Grizzlies wrap up playoff berth, Rockets keep pace

UNDATED (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies became the fourth NBA team to clinch a playoff berth by earning their third straight win. They also retained a 2 1/2-game lead over Houston in the Southwest Division as Zach Randolph scored 23 points and Marc Gasol added 21 in a 103-82 rout of New York.

Memphis shot 52 percent from the field, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range. But they led by just two points before outscoring the hapless Knicks 53-34 in the second half.

The Rockets kept pace as James Harden poured in 19 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter of Houston's 110-100 win at Indiana. Josh Smith added 18 as the Rockets dealt the Pacers their sixth consecutive loss, leaving Indiana one game behind the Celtics in the East playoff race.

Also in the NBA:

— Stephen Curry shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range and finished with team highs of 24 points and six assists in Golden State's sixth consecutive win, 107-76 over Washington. Draymond Green added 13 points for the Warriors, who outscored the Wizards 29-8 in the third quarter to go up by 24.

— Evan Turner had a triple-double of 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds as Boston ripped Brooklyn 110-91 to end a three-game skid. Avery Bradley chipped in 20 points to help the Celtics take control of the final Eastern Conference playoff berth, moving a half-game ahead of Charlotte.

— The Hornets were 98-86 losers to Chicago as Pau Gasol delivered 27 points and 12 rebounds to push Chicago within three games of Central Division-leading Cleveland. Jimmy Butler finished with 19 points and nine boards in his first game since missing 11 straight with a left elbow injury.

— Minnesota beat Utah 106-104 in overtime behind rookie Zach Lavine's 27 points. Lavine hit a pair of 3-pointers to force OT.


Pacers not ready to activate George

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Pacers still have no timetable for the return of Paul George to the lineup as he recovers from a severely broken right leg suffered during a Team USA scrimmage last summer.

George says he and the team want to make sure he's as close to 100 percent as possible before the two-time All-Star is activated.

Team doctors told the Pacers the bone should be fully healed by March 1. George returned three days earlier than expected and acknowledged his target for a return was mid-March, although team officials never established a timeline.

The Pacers have dropped five in a row to fall from sixth in the East into a tie for ninth with just 12 games remaining to earn a playoff berth.


League doles out extra picks

PHOENIX (AP) — NFC champion Seattle, Denver and Kansas City each were awarded four compensatory picks in this year's draft after losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year. The NFL handed out 32 such picks to 14 teams yesterday, including third-rounders to New England, Kansas City and Cincinnati. Baltimore and Houston each received three picks, one more than Green Bay and San Francisco.

The extra selections will begin with the Patriots' taking the 97th overall pick.


Sharper pleads no contest in LA, guilty in Arizona...NFL hires a discipline boss

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NFL named an overseer for player discipline on Monday, just as one of the league's former stars was sentenced.

Darren Sharper has pleaded no contest in Los Angeles to charges of drugging and raping two women in the second of similar criminal cases in four states. The plea is part of a broader plea deal in four states that will send him to federal prison for nine years.

Earlier, he pleaded guilty by video link to sexual assault in Arizona and was sentenced to nine years in federal prison. The sentences will be served concurrently in federal prison under the agreement.

Similar hearings will follow in Las Vegas this week and in New Orleans in the next month. He's accused in Nevada and Louisiana of drugging and sexually assaulting women when they were unconscious or otherwise unable to resist or consent.

Meanwhile, B. Todd Jones has been hired by the NFL to handle player discipline, just days after he resigned as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Two people familiar with the hiring tell The Associated Press that Commissioner Roger Goodell told the owners that Jones would join the NFL in April. The sources also said Lisa Friel will serve as the NFL's special counsel for investigations.

Jones' duties will include fining and suspending violators.

The league has had several high-profile issues with player conduct and its investigative processes recently.


Owners consider rule ordering unstable players off field

PHOENIX (AP) — NFL owners are considering a proposal to stop games when a medical adviser sees a player displaying obvious signs of disorientation.

