Clippers whip Pacers
UNDATED (AP) — The Indiana Pacers couldn't stop the Los Angeles Clippers' inside game while center Roy Hibbert served a one-game suspension for his role in a fight against Golden State this week.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin helped the Clippers outscore the Pacers 50-32 in the paint en route to a 99-91 triumph at Indianapolis. Paul scored 29 points on 11-of-18 from the floor while providing eight assists and six rebounds. Griffin chipped in 18 points and 14 boards in the Clippers' third straight win.
The Clippers put together a pair of 13-3 runs in the second half to withstand the Pacers' 13-oh spurt late in the game.
L.A. has won seven of eight to improve to 42-18.
David West led the Pacers with 22 points, while All-Star Paul George had 20 points and five assists.
In other NBA action, Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and the Los Angeles Lakers improved to 4-1 since the All-Star break by clobbering Minnesota 116-94. Dwight Howard finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who shot 53 percent from the field and pulled within two games of Houston for the Final Western Conference playoff berth.
Joakim (JOH'-kihm) recorded his third career triple-double, providing 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks as Chicago beat Philadelphia 93-82. Carlos Boozer added 21 points and 12 rebounds while Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng had 15 and 12 points to help the Bulls end a two-game skid.
Sacramento unveils plans to keep Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson has announced plans to keep the Kings in the city.
Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, will submit to the NBA today a bid to buy the team. Pittsburgh Penguins billionaire co-owner Ron Burkle will lead the effort to build a new downtown arena that he hopes will also lure back a WNBA franchise.
The Associated Press and other news outlets have reported since Jan. 22 that Mastrov and Burkle were working on a plan to keep the Kings from relocating to Seattle. Burkle also expressed interested in buying the Kings two years ago and met with NBA Commissioner David Stern at the league's New York headquarters in January before deciding to back out of the bid.
Cavs beat Blue Devils...Buckeyes dump Wildcats
UNDATED (AP) — It had been exactly 11 years since Virginia had beaten a top-5 team in The Associated Press, but the Cavaliers finally did it again.
Joe Harris scored a career-high 36 points and Virginia improved to 10-5 in the ACC by beating third-ranked Duke 73-68. Akil Mitchell added 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers picked up their 16th consecutive home win.
Seth Curry had 28 points for the Blue Devils, who fell to 11-4 in the conference.
Second-ranked Gonzaga struggled before topping BYU 70-75. Kelly Olynyk (OH'-lih-nihk) led the 28-2 Bulldogs with 19 points and Gary Bell Jr. added 15.
The outcome puts the Bulldogs in position to take over the top spot in Monday's Associated Press poll.
Elsewhere on the top-25 schedule, No. 16 Ohio State coughed up an 11-point lead in the second half before improving to 11-5 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes closed on a 15-4 run over the final four minutes to beat Northwestern 63-53. Lenzelle Snithy scored a season-high 24 points and Deshaun Thomas provided six of his 19 points during the game-ending spurt.
No. 24 Oregon was an 85-75 winner over Oregon State behind Carlos Emery's 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Arsalan Kazemi chipped in 17 points and 12 rebounds to help the Ducks improve to 23-6.
Brandon Gibson scored 20 points and Raheem Appleby added 15 as No. 25 Louisiana Tech hammered Utah State 84-61. The Bulldogs improved to 15-0 in the Western Conference by winning their first game as a nationally-ranked team since 1985.
Hawks, B's win again
UNDATED (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks have continued their NHL record-setting start, but they did so while their No. 1 goaltender suffered an injury.
Jonathan Toews (tayvz) scored twice and the Hawks improved to 17-0-3 with their seventh straight win, a 3-0 shutout of the Blues in St. Louis. Toews opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the game before adding an insurance goal in the third period.
Andrew Shaw also scored and Marian Hossa (HOH'-sah) had two assists as the Blackhawks extended their NHL-record season-opening point streak to 20 games.
But they finished without netminder Corey Crawford, who was pulled after making six saves in the first period. He missed four games earlier this month with an upper-body injury and returned to the lineup Sunday.
Chicago now owns a .925 winning percentage, taking 37 of a possible 40 points.
The Boston Bruins still own the best winning percentage in the NHL's Eastern Conference after grinding out an overtime win against Ottawa.
Patrice Bergeron (pah-TREES' BEHR'-zhur-ahn) scored at 1:39 of the extra session to give the Bruins their fourth straight win, 2-1 over the Senators. A referee initially waved off the goal believing the puck didn't cross the goal line, but the change was made following video review.
Nathan Horton also scored and Tuukka (TOO'-kah) Rask stopped 30 shots as the Bruins improved to 13-2-2.
Boston is one point behind East-leading Montreal but has three games in hand.
Also on ice, Jiri Tlusty (YEER'-ee tuh-LOOS'-tee) had two goals and an assist as Carolina downed Pittsburgh 4-1. Eric Staal had a goal and two assists, Alexander Semin added two assists and Jeff Skinner scored a goal in his first game back from a concussion.
Rick Nash had a goal and an assist in his return from an unspecified injury to help the New York Rangers beat Tampa Bay 4-1 and end a four-game losing streak. Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan (STEP'-ahn) scored while the Rangers were outshooting the Lightning 20-3 in the first period.
