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MLB-SCHEDULE

Blanton makes first start for Angels

UNDATED (AP) — The first Thursday of the major league baseball season is dotted with afternoon games on the traditional "get-away" day.

The only interleague game on the schedule gets things started with Cincinnati hosting the Angels. Joe Blanton takes the hill in his first start for the Angels after signing as a free agent. He spent last season with Philadelphia and the Dodgers going 10-13. Bronson Arroyo is set for the Reds in the series closer after what he called a "great spring" for him.

In other day games, Detroit sends out Rick Porcello in a matinee at Target Field in Minneapolis. The Twins hand the ball to big Mike Pelfrey, who's making his first start for Minnesota since coming over from the New York Mets.

In Chicago, Gavin Floyd starts for the White Sox against Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie. Baltimore visits Tampa Bay and Seattle is at Oakland in other AL day games.

Tonight in the AL, the 0-2 New York Yankees will try to avoid an opening series three-game sweep to Boston. Veteran lefty Andy Pettitte (PEHT'-iht) starts for the Yanks against Boston's Ryan Dempster, the Red Sox' major free agent acquisition in the winter. Cleveland is at Toronto in the final AL game of the night.

Over in the National League, the Washington Nationals try for their third shutout in three games when they host Miami. Jordan Zimmerman takes the mound for the Nats against Wade LeBlanc.

In other NL day games, the Chicago Cubs visit Pittsburgh and San Diego is at Citi Field for a game against the Mets.

The lone night game is in Atlanta where Cliff Lee is on the mound for Philadelphia against the Braves' Kris Medlen.

NBA-SCHEDULE

Nets in a back-to-back situation against Bulls

UNDATED (AP) — With the NBA regular season ending in two weeks, teams are jostling for the best possible playoff positions. The Brooklyn Nets are holding a slight lead on the fourth playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, which would give Brooklyn the home-court edge in a first-round playoff series.

Tonight the Nets get a stern test in the back end of two games in two nights. After routing the Cavaliers 113-95 last night in Cleveland, the Nets are back home for a game against Chicago. The Bulls currently sit in sixth place in the East, two and a half-games back of Brooklyn.

The rest of tonight's three-game NBA schedule has Denver hosting Dallas. The Mavs are in 10th place in the West.

The final game might be a preview of the Western Conference final. San Antonio visits Oklahoma City in a matchup of the top two teams in the West. Last night, the Spurs beat Orlando 98-94. Already without injured Manu Ginobili (MAN'-oo jih-NOH'-blee), San Antonio rested Tony Parker and Kawhi (kuh-WEYE') Leonard, and used Tim Duncan for only 14 minutes as coach Gregg Popovich prepared his team for tonight's game against Dallas.

NHL-SCHEDULE

Hello, have I met you before?

UNDATED (AP) — There are a lot of new faces on NHL teams playing their first game tonight for their new teams following yesterday's trading deadline.

The Boston Bruins, who currently are sitting one point behind Montreal in the Northeast Division, acquired defenseman Wade Redden from the St. Louis Blues for a conditional seventh-round draft yesterday. Tonight Redden joins his new teammates when Boston hosts New Jersey in one of a 10-game NHL slate. Jaromir Jagr (YAH'-roh-meer YAH'-gur) also makes his debut for the Bruins.

Philadelphia, which beat Montreal 5-3 last night, has a tough back-to-back assignment as the Flyers travel to Toronto. The Maple Leafs bolstered their defense by acquiring Ryan O'Byrne from Colorado for a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 yesterday.

Washington, which acquired right wing Martin Erat (EE'-rat) from Nashville yesterday, hosts the New York Islanders. The Caps start the night just two points behind Winnipeg in the race for the Southeast Division title.

Elsewhere tonight, the Winnipeg Jets visit Montreal, Tampa Bay is at Carolina, Nashville hosts Columbus, St. Louis is at Chicago, Phoenix hosts Detroit, Vancouver is home against Edmonton and Minnesota, which lost at San Jose last night, visits the L.A. Kings in the second half of a back-to-back assignment.

NIT CHAMPIONSHIP

NEW YORK (AP) — Pierre Jackson is one win away from capping his stellar Baylor career with the Bears' first NIT championship.

To do that, he'll have to break down Iowa's defense in the title game of the 76th National Invitation Tournament tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden.

The Hawkeyes have faced plenty of good point guards this season in the Big Ten, though none quite put up Jackson's type of numbers. The junior-college transfer leads the Big 12 this season in points and assists per game, putting him in line to be the first player in a major conference to do that since Arizona's Jason Terry led the Pac-10 in 1998-99.

Iowa had a rough start in the Big Ten season but seems to have come together, winning 11 of their last 14 games and finishing stronger than anyone in the conference but Ohio State. Defense carried them to the NIT title game. The Hawkeyes' went to a zone against Maryland in the semifinal and the Terps couldn't handle it.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL-RUTGERS-RICE BONUS

APNewsBreak: Ex-Rutgers coach due $100K bonus

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers University's fired basketball coach is due a $100,000 bonus for lasting through the season.

Mike Rice was dismissed yesterday after a video was made public of him kicking and shoving players and spewing gay slurs during practices.

He would not be collecting the bonus if he had been fired in December when the university first saw the video and the administration decided only to discipline him.

Rice was paid $622,500 last year under a deal that also included bonuses for winning games and graduating players. His five-year contract called for a $100,000 bonus if he completed the 2012-13 season.

Athletic Department spokesman Jason Baum says the bonus will be paid because it's contractually obligated.

GOLF-TEXAS OPEN

McIlroy in field

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Rory McIlroy wasn't planning on playing in the Texas Open this week. Then again, he wasn't planning on playing this poorly heading into the Masters.

The former number one ranked golfer will tee it up in the opening round today, after adding the San Antonio stop to his schedule last week in hopes of sharpening his game heading to Augusta.

He opened the season with new clubs and it appears he's still getting used to them. McIlroy missed the cut at Abu Dhabi, walked off the course as defending champ at Honda and got beat in the opening round of the Match Play Championship in Arizona.

Joining McIlroy for the opening round in San Antonio today will be Matt Kuchar (KOO'-chur), Ian Poulter and Ben Curtis among many others in what usually is windy conditions in Texas.

The weather could be a challenge. Winds are forecast to possibly reach 25 mph.

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