AP Sports Wrap From Thursday, Dec 17, 2015
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Rams were winners in what may have been their last game in St. Louis.
Playing in front of a half-empty Edward Jones Dome, the Rams raced out to a 21-3 halftime lead before holding off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23. Tavon Austin scored two of the Rams' four touchdowns, grabbing a 17-yard pass from Case Keenum and rumbling 21 yards for a TD that put St. Louis ahead 28-6 late in the third quarter.
Todd Gurley topped 1,000 rushing by collecting 48 on 21 carries. Keenum was 14 of 17 for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Fans chanted "Keep Our Rams! Keep Our Rams!" during the game amid the team's threat to move back to Los Angeles. Owner Stan Kroenke (KRAHN'-kee) attended the Rams' last home game but kept a low profile.
Jameis Winston threw two touchdown passes in a big fourth quarter and finished with a career-best 363 yards passing for Tampa Bay.
Both teams are 6-8.
Hasselbeck is back to practice
UNDATED (AP) — Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday with a rib injury. His left arm had been immobilized most of this week.
Coach Chuck Pagano has said all week he believes Hasselbeck will play in Sunday's pivotal game against AFC South co-leader Houston.
Hasselbeck has dealt with neck, rib, back and shoulder injuries over the past two weeks. The 40-year old is 4-2 as a starter this season.
Starting quarterback Andrew Luck has already been ruled out as he continues to recover from a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle. Luck threw passes during the open portion of practice for the second straight day.
In other NFL news:
— The banged up Giants have signed defensive tackle Barry Cofield, a member of their 2007 Super Bowl championship team. Cofield hasn't played since being released by the Redskins last season.
Cavs outlast Thunder
UNDATED (AP) — Cavaliers forward LeBron James was all over the court on Thursday. Unfortunately for one spectator, James also crashed into the courtside seats.
The wife of PGA Tour star Jason Day had to be taken from the arena on a backboard after James tried to retrieve a loose ball during the Cavaliers' 104-100 win against Oklahoma City at Cleveland. Ellie Day was sitting next to her husband when James sailed into the crowd and slammed into her during the fourth quarter. The collision occurred just over a month after she gave birth to their second child.
There was no immediate word on her condition. James said she told him she was OK before she was taken from her seat.
James otherwise concentrated his damage on the Thunder by torching them for 33 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Matthew Dellavedova shot 3-for-6 from 3-point range and finished with 11 points, 10 assists and five boards to help the Cavaliers pick up their fourth consecutive win.
The Cavs improved to 11-1 at home and 17-7 overall to pad their lead in the Eastern Conference and Central Division to 1 ½ games over Chicago.
Oklahoma City carried a 78-74 lead into the fourth quarter until the Cavaliers scored the first nine points of the period. Cleveland's lead grew to 91-80 before the Thunder rallied.
The Thunder ended a six-game winning streak despite having three players with more than 20 points. Russell Westbrook finished with a team-high 27 points on 10 of 18 shooting, Kevin Durant provided 25 points and Serge Ibaka (ih-BAH'-kah) added 23 and nine boards.
Also in the NBA:
— Jeremy Lin scored a season-high 35 points and Kemba Walker had 27 to carry Charlotte past Toronto 109-99 in overtime. P.J. Hairston added 14 points, including a 3-pointer with 90 seconds remaining in OT that put the Hornets ahead to stay.
— Houston rolled to a 107-87 win over the Lakers in Los Angeles as James Harden dropped in 25 points and Dwight Howard added 16 and 15 rebounds. Terrence Jones contributed 16 points off the bench to help the Rockets halt a two-game skid.
News from the Hot Stove League
UNDATED (AP) — The San Francisco Giants have introduced free-agent pickup Johnny Cueto (KWAY'-toh), one day after he passed a physical that included an MRI on his pitching elbow. The 29-year-old Cueto signed a six-year, $130 million package after going 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA in 32 starts for Cincinnati and Kansas City this year. The contract includes an opt out after two years and $46 million.
In other major league news:
— The Mariners have re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma (hih-SAH'-shee ee'-wah-KO'-mah) after his agreement with the Dodgers was never finalized. Iwakuma was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts last season for the Mariners, including the first no-hitter of his career in August against Baltimore.
— The Orioles have come to terms on a two-year, $7 million pact with South Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim, pending a physical. The 27-year-old hit .318 with 142 homers and 771 RBIs in nine-plus seasons with the Doosan Bears in South Korea.
— Pittsburgh has re-signed utility player Sean Rodriguez to a one-year contract. He hit .246 with four homers and 17 RBIs while playing in a career-high 139 games for the Pirates this past season.
— Cleveland has confirmed an agreement has been reached with utility player Rajai (RAH'-zhay) Davis, who gives the Indians needed depth in the outfield with the loss of injured Michael Brantley. Davis spent the last two seasons with the Tigers.
— Free-agent outfielder Justin Ruggiano has agreed to a $1.65 million, one-year contract with Texas, giving the Rangers a needed right-handed bat. He split last season between Seattle and the Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting .248 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 57 games.
— The Yankees have sent infielder Brendan Ryan to the Chicago Cubs as the player to be named in last week's trade that sent second baseman Starlin Castro to New York for right-hander Adam Warren. The 33-year-old Ryan hit .229 this year.
— The Phillies have signed free agent right-handers Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica (moo-HEE'-kah) to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training. Bailey was 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 10 games for the Yankees last season, six years after winning the AL Rookie of the Year award with Oakland. Mujica was 3-5 with one save and a 4.75 ERA in 49 games last season for the Red Sox and A's.
— A former Atlanta Braves star third baseman is re-joining the team in a front office capacity. Eight-time All-Star Chipper Jones has been hired as a special assistant to baseball operations. Jones won the NL MVP award in 1999, one year after capturing the NL batting title with a .364 average.
— The Dodgers have announced their 2016 coaching staff, which includes the return of Rick Honeycutt for his 11th season handling the pitchers. Also on manager Dave Roberts' staff are bench coach Bob Geren, hitting coach Turner Ward, first base coach George Lombard, third base coach Chris Woodward, bullpen coach Josh Bard and quality assurance coach Juan Castro.
TOP 25 MEN'S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
Mustangs, Mountaineers breeze
UNDATED (AP) — SMU and West Virginia were the only top-25 men's basketball teams in action on Thursday, and both came away with easy victories.
Jordan Tolbert delivered 20 points and 19 rebounds as No. 18 SMU hammered Hampton 105-72. The Mustangs went 9-0 under Tim Jankovich while head coach Larry Brown served a nine-game suspension for improprieties within the program.
West Virginia is 9-1 after Jevon Carter scored 15 points in leading the 20th-ranked Mountaineers past Marshall 86-68. Daxter Miles Jr. contributed 14 points for the Mountaineers, who took control with a 16-1 run early in the second half of their fifth straight win over their intrastate rival.
Kings blank Habs
UNDATED (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens continue to have trouble scoring goals or winning games this month.
Jonathan Quick made 45 saves as the Kings handed the Canadiens their sixth loss in seven games, 3-0 in Montreal. Quick managed to claim his 39th career shutout while Los Angeles was outshot 45-20.
The game was scoreless until Drew Doughty (DOW'-tee) and Anze Kopitar (AHN'-zhay KOH'-pih-tahr) beat Mike Condon 1:35 apart late in the second period. Marian Gaborik (GAB'-uh-rihk) added an empty-netter as the Kings halted a two-game skid and improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
Los Angeles tops the NHL's Pacific Division by nine points over San Jose.
The Canadiens have failed to score more than three goals in any of their last 10 games, averaging just 1.8 during that span. They still lead the Atlantic Division by five points over Boston and remain three points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Corey Crawford made 33 saves in his third shutout in four games to backstop Chicago's 4-0 win over Edmonton. Teuvo Teravainen (TOO'-voh tehr-ah-VY'-nehn) collected two goals and an assist, while Jonathan Toews (tayvz) furnished a goal and two assists in the Blackhawks' fifth victory in seven games.
— Mikko Koivu (MEE'-koh KOY'-voo) scored twice and assisted on the game-winner as Minnesota dealt the New York Rangers their ninth loss in 12 games, 5-2. The Wild led just 2-1 until Jason Pominville and Chris Porter scored 40 seconds apart midway through the third period.
— Francois Beauchemin (BOH'-sheh-mihn) scored both Colorado goals in a 2-1 triumph over the New York Islanders. Semyon Varlamov (vahr-LAH'-mahv) finished with 33 saves to help the Avalanche earn their fourth straight win and send the Isles to their second consecutive loss.
— Third-period goals by David Backes (BAK'-ehs) and Vladimir Tarasenko gave St. Louis a 2-1 victory over Nashville. Jake Allen handled 27 shots as the Blues climbed within six points of the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars.
— The Stars were 3-1 losers to Calgary as Karri Ramo (KAH'-ree RAH'-moh) turned away 35 shots. The Stars led 1-0 until Sean Monahan and Dougie Hamilton scored 4:03 apart late in the first period.
— Brent Burns capped his three-point night by scoring 2:13 into overtime to complete San Jose's 5-4 comeback win at Toronto. Burns and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists for the Sharks, who blew a 2-0 lead and trailed 4-2 until Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Nieto (nee-EH'-toh) scored in the third period.
— Florida skated to its second straight 5-1 victory as Brandon Pirri (PEER'-ee) collected a goal and two assists against the Devils in New Jersey. Al Montoya faced just 16 shots and was perfect until Kyle Palmieri scored a power-play goal with 6:22 left.
— Philadelphia blanked Vancouver 2-0 as Steve Mason turned back 36 shots in his 28th career shutout. The Canucks have dropped three straight and eight of their last 10, while the Flyers have won seven of 10.
— Chad Johnson notched his first shutout in 21 months and fourth of his career by turning back 44 shots in Buffalo's 3-0 win against Anaheim. Evander Kane, Jake McCabe and Jamie McGinn provided the goals as the Sabres dropped the Ducks three games under .500.
— The Blue Jackets' five-game losing streak is over after Brandon Saad (sahd) and Alexander Wennberg each had a goal and two assists to lift Columbus past the Coyotes 7-5 in Arizona. Nick Foligno's late second-period goal put the Jackets ahead to stay.
Smith fined by league
NEW YORK (AP) — Ottawa Senators forward Zack Smith has been fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment in a Dec. 10 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The dive occurred at 9:28 of the first period of the Senators' 4-1 loss to the Lightning. He was issued a warning following a similar incident against Vancouver on Nov. 12.