NBA SCOREBOARD

Indiana 97 Cleveland 95

Washington 125 Orlando 119

Charlotte 99 Utah 88

Brooklyn 110 Atlanta 105

New Orleans 119 Portland 113

Golden State 108 Milwaukee 94

Minnesota 118 New York 108

Denver 87 Memphis 78

Houston 112 Phoenix 95

 

NHL SCOREBOARD

Vancouver 5 Columbus 2

Calgary 4 Florida 2

Washington 4 Carolina 3

Chicago 2 Winnipeg 1

Edmonton 4 Arizona 2

 

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Butler 94 Marquette 83

Dayton 106 VCU 79

Penn State 76 Nebraska 74 OT

IUPUI 67 Green Bay 61

 

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#8 Oregon 62 Arizona 44

#14 UCLA 81 Utah 74

#12 Oregon State 57 #18 Arizona State 54

#24 California 69 Washington 60

ELSEWHERE

DePaul 79 Xavier 48

Drake 85 Indiana State 64

Marquette 69 Butler 67

Valparaiso 76 Loyola Chicago 60

Northern Iowa 65 Evansville 41

 

TOP HEADLINES

Pacers rally from 22-point deficit to beat Cavaliers 97-95

When Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan went small Friday night, Lance Stephenson came up big.

He baited LeBron James into a late technical foul. He made play after play down the stretch and when the game was over the Pacers’ showman was celebrating.

Stephenson had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help Indiana erase a 22-point, first-half deficit and beat Cleveland 97-95. It’s the Pacers’ third win this season over the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs.

“It feels good, but it’s a long season,” a more subdued Stephenson said in the locker room. “They’re a tough team but we came out and played smart defense and made the right plays.”

It was a stunning twist, coming almost exactly nine months after the Cavs rallied from a 26-point deficit on the same court to beat Indiana in the playoffs.

This time, the Pacers handed Cleveland a third straight confounding loss. The first two came by a combined 62 points and on Friday the Cavs were outscored 84-61 over the final three quarters on the second night of back-to-back road games.

Stephenson had plenty of help. Darren Collison scored 22 points and Victor Oladipo had 19.

But the guy with a knack for getting inside opponents’ heads with unthinkable stunts, like blowing in James’ ear or giving him a thumb in the side – as television replays showed during the game – played the instigator perfectly.

James had 27 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and was called for a technical foul after reacting to Stephenson’s jab by shoving him in the chest. Oladipo made the free throw to give Indiana an 84-82 lead with 7:53 to go, a costly point.

The four-time MVP wasn’t amused.

“Lance is just a little dirty, that’s all. He’s a little dirty,” James said. “I should have known, I’ve known since school, it’s not the guy who tells the joke that gets caught it’s the guy who laughs. They caught me on the retaliation. He played well, though.”

Stephenson entered the game with 5:52 left in the third quarter when 6-foot-11 center Domantas Sabonis picked up his fourth foul. McMillan let him play the rest of the way.

The result: Indiana, which trailed 26-6 about eight minutes into the game and still trailed 72-60 with 5:23 left in the third, rallied. Indiana shut out the Cavs over the final 3:57 and twice stopped James when he could have given the Cavs the lead.

Oladipo’s 3 with 2:10 left gave Indiana the lead for good.

James then had two chances to give Cleveland the lead in the final 2 seconds. First, a switch by Collison forced James out of bounds on a baseline drive 1.7 seconds to go.

Then, James’ desperation 3 bounced high off the rim.

“It’s hard to get into his head, but tonight was (different),” Stephenson said. “Just playing against the best player in the league, trying to win against them. There are a lot of fans coming out to support him, so I just try to get his fans mad, too.”

 

Steelers’ Brown sent home sick, questionable for Sunday

Antonio Brown was sent home from Steelers practice Friday, but it wasn’t because of the calf injury he’s been nursing for the past four weeks.

Brown was a full practice participant all week, but coach Mike Tomlin said Brown fell ill Friday. So Tomlin kept him away from the team two days prior to the Steelers’ divisional round playoff game Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

On their official injury report released late Friday afternoon, the Steelers listed Brown as questionable to play Sunday.

“I didn’t want him to get any of the guys who weren’t sick, sick,” Tomlin said. “We’ll bring him back in the building (Saturday) and continue with his game readiness. We don’t have a lot of reservations about him from a physical health standpoint. We do need to get him well from an illness standpoint.”

Brown hasn’t played since he left a Dec. 17 game against the New England Patriots in the second quarter because of a contusion in his lower left leg. He returned to practice Monday and remains in line to appear in his 10th playoff game Sunday at Heinz Field.

Questions swirled surrounding the status of three other Steelers starters, but each of those defensive players on Friday insisted he will play against the Jaguars. Cornerback Artie Burns returned after sustaining a non-contact right knee injury Wednesday, defensive end Stephon Tuitt returned after an elbow injury limited him Wednesday and prevented him from practicing Thursday, and defensive lineman Javon Hargrave (back) came back after taking Thursday off.

Also, Tomlin said backup offensive lineman B.J. Finney (thigh injury sustained in the regular-season finale) was a full participant in practice for the second straight day.

