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  • Blues beat Blackhawks 4-3 in OT, take 2-0 lead

    ST. LOUIS (AP) Defenseman Barret Jackman scored on a drive through traffic, giving the St. Louis Blues their second straight 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday for a 2-0 series lead against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

    St. Louis rallied after Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook received a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for a vicious elbow to the head on Blues captain David Backes, who had to be helped off the ice, went straight to the locker room and did not return for overtime.

    Vladimir Tarasenko forced overtime with his second goal of the series, beating Corey Crawford with a wrist shot that banged off the right post and in with 6.4 seconds to go. Kevin Shattenkirk had a goal and two assists for the Blues.



  • Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jeff Teague scored a playoff career-high 28 points and Paul Millsap added 25 as eighth-seeded Atlanta rolled past top-seeded Indiana 101-93 on Saturday night, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

    The Hawks ended an eight-game road losing streak in the playoffs, which dated to May 2011. Game 2 is Tuesday in Indianapolis.

    Indiana, which spent the whole season working to get home-court advantage in the playoffs, wasted no time in giving it right back with a dismal third quarter. Paul George finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

    Atlanta opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run, breaking a 50-50 tie, then pulled away when Teague scored nine points in a 14-0 run that made it 74-58 with 4:08 left in the quarter. Indiana couldn't get closer than eight the rest of the way.

    It was a fitting twist to open the best-of-seven series.

    Indiana played fast and energetic in the first half, playing more like the team that was so good over the first half of the season. Then in the second half, the Pacers reverted to their recent script of being unable to make shots and get defensive stops when they needed them most. The Pacers were just 5-of-19 from the field in the third quarter and were 15-of-41 in the second half.

    Atlanta took advantage of those struggles, becoming the first team to beat the Pacers on their home court twice this season and stealing the win they needed. It was the first time the Hawks won a postseason road game since the first game of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals at Chicago.

    Nobody was better than Teague, who repeatedly blew through open lanes because the Pacers' defense was spread out by the Hawks' 3-point shooters.

    Teague was 9-of-19 from the field with five assists and three rebounds. Millsap had eight rebounds.

    With 30 3-point attempts, the Hawks broke their franchise playoff record for 3-point attempts with 30, and the 11 3s they made tied the second-highest playoff total in franchise history. Both records were set in a 26-point loss to Orlando on May 10, 1996, when Atlanta went 12-of-27 from beyond the arc.

    They didn't have any trouble pulling out a win with those totals Saturday.

    An Indiana turnover in the closing seconds of the first half allowed Atlanta to tie it at 50 on a buzzer-beating putback, and it was all Atlanta after that.

    The Hawks quickly jumped to a 58-50 lead early in the third, and when the Pacers rallied to get within 60-58, Teague and Millsap took over.

    Millsap opened the decisive run with two free throws. Teague followed that with a driving layup, his only 3 of the game, another layup and two free throws. And when Millsap closed the run with a three-point play, the Pacers trailed 74-58.

    They didn't get within single digits again until Lance Stephenson's 3 with 33.6 seconds left made it 99-91. But Atlanta closed it out at the free-throw line.



  • Blue Jackets edge Penguins 4-3 in double overtime

    PITTSBURGH (AP) Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

    Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    Game 3 is Monday in Columbus.

    Jack Johnson tied the game with 6:01 left in regulation for the Blue Jackets. Ryan Johansen also scored the first playoff goal of his career for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky overcame a shaky start to finish with 39 saves.

    Brian Gibbons scored twice and Matt Niskanen added his second goal of the playoffs but Pittsburgh was outplayed for much of the final three-plus periods. Fleury made 41 stops but was helpless on the game-winner.

    The Penguins have dropped four straight home overtime playoff games and blew a chance to take a 2-0 series lead when they failed to bury the Blue Jackets early on.

    Instead, Columbus weathered an opening storm and recovered to collect the team's first playoff victory since the expansion team made its debut on Oct. 7, 2000 - 4,493 days ago.

    The Blue Jackets were the better team for long stretches and kept Pittsburgh's high-powered special teams in check. The Penguins went just 1 for 8 on the power play.

    Both teams traded quality chances in the first overtime period. Bobrovsky made an excellent blocker save on Sidney Crosby racing down the right wing. Fleury stuffed R.J. Umberger from point blank range earlier in the period.

    There was no back-and-forth in the second extra session. Brandon Dubinsky started the winning play by jabbing the puck at Fleury and Pittsburgh's defense offered little resistance until the puck was on Calvert's stick for the winner.

