AP Wednesday Sports Roundup
Streaking Nets hang onto final playoff slot....Warriors win 10th straight
UNDATED (AP) — Brook Lopez had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets reclaimed sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference by beating the Indiana Pacers 111-106 for their season-high fourth straight victory.
The Nets moved back ahead of Boston and dealt a blow to the Pacers, who fell 1 1/2 games behind Brooklyn. The Pacers play the Celtics tonight.
In other NBA action:
__ The Golden State Warriors improved their NBA-best record to 61-13 by winning their 10th straight game, 110-106 over the L.A. Clippers. Stephen Curry had 27 to lead the Warriors. Klay Thompson scored 22 of his 25 in the second half. Blake Griffin had a huge night for the Clippers with 40 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. That ends the Clippers' seven-game win streak.
— Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and the San Antonio Spurs added more steam to their playoff push by beating the Miami Heat 95-81. Tony Parker added 16 in his 1,000th NBA game. The Spurs, who are sitting in sixth in the Western Conference, can clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight in Orlando.
__ Andre Drummond had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons beat the Atlanta Hawks 105-95. The Pistons have won five of six.
NBA MVP has surgery
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant has undergone what his doctors call successful bone graft surgery for a fracture in his right foot. The reigning NBA MVP is done for the season and is expected to return to full basketball activities in four to six months.
This is Durant's third surgery on the foot. He had the initial procedure last October, then had a screw replaced in February.
Durant leads the Thunder with an average of 25.4 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Ovie gets 50th
UNDATED (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 50th goal and added an assist to help the Washington Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. It's the sixth time that Ovechkin has scored at least 50 in a season. He tied the Caps' team record with the 472nd of his career.
Only five other players reached the half-century mark at least six times: Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy had nine such seasons, and Mario Lemieux, Marcel Dionne and Guy Lafleur had six.
In other hockey:
— Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata scored in the shootout, and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Predators 5-4 to avoid being swept by Nashville. The Canucks padded their lead to four points over Calgary to stay in second place in the Pacific Division with their second win in two nights.
__ Jack Johnson's backhander 56 seconds into overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets past the New Jersey Devils 3-2. That's the Blue Jackets' seventh straight victory.
__ Milan Lucic scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:09 left as Boston rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2. That gives the Bruins two valuable points as the try to hang on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
— Nazem Kadri had a goal and assist, and the Toronto Maple Leafs played the role of spoilers in a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting, who are two points back of the Rangers for the best record in the East.
__ The New York Rangers rallied for a 3-2 road win at Winnipeg. Chris Kreider scored the winning goal with 3:45 left.
__ Mark Stone scored the final goal in the shootout, and the Ottawa Senators beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1.
Saban kicks second player off team
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Nick Saban has kicked a second Alabama football player off the team, swiftly dismissing reserve running back Tyren Jones following his arrest for marijuana possession.
Jones is the third player in Saban's program arrested in the last four days, and the second to be dismissed.
Alabama safety Geno Smith and since-dismissed defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor were arrested on Saturday for driving under the influence.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-FLORIDA STATE-PRO DAY
Winston impressed on Seminoles Pro Day
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston put on a show for the assembled NFL coaches, general managers and scouts assembled for Florida State Pro Day.
The Seminoles star threw passes for nearly an hour, demonstrating arm strength, accuracy and stamina while drawing cheers from the hundreds on hand.
His next public workout might be as the top pick in the NFL draft. Asked why Tampa Bay should select him with the No. 1 pick, Winston replied because he's the best player in the draft.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-ST. JOHN'S-MULLIN
Mullin going home to coach Red Storm
NEW YORK (AP) — St. John's has announced that career leading scorer Chris Mullin has been hired as the Red Storm's new head coach. It's his first coaching job at any level. He will be introduced today.
Mullin succeeds Steve Lavin, who agreed to leave last week. Lavin took the Red Storm to the NCAA Tournament twice in five seasons.
Iowa State assistant Matt Abdelmassih will join Mullin as an assistant coach.
