National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Redskins promote Bruce Allen to president, GM

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Bruce Allen is now officially upgraded to president and general manager of the Washington Redskins.

Previously, Allen held the GM title but was an executive vice president.

In a press release issued by the team on Monday, owner Dan Snyder says "I think the world of Bruce Allen and giving him both titles is appropriate."

Allen was hired by the Redskins in December 2009, after spending time with the Buccaneers and Raiders in the NFL, as well as USFL clubs.

Last week, Allen said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the team's nickname is "respectful" toward Native Americans. That followed half the U.S. Senate publicly urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the club's name, saying it is a racist slur.

Thunder's Serge Ibaka OK after return from injury

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) So far, so good for Serge Ibaka's comeback.

The Thunder forward said Monday that his strained left calf is feeling fine, and he expects to be able to play Tuesday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Ibaka came back from what was thought to be a season-ending injury to play 30 minutes in Game 3 against San Antonio. He had 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks to help Oklahoma City beat the Spurs 106-97 Sunday night and trim their deficit in the series to 2-1.

Ibaka said he felt no worse on Monday than the night before. He said it was a struggle during the game, but he stayed loose and was able to deal with the pain.

"It was kind of hard a little bit with my feet," he said. "I was using more my right foot than left foot. I could not do too much last night. After we saw the video, I felt like I was slow."

If that was Ibaka's version of not doing much, San Antonio might have a problem. The Spurs won the first two games by a combined 52 points, but with Ibaka, Oklahoma City dominated on Sunday and led by 20 with just over three minutes to go.

"I love what he did," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "I love the determination that he played with. That's something that he's done all along. That was a great, great game by him. He impacted the game both ends of the floor."

Ibaka isn't worried about re-injuring the calf or making it worse. His single concern is being on the floor for his team.

"When we sign here in the NBA, we sign on everything, man," he said. "At the end of the day, no matter what happened last night ... I signed for this."

The Spurs said they have more problems than Ibaka. They said to win Tuesday, they need to improve their shooting, rebounding and penetration.

"We just need to play better, shoot the ball better," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "Just continue to attack and be more aggressive and try to get to the basket, get to the free throw line, just get them on their heels a little bit. I think we got on our heels too much, and the result was what it was."

The Spurs also need to keep Oklahoma City off the free-throw line. The Thunder outscored the Spurs 26-15 from the line on Sunday as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant both went 8-for-8. Westbrook and Durant had combined for just 17 free-throw attempts in the first two games combined.

"The disparity in free throws really shows a sign of aggressiveness," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's about the game. It's about how you play."

The Thunder made several key changes for Game 3 that did not involve Ibaka. Backup point guard Reggie Jackson started and scored 15 points, adding another scoring threat to take pressure off Durant and Westbrook. Steven Adams, a rookie center, had seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes. Guard Thabo Sefolosha and forward Nick Collison, who started the first two games of the series, didn't play at all.

Brooks, who rarely makes lineup changes, wasn't sure why this particular set of decisions worked so well. He said more adjustments might be forthcoming.

"I have confidence in the different styles that we can play, big or small, so whoever we play, you've got to play with five guys, and whoever we decide, I have confidence, the team has confidence," he said.

Oklahoma City outrebounded the Spurs 52-36 on Sunday after getting outrebounded by three in Game 1 and 15 in Game 2.

Sunday, for the first time in the series, San Antonio's offense sputtered. San Antonio shot 40 percent from the field after shooting at least 50 percent in Games 1 and 2. Ginobili scored 23 points on Sunday and Duncan scored 16 points, but no other Spurs scored more than 10.

Tony Parker struggled with Westbrook's and Jackson's improved defense. Parker made just 4 of 13 shots and had nine points, four assists and four turnovers.

"I take a lot of responsibility," Parker said. "That's my job on this team, to get everything going. That's why I took it hard last night, because I felt like I didn't play well."


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Rafael Nadal wins for the 60th time at French Open

PARIS (AP) Rafael Nadal earned his 60th victory in 61 matches at the French Open on Monday, beating Robby Ginepri of the United States 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.

Nadal has won eight titles at Roland Garros, with his lone loss at the tournament coming in the fourth round in 2009. If he wins this year, he will become the first man to win five straight at the clay-court major.

Nadal played his opening match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the second biggest stadium at the French Open.

St. Louis' OT goal lifts Rangers over Habs

NEW YORK (AP) Martin St. Louis put New York within one win of the Stanley Cup finals, scoring 6:02 into overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night.

A loose puck came to St. Louis, the Rangers' inspirational postseason leader, alone in the right circle and he fired a snap shot over goalie Dustin Tokarski's shoulder.

The Rangers, who lead the series 3-1, were forced to overtime for the second straight game despite holding a pair of one-goal leads. New York lost Game 3 at home.

Carl Hagelin put the Rangers in front with a short-handed goal in the first period, and Derick Brassard made it 2-1 in the second. Hagelin also assisted on St. Louis' goal.

Francis Bouillon tied it in the second, and fellow defenseman P.K. Subban made it 2-2 in the third with a power-play goal. David Desharnais assisted on both for Montreal.

Thunder beat Spurs 106-97, cut deficit to 2-1

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Serge Ibaka scored 15 points in a dramatic return from what was thought to be a season-ending left calf strain to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-97 on Sunday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

Russell Westbrook had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds to help the Thunder cut the Spurs' lead in the series to 2-1.

Ibaka started after missing the first two games of the series. The Thunder had said he likely would miss the rest of the playoffs, but the team changed course Friday.

Manu Ginobili scored 23 points and Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs.

Game 4 is Tuesday night at Oklahoma City.

Johnson ends drought at Coca-Cola 600

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson passed Matt Kenseth with nine laps to go and won the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night for his first victory of the season.

Johnson was dominant at Charlotte Motor Speedway, winning the pole Thursday night and leading 165 of 400 laps in NASCAR's longest race. He won for the record seventh time at the track and 67th time overall.

Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Kenseth and Carl Edwards. Jamie McMurray, the All-Star race winner last weekend at the track, was fifth.

