Heat clinch home-court edge...Kobe pours in 47...Mavs out
UNDATED (AP) — Miami's B-team has given the Heat home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
With LeBron James and Dwyane (dwayn) Wade chilling on the bench to rest minor injuries and Chris Bosh home with flu-like symptoms, the Miami Heat clinched the best record in the NBA by beating Washington 103-98. Ray Allen led the Heat with 23. The Heat overcame 25 turnovers but still managed to assure they'll finish ahead of San Antonio in the race for best record in the NBA.
In other NBA action:
— Kobe Bryant poured in a season-high 47 points in leading the L.A. Lakers past Portland 113-106 and improve their postseason chances. The victory moves the Lakers one game ahead of Utah in the race for the final playoff spot in the West. Bryant also had eight rebounds and four blocks.
— P.J. Tucker scored 17 points, including two key baskets in the closing minutes and the Phoenix Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks 102-91. The Mavs are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
— Wilson Chandler scored 29 points and Corey Brewer had 28 as the Denver Nuggets posted their franchise-record 21st straight home win, 96-86 over the San Antonio Spurs.
— Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led seven players in double figures with 19 points apiece, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-95 for their franchise-record 31st home win of the season.
— Deron (DEHR'-ihn) Williams had 29 points and 12 assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 101-93 win over the Boston Celtics.
— Josh Smith had 28 points and 12 rebounds, John Jenkins added 21 points and the Atlanta Hawks blitzed the Philadelphia 76ers 124-101.
— Andre Drummond scored a career-high 29 points and the Detroit Pistons won a second straight game for the first time in two months with a 111-104 victory over Cleveland.
— Nik Vucevic had 30 points and 20 rebounds, Tobias Harris added 30 points and 19 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic rallied for a 113-103 overtime victory over Milwaukee.
— Sacramento downed New Orleans 121-100. John Salmons led the way with 22.
Rangers moving up
UNDATED (AP) — Mats Zuccarello scored the lone goal in the shootout, and the New York Rangers overcame another two-goal effort from Toronto's Phil Kessel and beat the Leafs 3-2 to move back into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
Zuccarello was called out before the game by Rangers coach John Tortorella to score more. He followed orders. Zuccarello connected in the second round of the tiebreaker against James Reimer. Henrik Lundqvist turned aside all three Toronto shooters, and the Rangers moved into a flat-footed tie with the New York Islanders. Those teams meet Saturday night on Long Island.
In other NHL action:
— Gregory Campbell scored twice in a three-goal first period and the Boston Bruins regained first place in the Northeast Division with a 5-4 victory over the reeling New Jersey Devils, who've lost eight straight.
— David Moss and Boyd Gordon each had a goal and an assist as the Phoenix Coyotes stayed firmly in the playoff picture with a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton.
— Surprise starter Roberto Luongo made 40 saves and Maxim Lapierre (MAHX'-eem lah-PEE'-ayr) scored the go-ahead goal as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 4-1.
— Matt Duchene (doo-SHAYN') had a goal and an assist, and the NHL-worst Colorado Avalanche prevented Anaheim from clinching a playoff spot with a 4-1 victory over the Ducks.
Torrid Braves sweep again...Umps tardy in Nats victory
UNDATED (AP) — The 8-1 Atlanta Braves are off to their best start since 1994 when they started 14-1. The Braves scored their second straight three-game sweep by blanking Miami 8-0 as Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer.
Only three series into the season, Atlanta enjoys a seven-game lead over the Marlins, who have the worst record in the big leagues at 1-8. They've scored just 16 runs in nine games.
Elsewhere around the majors:
— Matt Moore and four Rays relievers combined on a five-hitter and Tampa Bay beat Texas 2-0 in the coldest day game ever at Rangers Ballpark. It was 39 degrees when the game started after a rain delay of 1 hour, 29 minutes.
— Buster Posey drove in three runs, Barry Zito (ZEE'-toh) pitched another gem and the San Francisco Giants completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a 10-0 rout. Zito has not allowed a run in 14 innings this year.
— A.J. Pollock homered twice, doubled and drove in four runs as the Arizona Diamondbacks salvaged the final game of their series against Pittsburgh, routing the Pirates 10-2
— J.P. Arencibia (ah-rehn-SEE'-bah) hit a three-run double in the seventh inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Detroit Tigers 8-6.
— Manny Machado's three-run homer capped a five-run ninth inning and gave the Baltimore Orioles an 8-5 win over the Boston Red Sox.
— Kansas City blanked Minnesota 3-0 to finish a three-game sweep. Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur (fran-KOOR') homered as the Royals have won six of seven.
— Jake Westbrook pitched a five-hit shutout and the St. Louis Cardinals backed him with four home runs in a 10-0 rout of Cincinnati. Matt Carpenter had a two-run homer and four RBIs. Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams homered in a span of seven at-bats off Reds starter Homer Bailey.
