National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

49ers linebacker Aldon Smith arrested at airport

LOS ANGELES (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after authorities said he became belligerent during a security screening and threatened that he had a bomb.

The 24-year-old player was randomly selected for a secondary screening at Terminal 1 and became uncooperative with the process, airport police Sgt. Karla Ortiz said. She said he told a TSA agent that he had a bomb before walking to the gate. When airport police officers caught up with him, Ortiz said Smith became uncooperative and was taken into custody.

A witness video posted on TMZ.com shows Smith exchanging words with an officer as he was being handcuffed and escorted out of the gate area.

Smith was booked for investigation of making a false bomb threat. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said anyone who makes a bomb threat at an airport is potentially subject to federal charges, although no such charges have been filed against Smith.

A message seeking comment from Smith's agent wasn't immediately returned.

With the arrest, Smith is involved in three pending criminal cases.

"We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "As this is a pending legal matter and we are still gathering the pertinent facts, we will have no further comment."

A fearsome pass-rushing specialist, Smith took a five-game leave of absence from the 49ers last season to undergo treatment for substance abuse. He rejoined the team Nov. 5.

Smith played in a 27-7 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 22, two days after he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. After the game, he publicly apologized for his behavior and later announced he would leave for treatment.

Leading up to the playoffs in early January, Smith said during an interview with The Associated Press he was encouraged by the strides he had made to better himself off the football field that put life - and his work - in perspective. He said at the time he hadn't had any alcohol since before his Sept. 20 DUI arrest, and that he wasn't craving it. When he rejoined the team Nov. 5, he insisted he was on the path to lifelong sobriety stuck by that statement.

His teammates rallied around him in support of his rehab and, later, his return to the team.

Smith emerged as one of the NFL's most-feared pass rushers in 2012. He had a franchise-record 19.5 sacks that year, but failed to record a sack in his final six games including the team's postseason Super Bowl run.

Smith finished with 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games last season, making eight starts.

In November, Smith pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home. Investigators say several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed. In the subsequent investigation, prosecutors say detectives found five unregistered weapons in Smith's house, including two Bushmaster rifles and an Armalite AR-10T. They say those are assault weapons illegal to possess under California law.

Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker were named in a lawsuit last September filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by a Northern California man who said he was shot at a party at Smith's house on June 29, 2012. The players charged a $10 admission and $5 per drink, the lawsuit said. Smith and now-Tennessee Titans tight end Walker were allegedly intoxicated on Smith's balcony when they fired gunshots in the air while trying to end the party, the lawsuit said.

Smith, selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, had previously been arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 in Miami shortly after the 49ers lost in the NFC championship game.

This is the latest in a long list of legal issues for 49ers players the past two years - and recently, too. The Niners, who lost to the rival and eventual champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game, have made nearly as much news away from the field as they have in free agency this offseason.

On Thursday, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was one of three NFL players named in a Miami police report involving a woman who passed out in a hotel and later woke up in a hospital not knowing how she got there, though no one has been charged with a crime. Kaepernick, 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette - a former 49er - were with the woman at a Miami hotel where Lockette lives, according to the Miami Police Department report. The police say it's too early to determine whether a crime was committed.

Late last month in San Jose, 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run and reckless driving after he drove a car into a bicyclist and fled. He is the player who underwent sensitivity training after his anti-gay remarks leading up to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. He has done outreach to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Last summer, another starting linebacker, Ahmad Brooks, was investigated by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office on allegations that Brooks repeatedly hit a teammate on the head with a beer bottle. No assault charges were filed because of insufficient evidence.

According to police, Brooks hit then-teammate Lamar Divens with the bottle three times and then punched him in the face during an early morning argument June 8. Divens sustained a 3-inch cut on his forehead.

Another member of the defense, Demarcus Dobbs, was suspended for Week 1 last season for his own arrest on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession in 2012.

---

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Josh Dubow in San Francisco contributed to this report.

AP source: Dumars out as Detroit's team president

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Joe Dumars tried to push the Detroit Pistons back toward the playoffs with a couple of big moves last offseason.

That didn't work, and now the Pistons will be hiring someone else to replace him.

Detroit has decided not to renew Dumars' contract as president of basketball operations, a person familiar with the situation said Sunday. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not made any announcement on Dumars' future, says Dumars will remain with the Pistons as an adviser.

Dumars was named the 2003 executive of the year, and the Pistons won the title the following season, adding the 2004 crown to the two they won when Dumars was a player.

But Detroit hasn't made the playoffs since 2009, and the retooled Pistons flopped badly this season.

Detroit has one of the game's top young big men in Andre Drummond, but he's one of the franchise's few bright spots at the moment.

Owner Tom Gores must now hire a new general manager, and in the meantime, ownership executives Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth are expected to supervise preparations for the draft and free agency.

Detroit signed Josh Smith and traded for Brandon Jennings last offseason in what seemed like a return to relevance, but the new-look roster lacked cohesion at times. Coach Maurice Cheeks was fired in February, and the Pistons are 29-52 with one game remaining.

"I think overall we have a quality team as is," forward Kyle Singler said. "I don't know necessarily the formula to win, but we just weren't able to get into a groove earlier on in the year to gain confidence and know that we're a playoff team."

Dumars began running the Pistons in 2000, and he made one shrewd move after another at first, acquiring Ben Wallace for Grant Hill in a sign-and-trade and sending Jerry Stackhouse to Washington for Richard Hamilton.

He brought Rasheed Wallace to Detroit in another trade and signed Chauncey Billups as a free agent. Even a draft day blunder in 2003 - picking Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the No. 2 pick - seemed like an aberration when the Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals the following year.

That title, however, is well in the past. The Pistons have played in front of sparse crowds in recent years, struggling to stay relevant in Detroit while the Tigers have drawn fans in droves to their downtown ballpark.

In 2008, Dumars traded Billups in a deal that brought Allen Iverson to the Pistons. That move didn't work out, and neither did the decision to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to big contracts during the 2009 offseason.

Dumars and the Pistons also struggled to find the right coach. When Cheeks was hired before this season, he became Detroit's ninth coach since 1999-2000. Immediately before Cheeks, Lawrence Frank and John Kuester lasted two seasons each, with little success.

When Gores took over as owner after the 2010-11 season, the Pistons were undeniably in a rebuilding mode. Last offseason, Dumars had another chance to show he could guide the franchise back to contention. Instead, the Pistons have been one of the league's most disappointing teams in 2013-14.