Kurt Busch's attempt at motorsports history ended with 129 laps to go when he blew an engine. Busch finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500, but could not complete the 600.

Hunter-Reay holds off Castroneves to win Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Ryan Hunter-Reay peeked around Helio Castroneves, then reversed course and dipped inside for a daredevil pass and the lead in the Indianapolis 500.

Castroneves charged back to the front, winning a drag race down the frontstretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And then, in a stirring wheel-to-wheel battle between a pair of bright yellow cars, Hunter-Reay seized the lead once more Sunday as the drivers hurtled across the Yard of Bricks with a single, 2.5-mile lap remaining.

With nobody in front of him, Hunter-Reay used the entire track to keep Castroneves in his rearview mirror. He nipped him at the line by less than half a car length, denying his Brazilian rival a chance at history Sunday and becoming the first American in eight years to win the Indy 500.

"The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" had lived up to its nickname.

"This race was ridiculously close and competitive," Hunter-Reay said. "Just glad I picked the right time to go."

The finish was well worth the wait - to the fans who watched 150 laps of caution-free racing, to the drivers who bided their time unsure of when they should charge to the front and to Hunter-Reay, who finally got to drink the celebratory milk in his seventh try. He beat Castroneves by just 0.060 seconds - only the 1992 race had a closer finish when Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear by 0.043 seconds.

"I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said in Victory Lane before he was joined by his wife and son. "I've watched this race since I was sitting in diapers on the floor in front of the TV. My son did it today. He watched me here. I'm thrilled. This is American history, this race. This is American tradition."

He was serenaded by chants of "USA! USA!" as he made his way around the post-race celebrations. He was joined by son Ryden, born shortly after Hunter-Reay's 2012 IndyCar championship and wearing a miniature version of his father's firesuit as his parents kissed the bricks.

Castroneves, trying to become the fourth driver to win a fourth Indianapolis 500, settled for second. He needed several moments to compose himself, slumped in his car, head down and helmet on. The Brazilian said a caution with 10 laps to go broke his rhythm as red flag came out so track workers could clean debris and repair a track wall.

"It was a great fight," he smiled. "I tell you what, I was having a great time. Unfortunately, second. It's good, but second sucks, you know what I mean?"

Marco Andretti finished third and Carlos Munoz was fourth as Andretti Autosport had three cars in the top four, as well as the winner.

Kurt Busch, also in a Honda for Andretti, finished sixth in his first race of the day. He left immediately for a flight after the race and arrived about an hour later in North Carolina for Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600, where his attempt to become the second driver to complete 1,100 miles in both races on the same day ended when his car blew an engine late.

Busch ended up completing about 907 miles.

"All in all, I'm very pleased. I cannot believe the execution of this team," Busch said before hustling away for a helicopter ride to his waiting plane. "I tried to enjoy it. My throat's real dry because I was smiling the whole time and the fresh air was coming in my mouth."

Marco Andretti appeared to have a shot at the win, but after the final restart he never could mix it up with Hunter-Reay and Castroneves as the two leaders swapped position four times in the final five laps. So certain his son would be a contender for the victory Sunday, Michael Andretti was just as thrilled with Hunter-Reay's win.

"Ryan's just been a huge part of our team, a great guy, a friend," said Michael Andretti, who won for the third time as a team owner. "He deserves it. He deserves to have his face on that trophy. If it couldn't be Marco, he's the next guy I wanted."

A year ago, Hunter-Reay was passed for the lead with three laps remaining and went on to finish third as the race finished under caution. He was leading Sunday and had control of the race until Townsend Bell's crash brought out the red flag. Hunter-Reay figured he was a sitting duck as the leader, his chances over.

"I can't get a break," he lamented on his team radio.

But after swapping the lead with Castroneves three times, including a dramatic inside move in Turn 3, Hunter-Reay made the final and decisive pass as the two cars took the white flag.

"At the end of the day there's stupid and bravery, and I think we were right there on the edge, both of us," Castroneves said. "I'm glad we both come out in a good way. I'm sad it did not come out the way I wanted."

The race went a record 150 laps without a caution as the pace zipped along and Busch at one point had no worries at all about getting to North Carolina in time for NASCAR's longest event of the year. Then a Charlie Kimball spin brought out the first yellow, a crash by Scott Dixon led to a second caution and a risky three-wide move on the next restart caused pole-sitter Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe to wreck.

Carpenter was livid, calling out Hinchcliffe for an "amateur" move.

"The moment when Hinch decided to make it three-wide was more than any of us could handle," Carpenter said. "I told him if he didn't have a concussion last week I would have punched him in the face."

Hinchcliffe, cleared to drive last weekend after suffering a concussion two weeks ago in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, accepted responsibility.

"I was the last guy on the scene," he said. "I have to take the blame, for sure. I feel really bad for (Carpenter) because he had a great month and was doing a great job."

The race resumed and Hunter-Reay was in control until the fourth and final caution, which led IndyCar to throw a rare red flag to allow the drivers a chance to race to the finish.

"It went green the whole way and I love that," Hunter-Reay said. "Winning it under green like that with just a fantastic finish - I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat."

Donovan breaks MLS goal record

CARSON, Calif. (AP) Landon Donovan broke the Major League Soccer goal record Sunday night, scoring his 135th and 136th regular-season goals in the Los Angeles Galaxy's 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union.

Playing for the first time since being cut from the U.S. World Cup team, Donovan broke a tie with Jeff Cunningham in the 49th minute with his first goal in four games this season, then added another in the 81st. Donovan also holds the MLS playoff record with 22 goals.

Donovan scored his first goal on a counterattack, passing to Robbie Keane, who took the ball into the Union box and fed Donovan at the left post for an easy finish. After making it 4-0 in the 81st, Donovan was replaced by a substitute a minute later.

Donovan has played 307 regular-season games in 15 seasons. The Jamaican-born Cunningham, a former U.S. national team player, played in 365 games over 14 seasons with Columbus, Colorado, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and FC Dallas. He last played in MLS in 2011.

Donovan is No. 2 on the league's career assists list with 120, including one on Leonardo's second-minute header Sunday. Steve Ralston, a Houston Dynamo assistant coach who retired in 2010, has the record with 135.

