AP Thursday Sports Roundup
Rockets, Cavaliers knot series
UNDATED (AP) — The Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers are hitting the road after splitting the first two games in their conference semifinal series.
James Harden scored half of his 32 points in the fourth quarter and finished with seven assists as the Rockets outscored the Los Angeles Clippers 115-109. Harden was held to 12 points before hitting four free throws in the final two minutes of the third quarter. The Clippers were leading 85-78 late in the third period when Harden took over the game.
Dwight Howard contributed 24 points and 16 rebounds for Houston, while Trevor Ariza added 15 points and 13 boards.
The Clippers played their second straight game without point guard Chris Paul because of a strained hamstring. Blake Griffin carried Los Angeles with 34 points and 15 rebounds after posting triple-doubles in his previous two games. But it wasn't enough for the Clippers, who faded after taking a 69-56 lead early in the third period.
Game 3 is Friday in Los Angeles.
In Cleveland, LeBron James finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists in just over 34 minutes of the Cavs' 106-91 trouncing of the Chicago Bulls. Kyrie Irving added 21 for the Cavs, who led by 25 in the third period.
James Jones hit five of the Cavaliers' 12 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. Iman Shumpert chipped in four treys and 15 points for Cleveland.
Jimmy Butler scored 18 points for the Bulls, who host Game 3 on Friday.
Patriots workers likely deflated balls
NEW YORK (AP) — The New England Patriots have been flagged for illegal procedure.
An NFL investigation has determined that Patriots employees likely deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship game, and that quarterback Tom Brady was probably "at least generally aware" of the rules violations.
Attorney and lead investigator Ted Wells called some of Brady's claims "implausible" and left little doubt that he had a role in having footballs deflated before New England's AFC title game against Indianapolis in January and probably in previous games.
The Colts complained that several footballs were under inflated, and the NFL confirmed that 11 of the 12 footballs used in the Pats' 45-7 victory were under the limit. The report includes text messages between officials locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski that imply Brady was requesting footballs deflated below the league-minimum 12.5 pounds per square inch.
The 243-page report says league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice.
League executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent is reviewing the report and will hand down any punishment.
Bears reach terms with top pick White
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears have agreed to a four-year contract with former West Virginia receiver Kevin White, the seventh overall pick in the draft.
White had 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Mountaineers before leaving school two years early.
Lightning beat Habs again
UNDATED (AP) — Ben Bishop and Tyler Johnson have been Tampa Bay's best players in these Stanley Cup playoffs. They also were the stars tonight as the Lightning took a three-games-to-none lead against Montreal in the second round.
Johnson scored with 1.1 seconds remaining to lift the Lightning past the Canadiens 2-1. Johnson's eighth goal of the playoffs came after Bishop stopped 30 shots and blanked the Habs until Brendan Gallagher beat him midway through the third period.
Bishop has surrendered just four goals in the first three games of the series.
Alex Killorn also scored for Tampa Bay, which can clinch the series on Thursday night.
Like the Lightning, the Washington Capitals are within one victory of reaching the Eastern Conference finals. The Caps have a 3-1 lead in the second round after Andre Burakovsky scored the tying and winning goals in a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers. Burakovsky beat Henrik Lundqvist late in the second period and tallied again 24 seconds into the third.
Braden Holtby handled 28 shots and blanked the Rangers after Derick Brassard scored at 6:12 of the middle period.
The Rangers will try to avoid elimination when they host Washington on Friday.
Cubs stop Cards' streak...Harper hits 3 homers
UNDATED (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals have just seen their division lead shrink for the first time since April 27.
The Redbirds had won eight in a row before Anthony Rizzo belted a solo homer and added a two-run double in the Chicago Cubs' 6-5 triumph at St. Louis. Kris Bryant and Starlin Castro delivered RBI singles in the top of the first and Jorge Soler drove in the deciding run with an eighth-inning single.
Jon Lester gave up one earned run and seven hits in seven innings as the second-place Cubs pulled within 5 ½ games of the Redbirds in the NL Central.
Jhonny Peralta hit a solo homer and Yadier Molina had two RBIs, but the Cardinals fell to 20-7.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— Bryce Harper hit three home runs and collected five RBIs as Washington outscored Miami, 7-5. Harper is the fourth National to homer three times in a game since the team moved from Montreal after the 2004 season.
— Brandon Moss hit a solo homer and had three RBIs as Cleveland rocked Kansas City 10-3. Carlos Carrasco gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings for his fourth win.
— Melky Cabrera had four RBIs and the White Sox scored four times in the bottom of the eighth to beat Detroit 7-6 in Chicago. Cabrera tied it with a three-run homer and Avisail Garcia singled home the lead run as the White Sox won their second straight since a five-game skid.