    The Penguins knew they couldn't afford a repeat of the first 21 minutes of Game 1, when the Blue Jackets knocked them around while streaking to a two-goal lead. Though Pittsburgh rallied to escape, the Penguins knew they were fortunate against a team making just its second playoff appearance in franchise history.

    This time, Pittsburgh's start wasn't the problem. It was everything else.

    Gibbons scored the first two playoff goals of his career 54 seconds apart - including a nifty short-handed breakaway in which he undressed Bobrovsky - to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead before the game was 5 minutes old. The giddiness didn't last long, for the Penguins or Gibbons.

    Johansen scored before the power play expired and Gibbons, elevated to Pittsburgh's top line midway through Game 1, did not return after colliding with Johansen midway through the first period. While a Niskanen shot from the point with 2:08 left in the first restored Pittsburgh's two-goal edge, it only seemed to galvanize the Blue Jackets.

    Pittsburgh appeared primed to push the lead to three when Columbus forward Blake Comeau gift-wrapped a power play for the Penguins by tackling defenseman Paul Martin right in front of the referee a good 50 feet behind the play.

    Instead, it brought Columbus to life. Some lethargic Pittsburgh passing set up a 3-on-1 short-handed breakaway for the Blue Jackets, with Calvert beating Fleury to bring Columbus within one. The disjointed effort by the Penguins deflated the bench and the building. Only stellar play by Fleury over the final 10 minutes of the second period kept Pittsburgh in front.

    The wave carried over into the third, with Columbus eventually drawing even on Johnson's power-play goal with 6 minutes to go.

    NOTES: The Blue Jackets scratched forward Nick Foligno once again with a lower body injury but Foligno is optimistic he'll be able to return for Game 3. Foligno skated on Friday and believed he was close but was not cleared by team doctors. ... Crosby's two assists moved him into third on the team's career postseason scoring list. He now has 108 postseason points, trailing Jaromir Jagr (147) and Mario Lemieux (172). ... Columbus D Fedor Tyutin missed the third period and overtime due to an undisclosed injury.



  • Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

    TORONTO (AP) Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 24 points, Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 94-87 Saturday in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.

    Shaun Livingston scored 10 points and Kevin Garnett had five as the Nets won despite making 4 of 24 3-pointers.

    Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Raptors.

    Valanciunas is the second Raptors player to have a double double in his postseason debut. Tracy McGrady had 25 points and 10 rebounds against New York in his first playoff game in 2000.

    Valanciunas also set a Raptors record for playoff rebounds by surpassing Keon Clark, who had 16 against Detroit in 2002.



  • Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-86 on Saturday night in the opening game of their first-round series.

    Russell Westbrook had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who nearly squandered a 25-point lead but recovered from a dismal third quarter to make 10 of 16 shots in the fourth.

    Zach Randolph led Memphis with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just seven of 21 shots and got into foul trouble in the second half. Mike Conley had 16 points and 11 assists, Mark Gasol scored 16 points and Tony Allen added 13 points for the Grizzlies. The Thunder held Memphis to 36 percent shooting.

    Oklahoma City was the only home team to win on the first day of the postseason.



  • Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

    LOS ANGELES (AP) Klay Thompson scored 22 points, David Lee added 20 and the Golden State Warriors got Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in foul trouble to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 on Saturday in their playoff opener.

    Stephen Curry added 14 points for the Warriors, who trailed by 11 points to start the game before rallying in the third when Griffin and Paul were on the bench together.

    Paul led the Clippers with 28 points, and J.J. Redick added 22 points in 30 minutes. Griffin finished with 16 points, fouling out with 48 seconds left and the game tied at 105. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 14 rebounds.



  • Harper pulled for not hustling, Nats fall to Cards

    WASHINGTON (AP) Bryce Harper hit the ball to the mound, jogged to first base and took a right turn to the dugout before getting halfway down the basepath.

    That would be his final play in the Washington Nationals' 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

    First-year manager Matt Williams will tolerate physical miscues, such as the error that provided St. Louis three unearned runs, but he won't take the nonchalance that the normally aggressive Harper displayed during his sixth-inning jog.

    "Lack of hustle. That's why he came out of the game," Williams said. "He and I made an agreement, this team made an agreement, that when we play the game, that we hustle at all times."

    Now in his third season, the 21-year-old Harper is one of Washington's brightest lights and already a two-time All-Star. The outfielder once ran into a wall in the relentless pursuit of a fly ball, but on this day Harper was left explaining his casual approach on a comebacker.