Donovan also set up Los Angeles' first goal, delivering a free kick that Leonardo headed home in the second minute. Keane scored a third in the 64th minute after a turnover by Union defender Sheanon Williams.

Los Angeles (4-3-3) won consecutive games for the second time this season.

Philadelphia (2-7-5), which welcomed back midfielder Maurice Edu - also one of seven players trimmed from the 30-man World Cup preliminary roster - lost its second game in a row and fifth in the last six outings. The Union have won just once in their last dozen games.

Edu scored for Philadelphia in the 88th minute, converting a penalty kick after Raul Mendiola fouled Zach Pfeffer.

Red Sox lose 10th straight, brawl with Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) The World Series champion Boston Red Sox lost their 10th straight game, skidding to their longest slump in 20 years and brawling with the Tampa Bay Rays during an 8-5 defeat Sunday.

Rays pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez connected for a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the seventh. Yunel Escobar hit a two-run double later in the inning and then took third on defensive indifference, setting off the fracas.

Escobar, Rodriguez and Boston's Jonny Gomes were all ejected.

This is Boston's worst losing streak since an 11-gamer from June 8-19, 1994. The Red Sox have been outscored 52-24 over their last 10 games.

Beckett pitches no-hitter, Dodgers stop Phillies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Josh Beckett pitched the first no-hitter of his stellar career and the first in the majors this season, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0 on Sunday.

Beckett struck out six, walked three and didn't come close to allowing a hit against a lineup that included two former NL MVPs and four former All-Stars.

The 34-year-old right-hander, whose career was almost derailed by recent injuries, pitched the first no-hitter in the majors since Miami's Henderson Alvarez did it against Detroit on the final day of the 2013 season.

Beckett became the first visiting pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Philadelphia since Montreal's Bill Stoneman stopped the Phillies on April 17, 1969, at Connie Mack Stadium.

Report: T-Wolves want Joerger as coach

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Timberwolves have decided they want to bring Dave Joerger home to be their coach. Now all that stands in the way is agreeing on a contract and any possible compensation with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Timberwolves decided on Joerger as the replacement for Rick Adelman on Saturday night after the Minnesota-born Grizzlies coach met with team leadership, including owner Glen Taylor, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

Joerger, who went 50-32 in his first season as coach of the Grizzlies and helped the team to the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff field, is still under contract for two more years in Memphis. But owner Robert Pera is believed to be considering a coaching change after he recently fired CEO Jason Levien and director of player personnel Stu Lash, and it remained unclear just how much the Timberwolves want to give to the Grizzlies for a coach many presume could be fired any day.

Joerger, who is from Staples and went to college at Minnesota State, Moorhead, met with Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders on Thursday, then with several Wolves officials, including Taylor, for a second interview on Saturday evening.

It's clear he made quite an impression, because the Wolves decided shortly after the second meeting to zero in on him over other candidates including former Raptors coach and Timberwolves player Sam Mitchell and Lionel Hollins, who was replaced by Joerger in Memphis before this season.

The 40-year-old Joerger got to know Saunders as a young man trying to break into the coaching ranks when he was allowed to sit on several training camp practices for the Timberwolves, who were coached by Saunders from 1995-2005. He then followed a similar career path to Saunders, winning five championships while coaching in the International Basketball Association, the CBA and the NBDL before breaking into the NBA as an assistant with the Grizzlies seven years ago.

After the Grizzlies lost to San Antonio in the Western Conference finals last year, Joerger took over for the dismissed Hollins and impressed with his ability to adjust his schemes and philosophies to the talent on his roster, and do it on the fly. The Grizzlies started this season 10-15, prompting Joerger to ditch the more open offensive style he was trying to institute on a team that struggled to score in the halfcourt for the slower-paced, "Grit `n' Grind" style that became the Grizzlies' hallmark under Hollins.

But a seven-game slugfest with the Thunder in the first round wasn't enough to convince Pera that the team was headed in the right direction, and the uncertainty surrounding his job, coupled with the prospects of returning home to coach under Saunders, hold great appeal for Joerger.

Saunders has always had an affinity for coaches who have had to grind their way to the top through the backwaters of minor league basketball and he is also intrigued by Joerger's enthusiasm for the job even given the uncertain status of star forward Kevin Love, who can opt out of his contract after next season.

Love's situation has given several higher profile candidates pause, but Joerger still fits the profile of an energetic coach who has had success as a head coach that Saunders is looking for to take over a team that has not made the playoffs since 2004.

Joerger grew up in tiny Staples, about 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis, an upbringing that no doubt appealed to Taylor, a small-town Minnesotan himself.

But more than place of birth, Joerger's successful background as a basketball lifer who would prefer to play an up-tempo style of game no doubt helped push him over the top in the eyes of Taylor and Saunders, who were in search of an experienced coach with a willingness to play a free-flowing system that would fit a team with Ricky Rubio at point guard and, for now, Love at power forward.

Love has spent his first six seasons in Minnesota and has yet to make the playoffs, which leads many to believe he will leave the Timberwolves for the chance to join a team ready to contend.

That could prompt the Wolves to trade the face of the franchise, either this summer or before the February trade deadline, rather than risk letting him walk without receiving compensation.

Those involved didn't believe negotiating a contract would be much of an issue between the Wolves and Joerger. But if Pera tries to play hardball and insist on significant compensation in the form of draft picks, the process could take a little longer.

Heat rally late, beat Pacers 99-87 in Game 3

MIAMI (AP) LeBron James scored 26 points and Dwyane Wade added 23 as the Miami Heat shook off a horrid start to beat the Indiana Pacers 99-87 on Saturday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Ray Allen added 16 points and led a late-game charge for the Heat, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in Miami.

The Heat trailed by 15 in the first half and never led until early in the third quarter.

Paul George scored 17 points for Indiana, shooting 5 for 13 in his return after being concussed late in Game 2. Roy Hibbert scored 16 points, David West added 13 and Lance Stephenson had 10 for the Pacers.

