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Johnson helps No. 3 Arizona past SDSU for Maui title

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 9:56pm

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Stanley Johnson had 18 points and nine rebounds, helping No. 3 Arizona gut out a 61-59 victory over No. 15 San Diego State on Wednesday night for its second Maui Invitational title.

Arizona (6-0) survived a stiff semifinal challenge against Kansas State and faced a bigger one against the athletic Aztecs (5-1).

The Wildcats traded blows in this heavyweight bout in paradise, coming up with the big plays down the stretch to win their 33rd straight regular-season non-conference game.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gave Arizona his usual exuberant boost and scored 14 points, while the Wildcats closed in around San Diego State defensively in the second half to add to the Maui title they won in 2000.

Trey Kell had a four-point play with 17 seconds to go and Winston Shepard hit a 3 with less than a second left, but it wasn't enough for the Aztecs.

Kell and Shepard had 14 points each to lead San Diego State, which made 11 of 29 shots in the second half.

An Arizona-San Diego State title game was what college basketball fans hoped for when the Maui Invitational brackets came out.

San Diego State got here by outlasting BYU in double overtime and dominating Pittsburgh in the semifinals.

Arizona pulled away from Missouri in its opener and pulled out a tight one against Kansas State.

That set up a marquee matchup in a budding rivalry.

Arizona has gotten the best of SDSU in recent years, winning three straight, including a thriller in Honolulu in 2012 and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament last season.

The game lived up to the under-the-spotlight billing, two athletic teams trading baskets, elbows and floor burns in front of a packed-and-rowdy Lahaina Civic Center crowd.

San Diego State was in control early, patiently and effectively probing Arizona's defense. The Aztecs made 10 of 19 shots in the half.

The Wildcats kept up with volume shooting, fueled by their ability to get to the offensive glass. Arizona made 11 of 33 shots, but had 13 points off 11 offensive rebounds, including five by Johnson.

That allowed Arizona to lead 32-31 at halftime despite Gabe York and T.J. McConnell sitting late in the half with three fouls each.

Little changed in the second half, other than Arizona's shooting percentage.

The Aztecs and Wildcats continued to trade athletic plays, neither able to gain much traction on the other, tension building with each basket or swatted shot.

Hollis-Jefferson gave Arizona a little room blocking a 3-pointer by Dwayne Polee II and racing out for a breakaway dunk that made it 53-49.

The Wildcats held on from there - barely.

San Diego State: Polee finished with 11 points.

Arizona: Johnson accidentally knocked over a ballboy during a first-half timeout, drawing boos from the San Diego State fans on that end of the floor. Shepard helped the kid off the floor.

San Diego State plays at San Diego on Dec. 4.

Arizona hosts Gardner-Webb on Tuesday night.

No. 6 Louisville holds on as Pitino wins 700th career game

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:16pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Montrezl Harrell had 15 points and 13 rebounds and No. 6 Louisville beat Cleveland State 45-33 on Wednesday night for coach Rick Pitino's 700th college victory.

One of five active Hall of Fame coaches and among four in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pitino is 700-245 overall and 346-117 in 14 seasons with the Cardinals.

Chris Jones added 11 points, and freshman Chinanu Onuaku blocked seven shots for the Cardinals (5-0), who needed a lot of defense to put away the determined Vikings two nights after beating Savannah State by 61 points.

Cold shooting and missed free throws by Louisville allowed Cleveland State (2-3) to stay close throughout and trail just 33-29 with 12 minutes remaining.

But the Vikings made just two of their next 14 shots after that, and the Cardinals pulled away despite their lowest scoring output this season.

Report: Tomas in process of deal with Arizona

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 4:06pm

Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is in the process of agreeing to a $68.5 million, six-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal had not yet been completed. The person said several additional steps were necessary but the agreement was likely to be finalized in the next few days.

MLB.com reported Wednesday a deal had been agreed to.

Tomas, 24, hit .375 (6 for 16) for Cuba with two homers and five RBIs in last year's World Baseball Classic.

He would join an outfield hampered last season by injuries to Mark Trumbo (stress fracture in left foot) and A.J. Pollock (broken right hand), who both missed about half the season. Trumbo, Ender Inciarte and Cody Ross have been Arizona's top projected corner outfielders.

Arizona went a major league-worst 64-98 last season, fired manager Kirk Gibson and reassigned general manager Kevin Towers, who left to becomes a Cincinnati Reds' special assistant. Former big league pitcher Dave Stewart was hired as the Diamondbacks' GM under Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa and Chip Hale took over as manager.

In Stewart's first major move, Arizona acquired pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from Tampa for a pair of minor league prospects.

In total dollars among Cuban players, Tomas' deal would fall just short of the $72.5 million, seven-year contract agreed to in August between outfielder Rusney Castillo and the Boston Red Sox. The $11.42 million average would be just above first baseman Jose Abreu's $11.33 million average in the $68 million, six-year deal he agreed to with the Chicago White Sox in October 2011. Abreu went on to win AL Rookie of the Year.

