Thunder win at Garden
UNDATED (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their third straight win last night to pull within 2 ½ games of first-place San Antonio in the NBA's Western Conference.
Kevin Durant hit the go-ahead free throws with 1:38 remaining and finished with 34 points as the Thunder downed the Knicks 95-94 in New York. Durant scored 12 points in the final period and also finished with eight rebounds and six assists.
Russell Westbrook chipped in 21 points, six boards and five assists to help Oklahoma City withstand J.R. Smith's season-high 36 points.
Smith missed shots on the Knicks' last two possessions to seal the win for the Thunder.
New York fell into a virtual tie with Indiana for second in the East, eight games behind the Miami Heat.
The only other NBA game last night had Denver beating the Los Angeles Clippers 109-92 behind Ty Lawson's 21 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Danilo Gallinari was also among the seven Nuggets to score in double-figures, finishing with 20 points along with six assists and five boards.
It's the seventh straight win for the Nuggets and their 12th in a row in Denver. They own the league's best home mark at 27-3.
The loss drops the Clippers five games off the Western Conference lead.
Suns' Gortat probably lost for season
PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat probably is out for the rest of the season after spraining his foot during Wednesday night's loss to Toronto.
The Suns say an MRI revealed a sprain to his right foot. Gortat will be sidelined three to four weeks, much of that time in a cast.
TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Spartans win, Ducks fall
UNDATED (AP) — Tenth-ranked Michigan State still has a chance to grab a share of the Big Ten men's basketball title.
Keith Appling scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half as the Spartans downed No. 22 Wisconsin 58-43. Appling converted a three-point play to cap a 16-0 run that put Michigan State ahead by 21.
Adreian Payne added nine points and 10 rebounds as the Spartans moved into a three-way tie for second with Michigan and Ohio State in the conference. Indiana tops the Big Ten by one game with one remaining.
Colorado completed a season sweep of Oregon by whipping the 19th-ranked Ducks 76-53. Xavier Johnson had a career-high 22 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added 17 as the Buffaloes prevented Oregon from clinching a share of the Pac-12 crown.
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Akron point guard Alex Abreu has been suspended after he was arrested and charged with possession and trafficking of marijuana.
Abreau had helped the Zips reeling off a 19-game winning streak that propelled them to their second consecutive Mid-American Conference title, averaging 10 points and six assists.
A team spokesman said the indefinite suspension is pending the outcome of a police investigation.
Habs, B's win again...Pens rally to nip Flyers
UNDATED (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens continue to top the NHL's Eastern Conference, but their lead in the Northeast Division remains just one point over Boston.
Brandon Prust and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist in the Canadiens' 4-2 triumph at Carolina. Eller scored the tiebreaker with 13:51 remaining and Carey Price made 42 saves as the Habs improved to 15-5-4.
Tyler Seguin (SAY'-gihn) contributed two goals and an assist as the Bruins doubled up Toronto 4-2 to improve to 15-3-3. Patrice Bergeron (pah-TREES' BEHR'-zhur-ahn) added a goal and an assist to support Anton Khudobin, who finished with 25 saves in helping the Bruins end a two-game winless skid.
Also on ice, Chris Kunitz (KOO'-nihts) scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat Philadelphia 5-4. Pascal Dupuis (doo-PWEE'), James Neal and Tyler Kennedy also scored for the Penguins before Kunitz's tally at 18 seconds of the third period sent the Atlantic Division leaders to their third straight win.
The New York Rangers beat the Islanders 2-1 on Marian Gaborik's (GAB'-uh-riks) power-play goal 42 seconds into overtime. Rick Nash set up the game-winner after scoring the tying goal with 5:23 left in regulation.
David Clarkson and Patrik Elias (EH'-lee-ahsh) scored in a shootout as New Jersey beat Buffalo 3-2 to halt a six-game winless skid. Elias and Adam Henrique (hehn-REEK') got the Devils to the overtime by scoring in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
Patrik Berglund scored twice in a 2:22 span of the second period to put St. Louis ahead 3-2 in a 6-3 win at Phoenix. Chris Stewart got a goal and two assists and David Perron set up three goals as the Blues ended a two-game slide.
Jimmy Howard picked up his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career by stopping 22 shots in Detroit's 3-0 win against Edmonton. Jakub Kindl and Cory Emmerton scored in the second period to put the Red Wings ahead 2-0.
Jaromir Jagr (YAH'-roh-meer YAH'-gur) scored twice and Kari Lehtonen (LEH'-toh-nehn) stopped 30 shots as Dallas rallied to beat Los Angeles 5-2. Cody Eakin provided the tying goal late in the second period before setting up Brenden Morrow's game-winner.
Steven Stamkos scored his league-leading 18th goal of the season, but Bryan Little provided the tiebreaking goal with 4:08 left to give Winnipeg a 2-1 decision over the Tampa Bay. Al Montoya stopped 28 shots and helped the Jets send the Lightning to their sixth loss in seven games.
Washington scored four times on its first eight shots and clobbered Florida 7-1. Alex Ovechkin (oh-VEHCH'-kin), Mike Ribeiro (rih-BEHR'-oh) and Wojtek Wolski (VOY'-tehl WAHL'-skee) each finished with a goal and two assists as the Capitals vacated the Eastern Conference cellar and pulled within six points of Carolina for the Southeast Division lead.
Columbus has a season-high three-game winning streak after Matt Calvert scored on a rink-long dash at 4:03 of overtime to lift the Blue Jackets past Vancouver 2-1. Sergei Bobrovsky handled 34 shots and blanked the Canucks until Henrik Sedin (seh-DEEN') knotted the game early in the third period.
