AP Wednesday Sports Roundup
Surging Hornets and Heat keep winning
UNDATED (AP)— Nicolas Batum scored 23 points and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Brooklyn Nets 105-100. The Hornets have won eight of their last 10 and are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta and Boston.
Jeremy Lin added 21 points, a night after scoring 29 in Charlotte's rally from 23 down to beat the San Antonio Spurs.
Brook Lopez had 29 points, nine rebounds and a season-high six assists in a losing cause for the Nets.
In other NBA:
— Hassan Whiteside had 24 points, 14 and three blocked shots, and the Miami Heat beat the New Orleans Pelicans 113-99. Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic each scored 23 points for the Heat, who've won nine of 12. Miami is in position to finish as high as third in the Eastern Conference.
— Oklahoma City downed Houston 111-107 behind Kevin Durant's 23 points. Russell Westbrook had his 15th triple-double this season -- 21 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.
— The L.A. Lakers topped Memphis 107-100. Jordan Clarkson was high man for the Lakers with 22. Kobe Bryant added 20.
Staples Center gets 2018 game
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA clearly loves L.A.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed the All-Star Game is returning to Los Angeles in 2018.
Staples Center will host the annual midseason basketball extravaganza two seasons from now.
Los Angeles also hosted the All-Stars in 2004 and 2011 at Staples Center. The Los Angeles area will host for the sixth time overall in three arenas.
Valpo, BYU to meet in NIT semifinal
UNDATED (AP) — Alec Peters scored 20 points for his seventh straight 20-plus game and Valparaiso advanced to its first NIT semifinals with a 60-44 victory against Saint Mary's. Valpo will play BYU in the semifinals.
BYU advanced to the semifinals as well by beating Creighton 88-82. Zac Selijaas led the Cougars with 19.
Tonight's games feature Florida hosting George Washington and Georgia Tech at San Diego State.
The semifinals will be played a week from Tuesday in New York's Madison Square Garden with the championship game Thursday, March 31 at the World's Most Famous Arena.
Mid-America Christian a champion
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Malcolm Mann's buzzer-beating layup as time expired gave Mid-America Christian its first NAIA national championship with a 100-99 victory over Georgetown of Kentucky.
Caps clinch top seed in East
UNDATED (AP)— Alex Ovechkin scored his 43rd goal and the Washington Capitals clinched the Metropolitan Division and top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Mike Richards, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, with an empty net, also scored for the Capitals. Braden Holtby stopped 28 shots.
In other hockey:
— Boone Jenner scored late in the third period and again in the shootout after Cam Atkinson's tying goal with 9.8 seconds left in the Columbus Blue Jackets' improbable 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers blew a two-game lead in the final 65 seconds but still earned a point.
— The Minnesota Wild held off the L.A. Kings 2-1 for their third straight win. The Wild has jumped one point ahead of Colorado for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Wild are 8-3-1 in their last 12.
— The Dallas Stars jumped on Chicago with four goals in the opening period and routed the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 6-2. Vernon Fiddler scored two of Dallas' four goals in the first period, and the Stars clinched a playoff spot.
— The St. Louis Blues earned a 1-0 road win over San Jose. Robby Fabbri's third period goal was all the scoring. Brian Elliott got the shutout between the pipes for St. Louis.
Tobias Rieder scored the winning goal in the second period in the Arizona Coyotes' 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
— Erik Condra ended a 20-game drought with a pair of goals to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Detroit Red Wings 6-2.
— Montreal roared back from a 3-1 deficit to stun Anaheim 4-3. Lucas Lessio scored his first goal in 11 games with the Canadiens to break a third period tie.
— Johan Larsson scored with 2:49 left and the Buffalo Sabres rallied to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2.
— Winnipeg scored twice in the final period and blanked Vancouver 2-0. Ondrej Pavelec got the shutout with 28 saves.
Avs lose a lot of scoring
DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche say top scorers Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon will miss the next two games with knee injuries. The pair won't play against the Flyers on Thursday or against the Wild on Saturday. The Avs are currently one point behind the Wild for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Rays win, diplomatically
HAVANA (AP) — In a landmark game attended by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, Tampa Bay beat the Cuban national team 4-1. It was the first time a major league team played in Cuba since Baltimore did it in 1999.