Tomlin said he expects all his injured players to be available Sunday. The Steelers listed none on the “play status” portion of their injury report, and each of them, separately, expressed they would play.

“I’m feeling good; I did all of my reps today in practice,” Burns said. “I should be 100 percent (Sunday). I felt good out there. All of my movements were good. I feel like I was able to run with good speed. I just have to keep doing therapy and I’ll be good.”

Burns, like Tuitt, emerged from practice with a sizable wrap on the affected body part. But when asked if he was playing Sunday, Tuitt’s answer was, “No doubt.”

“It went great today,” Tuitt also said. “I moved my arm really well, pushed offensive line back. It felt great.”

Hargrave downplayed the significance of suddenly missing a practice three days before a playoff game.

“I just didn’t practice (Thursday), that’s all,” he said.

“I’m good. Ain’t nothing serious, I’m pretty sure,” Hargrave said. “It really wasn’t too big; I just needed some rest, really. I practiced (Friday) and it was pretty good.”

 

49ers linebacker Reuben Foster arrested on marijuana charge

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has been arrested in Alabama and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana.

AL.com (http://bit.ly/2moysWi ) says the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrest database indicates Foster, who just finished his rookie season, was arrested Friday. Bond was set at $2,500.

A statement from the 49ers Friday night said: “The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Reuben Foster and we are currently gathering all relevant facts.”

The former Alabama linebacker was a first-team All-American for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and won the Butkus Award. He was a first-round pick in last year’s NFL draft.

Foster started all 10 games he played in this season and posted 72 tackles.

He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month in November.

 

Carolina LB Davis announces retirement following 2018 season

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says the 2018 season will be his last.

Davis confirmed his decision during an appearance on NFL Network on Friday. While the Panthers didn’t make an official announcement, the team posted a picture of Davis on its Twitter page with the word “Respect.”

Davis said he made his decision when the team signed him to a contract extension through 2018. He said he had been seeking an extension through 2019.

“For me, it was a no-brainer,” Davis said. “Like, `This is how long they want me here for.’ This is how much time I have to dedicate to this organization to try to win a Super Bowl, and that’s my mindset.”

Davis, 34, was Carolina’s first-round draft pick in 2005 and has spent his entire career with the Panthers. He’s seventh in team history with 13 career interceptions and eighth with 28 sacks.

In 2014, Davis was named the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year. Sandwiched around that honor were All-Pro honors in 2013 and 2015. During the last six seasons, Davis has missed just three games despite the last of three ACL repairs.

After the Panthers lost to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last weekend, Davis said he expects to have a reduced role in 2018 as Shaq Thompson gets more time.

Davis was suspended for one game late in the season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams.

 

Josh Donaldson agrees to $23M, 1-year deal with Blue Jays

Third baseman Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a $23 million contract Friday, the largest one-year deal for an arbitration-eligible player.

The 32-year-old, a three-time All-Star, topped the $21,625,000, one-year deal covering 2018 agreed to last May by outfielder Bryce Harper and Washington.

Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, got a $6 million raise after rebounding from an injury-slowed 2016 to hit .270 last season with 33 homers and 78 RBIs in 113 games. The sure-handed infielder missed time from April 14 through May 25 with a calf injury, which also hampered him during spring training.

Donaldson was coming off a $28.65 million, two-year deal. He is eligible for free agency after this season.

Toronto also agreed to one-year deals with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for $1.9 million, left-hander Aaron Loup for $1,812,500, outfielder Kevin Pillar for $3.25 million, right-hander Aaron Sanchez for $2.7 million, second baseman Devon Travis for $1.45 million and right-hander Dominic Leone for $1,085,000.

Carrera earned $1,162,500 last season, when the 30-year-old Venezuelan played every outfield spot and batted .282 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in a career-high 131 games for the Blue Jays – 91 of those in left field.

Pillar batted .256 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs in 154 games.

Loup, who made $1,125,000 in 2017, went 2-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 70 appearances and 57 2/3 innings. Sanchez went 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA in eight starts, while Leone was 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in a career-high 65 appearances and his most innings at 70 1/3.

Toronto’s remaining arbitration eligible players are right-handers Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna. Stroman is seeking $6.9 million and Toronto countered at $6.5 million, and Osuna asked for $5.8 million while the Blue Jays offered $5.3 million.

Stroman is coming off a career-best year in which he went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts while reaching 200 innings for the second straight season (201). He made $3.4 million last season.

Osuna was 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA with a career-best 39 saves in 66 appearances and 64 innings.

 

Bryant gets $10.85M, record for 1st arbitration eligible

Kris Bryant put up another big number on Friday.

Bryant agreed to a $10.85 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, a record for a player eligible for arbitration for the first time.

“I guess for some players it might be stressful, but I really enjoyed the whole process of it,” Bryant said before the start of the team’s annual fan convention. “You play to get to this point in your career, and I’ve put in so much hard work behind the scenes to get to this point. It just feels so rewarding.”

