Djokovic coasts...It's a Li-Azarenka women's final
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic (NOH'-vak JOH'-kuh-vich) has advanced to his third consecutive Australian Open final with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 4-seeded David Ferrer.
The top-ranked Djokovic was in dominating form, hitting 30 crisp winners in the 1-hour, 29-minute match. He is aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles.
On Sunday, he'll meet the winner of Friday's semifinal between No. 2-ranked Roger Federer, a four-time Australian champion, and U.S. Open winner Andy Murray, who is ranked No. 3.
Li Na (lee nah) moved into the women's final defeating Maria Sharapova (shah-rah-POH'-vah) 6-2, 6-2. The sixth-seeded Li is trying for her second Grand Slam title following her 2011 win at the French Open.
Li will play defending champion Victoria Azarenka (ah-zah-REN'-kuh) in Saturday's final. Azarenka downed 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4. Stevens had knocked off Serena Williams in the quarters.
Heat work overtime...Back-to-back road games too much for Thunder
UNDATED (AP) — The Miami Heat started slowly but finished on fire in beating the Toronto Raptors 123-116 in overtime. Dwyane (dwayn) Wade scored 35 points, LeBron James got his 34th career triple-double and the Miami Heat rallied from a 15-point deficit to win.
James finished with 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for Miami. Wade added seven assists, including the one that set up Ray Allen for the 3-pointer that clinched the win with 59.3 seconds left in overtime.
Allen scored 18, Mario Chalmers scored 14 and Chris Bosh had a 12-point, 12-rebound night for Miami.
In other NBA action:
— Playing back-to-back games on the road was a little too much for the Oklahoma City Thunder. After beating the Clippers in L.A. Tuesday night, the Thunder dropped a 104-99 decision to Golden State. Stephen (STEH'-fihn) Curry poured in 31 and had seven assists.
— Luis Scola scored 21 points and the Phoenix Suns won their first game under new coach Lindsey Hunter, beating the Sacramento Kings 106-96.
— Brook Lopez strengthened his push for a spot on the All-Star team with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, helping the Brooklyn Nets hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-83. The Nets improved to 12-2 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo (kar-LIHS'-ih-moh).
— Darrell Arthur scored 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 as the Memphis Grizzlies beat Los Angeles 106-93, handing the Lakers' their fourth straight loss and 10th in 12 games. Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen added 12 points apiece as Memphis improved to 12-0 when scoring at least 100 points.
— Josh Smith had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and the Atlanta Hawks snapped a six-game road losing streak with a 104-92 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
— Ty Lawson scored 21 points, Wilson Chandler had 20 and the Denver Nuggets pulled away in the third quarter of a 105-95 victory over the Houston Rockets, who've lost eight of nine.
— Nate Robinson had 11 points and seven assists in 21 minutes off the bench, leading a furious fourth-quarter comeback that carried the Chicago Bulls past the Detroit Pistons 85-82. Chicago rallied from 17 down to beat the Pistons for the 17th straight time.
— Tony Parker had 24 points and 13 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs rallied for a 106-102 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich missed the game with an undisclosed illness and Tim Duncan sat out with a sore knee.
— LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Indiana Pacers 100-80 to snap a six-game losing streak.
— Paul Millsap had 16 points and 15 rebounds to help the Utah Jazz hold off the Washington Wizards 92-88.
AP source says Hornets in for name change
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — People familiar with the decision tell the AP that the New Orleans Hornets have decided to change their name to the Pelicans next season.
One person says the proposed name change and color scheme of blue, gold and red is scheduled to be announced today.
The brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana.
In other NBA news:
— The New York Knicks lead the NBA in one important category. The Knicks have surpassed the Los Angeles Lakers as the most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes' annual study. Boosted by renovations to Madison Square Garden, the Knicks' value increased 41 percent to $1.1 billion. The Lakers were second at $1 billion. Forbes says the average NBA team's value is $509 million, a 30 percent increase from last year.
— The NBA champion Miami Heat will be in suits and ties when they visit the White House on Monday. Unless, of course, someone invites them to play some ball. After all, President Barack Obama does enjoy some pickup games. "Everybody will bring their shoes — just in case," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (SPOHL'-struh) says.
Blue Devils fall, and fall hard...La Salle pulls off upset too
UNDATED (AP) — It wasn't just an upset. It was a blowout. For the first time, Miami has knocked off a team ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press rankings, and the Hurricanes did it up right.
Top-ranked Duke went more than 8 minutes without a field goal in the first half and No. 25 Miami routed the Blue Devils 90-63. The Hurricanes took command with a stunning 25-1 run midway through the first half. It's the third-worst loss ever for a team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.
Durand Scott scored a season-high 25 points for the Hurricanes, and Kenny Kadji added a season-high 22 for the 'Canes.