— The Angels beat Seattle 4-3 on Johnny Giavotella's RBI double in the bottom of the ninth. Mike Trout hit a two-run homer in the Angels' second straight win.
— Russell Martin hit a solo shot and Chris Colabello had a career-high four hits as Toronto beat the New York Yankees 5-1 in the rubber match of the three-game set. Mark Buehrle held the Yanks to a run and six hits in five innings after posting an 0-12 record with a 7.27 ERA in his previous 17 starts against them.
— Alexi Amarista provided three of the Padres' 16 hits and had two RBIs in a 9-1 drubbing of the Giants in San Francisco. Jedd Gyorko drove in two runs, Austin Hedges collected his first major league hit and first two RBIs, and Ian Kennedy limited the Giants to one run in seven innings.
— Brandon Leake gave up six hits in eight innings of Cincinnati's 3-0 shutout of Pittsburgh, the Pirates' fifth consecutive loss. Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer and Brandon Phillips was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to help the Reds move back over .500.
— The New York Mets were 5-1 winners against Baltimore as Jacob deGrom held the Orioles to a run and six hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings. Dilson Herrera was 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBIs for the 18-10 Mets.
— Freddie Freeman doubled twice and had three RBIs in Atlanta's 7-5 verdict over Philadelphia. Andrelton Simmons went 3-for-4 with a solo shot, and Nick Markakis had two RBIs as the Braves moved back to .500.
— Milwaukee won for the fourth time in five games as Scooter Gennett and Adam Lind slammed two-run homers in a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wily Peralta yielded two earned runs and seven hits in eight innings for his first win of the year.
— Evan Longoria hit two solo homers and Joey Butler delivered a tiebreaking, two-run single as Tampa Bay handed the Red Sox their 10th loss in 14 games, 5-3. The Red Sox trailed 4-3 with the bases loaded in the eighth before Kevin Jepsen got out of the jam.
— Carlos Peguero hit a solo homer and drove in three runs to help Texas complete a three-game sweep of Houston, 11-3. Robinson Chirinos also had three RBIs and Colby Lewis held the Astros to a run and six hits in eight innings.
— Eduardo Escobar was 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and five RBIs to lead Minnesota's attack in a 13-0 laugher over Oakland. Pinch-hitter Kennys Vargas smacked a three-run shot and Eddie Rosario homered on the first pitch he saw in his major league career.
— The Diamondbacks swept a pair from the Rockies. Aaron Hill belted a three-run homer and tied a career high with four RBIs to help Arizona post a 13-7 rout of Colorado in Game 1. Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer and an RBI double for the Diamondbacks, who collected 18 hits after being rained out in Denver the previous two days.
— Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo homer and had two ribbies as Arizona dumped the Rockies 5-1 in the nightcap. David Peralta also drove in a pair and Robbie Ray scattered five hits in six frames to win his season debut.
Walden shelved, Verlander green-lighted
UNDATED (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals setup man Jordan Walden has landed on the disabled list and will be shut down for six to 10 weeks for a strained muscle in his right shoulder.
The Cardinals say the injury will not require surgery.
Walden has compiled a 0.87 ERA in 12 games since being acquired from the Atlanta Braves in November.
In other baseball news:
— Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has been given the go-ahead to resume throwing after being sidelined since the start of the season with a strained right triceps. Verlander threw in the outfield at U.S. Cellular Field before Wednesday's game against the Chicago White Sox.
— The Kansas City Royals have activated All-Star closer Greg Holland from the disabled list. Holland had been out with a strained pectoral muscle since April 18, the day after picking up his fourth save of the season.
Williams-Goss leaves Huskies for Bulldogs
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Former Washington starting point guard Nigel Williams-Goss will transfer to Gonzaga and be eligible for the 2016-17 season
Williams-Goss was the Huskies' leading scorer last season at 15.6 points per game before joining an exodus from the program. He was a second-team all-Pac-12 selection last season.
RCR penalties stand
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR's final appeals officer has upheld penalties levied against Richard Childress Racing for intentionally manipulating Ryan Newman's tires in March.
Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss could have reduced, thrown out or even increased the penalties NASCAR initially levied after confiscating tires from several teams following a race at California. NASCAR says that RCR had intentionally altered the tires to let air leak out during a run to give Newman an advantage.
New appeal in Sandusky case
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is arguing that pretrial publicity, leaks and unprepared defense lawyers are among the reasons a judge should throw out his 45-count conviction for child sexual abuse.
Sandusky's lawyer filed an appeal today that says his constitutional rights were violated and his attorneys weren't effective.
The petition says Sandusky's right to a fair trial was "crushed under a stampede of vitriol, rage and prejudice" that warrants a new trial and ultimately the dismissal of charges.
Sandusky is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison.