National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Dolphins DB Jones draws rebuke for tweet about Sam

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) A negative one-word tweet from Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones about the drafting of Michael Sam drew a rebuke from the team.

Shortly after the St. Louis Rams selected Sam in the seventh round Saturday, Jones tweeted, "Horrible." The tweet was taken down a short time later.

Sam is the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft.

The Dolphins were at the center of bullying scandal last season that embarrassed the league and drew nationwide scrutiny of locker room culture in the NFL.

After the draft, Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said he was made aware of Jones' tweet.

"I was disappointed in those comments," Hickey said. "That's not what we stand for as an organization. The draft weekend is the culmination for so many players of their lifetime achievement of their dream to achieve their goal. For Michael Sam, for all the other players, it's such a great celebration as they begin their future.

"We're going to sit down with Don Jones and address (the tweet) appropriately."

Jones' agent, Chris Martin, said he was unaware of the tweet and declined to comment.

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Bruins beat Canadiens 4-2 to take 3-2 series lead

BOSTON (AP) Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla scored 22 seconds apart to help the Boston Bruins snap a five-year playoff power-play drought against Montreal and beat the Canadiens 4-2 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday night.

The Bruins lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, with a chance to eliminate the Canadiens in Montreal on Monday night. Game 7 would be Wednesday night back in Boston.

Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson also scored, and Tuukka Rask stopped 29 shots for Boston. He extended his shutout streak to 122 minutes, 6 seconds before Brendan Gallagher scored to make it 3-1 on a power play with 5:21 left in the second period.

Carey Price made 26 saves for Montreal. P.K. Subban had a late goal power-play goal.

The Bruins had not scored a power-play goal in the playoffs against the Canadiens in 39 tries over 14 playoff games dating to 2009.

Hot-shooting Thunder beat Clippers 118-112

LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Durant scored 36 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Oklahoma City Thunder outplayed the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter for a 118-112 victory Friday night and a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal.

Serge Ibaka added 20 points and Westbrook had 13 assists for the Thunder in a game that neither team ever led by double digits.

Blake Griffin scored 34 points, and Chris Paul added 21 points and 16 assists for the Clippers, who saw their four-point lead disappear for good early in the fourth quarter. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford added 20 points.

Oklahoma City led 113-107 on Durant's turnaround jumper with 1:23 left. It followed Westbrook's 3-pointer after the Clippers had closed within 108-107 when Griffin muscled in for a layup.

Game 4 is Sunday at Staples Center.

The Thunder shot 56 percent, and controlled the paint and fastbreak points against a Clippers team that never got into their favored run-and-gun mode.

J.J. Redick, who got off to a hot start in Game 2, was held to five points on 1-of-6 shooting. DeAndre Jordan was never a factor for the Clippers either, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Matt Barnes gave them a lift with 14 points.

The Thunder gradually pulled away in the fourth, scoring eight straight points, including Durant's three-point play, to take the lead for good. Former Clipper Caron Butler hit three 3-pointers to give his team the lead and then extend it.

Emotions boiled in the third, with double technicals called on Barnes and Kendrick Perkins, who stared hard at each other. Perkins took a step toward Barnes but got pushed away by Westbrook. By then, Griffin was already bloodied. He got hit in the face by Ibaka, but the only call by the referees was 3 seconds on the Clippers.

Griffin held a towel to his gushing nose and changed his jersey during a timeout.

The Clippers rallied at the end of the period, outscoring the Thunder 8-0 to take a 90-86 lead. They did it on free throws except for Griffin's basket. Reggie Jackson was called for a foul and a technical, and then Durant fouled Crawford on a 3-point attempt with less than a second left. He made all three.

Neither team led by more than seven points in the first half, when the lead changed hands 14 times and there were seven ties. Ibaka had three fouls and Thabo Sefolosha two for the Thunder.

NOTES: Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, attended the game. Her lawyer has said she wants to retain her financial interest in the team. ... Paul tied Elton Brand's franchise record for most double-doubles in the playoffs with his sixth. ... Paul and Durant earned double technicals late in the first half after using expletives. ... Clippers F Hedo Turkoglu, out with a hairline fracture in his lower back, was able to pull on his gym shorts Friday, but coach Doc Rivers said it's not looking good for him to return. ... Earlier Friday, the NBA hired Dick Parsons as the Clippers' interim CEO. He is former chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner. Rivers said Parsons "is a very good hire." ... Rivers handed Crawford his Sixth Man of the Year trophy at center court before the game. ... Among the famous faces were Rihanna, former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer, Billy Crystal, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, who pulled out his medal as the crowd cheered.

Wild barrage on Crawford beats Blackhawks 4-2

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Jason Pominville scored for Minnesota in the second period off the back of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's skate and the Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night to even the Western Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.

Matt Cooke returned from his seven-game kneeing suspension to give the Wild a jolt, assisting on Justin Fontaine's opening goal. Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon also scored.

Crawford made 27 saves, but he gave up four goals for the second straight game.

Patrick Sharp snapped out of his slump by scoring for the Blackhawks and Michal Handzus had a goal, but the defending Stanley Cup champions again found themselves unable to establish a consistent attack against the Wild's stifling defense.

The teams will return to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday night and be back in Minnesota for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks, blanked 4-0 in Game 3, were shut out twice in the postseason last year and responded with four and six goals, respectively, in their ensuing games. Coach Joel Quenneville shuffled up the lines this week, moving Ben Smith to the first group with captain Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell and bringing defenseman Nick Leddy back to the lineup in a search for more speed and flow.

The Wild wouldn't let that happen.

Leading the NHL in takeaways in the playoffs and allowing an average of fewer than 21 shots on goal per game in the series, the Wild improved to 5-0 at home this postseason with a 16-5 goal differential. The franchise record at Xcel Energy Center was a mere 5-10 prior to this year.

Sharp, coming off a 34-goal, 44-assist season, got just his second goal in 10 playoff games. The Blackhawks, though, managed just 20 shots on Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after stressing the importance of testing him more.

Cooke set Fontaine up for a slap shot on a two-on-one rush early in the game, and the puck sailed over the glass. Fontaine buried his next chance, though, a bad-angle attempt from the front edge of the circle that skidded through Michal Rozsival's legs after Cooke swiped the puck from the defenseman.

After two full periods of trap-filled, tight-checking play in Game 3, the pace in this one was quick from the start to help the Wild get their crowd going. The fans resumed their sing-song jeering of Crawford's last name from the last game, and the chants grew louder throughout the night.

The buzz in the building was killed for a bit when Sharp, whose struggles prompted a move down to a new third line with Handzus and Marian Hossa, caught defenseman Clayton Stoner stuck in the offensive zone on a turnover by Niederreiter and beat Mikko Koivu to slip a wrister between Bryzgalov's pads with 38 seconds left before the break.

But the Wild roared right back in the second period. Pominville, the other leading scorer having a quiet postseason, got his first goal of the series with the good bounce to beat all good bounces with his soft shot from the end boards. Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook slammed his stick against the boards in disgust.

Handzus retied the game by boxing out Mikael Granlund and redirecting Seabrook's try, but the Wild pulled ahead again when Crawford whiffed in his attempt to squeeze his glove on Niederreiter's uncontested shot. Bryzgalov did his part by sticking his pad out to stop Sharp's breakaway with a thud.

Then early in the third period, Koivu fed Spurgeon for the power-play score to push the lead to two. That was just the fourth goal in 42 opportunities against the Blackhawks in the playoffs, the best penalty-kill percentage in the league.

NOTES: Both teams lost a player to injury late in the second period on penalized contact. Brandon Bollig was called for boarding on the Wild's Keith Ballard, sending him to the locker room. Then Spurgeon was whistled for elbowing Marcus Kruger of the Blackhawks. Kruger returned, but Ballard didn't. ... Quenneville on Leddy being a healthy scratch: "Sometimes it gets their attention. It's never personal." ... Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, drafted from Louisville the night before, took in his first hockey game.

Browns' Gordon facing possible suspension

BEREA, Ohio (AP) A day of celebration dissolved into confusion for the Browns.

Hours after quarterback Johnny Manziel's arrival had Cleveland's football pulse racing faster than it had in years, a report that star wide receiver Josh Gordon may be facing an indefinite suspension shattered the city's collective joy.

One star in, one maybe on his way out.

As the second round of the NFL draft was set to open Friday, ESPN reported that Gordon, who led the NFL in yards receiving last season, had failed another drug test for marijuana and could be banned for a year. The ESPN report, based on anonymous sources, described letters the Pro Bowler received about the failed test.

The Browns deferred any comment on Gordon's situation to the league office. Gordon's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, declined comment.

Browns general manager Ray Farmer refused to address any specifics on Gordon's situation, which he called "a lot of shocking, supposedly news."

"We're not going to talk or comment on our player's health status of anyone who's on this roster," Farmer said, repeating a similar line several times as he was pressed by reporters.

Farmer said he'll remain silent until he has clarity from the league.

Gordon was suspended without pay for the first two games last season for violating the league's substance abuse policy for the second time, but still led the league with 1,646 yards receiving in 14 games. He had 87 catches and nine touchdowns.

Gordon, who was taken in the 2012 supplemental draft, entered the league with a history of substance issues. He was excused from Baylor's team for twice failing drug tests and he also failed a test after transferring to Utah.

The Browns have been pleased with the easygoing Gordon's maturity and his off-the-field progress. The team had the 23-year-old involved in many of their offseason activities this winter, including him in meetings with free agents and keeping him apprised of their plans.

At last week's voluntary mini-camp, first-year Browns coach Mike Pettine praised Gordon for his game-breaking abilities and his willingness to accept his role with the team. Gordon spoke to a small group of reporters away from the TV cameras and said he was pleased to be so entwined in the team's offseason regimen.

"It was actually big. I was surprised by it," Gordon said. "It was good to have that camaraderie, we never really had that before. Nobody really tried to instill that in this group, but hopefully that brings us all together."

Gordon was expected to be the top playmaker for either Manziel or incumbent starter Brian Hoyer.

Farmer would not comment on if the Browns were aware of Gordon's possible ban before Thursday's opening round, when they traded out of the No. 4, sending that pick to Buffalo for the No. 9 pick and a first- and fourth-rounder in 2015. Buffalo used the fourth selection on Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

If Gordon is suspended, the Browns are in big trouble at wide receiver. Greg Little and Nate Burleson would be the most experienced players at the position with newly signed Andrew Hawkins at the slot position.

Burleson underwent surgery last week to fix a plate in the left arm he broke in a car accident last year when he was with Detroit.

"I'm just fine," he said in a text message to the AP. "I had a minor surgery to fix the plate in my arm so I'll be ready well before training camp. If today were the playoffs, I would be playing."

Farmer said he's not concerned about his team's depth at wide receiver.

"We play games in September, right now there's plenty of opportunity for us to acquire players and make things happen whether it's in trades or draft picks or players who get cut," he said.

The Browns were expected to address their depth at receiver before the report on Gordon surfaced. But Cleveland went in a different direction in the second round, taking Nevada offensive tackle Joel Bitonio with the No. 35 overall pick.

At 6-foot-4, 302 pounds, Bitonio can also play guard and has been described as "nasty."

"I like to play hard," he said. "Football is played to the whistle and you have to play as hard as you can every snap. If you can play that hard every play, then there's a good chance that if you're equally talented and use your technique well, you'll be able to beat the guy you're going against. I want to play as hard as I possibly can. I know the AFC North is a tough, hard-nosed division, and I hope I can a little bit of that to the team."

The Browns passed over wide receivers - seven were drafted in the second round - again in the third, when they selected Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey. The 6-foot-1, 233-pounder played outside linebacker last season for the Hawkeyes, but Cleveland's coaching staff envisions him playing inside.

Later, the Browns moved back into the third round and picked Towson State running back Terrance West. Cleveland sent a fourth-rounder (No. 106) and sixth-rounder (No. 180) to San Francisco for the No. 94 pick to take West, who rushed for 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns last season.

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AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.

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NFL DRAFT: Patriots, Raiders make QB picks

NEW YORK (AP) The only two quarterbacks chosen on the second day of the NFL draft Friday have a lot to emulate.