Miami started the game 2 for 10 from the floor. The Heat then made 21 of their next 31 shots, including eight straight in the third quarter that gave the two-time defending NBA champions their first lead.

James' dunk with 7:36 remaining in the third put Miami up for the first time, 52-51. That was the first of nine lead changes in the quarter, before the Heat did what coach Erik Spoelstra implored his team to do in a pregame locker room address.

"Impose our identity," Spoelstra said.

Eventually, the message reached the Heat, and their two best players led the way.

James' 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the third put Miami up 67-63, then its biggest lead of the night. Wade subbed in for James with 5.7 seconds left because the four-time MVP was dealing with what appeared to be a hamstring cramp and connected on a 3-pointer with 1.4 ticks remaining for a 74-67 lead going into the fourth.

James retreated toward the locker room at that point, stopping halfway down the hallway known as "Championship Alley" while trainer Mike Mancias stretched him out. Meanwhile, Wade - not exactly known for behind-the-arc prowess - opened the fourth quarter with another 3, the Heat were up 10 and the floodgates were opening.

Indiana got to 76-74 before Allen made a 3-pointer, and with that, the tone was set for the final minutes. Allen made three 3s in the final 5:59, the last of those putting Miami up by 15.

And with that, it became clear that Indiana was going to lose for the second time in Miami this season after leading by 15. It also happened on Dec. 18.

The halftime score looked ugly: Pacers 42, Heat 38.

That didn't even come close to describing how much Miami struggled at times. Here's one example: After 11 minutes, it was Hibbert 10, Heat 10.

Indiana got nine points off turnovers in the opening quarter, led 19-5 with 2:42 left in the period and still held a 21-14 edge entering the second - even though Miami had just peeled off a 9-2 run to make things look at least somewhat respectable.

James started the second quarter for just the seventh time in his 89 games played this season, a sign of how desperate the Heat seemed to not let the game become a total runaway.

Carter leads Kings past Chicago 4-3 in West final

LOS ANGELES (AP) Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists, Tyler Toffoli scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Drew Doughty had a third-period goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves as the Kings returned to Staples Center with an impressive two-way effort against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Captain Jonathan Toews scored twice in the first period for the Blackhawks, but they didn't score again until Patrick Sharp's goal with 5 seconds left.

Corey Crawford stopped 28 shots for the Blackhawks, who have lost the first road game in 10 consecutive playoff series since 2010.

Game 4 is Monday night at Staples Center.

Slava Voynov scored an early power-play goal as the Kings moved halfway to their second Stanley Cup final in three years.

Three days after the Kings evened the series by scoring six consecutive goals in the final 22 minutes of Game 2, Los Angeles didn't relax and rely on its NHL-best defense.

Neither team played conservatively despite the stakes, instead trading tantalizing scoring chances for the first two periods. The Kings kept pushing for goals even while leading in the third, recording 18 shots and keeping the talented Blackhawks stuck in their own end for long stretches.

Los Angeles got another monster game from the line led by Carter, the imposing goal-scorer who had four points in the third period of Game 2. In a 6:11 span of the second period of Game 3, Carter scored the tying goal off Tanner Pearson's pass before setting up the go-ahead score by Toffoli, who has a goal in every game of the conference finals.

After Toews stressed the importance of playing with some anger in Game 3, the Canadian Olympian produced his first multigoal performance in 63 playoff games since May 7, 2010, when he had a hat trick against Vancouver.

The Blackhawks beat Los Angeles in five games in the conference finals last season, but the rematch hasn't been nearly as smooth for Chicago. Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell haven't score a goal in the conference finals, while Sharp's last-gasp goal was his first of the series.

The Blackhawks had their usual hundreds of red-clad fans in an otherwise black-and-white Staples Center crowd, and Toews put Chicago ahead just 5:26 into Game 3 with a spectacular unassisted goal, stealing the puck from Justin Williams and beating Quick between the legs.

Just 50 seconds later, Voynov skated into the slot and beat Crawford with a slap shot. Voynov, a target of criticism from Kings fans this season, hadn't scored since the Kings' first-round opener 37 days ago.

Toews connected again later in the period on a rebound of Michal Rozsival's shot after a prolonged period of puck possession.

After surviving a long period of Chicago pressure, the Kings evened it in the second period when Pearson corralled a puck that hit a referee behind the net and fed it to Carter in front for his eighth goal.

Carter then chipped the puck ahead to Toffoli shortly after a Chicago power play ended. Toffoli broke in on Crawford, who lifted his left pad for only an instant - right when Toffoli pushed the puck under him.

The Kings kept up the pressure in the third period, and Doughty scored just his second goal of the postseason shortly after a power play expired in the third period.

NOTES: F Andrew Shaw returned to Chicago's lineup after a seven-game injury absence. He took the lineup spot of Peter Regin, who had played the last four games. ... Each player on the Carter-Toffoli-Pearson line is averaging at least one point per game over the past four games. ... Guitarist Slash played the national anthem. Wayne Gretzky, Dick Butkus, David Beckham, Eric Stonestreet, Josh Duhamel, Taylor Kitsch and former Kings forward Dustin Penner attended the game.

Skidding Red Sox blow 5-run lead, fall to Rays in 15

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Andrew Miller threw a force attempt at second base into center field, allowing pinch-runner Cole Figueroa to score in the bottom of the 15th inning as the Tampa Bay Rays handed the Boston Red Sox their ninth consecutive loss, 6-5 Saturday.

James Loney opened the 15th with a single off Miller (1-4). Figueroa ran for Loney and went to second on Brandon Guyer's bunt single. He scored when Miller threw the ball into center field while attempting to get a double play on Desmond Jennings' grounder.

Cesar Ramos (2-3) allowed an infield single and two walks in three scoreless innings for the win. Five Tampa Bay pitchers limited Boston to six hits, with just two coming after the first inning.

A.J. Pierzynski homered for the Red Sox, who last lost nine in a row Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2001.

Thousands attend service for coach Don Meyer

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) Thousands gathered on the campus of Northern State University in South Dakota on Saturday for a memorial service to honor longtime college basketball coach Don Meyer, whose friends said his legacy of compassion for others would surpass even his accomplishments on the court.

