AP Wednesday Sports Roundup
Pelicans pass Thunder in standings
UNDATED (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans currently have possession of the eighth and final playoff berth in the NBA's Western Conference after knocking off the league's top team.
Anthony Davis scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half as the Pelicans beat Golden State 103-100 to move a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City. Davis hit two free throws with nine seconds left before Stephen Curry missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
Quincy Pondexter had 20 points for the Pelicans, whose 42 victories tie them with the Thunder.
Curry hit five three's and had 25 points for the Warriors, who dropped their second in a row since a 12-game winning streak.
The Thunder were clobbered 113-88 against visiting San Antonio as Kawhi Leonard matched a career high with 26 points. Leonard scored 23 points while the Spurs were building a 63-41 halftime lead.
Oklahoma City has dropped four straight but has a game in hand on New Orleans.
In other NBA action:
— The Atlanta Hawks have a team-record 58th victory after DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague (teeg) each scored 16 points in a 96-69 rout of Phoenix. Mike Muscala also finished with 16 points while starting in place of injured All-Star forward Paul Millsap, who's out with a shoulder injury.
— Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick scored 27 points apiece as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Lakers 105-100. Chris Paul finished with 19 points and 10 assists, while DeAndre Jordan grabbed 17 rebounds in the Clippers' fourth consecutive win.
— Goran Dragic scored 28 points and the Miami Heat helped their playoff chances by topping Charlotte 105-100. Luol Deng scored 21 for the Heat, who snapped a four-game losing streak and climbed within a half-game of Boston for the final Eastern Conference postseason berth.
— Omri Casspi scored 16 of his career-high 31 points in the third quarter of Sacramento's 116-111 verdict over Minnesota.
Rose questionable for Magic game
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say Derrick Rose is questionable for their game Wednesday at Orlando, the first time the star point guard has been listed as anything but "out" since his latest knee surgery.
Rose had a minor operation Feb. 27 and was expected to miss four to six weeks.
Peterson meets with Goodell
UNDATED (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Adrian Peterson has met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today.
The meeting regarded reinstatement of the Minnesota Vikings running back from the personal conduct policy suspension that was invoked last season. The meeting included other representatives from each side and lasted about an hour and a half at league headquarters in New York.
This was the first time Peterson and Goodell have spoken to each other since the child abuse case involving Peterson's young son arose last September.
Peterson was suspended through at least April 15.
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Jurors have begun deliberating in the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.
His lawyer today acknowledged for the first time that his client was at the scene of the killing, saying in closing arguments that Hernandez saw it happen but described him as a kid who simply did not know what to do. Attorney James Sultan pinned the killing on Hernandez's co-defendants, his friends Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz.
Pats running back suspended
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has been suspended without pay for the first game next season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Blount was arrested last August for possession of marijuana while with Pittsburgh. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell was arrested for marijuana possession and DUI in the same traffic stop.
Braves clobber Latos and the Marlins
UNDATED (AP) — Mat Latos made his Miami Marlins debut on Tuesday, an outing he'd like to forget.
The Atlanta Braves torched him for seven runs and six hits in just 2/3s of an inning before he was booed off the mound in a 12-2 rout by the visitors.
Freddie Freeman, Christian Bethancourt and Chris Johnson hit RBI doubles in the opening frame. Freeman finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored to back Alex Wood, who gave up two runs and four hits in five innings.
In other major league action:
— Colorado hit six doubles for the second straight game and following their 10-0 rout in the season opener with a 5-2 triumph at Milwaukee. Nick Hundley was 3-for-4 with an RBI and batterymate Jordan Lyles allowed two runs in six innings.
— Adam Jones laced a two-run double while Baltimore was scoring four times in the first inning of a 6-5 win at Tampa Bay. Steve Pearce homered for the second straight game, a two-run drive that made it 6-0 in the second.
— C.J. Wilson allowed two hits over eight innings to pitch the Los Angeles Angels past Seattle 2-0. David Freese backed the gem with a two-run homer in the fourth.
— Colby Lewis tossed six innings and combined with three relievers on a five-hitter as Texas downed Oakland 3-1. Prince Fielder hit a pair of RBI singles off loser Jesse Hahn, who allowed seven hits in six innings.
— David Peralta and Jake Lamb smacked three-run homers to power Arizona past San Francisco 7-6. Rubby De La Rosa picked up the win despite surrendering six runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
— Wil Myers delivered a tiebreaking, RBI single that sparked a four-run ninth in San Diego's 7-3 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Derek Norris added a two-run double in the ninth for the Padres, who were held to two hits by Zack Greinke over six innings.
— The Chicago Cubs and visiting St. Louis Cardinals were postponed by rain and cold weather. A makeup date has not been announced.
Cain unable for Giants
UNDATED (AP) — San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain is on the disabled list with a flexor tendon strain in his right forearm.
The Giants say Cain will return to San Francisco for further evaluation and could miss two weeks. He was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday, and the Giants said an MRI revealed Cain does not have ligament damage in his forearm.
In other major league news:
— The Cleveland Indians have announced their four-year, $22 million deal with pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who was 8-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 40 games. The contract was announced two days after the Indians finalized a long-term deal with ace Corey Kluber.
— The New York Mets have put closer Jenrry Mejia on the 15-day disabled because of inflammation in the back of his elbow. The team says Mejia won't be available to pitch in a game for at least 10 days.
— Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis has returned to the team and was in the starting lineup Tuesday against Tampa Bay after completing a 25-game suspension for a positive amphetamine test. Davis sat out the final 17 games of the 2014 regular season and Baltimore's seven playoff games.