Although Dumars is staying with the organization in some capacity, his departure as team president and general manager marks the end of an era. Drafted by the Pistons in 1985, Dumars spent his entire 14-year playing career with the franchise, winning NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.

He was Detroit's vice president of player personnel during the 1999-2000 season before being promoted to president of basketball operations.

---

AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed.

Pacquiao beats Bradley by decision in rematch

LAS VEGAS (AP) Nearly two years later, Manny Pacquiao finally got the decision most people thought he deserved the first time against Timothy Bradley.

Pacquiao won a unanimous decision in his rematch with Bradley on Saturday night, avenging his 2012 loss and claiming the WBO welterweight title.

Pacquiao (56-5-2) pursued and peppered the previously unbeaten Bradley around the MGM Grand Garden ring with an aggressive effort occasionally recalling the Pacman in his prime. Bradley fought back with counterpunching and elusiveness, but Pacquiao kept up his attack while Bradley (31-1) struggled down the stretch.

In the same arena where the fighters met for their first bout, Pacquiao left little doubt about the result - although that's what he thought last time, too. Bradley's split-decision victory astonished most ringside observers, who felt Pacquiao had earned a clear decision.

"I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight," Pacquiao said.

Judges Craig Metcalfe and Michael Pernick scored the rematch 116-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Trowbridge favored the Filipino congressman 118-110. The Associated Press scored it 116-112 for Pacquiao.

After the fight, Bradley said he injured his right calf early on. But he also applauded the decision when it was announced, and he congratulated Pacquiao in the ring.

"I tried, I really tried," Bradley said. "I wanted that knockout. Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world. I lost to one of the greatest fighters in boxing. I kept trying to throw something over the top. That's what we worked on in camp. That was the plan, but Pacquiao has great footwork."

Pacquiao landed 35 percent of his 563 punches, while Bradley connected with just 22 percent of his 627 blow. Pacquiao's jab was much more effective, landing 23 percent to Bradley's measly 11 percent, and the Pacman had a slight edge in landing 148 power punches to Bradley's 109.

Pacquiao's performance righted one of the biggest perceived wrongs in recent boxing history. Pacquiao was an eight-division world champion on 15-fight winning streak when Bradley was awarded a split decision in their last bout.

Pacquiao was more aggressive and accurate from the opening minutes of the rematch, sticking to trainer Freddie Roach's pleas to take the action to Bradley. They exchanged big shots in the opening rounds, but Pacquiao appeared to wear out Bradley with the heavy early pace - and the Pacman never slowed down.

"I didn't want to get careless," Pacquiao said. "I picked up more steam in the second half when I made adjustments that Freddie gave me in the corner. Bradley was much better than in the first fight we had. He hurt me on the chin."

Although Pacquiao couldn't knock down Bradley, he answered the questions raised by Bradley about his killer instinct with a consistent attack all night. Bradley couldn't match that consistent aggression with counterpunching, apparently trying and failing to catch Pacquiao out of position.

"It looked to me like Bradley was just going for a one-punch home run," Roach said.

The arena was crackling with energy when both fighters made their ring walks, with Pacquiao in the unusual position of going first as the challenger.

Pacquiao landed a series of big left hands in the early rounds, knocking back Bradley with gusto. Bradley responded impressively in the fourth round, wobbling Pacquiao twice with a right hand.

The pace slowed in the fifth, with Bradley showing off his defense and movement while Pacquiao attempted to trap him against the ropes.

Pacquiao appeared to stagger Bradley late in the seventh round with a vicious combination, but Bradley stood with his back against the ropes and defiantly encouraged it, blocking most of the shots. Bradley appeared to pretend to have wobbly legs at one point after a Pacquiao miss, but his open mouth betrayed his weariness while Pacquiao steadily racked up rounds midway through the fight.

Bradley came on strong in the 12th, and the fighters' heads collided late in the round. Pacquiao avoided any trouble until the final bell, when he did a short dance step to his corner.

While Bradley remains publicly confident he beat Pacquiao in their first bout despite fighting on two injured feet, that much-derided decision sent both fighters' careers on wild spirals.

The two judges who scored the bout 115-113 for Bradley are no longer in the boxing business, but their decision ended Pacquiao's 15-fight win streak and forced Bradley to defend himself against widespread criticism of the result.

Bradley endured death threats and depression before returning to the ring in unusually reckless style. He brawled with Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 in a sensational unanimous-decision victory that silenced critics of his style and heart. Bradley then outpointed veteran Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez last fall, polishing his skills and making himself attractive to Pacquiao for a rematch.

Pacquiao was knocked unconscious by Marquez in the sixth round of their fourth fight in late 2012, and he took nearly a year off before returning for a workmanlike victory over Brandon Rios last fall. Pacquiao's last two performances prompted Bradley to declare Pacquiao had lost his killer instinct, noting he was unable or unwilling to stop any of his opponents since late 2009.

Harvick survives shootout for 1st Darlington win

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) Kevin Harvick capped his biggest weekend at Darlington Raceway with his first Southern 500 victory Saturday night, passing Dale Earnhardt Junior two laps from the end of the longest race in the track's 65-year NASCAR history.

Harvick earned his first pole here Friday night and had the most dominant car on the track. But he had to make it through a restart with 10 laps left and two tries at a green-white-checkered finish - NASCAR's version of extra innings.

Earnhardt finished second, his best career showing at a track where his late father won nine times. Jimmie Johnson was third, last year's Southern 500 winner Matt Kenseth fourth and Greg Biffle fifth.

Harvick led 239 of the 374 laps, seven more than planned.

Hawks top Heat 98-85, get East's last playoff spot

ATLANTA (AP) Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Lou Williams had 18 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and the Atlanta Hawks earned the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot with a 98-85 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.

Atlanta's third straight victory eliminated the New York Knicks from playoff contention. Williams scored the Hawks' last 12 points.

LeBron James finished with 27 points and Dwyane Wade, in his first game since missing nine straight with a sore left hamstring, scored 24 for Miami.

The two-time defending champion Heat, who have lost three of four, gave up the ground they gained in the standings Friday by beating Indiana at home and taking a one-half game lead over the Pacers. Miami and Indiana are now tied atop the Eastern Conference with 54-26 records. The Heat's 85 points were their third-fewest this season.

