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Pacquiao crushes Algieri; eyes Mayweather

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 11:19pm

MACAU -- Manny Pacquiao couldn't resist having a little fun after getting the signature win he desperately needed for the fight boxing fans desperately want to see.

No reason not to enjoy himself after sending Chris Algieri to the canvas six times Sunday night in a performance that will once again heat up talk of a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

"He's going to fight me? Yes! Yes!," Pacquiao said, jumping up and down in the ring Sunday after tearing apart a reluctant Algieri on his way to a lopsided decision win. "I am ready to fight him next year."

Pacquiao was playing off a new commercial where he celebrates after thinking Mayweather has agreed to the match. But he might have boosted his stock enough to entice Mayweather into the ring finally.

"I really want that fight," Pacquiao said. "The fans deserve that fight."

Pacquiao got the big knockdowns he was looking for, battering Algieri around the ring at will Sunday in a lopsided welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao chased Algieri from the opening bell, knocking him down repeatedly and dominating. About the only thing Pacquiao didn't get was his first knockout in five years, settling instead for a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision against an opponent who seemed unwilling to engage.

By the time it was over, Algieri had gone down six times. And Pacquiao had dispelled notions he might be on the decline.

"It's not just his hand speed," Algieri said. "He's a great fighter. He does everything well. Manny has perfected his style of boxing."

Pacquiao prayed in his corner while waiting for the decision. But it was Algieri who never had a prayer.

Pacquiao knocked Algieri down once in the second round, two more times in the sixth and twice more in the ninth. After a final knockdown in the 10th round, he seemed to back off in a fight that had long been decided.

Two ringside judges scored the bout 119-103 while the third had it 120-102. The Associated Press had Pacquiao winning 120-102.

Pacquiao went into the fight saying he needed a power win to entice Mayweather to fight him. He vowed to put on a performance like some of his earlier fights and did, never letting Algieri get close.

Some of the sold out crowd of 13,202 at the Venetian Macau may have wondered whether Algieri deserved this fight, as he spent more time trying to stay away from Pacquiao than trading punches.

But while Algieri could run, he couldn't hide. Pacquiao caught him repeatedly with power punches and dropped him as he tried to back away.

"The master boxer was given a master class by professor Pacquiao tonight," trainer Freddie Roach said. "I was disappointed in Algieri's performance tonight. All he did was run."

Pacquiao's second fight in China was held at midday to accommodate the pay-per-view sales in the U.S., but the time of day didn't matter much to the Filipino fans who cheered on their 35-year-old national hero.

Pacquiao knocked Algieri down in the corner in the second round, though Algieri claimed it was a slip. He easily fought his way through Algieri's tentative defense, landing punches on the inside and piling up points.

Algieri came into the fight with a reputation for his jab, but he refused to commit to it early and simply pawed at Pacquiao with his left hand. Still, Algieri's corner somehow thought he was carrying out the game plan just the way they had drawn it up.

"You're doing beautiful man," trainer Tim Lane told his fighter after the third round. "Everything stays the same. Keep it up."

By the end of the fourth round, Pacquiao had already thrown more than 100 more punches than Algieri. And Algieri rarely stopped to set his feet to punch, and kept trying to run away from the champion's punching power.

Unfortunately for Algieri, things then went from bad to worse. Pacquiao caught him with a big left hand that sent Algieri sprawling on the canvas in the sixth round, almost turning a reverse somersault before finally landing in the corner.

Pacquiao was right back on him, and Algieri went down again late in the round as he tried desperately to survive.

Still, Algieri's corner urged him to continue to do what he was doing, long after he needed a knockout to win.

"This is the way we want to be," Lane told him. "This is what you wanted"

Algieri was an unlikely opponent despite being unbeaten in 20 fights after ending a kick boxing career to concentrate on boxing. He got the bout after being knocked down twice in the first round in his June fight with Ruslan Provodnikov and coming back to win a 12-round decision, and was supremely confident in the weeks before the fight that he would beat Pacquiao, too.

Oddsmakers made him a 7-1 underdog against the Filipino great, who came into determined to show he still had his punching power.

The bout was for a piece of the welterweight title held by Pacquiao, though it was fought at a catch weight of 144 pounds instead of 147.

No. 4 Duke tops Stanford to win Coaches vs Cancer

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 8:56pm

NEW YORK (AP) Jahlil Okafor had 10 points and 12 rebounds and dominated the closing minutes in leading No. 4 Duke to a 70-59 victory over Stanford in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Saturday night.

Fellow freshman Justise Winslow added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Quinn Cook had 18 points as Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski got the best of former assistant Johnny Dawkins in the first coaching matchup between the longtime coach and his former player.

Matt Jones added 10 points for the Blue Devils (5-0).

Chasson Randle scored 22 to lead Stanford (3-1). Stefan Nastic had 13 points and 13 rebounds before picking up his fifth foul trying to stop the athletic, 6-foot-11 Okafor from going to the basket.

Okafor was amazing down the stretch, scoring eight points, grabbing six rebounds and making life miserable in the lane for anyone wearing red.

Hundley leads No. 11 UCLA past No. 24 USC 38-20

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 8:36pm

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Brett Hundley passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another score, leading No. 11 UCLA past No. 24 Southern California 38-20 on Saturday night for the Bruins' third straight victory in the annual crosstown showdown.

