National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Spurs rout Thunder to take 3-2 lead in West finals

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tim Duncan had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Manu Ginobili scored 19 points and the San Antonio Spurs rolled to a 117-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green each had 14 points, Boris Diaw added 13 and Tony Parker scored 12 for the Spurs, who are a win away from returning to the NBA Finals after losing in seven games to Miami last year.

Kevin Durant scored 25 points, but Russell Westbrook had only 21 points and seven assists after finishing with 40 points and 10 assists in Game 4.

Game 6 is Saturday in Oklahoma City.

The Jekyll and Hyde series continued between the past two Western Conference champions, as the road team has been thumped in every game of the best-of-seven series.

After losing twice in Oklahoma City by an average of 11 points, San Antonio upped its winning margin in San Antonio to 26.7 points.

"We played so much harder, sharper, smarter, everything we talked about," Ginobili said. "It was a fun-to-play and fun-to-watch game. So when we play like this it's a completely different story."

San Antonio outscored Oklahoma City by 10 points in both the second and third quarters, allowing both teams to sit their starters for much of the fourth.

Serge Ibaka, who dominated the interior in Oklahoma City, was held to six points and two rebounds.

"We have to regroup and come back better in a few days," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

The Spurs started Matt Bonner in place of Tiago Splitter to draw Ibaka out of the paint and it worked early. It also helped defensively, as Ibaka attacked Bonner but missed his first five shots on a series of running hooks. Duncan was also able to help defensively, rolling over to block a layup attempt by Ibaka.

San Antonio's crowd was raucous from the start, booing Westbrook heavily during pregame introductions and erupting joyously when Green scored the team's first points on a 3-pointer 1 1/2 minutes into the game

Oklahoma City withstood the early barrage, going on an 11-2 run for its largest lead of the game.

San Antonio kept Westbrook out of the paint early, but that only opened up the lanes for Jackson, who made his first five shots. He had four straight layups and then drained a 3-pointer with Parker closely defending.

Three-point shooting got San Antonio back into the game, as Patty Mills and Green closed the first with consecutive 3s to tie the game at 32-all.

Diaw's 3 gave San Antonio a 42-37 lead with 6:12 left in the first half and resulted in an Oklahoma City timeout.

Ginobili's 3 gave a 65-52 lead with 6.9 seconds left in the first half.

Ginobili's third 3 gave San Antonio an 87-70 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the third.

NOTES: San Antonio used its 31st different starting lineup this season, with Bonner making his first start. He averaged 11.3 minutes in 61 regular-season games but his playing time has been curtailed to 4.8 minutes while appearing in all 16 postseason games. Diaw started in Bonner's place in the second half. . Durant was sent back to the sideline after attempting to substitute with 10:29 remaining in the second quarter. A timekeeper told official Tony Brothers that Durant was not at the table in time to enter prior to an inbounds. "I was there," Durant said. "That's (wrong). You know that." Durant was able to enter about 10 seconds later, however. . Ibaka wore a heating pad on his injured calf when he was not in the game.

AP Source: Former Microsoft CEO wins Clippers bid

LOS ANGELES (AP) Shelly Sterling reached an agreement Thursday night to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in what would be a record deal if approved by the NBA, according to an individual with knowledge of the negotiations.

The individual, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press that Ballmer and the Sterling Family Trust now have a binding agreement. The deal now must be presented to the NBA.

Shelly Sterling negotiated the sale after her husband, Donald Sterling, made racist remarks that were made public. The remarks included Sterling telling girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring blacks to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Donald Sterling must also approve the final agreement as a 50 percent owner.

Ballmer beat out bids by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill after presenting an "all-around superior bid," the individual said. Ballmer made more than an hour-long personal visit to Shelly Sterling's Malibu home Sunday and laid out his plan.

"He knocked their socks off, they bonded, had a good connection," the individual said. The amount was also the largest of the offers, and Ballmer was one potential buyer to deal with rather than multiple in a group.

On Thursday, Magic Johnson posted on his Twitter account: "Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers is a big win for the City of LA and all the people who live in the City of Angels!"

It's unclear if the deal will go through. The individual said that though Donald Sterling was not involved in the negotiations, "at the end of the day, he has to sign off on the final process. They're not going to sell his 50 percent without him agreeing to it."