Watson still confident after tough day at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Bubba Watson would've preferred to play better, of course.

He's not complaining too much, though. Not when he has a share of the lead heading to the final round of the Masters.

Watson struggled to a 2-over 74 Saturday after two straight rounds in the 60s, his card marred by four bogeys on the front side and some ugly three-putts.

On moving day, he headed in the wrong direction, renewing the hopes of his closest challengers. But Watson played just good enough to keep his spot in the final group with 20-year-old Jason Spieth, the two of them tied at 5-under 211 after a warm, sunny afternoon at Augusta National.

To Watson, that was especially important in his pursuit of a second green jacket.

"That's where you want to be," he said. "You want to know what everybody is doing. When you come down 18, you know what all the scores are. That's where everybody wants to be on Sunday."

Watson, who won the Masters two years ago, had the patrons roaring early on when his approach at the par-5 second rolled down to about 5 feet from the cup. That set up an eagle, taking his score to 8 under.

But, for the most part, there weren't a whole lot of highlights on a day when the breeze picked up for the late starters and the greens were as firm as Watson has ever seen.

"It was a difficult round," he said. "But if somebody told me Monday I'd shoot a 74 and still be tied for the lead, I'd have taken it all day long."

He's looking forward to his pairing with Spieth, who is playing in the Masters for the first time and hoping to become golf's youngest major champion since 1922. The two have become good friends on the PGA Tour, attending Bible study together and rooting for each other to do well. If Watson isn't the one donning the green jacket, he hopes it goes to the youngster.

"I love the kid," Watson said. "He's a great player. A guy like that has no fear. His game just gets better and better."

For some reason, Watson struggled to judge the distance on his shots. Some flew over the green. Some came up short. His sense of direction was fine but he couldn't seem to find any consistency with the yardage.

There were some shaky moments with the putter, as well. As the par-5 13th, he put his approach shot right in the middle of the green, giving him a look at eagle. Three putts later, he walked off with a disappointing par.

At the other par-5 on the back side, Watson flew the second shot over the green and wound up with another par, failing to take advantage of two prime chances to go lower.

But, at the final two holes, he knocked down a pair of testy par putts, keeping him right he wanted to be going to Sunday.

In the lead.

"Look where I'm at," he said. "If you get down on yourself when you're still winning, you have issues. I do have issues, but ..."

His voice trailed off, the room filling with laughter.

There's definitely a sense that Watson is comfortable with his place in life, no matter what happens in the final round.

"I've won one, so I've got that going for me," he said. "If I play bad, I still have a green jacket."

---

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

The Masters rivalry that never was

AUGUSTA, Ga. – You would think that a rivalry would be simple math.

(Great player + Great player) x (Shared years) = Rivalry.

But rivalries don’t work that way. There is some calculus in there, some strange X factor involving timing and rapport and styles and the way talents bounce off talents. It seems almost impossible that a real rivalry between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson never developed at Augusta. But it never did. And, more and more, it looks like it never will.

This Masters, for the first time in 20 years, will not feature either Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson on the weekend. Woods, of course, could not play in the tournament because of a back injury that was probably talked about more in Augusta the first two days than any player. Nobody knows when Woods will be return – rumors fluctuate from a stunning recovery in time for the U.S. Open to him missing the whole golf season. Either way, back injuries are not good.

Then Phil Mickelson missed the cut for the first time since 1997 – which just so happened to be the tournament Tiger Woods won, changing golf. He shot 5 over over two days, one shot off the cut line.

“I didn’t play great,” Mickelson would say, “I didn’t play bad. I just had one bad hole there at 12.”

Scoring for the 78th Masters Tournament

Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

Yeah, that was a bad hole. Mickelson hit his tee shot into the front bunker. He hit his second shot into the back bunker. He hit his third shot BACK into the front bunker. He hit his fourth shot on the green (“I found grass,” he said) and two putts later he finished off the rare triple bogey at the famous No. 12 without even hitting the ball into the water.

But the point here is not Mickelson’s two triple bogeys in two days (he shot 1 under on the other 34 holes) or that his Augusta magic seems to have dulled the last couple of years, but to lament that the Woods-Mickelson Masters rivalry that seemed so certain just never materialized. They have been the best two Masters players of their time. Combined they have won seven of the last 17 Masters.

And yet they never really had a showdown, never really had an Augusta duel, never really had that moment where they were both at their best and both had a shot at the green jacket.

Seems so weird. But is it? What has made the greatest rivalries special – what made Bird-Magic, what made Chrissie-Martina, what made Wilt-Russell and Ali-Frazier and Watson-Nicklaus – were those great encounters, the Thrilla, the Duel in the Sun, the NBA Finals, the 1985 French Open. That’s when we could really see the best athletes’ greatness reflect off each other.

Tiger’s and Phil’s talents just didn’t reflect. On the surface, they had everything to set up for a beautiful feud. They both have loved the layout and history and feel of Augusta National. Tiger was a righty, Phil a lefty, Tiger fierce, Phil jocular, Tiger calculated and precise while Phil gambled away.  Story after story emerged that they didn’t like each other; that can add to the beautiful tension of a great rivalry. Everything set up.

But they just didn’t lift each other up the way real rivals do. When Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus had their famous match at the British Open at Turnberry in 1977 – for the last two rounds they were miles ahead of everyone else and traded great shots the way Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier traded hooks and crosses – they barely said a word to each other. But late in the final round, when the gallery was so charged with excitement, they had to stop for a moment.

“This is what it’s all about it, isn’t it?” Watson said.

“You bet it is,” Nicklaus replied.

And then they finished off with one of the greatest golf endings ever, Nicklaus making an impossible birdie on the 18th, Watson making his own birdie right over the top.

Mickelson and Woods just couldn’t inspire and motivate each other like that. Who can say why? Woods won back-to-back Masters in 2000 and 2001 and Mickelson finished third both years – but Mickelson never actually threatened to WIN those tournaments. That was in the days when Woods finished golf tournaments with the detached precision of a great heart surgeon.

And when Mickelson won his three Masters, Woods wasn’t ever really a threat – the closest he ever came was when he finished tied for third in 2006. Sometimes one was great, sometimes another, but they never shared the stratosphere. The two of them did make a little bit of a run at the 2008 Masters, but neither won, neither came close to winning.

Much of this was Tiger’s peculiar gift for winning major champions: His amazing game did not really leave much room for a rival. He has not yet come from behind on Sunday to win any major championship and, conversely, he has lost a lead on Sunday only once (Y.E. Yang came back to beat him in the 2009 PGA Championship).