Gordon says he felt alienated during suspension

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 3:00pm

BEREA, Ohio (AP) As his teammates and coaches went about their season, Josh Gordon felt like an outsider.

He was exiled on his own team.

Unable to practice or play during his 10-game NFL suspension, the star wide receiver was so isolated that he said it felt as if he had contracted an illness. No one wanted to be near him. He was alone, on a separate schedule and Gordon said he felt relationships change. He knew he had to prove himself again.

What Gordon didn't realize was that his standing inside the locker room had been unshaken.

"I don't think he ever lost our trust," Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said. "He made some poor choices, I'm sure he'll admit to them. But throughout his suspension, with the things that he did and the way he conducted and handled himself and came back in shape, he proved that he was a new person that had grown up from the situations."

Gordon came back from his suspension for marijuana abuse last week and shined in his first game. He caught eight passes for 120 yards in Cleveland's 26-24 win over Atlanta, a victory that shoved the Browns (7-4) into the thick of the AFC playoff race.

It was a welcomed return for Gordon, who did it with such ease that Thomas had no idea he had been so productive.

"I went home and my wife said, `Wasn't it great having Josh back?"' Thomas said, "and I said, `He didn't really do anything, right?' She said, `He had 120 yards.' I'm like, `Really?"'

Gordon didn't speak with reporters on Wednesday, excusing himself from a crowd gathered around his locker by walking a down-and-out route through the exit door.

Earlier, in an interview with former teammate Nate Burleson for the NFL Network, Gordon said the "lowest point" of his suspension was when he felt friends - and the Browns - distance themselves from him.

"I don't want to throw names around but I can see it," Gordon told Burleson, who was with Cleveland during training camp and became close with Gordon. "I'm definitely really observant so I see how people might just be more standoffish as they were before. It's kind of like a disease. People they want to see it but they don't really want to touch it."

Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer can relate to Gordon's feelings of separation. While he was rehabbing a season-ending knee injury in 2013, Hoyer felt similarly secluded despite being with a team.

"When you're in the building but you're not really a part of the team, you kind of feel like things are going on without you. It's a terrible feeling," he said. "You see your teammates going about the business that they do every day and you want to be a part of it, but you're really not."

Browns coach Mike Pettine said it would be natural for anyone to feel as Gordon did. Although he may have been around, Gordon, who was not permitted to practice or lift weights with his teammates during his ban, was not part of the weekly buildup for a game. He didn't feel as if he belonged.

"I can just see from a human nature standpoint maybe feeling that way," he said. "Knowing the quality of the people in this building, I doubt there would be any overt maliciousness. I know Josh is well liked by his teammates."

Like Thomas, Hoyer said Gordon doesn't have to earn back anything.

"He's done his time," Hoyer said. "We welcomed him back with open arms, not just because of the player he is, but we all know the type of person Josh is. He's a great guy. He's a great part of this team and he's a big part of this locker room. We knew he'd come back humble, hungry, and you can see it on the field."

NOTES: Pettine has not seen the video of quarterback Johnny Manziel's "scuffle" in a downtown hotel last week. Police were called to a luxury hotel where Manziel has an apartment early Saturday morning to break up a fight. Pettine said Manziel's playing status remains the same. "Are we disappointed? I think we've already expressed that," Pettine said. "But to me it doesn't affect his status." ... LB Karlos Dansby (knee) hopes to play this week in Buffalo. Dansby missed last week's game, but has been making steady progress. LB Jabaal Sheard (foot) and S Tashaun Gipson (knee) did not practice. Pettine said the team can wait another week before deciding whether to put Gipson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions, on injured reserve.

RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 2:49pm

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Robert Griffin III mingled in the locker room and made small talk about shoes and food.

No sense talking about football, not when a player who once could do no wrong has been benched for the second time in two years.

The Redskins will start Colt McCoy over Griffin on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, the latest development in a stunning tailspin for the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

First-year coach Jay Gruden said McCoy will be given "every opportunity" to hold the job for the final five games of the season.

"We're searching for answers on offense," Gruden said. "And it starts at the quarterback position, quite frankly."

Now it's a question as to whether RG3 is done for good in Washington, and whether he'll develop the skills necessary to succeed as a pocket-passer in the NFL.

The Redskins (3-8) are 0-3 since he returned from an ankle injury and have scored only one touchdown in each of the past two games.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick seemed poised to revolutionize the quarterback position with his arm and legs when he led Washington to the playoffs two years ago, but he is 4-14 as a starter since the start of the 2013 season and has struggled to adjust his game.

"We just want him to take a step back, work on his craft a little bit more, study the game a little bit more," Gruden said.

Griffin will serve as the No. 2 quarterback on Sunday. Although he chatted informally with reporters Wednesday, he made no comment about Gruden's decision.

The Redskins have not permitted Griffin to speak publicly at various times this season, but a team spokesman said it was Griffin's decision to remain silent this time.

Gruden has had plenty to say, much of it quite candid, about Griffin's development. The coach was particularly brutal a week ago, citing "fundamental flaws" after an abysmal performance in a 20-point loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Griffin followed that up by throwing for just 106 yards in a 17-13 defeat against the San Francisco.

