Monday’s Sports in Brief

PRO BASKETBALL

HOUSTON (AP) Stephen Curry and Golden State turned all those Houston bricks into a road back to the NBA Finals.

Needing not only all their firepower but also 27 straight misses by the Rockets during an epic cold streak from 3-point range, the Warriors rallied to keep alive their hopes for a repeat.

Kevin Durant scored 34 points, Curry sparked another third-quarter turnaround, and the Warriors earned a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals by beating the Rockets 101-92 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

The defending champions trailed by as many as 15 in the first half after falling behind 17 in Game 6.

Curry, who finished with 27 points, scored 14 of Golden State’s 33 points in the third quarter as Houston’s shooting didn’t just go cold, it froze. The Rockets missed all 14 3-point attempts in that quarter as part of a 1-for-21 second half from long range.

The Warriors will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Thursday night in the fourth straight matchup between the teams.

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) – Celtics general manager Danny Ainge says point guard Kyrie Irving was unable to attend Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals because he was recovering from nasal surgery.

Ainge said on Monday that Irving had a deviated septum. The injury occurred in November when he was hit in the face by teammate Aron Baynes. Irving wore a mask while healing from the facial fracture.

Irving has not played since March because of a knee injury. But his absence on the Boston bench was noted when the Celtics played his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ainge joked: ”I don’t think he wanted to be seen in public and ruin his movie career.”

HOCKEY

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Commissioner Gary Bettman says an NHL team in Seattle would have the same favorable expansion terms given to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Bettman says the league could vote on adding its 32nd franchise in Seattle later this year, although it won’t happen in June. Bettman remains just as amazed by the Golden Knights’ inaugural season as the rest of the sports world as they host the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final.

Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly both confirmed the NHL plans to keep the same rules on the next expansion draft. If it happens within the next two years, as increasingly expected, Vegas won’t have to lose any of its players.

SOCCER

ZURICH (AP) – FIFA’s bid inspectors will hold a meeting in Zurich on Wednesday with the North American and Moroccan candidates hoping to host the 2026 World Cup.

Officials from the joint United States-Canada-Mexico team and Morocco are invited to answer questions from a FIFA-appointed panel evaluating their bids ahead of the June 13 vote, FIFA said Monday.

No date is set to publish the evaluation reports ahead of the vote by up to 207 FIFA member federations in Moscow.

Though voters are not obliged to factor the reports into their choice, FIFA put a more rigorous assessment system in place after criticism of the 2018-2022 World Cup hosting votes in December 2010.

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) – Josh Sargent scored in his American debut, fellow 18-year-old Tim Weah added a goal in his second international match and a young United States team beat Bolivia 3-0 in an exhibition Monday night.

Walker Zimmerman put the Americans ahead in the 37th minute and Sargent doubled the lead in the 52nd. Weah, the son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia president George Weah, scored in the 59th.

Weah, born on Feb. 22, 2000, became the fourth-youngest American to score when he displaced Sargent, who was born two days earlier. Sargent’s goal was particularly memorable – with his back to the goal, he intercepted a pass over his head from the goalkeeper, played the ball to himself and put it in the net with a strong right-footed shot from about 11 yards.

With no World Cup to play for, interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan went with youth. He gave six players their debuts, raising the total to 15 in four matches since the Americans were eliminated in qualifying. Defenders Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Alex Bono joined Sargent as debutants in the starting lineup, and defender Matt Olosune and midfielder Keatan Parks entered on the second half.