So when you never blow a lead and never come from behind, that does tend to limit the possibilities of having a classic battle on Sunday. Woods has been so unique that, in the end, major championships have often been about him and him alone. Mickelson has always been more volatile and mercurial.

It’s all a little bit sad. I always wanted to see Woods and Mickelson battle for the end. But it hasn’t happened, and it obviously won’t happen this year, and while the end may not be here it does feel like the movie credits are beginning to roll. Woods is 38, closing fast on 39, and in the last few years he’s hurt his leg, his knee, his neck, his shoulder and his back. Mickelson turns 44 during the U.S. Open this year, and he does pharmaceutical commercials.

So it’s becoming increasingly likely that we will never see the two best golfers of this generation have their classic battle. We could look elsewhere. We could have a great battle this weekend between the last two Masters champions, Adam Scott (at 3 under now) and Bubba Watson (leading at 7 under), and that would be fun. Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth is on the board and he’s a potentially fun rival for somebody older.

And there are a LOT of older guys still in the field including Larry Mize (55), Sandy Lyle (56), Bernhard Langer (56), Fred Couples (54), Vijay Singh (51) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (50). That’s six 50-somethings still playing in this tournament, a record, so there could be some old grudges played out.

But Woods-Mickelson just won’t happen. Again. The math just never worked out.

Warriors clinch playoff spot in win over Lakers

LOS ANGELES (AP) Stephen Curry had 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors clinched a playoff berth with a 112-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Klay Thompson and Marreese Speights scored 16 points apiece for the Warriors, who will make back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in more than two decades.

After blowing a 20-point lead and a chance to clinch at home against Denver on Thursday night, Curry and the Warriors are back in the postseason after snapping an 11-game road losing streak against the Lakers.

Nick Young scored 25 points for the Lakers, who set a franchise low with the 54th loss of their miserable season. The 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers lost 53 times in their 72-game season.

Curry, who hit four 3-pointers, grabbed a defensive rebound with 41 seconds left to wrap up his fifth career triple-double. The speedy point guard is the first Warriors player with four triple-doubles in a single season since Wilt Chamberlain had five in 1962-63.

The Warriors had little trouble with the remnants of the Lakers, opening a 20-point lead in the third quarter and cruising to just their second road win over the 16-time NBA champions in 22 games.

Steve Nash and Pau Gasol sat out for the Lakers, who will miss the playoffs for just the third time since 1976.

Golden State also won its season series with the Lakers for the first time since 1994-95, and the Warriors' victory was their 49th, one shy of the franchise's first 50-win season since 1993-94.

The Warriors are likely to be the Western Conference's sixth seed, which would mean they'll return to Staples Center next week to face the Pacific Division champion Clippers.

Steve Blake had 13 points, five assists and five rebounds in his first road game against the Lakers since they traded him to Golden State on Feb. 19. The veteran point guard hit three 3-pointers during his highest-scoring game since joining the Warriors.

Only nine Lakers suited up, thanks to their usual lengthy list of injured players: Nash, Gasol, Chris Kaman, Kent Bazemore and Xavier Henry all sat out. Nash experienced a flare-up of his season-long problems with his back and hamstrings on Tuesday while passing Warriors coach Mark Jackson for third place on the NBA's career assists list.

Andre Iguodala and Jermaine O'Neal sat out for Golden State, with Iguodala resting his right knee tendinitis for the second time this month.

David Lee had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors, coming off the bench in his return from a seven-game absence with right leg problems.

Curry was sharp from the opening tip, scoring 11 points in each of the first two quarters. Even when he missed a breakaway dunk, he got the rebound and buried a 25-foot fall-away 3-pointer.

Jordan Crawford's 3-pointer set off a 17-6 run by the Warriors, who led 58-43 at halftime.

Young hit a series of jumpers to trim Golden State's lead to 103-92 with 2:52 to play, but Thompson hit a few big shots to wrap it up.

NOTES: The Lakers had planned to wear their black alternate jerseys, but the Warriors mistakenly packed their regular blue road jerseys, forcing Los Angeles to wear its traditional home gold. ... The Warriors had lost 20 of their past 21 home games against the Lakers, losing only on March 23, 2008, when Stephen Jackson hit two last-minute 3-pointers.

Missouri dismisses WR Green-Beckham from team

ST. LOUIS (AP) Missouri decided enough was enough.

Star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, once heralded as the No. 1 recruit in the nation, has been kicked off the team.

The move was announced Friday, a day after police in Columbia, Mo., said no charges would be filed in a suspected burglary involving the player because of reluctant witnesses fearing retaliation.

"Dorial will no longer be a football player at Mizzou, will no longer be a student-athlete at Mizzou," athletic director Mike Alden said. "Our focus for him would be that he does the things necessary for him to either learn from these things that have taken place or to be able to grow."

Green-Beckham had been suspended indefinitely from the team, ranked No. 5 after a 12-win season last year, on Monday for unspecified violation of team rules. He met with Alden and coach Gary Pinkel that day.

Pinkel said Green-Beckham needs to be focused on getting help, and that the school would do all it could. The decision was made by Pinkel in conjunction with Alden.

"This decision was made with the best interests of all involved in mind," Pinkel said. "As we have all along, we will continue to do everything we can to assist Dorial and his family. We care deeply about Dorial and his well-being, but hopefully he can benefit from a fresh start."

Even though there wasn't an arrest in the latest incident, Alden said it wasn't a difficult decision.

"When you take a look at actions of individuals, whether they result in perhaps charges or not, that still doesn't mean they are appropriate actions," Alden said.

Green-Beckham isn't eligible for the NFL draft until after his junior season. He'd have to sit out a year if he transfers.

In a statement given to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch through his father, John Beckman, Green-Beckham accepted "responsibility for my conduct and my mistakes."

"Don't blame my girlfriend or her friends for anything," the statement continued. "I am not looking for sympathy. I thank those who have given me concern. I have been young and dumb. I want to be better. During my suspension I'm entering counseling. With help, I know I can be stronger emotionally and spiritually."

Beckham coached his son at Springfield Hillcrest High and adopted Green-Beckham and his younger brother, Darnell, who signed a letter of intent to attend Missouri in February.

The dismissal is the latest black eye for Missouri sports.