Mullin spent the last two seasons working for the Sacramento Kings as a senior adviser. He previously served five years as the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors.
Vols hire Barnes
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Texas men's basketball coach Rick Barnes has been hired to coach at Tennessee. The move comes just days after losing his position with the Longhorns last weekend. Barnes went 402-180 at Texas and reached the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 2003.
Barnes succeeds Donnie Tyndall who was fired Friday after one season.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-SAN DIEGO
Lamont Smith returns to alma mater
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Lamont Smith is returning to San Diego to be the new Toreros head coach after playing for the school in the late 1990s. Smith had been associated head coach at New Mexico the last two seasons.
Smith's will be introduced by the Toreros today. He replaces Bill Grier, who was fired after the season. Smith will be the fifth coach for the Toreros since they moved to Division I in 1979.
Northern Arizona vs. Evansville in final
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Quinton Upshur scored 23 points, Aaseem Dixon added 19 and Northern Arizona earned a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament championship game with a 68-61 victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The Lumberjacks will play at Evansville in the CIT championship game on Thursday.
'Canes vs. Cardinal NIT Final
NEW YORK (AP) — — Sheldon McClellan scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, and short-handed Miami rallied to beat Temple 60-57 to reach the NIT championship game.
Already without point guard Angel Rodriguez, the Hurricanes lost center Tonye Jekiri to a concussion early on and trailed by 11 late in the first half.
The 'Canes will meet Stanford, the 2012 NIT winner, in Thursday's NIT championship. Stanford raced out to a 15-0 lead and held off Old Dominion 67-60 in the other semifinal. Chasson Randle had 24 points to become Stanford's all-time leading scorer.
Tigers' Mickey going pro
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey, who led the nation with 3.65 blocks per game this season, says he'll enter this year's NBA draft. The 6-foot-8 Mickey blocked 113 shots this season.
The 6-foot-8 Mickey averaged 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds this season.
NASCAR comes down on Ryan Newman team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR has imposed harsh penalties against Ryan Newman's race team after determining Richard Childress Racing manipulated the tires Newman used at Auto Club Speedway in California.
Newman was one of four drivers to have his tires taken by NASCAR after the March 22 race at Fontana. The tires were sent for an independent inspection, and NASCAR says that Newman's tires were found to been modified in violation of NASCAR rules.
Newman and car owner Childress were docked 75 points each. That dropped Newman from sixth to 27th in the driver's standings.
Crew chief Luke Lambert was fined $125,000 and suspended for the next six races. Lambert was also placed on probation through the end of the year.
Baseball to set pay record
NEW YORK (AP) — Even before the first pitch of the 2015 season is thrown, an eye-popping baseball record will be set.
The average salary when opening-day rosters are finalized Sunday will break the $4 million benchmark for the first time, according to a study of all major league contracts by The Associated Press. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw tops players at $31 million and Los Angeles projects to open the season with a payroll at about $270 million, easily a record.
USC athletic director to boycott Indianapolis meeting...UConn's Ollie also sitting out Final Four
UNDATED (AP) — Southern California athletic director Pat Haden will not attend the College Football Playoff selection committee meeting in Indianapolis this week because of a new Indiana religious-freedom law that critics fear could permit discrimination against gays and lesbians. Haden posted on Twitter that he is the proud father of a gay son and that, "In his honor, I will not be attending the CFP committee meeting in Indy this week."
Haden is one of five current athletic directors on the 13-member selection committee that picks the four teams to participate in the College Football Playoff and compete for the national championship.
Also, UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie will not be traveling to the Final Four this week. He's abiding by a travel ban ordered by Connecticut's governor because of Indiana's new religious-objections law.
Woods plays 18 at Augusta, status for Masters unknown
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods played a practice round yesterday at Augusta National, a strong indication that the four-time champion could make his return at the Masters.
Still to be determined is whether Woods returns for the Masters next week.
Woods has not played since he withdrew at Torrey Pines on Feb. 5. He has said he would return to competitive golf only when his game was ready.