Andrew Ladd tied a franchise record by scoring eight seconds into Winnipeg's 3-1 win over New Jersey. Ladd finished with two goals and an assist in the Jets' third straight win, which puts them over .500.
Toronto blew a 4-2 lead in the third period before Dion Phaneuf (fah-NOOF') scored 71 seconds into overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders. Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (KAH'-dree) notched a hat trick to help his team improve to 9-4 on the road.
Damien Brunner scored the lone shootout goal and Jonas Gustafsson stopped 24 shots as Detroit outlasted San Jose 2-1. Patrick Eaves tied the game for the Red Wings early in the third period, less than two minutes after Logan Couture (koo-TOOR') put the Sharks ahead.
Ales (AL'-ehsh) Hemsky collected a goal and two assists as Edmonton beat Dallas for the first time in seven tries, 5-1. Jeff Petry added a goal and an assist to the win.
Dany (DAN'-ee) Heatley had a goal and an assist while Minnesota was building a 4-1 lead in a 4-3 win at Phoenix. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith allowed four goals on 19 shots before being replaced by Jason LaBarbera to start the third period.
Colorado used a three-goal third period to beat Calgary 5-4. Gabriel Landeskog (LAN'-dehs-kahg) had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche improved to 6-2-1 at home.
Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville (PAHM'-ihn-vihl) scored shootout goals as Buffalo downed Florida 4-3. Nathan Gerbe (GUR'-bee) scored twice and Steve Ott had two assists to support Ryan Miller's 38-save performance.
Avs match Flames' offer to O'Reilly
DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche wasted no time matching Calgary's offer sheet to restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly.
The Flames announced earlier Thursday that they had signed O'Reilly to a multiyear offer sheet. The Avalanche had seven days to match it but took only a few hours to decide.
TSN in Canada reported the deal is worth $10 million over two years, which includes a $2 million signing bonus.
O'Reilly hasn't played this year after leading the Avs with 55 points last season.
Cap going up by over 2 mil
UNDATED (AP) — An NFL Players Association official familiar with the league's salary-cap negotiations tells The Associated Press the figure for the 2013 season will rise to $123 million from $120.6 million in 2012.
The official says the increase is a result of a jump in projected league revenues and greater-than-expected revenues last season, primarily from NFL Properties.
The cap is expected to increase over the next two years particularly once the NFL's new television contracts kick in for the 2014 season. Those additional revenues will be reflected in the salary cap for 2015, which is expected to see a more significant increase than the roughly 2 percent hike from 2012 to 2013.
Cowboys restructure 5 contracts
IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys have reworked the contracts of five starters, including DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Miles Austin, to save salary cap space.
The Cowboys were penalized $5 million off their cap in both 2012 and 2013 and have needed to scramble to free up space. By restructuring the deals of star linebacker Ware, tight end Witten, wide receiver Austin, cornerback Brandon Carr and center Ryan Cook, the Cowboys wiped out the $20 million they were projected to be over the cap this year.
Villegas leader in the clubhouse
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Camilo Villegas (kuh-MIHL'-oh vih-JAY'-guhs) is playing this week's Honda Classic on a sponsor's exemption after losing his PGA Tour card last year. He's taken a step toward regaining his card, firing a 6-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead.
Villegas eagled the par-5 18, putting him one stroke ahead of Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Graham DeLaet and Robert Streb.
Ten players are two strokes back, while Tiger Woods and defending champion Rory McIlroy are at even-par.
First round complete
SINGAPORE (AP) — Spain's Azahara Munoz shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions. Munoz, playing in the first group of the day, made seven birdies in a blemish-free round to top a leaderboard that includes 17 of the top 20 players in the world.
Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas of the U.S. are two of five players tied for second at 5-under.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw 18 pitches in his first simulated game since knee surgery last year. The 43-year old pitched one inning against Yankees' minor-league players. He also fielded bunts and covered first base.
Rivera pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.
Boxers suspended and fined
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada State Athletic Commission fined and suspended boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. over a failed drug test last year. The 26-year-old tested positive for marijuana in September after his first professional loss. The 46-1-1 Chavez was suspended for nine months and fined $900,000, which amounts to 30 percent of his $3 million purse for the fight against Sergio Martinez.
Chavez said through a translator that he was sorry for his actions and had taken the drug to curb his stress before the fight.
Former basketball star has a new pal
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman has watched an exhibition basketball game with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (kim jawng oon). Rodman is in his third day of visiting the North Korean capital of Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng). According to a delegation spokesman, he told the leader, "You have a friend for life."
The encounter makes Rodman the highest-profile American to meet with the young North Korean leader, said to be a diehard basketball fan.
Utes swim coach suspended
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — University of Utah swim coach Greg Winslow has been suspended because of allegations that he sexually abused a teenage girl he coached in Arizona six years ago.
Utah athletic director Chris Hill announced the suspension. Winslow was in his sixth season as the Utes' swim coach. No charges have been filed yet.
HORSE RACING-RACHEL ALEXANDRA
2009 Horse of Year on the mend
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Rachel Alexandra continues to make "better than expected" progress from abdominal surgery two weeks ago.
Vital signs are normal for the 2009 Horse of the Year, whose trademark spirit has also returned judging from the occasional nip at her handlers. Rachel Alexandra is grazing and being hand walked several times a day at a Kentucky farm, and veterinarians are pleased with her progress.