Devin Lucien, Thomas Duarte and Eldridge Massington caught scoring passes as the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) confirmed their Los Angeles supremacy and closed in on the Pac-12 South title with a one-sided romp over their biggest rivals at a festive Rose Bowl.

Paul Perkins rushed for 93 yards and a score for UCLA, which hadn't won three straight over USC since 1998.

After five consecutive wins down the stretch of a slow-starting season, UCLA can advance to the Pac-12 title game with a victory over Stanford on Friday.

Cody Kessler passed for 214 yards for the Trojans (7-4, 6-3), who struggled mightily against UCLA's inspired defense.

Williams, Raptors beat struggling Cavs

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 8:07pm

CLEVELAND -- Lou Williams scored a career-high 36 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a big early deficit to beat Cleveland 110-93 on Saturday night, handing the Cavaliers their fourth straight loss.

The Raptors, who have won four in a row and are off to their best start in franchise history, trailed 26-8 less than 4 minutes into the game before showing why they have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto led 56-54 at halftime and took control midway in the third quarter. The Raptors up by as many as 19 points in the fourth.

Kevin Love scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving had 21 to lead Cleveland. LeBron James, who spent the final 6:20 on the bench, finished with 15 points with 10 assists.

Following a lackluster 91-78 loss in Washington on Friday, the talk in Cleveland's locker room was about the team playing in the dark and the players having bad body language. The Cavaliers have a day off to think about their issues before they host Orlando on Monday.

In the game's final minutes, the loudest noise at Quicken Loans Arena came from several hundred fans who made the trip from Toronto and chanted, "Let's Go Raptors."

Kyle Lowry scored 23 points while DeMar DeRozan added 20 for Toronto, which led by 52 points in Friday's 124-82 win over Milwaukee.

The Cavaliers scored the game's first 12 points and raced to a 19-5 lead, forcing the Raptors to call timeout twice in the first 6 minutes. The margin reached 18 before Toronto began to cut into the lead, thanks mostly to Williams scoring 10 points in the quarter.

Williams added six more points and Toronto trailed 39-38 early in the second. Kyle Lowry's free throw with a minute left tied the game.

Williams' 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer out Toronto up by two. Cleveland led 65-61 with 7 minutes remaining in the third, but DeRozan scored eight points, including a 3, while Lowry and Williams also hit 3s to help Toronto build a commanding lead.

Raptors: Forwards Tyler Hansbrough (sprained right shoulder) and James Johnson (sprained right ankle) will be re-evaluated Sunday in Toronto. Hansbrough sat out his second game in a row, while Johnson missed his third straight. ... Toronto is 8-1 at Air Canada Centre, the best home mark in the Eastern Conference.

FSU's Winston shoves official during hurry-up

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 5:56pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has pushed defenses around for two seasons, but it was an official's turn Saturday.

The top-ranked Seminoles were running a hurry-up offense late in the third quarter and Winston was rushing to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball on second down with 5:20 remaining on the clock. The official stood behind center Cam Erving, who was already in his stance, as Winston approached.

The official tried to stop Winston by giving him a stop sign with his hand, but Winston muscled in and gave a little push. The officiating crew told coach Jimbo Fisher and Winston they had to allow Boston College to substitute players because Florida State had.

Winston said, "I was trying to get up under there and let it ride."

FSU beat Boston College 20-17.

No. 1 Florida State beats Boston College 20-17

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 3:54pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Quarterback Jameis Winston led top-ranked Florida State 66 yards to put Roberto Aguayo in position for a 26-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining and the Seminoles remained perfect with a 20-17 victory over Boston College on Saturday.

Florida State (11-0, 8-0 ACC, No. 3 CFP) had been plagued by slow starts throughout the season and the Seminoles went into the fourth quarter tied 17-17 with the Eagles. But with less than five minutes left, Winston helped engineer another game-winning drive.

Winston finished with 281 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.

The Eagles (6-5, 3-4) stuck with their run-first philosophy throughout and finished with 240 yards on the ground. Quarterback Tyler Murphy bounced a read-option around the left end for a 21-yard score midway through the third quarter to tie the game at 17. Joey Launceford missed a 43-yard field goal with 4:37 left that would have given Boston College the lead.

Oklahoma's Perine runs for record 427 yards

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 2:15pm

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine set a major college record by running for 427 yards in a driving rainstorm, scoring five touchdowns and leading the No. 23 Sooners over Kansas 44-7 Saturday.

A week after Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon set the mark by rushing for 408 yards against Nebraska, Perine broke it.

Perine set the record on his 34th and final carry, a 42-yard run with 12:16 left in the fourth quarter.

Perine got off a fast start, running for a 49-yard TD on his first carry. He added TD runs of 33 and 34 yards in the second quarter and scored on runs of 66 and 27 yards in the third.

In a game that started 90 minutes late because of lightning, Perine shattered the school rushing record of 294 yards set by Greg Pruitt in 1971.

The Sooners (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) led the Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7) by 41-7 after three quarters.

Free tickets for Bills-Jets game in Detroit

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 7:48pm

DETROIT (AP) Are you ready for some free football at Ford Field?

