Grizzlies jump back ahead of Rockets

UNDATED (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have regained the NBA's Southwest Division lead and moved back into second place in the Western Conference standings.

The Grizzlies halted a three-game skid as Mike Conley scored 18 points and Jeff Green added 16 in a 97-83 rout of Sacramento. Memphis hit its first five shots of the second quarter and led by as many as 16 in the period before cruising the rest of the way.

The Kings played without leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins and finished the game without Rudy Gay, who had 24 points before taking an inadvertent elbow to the head in the third quarter.

The outcome puts the Grizzlies a half-game ahead of the Houston Rockets, who were 99-96 losers at Toronto. DeMar DeRozan had an outstanding performance for the Raptors, scoring a career-high 42 points and tying his career best with 11 rebounds. DeRozan was 14 of 27 from the floor and 12 of 17 at the free throw line.

In other NBA finals:

— Portland has clinched a playoff spot after Damian Lillard scored 19 points through the first three quarters of the Trail Blazers' fourth straight win, 109-86 against Phoenix. LaMarcus Aldridge added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Blazers, who led by as many as 31 points before the starters sat out the fourth quarter.

— DeMarre Carroll scored 23 points and the East-leading Atlanta Hawks improved to 56-18 by stopping Milwaukee 101-88. Kyle Korver hit four consecutive long jumpers in a 65-second span of the third quarter to help the Hawks turn a five-point edge into a 67-51 lead.

— Avery Bradley's 30 points and eight rebounds led Boston to a 116-104 triumph over the Hornets in Charlotte. Evan Turner had 15 points for the Celtics, who climbed percentage points ahead of Brooklyn for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth.

— Jordan Clarkson capped his 26-point night by hitting the tiebreaking basket with 0.7 seconds left in overtime to lift the Los Angeles Lakers past Philadelphia, 113-111. Jabari Brown finished with 22 points for the Lakers, and Wayne Ellington contributed seven of his 20 in OT.

— Gordon Hayward scored 22 points and reserve Trey Burke had 19 in Utah's 104-84 pounding of Minnesota. The Jazz scored the first 14 points of the second half.


Houston loses Beverley for the rest of the season

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist and will miss the remainder of the season. He injured the wrist during the Rockets' win over the Indiana Pacers on March 23. He had averaged 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 56 games for the Rockets this season.


NFL sanctions Browns, Falcons

NEW YORK (AP) — The Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons have been disciplined by the NFL.

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has been suspended without pay for the first four games next season for sending text messages to the sideline during games. Farmer has acknowledged sending the messages. The Browns were fined $250,000.

The Falcons have been fined $350,000 and will forfeit their fifth-round selection in the 2016 draft. If the Falcons have multiple picks in that round, the highest selection will be forfeited. Atlanta team president Rich McKay has been suspended from the from the league's Competition Committee beginning April 1 following the team's use of fake noise at home games.


UConn against Indiana's religious-objections law

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Connecticut's governor and UConn's athletic director are calling on the NCAA to consider moving next year's Women's Final Four out of Indianapolis unless changes are made to Indiana's new religious-objections law.

Gov. Dannel Malloy and other critics contend the law would allow businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs. The governor on Monday signed an executive order banning state spending on travel to Indiana and says the NCAA would be wise to move the tournament.

Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel tells The Associated Press he finds the law unacceptable. He says he hopes the state of Indiana rectifies the situation before UConn or any other institution considers a boycott of the 2016 Final Four.


Red Storm, Patriots get new coaches

UNDATED (AP) — St. John's and George Mason have found new basketball coaches.

A person with knowledge of the discussions tells The Associated Press that Chris Mullin is returning to St. John's, this time as head coach.

Mullin led St. John's to the 1985 Final Four and is the school's all-time leading scorer. He replaces Steve Lavin, who agreed to leave last week after five seasons and two NCAA tournament appearances.

This is Mullin's first head coaching job.

George Mason has hired Dave Paulsen as its men's basketball coach. Paulsen was a three-time Patriot League coach of the year at Bucknell, recording a 134-94 record and taking the Bison to the NCAA Tournament twice.

The announcement comes two weeks after the school fired Paul Hewitt, who went 66-67 in four seasons.


The AP names the best of the best...Wooden finalsts

UNDATED (AP) — Three players heading to the Final Four head up The Associated Press men's basketball All-America team. The starting five is led by Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein and Duke's Jahlil Okafor.

The 7-foot Kaminsky was a unanimous choice, while Okafor received all but one first-team vote following an outstanding freshman season.

Rounding out the first five are Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant and Ohio State freshman D'Angelo Russell.

Cauley-Stein, Kaminsky and Okafor also are among the 10 candidates for the John R. Wooden Award as the nation's top college basketball player.


Cronin gets OK to coach again

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bearcats coach Mick Cronin has been cleared to resume coaching after missing most of the season because of a problem with a blood vessel in the back of his brain.