Meyer, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, died Sunday of cancer at his home in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He was 69.

He led his teams into the playoffs 19 times and compiled a 923-324 record during his 38-year career, most of which he spent at Lipscomb in Tennessee and at Northern State. The native of Wayne, Nebraska, overcame a near-fatal car accident in 2008 before closing out his career after the 2010 season at Northern State with a 13-14 record - only his fourth losing season.

Mark Ovenden, a local sportscaster and friend of Meyer's, opened the service. He, and everyone else who spoke, focused on Meyer's role as a mentor to those around him.

"Don was a great coach - we know that. His accomplishments have been well documented. But he was even better at the things that most of us didn't notice in life: living the right way; doing things the right way," Ovenden said.

Meyer's former players talked about how their coach had helped shape their lives when they were young and how he continued to do so, even as they got older and had children of their own.

"What do we do now?" asked Brett Newton, who played for Meyer at Northern State for four years. "We live our lives as an example of what he was."

Craig Nelson, who played for Meyer from 2003-2008 at Northern State, said the thousands who came to honor Meyer were there because of more than just his coaching record.

"I would argue a Division II basketball coach would not garner this type of celebration just for being a basketball coach," he said.

The public memorial service was held on the gym floor of the Barnett Center, where Northern State hosts its basketball games.

A second service will be held June 1 at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where Meyer also coached.

2014 French Open: It's Serena's world

Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen the rise of the lopsided men’s draw at Grand Slams. Many of the top players’ rankings — including Rafael Nadal’s, Roger Federer’s, and Andy Murray’s — were in flux, which meant their seedings were as well, which meant they could find themselves landing in odd and unfortunate spots in the draw, a little too close for comfort to their closest rivals. 

This time it’s the women’s turn to go asymmetrical. Blame Maria Sharapova’s right shoulder, Victoria Azarenka’s left foot, and Venus Williams’ health. Sharapova, the 2012 French champion, and perhaps the second favorite to win the event this year, is seeded No. 7 after spending much of 2013 sidelined by a shoulder injury. Azarenka, the second-best player in the world in recent years, is out of the tournament entirely with a long-running foot injury. Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, is 34 years old and ranked about the same.

These three developments couldn’t possibly have an effect on the draw, could they? Let’s have a look.


First Quarter

One day you’re tweeting selfies with your American BFF at a party, the next day you find out you have to play her in the first round. Whoops. Such is life at the moment for France's Alizé Lim, who drew her friend from the Mouratoglou Academy, Serena Williams, in her opener. I’m guessing Serena’s friendship will extend only so far.

Of greater interest, to Serena as well as the rest of us, is who she might play soon after Lim. In the second round, Williams could face Garbine Muguruza, a Spanish up-and-comer, and in the third she could have the always-unenviable task of playing her sister. Serena hasn’t lost to Venus since 2009, but it’s never an easy ask. There’s also a decent chance it may never happen. Venus hasn’t been past the second round in Paris since 2010, and she could play Jie Zheng in the second round. The woman occasionally known as JZ beat Venus at last year’s U.S. Open.

More threatening is the woman at the other end of this section: The aforementioned Maria Sharapova. This is an unfortunate spot for Maria and the event, but probably not for Serena—of all the players she could have faced in the quarters, she likely has the best record (16-2) against Sharapova. Maria will start against a qualifier, and then play the winner between Annika Beck and Tsvetana Pironkova.


—Dominika Cibulkova: Domi has been a semifinalist in Paris, and she beat Sharapova in Australia this year; she's in Maria's half of this section.

—Sam Stosur: The Aussie reached the French final in 2010.

First-round matches to watch:

—Venus Williams vs. Belinda Bencic

—Sam Stosur vs. Monica Puig

Semifinalist: S. Williams


Second Quarter

Here’s where you feel the lopside: In the top quarter, we could see Serena vs. Maria; in this quarter, if the seeds hold, we’ll see...Radwanska vs. Kerber.

Looking ahead, Aga’s been given a promising path to the semifinals, a place she has never been in Paris. The three highest seeds in her section are Kerber, who has been reeling of late; Carla Suarez Navarro, who is 0-3 against Radwanska; and Eugenie Bouchard, who is still finding her way on clay. The trickiest match for Aga in the early going could come in the first round, where she plays 34th-ranked Shuai Zhang, a quarterfinalist last week in Rome.


—Eugenie Bouchard: She has been a Slam semifinalist already this year, and is in the finals in Nürnberg this weekend. Her draw — Shahar Peer, then Julia Goerges — looks manageable. 

—Flavia Pennetta: Her draw is also manageable, though she’s just 14-11 overall at Roland Garros. 

—Carla Suarez Navarro: She’s having the best year of her career, and she opens against two qualifiers.

First-round matches to watch:

—Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Shuai Zhang: An eye-opener for the third seed.

—Ajla Tomljanivoc vs. Francesca Schiavone: Contrasts in style, age, and experience.

—Christina McHale vs. Elena Vesnina: McHale seems to have found her game; can she pull off a minor upset over the 32nd seed?

—Daniela Hantuchova vs. Jovana Jaksic: The 20-year-old Serb is on the verge of cracking the Top 100.

Semifinalist: Suarez Navarro


Third Quarter

The two biggest question marks in the draw surround Simona Halep: 

(1) What is her Grand Slam ceiling? She's already No. 4 in the world, but has yet to reach a major semi.

(2) How will her body hold up over two weeks on clay? Three times this year she’s had a good run at an event, then followed it up with an early withdrawal or a retirement. The last was in Rome two weeks ago.

Halep, who opens against Alisa Kleybanova, has an opportunity to answer those big-stage questions. The highest seed in her half is a teetering Sloane Stephens, and the highest seed on the other side is Petra Kvitova—who, in a way, is always teetering. But the Czech was a semifinalist here two years ago, and this section will be decided on her racquet.


—Ana Ivanovic: The 11th seed, a finalist in Stuttgart and semifinalist in Rome, has a chance to get back to a Slam semi for the first time in six years. But on closer inspection, it's a fairly slim chance: Ana has a tough opener, against Caroline Garcia, a potentially tough second-rounder, against Elina Svitolina, and she lost to her possible fourth-round opponent, Kvitova, 6-0, 6-0 over the last two sets in Miami this year.