Donald Sterling's attorney says that won't happen. "Sterling is not selling the team," said his attorney, Bobby Samini. "That's his position. He's not going to sell."

That's despite a May 22 letter obtained by The Associated Press and written by another one of Sterling's attorneys that says that "Donald T. Sterling authorizes Rochelle Sterling to negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team." It includes the line "read and approved" and Donald Sterling's signature.

Samini said Sterling has had a change of heart primarily because of "the conduct of the NBA." He said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million as well as to try to oust him as an owner was him acting as "judge, jury and executioner."

"They're telling me he should stand back and let them take his team because his opinion on that particular day was not good, was not popular?" Samini said. "That his team should be stripped from him? It doesn't make sense. He's going to fight."

It's unclear how the agreement will affect a special hearing of NBA owners planned for Tuesday in New York to consider the charge against Donald Sterling for damaging the league with his comments. A three-quarters vote of the 30 owners to support the charge would have resulted in the termination of both Sterlings' ownership of the franchise.

The deal with Ballmer will go to the NBA for the league's approval sometime before Tuesday, the individual said, ostensibly rendering Tuesday's hearing moot.

Silver has said his preference would be for the franchise to be sold rather than seized - and that means sold in its entirety, with neither Sterling retaining a stake. Though according to the deal's terms Ballmer will own 100 percent of the team, Shelly Sterling may continue to be involved under conditions worked out privately with Ballmer, the individual said.

Franchise sale prices have soared since the current collective bargaining agreement was ratified in 2011. The Milwaukee Bucks were just sold to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million, an NBA record.

Last year, Vivek Ranadive's group acquired a 65 percent controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings at a total franchise valuation of more than $534 million.

The bid for the Clippers, purchased by Sterling in 1981 for a little more than $12 million, blew right past those.

It is not Ballmer's first foray into potential NBA ownership. Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed the group that agreed to a deal to buy the Kings from the Maloof family in January 2013 with the intention of moving them to Seattle, where the SuperSonics played until 2008.

But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson lobbied the NBA for time to put together a bid to keep the team in California, and though the Ballmer-Hansen group later increased its offer, owners voted to deny the bid for relocation and the Kings were sold to Ranadive.

The person with knowledge of the deal said that Ballmer would have to ensure the team remains in Los Angeles.

The former Microsoft CEO helped Bill Gates transform the company from a tiny startup with fewer than 40 employees and $12 million in annual revenue into the world's most valuable business. The pair met in 1973 while living down the hall from each other at a Harvard dorm.

During his tenure at Microsoft, Ballmer was known for his competitive drive and wild displays of emotion and hand-waving.

At his farewell address to Microsoft employees, he high-fived and hugged audience members, pumped his fists in the air, and even shed tears as the popular 1987 song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" played on the sound system. In a video of the event widely viewed on YouTube, he screams: "You work for the greatest company in the world!"

---

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.

---

Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams

Rangers knock out Habs in 6, reach Cup finals

NEW YORK (AP) Dominic Moore scored in the second period, Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from his worst performance in the playoffs and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Thursday night to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

The Rangers are in the championship round for the first time since winning it all in 1994.

Lundqvist and the Rangers shook off a 7-4 road loss Tuesday night and took out the Canadiens on home ice. Lundqvist needed to make only 18 saves in his team-record tying ninth postseason shutout. He was pulled after allowing four goals in less than two periods Tuesday.

Lundqvist had been 0-5 since 2009 in non-Game 7 clinching games. He leaped several times in his crease with his hands raised as streamers were fired off from the rafters.

Montreal's Dustin Tokarski, who replaced injured No. 1 goalie Carey Price after Game 1, was solid in making 31 saves.

The Stanley Cup finals will begin Wednesday at either Chicago or Los Angeles, which leads the Western finals 3-2.

Montreal made one final push after Tokarski was pulled for an extra skater with 1:53 left. Lundqvist held off the Canadiens as fans chanted "Hen-rik! Hen-rik!"

The Rangers broke the deadlock late in the second period after some good grinding work in the left corner by rugged forward Derek Dorsett. The puck came free to defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who sent it behind the net to Brian Boyle in the right corner. Boyle spotted Moore alone in the crease and fed a crisp pass for a hard shot that got through Tokarski with 1:53 left.

Moore punctuated his third goal of the playoffs with an emphatic fist pump and yell.