— Philadelphia erupted with five runs in the first inning and coasted past the New York Mets 7-3. Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix homered for the Phils.
— Carl Crawford hit his first home run and the L.A. Dodgers held off San Diego 4-3. The Padres rallied with two in the bottom of the ninth but Dodgers closer Brandon League got out of the jam, ending the game with two runners on base. A.J. Ellis added a two-run homer for the Dodgers.
— Brandon Moss homered and drove in five as the Oakland Athletics routed the L.A. Angels 11-5. Tommy Milone got the win for the A's.
— After scoring 16 runs Tuesday night, the Houston Astros again raked Seattle pitching. This time the Astros rapped out 15 hits in an 8-3 win over the Mariners.
— In the interleague game, Washington rapped out 11 hits and beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2. Bryce Harper hit his fourth home run of the season. The game began 16 minutes late because, according to the Nationals, the umpires got stuck in traffic.
— The Brewers-Cubs game in Chicago was postponed by bad weather and will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on July 30.
— The Yankees-Indians game in Cleveland was rained out. No immediate makeup date.
Rangers starter goes on DL
UNDATED (AP) — Texas Rangers opening day starter Matt Harrison is going on the disabled list after trying to pitch with soreness in his lower back.
The Rangers say that Harrison will be put on the 15-day DL after an MRI revealed an inflamed nerve in his back. The left-hander will remain in Texas for treatment instead of going with the team to Seattle, where he was scheduled to start tonight.
In other baseball news:
— The longest home sellout streak in major pro sports history ended last night at 820 games for the Boston Red Sox. The official attendance for the game against the Baltimore Orioles was 30,862, well short of the Fenway Park capacity of 37,493.
— Major League Baseball has created an 18-member task force that will study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among black players.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NBA DRAFT
Zeller, Carter-Williams entering draft
UNDATED (AP) — Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller is heading to the NBA.
Zeller joins junior swingman Victor Oladipo (oh-lah-DEE'-poh) as the second Hoosier in as many days to leave school early.
Both are projected to be lottery picks in June.
The 7-foot Zeller led the Hoosiers in scoring (16.5 points) and rebounding (8.1), was a second-team All-American and is projected to be a top 10 pick in June's draft.
Four days after Syracuse lost in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament, star point guard Michael Carter-Williams has also decided to enter the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams finished fifth nationally in assist average (7.3) and fourth in steals (2.78) among Division I players, and also averaged 11.9 points and a team-best 35.2 minutes.
His star rose greatly in the postseason as he led Syracuse on a scintillating run after an end-of-the-regular season skid.
Who says Augusta doesn't change?
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Augusta National chairman Billy Payne says the winner of six PGA Tour events held in the fall will earn invitations to the Masters.
To allow room for more winners, however, the Masters is making its first changes to the qualifications since 2007.
Only the top 12 and ties from the previous Masters will be eligible to return, down from the top 16 and ties. The top eight and ties from the U.S. Open used to be eligible for the Masters. That number will shrink to the top four and ties, same as the British Open and PGA Championship.
In the biggest change, the Masters will no longer include the top 30 from the PGA Tour money list.
Payne announced one other change effective this year — the cut will increase from the top 44 to the top 50, including the 10-shot rule.
GOLF-THE MASTERS-PAR 3
Potter wins, Tiger skips
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Ted Potter Jr. has won the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National, the light-hearted precursor to the first major of the year.
Still, don't bet on Potter to win the Masters.
No winner of the Par 3 Contest has gone on to win the green jacket. The Masters begins today, with Tiger Woods an overwhelming favorite. Woods skipped the Par 3 Contest. He has a 10:45 a.m. (Eastern) tee time.
Velazquez gets Verrazano for Derby
NEW YORK (AP) — John Velazquez will ride unbeaten Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby. The jockey's agent, Angel Cordero, confirms that Velazquez will be aboard the Wood Memorial winner in the Derby on May 4.
Velazquez also rides Florida Derby winner Orb, but has decided to go with Verrazano, the 3-year-old colt many expect to be the Derby favorite.
Orb also is a top Derby contender, and will now be ridden by Joel Rosario, who was aboard the horse for his first five starts. Rosario was aboard third-place finisher Vyjack in the Wood.
Velazquez, meanwhile, has been sidelined since Sunday, when he fractured a rib and chipped a bone on his right wrist in a spill during a race at Aqueduct. He's been cleared to resume riding May 1.
Buffs' QB out for season
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb will miss the 2013 season after tearing a ligament in his right knee at spring practice. Webb tore the ACL on a cut in a noncontact drill Tuesday.
Colorado said Webb, a fifth-year senior, will work with the compliance office to try to gain a sixth year of eligibility.
Webb arrived at Colorado last season after playing for Kansas, and was named the Buffs' starter. He threw eight TDs and eight interceptions as Colorado went 1-11, leading to the dismissal of coach Jon Embree.