AP Sports Wrap from December 27, 2016
UNDATED (AP) — The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks renewed their rivalry on Tuesday and played one of the chippiest games in the all-time series.
The officials called eight technical fouls and two flagrant fouls before the Rockets completed a 123-107 win over the Mavs. Five technicals came during the third quarter and most occurred in dead-ball situations. Houston's Trevor Ariza was ejected between the third and fourth quarters following his second technical foul, and the Mavericks received both flagrant fouls.
Houston star James Harden jawed with Andrew Bogut (BOH'-guht) after the Dallas center was whistled for one of the flagrant fouls. Harden also scored 24 of his 34 points by halftime and had 11 assists before sitting out the fourth quarter of the Rockets' 13th win in 15 games this month.
Houston has a chance to tie a team record for most victories in a month. The Rockets won 15 games in November 1996.
Also in the NBA:
— Russell Westbrook delivered 29 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists as Oklahoma City posted a 106-94 win at Miami. It was his NBA-high 15th triple-double of the season and his sixth within the first three quarters. Enes Kanter finished with 19 points and Steven Adams added 15 to support the Thunder's fourth consecutive victory.
— The Celtics won for the sixth time in seven games as Avery Bradley scored 23 points and Isaiah Thomas added 21 and seven assists in a 113-103 win over Memphis. Gerald Green provided a season-high 19 points and Jae Crowder scored 17 to help Boston get within four games of the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.
— Utah's three-game skid is over after Joe Ingles drained a 3-pointer with 21.6 seconds left to give the Jazz a 102-100 win over the Lakers in Los Angeles. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 31 points and nine rebounds, while Rudy Gobert (goh-BEHR') chipped in 12 points and 11 boards.
AP-MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Cavaliers' James earns AP honors
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James is The Associated Press Male Athlete of the year after leading the Cavaliers to the NBA title and ending Cleveland's 52-year drought without a championship team.
James also captured the award in 2013 and joins Michael Jordan as the only NBA players to win it at least twice.
The Cavaliers forward collected 24 first-place votes to beat out a pair of Olympic legends: swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain (yoo-SAYN') Bolt.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant tied for fourth with Golden State guard Stephen (STEH'-fehn) Curry, last year's winner.
Gophers end volatile month with bowl win
UNDATED (AP) — The Minnesota Golden Gophers have capped a tumultuous football season with a very satisfying victory.
Shannon Brooks turned a deflected pass into a 13-yard, go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter as the Gophers upset Washington State, 17-12 in the Holiday Bowl at San Diego. Minnesota also frustrated quarterback Luke Falk and held the Cougars to their lowest point total of the season. Falk was picked off by Adekunle Ayinde to set up Rodney Smith's 9-yard scoring run that put the Gophers ahead 17-6 with 2:06 left.
Falk passed for 264 yards, 86 below his season average.
The Golden Gophers were looking to regroup after threatening to skip this game if 10 teammates suspended following a sexual assault investigation weren't reinstated. Their boycott lasted less than 36 hours before the players backed down.
Minnesota finishes this season 9-4. The Cougars end up 8-5 following their third straight loss.
Baylor also salvaged what was a difficult season. KD Cannon had 14 receptions for a Cactus Bowl-record 226 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears whipped Boise State, 31-12 in Phoenix. Freshman Zach Smith threw for 375 yards and three scores for Baylor, which snapped a six-game losing streak that followed a 6-0 start.
The bowl win concludes a season in which the Bears dealt with a season-ending injury to quarterback Seth Russell and a sexual assault scandal that cost coach Art Briles his job.
The 10-3 Broncos made trips to the red zone that ended with two field goals, one interception in the end zone and a failed fourth down try.
Checking out the rest of Tuesday's bowl games.
— Jordan Asberry ran for a 3-yard touchdown on fourth down in overtime to send Army past North Texas 38-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. It was Army's 46th rushing TD of the season, breaking the school record held by the 1945 national championship team that had two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield. The Black Knights ran for 480 yards and six TDs in ending the season 8-5.
— John Wolford was 10 of 19 for 183 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a neck strain in the third quarter of Wake Forest's 34-26 win over 23rd-ranked Temple in the Military Bowl at Annapolis. Wolford threw an interception on the game's first series to help the Owls take a 7-0 lead before the Demon Deacons reeled off 31 straight points by halftime. Phillip Walker finished his career by going 28 for 49 for 396 yards and two touchdowns for Temple.
Bills fire head coach Ryan
UNDATED (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have made two major changes heading into their season finale against the Jets.
The Bills have fired head coach Rex Ryan after just 31 games and a 15-16 record with the team. The move comes three days after a Week 16 loss to the Dolphins dropped the Bills to 7-8 and officially eliminated them from playoff contention. The loss extended the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 17 seasons.
The Bills say offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will serve as interim head coach this Sunday. Lynn will have a new quarterback under center after Tyrod Taylor was benched in favor of EJ Manuel. Taylor was demoted after going 26 of 39 for a career-best 329 yards in a 34-31 overtime loss to Miami last weekend.
Manuel hasn't started since a 34-31 loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 25, 2015.
The Bills also said on Twitter that Rob Ryan has been dismissed as an assistant head coach and defensive strategist. Ryan is the twin brother of Rex.