This is the fourth quarterback change made by Gruden this year. The coach called it a "merry-go-around," but it's almost par for the course for the Redskins, who have used 24 starters since 1993. The lack of continuity has its price - they've missed the playoffs in 18 of those 22 seasons.

And now they might have to start over yet again at the sport's most important position. They gave up three first-round picks in order to move up and select Griffin in the 2012 draft, a trade that had serious ramifications because it kept Washington from filling other vital needs in subsequent drafts.

The team will have to decide in the upcoming offseason whether to pick up a fifth-year option on Griffin's contract. That now seems unlikely, but Gruden nevertheless said he hasn't given up on the 24-year-old QB.

"For Robert to take a step back and be a backup quarterback is not the end of the world," Gruden said. "It's happened to great quarterbacks in the past. It will happen again. ... Doesn't mean he's not going to be a great quarterback one day, here or somewhere else or whatever."

The timing is particularly humiliating for Griffin because it comes as the Redskins are preparing to face the Colts and Andrew Luck, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick ahead of Griffin. The two will always be compared, but their paths have diverged incredibly since their rookie season.

Griffin was benched for the final three games last year as the season spiraled to a 3-13 finish under then-coach Mike Shanahan. He has also suffered two major leg injuries, a torn ACL in his right knee as a rookie and a dislocated left ankle this year.

The injuries have played a part in Griffin's desire to become a pass-first quarterback, rather than the dual-threat player who rushed for 815 yards as a rookie.

The ankle problem caused Griffin to miss six games and hindered his work with Gruden. But there had already been signs in training camp that he was having trouble with basics such as footwork and downfield reads.

Kirk Cousins took over after Griffin was hurt in the first quarter of the Week 2 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he lost his next four starts and proved to be turnover-prone. He was benched at halftime in favor of McCoy against the Tennessee Titans, and McCoy rallied the Redskins to a 19-17 win, then to a Monday night upset of the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite McCoy's success, Gruden went back to Griffin the following week - and the Redskins haven't won since.

"If we reversed the clock, obviously knowing what we know now, I'd stick with Colt," Gruden said.

For the season, Griffin has completed 70 percent of his passes, but he has only two touchdowns and three interceptions and has been sacked 20 times in five starts. His passer rating is 85.7.

McCoy joined the Redskins this season in need of a job in his fifth year in the league, willing to be a third-stringer behind Griffin and Cousins. He went more than two years between NFL starts, but he has completed 86 percent of his passes (36 for 42) in his two games with Washington this season.

Even with such numbers to back it up, the move is a bold one for Gruden, a rookie coach trying to get a handle on a struggling franchise. Asked why he isn't using the final five games to give Griffin more chances to develop, Gruden answered: "I think there's a case for that, but there's also a case that Colt is 2-0."

Gruden said he discussed the move with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen.

"I think ultimately it's the coach's decision, but they're on board," Gruden said. "Had they been adamant and said, `No, play him,' I don't know what would have happened."

Rose exits early as Bulls fall to Lawson, Nuggets

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 8:48pm

DENVER (AP) Ty Lawson scored 20 points, including a key jumper in the waning seconds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.

Arron Afflalo added 19 points and Danilo Gallinari had 15 for the Nuggets, who defeated the Bulls for the eighth straight time in Denver.

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was limited to 10 minutes in his second game back from a left hamstring strain. Rose, who scored 18 points in his return Monday night against Utah after a four-game absence, felt tightness in the hamstring during the first quarter and didn't play the rest of the way.

Jimmy Butler had 32 points for Chicago.

Curry's 40 points power Warriors past Heat 114-97

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 7:36pm

MIAMI (AP) Stephen Curry scored 40 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Miami Heat 114-97 on Tuesday night for their sixth consecutive victory.

Golden State scored 14 straight points to open a 107-95 lead with 2:50 to go. Curry and Thompson capped the run with consecutive 3-pointers.

Thompson had 24 points for the Warriors, who shot 57 percent. Curry was 12 for 19 from the field, including an 8-for-11 performance from 3-point range.

Chris Bosh scored 26 points for Miami, and Luol Deng had 16. James Ennis' dunk with 9:11 left was the Heat's last field goal.

Miami led by 16 in the first half, but Golden State closed the second quarter with a 23-8 surge. Draymond Green made two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to cut the Heat's lead to 62-61 at the break.

Golden State carried the momentum over to the second half. Curry hit three 3-pointers in the third period, and his two free throws with 58.2 seconds remaining put Golden State ahead, 89-82.

The Heat got off to a nice start, opening a 31-22 lead on Mario Chalmers' corner 3-pointer with 1:51 left in the first quarter.

---

TIP-INS

Warriors: G Leandro Barbosa played four minutes and scored two points after spraining his right knee in the Warriors' win over Orlando on Sunday. ... Early in the first period, Andrew Bogut grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled the length of the court and made a behind-the-back pass from the baseline to Green, who scored on a layup. ... F David Lee (strained left hamstring) missed his 12th straight game.

