Cavs top Lakers
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers have completed a season sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers tonight while strengthening their lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference standings.
LeBron James poured in 37 points and the Cavs moved four games ahead of Boston in the East by downing the Lakers 93-87. James scored 12 straight Cleveland points down the stretch in the team's third straight win.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant became the 15th player in league history to reach 25,000 career points and the youngest to hit the milestone. He finished with 31 points but was just 4-for-15 in the second half as the Lakers dropped the opener of an eight-game road trip.
James tops all players in All-Star votes
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA has announced the starters for next month's All-Star game.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James was the top vote-getter with over 2.5 million. He's joined on the East starting lineup by Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson, Miami guard Dwyane Wade, Orlando center Dwight Howard and Boston forward Kevin Garnett.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was picked in the West along with Phoenix center Amare Stoudemire, Suns guard Steve Nash, Denver forward Carmelo Anthony and San Antonio Tim Duncan. Bryant topped all Western Conference players with more than 2.4 million votes.
Garnett was selected to the All-Star game for the 13th time. Duncan and Bryant will make their 12th All-Star appearances.
NBA fines another Celtics player
NEW YORK (AP) — Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis has been hit with a $25,000 fine by the NBA.
It's for the language he used when addressing a fan during the second quarter of last night's 92-86 road loss to the Detroit Pistons.
It's the second fine league disciplinarian Stu Jackson has handed down to a Celtics player is as many days. Rasheed Wallace was fined $35,000 yesterday for publicly criticizing officials.
Capitals rally to beat Penguins
UNDATED (AP) — The latest matchup between Alex Ovechkin (oh-VEHCH'-kihn) and Sidney Crosby goes to the Washington Capitals.
Ovechkin scored twice and had an assist as the Capitals won their fifth in a row, knocking off the Penguins 6-3 in Pittsburgh. Ovechkin knotted the score 3-3 late in the second period before Tomas Fleischmann and Nicklas Backstrom tallied 53 seconds apart early in the third.
Crosby was held in check after opening the scoring just 4:32 into the game.
Also in the NHL tonight, Ray Emery notched his second shutout of the season by stopping 24 shots in Philadelphia's 2-0 triumph against the New York Rangers. James van Reimsdyk (REEMZ'-dyk) and Mike Richards did the scoring as the Flyers improved to 10-3-and-1 in their last 14 games.
Columbus beat Boston 3-2 on R.J. Umberger's tip-in with 1:16 remaining. The Blue Jackets trailed 2-1 in the third period before winning for only the third time in their last 19 road games.
Matt Moulson and Rob Schremp scored in a shootout as the New York Islanders topped Florida 2-1. Frans Nielson tallied in regulation and Dwyane Roloson handled 33 shots in the Islanders' sixth consecutive home win.
Chris Phillips provided Ottawa's third power-play goal of the night with 9:31 left in a 3-2 triumph over St. Louis. Peter Regin (REE'-gihn) had a goal and two assists to help Brian Elliott win his third straight start.
Eric Staal's hat trick was the difference in Carolina's fifth victory in 24 road games, a 5-2 triumph in Atlanta. Staal was playing for the first time since being named the Hurricanes' captain.
Martin St. Louis (mahr-TAN' san loo-EE') scored a power-play goal with 9.8 seconds left in overtime to complete Tampa Bay's 3-2 win over Toronto. Steven Stamkos contributed to every Lightning goal, scoring once and setting up two others.
Phillips sticking with Cowboys
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Wade Phillips has a new two-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys, ending speculation his job security was shaky.
The Cowboys are 34-and-17 with two NFC East titles in three years under Phillips. However, they had gone 13 years between playoff victories before knocking off the Eagles earlier this month.
Vikings not 100 percent
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Just three days away from the NFC title game and the Minnesota Vikings' injury situation isn't looking any better.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams and defensive end Ray Edwards missed their second straight practice today because of knee trouble.
