Pierce, Garnett help Nets beat Rivers' Clippers
NEW YORK (AP) - Andray Blatche and Joe Johnson each scored 21 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, making Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett winners in their first matchup with Doc Rivers.
Brook Lopez had 16 points and Deron Williams 15 for the Nets, who won their season-high third straight. Pierce scored 10 points off the bench in his second game back from a broken hand.
Chris Paul scored 20 points but had just two assists as the Clippers lost for the first time in nine games this season when he reaches 20.
Pierce and Garnett went 2-0 in a reunion tour of ex-Celtics this week. They helped the Nets beat Boston here Tuesday.
Columbus scores 3 in 1st, top Rangers
NEW YORK (AP) - Matt Calvert, Artem Anisimov and David Savard scored in the first 11:10 and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Rangers 4-2 on Thursday night, sending New York to its fourth straight loss.
The Rangers, 0-3-1 on its nine-game homestand, closed within 3-2 in the third period, but Ryan Johansen pushed Columbus' lead back to two goals with 1:32 left.
The Blue Jackets goalie tandem of Curtis McElhinney and Mike McKenna, who are subbing for injured reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped 32 of 34 shots.
Columbus (14-15-3) has won two in a row.
Dominic Moore and Dan Girardi scored for New York. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after he stopped only 10 of 13 shots in the first period.
Cam Talbot relieved and made 13 saves the rest of the way, allowing only Johansen's goal between his pads.
Klinkhammer leads Coyotes past Islanders 6-3
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Rob Klinkhammer had two goals and an assist, Mikkel Boedker scored two of Phoenix's four second-period goals, and the Coyotes beat the road-weary New York Islanders 6-3 on Thursday night to avenge their worst loss of the season.
Two months after a 6-1 road defeat to the Islanders, Phoenix also got goals from Keith Yandle and Mike Ribeiro to snap a three-game home losing streak.
John Tavares netted his 13th goal, and Eric Boulton and Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders, who ended a five-game trip with their 11th loss in 12 games.
Mike Smith made 21 saves for Phoenix after missing Tuesday's win in Colorado due to illness. But he got plenty of help as the Coyotes took advantage of the Islanders' continued defensive woes.
Two nights after making 46 saves in a victory over San Jose, Kevin Poulin allowed all six goals on 36 shots.
Anderson makes 40 saves, Senators top Sabres 2-1
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) - Craig Anderson stopped 40 shots in the Ottawa Senators' 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith scored for the Senators (13-14-6), who have earned at least a point in four straight games.
Tyler Ennis scored the lone goal for the Sabres (7-23-2), and Ryan Miller made 30 saves.
This was the second of back-to-back games between the teams. Buffalo earned a 2-1 shootout victory on Tuesday.
Anderson was solid in the third with the Senators holding a 2-1 lead. He made a big early save on Mark Pysyk, and another on Drew Stafford late to preserve the lead. He was called upon yet again in the final two minutes after Milan Michalek took a holding penalty.
Knicks' Felton out 2-3 weeks, Shumpert day to day
NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Knicks say point guard Raymond Felton is expected to miss two to three weeks with a strained left hamstring.
Iman Shumpert, the other starting guard, is listed as day to day with a bruised left knee.
Felton has been bothered by the hamstring for much of the season and the Knicks finally decided to shut him down Wednesday. He had an MRI exam Thursday to confirm the injury.
Shumpert was hurt during the Knicks' 83-78 victory over Chicago on Wednesday when he banged knees during a collision on the court.
Jets' Holmes: Panthers secondary is 'weakest link'
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes might have provided the Carolina Panthers with some bulletin board material.
Holmes was answering a question Thursday about the Panthers' impressive defense, ranked No. 2 in the NFL, when he mentioned the defensive backs. "Not to call these guys out," Holmes couched it, "but their secondary is probably their weakest link on their defense."
That might not be taken too kindly by the Panthers' starting foursome of cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Melvin White and safeties Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell. Carolina actually ranks fifth in pass defense, and the Panthers are tied for fifth in the league with 16 interceptions.
Holmes says his comment was based "just from the numbers perspective." When told of Holmes' comments, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg deadpanned: "I love Santonio."
Jets' Cromartie feels better, hopes to play
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie says his concussion symptoms have dissipated and he hopes to play against the Panthers at Carolina on Sunday.
Cromartie was injured last Sunday when he collided with teammate Ed Reed in the third quarter while defending a pass to Oakland's Rod Streater, who turned it into a 48-yard score.
Cromartie was limited at practice Thursday while wearing a red no-contact jersey after sitting out Wednesday. He's still going through the NFL's protocol on treating head injuries, and coach Rex Ryan says Cromartie's availability could come down to a game-time decision.
The cornerback passed a general medical exam on the sideline after the play and returned to the game. He said he began to have headaches with about five minutes left.
Bills unhappy facing too many rested opponents
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - The Bills aren't impressed with the NFL schedule maker, who is being blamed for providing Buffalo's opponents too many extended breaks.
The Bills' slate this season has them facing a league-high six teams coming off either bye weeks or nine-day layoffs. That includes Buffalo's opponent on Sunday: Jacksonville (4-9) has been off since Dec. 5.
Coach Doug Marrone has called that a disadvantage, and team president Russ Brandon has expressed his concerns to the NFL.
The Bills (4-9) are 2-3 this season in games against teams enjoying extended rests.
The overall NFL results, however, have been mixed since 2012, when the league required each of its 32 teams play on Thursday.
Since then, teams facing rested opponents have gone a combined 62-64-2, according to STATS.