The previous mark was held by former Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard, who was awarded $10 million by a three-person panel in 2008. The Cubs and Bryant avoided arbitration, and the 26-year-old third baseman receives a hefty raise after making $1.05 million last year.

“I don’t look at money records,” Bryant said. “I guess the records on the field are way more important, because when you’re doing that, you know, you’re helping the team. But it really is a cherry on top when you get paid millions of dollars to do something that you’ve loved since you were 4 years old.”

The Cubs also reached one-year deals with right-hander Kyle Hendricks ($4,175,000), shortstop Addison Russell ($3.2 million) reliever Justin Wilson ($4.25 million) and infielder Tommy La Stella ($950,000). The team exchanged figures with reliever Justin Grimm, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he hopes to strike a deal before an arbitration hearing.

Bryant was selected by Chicago with the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft, a key moment in the Cubs’ ascension from perennial loser to annual championship contender. He hit .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs in 2016, winning the NL MVP award and helping Chicago win the World Series for the first time since 1908.

The 2015 NL Rookie of the Year batted .295 with 29 home runs and 73 RBIs last year.

“I’m happy for K.B. I thought he got a fair and record award,” Epstein said, “which just shows a lot of the special things he’s been able to accomplish and the special teams he’s been on as well.”

Epstein said there were no substantive discussions this winter on a long-term deal for Bryant, who is represented by Scott Boras.

“I’ll hear anything that they have to offer,” Bryant said. “I’d be a fool not to.”

 

Orioles avoid arbitration with Machado, Britton, 3 others

The Orioles agreed to a $16 million contract with third baseman Manny Machado and a $12 million deal with injured closer Zach Britton, avoiding arbitration with both stars.

Machado, who can become a free agent after this season, hit .259 with 33 homers and 95 RBIs last year, when he made $11.5 million. He has been mentioned in persistent trade rumors.

Britton ruptured his right Achilles tendon in offseason training and could miss part of the 2018 season. The 30-year-old left-hander made $11.4 million last season, when he had 15 saves and a 2.89 ERA. In 2016, he had a 0.54 ERA and converted all 47 of his save opportunities.

Britton can also become a free agent after this season.

The Orioles also reached one-year deals with shortstop Tim Beckham ($3.35 million), right-hander Brad Brach ($5,165,000) and catcher Caleb Joseph ($1.25 million). Right-hander Kevin Gausman and second baseman Jonathan Schoop are Baltimore’s only arbitration-eligible players without deals.

Gausman is asking for $6,225,000 and the team is offering $5.3 million. Schoop is asking for $9 million with the Orioles offering $7.5 million.

 

McIlroy reveals heart ailment that will require monitoring

Rory McIlroy says he has a heart ailment that will have to be monitored regularly but is not expected to affect his play.

McIlroy said in an interview with The Telegraph that he has a thickening of the left ventricle. He says doctors told him it was caused by a viral infection he suffered in China 18 months ago.

He says he’ll get an electrocardiogram every six months and an MRI once per year.

“There’s a bit of scar tissue. For now, I just need to stay on top of it and have to stay fit. Hey, I was planning on doing that anyway,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy said later in an Instagram post , “It’s really not that big of a deal and nothing to worry about, apart from getting an annual checkup, like you should do anyway. … I’m fit and healthy and can’t wait to get my 2018 season started in Abu Dhabi next week.”

McIlroy says he’s fully recovered from the rib injury he suffered a year ago that contributed to a winless 2017. He finished the year ranked 11th, his worst year-end ranking since his rookie year in 2008.

McIlroy took three months off at the end of 2017 to allow his rib to heal. He plans to play eight events before the Masters, his most ambitious schedule ahead of Augusta National in the 10 years he’s been eligible.

 

Donovan coming out of retirement again to play in Mexico

Captain American is heading south for his latest comeback.

Landon Donovan, widely considered the most accomplished player in American soccer history, is coming out of retirement for the second time in three years, this time to join Club Leon in Mexico.

The Liga MX team announced Donovan’s return to soccer on Twitter on Friday night. Donovan will play for Leon in the Mexican Clausura tournament, although more details on his signing were not provided.

Donovan has spent the past three days in Leon, raising speculation that he might join the club. He also tweeted Friday about joining Club Leon, saying he was excited to face former U.S. teammate and current C.F. Pachuca player Omar Gonzalez next month.

“I loved the city, Leon is an historic and winning team,” Donovan wrote in Spanish. “I don*t believe in walls, I want to go to Mexico, dress in green and win tournaments in Leon. See you soon.”

Donovan is the third player signed by Leon for the Clausura tournament along with Argentinian Emanuel Cecchini and Jamaican Giles Barnes.

The 35-year-old is the career scoring leader in Major League Soccer and for the U.S. national team. He returned to the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer in September of 2016 following a 21-month retirement and appeared in nine games. He hasn’t played professionally since Nov. 6, 2016.

Donovan played in three World Cups: South Korea and Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. He also played in six Gold Cups and won four titles. He scored 57 goals playing for the U.S. team and 145 in the MLS.

Donovan has done broadcast work since retiring and was rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Soccer Federation president. Donovan announced in November that he would not seek the position.