    "I respect what he did," Harper said of Williams' decision. "That's part of the game."

    Harper was replaced by Kevin Frandsen, who entered as Washington's left fielder in the seventh and assumed Harper's position as the second batter in the lineup.

    In the ninth inning, Frandsen came to the plate with runners on second and third with one out and Washington trailing 4-2. He drove in a run with a groundout before Jayson Werth struck out on three pitches against Trevor Rosenthal, who earned his fifth save.

    "Kevin Frandsen put on a nice `AB' against Rosenthal," Williams said, "but (Harper's) spot came up with the ability to win the game. And that's a shame for his teammates."

    Said Harper: "Man, that's tough to watch, not being able to be up there in that situation. It's something that I thrive on and I want to be in. You know, it's in the past and there's nothing we can do about it now."

    Williams said Harper would be back in the starting lineup Sunday for the series finale. Harper went 0 for 3 before being pulled and is batting .295.

    "People come pay money to watch him play the way he can play," Williams said. "And it's pretty exciting. It's pretty dynamic. But there's another side to it. And the other side is that regardless of how the ball comes off the bat or regardless of how he's feeling about an at-bat, he must maintain that intensity and that aggressiveness. And that means running all the way to first base and touching the base."

    Harper was scratched from a game Wednesday with a sore quadriceps, but Williams didn't view that as a reason to stop short of running 90 feet to first base.

    "Regardless of situation, regardless of what's happening to you personally, we have to play the game a certain way to give ourselves the best chance to win," the manager said. "And it's too bad that it came down to that situation in the ninth inning when he could've been at the plate. For the sake of his teammates and the sake of the organization, he needs to play with aggression and the way he plays."

    Lance Lynn (4-0) gave up one run and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in becoming the NL's first four-game winner. After the right-hander lost his control in the sixth, Kevin Siegrist retired Danny Espinosa on a two-out fly ball with the bases loaded.

    Tony Cruz drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who have won nine of the last 10 games between the teams.

    St. Louis took control with a three-run second inning fueled by third baseman Anthony Rendon's throwing error, capped by Lynn's RBI double. The Nationals, in their first season under former Gold Glove third baseman Williams, are averaging more than an error per game and lead the majors in miscues.

    "I feel like we made a mistake, a couple of minor mistakes that cost us, but we were in the game," Williams said.

    Espinosa homered for the Nationals, but he was the only player to get past first base against Lynn until the sixth.

    Jordan Zimmermann (1-1) allowed four runs, only one of them earned, in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two after coming in with a 0-3 with an 8.27 ERA in six career games against the Cardinals.

    St. Louis bolted in front for good in the second inning. After third baseman Anthony Rendon threw wide on a potential force play at second, Cruz sliced a two-out, two-run single to right field and scored on a double by Lynn. It was the pitcher's first extra-base hit in 115 career at-bats and his fourth RBI.

    NOTES: The game drew a sellout crowd of 41,084. ... The Nationals activated OF Denard Span from the 7-day disabled list and optioned OF Steve Souza Jr. to Triple-A Syracuse. Span started in the leadoff spot and got two hits. ... Stephen Strasburg (1-2) starts for Washington on Sunday against RHP Shelby Miller (1-2), who went 2-0 against the Nationals last year.



  • Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

    KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) Michelle Wie rallied from four strokes back entering the day to shoot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and win the LPGA LOTTE Championship.

    The 24-year-old American finished at 14-under 274 after coming into the final round trailing third-round leader Angela Stanford by four shots after Friday's play. It was Wie's third career victory on the LPGA Tour, and first since taking the CN Canadian Women's Open in 2010.

    Stanford had her worst round of the tournament, shooting a 1-over 73 that put her at 12-under 276 and two shots behind Wie. Top-ranked Inbee Park finished third with an 11-under 277.



  • Hopkins wins split decision over Shumenov

    WASHINGTON (AP) Bernard Hopkins made some more boxing history, and did it in rather easy fashion.

    Then, the 49-year-old boxer showed his age, referencing a TV character that might have gone over the heads of many young fans.

    "I was so in my living room watching Archie Bunker," Hopkins said, playfully comparing himself to the main character from the 1970's series "All in the Family."

    "I was so relaxed, so relaxed."

    Already the oldest boxer in history to hold a world championship, Hopkins became the oldest to win a unification bout Saturday night as he captured a split 12-round decision over Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan.

    Afterward, the Philadelphia native sounded far from finished - or satisfied.