Montreal came right back and drew its second power play of the night when Brad Richards was forced to hook Thomas Vanek as the struggling forward was making a strong drive in front from behind the net with 12.9 seconds remaining in the period.

The Canadiens failed on their two power plays and finished 2 for 23 in the series.

Tokarski kept his club in it early in the third when the Rangers pushed for an insurance goal. Tokarski did splits and lunges to deny Derick Brassard on the doorstep after New York moved the puck out from behind the net.

Vanek, who hasn't scored in seven games, nearly gave the Canadiens the lead with 4:45 to go in the second when he put a shot on net while Montreal had a mini 2-on-0 in front. Lundqvist made a desperate rolling move onto his back and got a piece of the puck with a swipe of his blocker, deflecting it away from the top of the net.

Montreal got back forward Brandon Prust after he served a two-game suspension for a late hit in Game 3 that broke Derek Stepan's jaw. But Dale Weise sat out two nights after he was wobbled by a hit to the head from John Moore that cost the Rangers defenseman a two-game suspension that will carry into the Cup finals opener.

Despite being outshot 11-5 in the scoreless first period, the Canadiens had the most dangerous chances and controlled play in the New York end in the closing minutes of the frame.

The Rangers came out quickly and built a 6-0 edge in shots that grew to 11-1, before Montreal began pressuring Lundqvist. For several stretches, the Canadiens successfully cycled the puck inside the New York edge and drew nervous groans and sighs from the crowd each time they put it in on net. Alex Galchenyuk had the best shot, a backhander that Lundqvist turned aside with 5:10 remaining.

New York did little with the first power play, a goalie interference call against Canadiens captain Brian Gionta 4:50 in, and then killed an interference call on defenseman Marc Staal that lasted through the first minute of the second period.

NOTES: Lundqvist earned his team-record 41st career playoff victory. ... The Rangers hadn't won a series in less than seven games since the first round in 2008 against New Jersey. ... Montreal hasn't been to the Stanley Cup finals since winning the title in 1993.

Goodell responds to NFLPA criticism

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded Thursday night to criticisms by NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who contended a double standard exists when it comes to the league doling out punishments.

In comments to ESPN earlier Thursday, Smith specifically addressed the delayed discipline of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who has yet to be punished by Goodell after being arrested in March for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated and while in the possession of prescription drugs and $29,000 in cash. Irsay was formally charged Friday.

"The personal conduct policy applies to commissioners, owners, players, coaches," Goodell told reporters at the New England Patriots' team facility. "It applies to all of us. We all have a responsibility to do things the right way. There are several players that we haven't taken any action on, either.

"We like to get the facts, we like to be thorough and we like to understand them. Charges were just filed last week. I don't believe there's a credibility gap."

Goodell was at Foxborough to speak at a football safety clinic for mothers, a program aimed at furthering safer play at all levels of the game.

Smith pointed toward Goodell's swift and sometimes harsh action when dealing with troubled players in the past.

"The commissioner understands that there is a significant credibility gap that exists in the National Football League," Smith said. "What troubles our players is the speed and the deliberateness of the punishment that they have seen in the past when it comes to a player.

"There isn't the same speed or deliberate action when it comes to an owner, and that's a problem."

Goodell said the league has yet to collect all the facts on Irsay's case.

"You can judge us when we make our final determinations, which you undoubtedly will, and so will everybody else," he said. "That's fair. But don't make judgments until we've had an opportunity to do what's in the best interest of everyone, which is getting the facts. Everybody wants process. DeMaurice Smith talks about process all the time.

"The process is important."

The safety program organized by the Patriots comes more than a week after a group of retired players filed another lawsuit against the league, accusing team doctors and trainers of supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that allowed them to keep playing despite injuries, but led to serious complications later in life.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of more than 500 former players, charges the NFL with placing profits ahead of players' health.

Goodell addressed the league's continued role in the education and pursuit of safer play.

"We want you to learn the right techniques from the moment you play, regardless if you play one year, two years, or if you play flag football," he said. "I think our popularity, the platform we have, gives us an opportunity and it's part of our responsibility to make the game safer, not only at the NFL level to protect our players, but also at every other level of football, and frankly, sports in general."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the health and safety of his players have never been greater in his 20-plus years of owning the team.

"I know I'm a better human being from having played the game, and when I played, it wasn't as safe as it is now," he said. "So, I'm a big believer in the lessons you learn in football."