Fans are being offered free tickets to the NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets on Monday night that was moved to Detroit from snow-plagued western New York.

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, but the league relocated it to the Lions' indoor stadium after a lake-effect storm dumped about 7 feet of snow on the Buffalo area since Monday.

The Lions announced Friday that their season-ticket holders and those for the Bills can use Flash Seats - a digital entry ticketing system - for general admission seats to the game Monday night. Fans who had tickets for the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium and travel to Detroit will be admitted with their original tickets.

The Bills also announced that full refunds will be given to all original ticket holders and season ticket members, whether or not their ticket is used to enter the rescheduled game.

The general public can get tickets beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday via Flash Seats at Detroitlions.com, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Ford Field's box office.

"We are pleased to be hosting the Bills and Jets for their game Monday night," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "While our thoughts are with the people of the Buffalo area during this difficult time, our team at Ford Field will do everything we can to be good hosts to their team this weekend."

The NFL has offered fans free tickets in similar situations in the past, including in December 2010 when the Giants and Vikings were relocated to Ford Field after the roof of Minnesota's Metrodome collapsed after a blizzard. Vikings quarterback Brett Favre's streak of 297 regular-season starts came to an end that night because of shoulder and hand issues.

A wildfire in Southern California in 2003 moved a game - also with free admission - between the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, because Qualcomm Stadium was turned into an evacuation center for displaced residents.

Jets coach Rex Ryan thought the potential of less crowd noise at a neutral-site stadium could help Michael Vick and New York's offense.

"Instead of having 70,000 screaming (Bills) fans, I would say it'd be easier," Ryan said. "I don't know who's going to be at the game." Then, he added: "I hope there are a lot of Jets fans."

Detroit Sports 105.1 radio, an affiliate of ESPN, called for fans to wear green to the game in support of the Jets - and against Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was fired last December after five seasons in which he went 29-51 as the Lions' coach.

He was carried off the field by the Bills after they beat the Lions in Detroit in October.

Using the hashtag GreenMonday, the station wrote on Twitter: "Monday, we all become Jets fans in Detroit to give Jim Schwartz some payback. Wear green and be loud."

The Lions, in a partnership with Henry Ford Health Systems, will also be operating a 50/50 raffle when gates open, with proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross of Western and Central New York Disaster Relief Fund.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Ibanez, Cash, Wakamatsu finalists to manage Rays

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 3:09pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Raul Ibanez, Kevin Cash and Don Wakamatsu are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dave Martinez, the Rays' bench coach for the past seven seasons, was among seven candidates dropped Friday. Also cut were Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville, Manny Acta, Craig Counsell, Charlie Montoyo and Ron Wotus.

Tampa Bay said interviews with the finalists will be scheduled for the week of Dec. 1. Maddon left the Rays after nine seasons to manage the Chicago Cubs.

"The decision on Dave Martinez was especially difficult," Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman said in a statement. "He's played a key role in our organization's evolution, and he's done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager. In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture."

Ibanez, 42, has spent 19 seasons in the major leagues with Seattle, Kansas City, Philadelphia, the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels and has 305 homers and 2,034 hits. He helped the Royals win this year's AL pennant.

The 36-year-old Cash played for Tampa Northside in the 1989 Little League World Series and was a big league catcher for eight seasons with Toronto, Tampa Bay, Boston, the New York Yankees and Houston from 2002-10. He was a major league advance scout for Toronto in 2012 and Cleveland's bullpen coach in 2013-14.

Wakamatsu, 51, was the first Asian-American manager in major league history and led Seattle to a 127-147 record in 2009-10. He played in the minor leagues from 1985-96, reaching the major leagues for 18 games with the Chicago White Sox in 1991. Wakamatsu has been bench coach of Texas (2003-06), Oakland (2008), Toronto (2011-12) and Kansas City (2014), and was the Rangers' third-base coach in 2007.

NHL teams slowly embracing advance statistics

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 2:21pm

Far removed from punishing hits on the ice, the real crunching in the NHL these days is being done in front offices around the league with the numbers involved in the complex, lengthy calculations of analytics.

The "Moneyball" approach popularized in baseball has slowly become as much a part of the NHL as the breakaway. More and more teams are turning to the same kind of analytics that have taken over Major League Baseball when they assess talent, players and performance.

Never heard of Corsi and Fenwick statistics? And you call yourself a fan?

It's a new era in the NHL and - much like in baseball - there's a still a divide between the new school thinkers and the hockey lifers stewing at the thought that newfangled stats could ever replace gut feel in building a Stanley Cup championship roster.

Take Philadelphia, for example.

The franchise known for decades as the Broad Street Bullies now has more use for an extra set of pocket protectors than rough-and-tumble goons.

"Analytics is where we're going," general manager Ron Hextall said. "You can't overvalue it, but in my mind it's going to become more and more and more valuable, I think in all sports. It's another tool. Why not use every tool available? You still need eyes on hockey players. You need that. I don't think that will ever change, but the analytics, I wouldn't say it's a huge part, but it's going to get bigger and bigger."