"It's been a challenging week," Alden said to reporters. "If you think about it, it's been a challenging couple months.

"It's unacceptable to be able to see that type of behavior."

Alden said he met with all of the coaches in all sports for a half-hour Monday, "reminding them what our core values are, what our expectations are for all of us, how we're all accountable for the actions of our students and our staff, and how it's critically important that every time we see something, we hear something, we own it."

Alden said he's also met with "every single student-athlete at Mizzou over the last four days."

"It never, ever comes off no matter where you are and what you're doing," Alden said. "You're always going to be representing Mizzou."

Louisville transfer Zach Price was kicked off the basketball team after being arrested twice last week on four counts of suspicion of assault. Another Missouri player, Earnest Ross, filed a petition in Boone County Circuit Court earlier this month seeking a protection order against Price.

An independent report released Friday said the school failed to follow parts of the federal law that governs sexual harassment on campus when handling the case of a former swimmer's suicide.

The report concluded school administrators should have investigated 20-year-old Sasha Menu Courey's 2011 death after her parents raised questions about the events leading to her suicide. Menu Courey alleged she was sexually assaulted during her freshman year by as many as three football players, 16 months before she died.

Alden said he hadn't read the report but listened to the news conference.

"From what I heard, there are probably going to be a number of things that all of us can be able to take from that, to be able to learn and be able to grow," Alden said.

Columbia police said Thursday they wouldn't proceed with a case that began early Sunday when an 18-year-old Missouri student said Green-Beckham forced open her apartment door at 2:30 a.m. while trying to see his girlfriend, a friend of the victim.

The woman said Green-Beckham pushed her down at least four stairs. Another roommate told police the 225-pound athlete pushed the first woman with two hands to the chest. Later that night, the two told a detective they didn't want to press charges.

A police report said Green-Beckham's girlfriend sent 16 text messages to the woman asking her to reconsider pressing charges. The responding police officer had already applied for a warrant for Green-Beckham's arrest on a felony charge of first-degree burglary.

"Dorial was wrong in every way and you have every right to be furious," one message reads. "I'm not sticking up for him but football really is all he has going for him and pressing charges would just ruin it for him completely."

"If you didn't want to press charges just say we all had a lot to drink and what not everything is fine," Green-Beckham's girlfriend later wrote.

Police were also investigating the incident for possible domestic abuse after the athlete's girlfriend said in one of the text messages to her injured friend that he dragged her from the apartment by the neck. The woman later told a domestic violence investigator that she had been drinking and didn't remember sending that message. The police report deemed her "extremely uncooperative."

In January, Green-Beckham was arrested along with two men after police in Springfield, the player's hometown, found a pound of marijuana in their car. No criminal charges have been filed in that case.

Green-Beckham was also charged in October 2012 with marijuana possession in Columbia and later pleaded guilty to second-degree trespassing. He and two teammates were reportedly smoking pot in a campus parking lot near Memorial Stadium.

The 6-foot-6 Green-Beckham led Missouri with 59 receptions as a sophomore last season and scored 12 touchdowns, including a school single-game record of four scores against Kentucky. Missouri must also replace a pair of seniors, Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington, who combined for 108 receptions and 13 scores. The top returning wide receiver is senior Bud Sasser, who had 26 catches and one touchdown.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Wednesday that Price was arrested twice the day after Ross sought the protection order. In the arrest, Ross was accused of ramming his car into another vehicle and later having another encounter with the couple in the car.

Police said Price hit his male roommate in the face then pushed the woman to the ground.

McDermott and Ogwumike win Wooden Award

LOS ANGELES (AP) Doug McDermott of Creighton accepted the John R. Wooden Award on Friday night, one of several honors the senior won this year as college basketball's player of the year.

The women's award went to Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford in a ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

McDermott received 3,930 points in nationwide voting that went through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament. He was announced as the winner last week at the Final Four in Arlington, Texas. Jabari Parker of Duke finished second with 2,569 points.

McDermott's father, Greg, who coached his son at Creighton, was on hand. The Blue Jays lost in the third round of the NCAA tourney.

"The best thing about Doug is he's a great teammate," his father said. "Most people that watched us practice would not be able to tell we were father and son and that's the way we wanted it."

The younger McDermott was presented with the award by Wooden's grandson Greg.

"I never got satisfied," McDermott said. "I stuck it out for four years. That's why it's so great seeing other seniors be here with me. We're guys who decided to get better every year."

Among the other trophies won by McDermott were from The AP and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Russ Smith of Louisville finished third with 2,228 points, followed by Cleanthony Early of Wichita State with 1,907, and Nick Johnson of Arizona with 1,758.

McDermott was the nation's leading scorer with 26.7 points per game this season. He finished his career as the NCAA's fifth-leading scorer with 3,150 points. He was a previous three-time finalist for the Wooden Award.

Ogwumike received the award from Wooden's grandson, Craig Impelman. Her coach, Tara VanDerveer, and her sister, Nneka Ogwumike of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, were on hand. Nneka was a two-time finalist for the Wooden Award.

Chiney led the Cardinal to the Final Four, where they lost in the national semifinals. She was a two-time Pac-12 player of the year and three-time league defensive player of the year. As a senior, Ogwumike averaged 26.5 points and 12.1 rebounds this season. She ended her career as the league's career scoring leader with 2,722 points.

Ogwumike carries a 3.6 grade-point average in international relations, a component of the award that was important to Wooden.

She had accompanied her sister to the Wooden Award gala in previous years only to see Nneka go home empty-handed.

"I guess three time's a charm," Chiney said.

While accepting the Legends of Coaching award earlier in the evening, VanDerveer inadvertently blurted out that Ogwumike was the women's Wooden winner. VanDerveer stopped herself midway through, but the news was already out of the bag.

Ogwumike received 774 points in nationwide voting that took place from March 12-25, including the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Odyssey Sims of Baylor finished second with 761.

Breanna Stewart of national champion Connecticut was third at 732. Kayla McBride of Notre Dame finished fourth at 562 and Alyssa Thomas of Maryland was fifth at 509.

"I'm so humbled," Ogwumike said. "The girls on the video are equally as deserving. I'm just in awe."

Daley, Stars beat Blues 3-0, end playoff drought

DALLAS (AP) Trevor Daley had a goal and an assist, Kari Lehtonen recorded his fifth shutout of the season, and the Dallas Stars clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 with a 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.