Kraft also was asked about the arraignment Wednesday of former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez, who pleaded not guilty to two more counts of first-degree murder stemming from a 2012 double homicide. Hernandez already is facing charges for the 2013 slaying of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was released by the team following his arrest last summer.

"A year ago when he was arrested, we cut him from the team, I made a statement," said Kraft, who at the time said the organization was "duped" if the accusations were true. "I was very clear about it, and you can go back and read what I said then, and that's the way that I continuously feel."

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Obama says sports concussions need more attention

WASHINGTON (AP) Saying he wants kids to play sports but play safely, President Barack Obama called Thursday for more and better research into the effects and treatment of concussions in youth athletes. The issue is one of growing concern for parents who spend weekends driving their kids from one game to another.

But without direct authority over youth sports leagues, Obama's ability to address the issue meaningfully is limited to calling for research and trying to jumpstart a national conversation to teach parents, coaches and young athletes about concussions - the goal of a summit he hosted at the White House.

He also said a new attitude is needed where players who have been hit don't feel wimpy for sitting out a game or two.

"We have to change a culture that says you suck it up," Obama said, adding that he probably suffered mild concussions as a young football player. He noted that concussions are also an issue in soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other contact sports.

The event brought together representatives of professional and college sports associations, coaches, parents, young athletes, doctors and others. The president was introduced by Victoria Bellucci, a high school graduate from Huntingtown, Maryland, who suffered five concussions during her high school and club soccer career.

Victoria said her injuries made it hard to focus on her assignments. She eventually turned down a full scholarship to play soccer at Towson University in Maryland and will instead attend Flagler College in Florida in the fall, the White House said.

"Concussions have drastically altered my life," she said.

Obama, an avid sports fan whose two daughters are active in sports, also highlighted millions of dollars in pledges from the NFL, the National Institutes of Health and others to conduct research that could begin to provide answers and improve safety.

"We want our kids participating in sports," he said. "As parents, though, we want to keep them safe."

Nearly 250,000 kids and young adults visit hospital emergency rooms each year with brain injuries caused by sports or other recreational activity, Obama said. He noted that the figure excludes those who see a family doctor or seek no treatment.

Obama previously had waded into the debate over concussions, saying last year that he'd have to think "long and hard" about allowing a son to play football because of the risk of head injury.

The NFL recently agreed to pay $765 million to settle concussion claims from thousands of former players whose complaints range from headaches to Alzheimer's disease. That settlement is still awaiting a judge's approval, while a group of former professional hockey players has filed a class-action lawsuit of their own against the NHL for head injuries sustained on the ice.

Among the financial pledges Obama highlighted is a $30 million joint research effort by the NCAA and Defense Department and an NFL commitment of $25 million over the next three years to promote youth sports safety.

UCLA also will use $10 million from New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, who attended the summit, to launch a program to study sports concussion prevention, outreach, research and treatment for athletes of all ages, but especially youth. The money will also support planning for a national system to determine the incidence of youth sports concussions.

Panelists who discussed the issue after Obama spoke agreed that information and education are important. Otherwise, parents' fears about on-field safety could lead them to pull their kids from team sports, an outcome the panelists agreed would be harmful for young people because of the benefits of participation in athletics.

"Do you replace kicking a soccer ball with Doritos?" asked former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said he worries that without education "we walk away from sports." He said he would not have attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, "if not for sports."

Odierno participated in the summit because concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury, which has become a signature issue of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the widespread use by insurgents of improvised explosive devices.

Dartmouth researcher Richard Greenwald said Obama hit the right notes with his remarks but that it was important to realize that a lot of work remains before the problem can be considered solved.

"Public awareness is a great thing as long as it leads to better diagnosis, better treatment, better coaching, better outcomes," Greenwald said.

---

Associated Press writer Eric Olson in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.

---

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Curry speaks out on Warriors' coaching change

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry received the NBA's yearlong community assist award, spoke passionately about his charitable works, then dished out another assist to his former coach.

In his first extended public comments since Mark Jackson was fired, Curry said Thursday that he voiced his support for the coach but the team "made a decision otherwise." He also said the "semi-quick hire" of Steve Kerr was "kind of a shock" to most of his teammates.