The Flyers, Toronto, Buffalo, Columbus, the Los Angeles Kings and others are leading the charge in using a new lens at scoping out the way players are judged. The key thought is, there are other ways to scout a player than the traditional means of goals, saves, plus/minus ratio and puck possession time.

Here are some of the stats that are becoming part of the lexicon:

- Fenwick Percentage: The percentage of unblocked shots (on goal or missed) taken by the player's team; also known as FF%.

- Corsi: Named for former Buffalo Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi, this stat tracks shot attempts for and against taken by a team or player. It's the sum of a team or player's goals, shots on net, shots that miss the net and shots that are blocked.

- League-Wide Success Rate: The league-wide shooting percentage from that area of the ice in the time frame selected.

- PDO: The sum of a player's on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice save percentage.

Sam Ventura, a 26-year-old Ph.D candidate at Carnegie Mellon, co-founded the analytics blog War On Ice. Ventura has become such a fan of NHL math, he has tinkered with creating his own advanced stats, working on a metric called zone transition times.

He used zone information (which zone a hit or shot may come from) and measured how long it took for each team to transition between zones.

"Over the long run, we should see the better teams holding the puck in the offensive zones longer and getting the puck out of their defensive zones faster," he said. "That's sort of what I found. The metric I created correlates pretty highly with the number of points in the standings."

Ventura's stat could become the next big thing in the NHL. Or it could take years for some teams to adapt.

"Hockey's such a free-flowing game that it's hard to determine automatically where each player is at each point of the game," he said. "It's not surprising that hockey has been slower in adopting analytics."

The hard-liners agree that fancy math should go the way of Fox's glowing puck.

"There are guys that leave people on the ice in bad situations and don't get punished for it in terms of the numbers," Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "What analytics doesn't show for me is when the game's on the line, when games or important situations happen, it doesn't show me who's going to win them."

The Sabres were at the forefront of analytics with stats developed by Corsi. He has moved on to St. Louis, leaving the heavy lifting in the front office to Jason Nightingale. The Pittsburgh Penguins hired Jason Karmanos as vice president of hockey operations in June to be their analytics guru. The Blue Jackets turned to Josh Flynn. The Capitals hired Tim Barnes. The Flyers use Ian Anderson. The Maple Leafs hired Kyle Dubas, a twentysomething former player' agent without any previous NHL experience.

Teams have largely refused to make the analytics experts available to the media for fear they'll expose classified ideas.

Most advanced stats debunk the idea that the oldest stats are still the most reliable. Ventura said he found in his research that hits and blocked shots - bread and butter for many NHL general managers - tend to be overrated.

"If you hit someone, that means you didn't have the puck before. Not having the puck is bad," Ventura said.

And blocked shots?

"Not that it's bad to block shots, but if you have a lot of blocked shots, it means your team rarely has the puck when you're on the ice," he said.

There's really no stopping the movement. The Stanley Cup champion Kings serve as a blueprint for finding undervalued players and consistently ranking among the league leaders in FenClose (the percentage of unblocked shot attempts a team takes in a game when the score is within one goal or tied).

It's up to a team's stats whiz to convey what's important in clear terms to the guys on the bench.

"If I cross the blue line with possession of the puck, I don't need to be a math major to know that the percentage of shots that I get are going to be higher," Trotz said. "Every coach in the league wants to enter the zone with possession of the puck, they really do. And for us, when it gets thrown in a coach's face, you go, `Yeah, I get that."'

NFL will hear Adrian Peterson's appeal Dec. 2

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 2:18pm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Adrian Peterson's hearing for the appeal of his suspension will be held on Dec. 2. And it will not be in front of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The NFL announced Friday that longtime hearing officer Harold Henderson will preside over the proceedings involving the Minnesota Vikings star running back. Goodell has the authority to decide whether to hear the appeal himself or appoint someone else.

Peterson has not played since the opening week of the season while dealing with child abuse allegations in Texas. He was placed on paid leave while the legal process played out, and he pleaded no contest on Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault for injuring his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

Goodell suspended Peterson earlier this week for the rest of the season and told Peterson that he will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15 for his violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy. Peterson is appealing the punishment, which the NFL Players Association called "unprecedented, arbitrary, and unlawful."

The union had been seeking a neutral arbitrator to oversee the appeal, saying the league "is making up the process and punishment as it goes."

Henderson worked for the league as chairman of its powerful Management Council's executive committee for 16 years. He also was a league vice president of labor relations.

He led the league's negotiation team, which settled several lawsuits by NFL players and ultimately entered into a new collective bargaining agreement which included expanded free agency and a salary cap. That agreement has been extended several times, most recently through 2021. He regularly deals with NFL team owners, team executives, players, players' union, player agents and attorneys on a variety of matters.

Henderson's long history of working for the league did little to assuage the union's concerns about the process.

"The NFL should stop attempting to position a former NFL executive as neutral and independent," the union said. "It is disappointing the league office made a decision to ignore the players' request for fairness."

The NFL argued that Goodell's right to preside over appeals or choose an official has been part of the collective bargaining agreement since 1993. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said criticism of Henderson is unwarranted given his current position as president of the NFL Player Care Foundation, which is funded jointly by the union and the league; and his experience in hearing 87 appeals, including one from receiver Brandon Marshall that ended with his three-game suspension for a domestic violence incident being reduced to one game.