The Stars missed the postseason a franchise-record five straight seasons after never going more than one without a playoff trip since moving to Dallas in 1993. The longest previous drought was three seasons in Minnesota in the early 1970s.

St. Louis, outshot 40-22, dropped its fifth straight game for the first time since February of last year. The playoff-bound Blues also jeopardized their shot at the top seed in the Western Conference.

Daley, the only holdover from the team that lost to Detroit in the Western Conference finals six years ago, and Lehtonen were on the ice three years ago for a season-ending loss at Minnesota when Dallas just needed to win to move on.

Dallas' victory eliminated Phoenix in the race for the West's final playoff spot and kept the Stars from having to worry about a potential win-or-go-home game at the Coyotes on Sunday.

Daley put Dallas up 1-0 when he stole the puck during a series of St. Louis turnovers and raced ahead of everyone before beating Ryan Miller on the glove side early in the second period.

Tyler Seguin's team-leading 37th goal came on the power play 10 seconds after the Blues' Dmitrij Jaskin was called for hooking. Daley sent a pass to Jamie Benn, who zipped the puck through the crease to an open Seguin for an easy shot past Miller.

After Ryan Garbutt tipped in Alex Goligoski's shot from the point in the third period of the home finale, the last 15 minutes were basically a celebration for the sellout crowd that included a fan with a No. 99 jersey that read "Stanley" - a reference to the franchise's only Stanley Cup title in 1999 when the hockey playoffs were a rite of spring in North Texas.

The Blues knew T.J. Oshie would be sidelined after he took a hit to the head that resulted in a four-game suspension for Minnesota's Mike Rupp. They also ended up missing former Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who injured his foot in practice before the Wild game, and Vladimir Sobotka and Derek Roy, who got hurt during that game.

St. Louis didn't get its first power play until the third period and couldn't convert on two chances with the man advantage in the final 12 minutes.

After the Stars killed the last power play, the crowd stood and cheered for the final two minutes, counting down the last few seconds.

NOTES: Taylor Lipsett, a Dallas-area resident who won a 2014 Paralympic gold medal with the U.S. in Sochi, was honored before the game. ... The Stars signed popular broadcasters Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh to contract extensions. Strangis, the play-by-play voice, has been with the franchise since it was still in Minnesota, and color analyst Reaugh is in his 18th season with the team. The call from Strangis and Reaugh is on TV and radio. ... Because of the rash of injuries, the Blues recalled Adam Cracknell, Keith Aucoin and Ty Rattie from their Chicago AHL affiliate.

Spurs clinch league's best record with 112-104 win

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Danny Green had a career-high 33 points and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns 112-104 on Friday and clinch the league's best record.

Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points and Tony Parker added 18 points and three assists in his return from a two-game absence due to a back injury.

Green was 7 for 10 on 3-pointers in pushing San Antonio (62-18) to victory without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who both sat out the second game of a back-to-back for rest.

Eric Bledsoe had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to lead Phoenix (47-32), which fell into a tie with Memphis for the West's eighth seed. Gerald Green scored 27 points, Markieff Morris added 20 points and Channing Frye had 13.

The Spurs outscored the Suns 37-19 in the third quarter to overcome a 21-point deficit in the first half.

Phoenix regained the lead in the fourth, taking a 98-97 advantage on Frye's 3 with 4:25 remaining but Leonard and Marco Belinelli followed with 3s to give San Antonio a lead it didn't relinquished.

After a sluggish start, Parker took over offensively to spark a 29-14 run to close the third quarter.

Parker hit a 15-foot jumper, a 3-foot driving jumper and an 18-footer before Green hit a 3-pointer to pull San Antonio within 72-68 with 6:45 left in third.

NOTES: NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game after sitting in on the Spurs' quarterly meeting. It was Silver's first game in San Antonio since taking over as commissioner Feb. 1 when David Stern retired. Suns G Goran Dragic (ankle) missed the game, but Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek expects him to play Saturday in Dallas. . Phoenix scored 37 points in the first quarter, coming within 3 points of matching the most points San Antonio has allowed in the quarter set by Houston on Dec. 25.

Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder to West's No. 2 seed

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Russell Westbrook added 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 116-94 on Friday night to clinch at least the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Serge Ibaka added 16 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high eight blocks for the Thunder, who won their third straight.

The Thunder shot 54 from the field, made 23 of 27 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers. Oklahoma City led by 25 points at the end of the third quarter, so Durant and Westbrook rested in the fourth.

Darius Miller scored a career-high 18 points and Austin Rivers had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Pelicans. New Orleans was without injured starters Anthony Davis (back) and Eric Gordon (left knee tendinitis).

The Thunder took advantage of New Orleans' depleted lineup by taking a 30-23 lead at the end of the first quarter. Oklahoma City's reserves helped the Thunder push the lead to 44-27.

New Orleans went on an 11-0 run before Derek Fisher scored for the Thunder. On Oklahoma City's next possession, Durant sent a nice pass to a running Ibaka, who dunked to put the Thunder up by 10. Durant's jumper with three seconds left in the first half put the Thunder up 60-47 at the break.

Westbrook scored 16 points in the first half on just 10 shots, while Durant and Ibaka added 12 points apiece.

Midway through the third quarter, Rivers got ahead of the pack for what looked like an easy basket. Ibaka caught up with him and pinned his shot on the glass, then Durant dunked on the other end to give the Thunder a 75-56 lead. Oklahoma City's largest lead in the fourth quarter was 34 points.

NOTES: Oklahoma City started its preferred lineup of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha for just the 22nd time this season. Oklahoma City has played nine starting lineups. ... Durant was presented the Western Conference Player of the Month award for March before the game. He has won four out of five months. ... Rivers got his first start of the season, and New Orleans rookie F Jeff Withey got his second. ... New Orleans G Brian Roberts left the game with a left ankle injury and did not return. ... New Orleans G Tyreke Evans left the game with a right knee bone bruise and did not return. ... Perkins, Durant and Westbrook were issued technical fouls in the third quarter. Durant picked up his 15th of the season.

Gasol, Miller help keep Grizzlies fighting for 8th

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Marc Gasol had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Mike Miller added 19 points, and the Memphis Grizzlies made a strong push in the third quarter to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-95 on Friday night.

Tony Allen scored 15 points to help the Grizzlies preserve their playoff hopes. Memphis entered the night trailing the Suns by a game for the Western Conference's final postseason spot. The Suns were playing San Antonio.