New York Red Bulls re-sign F Andre Akpan
HARRISON, N.J. (AP) - The New York Red Bulls have re-signed forward Andre Akpan.
The Major League Soccer team announced the deal Thursday without releasing details.
Akpan played in seven games last season and had two assists. He was acquired from the Colorado Rapids in March for a conditional 2015 MLS Draft pick.
Akpan was drafted by Colorado in 2010 out of Harvard, where he was the Ivy League player of the year. He was a member of the Rapids' MLS Cup squad that season and finished his 2012 campaign with a career-high three goals and 15 appearances.
Uno Duo wins Big A's Fickle Fanny Stakes
NEW YORK (AP) - Uno Duo easily won the $95,000 Fickle Fanny Stakes as the even-money favorite Thursday at Aqueduct.
The gray 3-year-old trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado pulled clear in the stretch for a 3½- length victory. Lady Gracenote and Carameaway finished in a dead heat for second.
Uno Duo ran six furlongs in 1:12.99 for her third win in seven starts. She paid $4 and $2.20 in the stakes for fillies and mares. Lady Gracenote paid $2.10, and Carameaway returned $3.
There was no show wagering on the four-horse field.
While Uno Duo prevailed as the public choice, long-shot players rejoiced when Front Cover captured the sixth race for maidens at 99-1. She paid $200 to win as jockey Men Chen won for the first time since 2009.
Preakness purse rises to $1.5 million next year
BALTIMORE (AP) - The Preakness Stakes will be worth $1.5 million next year, the first purse increase for the second leg of the Triple Crown since 1998.
The Maryland Jockey Club on Thursday announced the $500,000 increase for the May 17 race at Pimlico. The purse was last boosted 15 years ago to $1 million. The Preakness was worth $1,000 when first run in 1873.
The Kentucky Derby has a purse of $2 million. The Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown, is worth $1 million.
Maryland Racing Commission chairman Bruce Quade says the increase is another step in bolstering horse racing in the state.
Brickman sets record, LIU Brooklyn over NJIT 96-93
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jason Brickman broke the Northeast Conference career assists record on Thursday night and led LIU Brooklyn over NJIT 96-93.
Brickman broke the record with his 805th career assist - a dish to Troy Joseph with 13:39 remaining in the game. Marist's Drafton Davis had held the record since 1988.
Brickman finished with six assists and career highs of 21 points and five 3-pointers.
Iverson Fleming led LIU Brooklyn (3-6) with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. NJIT (6-6) pulled to within 94-93 with 5 seconds to go, but Fleming made both free throws with 1.7 seconds left and LIU Brooklyn made 11 of 12 free throws in the final 1:30.
LIU Brooklyn led 67-50, but NJIT scored 43 points in the final 7:00 to nearly pull off an improbable comeback. NJIT shot 15 of 19 from the field over that span.
Winfield Willis led NJIT with 30 points.
Army's Raymond Maples ready to cheer teammates
(AP) - Army running back Raymond Maples will watch from the sidelines when the Black Knights meet archrival Navy on Saturday in Philadelphia.
The senior star has been sidelined with a leg injury since the third game of the season, and the Black Knights sure could use him. Navy has won 11 straight in the storied series.
Army coach Rich Ellerson already has dusted off film of the 1964 game to demonstrate anything is possible. Despite a losing record for the first time in 13 years, those Black Knights beat Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach and the Middies 11-8 behind the heroics of Rollie Stichweh and John Seymour.
Maples was seeking to join Mike Mayweather as the only players in academy history to post three 1,000-yard seasons.
Antoine among US sliders to watch in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) - Matt Antoine's skeleton career nearly ended before it started. Coaches took one look at him on a sled, thanked him for his interest and politely sent him home.
That was a decade or so ago.
Fortunately for all parties involved, he wasn't deterred.
He came back a year later and his stock has risen ever since. Currently tied for third in the World Cup men's skeleton standings, Antoine figures to have a strong medal chance Friday when the circuit races in Lake Placid.
The U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams are coming off a 10-medal weekend in Park City, Utah. The Americans may make another big medal haul on their other "home" ice this weekend.
Women's skeleton, men's skeleton and 2-man bobsled are on the World Cup schedule for Friday.
Halem promoted to executive vice president by MLB
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Dan Halem has been promoted to executive vice president of labor relations for Major League Baseball.
The 47-year-old had been senior vice president and general counsel for labor since September 2007. He came to the commissioner's office from the law firm Proskauer, where he represented MLB along with the NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL and the New York Jets.
Halem, whose promotion was announced Thursday, is a 1988 graduate of Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School.
He is among six EVPs under Commissioner Bud Selig and Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred. Halem joins Tim Brosnan (business), Jonathan Mariner (chief financial officer), John McHale Jr. (administration and chief information officer), Frank Robinson (baseball development) and Joe Torre (baseball operations).
SUPER BOWL 2014-TOP TURF
NFL's turf gurus gird for historic Super Bowl
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Perhaps the only people connected to February's Super Bowl who aren't worried about the weather are the NFL's groundskeeping staff.
That's because they're used to dealing with the elements - and improvising when they have to.
They'll be preparing MetLife Stadium for the NFL's first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl on February 2.
The NFL's Ed Mangan (MANG'-uhn) has worked at more than 20 Super Bowls. He recalled one Super Bowl where damage to some sod at midfield the night before the game forced crews to replace it with sod from a local high school.
If it snows on game day, Mangan says he's got high-tech blowers and heaters - as well as regular brooms and shovels - ready to deploy.
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