Goodell's punishment of Peterson comes under the new player conduct policy he unveiled in August. That came in the wake of criticism he received for his initial light treatment of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was caught on camera punching his then-fiancee in the face in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice was later suspended indefinitely, cut by the Ravens, and recently had his appeal heard by an arbitrator.

The new, tougher guidelines call for a six-game suspension for the first assault, battery or domestic violence offense.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner, in New York, contributed to this report.

Hall of Fame coach Tarkanian hospitalized in Vegas

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:55pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) Family members say Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian remains hospitalized in stable condition at a Las Vegas hospital where he's being treated for pneumonia.

His son and daughter-in-law, Danny and Amy Tarkanian, said Friday that doctors at Valley Hospital Medical Center are still conducting tests.

Danny Tarkanian says doctors were "pretty positive" about his dad's prognosis.

Family members including Lois Tarkanian say the 84-year-old former UNLV Runnin' Rebels coach has had several visitors since he was admitted Wednesday to the hospital intensive care unit.

Tarkanian was hospitalized for 10 days in April after a heart attack, his second.

Tarkanian led three schools to the NCAA tournament, including the 1990 UNLV team that won a national title.

Dallas Stars sign Spezza to $30M, 4-year deal

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:22pm

FRISCO, Texas (AP) Two-time NHL All-Star center Jason Spezza signed a $30 million, four-year contract extension Friday with the Dallas Stars.

The deal came nearly five months after the Stars acquired Spezza from Ottawa just before the start of free agency, and keeps the 31-year-old center from becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Spezza has 18 points in his first 20 games in Dallas, with his 14 assists tops among the Stars and ninth in the NHL. He has 705 points (255 goals, 450 assists) in 706 career games since being the second overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft by Ottawa.

"Jason is a world-class player and his commitment to the organization is a reflection of what we are building in Dallas," Stars general manager Jim Nill said. "The professionalism and production he brings to our group is key for our success moving forward and we value the leadership he brings to our team."

The Stars acquired Spezza on July 1 in exchange for right wing Alex Chiasson, left wings Nick Paul and Alex Guptill and a second-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. Spezza is in the final season of a $49 million, seven-year contract, so his new deal with the Stars is through the 2018-19 season.

In 11 seasons with the Senators, Spezza had at least 65 points in a season six times, and three other seasons with at least 50 points. He was sent to the Stars only a few days after using his no-trade clause to turn down a possible deal to Nashville.

Peterson says 'fresh start' might be best

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 9:11pm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Adrian Peterson says he realizes moving on from the Minnesota Vikings might be best for both him and the team.

In an interview published Thursday by USA Today, Peterson said he believes the coaches and players on the team are fully behind him but that feelings in the organization toward him are mixed after he was charged with felony child abuse in Texas for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. He pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault.

"I know who loves me. The coaches and the players, it's not going to be a problem. I've felt so much support from those guys. The organization, I know there's people in the organization that support me and there's people that I know internally that has not been supporting me," Peterson told the newspaper. He said he has given a lot of thought to the idea that "maybe it's best for me to get a fresh start somewhere else."

"I would love to go back and play in Minnesota to get a feel and just see if my family still feels comfortable there," he told USA Today (http://usat.ly/1F6vQN7). "But if there's word out that, hey, they might release me, then so be it. I would feel good knowing that I've given everything I had in me."

Peterson said he spoke last week with his son for the first time in five months. He told the newspaper he "won't ever use a switch again," that he has been seeing a therapist and meeting a pastor certified in counseling near his Houston-area home, and has learned other ways to discipline his children.

On paid leave from the Vikings for more than two months, Peterson was informed this week by the NFL he will be suspended without pay for at least the rest of the season. The NFL Players Association has appealed the punishment on his behalf, and Peterson will continue to draw his salary on the exempt list until the appeal is resolved.

Regardless of which team he plays for next year, assuming he's reinstated by the league, Peterson said his focus has been on family - restoring his relationship with the boy and becoming a better parent. Peterson has fathered six children by six different women. He was married July 19.

"No one knows how I felt when I turned my child around after spanking him and seeing what I had left on his leg," Peterson said. "No one knows that Dad sat there and apologized to him, hugged him and told him that I didn't mean to do this to you and how sorry I was."

Peterson said he declined to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week because of unanswered questions he and the union had about the process.

"I didn't want to go into a situation blind. I didn't know what to expect. Who's going to be there? Who will I be meeting with? What details are we going to get into?" he said.

Peterson also said he was upset by Goodell's accusation in the letter about the suspension that he showed "no meaningful remorse" about injuring the boy.

"Ultimately, I know I'll have my opportunity to sit down with Roger face to face, and I'll be able to say a lot of the same things that I've said to you," Peterson told the newspaper. "Don't say that I'm not remorseful, because in my statement, I showed that I was remorseful. I regretted everything that took place. I love my child, more than anyone could ever imagine."

Bills' home game against Jets relocated to Detroit

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 7:35pm

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Snowed out in Buffalo, the Bills are heading to Detroit to play their "home" game against the New York Jets on Monday night.

The NFL announced the location and date of the game on Thursday night after a severe lake-effect storm paralyzed much of the Buffalo region. More than 5 feet of snow has fallen in the Buffalo area since Monday, and another 1 to 3 feet was projected to fall by Friday.