Receiver and kick returner Percy Harvin also was absent. After practicing on Wednesday, he got another migraine headache -- a problem that has plagued him all season.
On the plus side, Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield said his injured right foot is feeling "a lot better" from when he first returned from a six-game absence on Dec. 13 against the Bengals.
Jenkins doesn't think McGwire has gone far enough
NEW YORK (AP) — Ferguson Jenkins says Mark McGwire owes an apology to all those pitchers who gave up his home runs.
The Hall of Fame ace sent an open letter to The Associated Press this week, telling the former home-run king he hasn't "begun to apologize to those you have harmed."
McGwire recently admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs for 10 years of his playing career, including the year he smashed Roger Maris' single-season home run record.
Jenkins says he would have used brushback pitches to handle the bulked-up McGwire.
Rosters shaping up
UNDATED (AP) — Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners have hammered out a five-year, $78 million deal. Hernandez thus avoids salary arbitration after signing through 2014.
The 23-year-old righty was 19-and 5 last season, tied for the most wins in the majors, and made his first All-Star team. He had a career-high 217 strikeouts with a career-low 2.49 ERA.
Also in the majors today:
_ The Los Angeles Dodgers have re-signed right-hander Vicente Padilla (vih-SEHN'-tay puh-DEE'-uh) to a one-year contract after his outstanding performance down the stretch last season. Padilla went 4-and-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts for Los Angeles after being acquired from Texas in August.
_ Octavio Dotel (ahk-TAH'-vee-oh doh-TEHL') has agreed to a one-year contract with the Pirates, the only club that was offering him the chance to be a closer. The 36-year-old Dotel hasn't been a closer since 2007, when he had 11 saves for Kansas City.
_ Pitcher Joe Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a three-year contract worth $24 million. The 29-year-old right-hander was 12-and-8 with a 4.05 ERA last year.
_ Reliever Todd Coffey and the Brewers avoid salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact worth a shade over $2 million.
_ And Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has spent three months in a treatment program for alcoholism. Detroit's first baseman says he hasn't had a drink since he was taken into custody by police after a domestic-abuse complaint was filed by his wife. The incident occurred in the early morning of Oct. 3 -- just hours before a crucial game against the Chicago White Sox.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-EAST CAROLINA COACH
Pirates turn to one of their own
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — East Carolina has turned to former Texas Tech defensive coordinator, and Pirates alum, Ruffin McNeill to replace Skip Holtz. The school announced the move today after members of the board of trustees approved McNeill's hiring and an outline of a contract. The contract won't be finalized until a regular meeting of the board next month.
Safina moves on, Jankovic moves out
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Women's second seed Dinara Safina (dee-NAH'-rah sah-FEE'-nuh) has moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open. Safina opened Day 5 action at Rod Laver Arena by overpowering Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-2.
Another former No. 1 player wasn't as fortunate. Eighth seed Jelena Jankovic (yeh-LAY'-nuh YANK'-oh-vihch) was beaten by No. 31 Alona Bondarenko, 6-2, 6-3 in the third round. Jankovic made 40 unforced errors against 13 winners.
Defending men's champion and second seed Rafael Nadal (rah-fay-ehl nah-DAHL') plays in a few hours.
NASCAR will relax in effort to energize
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR plans to relax some rules this season and encourage drivers to be more aggressive and show more emotion.
NASCAR chairman Brian France says the goal is to "open it up" as an answer to criticism that the sport has grown stale amid slumping television ratings and lower attendance.
In addition to some internal restructuring and a transition from a wing to a spoiler on the race car, NASCAR will now permit bump-drafting at Daytona and Talladega and more contact on the race track.
France says NASCAR wants the drivers "mixing it up."
PGA-BOB HOPE CLASSIC
Holding out Hope
LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — The second round of the Hope Classic never began today because of a steady rain that has been in the area since yesterday afternoon. Shane Bertsch leads after yesterday's opening round of 10-under 62, two strokes ahead of Jeff Quinney and Alex Prugh.