James Loney homered and drove in three runs, and Matt Moore and the Tampa Bay pitchers shut out the Cubans until the ninth inning.
But the game will be remembered less for the final score than for the two men sitting in the front row at Estadio Latinoamericano.
Obama signaled safe when Kevin Kiermaier safely slid home early, then shook hands with Castro.
The near-capacity crowd included former major league All-Stars Derek Jeter and Dave Winfield, along with Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel.
Ethier out with leg fracture
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier will be out 10 to 14 weeks after fracturing his right tibia.
The projected starter in left field was injured after fouling a ball off his shin Friday during a spring game against Arizona. X-rays that day revealed no broken bones but the Dodgers said Tuesday that a follow-up CT scan showed the fracture. The team says Ethier won't require surgery.
He hit.294 with 14 homers and 53 RBIs in 395 at-bats last season.
League owners change some rules
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — The NFL owners have outlawed the chop block and confirmed extra point attempts will be permanently snapped from the 15-yard line. Those were among a number of rule changes owners signed off on at their meetings.
Other changes involved coach-to-player communications from the sideline as well as the press box; adding a delay-of-game penalty to a team that calls a timeout when it has none remaining; removing a 5-yard penalty for a receiver illegally touching a pass after being out of bounds; the expansion of what is called a horse-collar tackle to cover the nameplate on the back of jerseys and eliminating multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.
RB Morris signs with Dallas
UNDATED (AP) — Running back Alfred Morris is switching teams within the NFC East. Morris, who was a four-year starter for the Redskins, has inked a two-year deal with the Cowboys. Morris racked up 4,713 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns in 64 games with Washington. In eight games against Dallas, he ran for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.
Elsewhere around the NFL:
— The Kansas City Chiefs may have to do without star pass rusher Justin Houston next season. He has undergone surgery to repair the ACL in one of his left knee and there is a big window for his possible return. If all goes well, he could be back in mid-August. However, if there are setbacks in his recovery, he could miss the entire upcoming season.
— Ravens Coach John Harbaugh says the team has an "unofficial agreement" with free-agent running back Trent Richardson. Harbaugh told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings he's been exchanging texts with Richardson and expects to sign him. The 25-year-old Richardson has been a disappointment as a pro since he was selected No. 3 overall in the 2012 draft by Cleveland. He has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and has run for 2,032 yards and 17 touchdowns in 46 career games.
— The 49ers have signed left guard Zane Beadles to a three-year contract after he was released March 3 by Jacksonville in a move to create salary cap space. He's a durable offensive lineman who has started all 16 games in each of the past five seasons. The 29-year-old Beadles will help fill a void after Alex Boone's departure to the Vikings in free agency.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-HALL OF FAME
College Hall to gain eight members
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame has announced the class of 2016. Gaining admittance are former Georgia standout Dominique Wilkins, Doug Collins of Illinois State, DePaul's Mark Aguirre, LaSalle's Lionel Simmons, Bob Boozer of Kansas State and UCLA's Jamaal Wilkes. Two coaches are also part of the class of '16, Hugh Durham and Mike Montgomery.
The induction ceremony will take place in November.
Dixon takes over Horned Frogs...Turnaround specialist at Rutgers
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — As expected Jamie Dixon has been introduced as the new head basketball coach at TCU. Dixon, who played his college ball for the Horned Frogs, left Pittsburgh for the job after leading the Panthers to 11 NCAA Tournaments in 13 seasons.
TCU is hoping he has the same kind of success in Fort Worth as the Frogs have won only eight Big 12 games since joining the conference four years ago.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Steve Pikiell has been introduced as Rutgers new men's basketball coach, vowing to continue his trend of turning around struggling programs. He has a huge task now to turn around a Rutgers team that went 7-25 and was winless in the Big Ten.
The former Stony Brook coach says he's never let down an athletic director, university president or student body.
Pikiell compiled a 119-48 record over the past five seasons at Stony Brook.