AP Thursday Sports Roundup
Spurs clinch and keep perfect home mark
UNDATED (AP) — Though it was a foregone conclusion, the San Antonio Spurs have wrapped up an NBA playoff berth for the 19th consecutive season.
Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 as the Spurs beat Detroit 97-81. Aldridge also had 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who improved to 29-0 at home in their return from a month-long road trip.
The Spurs improved to 51-9 overall, giving them a 15-game lead in the Southwest Division with 22 games remaining.
San Antonio joins Golden State as the only teams to clinch spots in the postseason.
In other NBA action:
— The Los Angeles Clippers picked up their third straight win by turning a 20-point, halftime deficit into a 103-98 triumph against Oklahoma City. Chris Paul provided 21 points and 13 assists, while DeAndre Jordan added 20 points and 18 rebounds to the comeback win.
— Toronto still has a double-digit home winning streak after Kyle Lowry dropped in 32 points and DeMar DeRozan added 31 in a 104-94 victory against Utah. The Raptors led the entire second half en route to their 11th straight home win, keeping the Atlantic Division leaders 4 ½ games ahead of Boston.
— Isaiah Thomas poured in 30 points and the Celtics claimed their 12th straight home win by ripping the Blazers 116-93. Avery Bradley added 17 points as Boston handed the Trail Blazers just their third loss in 17 games.
— Mike Conley scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as Memphis topped Sacramento 104-98. Zach Randolph delivered 19 points and eight rebounds in the Grizzlies' sixth win in eight games.
— Jordan Hill had 19 points and Indiana survived a last-minute rally to defeat Milwaukee Bucks 104-99 and end a three-game losing streak. Paul George and Rodney Stuckey added 15 each for the Pacers, who led by 17 until Greg Monroe scored 11 straight points to start the fourth quarter.
— Nikola Vucevic scored 24 points and Orlando dropped Chicago to the .500 mark by downing the Bulls 102-89. Rookie Mario Hezonja finished with a career-high 21 and Victor Oladipo scored 17 as the Magic dealt the Bulls their fourth straight loss.
— Houston was a 100-95 winner over New Orleans behind James Harden's 39 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. The Rockets shot a woeful 3-for-34 from beyond the arc, but it was Patrick Beverley's 3-pointer that game Houston a lead in the final minute.
— Charlotte won for the 10th time in 13 games as Kemba Walker scored 30 points and Cody Zeller had 15 in the Hornets' 119-99 rout of the 76ers at Philadelphia. Marvin Williams and Jeremy Lin each added 14 points to help Charlotte deal the Sixers their 10th consecutive loss.
— Washington beat the Timberwolves 104-98 as Bradley Beal scored 26 points and Alan Anderson added 18. Beal and Anderson led a Wizards bench that outscored Minnesota's reserves 64-18.
— D.J. Augustin scored 22 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter of Denver's 117-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Emmanuel Mudiay added 22 points and the Nuggets used a 10-0 run midway through the final period to pull away.
Baron Davis eyes NBA return
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former NBA All-Star guard Baron Davis is attempting a comeback after signing with the Philadelphia 76ers' developmental league team, the Delaware 87ers. The third overall pick in the 1999 draft hasn't played since the 2011-12 season because of a variety of injuries.
Davis made two All-Star teams, one All-NBA selection and averaged 16.1 points and 7.2 assists over 835 career games.
TOP 25 MEN'S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
Forbes' long-range shooting carries Spartans
UNDATED (AP) — Second-ranked Michigan State picked up its 25th win despite struggling during the first half of Wednesday's game at Rutgers.
Bryn Forbes set a Big Ten record by hitting 11 3-pointers while scoring a career-high 33 points in the Spartans' 97-66 rout of the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers actually led 41-40 until Forbes drained a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left in the opening half.
Eron Harris added 15 points and Denzel Valentine had 14 as the Spartans earned their fifth consecutive win. Matt Costello had 10 points and matched his career-best with 15 rebounds.
Michigan State is 25-5 overall and 12-5 in the conference.
In other top-25 finals:
— Angel Rodriguez matched his season high with 19 points and Sheldon McClellan added 17 in seventh-ranked Miami's 68-50 romp at Notre Dame. The Hurricanes jumped out to an early 18-point lead and moved back into a tie with North Carolina for first place in the ACC.
— Oregon has at least a share of the Pac-12 title for the first time in 14 years after Tyler Dorsey scored 20 points in the ninth-ranked Ducks' 76-68 triumph at UCLA. Dillon Brooks added 15 points and Elgin Cook had 14 points as Oregon earned its fourth straight win and improved to 13-4 in the conference.
— No. 10 West Virginia ripped Texas Tech 90-68 as Jaysean Paige and Daxter Miles Jr. each scored 15 points. Paige also had five rebounds and five assists in his final home game with the Mountaineers.
Ravens lock up Flacco through 2021
UNDATED (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens have created more cap space by giving their quarterback a new package.