Tide to introduce new hoops coach on Wednesday
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will introduce new basketball coach Avery Johnson at a news conference on Wednesday.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations says Johnson is receiving a six-year contract worth about $2.8 million annually plus incentives.
Johnson has had stints as an NBA head coach with the Dallas Mavericks and the Nets franchise.
New coach for the Rams
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — VCU has hired former Rams assistant Will Wade to replace men's basketball coach Shaka Smart, who left to take over the Texas Longhorns program. The 32-year-old Wade was the first assistant Smart hired six years ago. He spent the past two seasons as the head coach at Chattanooga, going 40-25.
Wade was the Southern Conference coach of the year in 2014 after the Mocs finished 18-15, including 12-6 in the conference. They were 22-10 this season, including 15-3 in league play.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-PLANE CRASH
Seven die in Illinois crash
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University associate head basketball coach Torrey Ward and deputy athletics director Aaron Leetch were among seven people killed in a small plane crash in a central Illinois field.
The private plane was returning from the NCAA basketball tournament in Indianapolis when it crashed Tuesday morning. The FAA says the Cessna 414 twin-engine aircraft took off from Indianapolis and crashed just short of the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington after midnight.
Tigers lose Williams
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri has confirmed that sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III is transferring and junior guard Deuce Bello intends to graduate this spring.
Williams started all 32 games last season and averaged team highs of 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Bello will transfer to pursue graduate studies at another institution.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NBA DRAFT
Hollis-Jefferson leaving for NBA draft
UNDATED (AP) — More players have announced that they are leaving school early to enter the NBA draft.
Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will forgo his final two years of eligibility. Hollis-Jefferson averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, helping Arizona reach the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight for the second straight season.
Kansas forward Cliff Alexander said Tuesday he is foregoing his three remaining years of eligibility. Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Jayhawks.
Central leaders fall as Wild clinches playoff berth
UNDATED (AP) — The St. Louis Blues had a chance to grab a share of the NHL's Western Conference lead. The Nashville Predators could have moved into the Central Division lead. And the Chicago Blackhawks had a chance to climb within one point of first place in the Central. Instead, all three teams lost.
The Blues were 1-0 losers to Winnipeg as Ondrej Pavelev stopped 30 shots in his second consecutive shutout. Chris Thorburn gave the Jets the game's first goal for the fourth straight game and eighth out of nine.
The Jets have won three straight to move three points ahead of Los Angeles for the final Western Conference playoff berth.
The Predators remain a point behind the Central-leading Blues after Joey Hishon scored the tiebreaking goal just over seven minutes into the third period of Colorado's 3-2 triumph against Nashville. Semyon Varlamov stopped 40 shots as the Avalanche send the Predators to their fourth consecutive loss.
The Blackhawks allowed Minnesota to clinch a playoff berth by falling to the Wild 2-1. Jason Zucker scored the eventual game-winner in his first action since breaking his collarbone on Feb. 9. Mikael Granlund also scored in the third period and Devan Dubnyk made 32 saves as the Wild handed the Hawks their second consecutive loss.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to pull into a tie with Boston for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Mark Stone scored 2:43 into overtime to complete the Senators' rally in a 4-3 triumph over Pittsburgh. Mike Hoffman tied it with 1:48 left in regulation before Stone notched his second goal of the night.
The comeback prevented the Penguins, New York Islanders and Detroit from clinching Eastern Conference playoff berths. The Bruins have one game in hand on the Senators, who are just three points behind the fifth-place Isles with two games remaining.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— The New York Rangers have wrapped up the President's Trophy for the third time since 1992 by beating a local rival. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist 47 seconds apart in the first period as the Rangers doubled up New Jersey 4-2 to clinch home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter and an assist for the Rangers, who outshot the Devils 19-4 in the first period en route to their fifth consecutive win.
— Philadelphia blew a 4-1 lead in the third period before Brayden Schenn scored with just 2.1 seconds left to give the Flyers a 5-4 victory over the Islanders. The outcome keeps the Islanders fifth in the East, one point behind Washington and two ahead of Pittsburgh.
— Third-period goals by Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk gave Detroit a 3-2 comeback win over Carolina. Henrik Zetterberg also scored and Jimmy Howard stopped 30 shots as the Red Wings won for just the second time in six games.
— Calgary is two points ahead of ninth-place Los Angeles in the West after Sean Monahan's goal snapped a 2-2 tie midway through the third period of the Flames' 3-2 win over Arizona. Craig Cunningham had a goal and an assist, while Jonas Hiller stopped 22 shots in Calgary's fourth victory in five games.
— Matt Fraser scored twice in Edmonton's 4-2 win over the Kings, which allowed Vancouver to clinch a playoff berth. The Kings will be eliminated if they lose to the Flames on Thursday, one season after winning the Stanley Cup.
Richards to sit until playoffs
CHICAGO (AP) — Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says center Brad Richards will miss the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Richards played 15 1/2 minutes in Sunday's 2-1 loss to St. Louis, and it's not clear when he got hurt. He has 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games this season for the Blackhawks, who are three points behind the Central Division-leading Blues.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL-NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
UConn does it again
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Connecticut Huskies are NCAA women's basketball champions for the 10th time, all under head coach Geno Auriemma.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson each scored 15 points as the Huskies earned a 63-53 triumph over Notre Dame. Breanna Stewart had eight points and 15 rebounds to help UConn earn its third straight title. Stewart claimed Most Outstanding Player honors in the tournament for the third time.
Auriemma tied UCLA's John Wooden for the most NCAA basketball championships.