Elsewhere around the league:
— Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has undergone surgery to repair his broken right leg suffered in Sunday's victory. Initial estimates are he will miss six to eight weeks, which will cause him to miss the entire postseason. The Raiders will start Matt McGloin as they face the Broncos on Sunday with a chance to wrap up the AFC West and a first-round bye.
— Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback for the Jets in their season finale against Buffalo. He replaces Bryce Petty who has been put on injured reserve after suffering a torn labrum in his left-shoulder Saturday. Petty had replaced Fitzpatrick who had been ineffective earlier this season.
Badgers whip Knights
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers are 12-2 after winning their Big Ten opener.
Nigel Hayes scored 20 points and Zak Showalter added 18 to lead the Badgers' offense in a 72-52 win over Rutgers. Wisconsin opened with a 16-4 run en route to a 15-point halftime lead. The Scarlet Knights never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Hayes delivered 12 points by intermission, Showalter finished with four steals and Ethan Happ had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Badgers.
Jackets, Wild pad win streaks
UNDATED (AP) — NHL coach John Tortorella (tohr-tah-REH'-luh) has won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning and gone to the conference finals with the Rangers. Now, he has the Columbus Blue Jackets within four victories of tying the longest winning streak in league history.
The Jackets coughed up a 3-0 lead at home before Nick Foligno (foh-LEE'-noh) scored a power-play goal midway through the third period to send Columbus to its 13th straight win, 4-3 over Boston. The Jackets appeared poised for a rout once Scott Hartnell, Seth Jones and Matt Calvert beat Tuukka (TOO'-kah) Rask 10 minutes into the first period. Columbus eventually secured the victory by killing off a late power play and blanking the Bruins after they pulled Rask for an extra attacker.
It's the fourth-longest winning streak in NHL history, one behind the Bruins' 14-game run in 1929-30. The 1992-93 Penguins won a league-best 17 straight in 1992-93, 11 years after the Islanders reeled off 15 in a row.
Columbus sits atop the entire league standings with 52 points, one season after finishing last in the Metropolitan Division.
The NHL's other double-digit winning streak goes on as well after Minnesota beat Nashville 3-2 on Jared Spurgeon's goal 2:46 into overtime. Zach Parise and Chris Stewart also scored as the Wild extended their franchise-best winning streak to 11 games and pulled within one point of the Central Division-leading Blackhawks.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 25th goal and set up two others in Pittsburgh's 5-2 verdict over the Devils in New Jersey. Evgeni Malkin's one goal and one assist made him the fourth player to score 800 points as a Penguin.
— The Rangers wiped out a 3-1 deficit before Nick Holden scored 6:31 into the third period of New York's 4-3 victory against Ottawa. Derek Stepan (STEH'-pahn) had two goals and defenseman Ryan McDonagh collected three assists as the Rangers stopped a two-game skid.
— San Jose pulled out its sixth win in seven games by beating Anaheim, 3-2 on a goal by Brent Burns 3:46 into OT. Melker Karlsson and Paul Martin also scored for the Sharks, who also got a 34-save performance from Martin Jones.
— Andrew Ladd and Anders Lee scored 43 seconds apart early in the third period of the New York Islanders' 4-3 triumph over Washington. Ladd tallied twice and Cal Clutterbuck notched the game's first goal to help the Isles deal the Capitals their third loss in four games.
— Winnipeg is 3-0 versus Chicago this season after Connor Hellebuyck (HEH'-leh-buhk) stopped 34 shots in the Jets' 3-1 win against the Blackhawks. Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele (SHYF'-lee) and Drew Stafford scored for the Jets in their fourth win in five games overall.
— Mikael Backlund scored a pair of second-period goals and had an assist as Calgary picked up its ninth win in 12 games, 6-3 at Colorado. Johnny Gaudreau (GOO'-droh) also had two goals and an assist against the Avalanche, who surrendered four goals off their own deflections in the second period of their ninth straight home loss.
— Kari Lehtonen (KAH'-ree LEH'-toh-nehn) turned back 35 shots and Jason Spezza (SPEHT'-suh) had a goal and an assist to send Dallas past the Coyotes, 3-2 at Arizona. A second-period brawl resulted in four players serving at least four penalty minutes each.
— Buffalo wasted a 3-1 lead before Evander Kane scored his second goal of the night 8:29 into the third period of the Sabres' 4-3 triumph at Detroit. Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel (EYE'-kuhl) also scored to help Dan Bylsma (BYLZ'-nuh) get his 300th NHL coaching victory.
Hawks activate Anisimov, shelve Hossa
CHICAGO (AP) — The Blackhawks have activated center Artem Anisimov (ah-NEE'-see-mahv) off injured reserve and placed veteran right wing Marian Hossa (HOH'-sah) on IR retroactive to Dec. 20.
Anisimov's 14 goals and 27 points both rank third on the team, and Hossa tops the club with 16 goals.
Both forwards have been sidelined by upper-body injuries.
WORLD CUP SKIING-GIANT SLALOM
WC leader Shiffrin wins GS
SEMMERING, Austria (AP) — Mikaela (mih-KAY'-luh) Shiffrin has earned her second career World Cup giant slalom win and moved further ahead in the overall standings.
The American beat Tessa Worley of France by 0.78 seconds.
It was the 24th career win for the slalom specialist. Shiffrin's only previous GS win came in Oct. 2014.
Shiffrin extended her overall lead to 55 points over defending champion Lara Gut of Switzerland.