    "The pound-for-pound best fighter in the world right now is Floyd `Money' Mayweather," Hopkins said. "I'll tell you, behind Andre Ward, who I believe is second and should be, I'm not that far from the top three. My age and the way I'm doing it.

    "I'm just telling you, I'm not done yet."

    Hopkins was in complete control Saturday and it was reflected in the statistics. Of the 608 punches thrown by Shumenov, only 20 percent landed. Of the 383 punches Hopkins threw, he landed 49 percent.

    "I didn't do that when I was 30," Hopkins joked. "He was really surprised the way I could stand there and let him miss."

    When the split decision was announced the pro-Hopkins crowd of 6,823 jeered its disapproval. Two judges scored the fight 116-111 for Hopkins. The other judge gave the nod to Shumenov 114-113.

    "I shut him out," Hopkins said.

    If there was any doubt about the outcome, it was removed in the 11th round when Hopkins rocked Shumenov with a chopping overhand right for the only knockdown of the fight, igniting chants of "B-Hop! B-Hop!" from the D.C. Armory crowd.

    It was a reminder for Hopkins of 20 years ago, when he fought for the first time in Washington, losing a decision to Roy Jones Jr. at RFK Stadium, right across the street from the venue where Saturday's fight took place.

    "It motivates me every time I come to D.C. The dressing rooms, it took me back," said Hopkins, who improved to 55-6-2.

    After a slow start, in which he fought defensively, Hopkins controlled the action, growing confident, aggressive and playful as the fight progressed.

    The fourth round saw Shumenov moving forward, but Hopkins landed the two best shots, both right-handed counterpunches, to secure the edge. In the fifth, Hopkins was doing more than counterpunching. A straight overhand right landed squarely to the cheek of Shumenov.

    By the sixth round, it was clear that Hopkins' confidence was growing as he became the aggressor, initiating the action and landing a big combination.

    In the seventh round, Hopkins was feeling so good that he alternated leading with his right and left hands, befuddling Shumenov, who fell to 14-2.

    "I'm kind of angry that I lost the fight," Shumenov said. "I am a true warrior."

    Hopkins-Shumenov was one of three world title fights on Saturday. In the first, Peter Quillin of Brooklyn, N.Y., retained his WBO middleweight belt and improved to 31-0 with a unanimous 12-round decision over Lukas Konecky of the Czech Republic.

    In the IBF welterweight title match, Shawn Porter of Cleveland also remained undefeated with a fourth-round knockout of Brooklyn's Paulie Malignaggi, who took time off from his job as an analyst for Showtime, which carried the night's action.



  • Grizzlies PG Nick Calathes suspended for 20 games

    Memphis Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes has been suspended for 20 games for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy.

    The league said Friday night in a release that Calathes tested positive for tamoxifen. The suspension begins Saturday night when the Grizzlies take on Oklahoma City in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

    Yahoo Sports was the first to report the suspension.

    Calathes, a 25-year-old rookie reserve, averaged 4.9 points and 2.9 assists in 71 games this season.



  • Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

    NEW YORK (AP) Even as the NBA prepares for a draft that could be headlined by freshmen, Commissioner Adam Silver remains committed to keeping them in college.

    So much so that NCAA President Mark Emmert was invited to discuss his involvement with owners.

    Silver is moving cautiously on potential changes to areas such as the lottery format and playoff structure, but makes it clear that raising the draft age limit to abolish the so-called "one and done" is one of his priorities.

    Freshmen Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Jabari Parker of Duke are expected to be top-five picks in June, but Silver believes teams are taking those players young because of the system in place, not because it's their preference.

    "The fact that our teams would draft these players if they were coming out of high school as they used to, or one year out of college, I think doesn't mean change isn't necessary," Silver said Friday.

    The age limit requiring American players to be 19 and a year out of high school was implemented in 2005, creating a system where players would simply go to college for a year and then declare for the draft. Silver and predecessor David Stern have long spoken about the desire to increase the limit to 20. But no change, which would have to be discussed with the union, was made during the last round of collective bargaining in 2011.

    The sides haven't been able to have much serious discussion since then. The union has been without an executive director since ousting Billy Hunter 14 months ago, but Silver's desire for change remains.

    "We're ready to go," Silver said. "We've been thinking about this issue for a long time."

    Silver said a change was unlikely for next season, and a transition period would be necessary whenever one was made. In the meantime, he wants the NCAA part of the discussion, so Emmert addressed owners during the two-day meetings.