Nick Calathes added 12 points for Memphis, while Zach Randolph finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The won their 13th straight at home, matching the franchise record set last season.

Tony Wroten and Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 18 points apiece. Elliot Williams added 13 for Philadelphia, which lost its third straight and fifth in the last six.

Young Elliott wins 2nd straight Nationwide race

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) Chase Elliott passed Elliott Sadler on the final lap night to win his second straight Nationwide Series race, going from fifth to first on the final two laps Friday night.

Elliott, an 18-year-old high school senior and son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott, broke through for his first series win last week at Texas when he passed Sprint Cup veteran Kevin Harvick. At Darlington, Elliott moved past Sadler when the veteran got loose coming off Turn 2 on a restart two laps from the end.

Sadler held on for second while Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were third and fourth.

Busch led by 1.5 seconds and was seemingly cruising to victory until Tanner Berryhill's spin forced a final restart.

Sizemore, Gomes HRs lead Red Sox over Yankees 4-2

NEW YORK (AP) Grady Sizemore hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning and the Boston Red Sox finally gave Jon Lester enough run support for his first win of the year, 4-2 over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Jonny Gomes led off the sixth with another long ball off CC Sabathia, and the four-run inning was more runs than Boston had scored for Lester in his first two starts combined. Despite a 2.51 ERA coming in, Lester was at risk of falling to 0-3 for the first time in his career.

The left-hander was lifted with two outs in the seventh after Kelly Johnson singled to pull the Yankees within two runs, his first hit in 15 career at-bats against Lester (1-2). Junichi Tazawa relieved with runners at the corners and retired Derek Jeter on a flyout.

Jeter was the leadoff batter in the Yankees' batting order for first time since breaking his left ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener. He beat out an infield single in four at-bats.

Lester allowed Alfonso Soriano's homer starting the second and six hits overall. He walked two and struck out six in improving to 12-5 in 27 starts against New York.

Tazawa pitched 1 1-3 innings of one-hit relief, and Edward Mujica was perfect in the ninth for his first save with Boston. Closer Koji Uehara was bothered by shoulder stiffness before the game and was held out as a precaution.

Sabathia (1-2) pitched without the controversy that surrounded teammate Michael Pineda in a series-opening 4-1 win Thursday but also without the same success. Pineda gave up one run and four hits in six-plus innings but was caught on camera with a brown substance on his hand. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice president for baseball operations, said in a statement Friday that Pineda will not be suspended.

Looking as if he was setting aside talk of being an ace on the decline, Sabathia was dominant for five innings. He allowed just David Ross' third-inning double until Gomes led off the sixth with his first homer of the year, on an 89 mph four-seam fastball.

Four batters later, Sizemore crushed an 80 mph slider into right field for a 4-1 lead.

Sabathia's fastball velocity has declined from 94.1 mph in 2009, his first season in New York, to 89.7 mph this year entering Friday. Last year he gave up 45 of his major league-leading 122 runs on a career-high 28 homers allowed. He's already yielded five this season.

Sabathia allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking two. He's given up at least four runs in each of his three starts and has a 6.63 ERA.

New York staked Sabathia to a 1-0 lead on Soriano's drive to left field, his 408th homer. Thanks to some nifty shifts by both teams, the score stayed that way until the sixth.

NOTES: Former Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Thornton were given their World Series rings in a meeting with Boston GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell before the game. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said 1B Mark Teixeira (right hamstring) should be off the disabled list before May 1 but SS Brendan Ryan (back) is doubtful for the beginning of next month. ... Red Sox OF Shane Victorino took BP and did some light running. Farrell says he'll have an idea about a rehab assignment for Victorino after the White Sox series early next week. ... Dellin Betances struck out the side in the ninth for New York. ... Next up: Boston's John Lackey (2-0) faces New York's Hiroki Kuroda (1-1).

Heat back atop East, beat Pacers 98-86

MIAMI (AP) LeBron James scored 36 points, and the Miami Heat moved back atop the Eastern Conference standings by running past the Indiana Pacers 98-86 on Friday night.

The Heat scored the first 16 points of the second half and weren't in trouble again. Miami (54-25) leads the Pacers (54-26) by a half-game in the East race.

Mario Chalmers scored 13, Udonis Haslem added 11 and Chris Bosh and Ray Allen each scored 10 for the Heat.

Paul George scored 22 for Indiana, which got 18 from David West, 12 from Luis Scola and 11 from Lance Stephenson. Pacers center Roy Hibbert had only five points and one rebound, grabbing it with just over 2 minutes left in the game.

Miami has games against Atlanta, Washington and Philadelphia left. Win them all, and the Heat would have home-court advantage through at least the East finals - which went seven games against Indiana last season.

The Pacers - who sat their starters against Milwaukee on Wednesday in an effort to rest for this one - still play Oklahoma City and Orlando.

In the opening minutes of the second half, a predictably tight game turned into a surprise blowout.

The Heat were up three at the half, then opened the third on a 16-0 run. Chalmers opened the barrage with a 3-pointer, James hit a pair of free throws after taking a hard foul from West in transition, and a steal and layup from Toney Douglas forced the Pacers to call time down by 10.

Miami was just getting started.

James got fouled by Stephenson and turned that into a three-point play, and consecutive putbacks by Haslem off misses by James at the rim pushed Miami's lead to 17 with 8:13 left in the third.

That led to Indiana's second timeout of the quarter.

And a couple of minutes later, the Pacers were up to more timeouts taken since halftime (three) than points scored (two). Indiana's first field goal of the half came when Bosh was called for goaltending on a shot by Luis Scola with 6 minutes left.

Miami's lead was eventually as much as 23, and it was 76-54 when the Pacers started to make things look plenty interesting, if only for a few moments.

Indiana scored 13 straight points, getting within 76-67 early in the fourth. But Evan Turner was whistled for a technical foul after arguing a non-call from two possessions earlier, Ray Allen made a free throw to end the Heat drought, and that started a 9-0 rebuttal run by the Heat.

Rashard Lewis ended that spurt with a dunk, good enough to earn him a chest-bump from James moments later, and just like that Miami was up by 18 again.

Neither team led by more than five in the opening half, after which Miami held a 45-42 lead.

James made four jumpers in the first 5 1/2 minutes, then missed all three of his shots in the remainder of the half, but still went into the break leading all scorers with 17 points.