—Svetlana Kuznetsova: The 2009 champ gets up for Roland Garros; she nearly knocked Serena out last year. But Kvitova, her likely third-round opponent, is 3-0 against her.

First-round matches to watch:

—Ana Ivanovic vs. Caroline Garcia

—Sloane Stephens vs. Shuai Peng

Semifinalist: Halep


Fourth Quarter

Li Na — Aussie Open champ, noted comedienne, and IMG meal ticket — is a consistent presence in the media these days; how much do we believe in her consistency on the court? She has certainly improved it with coach Carlos Rodriguez in her corner, but in her last two clay events, she was consistently mediocre. The world No. 2 lost in the quarters in Madrid and Rome.

Li has won in Paris before, of course, and her draw should make her a threat to do it again. She starts against a solid French opponent, Kristina Mladenovic, but the closest seed to her is a slumping Andrea Petkovic. More dangerous are two women on the other side of this section: No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic, who is 2-0 against Li on clay; and Sara Errani, the 2012 French finalist who beat Li last week in Rome.

Sleeper: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She hasn't been past the third round at a major since 2011, but someday she’ll prove her believers right. (Don't quote me on that.)

First-round match to watch: Sara Errani vs. Madison Keys. They’ve never played.

Player of interest: Caroline Wozniacki. She opens against Yanina Wickmayer, and is in Li’s half.

Semifinalist: Li


Semifinals: S. Williams d. Suarez Navarro; Li Na d. Halep

Final: S. Williams d. Li Na

2014 French Open: Nadal-Djokovic III ahead

Earlier today, I noted how the women’s draw at the French Open had been thrown out of whack by Maria Sharapova’s low ranking and low seeding. On the men’s side, things have gone in the opposite direction. With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both safely back in the Top 4, and safely spaced across the draw, it appears that order has been restored in Paris. That is, until the first upset throws everything off-kilter again. Here’s a look at where those upsets might, and might not, occur at Roland Garros.


First Quarter

The men and women do have one thing in common: Last year’s finalists are scheduled to meet in the quarterfinals. When those players are Sharapova and Serena Williams, it seems unfair; but when it’s Nadal and David Ferrer, a mid-tournament showdown feels about right.

The state of Rafa, and his prospects for Paris, have been the dominant topics in tennis for the last month. As he finally arrives there, I’d say the glass is half full and half empty for Nadal. By winning in Madrid and reaching the final in Rome, he put all of his doubts, except one, behind him. But that doubt—how do I match up against Novak Djokovic?—is the most important of all. After losing to Djokovic in Rome, Nadal can’t feel as if he has the upper hand against his biggest rival. No matter how well Rafa plays over these two weeks, and how much confidence he gains as he moves toward the final, the doubts about his chances against Nole will linger.

But he, and we, aren't there yet. Nadal opens against 31-year-old Robby Ginepri; in the second round, he could face a test from big-hitting, fast-rising, 20-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem. After that, a fourth-round meeting with Nicolas Almagro, who won his first match in 11 tries against Rafa last month in Barcelona, might await. I don’t see a repeat of that upset.

Nor do I see a repeat of another upset from this clay season, Ferrer’s win over Nadal in Monte Carlo.

As far as Ferru's draw goes, his biggest test could come from the second seed in his half, Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian would seem to be primed for a breakout run at Roland Garros, as long as he can maneuver his way past Ivo Karlovic in the first round. Baby Fed and Dr. Ace have split their two meetings.

Semifinalist: Nadal


Second Quarter

If Simona Halep is the question mark of the women’s draw, that goes double for Stan Wawrinka on the men’s side. He’s ranked a career-high No. 3, he’s the Aussie Open champ, he won the Masters event on clay in Monte Carlo, and he owns wins over Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, and Ferrer this year. Yet he’s looked lost in his last two events, in Madrid and Rome, and he’s begun this one talking as if Rafa and Nole exist on a different plane from him. Cards don’t come any more wild than Wawrinka does in this draw.

Stan will have to get his act back together right away, as he faces a quality opponent, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, in the first round—GGL has beaten him twice on clay. Other than that, though, this section looks winnable for Wawrinka. The highest seed on his side is Fabio Fognini, and the highest seed on the other side is Andy Murray; Stan is 3-1 against Fognini, and has won his last two matches over Murray.

First-round match to watch: Richard Gasquet vs. Bernard Tomic

Player of interest, if he plays: Gael Monfils. He’s on Wawrinka’s side.

Semifinalist: Wawrinka


Third Quarter

What should we think of Federer’s chances? His wife just had twins, he didn’t play Madrid, and he lost his opener in Rome. Plus, Wimbledon, his event, is on the horizon. Still, the 2009 champion, who has reached at least the quarters here every year since 2004, can’t hate what he sees in his immediate future. Federer starts with Lukas Lacko, and the highest seed on his side is Mikhail Youzhny.

The top man on the other side is Tomas Berdych, but he’s hardly someone to count on. A semifinalist in Paris in 2010, he also lost in the first round there in 2009, 2011, and 2013, and he’s had a mediocre clay season.

Question Mark: No. 10 seed John Isner has had success on clay, but not so much in three-out-of-five-set matches, on any surface. He starts against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a stylish but 133rd-ranked Frenchman.

-- Roberto Bautista Agut: The 27th seed is scheduled to play Berdych in the third round.

-- Ernests Gulbis: The Latvian has a chronic case of Isner-itis. He’s dangerous in two-of-three, and he’s had a good season so far; but he hasn’t been past the third round at a major since 2008. If Gulbis breaks that streak this year, he might play Federer in the round of 16.

Semifinalist: Federer


Fourth Quarter

In 2012, Djokovic lost to Nadal in the French final in four sets; that match ended his quest for four straight majors. In 2013, Djokovic lost to Nadal in five sets in the semifinals; that match, the best of the season, cost him the year-end No. 1 ranking. Is this, finally, the moment when Djokovic conquers his last Grand Slam demon and wins his first French Open? As of right now, I’m thinking yes.

