AP Sports Wrap from December 29, 2016
UNDATED (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to bounce back from Tuesday's 16-point loss to the Pistons, but they blew most of a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead on Thursday before winning for the 11th time in 13 games.
Kyrie Irving delivered 32 points in the Cavs' 124-118 victory over Boston. Irving came through with a pair of key layups after the Celtics pulled within one point down the stretch.
LeBron James had 23 points and 11 assists for the Cavaliers, while Kevin Love finished with 30 points.
The Celtics had a chance to go ahead until Jae Crowder missed a 3-point try with 8.5 seconds left. Isaiah Thomas scored 31 and Avery Bradley had 23 for Boston.
Also in the NBA:
— Toronto has its first losing streak since Nov. 21 after Eric Bledsoe scored 22 points to lead Phoenix to just its second win in eight games, 99-91 over the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors. Devin Booker had nine of his 19 in the final period.
— Marc Gasol (gah-SAHL') scored 25 points and the Grizzlies took advantage of Russell Westbrook's ejection to dominate the Thunder, 114-80. Westbrook scored 21 before he was tossed midway through the third quarter due to a pair of quick technicals.
— George Hill returned from a 13-game absence and Utah regained a share of the Northwest Division lead by outscoring Philadelphia 30-9 in the fourth quarter to rally for a 100-83 win over the 76ers. Hill finished with a team-high 21 points, one more than teammates Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood for the Jazz.
— Nicolas Batum (bah-TOOM') delivered nine points, five rebounds and four assists while the Hornets outscored Miami 31-17 in the third quarter of a 91-82 win over the Heat. Batum just missed a triple-double in the Hornets' fifth win in six games, finishing with 16 points, 13 boards and eight assists.
— Dallas beat the Lakers for the 12th straight time as Wesley Matthews scored 20 points and Harrison Barnes added 17 with nine rebounds in a 101-89 victory in Los Angeles. The Mavericks trailed 65-60 early in the second half before going on a 21-5 spurt.
UNDATED (AP) — Eighth-ranked Kentucky has followed its loss to state-rival Louisville with an easy victory in the Wildcats' SEC opener.
Malik Monk, Edrice Adebayo and Isaiah Briscoe combined for 78 points in Kentucky's 99-76 rout of Mississippi. Monk finished with 34 points, six rebounds and three steals, shooting 11 of 16 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range. Adebayo scored 25 points, primarily on the strength of seven dunks. Briscoe had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 boards for the Wildcats, who shot 50 percent from the field and improved to 11-2.
In other top-25 finals:
— No. 10 Gonzaga has stretched the longest season-opening winning streak in school history to 13 games by controlling the second half of a 92-62 thumping of Pepperdine. Nigel Williams-Goss and Przemek Karnowski each had 16 points for the Bulldogs, who outscored the Waves by 23 in the second half.
— Freshman Shamorie Ponds capped his 26-point night by hitting four free throws in the final 9.1 seconds to give St. John's a 76-73 triumph over No. 13 Butler. Bashir Ahmed had 19 points for St. John's, which dealt the Bulldogs their second loss in 13 games this season.
— Jock Landale's 18 points and 11 boards sent No. 19 Saint Mary's to a 72-60 win over Loyola Marymount. Emmett Naar had a game-high 19 points for the Gaels.
— KeVaughn Allen contributed 21 points as 25th-rated Florida topped Arkansas, 81-72 in the SEC opener for both squads. Devin Robinson finished with 17 points for the 10-3 Gators.
Tigers throw player off team
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones says junior forward Craig Victor II has been dismissed from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Victor started five of the eight games in which he appeared this season, averaging 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 boards a game last season after transferring from Arizona.
Hokies win with record-setting rally...South Florida works overtime in Birmingham Bowl
UNDATED (AP) — Virginia Tech has closed out a 10-win season by pulling off the biggest comeback in the program's 124-year history.
The 18th-ranked Hokies trailed 24-0 at halftime before dominating the remainder of a 35-24 triumph over Arkansas in the Belk Bowl at Charlotte. Razorbacks quarterback Austin Allen threw three interceptions to fuel the rally as Virginia Tech scored on five of its first seven possessions of the second half.