    "One thing that we also agree on is that historically what you've heard is that the age issue is one that needs to be negotiated almost in isolation between the NBA and its union. What Dr. Emmert and I agree on is that the NCAA needs to have a seat at the table, as well, for those discussions," Silver said, "that if we are going to be successful in raising the age from 19 to 20, part and parcel of those negotiations go to the treatment of those players on college campuses, that closing the gap between what their scholarships cover and their other incidental expenses, having a longer discussion about eligibility periods so they can make the best decisions for them and their families if they do decide to come out early."

    Overseeing his first board meeting since replacing Stern in February, Silver seems open to considering anything to improve the league. Owners heard a discussion on ways to change the lottery system, which could be a way to erase the desire to "tank" - seeking a poor record to have the best chances at the No. 1 pick. Silver said there was also discussion about redesigning the playoff structure to qualify the top 16 teams, rather than the top eight in each conference. Phoenix, which finished ninth in the West with 48 wins, would've tied for third in the East.

    But Silver said those items should be discussed first at length by the competition committee.

    "For me, the league is doing so well right now, I just want to be very deliberate and cautious about any major changes like that," Silver said. "It doesn't mean that we shouldn't make changes."

    Silver also said owners weren't ready to vote on the potential sale of the Milwaukee Bucks yet, though that could happen soon once owners could review all the financial documents. Owner Herb Kohl reached agreement to sell the franchise to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million.



  • TNT's Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

    ATLANTA (AP) TNT analyst Craig Sager will miss the NBA playoffs as he undergoes treatment for leukemia.

    A sideline reporter famous for his brightly colored suits, Sager's sense of humor was intact in a statement released by Turner Sports on Friday.

    Sager describes the postseason as "my favorite time of year - city to city, round by round, 40 games in 40 nights." He says that "a dramatic turn has matched me with acute myeloid leukemia. From the sidelines to being sidelined, 40 veins and 40 electrolytes."

    Sager jokes about the often-terse in-game interviews with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "Too bad, I had some probing questions for Pop."



  • Duke freshman Jabari Parker declares for NBA draft

    Jabari Parker is hoping to become Duke's latest one-and-done star to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

    The 6-foot-8 All-American forward said Thursday he'll enter the NBA draft after being the highest-scoring freshman in Duke history. He was also the first freshman to lead the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding, and the first freshman in three decades to be selected team MVP.

    Now he has the chance to do what Kyrie Irving did in 2011: follow a one-year stay at Duke by being the first name called in the June draft.

    Coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement Thursday it was "an honor for us to have him in our program." In an essay posted on SI.com, Parker said the NBA offers him the best chance to develop both as a player and off the court.

    "I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA," Parker wrote. "I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court."

    Parker played in high school at Chicago's Simeon Career Academy and was frequently mentioned along with Kansas' Andrew Wiggins as possible No. 1 picks before ever playing a college game.

    Parker led the Atlantic Coast Conference with an average of 8.7 rebounds while his 19.1 points were second only to North Carolina State's T.J. Warren, who entered the NBA draft last week.

    "Jabari could not have been better," Krzyzewski said. "He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be - outstanding every day on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man.

    "He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream."

    Parker is listed as the No. 2 draft prospect on Chad Ford's Top 100 on ESPN.com, the No. 2 pick in a mock draft on NBAdraft.net and No. 3 on DraftExpress.com.

    It had long been believed that Duke would be a one-year pit stop for Parker on his way to the pros. But even late into the season, he insisted he was undecided, saying he wanted to play at the level that would best help him grow.

    When he received the USBWA's Tisdale Award as the nation's top freshman this week, he said he planned to meet with Krzyzewski and reach a decision Wednesday.

    In his SI.com essay, Parker said he had "gotten pretty attached to life at Duke and I don't want to utter the word goodbye." He also noted that the careers of professional basketball players - his father, Sonny, played six seasons in the NBA - last only so long.

    "The lucky ones play until their mid-30s," Parker said. "With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It's ironic, but true."

    Parker - the fifth Duke player to enter the draft as a freshman - said he planned to continue working toward a college degree. He is Mormon and said he would put a two-year mission on hold.

    From Day 1, he and Rodney Hood - a redshirt sophomore transfer from Mississippi State - were the focal points for a Duke team that spent much of the season in the top 10 and looked like a Final Four contender. But Duke (26-9) ended the season with a loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament final and a shocking loss to Mercer in its NCAA tournament opener.