Heat: F-C Chris Andersen's injury woes continue. Andersen sat out Tuesday's game after injuring his left ankle early in Miami's win over Charlotte on Sunday. Earlier in the season, Andersen missed four games because of bruised ribs. ... G Dwyane Wade (left hamstring) missed his seventh straight game. ... Norris Cole returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two games because of a dislocated left middle finger.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Visit Orlando on Wednesday.

Heat: Visit New York on Sunday.

No. 3 Arizona beats Kansas State 72-68 in Maui

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 7:15pm

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Kaleb Tarczewski scored 18 points, Gabe York added 15 and No. 3 Arizona hung on to win its first close game of the season, beating Kansas State 72-68 Tuesday in the Maui Invitational semifinals.

Arizona (5-0) had rolled through its first four games despite some slow starts and shot 53 percent against Kansas State, yet couldn't shake the scrappy Wildcats.

Trailing by nine in the second half, Kansas State (3-2) whittled the lead down to a single possession in the final minute.

Arizona went up 69-64 after three free throws by Stanley Johnson and York, but Marcus Foster cut the lead to two on a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finally helped Arizona secure a spot in Wednesday night's championship game by hitting two free throws with 4 seconds left.

Johnson finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Foster scored 23 points and went 6 for 9 from 3-point range for Kansas State.

Arizona has been plagued by slow starts this season, and the Maui opener against Missouri was no different. The Wildcats, as they did in previous games, pulled away in the second half for a 19-point win - but they probably couldn't afford another uninspired start against Kansas State.

In their tournament opener, the Wildcats jumped on Purdue early, creating easy scoring opportunities through turnovers while building a 15-point lead. Kansas State let up down the stretch to let the Boilermakers back in it, but pulled out a physical victory.

A fast start was no problem for either team in the semifinals.

Playing quickly in both directions, Arizona and Kansas State traded athletic plays - Johnson's tomahawk dunk down the lane was a highlight - and baskets in an entertaining opening 10 minutes.

Neither team was able to get much separation, and the half ended with Stephen Hurt jamming in a putback at the buzzer to pull Kansas State to 31-30.

The second half continued the same way until T.J. McConnell and York hit consecutive 3-pointers to put Arizona up 52-43 midway through.

Kansas State clawed its way back, pulling to 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Foster with 2:30 left.

K-State kept fighting back each time, but couldn't complete the comeback as Arizona hit six of eight free throws in the final 22 seconds.

---

TIP-INS

Kansas State: Foster is a combined 16 for 28 the past two games after going 1 for 13 in a loss to Long Beach State.

Arizona: Johnson was called for two fouls 90 seconds into the second half and had to sit down with four. He returned 6 minutes later for a short stint and came back with 7:15 left.

UP NEXT

Kansas State faces the loser between Pittsburgh and No. 15 San Diego State in Wednesday's third-place game.

Arizona will play the Pitt-SDSU winner in Wednesday night's title game.

Sherman calls out NFL in presser with Baldwin

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 5:13pm

RENTON, Wash. (AP) With the help of a cardboard cutout, the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin took digs at the NFL during a news conference on Tuesday after the league issued a $100,000 fine to teammate Marshawn Lynch for not speaking to the media.

Sherman and Baldwin made mention of everything from the league's sponsorship deals with major beer companies to their own personal endorsements that are not affiliated with the NFL, to the talk of player safety with the Seahawks about to play their second game in five days.

The point of their performance seemed to be that whatever they said - real or satirical - it would not be a violation of the league's media policy on speaking with reporters.

"The other day Marshawn Lynch got fined $100,000. Did you know that, $100,000?" Sherman said. "And it's like they wouldn't have paid him $100,000 if he had talked. If he had spoken, Doug do you think they would have paid him $100,000?"

Baldwin responded, "No, they sure wouldn't have."

The duo spoke for about 2 1/2 minutes ahead of Thursday's NFC championships game rematch against San Francisco. Baldwin hid behind a cutout of himself, with Sherman standing to the side of the podium and taking the lead as the pair bantered.

Sherman took only one question, and after the pair referenced a number of personal sponsors - many of which are not NFL sponsors - walked off without speaking about the matchup with the 49ers. The pair prepped briefly and notified the companies they were going to mention ahead of time.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll told San Francisco reporters he had not seen the performance.

"It's fun to use your time in the NFL to speak about something you care about, right? Right?" Sherman said in his back-and-forth with Baldwin. "Because then you don't get fined $100,000. You don't get fined at all for this. This is how they want us to talk, right? This is what they want us to do. They want us to advertise, right Doug?"

Their targets were wide ranging, including headphones, soup, clothing, sandwiches and juice. The cardboard cutout of Baldwin was actually an advertisement that's also on display at Subway restaurants in the Seattle area.

Sherman immediately mentioned his endorsement deal with Beats by Dre. The league has an agreement with Bose.

The league has told players they cannot wear unauthorized equipment until 90 minutes after the completion of games. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined earlier this year for wearing Beats headphones during a postgame news conference.