There were two things of note from the opening 24 minutes: Indiana had 10 turnovers to Miami's three, and Pacers center Roy Hibbert was no factor.

Hibbert, the 7-foot-2 center who has simply toyed with Miami plenty of times in the clubs' recent meetings, played 16 first-half minutes with basically nothing to show for his time. He went into the break with no field-goal attempts and no rebounds - the first time he's ever logged that many minutes in a half without at least one shot or board.

NOTES: Miami kept Dwyane Wade (hamstring) out for the ninth straight game, and Greg Oden was still sidelined by back spasms. ... Haslem is Miami's all-time leader in offensive rebounds, grabbing the 1,506th of his career in the second quarter. ... From the Department of Go Figure: Miami went 0-4 against Brooklyn, Indiana went 4-0 against Brooklyn, so the Heat and Pacers went 2-2 against each other. ... All Game 1s in the conference-quarterfinal round will be April 19 or 20. ... West fouled out with 3:21 left, and Indiana down 14.

Spieth making Masters look like child's play

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Jordan Spieth already has proven to be a quick study.

A PGA Tour winner before he even had a card. The youngest American to play in the Presidents Cup. And in his first appearance at the Masters, the 20-year-old Texan looks like he's been playing here most of his life.

Spieth joined the mix at the Masters on Friday with an 8-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th, and a shot that settled within tap-in range for birdie on the 18th hole. That gave him a 2-under 70 and left him only four shots behind going into the weekend.

Is anyone surprised by this? Spieth sure wasn't.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I've been playing against these guys, and this caliber field, World Golf Championships and other major championships. So I felt like if I could get my game right and really handle myself mentally, then I could have an opportunity to be in contention. That's where I'm at now, and a lot of work to do."

Spieth played in the other three majors last summer, missing the cut in two of them.

The Masters was his favorite major as a kid, and one of his mentors is two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw.

"This was a big goal of mine this year, to get in contention at a major," Spieth said. "And the Masters being the one that I dreamt about since I was who knows how old, that's going to leave more emotion out there. Mr. Crenshaw says it best. The Masters brings out emotion in guys that aren't emotional.

"I'm already emotional and I got to keep it on the down low."

Spieth, the John Deere Classic winner last year, held it together late when he got into trouble off the tee at the 17th. Instead of playing a risky shot toward the green, he played back to the fairway, hit wedge to about 15 feet and missed his par putt. That's OK. His goal for the week is to make nothing worse than a bogey.

And at 3-under 141 thanks to the birdie on the 18th, he was well within range of Bubba Watson.

"Bubba is tearing it up. So we've got to go get him," Spieth said with the bravado of a Texan still not old enough to drink.

Saturday figures to be his biggest test yet. Spieth doesn't think contention counts until the back nine Sunday. Next up is a pairing with Adam Scott, the defending champion. Then again, the first time Spieth played with one of golf's biggest stars was at the Deutsche Bank Championship in September. He was paired with Phil Mickelson and shot 62. He played for the first time with Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines earlier this year and shot nine shots better.

No one has won the Masters in his first try in 35 years.

"I can see why experience pays off," Spieth said. "Ultimately, if you're playing extremely well and you get the right breaks, then it doesn't matter if it's your first time or your 50th. I think that you can win out here."

Mickelson headed home after missing Masters cut

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Rory McIlroy took off his cap, rubbed his brow and let out a deep sigh.

After rolling in a testy 4-foot putt at the 18th hole, he was one of the fortunate ones Friday.

He gets to keep playing on the weekend at Augusta National.

Not so for Phil Mickelson, who missed the Masters cut for the first time since 1997 after making a mess of three holes. Lefty took triple-bogey on two of them, a double-bogey on another, and wound up with one stroke too many.

"I didn't play great. I didn't play bad," Mickelson said. "I keep making these triples. They're tough to overcome."

He wasn't the only big name headed home.

The last major champion, PGA winner Jason Dufner, missed the cut by six shots.

Former Masters champions Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel were on the wrong side of the line, too.

Ditto for Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald.

"Just made some silly errors here and there," said Els, whose 2-over 74 left him with a 5-over 149, which like Mickelson was one shot more than he could afford. "I'm actually driving it well, doing a lot of things well, but just getting in my own way here and there."

Mickelson dug himself a big hole with a 76 on Thursday, marred by a triple-bogey 7 at the seventh and a double-bogey 7 at the 15th. In the second round, his undoing was the par-3 12th, where Lefty deposited his tee shot in the front bunker, whacked the next over the cup into a back bunker, then put his third shot back in the front bunker. He finally got it on the green and two-putted for a 6.

Mickelson had six birdies and played 33 of the 36 holes at 3 under. Those other three holes did him in, and a 73 Friday not quite good enough.

"I've actually played reasonably well for a majority of the holes," he said. "Then the ones I let slide I end up making a big number. So it's tough to overcome those big numbers."

Garcia, Donald and Schwartzel were also at 149. Zach Johnson totaled 150, one stroke better than Dustin Johnson. Cabrera, who nearly won his second green jacket a year ago but lost to Adam Scott in a playoff, struggled to a 152 this time. Bradley, the PGA winner at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011, and Immelman never really had a chance on the way to 153s.

McIlroy came oh-so-close to missing out on the final two rounds. Some of it was his own fault, like at the par-3 fourth, where he not only drove it over the green but also the tee box for the fifth hole, winding up in the woods 30 yards beyond his intended target. He found the ball but had to go back to the tee for a do-over, winding up with a double bogey.

McIlroy's caught a bad break at the 13th, where a slightly errant approach shot hit a sprinkler head and sent the ball careening into the azaleas - a hole, appropriately enough, known as "Azalea." He punched it out of the flowers and took a bogey.

With no more room for error, the former world No. 1 and two-time major champion parred the last five holes. The last one was especially challenging, as McIlroy faced a 35-footer against a treacherous ridge, needing to get down in two. He putted far left, toward the Butler Cabin, and watched the ball curl sharply toward the cup. His work still wasn't done, but he knocked in the next one for an ugly 77 - just good enough for a 148 total.

McIlroy was among those benefiting from a change in the Augusta rules. The top 50 (and ties) made the cut this time, compared to the top 44 a year ago.

He'll take it.

"When I got into the scoring area and saw that I was in 46th place," McIlroy said, "it was a big sigh of relief that I'm here for the weekend."

Pages