Realignment a step closer to reality
NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL has moved a step closer to realignment as the players' association approved a proposed plan that is set to go into effect next season.
Union head Donald Fehr (feer) signed off on the plan after discussions with the union's executive board and said the realignment issue will be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season.
No official details of the changes have been released by the NHL, but it is widely believed that teams such as Detroit and Columbus will be put into more travel-friendly divisions in the Eastern time zone, while the Winnipeg Jets will leave the Southeast Division for a spot in the Western Conference.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks will be without forward Patrick Sharp when they try to extend their points streak to 31 games Friday at Colorado. Sharp left Wednesday's 3-2 home win over the Avalanche with what looked like a shoulder injury after being checked along the boards by Colorado's Ryan O'Byrne. The Blackhawks also said injured players Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw traveled to Denver with the team.
Mo eyeing finish line
UNDATED (AP) — A person familiar with the decision tells the AP that New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera plans to retire after the 2013 season.
The team has announced a news conference for Saturday morning at their training complex in Tampa, but won't say why.
The 43-year-old right-hander is baseball's saves leader with 608. He missed most of last season after he tore a ligament in his right knee while catching fly balls during batting practice.
Elsewhere around spring training:
— St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal (fur-KAHL') will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week. The 35-year-old Furcal has been sidelined since reinjuring the elbow he hurt late last season. Furcal and the team had tried rehab rather than reconstructive surgery in the offseason.
— Indians outfielder Michael Brantley is among 11 players to sign one-year contracts with Cleveland. Brantley will start in left field following the team's signing of free agent center fielder Michael Bourn. He resumes workouts Thursday after he was spiked last week during an exhibition game and needed 15 stitches.
UNDATED (AP) — The San Diego Chargers have released linebacker Takeo Spikes in their first major move under new general manager Tom Telesco.
The 36-year-old Spikes has played 15 NFL seasons, including the last two with San Diego. He has started 215 of his 219 career games played, including all 32 with the Chargers. He has 1,737 career tackles, including 218 with the Chargers.
In other offseason news:
— Jeff Saturday signed a one-day contract with Indianapolis so he could retire with the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1998. Saturday played 13 seasons with the Colts, teaming with Peyton Manning to set an NFL record for games played between a quarterback and center.
— The Titans have re-signed defensive end Keyunta Dawson to a one-year contract. Dawson originally signed with Tennessee last year and played in the first three games of the season before landing on injured reserve with a bad hamstring.
— A person familiar with the situation tells the AP that New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster and center David Baas have re-worked their contracts for the 2013 season in order to help the team with the league's salary cap. The moves combined will clear roughly $6 million in cap space, giving the Giants $9 million for free agency.
— The Denver Broncos are asking defensive end Elvis Dumervil (DOO'-mur-vihl) to take a pay cut so they can create more salary cap room for free agency. Dumervil signed a six-year, $61.5 million contract in 2010. He's scheduled to make $12 million this year.
GOLF-WGC CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIP
Woods sitting pretty at Doral
DORAL, Fla. (AP) — The leaderboard at Doral is a who's who of golf greats.
Tiger Woods is part of a five-way tie for the lead through one round of the Cadillac Championship. Woods opened with a 6-under-par 66 that leaves him tied with Freddie Jacobson (YAHK'-uhb-suhn), Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Bubba Watson.
Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan (MAY'-han), Steve Stricker and Peter Hanson are one shot back.
Just 16 of 65 players shot above par amid ideal conditions in Miami. One of the 16 was Rory McIlroy, who played his first competitive round of golf since walking off the course in frustration last Friday during the second round of the Honda Classic. The world's top-ranked golfer birdied two of his last three holes to salvage a 1-over-par 73 on the TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
PGA TOUR-PUERTO RICO OPEN
Romero, Percy tied for lead
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Andres Romero made two late bogeys to drop into a tie for the Puerto Rico Open lead with Cameron Percy at 7-under 65.
Blayne Barber and Jon Curran were a stroke back in the PGA Tour event at the Trump International course.
NCAA reviewing recruiting changes
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA says its board of directors will review two proposals adopted in January that were aimed at deregulating recruiting after some coaches and administrators expressed concerns about the possible changes. The NCAA has announced the rules working group will modify proposals that would have removed certain restrictions on who can recruit and the amount of recruiting material that can be sent to prospective high school athletes. The proposals also would lift restrictions on how often coaches can text recruits.
Hamlin fined for car criticism
LAS VEGAS (AP) — NASCAR has fined Denny Hamlin $25,000 for disparaging comments about the racing last week at Phoenix.
Hamlin finished third on Sunday in the second race for NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car. He was asked after how he liked the car, and said he didn't want to be a "pessimist, but it did not race as good as our generation five cars. This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning."
Hamlin says won't pay the fine and if that leads to a suspension, so be it.
Hamlin might not have a choice: According to NASCAR rules, unpaid fines may be deducted from a driver's purse or point fund earnings.
5,000 wins for jockey Borel
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — Jockey Calvin Borel (buh-REHL') has claimed career win No. 5,000 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. Borel picked up the win aboard Hezunusal in the sixth race.
The Oaklawn racing season began in January with Borel at 4,999 wins, but the rider broke his wrist days before the meet opened. He returned in February, but couldn't come up with a winner until Thursday.
A three-time Kentucky Derby winner, Borel becomes the 26th North American jockey with 5,000 wins.