Joe Flacco is now signed through 2021 after agreeing to a reworked contract that includes a three-year extension. Flacco received an NFL-record $40 million signing bonus to extend the six-year, $120.6 million contract he received in 2013 after earning Super Bowl MVP honors. The pact includes $44 million in guaranteed money, including the signing bonus and his $4 million base salary in 2016.
Flacco was on track last season to set several club records, but torn ligaments in his left knee in Week 11 sidelined him and ended a consecutive-games streak of 122.
In other NFL doings:
— The Atlanta Falcons have released Roddy White after he had just 43 receptions last season, his fewest since 2006. The 34-year-old White set Falcons records with 808 catches for 10,863 yards and 63 touchdowns. He was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2010 and a four-time Pro Bowler.
—A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that Browns Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is voiding the final three years of his contract and will become a free agent. The person said Mack was set to make $24 million over the next three years before choosing to opt out of the deal.
— The San Francisco 49ers have re-signed running back Shaun Draughn to a one-year contract, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next week. Draughn originally signed with San Francisco in November and started six games last season. He rushed 76 times for 263 yards and a touchdown.
— Former NFL star Darren Sharper has made a new plea deal with federal prosecutors in New Orleans in a drug and sexual assault case, although court documents don't reveal details on the new agreement. That filing comes two weeks after a federal judge rejected an earlier deal that would have meant a nine-year sentence for Sharper. He was set for sentencing tomorrow, but attorneys on both sides have agreed to a delay in that hearing.
Hawks remain West lead
UNDATED (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks are back atop the NHL's Western Conference and Central Division standings following an impressive road win over a former rival.
Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Corey Crawford fueled the Hawks' 5-2 triumph at Detroit. Kane had a three-point night, including a goal and an assist 1:24 apart on power plays in the second period. He now has a league-high 88 points, matching his career high set six years ago.
Panarin scored twice and Crawford stopped 31 shots as the Hawks moved two points ahead of St. Louis and Dallas.
The Red Wings remain five points behind the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Anaheim is in a virtual tie with Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division after Jakob Silfverberg scored the lone shootout goal in the Ducks' 3-2 comeback over Montreal. Corey Perry tied the game with a power-play goal midway through the third period before Silfverberg sent the Ducks to their ninth straight win.
— The Washington Capitals blew a 2-0 lead to lowly Toronto before Matt Niskanen scored midway through the third period of a 3-2 triumph over the Maple Leafs. The Leafs managed to rally after Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 41st goal of the season to give the Caps a two-goal cushion.
News from baseball
UNDATED (AP) —Second baseman Kolten Wong has agreed to a five-year $25.5 million dollar deal with the Cardinals. He hit .262 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs last year while playing in a career-high 150 games, but his stolen bases dropped to 15.
Also in the majors:
— Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has apologized for discharging a gun following a domestic dispute and insisted he never hurt his girlfriend. Chapman agreed yesterday to a 30-day suspension assessed by Major League Baseball under its new domestic violence policy. Prosecutors declined to file charges, citing conflicting accounts.
Truex crew chief shelved this weekend
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) —NASCAR has suspended the crew chief for driver Martin Truex Jr. for one Sprint Cup race and fined him $50,000 for a rules violation at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Cole Pearn will sit out this weekend's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a roof flap violation on the No. 78 found during pre-race technical inspection.
Season ends for hard charging American
LONDON (AP) —Four-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn has been forced to end her 2016 season because of injury.
It turns out Vonn took part in a World Cup race on Sunday with not one but three hairline fractures in her left knee. The overall World Cup leader suffered the injuries on Saturday in a super-G race but still took part in a race on Sunday wearing knee braces.
This is just the latest setback for the dominating Vonn. She won nine races this season after a hampered preparation. She missed the season-opening race in October after a 10-week layoff because of a broken ankle bone, a year after coming back from the injuries that kept her away from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Former No. 1 says he is getting better
DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods has released a statement saying he continues to feel better after back surgery but adds he is not sure when he'll be able to return to competitive golf. The winner of 14 major tournaments says he has been chipping and putting at home in Florida as his recovery progresses.
Woods has not played in a tournament since August and has not won since August 2013. He has battled injuries for the past several years, and he underwent the second and third surgeries on his back late last year.
Change in putting for McIlroy
UNDATED (AP) — Rory McIlroy says he is changing his putting technique by going to a cross-handed grip for this week's Cadillac Championship. In making the announcement he said he typically practices that way to make sure he keeps the right hand from influencing the putting stroke.
After missing the cut in the Honda Classic, McIlroy says he felt his drills were actually better than his tournament stroke and he decided to change.
Bad ticket sales for Rio
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — With five months to go before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian organizers are struggling to sell tickets for South America's first games. Rio organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrada said only about 47 percent of the 7.5 million tickets on offer have been sold so far. For the 2012 London Olympics, British organizers sold 8.2 million out of 8.5 million tickets.