But Nole’s campaign may not start so smoothly. He opens against 41st-ranked Joao Sousa, a 25-year-old from Portugal who knows his way around a clay court. In the second round, he could face Jeremy Chardy, who beat Federer in Rome. Though I wouldn’t put that one on Upset Alert just yet: Djokovic has played the Frenchman eight times and hasn’t dropped so much as a set.

Of more concern is who he could face later. In the fourth round, that might be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Jo has been struggling, but he’s usually inspired at Roland Garros. After that, Djokovic could find himself in a quarterfinal against either Milos Raonic, who was a few points from beating him in Rome, or Kei Nishikori, who was the hottest player in tennis just two weeks ago. Plus, there's Novak's recently painful right wrist; it will have to hold up through a lot of tennis.

Question Mark: Nishikori. It’s hard to question a man who’s now in the Top 10, but it’s also hard to know how Nishikori’s brittle body will withstand two weeks on clay. In the 18 Grand Slams he’s played, Kei has reached the quarterfinals just once.

Also here: Alexandr Dolgopolov and Lukas Rosol; both are in Raonic’s half.

Reeling: Jerzy Janowicz has lost nine straight matches; he’ll try to end that streak against Victor Estrella Burgos.

First-round match to watch: Milos Raonic vs. Nick Kyrgios

New avatar vs. old: Nishikori and Nikolay Davydenko could face off, PlayStation-style, in the second round.

Semifinalist: Djokovic


Semifinals: Nadal d. Wawrinka; Djokovic d. Federer

Final: Djokovic has been closing the gap, even on clay, against Nadal for the last four years. He’s beaten him in Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Rome on dirt; at the Aussie Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open in three-out-of-five-set finals; and in their last four matches, Djokovic has lost just one set. That leaves Paris as Rafa's last redoubt, but you have to think it's going to fall to Nole someday. If his wrist stays pain free, this would seem to be that day.

Djokovic d. Nadal

Donovan stunned to be cut from US World Cup team

CARSON, Calif. (AP) Landon Donovan thought he had earned a prominent role on the U.S. World Cup team right up until the moment he was cut from the roster by coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Donovan was still stunned and confused by Klinsmann's decision when he went back to work with the LA Galaxy on Saturday.

"I'm disappointed. I'm sad," Donovan said Saturday after the Galaxy's practice. "I'm human, and I wanted to go. I really wanted to go. I'm at peace with it. I respect the decision. I just feel in my heart that I deserve to be there, and that's the pill that's hardest to swallow."

The 32-year-old attacker was denied the chance to play in his fourth World Cup after Klinsmann chose U.S. team newcomer Aron Johannsson and 31-year-old Chris Wondolowski over the most accomplished international player in American history.

The decision surprised Donovan, who believed a strong performance in training camp had secured his spot on the 23-man roster.

But Donovan declined to speculate on additional possible factors in the decision: his recent soccer sabbatical, the coach's decision to evaluate a versatile player solely as a forward, or the impact of the Americans' difficult group draw on their long-term planning.

"I think if I'm being judged solely on what happens in camp, then I absolutely deserved to be going to Brazil," Donovan said. "I firmly believe that not only should I be going, but I feel like I really deserved it, and not from anything that I did in the past, but from what I've done in the last week and a half."

Donovan gave little insight into whatever reasons Klinsmann shared with him at the Bay Area training camp. Klinsmann provided only murky details about his decision Friday, saying other players were "a little step ahead of Landon in certain areas."

"I don't agree with that assessment," Donovan said. "I think I was at least as good as everybody else in camp. ... I think I was one of the better players, so that's why it stings a little. If I had gone in and didn't feel like I deserved it, I could live with that. But that's not the case here."

Donovan had nothing to say about any underlying implications of the mocking tweet by Jonathan Klinsmann, the coach's teenage son, moments after the announcement.

"I don't really know his son well, so I'm not really sure where that came from," Donovan said.

Donovan also doesn't think his four-month sabbatical from soccer in 2013 after the Galaxy's second straight MLS Cup title should have worked against him.

"I actually think I've been a much better player since I came back," he said.

Donovan is the career U.S. leader with 57 international goals, and is second with 156 appearances. He has scored five World Cup goals, including a stoppage-time goal against Algeria to send the Americans to the second round four years ago.

Instead of jetting off to Brazil, the five-time MLS Cup champion will resume his pursuit of the top U.S. league's career goal-scoring record in Sunday's home game against Philadelphia. Donovan tied Jeff Cunningham's mark with his 134th goal late last season, but hasn't scored in seven matches with the Galaxy this year.

"I'm excited to be back here," Donovan said. "I certainly didn't want to be back here under these circumstances or this soon, but I love these guys. These are my teammates, and this is my home. I will not let this affect me going forward."

Donovan said he would gladly return to the U.S. team from the standby list if an injury created a spot on the roster, and he wouldn't rule out playing for the U.S. team in the future. He urged fans to support Klinsmann's current squad because "I don't want there to be a negative tint to any of this."

"I've always loved representing this country, so I can't imagine that if I'm given another opportunity that I would say no," Donovan added. "But at this point, I'm just trying to deal with the disappointment."

Rangers vs Canadiens turns nasty as Game 4 awaits

NEW YORK (AP) Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien is upset with Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson. The Rangers are angry with Montreal Canadiens right wing Brandon Prust and linesman Scott Driscoll.

The Eastern Conference finals have plenty of juice. Coming up is Game 4 on Sunday night, with New York leading the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Therrien was none too happy that Samuelsson watched part of the Canadiens' practice at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, contending he violated a "gentlemen's agreement."

"Coaches are not allowed to attend practices between games," Therrien said. "Game day is different."

Therrien said when his team saw Samuelsson there "we let them know." He says this agreement is out of "respect" for coaches who want to make adjustments between games.

"It's always been like that," he said. "That's the way it is."

The Rangers remain upset they will not have top-line center Derek Stepan, who had surgery Friday for a broken jaw following an open-ice hit from Prust in Game 3.