The storm forced the Bills to cancel their past two days of practice because of impassable roads and driving bans in Orchard Park and many communities neighboring Ralph Wilson Stadium. The team intends to travel to Detroit on Friday and practice at the Lions' facility.

The Lions are at New England on Sunday.

"We greatly appreciate the hospitality of the Detroit Lions in hosting the Bills and this game," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.

This marks the second time the Bills will play at Ford Field this season following a 17-14 win over the Lions on Oct. 5. It also is the second time in four years the facility has hosted a neutral site game.

The last time an NFL game was moved to Ford Field unexpectedly, the fans who did show up witnessed a bit of history. Brett Favre's streak of 297 regular-season starts came to an end that night - on Dec. 13, 2010 - when the Minnesota Vikings lost to the New York Giants 21-3. Favre was sidelined by shoulder and hand issues.

That game was moved to Detroit because the Metrodome roof collapsed.

"We are pleased to be hosting the Bills and Jets for their game Monday night," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "While our thoughts are with the people of the Buffalo area during this difficult time, our team at Ford Field will do everything we can to be good hosts to their team this weekend."

The decision should help the Bills get back on track after their routine was disrupted by the storm. It also gives them an extra day to prepare, with the game pushed back from Sunday.

"A big part of preparation is practice and lifting and nutrition, and that's been compromised," Bills president Russ Brandon said before the location of the game was announced. "And it's certainly something we're looking into and trying to do the best as we try to prepare to play the Jets whenever that may be."

Bills coach Doug Marrone and his staff have been living at the Bills headquarters since Tuesday. They've been going over the game plan and consulting with the team by phone and computer because a majority of the players have been snowed in. And those who can get out are unable to travel to the facility.

The next step is devising a way to get all the players and staff to the airport, which has remained open because it is north of where much of the storm hit.

The Bills (5-5) are already coming off an extended break. They had last weekend off following a 22-9 loss at Miami on Nov. 13. The Jets (2-8) are coming out of their bye week, and haven't played since a 20-13 win against Pittsburgh on Nov. 9.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said his team wouldn't be hampered by a change of venue.

"It wouldn't affect us," Ryan said. "We'd just aim our plane in a different direction, I guess."

Earlier on Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it would be difficult for the game to be played in Buffalo because snow removal and emergency resources were already stretched thin.

"If you ask me today, right now, my sense is it's impractical to do the game because it would jeopardize public safety," Cuomo said. "Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but I think even more, everybody wants to make sure public safety comes first."

Given how much snow needs to be cleared, Brandon said there's no telling if Ralph Wilson Stadium will be ready in time for the Bills' next home game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 30.

Without providing any assurances, Brandon said it will take "an all hands on deck exercise" to have the stadium ready to host the Browns. He added that the Bills are already contemplating the possibility of spending much of next week practicing out of town while the cleanup in Buffalo continues.

The Bills estimated on Wednesday that 220,000 tons of snow covered the team's 200-acre grounds - enough to fill their practice fieldhouse eight times over.

The temperatures are expected to warm into the 40s by Saturday, with a high of 47 projected for Sunday. But a sudden thaw presents another problem by raising flooding concerns.

Starting guard Kraig Urbik is among the Bills players who are snowed in.

"Any chance my street gets plowed today," Urbik posted on his Twitter account Thursday. "Or are we stuck here till Saturday?"

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Associated Press writer Chris Carola, in Albany, New York, and AP Sports Writers Dennis Waszak Jr., in Florham Park, New Jersey, and Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

NBA union head: Taylor suspension violates CBA

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 4:11pm

NEW YORK (AP) The executive director of the NBA Players Association said Thursday the suspension given to Charlotte's Jeffery Taylor by Commissioner Adam Silver is "excessive, without precedent and a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."

Michele Roberts adds that the union is ready to file an immediate appeal, but that the choice is Taylor's.

Silver suspended Taylor for 24 games without pay on Wednesday after the forward pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property. Taylor will lose nearly $200,000 of his $915,000 salary this season.

Taylor will get credit for the 11 games he has missed, and will sit out an additional 13 for a total which is slightly more than one-fourth of the league's 82-game schedule.

"The CBA contemplates a minimum 10-game suspension in any case involving a conviction for a violent felony, including domestic violence. In contrast, Jeff Taylor was charged with a misdemeanor that is likely to be dismissed at the end of a probationary period," Roberts said in a statement.

Taylor was sentenced to 18 months of probation. As part of his probation, he must complete 26 weeks in a domestic violence intervention program.

Silver issued a statement Wednesday in which he said: "This suspension is necessary to protect the interests of the NBA and the public's confidence in it. Mr. Taylor's conduct violates applicable law and, in my opinion, does not conform to standards of morality and is prejudicial and detrimental to the NBA."

But Roberts notes that the penalty is one of the longest in NBA history.

"We have a scheme of discipline that was the result of collective bargaining between the parties that has been applied consistently over the years," she said. "While we appreciate the sensitivity of this societal issue, the Commissioner is not entitled to rewrite the rules or otherwise ignore precedent in disciplinary matters."