In other AP Top-25 hoops:
— Victor Oladipo scored 19 points, and Yogi Ferrell added a season-high 15 to help No. 7 Indiana rout Penn State 72-49. The Hoosiers are 17-2.
— Eighth-ranked Florida shook off a sluggish first half and romped past Georgia 64-47 behind 17 points from Scottie Wilbekin.
— Ramon Galloway went the length of the court for the winning basket with 2.7 seconds left to send La Salle to a 54-53 victory over No. 9 Butler for the Explorers' biggest win in 33 years.
— Jared Swopshire scored 16 points to lead Northwestern to a 55-48 victory over No. 12 Minnesota.
— Tony Snell scored 23 points and No. 15 New Mexico held off a late Colorado State rally, 66-61.
— E.J. Singler scored 19 points and No. 16 Oregon rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Washington State 68-61.
— Richard Carter scored 20 points and Drake stunned No. 17 Creighton (KRAY'-tuhn) 74-69, handing the Bluejays their first consecutive losses of the season.
— Cleanthony Early scored 17 points, Carl Hall added 15 and No. 20 Wichita State rallied for a 62-52 victory over Missouri State.
Gaborik's hat trick sparks Rangers in OT
UNDATED (AP) — On NHL ice, Marian Gaborik (MEHR'-ee-uhn GA'-bohr-ihk) scored twice in the first period and then completed his hat trick 27 seconds into overtime as the New York Rangers beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 for their first win of the season.
Gaborik's first shot was blocked by goalie Tuukka Rask (TOO'-kah rask). But Gaborik batted the rebound out of the air to end the game and start a cascade of flying hats onto the ice.
In other NHL action:
— James van Riemsdyk (REEMS'-dyk) scored twice, James Reimer stopped 28 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs raced past the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.
— Steve Sullivan's hat trick powered Phoenix to a 5-1 win over Columbus. Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two goals and an assist.
— Vancouver nipped Calgary in a shootout, 3-2. Zack Kassian scored in regulation and added the shootout winner.
Seau's family sues NFL
UNDATED (AP) — Add Junior Seau's (SAY'-owz) family to the thousands of people who are suing the NFL over the long-term damage caused by concussions.
Seau's ex-wife and four children sued the league Wednesday, saying the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its "acts or omissions" that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head.
Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.
Saints' Payton returns to work at Senior Bowl...Sparano joins Raiders
UNDATED (AP) — Sean Payton has returned to work following a nearly yearlong suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty program. The New Orleans Saints coach watched Senior Bowl practice Wednesday.
Payton says the challenges of rebuilding after a losing season will be painful and that his return won't guarantee an immediate return to winning.
In other NFL news:
— The Oakland Raiders have hired Tony Sparano as an assistant head coach who will work with the offensive line. Sparano comes to the Raiders after one season as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets.
— The NFL has fined New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for an "aggressive slide" in Sunday's AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.
— Frank Gore will pay closer attention to his socks for the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers running back was fined $10,500 by the NFL after he wore his socks too low in Sunday's NFC championship.
A Strong deal
UNDATED (AP) — Charlie Strong has the long-term commitment he wanted from Louisville, making him one of the top 10 highest-paid coaches in college football. It's an eight-year, $29.6 million extension with a base salary of $3.7 million.
Strong made $2.3 million in his recently completed third season with Louisville. An upset of Florida in the Sugar Bowl three weeks ago capped an 11-2 season.
Latest NCAA scandal comes from headquarters
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The latest black eye for college sports belongs to the NCAA.
In an embarrassing blow to its watchdog image, the NCAA says its enforcement staff botched the high-profile investigation of the University of Miami by improperly conducting at least two depositions while working with an attorney for disgraced booster Nevin Shapiro. The Hurricanes had been under investigation since the convicted Ponzi scheme mastermind said he had provided improper benefits to recruits.
President Mark Emmert says he's disappointed and angry with the misstep. He says some people involved in this case are no longer working for the NCAA, though he declined to say who they were or whether they had been fired.
Te'o tells Couric he briefly lied about girlfriend
NEW YORK (AP) — Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o (MAN'-ty TAY'-ow) has told Katie Couric that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend after discovering she didn't exist.
Te'o said in an interview to air Thursday on Couric's show that he didn't lie about the hoax until December, believing Lennay Kekua had died of cancer. A segment of the interview with Te'o and his parents was broadcast Wednesday.
Te'o maintains that he had no part in creating the hoax.
HOT STOVE LEAGUE
Sosa says he belongs in Hall
CHICAGO (AP) — Sammy Sosa says he and fellow steroid-tainted star Mark McGwire belong in the Hall of Fame. In an interview on the website Ustream.com, Slammin' Sammy also says the Chicago Cubs should retire his number, and he left open the possibility of running for president of the Dominican Republic.
Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were denied entry to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility amid suspicions their accomplishments were boosted by performance-enhancing drugs. None came remotely close to the 75 percent necessary to be elected.