New York coach Alain Vigneualt did not have an update on Stepan, other than to say the center was recuperating and "unlikely" to play in Game 4.

The Rangers, however, will have the services of third-line center Derick Brassard, who has not played since absorbing a check in Game 1 from Montreal defenseman Mike Weaver.

"I feel great. I'm good to go. I'm going to be in tomorrow," Brassard said. "The reason why I'm playing tomorrow is because I'm 100 percent."

He may be, but both the Canadiens and Rangers will be short-handed - Prust and New York left wing Daniel Carcillo were suspended Friday by the NHL for actions in Game 3.

Prust will miss Games 4 and 5 for his hit on Stepan. On Saturday, he lamented the "timing" of the hit.

"It's fractions of a second," said Prust, who went before a league hearing. "The NHL deems a hit late at 0.6 seconds and (this hit) was 0.8 seconds. That's on me. It's late. My focus was on trying to make a clean body check. Everything about the actual contact is clean. It's just late."

Prust added that he swapped text messages with Stepan to express remorse after learning of the broken jaw.

While the possibility exists that the Montreal wing could return before the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, New York may not have Carcillo the rest of the way. He was banned for 10 games for physical abuse of an on-ice official.

As Prust was fighting New York right wing Derek Dorsett in the first period of Game 3, Carcillo elbowed Driscoll in the face as the linesman was escorting him to the penalty box. According to Rule 40.3 Physical Abuse of Officials, Category II: "Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than 10 games."

Carcillo practiced with the Rangers on Saturday, but declined to speak with media. A team representative said it was unclear if Carcillo would appeal the suspension.

If he does, it would be through the players' union. A player has 72 hours to submit a written appeal to Commissioner Gary Bettman for a personal hearing.

"My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is probably what's happening to Dan Carcillo," Vigneault said. "At the end of the day, if the right call is made on the ice, that whole situation doesn't happen. Dan didn't have a penalty on that play. There was no penalty there.

"I still don't understand why (Driscoll) grabbed him in that fashion. All (Driscoll) had to do was tell him he had a penalty; Dan didn't know he had a penalty.

"In that split moment of grabbing him like that, obviously, it's inexcusable what Dan did. ... His first comments to me was `I know I should have been in better control.' He knows that. He should have been in better control there. He knows that. I can't begin to tell you how bad he feels about the whole thing. There is nothing he can do about it now, and there is nothing we can do about it."

Ibaka could help Thunder improve defense vs. Spurs

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Serge Ibaka walked slowly and carefully, but without a limp, before facing reporters Saturday afternoon.

Much has been made of the Oklahoma City defensive star's absence in the first two games of the Western Conference finals series against the San Antonio Spurs. The 6-foot-10 power forward strained his left calf in the previous playoff series, and the Thunder said they expected him to be out for the playoffs. The team changed course Friday and declared him day-to-day. He worked out Saturday, but he didn't practice before addressing the media for the first time since his outlook changed.

With Ibaka, the league's leading shot blocker, the Thunder were one of the best defensive teams the NBA. Without him, the Spurs shot at least 50 percent in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals and won them by a combined 52 points. As he stood for the five-minute session wearing a black compression sock over the calf, he deflected claims that he could be a savior heading into Game 3 on Sunday.

"I've been hearing a lot of people saying my team lost two games because I was out," he said. "That's not true. I believe in my guys. I believe in my teammates. They can be better with me or without me. It's no excuse because Serge Ibaka was not there. Just San Antonio, the first two games, they played better basketball."

Ibaka said he sometimes screamed at his television set when he watched scenarios in which he could have made plays during the losses. He is not sure if he will play in Game 3 - he said it is up to doctors, and much will depend on how he feels in the morning. For now, he will depend largely on rest, ice and luck.

His presence is needed, even if he is less than fully healthy. Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Perry Jones have struggled against the Spurs' big men. Kevin Durant, normally a small forward, has played some power forward in the series because of Ibaka's absence, and his relative lack of physical strength and unfamiliarity with playing post defense has been exploited.

The Spurs prepared all along as though he would return.

"It gives them another hell of a player," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "but we are who we are and we've got to be who we are. We can't change what we do."

Even if Ibaka returns, it will not fully solve Oklahoma City's problems defending the perimeter. San Antonio has made 18 of 40 3-pointers in the series and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are slashing into the paint with stunning frequency, often scoring or finding their teammates for open shots.

The Thunder say it starts with basics.

"It's just an individual effort," Perkins said. "Got to put it in your mind that you want to stop the guy in front of you, and that's it. Backside got to be ready. But the thing is when they penetrate, that's what opens those threes. We'll do a better job of keeping the ball in front of us, but we've just got to be individual and you've got to want the match up."

To be fair, San Antonio shares the ball like no one else. The Spurs led the league with 25.4 assists per game during the regular season. That average is up to 27.5 against Oklahoma City. Parker and Ginobili generate many of the assists, but many others come from simple ball movement.

"We don't have a Durant," Ginobili said. "We don't have a Kobe (Bryant) or LeBron (James) that can go one against one and finish every single time. We need to pass the ball to find open teammates, and that's what we do, and that's what we've been doing. We all feel proud about it. We know when we have 25 assists or 30, we are much better and we try to do that every time."

Because the Spurs generally have five capable scorers on the floor at a time, it forces opponents to have a greater attention to detail than usual.

"They've got threats," Durant said. "Everybody on their team is a threat because of their offense. They move the ball. They've got 3-point shooters. You take away 3-point shooters, they get the role guys and they get the paint points. You take away that and they start hitting the threes. So we have to do both. We have to be able to close the paint up and get out to shooters. Easier said than done, but we can do it."

The Spurs are off to a good start, but experience tells them they won't have as easy a time in Oklahoma City. And in 2012, Oklahoma City fell behind San Antonio 2-0 in the Western Conference finals before winning the series 4-2.

"We've got to know that in their arena it's going to be different," Ginobili said. "They're going to be way more aggressive, they're going to be pushed by their fans. We just won two games. They are going to make more shots, they are going to attack harder, they are going to go to the free-throw line more.So, there are a lot of things that they can do much better and we're not going to make as many shots."