Taylor can appeal the suspension to an independent arbitrator.

"While ultimately this is Jeff's decision, we stand ready to file an immediate appeal on his behalf," Roberts said.

LA Kings' Voynov charged with domestic violence

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 3:54pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was charged with felony domestic violence on Thursday by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Voynov faces one felony count of corporal injury to a spouse with great bodily injury. In a statement providing the first public details of the incident, the district attorney's office said Voynov "caused his wife to suffer injuries to her eyebrow, cheek and neck" during an argument at their home, several hours after the Kings won an afternoon game.

The 24-year-old Russian Olympian has been suspended since his arrest early Oct. 20 at a hospital in Torrance, California. He had taken his wife to the hospital for treatment of injuries from their home in nearby Redondo Beach.

Craig Renetzky, Voynov's attorney, has repeatedly said his client didn't hit his wife. Renetzky also said Voynov shouldn't have been arrested, blaming a misunderstanding between police and Voynov's wife, who speaks even less English than her husband.

"Mr. Voynov is extremely disappointed that the district attorney's office elected to file charges," Renetzky said in a statement. "Mr. Voynov maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name in court. We remain confident."

Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the NHL before he even posted bail on the morning of his arrest. The Kings have wholeheartedly supported the league's disciplinary actions, and they affirmed that position in a statement issued by the team after Voynov was charged.

"We are aware of the actions taken today in California, which we will review and evaluate before making any decisions," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "Until further notice, the current terms of Mr. Voynov's suspension remain in place."

The NHL's position means the Kings will not receive salary cap relief in the absence of Voynov, who is still being paid his $3 million salary during his suspension. With Voynov still counting against the cap, Los Angeles was forced to play with five defensemen earlier this month while unable to recall anyone from the minors to fill in for an injured player.

"As an organization we will continue to closely monitor the developments of the legal proceedings and work in partnership with the NHL to determine the proper course of action in the future," the Kings said in their statement.

Voynov isn't allowed to practice or play for the team, but he has been skating at the Kings' training complex after their practices, sometimes under the supervision of an assistant coach.

Voynov will be arraigned Dec. 1 in Torrance. The charge carries a maximum penalty of nine years in prison, and Voynov also could face deportation.

Voynov is a two-time Stanley Cup champion who also played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics. He will miss his 14th straight game Thursday night when the Kings host Carolina.

Through her own attorney, Voynov's wife previously said she didn't want charges filed against the defenseman, but California authorities aren't required to consider such wishes when deciding to file charges.

Voynov and his wife got married during the summer. They are still living together and raising her child from a prior relationship.

Voynov earned a spot in the Kings' lineup as a rookie during their run to their first Stanley Cup title in 2011-12. He scored a career-best 34 points last season, and he has two assists in six games this year.

The Kings signed Voynov to a six-year, $25 million contract extension in June 2013.

Manfred given 5-year term as baseball commissioner

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 2:24pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Praising the transition as quick and orderly, Bud Selig announced Thursday that baseball owners unanimously approved a five-year term for Rob Manfred, who will succeed the longtime commissioner early next year.

Selig spoke at the conclusion of two days of meetings in Kansas City, where owners discussed a variety of issues that included pace of play, instant replay and domestic violence initiatives.

Selig will chair his final owners' meeting in January in Arizona.

"I've been so busy and every day is so frenetic that the last month or two, I'm sure I'll spend a lot of time thinking about it," Selig said, "but you know, we are where we want to be. We're having a wonderful transition, orderly transition, good transition. That's very important."

Manfred, who has worked for MLB since 1998, was chosen to replace the 80-year-old Selig in August over Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. He will assume office Jan. 25.

"It hits me every day when I go to work," Manfred said. "I agree with Commissioner Selig, we've had a really productive and smooth transition."

One of Manfred's mandates will be to attract young fans back to baseball, and many believe that will involve speeding up the game. The average time of a nine-inning game increased from 2 hours, 33 minutes, in 1981 to a record 3:02 this year, with postseason games stretching nearly 4 hours.

Selig appointed a committee chaired by Braves President John Schuerholz to discuss ways to improve the pace of play. Among the ideas experimented during the Arizona Fall League were pitch clocks and requiring hitters to remain in the batter's box between pitches.

MLB can't alter the rules for 2015 without agreement from the players' association, though it can implement changes unilaterally with one year advance notice. Selig said union head Tony Clark and other representatives from the players' association provided their input.

"I want the committee to continue to do its work," Selig said. "This was very productive in terms of ideas. The experience in the Arizona Fall League made quite an impact on a lot of people."

When changes may be implemented at the major league level remains to be seen. Selig said he wants to "push them" and will have more to say on the subject in the next couple months.

Owners also spent time discussing the first season of expanded instant replay, largely considered a success after several calls were overturned during the postseason.

The system also slowed games. Given the opportunity to challenge everything from force and tag plays to fan interference and home runs, managers often stalled in the middle of the diamond while awaiting word from their dugout whether to contest a call.

"I think the core of replay will be similar," Manfred said. "I think the changes we're contemplating - without getting into them - are largely technology improvements. ... I think there are also some issues related to exactly how long it takes to get replay going."

MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre said during a recent meeting of general managers in Phoenix that putting a stop to all the lingering would be a priority.