    Hood hasn't announced whether he will enter the draft, though Krzyzewski said "I wish we had him for more than one year" after Duke's ACC tournament win against Clemson last month.

    Regardless, Duke is bolstered by the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, led by top overall recruit Jahlil Okafor along with top-10 prospects Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow.

    ---

    AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report.

    ---

    Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap



  • Dodgers' Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Yasiel Puig believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field.

    Puig returned to the starting lineup in right field for Thursday's series finale against the Giants amid reports that smugglers who helped him defect from Cuba had threatened his life.

    "I'm only concentrating on the season and being the best teammate and helping my teammates," Puig said, speaking in Spanish during an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday morning at his locker in AT&T Park.

    While Puig won't address the details specifically because of a pending legal case, he said he will focus on baseball and on helping the defending NL West champion Dodgers keep winning. He went 1 for 4 with a strikeout in Thursday's 2-1 victory. While he dropped a routine fly to right, he also made two nice catches on the run.

    "I have great teammates who are helping support me so much this season and to focus on the season when I get to the stadium so I am comfortable," Puig said. "That way I don't start thinking about anything negative in the stadium. I'm only thinking about working on the things that are going to make me a better ballplayer."

    The 23-year-old, scratched from the starting lineup after arriving late for his team's home opener April 4, is hitting .250 with one home run and five RBIs in his second major league season.

    He said after the game he is committed to baseball "so those things that are happening don't torment me."

    "We're at the field right now. We've just got to be thinking about baseball," teammate Hanley Ramirez said. "What I've seen is he's been learning and he's just happy to be here. He's playing today and he told me he's going to do everything it takes to win today's game."

    Manager Don Mattingly said he has read articles about Puig's journey and will offer support. He has spoken briefly with the outfielder, but not regarding specifics of his journey to the United States - saying if Puig wants to keep those details private, he will respect that wish.

    Mattingly is committed to helping Puig, who signed a $42 million, seven-year contract.

    Court documents, part of a federal lawsuit in Miami, say smugglers who helped Puig leave Cuba on a speedboat have made death threats against him and against a Cuban boxer who says he defected with Puig. Boxer Yunior Despaigne says in an affidavit he is afraid of being harmed by the smugglers or their associates if Puig hasn't paid them money he owes.

    "He hasn't talked about his background. Nobody's told me about his background. Nobody's told me about his story," Mattingly said. "If it's true, it's a wild story."

    Other Cuban big leaguers have shared similar experiences. In Oakland, Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes discussed in February 2013 how he worried constantly about his family members the previous season as they made their way to the U.S. He wasn't sure whether they might be targeted because of his legal issues stemming from a former agent who claimed the outfielder owed him money.

    "If you care about Yasiel, you worry about some serious stuff there that he has to deal with," Mattingly said. "If you care about him as a person, you worry about what he's going through."

    ---

    AP Legal Affairs Writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.



  • Ex-quarterback McNabb spends day in Arizona jail

    MESA, Ariz. (AP) Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was released Thursday from an Arizona jail after serving a one-day sentence for a DUI arrest late last year.

    Records released by West Mesa Justice Court show McNabb served his time Wednesday and was released about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

    McNabb, 37, was arrested Dec. 15 in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community east of Phoenix, according to court records.

    A copy of the citation shows McNabb was stopped on the Loop 101 freeway just after 3 a.m. and radar clocked his Range Rover at 81 mph in a 65-mph zone. He also was cited for DUI, but no information about blood-alcohol level was on the citation.

    McNabb pleaded guilty on March 27 and nine days of his sentence was suspended.

    Court documents show McNabb was ordered to pay a nearly $1,500 fine and enter an outpatient treatment program in Scottsdale from April 10 to July 8.

    The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office released McNabb's mug shot Thursday morning, starting a media frenzy about his arrest, which hadn't been previously reported.

    The agency later said in a statement that McNabb was booked into a detention facility on Wednesday by order of the West Mesa Justice Court and released after serving one day for a misdemeanor DUI charge.

    McNabb's Phoenix-based attorney Stephen Benedetto didn't immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment on the case.

    McNabb played 13 years in the NFL after being drafted with the second overall pick in 1999.

    He led the Philadelphia Eagles to four straight NFC championship games from 2001 to 2004 and one Super Bowl berth that ended in a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots in 2005.

    McNabb played for the Washington Redskins in 2010 and Minnesota Vikings in 2011 before retiring. He currently co-hosts a sports talk radio show and has a home in the Phoenix area.




 
 
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