sure to let him know I was going to kick his (rear).”

Team president Bryan Colangelo said he reached a deal with a team he declined to name to trade Okafor last season until it fell apart at the last minute. That led to an awkward situation where Okafor didn’t even travel with the team during the trade deadline. Okafor led the Sixers in scoring as a rookie with Embiid out with injuries. Okafor played 55 games last season and never really meshed with the franchise center.

Solo is running for U.S. Soccer president

Former national team goalkeeper Hope Solo has announced that she’s running for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Solo declared her candidacy Thursday night on Facebook. It comes less than a week after current U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said he will not seek a fourth term. His decision came in the wake of the October failure of the U.S. men’s team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

She joins a crowded field of nine candidates. She is the second woman to announce a bid for the job.

The 36-year-old Solo anchored the U.S. team in goal during its 2015 Women’s World Cup championship run. Her tenure with the national team ended following last year’s Olympics in Brazil, when the Americans were ousted by Sweden in the quarterfinals.

Associated Press

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