The proposal was a late addition by the competition committee at the owners' meetings that began on Monday. It would allow a medical spotter upstairs to communicate with the officiating crew when a player appears unstable. The game would be halted to remove the player, who would then undergo sideline examination at the very least.


No blackouts this year

PHOENIX (AP) — The NFL will not block any games from local television during the upcoming season, saying team owners voted for a one-year suspension of the blackout policy for preseason and regular-season games.

There were no blackouts last season, and just two in 2013. The decision is considered a gamble on the part of the NFL, with low ticket sales in Jacksonville, Oakland and San Diego, among other cities.


Red-hot Sens pass Bruins

UNDATED (AP) — The Boston Bruins are looking up at the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference standings

The Senators have moved one point ahead of Boston for the final conference playoff berth after erupting for four goals in the third period of a 5-2 comeback win against San Jose. Mika Zibanejad tied the game 2 ½ minutes into the third period before Alex Chiasson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored 72 seconds apart to put Ottawa ahead 4-2 with 6:37 remaining.

Mike Hoffman had a goal and two assists for the Senators, who are 15-1-1 in their last 17 games. Andrew Hammond made 29 saves to improve to 14-0-1 since making his season debut on Feb. 15.

Elsewhere on NHL ice:

— Andrew Shaw scored twice and Cory Crawford stopped 42 shots as the Chicago Blackhawks beat Carolina 3-1 to climb within three points of the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues. Shaw and Patrick Sharp scored 79 seconds apart to put the Hawks ahead 2-0 midway through the first period.

— Thomas Vanek had a goal and an assist to back Devan Dubnyk's 35-save performance in Minnesota's 2-1 triumph at Toronto. The Wild are 21-5-1 in their last 27 as they move closer to securing a postseason berth.

— Lance Bouma and David Jones each had a goal and an assist to lead Calgary's 3-2 win against Colorado. Jiri Hudlker also scored and Kari Ramo handled 25 shots as the Flames stayed two-points ahead of Los Angeles for third place in the Pacific.

— Tyler Myers and Michael Frolik each had power-play goals and Ondrej Pavelec made 33 saves in Winnipeg's 4-1 verdict over Edmonton. The Jets picked up their fifth straight win to stay four points in front of the Kings for the final West playoff berth.

— Anze Kopitar scored the insurance goal and had two assists as the Kings beat New Jersey 3-1. Jonathan Quick made 12 of his 19 saves in the final period after the Devils put just eight shots on net in the first two periods.

— Dallas beat Buffalo 4-3 on Cody Eakin's goal with 3:14 remaining. Jamie Benn scored twice, including a power-play tally that sparked the Stars' three-goal third period.


Dupuis to miss rest of season

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis will miss the rest of the regular season and the playoffs while he receives treatment for blood clots.

The 35-year-old Dupuis hasn't played since beginning treatment in November. The team initially held out hope Dupuis could return in time for the postseason. He is prohibited from contact while taking blood thinners to treat the condition.

General manager Jim Rutherford said he is confident Dupuis will be back in time for next season.


Francona doubts he'll have Swisher for opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona said he doesn't expect slugger Nick Swisher to be ready for the team's April 6 season opener at Houston.

Swisher underwent surgery on both knees in August and began running the bases just last week. He struggled last season, batting .208 with eight homers and 42 RBis in 97 games.


Scherzer vs. Colon in DC

UNDATED (AP) — The Washington Nationals have named recently acquired free agent Max Scherzer as their opening-day starter against the New York Mets on April 6.

Scherzer gets the nod after signing a seven-year, $210 million contract over the winter. He went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA for Detroit last season, one year after winning the American League Cy Young Award.

The Mets have selected Bartolo Colon as their opening starter over Matt Harvey, who has been terrific in camp after returning from Tommy John surgery. Colon led the Mets with 15 wins last season while recording a 4.09 ERA.


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