AP Thursday Sports Roundup
Cavaliers take opener in NBA Eastern final
ATLANTA (AP)— Going on the road didn't faze the Cleveland Cavaliers. They took the opener of the NBA Eastern Conference finals by topping Atlanta 97-89 as LeBron James led all scorers with 31.
But it was J.R. Smith who provided the surprise offense punch for the Cavs. The ex-Knick made 8 of 12 from three-point range to score 28 points.
To make matters worse for Atlanta, Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in the late stages against the Cleveland Cavaliers with what appeared to be a serious left leg injury. Jeff Teague led Atlanta with 27 points.
Game 2 is Friday night in Atlanta
Rockets' Howard could miss Game 2
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Rockets center Dwight Howard says he has a sprained left knee and is unsure whether he'll be able to play tonight against Golden State in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
Howard sat out Wednesday's practice at Oracle Arena. He says the injury is still causing pain in his knee and he'll listen to his body before deciding whether to play. He added that he has "no doubt" he'll return at some point in the series.
Howard hurt his knee in a Game 1 collision with teammate Josh Smith. He came back into the game in the second quarter but was obviously hampered by the injury.
Star guard fined for flopping
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry said he disagreed with the NBA's decision to fine him $5,000 for violating the league's anti-flopping rules against the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
The league said Wednesday that the NBA MVP exaggerated contact after his 3-pointer with 3:07 left in the Warriors' 110-106 victory on Tuesday night. Curry made the shot and fell to the court after getting bumped by defender Terrence Jones. The shot gave Golden State a 106-97 lead.
Curry said he has never personally been warned about flopping and nobody with the league spoke to him about the play before he was informed of the fine.
Spurs' Leonard, 2 clippers on All-D team
NEW YORK (AP) — Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio was the leading vote-getter for the NBA's All-Defensive first team, where he was joined by Los Angeles Clippers teammates Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.
Leonard received 116 first-team votes and 242 points from a panel of 129 writers and broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada. Golden State's Draymond Green was second with 229 points and 107 first-team votes.
Memphis' Tony Allen was the other first team member. The second team was New Orleans' Anthony Davis, Chicago's Jimmy Butler, Golden State's Andrew Bogut, Washington's John Wall and San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
Nats sweep Yanks...Giants post seventh shutout
UNDATED (AP) — For the first time this season, the Washington Nationals are a first-place team. The Nationals, favored to win the World Series in some quarters before the season, took over sole possession of first place in the NL East by edging the New York Yankees 3-2 to sweep an abbreviated two-game interleague series.
Denard Span's bases-loaded single in the seventh inning broke the tie. That helped Jordan Zimmermann improve to 4-2. The Nats have won 17 of their last 21. They also have won seven consecutive series.
Bryce Harper wasn't around at the end. The hottest hitter in baseball with 10 homers in his previous 12 games, was ejected in the third inning for arguing a called strike. Nats manager Matt Williams also was tossed.
In other baseball:
__ St. Louis blanked the New York Mets 9-0, dropping the Mets into second place. They had been in first place since April 14. Matt Adams hit a long three-run homer. Jason Heyward also went deep.
__ The San Francisco Giants moved within two and a-half games of first place in the NL West by blanking the L.A. Dodgers 4-0. Tim Lincecum and three relievers combined on a six-hitter. That's the Giants' seventh shutout this season, most in the majors.
__ The Chicago Cubs edged San Diego 3-2. Rookie Kris Bryant's fifth-inning sacrifice fly drove in the go-ahead run. Six Cubs pitchers combined on the six-hitter.
— Williams Perez gave up one run over five innings in his first major league start and fellow rookie Todd Cunningham drove in the tiebreaking run with a groundout as the Atlanta Braves beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1.
— Arizona beat Miami 6-1. That's the Marlins sixth straight loss. They are 0-3 under new manager Dan Jennings. Chase Anderson allowed four hits in a career-high eight innings to win his first game.
— Joe Mauer hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot off Antonio Bastardo in the 13th inning to help the Minnesota Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
— Marc Krauss hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning and the Los Angeles Angels rallied to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 for their seventh win in nine games.
__ Phil Klein allowed one run in his first major league start, Robinson Chirinos hit a solo homer and Texas beat Boston 2-1.
__ The Cleveland Indians held off the Chicago White Sox 4-3 on a chilly night in the Windy City. Shaun Marcum won his first start in almost two years. Michael Brantley had a two-run double in the seventh.
__ Jeremy Guthrie pitched six shutout innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-1. Before the Reds scored in the seventh, the Royals had tied a team record by pitching 24 straight scoreless innings.
__ Philadelphia doubled up Colorado 4-2. Rookie Severino Gonzalez pitched five solid innings for the win. The Phillies have climbed out of last place in the NL East with their seventh victory in their last eight.
— Nick Castellanos hit a bases-loaded triple with two out in the eighth inning to lift the Detroit Tigers to a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep to the Brewers.
— Roenis Elias took a four-hitter into the eighth inning, Justin Ruggiano homered and the Seattle Mariners beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2.
— Dallas Keuchel notched his eighth straight win pitching Houston to a 6-1 victory over Oakland. Keuchel improved to 6-0 this season, working seven innings.
Yanks lose Ellsbury...Wash back with A's
UNDATED (AP) — Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has been placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Yankees with a sprained right knee. He was injured during the Yankees' 8-6, 10-inning loss to the Washington Nationals Tuesday night. Ellsbury, New York's leadoff hitter, is hitting a team-high .327.
__ In another baseball note, ex-Texas manager Ron Washington is back in the big leagues. The Oakland Athletics hired him as an instructor. The Athletics lead the majors in errors.
A change in PAT's and news on LA
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The NFL could approve a team move to Los Angeles by the end of the year, with a club playing there by the 2016 season. The league is considering moving the deadline to any applications to relocate a franchise from Jan. 1 to late in the upcoming regular season. The 32 team owners could vote on a team's relocation after that.
The team would play in an existing stadium until a new one is built.
There are currently two proposed developments of new stadiums in the Los Angeles area. The Raiders, Chargers and Rams are all involved in the stadium projects.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Roger Goodell says it is his job to handle Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension in the deflated football scandal and he intends to handle the hearing. The players union has asked Goodell to recuse himself.
AP Source: Giants Beatty sidelined
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Giants starting left tackle Will Beatty is going to be sidelined up to six months after tearing a pectoral muscle, a person with knowledge of the injury has told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team plans to not discuss the injury until today.
The source said Beatty was injured lifting weights on Tuesday.
Lightning work overtime to take 2-1 lead
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Nikita Kucherov scored 3:33 into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 6-5 victory over the New York Rangers to take a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Ondrej Palat had two goals and an assist. Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had one goal and an assist for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay hosts Game 4 Friday.
Babcock moves to Toronto
UNDATED (AP) — Mike Babcock is ending his ten-year run in Detroit to take the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching job. The 52-year old had a successful stint in Detroit, helping the Red Wings to extend their streak for reaching the post-season to 24 consecutive years. He also guided Detroit to a Stanley Cup title in 2008. Toronto has missed the post-season in nine of the last ten years.
Babcock agreed to an eight-year, $50 million dollar deal that makes him the highest-paid coach in the NHL.
He is still under contract to Detroit, so the Maple Leafs will have to surrender a third-round draft pick.
In other hockey news:
— Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says he wants to talk to minor league coach Jeff Blashill about Detroit's coaching vacancy.
— The Ottawa Senators have signed goaltender Andrew Hammond to a $4.05-million, three-year contract. Hammond played was a key role in the Senators' late-season run. He went 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .941 save percentage to help Ottawa earn a post-season spot.
__ Record-setting goalie Martin Brodeur has signed a three-year contract to become the St. Louis Blues' assistant general manager.
Coach Cal signed through 2022
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has signed a one-year contract extension through 2022 that will pay him a total of $54 million over the length of the contract. It replaces the $52.5 million, seven-year agreement he signed last June.
Calipari's latest contract extension follows Tuesday's announcement that he wasn't interested in the coaching vacancy with the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans or any other job, adding that he's happy at Kentucky.
The contract was signed on May 13 and a copy was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press through an open records request.
New pact for Hamilton
MONACO (AP) — Reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a new three-year deal with Mercedes, ending rumors of his potential move to Ferrari. Since leaving McLaren in 2013, Hamilton has competed in 43 races, winning 15 and securing a 11 more podium finishes to take over as the circuit's No. 1 driver.
Hamilton currently leads teammate Nico Rosberg by 20 points after three wins in five races this season.
NASCAR-HALL OF FAME
Smith, Labonte head up newest class
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Speedway Motorsports Executive Chairman Bruton Smith and two-time Sprint Cup champion Terry Labonte top the newest group of five headed to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
NASCAR drivers Curtis Turner and Bobby Isaac and modified series champion Jerry Cook completed the hall's seventh class announced Wednesday.