"There's no sugarcoating it - it was a weird, expedited situation that we didn't see coming," Curry said. "And guys are human. You have to be able to adjust to it and have some time to respond. That's kind of what happened. I think we'll be fine once we have a clear picture of what's going on next year."

Curry had been the strongest supporter of Jackson before the Warriors dismissed the coach May 6 after a 51-win season and back-to-back playoff appearances. Golden State agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with Kerr on May 14 and introduced him at a news conference in Oakland on May 20.

Even with owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers going against Curry's request, the All-Star point guard insists he still believes in the franchise's commitment to winning.

"One thing I can say about this organization, they want to win," Curry said. "Each decision is geared toward winning. That's something that flies well with a lot of players - that they're going to try to put us in the best position to win. Obviously, I had a certain opinion of Coach Jackson that they made a decision otherwise, and I heard the reasons, but I won't dwell on it.

"As long as we're focused on winning and taking advantage of the roster we have and the opportunity we have with this window to try to continue to get better, I'm just looking forward to next year and getting back to making that happen," Curry said. "I haven't lost faith in that at all. As much as I supported Coach Jackson and loved everything about playing for him, I think they're about winning."

Curry said he has spoken to Kerr three or four times by phone already. He said the conversations have been more informal than any basketball strategy, and he's looking forward to in-person meetings after Kerr finishes his job as a broadcast analyst for TNT in the Western Conference finals.

Curry said his support of Jackson stems from their bond off the court and his memories of the organization before the coach arrived: a lot of losses - and two ankle surgeries - under Don Nelson and Keith Smart.

"He was a sign of stability for me," Curry said. "I had three coaches in three years, and he embodies what I know is good around here with the Warriors - winning and that kind of feel. It was a lot different in my first few years."

But Curry said he will adjust, learn Kerr's style and play just as hard for him as he did for Jackson. And he has no doubt his teammates will, too.

"At the end of the day, all of the guys in the locker room are trying to win," Curry said. "I know Steve Kerr has that mentality and that mission as well. Those two things will align, and we'll be fine."

Earlier, Curry was awarded the NBA's 2013-14 Kia Community Assist Seasonlong Award in front of a crowd on Golden State's practice floor that included many of the individuals and groups he impacted.

Curry's charity of choice, ThanksUSA, will receive $25,000 from the NBA and Kia Motors. ThanksUSA provides college, technical and vocational school scholarships for children and spouses of active-duty military personnel. Curry has served as a spokesman for the charity since 2010.

Curry's other charitable works included distributing 38,000 bed nets in Tanzania last summer with the "Nothing But Nets" campaign. He also helped raise money for the fight against malaria in Africa by donating three bed nets for every 3-pointer he made.

Curry called the award a "huge honor" and a team effort. He thanked his family, agents, members of the Warriors, the NBA, and several organizations for partnering with him.

---

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Pacers' Hibbert, Stephenson fined for flopping

MIAMI (AP) Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers have both been fined for flopping in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Stephenson was fined $10,000 for his second violation of the playoffs. Hibbert was fined $5,000.

Stephenson's flop with 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Pacers' 93-90 win over the Miami Heat. Hibbert's was with 5:18 remaining.

Game 6 is Friday in Miami. The Heat lead the series 3-2.

NBA expands games to Mexico, London

NEW YORK (AP) The NBA will play regular-season games in Mexico City and London as part of its extended global schedule for next season.

The Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves will play at the Mexico City Arena on Nov. 12. The Milwaukee Bucks will face the New York Knicks at The O2 on Jan. 15.

The two regular-season games will follow the NBA global preseason games in October that will feature five teams - Brooklyn, Cleveland, Miami, Sacramento and San Antonio - playing a series of games in Brazil, China, Germany and Turkey.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says, "These regular-season games will bring the excitement and incredible competition of our league to more fans in Europe and Latin America."

Blackhawks beat Kings 5-4 in 2OT to stay alive

CHICAGO (AP) Michal Handzus scored at 2:04 of the second overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to stay alive in the Western Conference final.

Brandon Saad made a nice pass to the middle to Handzus, who beat goalie Jonathan Quick with a backhander for his second goal of the playoffs. Handzus celebrated by jumping against boards behind the net as the sellout crowd of 21,871 roared.

Saad had a goal and two assists for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who stopped a three-game losing streak. Patrick Kane set a playoff career high with four assists.

Game 6 is Friday night in Los Angeles.

Pages