The 43-year-old wasn't permitted to coach games or practices after the problem was detected in December. Assistant Larry Davis took over and led the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Kentucky in their second game.

Cronin had more tests recently that found the issue has been resolved.


Georgia State's Hunter going pro

ATLANTA (AP) —Georgia State junior guard R.J. Hunter says he's entering the NBA draft.

The move was expected after he won his second straight Sun Belt Conference player of the year award and led the Panthers to their first NCAA appearance since 2001, while playing for his father, Georgia State coach Ron Hunter.


UConn, Maryland reach semis again

UNDATED (AP) — The Connecticut Huskies are back in the women's Final Four for the eighth straight season.

UConn rolled to a 91-70 win against Dayton as the Huskies pulled within two victories of their third straight national championship. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 27 points for Connecticut, which trailed at halftime for the first time in two seasons before a 15-3 run put the Huskies ahead 58-47 with 13:56 remaining.

Connecticut's semifinal opponent will be No. 1 seed Maryland, which is in the Final Four for the second straight year following a 58-48 stifling of Tennessee. Lexie Brown scored 13 of her 15 points during the second half of the Spokane regional final, and Brionna Jones finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in the Terrapins' 28th consecutive win.


Cubs demote Bryant, upsets union

UNDATED. (AP) — Third baseman Kris Bryant was reassigned by the Chicago Cubs to their minor league camp despite an outstanding spring training at the plate, triggering a threat of litigation from the players' association.

Bryant hit .425 in the exhibition season with nine homers and 15 RBIs in 40 at-bats. If the 23-year-old spends 12 or more days in the minor leagues, Chicago would delay him from becoming eligible for free agency by one year, until after the 2021 season, according to baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

The Cubs also optioned second baseman Javy Baez to Triple-A Iowa and reassigned shortstop Addison Russell to minor league camp.

In other news:

— Justin Verlander will miss his scheduled spring training start Thursday but hopes to take his season opening turn for Detroit on April 8 against Minnesota. The 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP left Friday's exhibition outing with a cramp in his right triceps.

— The St. Louis Cardinals have picked Carlos Martinez as their fifth starter. The 23-year-old went 2-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 57 games for the NL Central champions last year.

— Left-hander Paul Maholm has been released from a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. He had a 2.19 ERA in five spring-training games. Maholm was 1-5 with a 4.84 ERA in eight starts and 22 relief appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.

— The Mets made two trades to bolster a bullpen lacking in left-handers, acquiring Alex Torres from San Diego and Jerry Blevins from Washington. The Mets sent minor league right-hander Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named to the Padres, and outfielder Matt den Dekker to the Nationals. New York's bullpen had been without a reputable lefty since Josh Edgin learned in mid-March he needed Tommy John surgery.

— Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will likely begin the season on the disabled list because of a strained left shoulder. The three-time Gold Glove shortstop was injured Friday during an exhibition game.

— St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman has decided against asking the City Council to vote on a revised proposal to allow the Rays to search for new ballpark sites on both sides of Tampa Bay. Council members voted down an initial agreement in December, and Kriseman feared the adjusted plan would fail as well. The Rays say it is "disappointing not to be able to move forward cooperatively" with the city.


Hawks dump Kings

UNDATED (AP) — The defending Stanley Cup champions have just six games remaining to work themselves into the Western Conference playoffs.

Scott Darling stopped 31 shots and the Chicago Blackhawks scored the last three goals in a 4-1 triumph over the Los Angeles Kings. It was a 1-1 game until Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson scored 64 seconds apart early in the second period. Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks moved within four points of the Central Division-leading Nashville Predators.

The Kings remain two points behind Winnipeg for the last conference berth in the West.

Elsewhere on NHL ice:

— Tampa Bay has completed a sweep of its five-game season series with the Canadiens by earning a 5-3 victory in Montreal. Vladimir Namestinikov scored twice and collected three points as the Lightning pulled within one point of the Canadiens for the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division leads.

— Radim Vrbata had a goal and assist, and Eddie Lack made 23 saves as Vancouver dumped St. Louis to remain second in the Pacific Division. The Blues have dropped five of their last six and remain three points off the Central Division lead.

— Calgary is third in the Pacific Division and just two points behind Vancouver after Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman each had a goal and an assist in the Flames' 5-3 triumph at Dallas. The Stars led 2-1 until Hudler, Raphael Diaz and Gaudreau scored during a seven-minute span of the second period.

— Andrew Miller assisted on goals by Brandon Davidson, Nikita Nikitin and Taylor Hall as Edmonton dropped Colorado 4-1. Justin Schultz snapped a 1-1 tie late in the second period.

— Andrej Meszaros scored twice in the second period of Buffalo's 4-1 verdict over Arizona. The Sabres own the league's worst record by four points over the Coyotes as the two teams jockey for the best lottery possibility to draft Connor McDavid this summer.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.