"The league doesn't let me say anything about them. Why is that?" Sherman asked.

Baldwin's response: "I don't know. Sounds kind of hypocritical to me."

Sherman made note of Campbell's Soup - another personal endorsement - and how it could be helpful with cold and flu season approaching.

"Speaking of health, how do you feel about the NFL making you play two games in five days?" Baldwin asked.

"I almost didn't realize that because they've been talking about player safety so much," Sherman responded. "It's like two games in five days doesn't seem like you care about player safety. It's a little bit much for me."

Red Sox introduce new signings Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 4:34pm

BOSTON (AP) Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez spent the last two seasons as NL West rivals. Now they're teammates in Boston, the result of a $183 million spending spree the Red Sox are hoping will lift them out of the AL East cellar.

"It's exciting for me to be with Hanley and David Ortiz," Sandoval said Tuesday at Fenway Park after finishing up a five-year, $95 million contract that adds him to a lineup he called "The Three Amigos."

About five hours later, the Red Sox completed their day-night news conference doubleheader by announcing Ramirez's four-year deal, which is worth $88 million. A former Red Sox prospect, Ramirez was traded to the Marlins nine Thanksgivings ago in a deal that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to Boston.

"Why not go back where you belong?" Ramirez said. "It worked out for the both of us: You guys won a couple of world championships. I haven't won any, but that's what I'm here for."

Sandoval helped the Giants win three titles, earning the World Series MVP in 2012 and the nickname "Kung Fu Panda" that helped cement him as a fan favorite. He thanked the Giants for bringing him up as a big leaguer and Giants' fans for their support.

"I want a new challenge. I need a new challenge," he said at his afternoon news conference. "I know that I had a great career in San Francisco. But I'm going to have a new one here."

Sandoval helps fill a hole in the Red Sox lineup for a third baseman and a left-handed bat. Ramirez, who played shortstop and a little third base with the Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, is expected to move to left field.

"You're always trying to get a sense of where they might fit in," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We're not even at Thanksgiving yet. The potential for some other additions might exist."

Sandoval's deal includes a team option for 2020 and Ramirez's contract has a vesting option for 2019.

A 28-year-old Venezuelan listed at 5-foot-11 and 248 pounds, Sandoval was seen as a potential replacement at designated hitter when Ortiz retires. But Sandoval said he plans to manage his weight so he can remain in the field.

Both players praised Ortiz, and Ramirez also said Dustin Pedroia helped recruit him to Boston.

"He said, `I've got two rings. You don't have any. I want some more,"' Ramirez said. "That kind of thing pumps you up."

Sandoval said Ortiz gave him advice when he was in the minor leagues that he has carried with him. Having a chance to play with Ortiz, who was the Series MVP in 2013, was a factor that attracted him to Boston.

"To be Papi's teammate - 162 games, all that with him - for me, it's going to be a very exciting time," said Sandoval, who had dinner with Ramirez on Monday night. Ramirez agreed, saying Ortiz was "like a big brother to me."

Sandoval is a career .294 hitter who had 16 homers and 73 RBIs in the regular season this year and then hit .366 in the postseason while helping the Giants win their third World Series in five years.

"He really embodies a lot of what we care about," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "He's been a big winner. He's been a performer when it counts the most. He's respected as a teammate, loves to play. We think he fits what we're all about here. We're excited to have him."

A 30-year-old infielder who has never played the outfield in 1,634 professional games, Ramirez batted .300 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs for Los Angeles this year. Cherington, who watched Ramirez learn to play shortstop in the minors, said he is confident Ramirez can take on a new position.

For now, the Red Sox are overloaded with outfielders and short on pitchers, having acquired Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes at the July trade deadline while shipping off four-fifths of the rotation.

"We've got a ways to go in the offseason," Farrell said.

To clear the roster spots, the Red Sox designated first baseman-catcher Ryan Lavarnway and infielder Juan Francisco for assignment.

Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz on Hall of Fame ballot

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 6:19pm

NEW YORK (AP) Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are among 17 newcomers on baseball's 2015 Hall of Fame ballot.

Craig Biggio, who fell two votes short of the 75 percent needed in the 2014 balloting, tops 17 holdovers on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot announced Monday. That group includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines.

Johnson went 303-166 and won five Cy Young Awards. The Big Unit struck out 4,875 batters, second only to Nolan Ryan's 5,714.

Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner, was 219-100 and struck out 3,154. He led the major leagues in ERA five times.

Smoltz is vying to join former Atlanta teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were inducted this year along with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. Smoltz had a 213-155 record and 154 saves, the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves. He was 15-4 in the postseason.

Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Sheffield and players' association head Tony Clark also are among the first-time eligibles.

Don Mattingly will appear on the ballot for the 15th and final time after receiving 8 percent last year. The Hall's board voted in July to cut a player's eligibility from 15 years to 10 but grandfathered players in the 11-15 group, which also includes Alan Trammell (14th year) and Lee Smith (13th).

Players who have admitted steroids use or been tainted with accusations of use have fallen short.

McGwire, entering his next-to-last year of eligibility, received 11 percent last year, down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, dropped from 38 percent to 35 percent in his second ballot appearance. Bonds, a seven-time MVP and baseball's career home run leader, fell from 36 percent to 35. Sosa, who hit 609 homers, dropped from 13 percent to 7 and is close to falling below the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot.

Voters are the approximately 600 writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 27. Results will be announced Jan. 6.

Players elected, along with choices announced Dec. 8 by the golden era committee (1947-72), will be inducted July 26 at Cooperstown.

Red Sox spend on Sandoval, Ramirez to shake cellar

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 5:00pm

BOSTON (AP) The Red Sox are hoping to spend their way out of the AL East cellar with two big free agent signings.

The first team in major league history to go from worst to first and back again has agreed to terms third baseman Pablo Sandoval, his agent confirmed Monday night. According to a baseball official with knowledge of the deal, Boston also agreed to a deal with Hanley Ramirez, who came up to the major leagues with the Red Sox.

The official confirmed both agreements on the condition of anonymity because the players hadn't passed physicals. The Ramirez deal was expected to be finalized Tuesday.

The moves give the Red Sox a potent batting order that includes two of the last three World Series MVPs, Sandoval and David Ortiz. But they still have to replace the four starting pitchers they traded last summer.

Sandoval, 28, is a career .294 hitter who had 16 homers and 73 RBIs in the regular season this year and then hit .366 in the postseason while helping the Giants win their third World Series in five years. With his everyman body type and colorful nickname - Kung Fu Panda - the switch hitter was a fan favorite in the Bay Area.

"He has been with us through some of the greatest moments in San Francisco Giants history - including all three World Series championships," the Giants said in a statement. "We will never forget his World Series MVP performance in 2012 and his numerous contributions to the 2014 championship. His connection with Giants fans - young and old - is truly special, and he will be greatly missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston."

Ramirez came up in the Red Sox system and was still a prospect when he was traded to the Florida Marlins in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and future World Series MVP Mike Lowell to Boston. The 30-year-old shortstop batted .300 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs for Los Angeles this year.

Boston already seems set at shortstop with 22-year-old Xander Bogaerts, and with Sandoval at third they are expected to move Ramirez to left field. He has never played outfield in the majors.

The moves give the Red Sox a surplus of outfielders, with Ramirez potentially joining Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr. Allen Craig, Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava. They are expected to shop some of the extras for pitching, which they have been lacking since dealing Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubrount near the July 31 deadline for trades without waivers.

Boston will not forfeit the No. 7 overall pick in June's amateur draft but will give up the second and third selections.

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AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley and AP Sports Writer Eric Nunez contributed to this report.

Browns QB Manziel involved in hotel scuffle

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 5:00pm

CLEVELAND (AP) A Browns fan who says he wanted to give Johnny Manziel "a hug" was struck by the rookie quarterback's entourage at a downtown hotel and was left with a swollen eye and lip, police said.

Police were called to The Metropolitan at The 9, where Manziel has a luxury apartment, after a fight broke out at 2:25 a.m. Saturday.

According to a police report, Chris Gonos told police he was assaulted by "Johnny Football and his entourage." The 33-year-old fan said he and his girlfriend approached Manziel while waiting for an elevator and he told the popular first-round draft pick: "I'm the biggest Browns fan ever. I love you. I want to give you a hug."

Gonos said he took one step toward Manziel and was punched by a man listed on the report as Dana Kirk. Gonos contends he was struck several times in the face and "pushed and attacked" by a group of unidentified men who were with Manziel. Kirk said Gonos tried to assault Manziel, and he defended the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.

Gonos sustained a swollen lip and right eye, the report said. No arrests were made. The report also said the hotel manager said cameras located near the elevators may have captured video of the dispute.

Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement the team is gathering more information to understand what happened.

"Nonetheless, the time of the incident is concerning to us. We continually stress to all of our players the importance of sound decision making in an effort to avoid putting themselves in these types of situations," Farmer said. "We have addressed this appropriately with the player and will have no further comment at this time."

Browns coach Mike Pettine said he has spoken with Manziel about the incident and that QB did not break any team rules. Pettine would not divulge any details of his meeting with Manziel.

"It was a conversation between a coach and a player," said Pettine, who added he had not seen video of the altercation.

Manziel, who has been on the field for only a handful of plays this season, traveled with the Browns for their Sunday game in Atlanta.

His late hours and social life became an issue during the offseason when he was photographed at various nightclubs.

Manziel has spent his first season in the NFL backing up starter Brian Hoyer, who has pushed the Browns (7-4) into playoff contention. Hoyer threw three interceptions on Sunday but rallied Cleveland to a last-second, 26-24 win over the Falcons.

Pettine said the Browns coaching staff did not consider switching to Manziel during the game.

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

Taylor apologizes, won't appeal NBA suspension

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 1:31pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) An apologetic Jeffery Taylor said he will not appeal the NBA's 24-game suspension following his guilty plea on domestic violence charges.

The Hornets forward addressed the media on Monday and said he takes "full responsibility" for his actions and deemed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's punishment "appropriate."

Taylor apologized to the Hornets organization, his teammates and the woman whom he assaulted at the hotel in East Lansing, Michigan in September. Taylor said he has met with general manager Rich Cho and addressed his teammates, but has not yet spoken to owner Michael Jordan.

The 25-year-old Taylor said he's "genuinely sorry for everything that happened."

The NBA Players Association last week called the suspension "excessive" and said it would support an appeal by Taylor.

Taylor chose not to appeal the suspension, which will cost him nearly $200,000 of his $915,000 salary this season.

"My actions were wrong and I don't care to appeal a decision that was based off my actions being wrong," Taylor said. "So I respect the league's decision on the suspension and I will take all of the necessary steps to make sure nothing like that ever happens again."

Taylor apologized repeatedly to the victim, but would not say if they are still romantically involved.

"There's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't regret what happened and wish I could go back and change everything and make one better decision," Taylor said.

Silver sent a stern message on the league's lack of tolerance for domestic violence last Wednesday when he suspended Taylor without pay for 24 games after Taylor pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property.

Taylor is eligible to return to action Dec. 17 against Phoenix.

"While the suspension is significantly longer than prior suspensions for incidents of domestic violence by NBA players, it is appropriate in light of Mr. Taylor's conduct, the need to deter similar conduct going forward, and the evolving social consensus - with which we fully concur - that professional sports leagues like the NBA must respond to such incidents in a more rigorous way," Silver said in a release last week.

The NBA conducted an investigation into Taylor's arrest following an altercation with a woman with whom he was having a romantic relationship.

Taylor and the woman were drinking heavily at a hotel room and a loud argument ensued, prompting guests to call security, the league's statement outlined. The argument escalated and Taylor shoved the woman in a violent manner into the hallway where she fell to the ground and struck her head on an opposite door.

The statement also said Taylor slapped her arm and punched a hole in the wall near his hotel room. The woman had marks on her upper arm and a bump on her head but declined medical treatment, the report said.

Silver ordered Taylor to enter an outpatient alcohol treatment program and perform alcohol sensor tests daily for 60 days. After that, he is subject to random testing by the probation department. He must also perform 80 hours of community service.

Taylor said he didn't want to discuss the incidents of that morning or what was released in the commissioner's report.

He said he has already begun counseling and that alcohol is "something I need to remove from my life."

Domestic violence has been at the forefront of the national sports scene this year, ever since Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiance in a hotel elevator. Taylor refused to blame the media focus on domestic violence as a reason for the severe punishment.

"I think it is appropriate and I respect the commissioner's decision," Taylor said.

A former second-round pick out of Vanderbilt, Taylor spent the last two seasons vying for playing time with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist before tearing his Achilles last year. He has averaged 6.6 points and 2.0 rebounds for his career.

As for how the suspension - and the negative publicity that comes with it - will affect his career, Taylor said that is not his primary concern.

"The basketball part will work itself out," Taylor said. "I'm more concerned with the person involved and making sure that she was OK and making sure my family was OK and working out the legal process. Basketball, at the end of the day, was not the most important part."

Longtime NHL coach, executive Pat Quinn dies at 71

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:59am

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Pat Quinn, a former defenseman and longtime NHL coach and executive who brought a gruff and passionate presence to hockey across the decades, has died at 71.

He died Sunday night in Vancouver after a long illness, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants said Monday. Quinn was co-owner of the team.

Quinn played parts of nine seasons in the NHL and went on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Quinn guided Canada to the championship at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the country's first gold medal in men's hockey in 50 years. He was behind the bench when Canada won the World Cup of Hockey in 2004.

"Pat Quinn was a giant of the hockey world, on the ice and off," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Twitter.

Quinn coached Vancouver to the 1994 Stanley Cup final, the Canadian world junior team to gold in 2009 and helped the Maple Leafs reach the Eastern Conference finals two times.

"Whether he was playing for a team, coaching a team or building one, Pat Quinn was thoughtful, passionate and committed to success," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"Pat's contributions to hockey, at every level, reflected the skills he possessed and the great respect with which he treated the sport."

Broadcaster and executive John Davidson described Quinn as "a guy that loves the game so much that when he walks in, you know hockey's in the room."

Quinn led the Philadelphia Flyers to a 35-game unbeaten streak in the 1979-80 season that almost certainly will never be broken since ties have been taken out of the game. In 15 full seasons as an NHL coach, Quinn's teams missed the playoffs only three times. That success came over the span of decades, as a coach and executive.

"He's not unlike a Scotty Bowman in that they're really bright guys," said former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee, who worked under him in Vancouver and made his son Graham's middle name Quinn in tribute.

"They were really intelligent and they could see the trends, they could see the fads, the things that were going to come and go and the things that would stay. Very perceptive and he adjusted and advanced."

Quinn was admired by those close to him for having a heart to match his 6-foot-3, 200-plus-pound frame.