Jerod Evans scored on a 4-yard run and threw touchdown strikes to Sam Rogers and Chris Cunningham to cut it to 24-21 In the third quarter. Travon McMillan put the Hokies ahead for good with 12:03 left in the game when he scored on a 6-yard run.
Allen was spectacular in the first half for the 7-6 Razorbacks, completing 13 of 16 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
Also on Thursday's bowl schedule:
— No. 13 Oklahoma State rolled to victory in the Alamo Bowl as Mason Rudolph completed 22 of 32 passes for 314 yards and three TDs in a 38-3 romp over 10th-ranked Colorado. Rudolph's prime target was James Washington, who scored on a 5-yard pass play and had nine receptions for 171 yards. Justice Hill had 100 yards rushing and a touchdown for the 10-3 Cowboys, who racked up 527 yards of offense and blanked the Buffaloes until the fourth quarter.
— Quinton Flowers threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Elkanah Dillon on the first play of overtime before 25th-ranked South Florida hung on for a 46-39 win over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. South Carolina's overtime drive ended when Jake Bentley was sacked by Mike Love on fourth down. Flowers ran for three touchdowns and threw for two others as South Florida picked up its school-record 11th win. He took game MVP honors after passing for 261 yards and running for 105 yards.
Former BYU coach dies
PROVO, Utah (AP) — LaVell Edwards, who led BYU to national prominence, has passed away at the age of 86. He coached the Cougars for 29 seasons before retiring in 2000. His teams had a record of 257-101-3. With Edwards in charge BYU won or shared 19 conference championships and played in 22 bowl games. His 1984 club was voted national champion and 20 years later he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
DENVER (AP) —An autopsy report shows that former Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam killed himself after struggling with depression. The 42-year old was found dead Dec. 5 in a park near the University of Colorado, where he played from 1992-1994.
Salaam died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, an autopsy by the Boulder County Coroner's Office confirmed. Investigators found a note at the scene. They also noted in the report that Salaam's family said he had a history of depression and "recent life stressors."
Investigators will never know whether the one-time running back suffered chronic head trauma from playing football because his family did not consent to those tests.
Former Virginia Tech star dies
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Tech star and NFL player Keion Carpenter has died at the age of 39. The cause of death is currently unknown. Carpenter was a defensive back and special teams standout who tied a school record by blocking six kicks. He intercepted 14 passes during his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons.
Jackets, Wild win again
UNDATED (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild have continued their double-digit winning streaks.
The Jackets extended their team-record winning streak to 14 games as Alexander Wennberg scored twice in a 5-3 triumph at Winnipeg. Nick Foligno (foh-LEE'-noh) added a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, who tied the third-longest winning streak in NHL history and are three away from the record set by the 1992-93 Penguins.
Sergei Bobrovsky (bah-BRAHF'-skee) made 31 saves for his 23rd win of the season as Columbus regained the Metropolitan Division lead, moving one point ahead of the Pens.
Next up for the Blue Jackets is the Wild, who blew a 4-2 lead in the third period before Erik Haula notched the game-winner in Minnesota's 12th consecutive win, 6-4 over the New York Islanders. Haula's goal came after Isles forward Brock Nelson scored twice in 42 seconds to tie the game.
The Wild set a team record when Chris Stewart, Jared Spurgeon and Jordan Schroeder scored in an 80-second span of the second period. Devan Dubnyk (DOOB'-nihk) won his 10th consecutive start despite allowing more than three goals for the first time this season.
Saturday's showdown between the Jackets and Wild will mark the first time an NHL game will pit two teams on such lengthy winning streaks.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Phillip Danault scored 39 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens beat the Panthers, 3-2 in Florida to end a three-game losing streak. Brendan Gallagher snapped his 13-game goal drought by tying the game with 2:37 left in regulation.
— Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist to lead Chicago's 3-2 verdict over the Predators in Nashville. Artem Anisimov (ah-NEE'-she-mahv) and Jonathan Toews (tayvz) also scored, and Corey Crawford made 36 saves to help the Blackhawks halt their season-high three-game losing streak.