"That's one area we'll do something differently," Torre said. "I'm not sure what that is, but certainly we will eliminate some of that standing around because 10 seconds is a long time."

Selig also applauded the record-breaking $325 million. 13-year deal reached by the Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton, calling it the "objective of everything we did" in changes to the game's economic model, which included revenue sharing and luxury taxes.

"What I like is individual franchises making decisions to make themselves better, Selig said. "I've been reading all the clips, and I do think they're happy in South Florida, and they should be. It's a good sign, a very good sign for them, and that's how you have to look at it."

MLB Executive Vice President Dan Halem provided owners with an update on a comprehensive domestic violence program that is being developed for players and non-players alike. Domestic violence has become an issue of increased importance across professional sports.

To underscore that point, Selig announced the Seattle Mariners had received the Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence for their "Refuse to Abuse" program. The state-wide educational initiative is designed to promote healthy relationships in Washington state.

"It was really great competition. We had three or four clubs, tough decisions to make," Selig said. "It's a program that goes around the state of Washington on domestic abuse, and they've been doing it a long time. This isn't something that just happened."

Former UNLV coach Tarkanian hospitalized in Vegas

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 9:40am

LAS VEGAS (AP) Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian is hospitalized in Las Vegas, where his son says he's being treated for pneumonia.

Danny Tarkanian said Thursday that the 84-year-old former Runnin' Rebels coach was stabilized and undergoing medical tests after being taken by ambulance Wednesday to Valley Hospital Medical Center.

Danny Tarkanian says his father has a heart condition and is susceptible to chest and lung illness.

The coach dubbed "Tark the Shark" was hospitalized for 10 days in April after a heart attack, his second. He had just returned home from a trip to the NCAA Final Four in North Texas.

Tarkanian led three schools to the NCAA tournament, including the 1990 UNLV team that won a national title.

Bucks fend off Nets in 3 OTs, win Kidd's Brooklyn return

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 7:57pm

NEW YORK (AP) As shocked as they looked to still be playing, Brandon Knight's teammates didn't give up on him after his missed layup to end the first overtime.

Instead, they gave him the ball when they need a big shot in the second one.

Knight made the tying 3-pointer in the second overtime and the clinching free throws with 5.6 seconds to go in the third, and the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Nets 122-118 on Wednesday night in coach Jason Kidd's return to Brooklyn.

"My teammates trusted me to make the next shot to force a third overtime, so that's really what it's all about," Knight said, "and we stuck through it as a team."

Rookie Jabari Parker scored a season-high 23 points, O.J. Mayo added 21, and Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo each had 18 for the Bucks, who won their third straight.

Brook Lopez scored a season-best 26 points for the Nets, who have dropped five in a row.

"We've got to find some ways somehow to get a win," Nets guard Joe Johnson said. "When you're in a rut like this, it's tough. You've got to do all the little things. When you do get that win, it won't be certainly easy."

Ersan Ilyasova and Khris Middleton each made two baskets in the third overtime for the Bucks, whose players celebrated with hugs for Knight, who still looked a little dazed when it ended.

"He made it a little bit exciting for everybody to watch," Parker said.

Knight finished 5 of 20 from the field, including the miss that had blown up on video long before the game ended. With the game tied at 105, he intercepted Johnson's pass with 2.9 seconds left in the first extra period and dribbled down the court a step ahead of the nearest Nets player but somehow missed the easiest shot in basketball, leaving Kidd and players on the Milwaukee bench in disbelief.

"It's a situation where you wish you could just go ahead and make it and send it home, but like I said we still did it in a different way and I'm happy about that," Knight said.

But he knocked down the 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining in the second OT and the Bucks went on to improve to 7-5 in Kidd's first season.

He was loudly booed and taunted as a traitor in the arena where his retired jersey hangs in the rafters by fans who haven't forgiven him for leaving the Nets after one season to take the Bucks job.

"I have bad hearing anyways. So I thought whatever the greeting was, it's about the players," Kidd said. "People don't pay to come see the coach, they come to see the guys play."

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 points, and Deron Williams and Johnson each finished with 18 for the Nets.

Mayo made the tying basket with 30 seconds left in regulation but couldn't get a good shot up on the Bucks' last possession before the buzzer, and they went to overtime tied at 95.

Bucks: Larry Sanders started at center after missing Tuesday's game with a bruised left thigh. He scored four points in 15 minutes. ... Antetokounmpo stayed in the game after stepping on Knight's foot and twisting his ankle in overtime. He finished with 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals while playing tough defense on Johnson.

Nets: There was a video tribute in the first half for former Nets center Jason Collins, who announced his retirement Wednesday. He became the first openly gay player in one of the major North American team sports when he signed with the team last February. He also played on their back-to-back Eastern Conference championship teams in 2002-03. Collins sat courtside across from the Milwaukee bench.

The Nets fell to 2-4 in triple-overtime games. They had won their last one, beating Toronto in London on March 5, 2011. This was the longest game in the NBA this season.

The Nets had won the last five meetings in what had been their longest active winning streak against an opponent. Before that, Milwaukee had won the previous 13 in the series.

Bucks: At Toronto on Friday.

Nets: At Oklahoma City on Friday

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