"He's a real guy's guy. He's a man's man," Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. "He's just a straight shooter and called it like it is."

Quinn was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on Jan. 29, 1943. He bounced around the minors before making his NHL debut with the Leafs in 1968. In the 1969 playoffs, his blindside hit on Bobby Orr knocked out the legendary defenseman.

Quinn also played for the Canucks and Atlanta Flames before retiring in 1977 with an ankle injury. Almost immediately, he went into coaching and was an assistant on Fred Shero's staff in Philadelphia. During the 1978-79 season, he replaced Bob McCammon as the Flyers' coach.

"Pat brought a complete change to the game that we had made so successful under Shero," said Bobby Clarke, a Hall of Fame player for the Flyers, later their GM and now the team's senior vice president. "You trusted what he was trying to implement with our team."

Quinn became the coach of the Los Angeles Kings after his dismissal in Philadelphia. He left Los Angeles to take the job of president and GM in Vancouver.

He returned to coaching during the 1990-91 season and won his second coach of the year title with the Canucks the next season when they went 42-26-12.

Perhaps his most memorable accomplishment came when the Canucks, seeded seventh in the Western Conference, beat Calgary, Dallas and Toronto to reach the Stanley Cup final in the 1993-94 season.

The Canucks made it to Game 7 before losing to the New York Rangers.

Quinn went back to the front office in Vancouver, where he remained until he was fired by new ownership in 1997. Quinn returned to coaching in 1998 when he was hired by the Maple Leafs. Toronto went to the Eastern Conference final in his first season in 1998-99 and again in 2002. During the 2002 East final, Quinn missed two games with heart problems.

"He allowed himself to get overweight, he smoked the cigars and loved to socialize," Clarke said.

The Leafs made the playoffs in Quinn's first five seasons, which included a stint as president and GM.

He "had a presence in the dressing room that demanded respect and had a way of talking and getting the guys ready for each game that really got the best out of the teams that he coached," longtime Leafs captain Mats Sundin said.

Quinn was fired after the Leafs missed the playoffs in the first season after the 2004-05 lockout and the first one in the NHL played under a salary cap. After three years away, he coached the Edmonton Oilers for one season in 2009-10.

Quinn most recently spent time as chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"He was obviously very, very competitive when he coached and when he played and when he managed," said Davidson, president of the Columbus Blue Jackets and chairman of the Hall of Fame's selection committee. "But he's a guy that obviously wants to be around the game."

McPhee spoke of the impact Quinn left on people.

"Pat was one of the most phenomenal human beings I've ever known," he said. "A lot of us feel really, really lucky that we got to work for him."

LeBron on Cavaliers' issues: "I stink"

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:50am

CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling, and then some. LeBron James believes he's a major reason for their early failures.

"We got a four-game losing streak, so I stink," he said. "I'm not doing my job."

With the Cavs at 5-7, playing uninspired and not close to living up to enormous expectations, James offered the blunt critique of his own game Monday at the team's shootaround as they prepared to host the Orlando Magic.

After a day spent with family and watching football, James, who called the Cavs "fragile" following Saturday night's loss to the Toronto Raptors, said he has to do a better job leading the way. He's staying positive, cognizant that if he isn't upbeat his teammates will follow his example.

"Me being the leader of the team, if I start hanging my head low then it's going to start going to everyone else," he said. "They look up to me. They look to me to make a difference and I've got to stay positive even through the rough times. As I've said before, this is not the darkest point that we'll see this year. I've seen dark and this is very light to me."

Cleveland, picked by many to win the NBA title in James' homecoming season, went 0-4 last week with losses to Denver, San Antonio, Washington and Toronto. James wasn't himself, averaging just 18 points per game, committing a turnover in the closing seconds of the loss to the Spurs and inexplicably not hustling back on defense in the loss to the Wizards. He's made uncharacteristically foolish passes and shown frustration with his body language.

James has tried to send messages to his teammates during interview sessions.

After the loss to Toronto, he cautioned that the Cavs' problems would probably grow worse before they got better, a forecast that chilled some Cleveland fans already dealing with the onset of an early winter.

On Monday, James said the Cavs' tough times could linger.

"This is not the biggest adversity point that we'll hit," he said. "Do I think we're going to get to the finals? I don't know. I don't know what the future holds, but from my perspective it's not as bad as it may seem."

James' reference point for "dark" times is different from any of his teammates. He often sites the 2011 NBA Finals, when he and the Miami Heat squandered a 2-1 lead and lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks, as the low point of his career.

The collapse haunts James.

"It's still here with me," he said. "I think about it every day. Every day at some point something that happened in that series pops in my head."

When he was in Miami, James had All-Star Dwyane Wade, a former NBA champion, to help him lead. He doesn't have that luxury in Cleveland. While Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are elite players, neither have been through the grind of a championship season.

He's going it alone, and to this point the load has been heavy for James.

"It's a different feeling," he said. "But something I was ready for. I knew it would be the biggest challenge of my career thus far, and I accept the challenge. When we lose I take full responsibility and when we win the team wins, that's what it's all about."

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.

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