— Matt Puempel entered Thursday with six NHL goals in 63 career games before registering a hat trick in the Rangers' 6-3 triumph at Arizona. New York blew a 3-1 lead before Puempel scored with 5:20 left to help the Rangers stay within three points of the division-leading Blue Jackets.
— Keith Kincaid turned back 43 shots and handled two more in the shootout as New Jersey beat Washington for the first time in eight tries, 2-1. PA Parenteau (PAR'-ehn-toh) tallied in the second period and the Devils got shootout goals by Michael Cammelleri and Jacob Josefson to send the Capitals to their fourth loss in five games.
— Ryan Spooner scored twice in the final four minutes of Boston's 4-2 win at Buffalo. David Krejci (KRAY'-chee) had a goal and an assist to back Tuukka (TOO'-kuh) Rask, who stopped 31 shots in the Bruins' first victory in three games.
— Toronto pulled out a 3-2 win at Tampa Bay on Nazem Kadri's (NA'-zehm KA'-dreez) power-play goal 3:37 into overtime. Rookie Auston Matthews scored his 18th goal and Antoine Bibeau (BEE'-boh) stopped 25 shots in his second career NHL game and first victory.
— Eric Gryba scored the game-winner in the third period and Jordan Eberle had two assists to push Edmonton past Los Angeles, 3-1. Patrick Maroon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored in the Oilers' fourth victory in five games.
— John Gibson stopped 31 shots and Anaheim halted a three-game losing streak by topping Calgary, 3-1. The game was tied 1-1 early in the third period before Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rackell (rah-KEHL') scored less than three minutes apart to send the Flames to just their fourth loss in 13 games.
— Bobby Ryan's turnover set up Anthony Mantha's goal at 1:07 of overtime to send Detroit past Ottawa, 3-2. The Senators retired Daniel Alfredsson's No. 11 before the game, and fans honored him by cheering the former team captain at the 11:11 mark of each period.
— Dallas has its first three-game winning streak of the season after Tyler Seguin (SAY'-gihn) scored twice and had an assist in the Stars' 4-2 decision over Colorado. The Avalanche own the league's worst record at 12-22-1 following their 14th loss in 17 games.
NHL champs lose goalie
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Coach Mike Sullivan says that Murray is "week to week" after leaving Wednesday night's comeback victory over Carolina after the second period.
The 22-year-old is 13-3-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage for the Penguins.
Americans beat Russia
TORONTO (AP) — The United States is 3-0 at the world junior hockey championship following Thursday's 3-2 win over Russia.
Calgary Flames prospect Tyler Parsons capped his 25-save performance with a huge stop in the closing seconds after the Russians had pulled their goaltender. Clayton Keller, Colin White and Troy Terry did the scoring while the Americans built a 3-1 lead.
RG3 to likely start against Steelers
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns say Robert Griffin III has been cleared from concussion protocol and will practice for the game, raising the likelihood that he'll start Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Coach Hue Jackson says he has been pleased with Griffin's progress and would like to see more before deciding if the 26-year-old can be Cleveland's starter going forward.
Tannehill throws on sideline
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has returned to the practice field but did not partake in team drills today. Tannehill threw passes on the side in his first team workout since straining the MCL and ACL in his left knee during a Week 14 win over the Cardinals. The Dolphins have gone 2-0 with Matt Moore filling in for Tannehill.
Shiffrin on a roll
SEMMERING, Austria (AP) — For the third straight day Olympic slalom champion Mikaela (mih-KAY'-luh) Shiffrin of the U.S. has won a World Cup race. Shiffrin won back to back giant slalom races on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday's slalom victory in Austria. The victory is her 23rd in World Cup slalom racing.
She also extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings to 215 points over defending champion Lara Gut of Switzerland.
Serena Williams engaged
UNDATED (AP) — Serena Williams is tying the knot. The tennis great announced her engagement to Alexis Ohanian co-founder of the social news website, Reddit.