Derek Carr's guiding light has been older brother David, the top overall pick in the 2002 draft. Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite player has been Tom Brady, the 199th selection in 2000.

The problem for Carr, taken fourth in the second round by Oakland, is that David was only mediocre as a pro. The issue for Garoppolo, chosen 62nd overall by New England, is, well, can anyone really live up to Brady's career?

"I learned everything that he did right and everything that he did wrong," Derek Carr said of David, 11 years his elder. "He told me that if he could do anything, he hopes he made the path smoother for me as I transition into the NFL."

The two were among dozens of picks made Friday as the NFL draft wrapped up Rounds 2 and 3 at Radio City Music Hall. The first day shattered all-time television viewership records and fed a roaring crowd, but the second day was more subdued.

Carr's older brother, David, was the first player ever taken by the Houston Texans. Derek, who also went to Fresno State and, like his elder brother enters the league with a wife and child, went 36th overall.

Derek Carr must hope he gets better protection with the Raiders than David did with Houston. David Carr never reached the expectations of a No. 1 pick, in part because he was sacked so often during his time with the Texans.

Derek Carr rewrote the Bulldogs' record book, throwing for more than 10,000 yards and 100 touchdown passes. He led Fresno State to consecutive Mountain West Conference titles in his final two seasons and passed for 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns in 2013. He guided a spread offense that relied on his quick decision making, fast release and ability to move in the pocket. All in a season where his son was born with a serious problem with his intestines a month before he stepped on the field.

Oakland acquired veteran Matt Schaub to be its starter, but he will get a serious push from Carr.

"They want me to come in, work hard, compete," Carr said. "Whenever I'm the quarterback, great. To me, it doesn't matter what the situation is - if I'm a starter, if I'm a backup, there to learn."

Garoppolo couldn't have said it any better. The star on the FCS level at Eastern Illinois, which produced Tony Romo, went to New England near the end of the second round. Could he be the heir to Tom Brady?

"It's a fun offense, lot of different variables. It's an offense that fits me,"Garoppolo said. "This is a picture-perfect fit for me."

"I feel good about it. Whether I was coming in as the starter or as the backup, I'm going to go in and approach it the same way. I'm going to go out there and try to get better each and every day. That's what good football players do."

In other picks Friday:

- The Texans selected UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, who joins the first overall pick, defensive disrupter Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, in Houston. The two of them can have fun colliding against each other in minicamps and training camp. The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Su'a-Filo, who went on a Mormon mission while in college, also has played tackle.

- The Cowboys took Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who they hope will emulate their departed sacks leader with the same first name, DeMarcus Ware, now with Denver. "I'm my own Demarcus," Lawrence said. "I don't like to try to be nobody else. I'm going to be me, and I'm going to do it well."

- Cleveland, more active than any team in the first round, added a protector for Johnny Manziel by grabbing guard Joel Bitonio of Nevada, who also can play tackle or center. The Browns caused the biggest stir on opening night when they traded up to No. 22 to get Johnny Football. Cleveland did not choose any receivers even though Josh Gordon is reportedly facing suspension by the NFL for violating the league's drug policy again. Gordon was suspended for the first two games of 2013, but still led the league with 1,646 yards receiving in 14 games.

- After Washington selected Virginia tackle Morgan Moses, who was on hand at the draft, with the 66th pick, Moses joked: "I thought my phone was broken." Several mock drafts had Moses going in the first round.

- It took 54 selections, a draft record, for a running back to go. Bishop Sankey of Washington was chosen by the Titans, who cut Chris Johnson this spring. Two more went in the next three selections: Jeremy Hill of LSU to Cincinnati, and Carlos Hyde of Ohio State to San Francisco. Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason went 75th overall to St. Louis.

- A total of 39 early entrants have been selected so far, 25 on Friday. Altogether, there were a record 102 early entrants this year. College powerhouses Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia did not have anyone chosen in the first three rounds.

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AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo and Sports Writers Simmi Buttar, Schuyler Dixon and Josh Dubow contributed to this story.

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

George, Pacers beat Wizards 85-63, lead series 2-1

WASHINGTON (AP) Paul George had his best game of the series with 23 points and eight rebounds, Roy Hibbert was again a factor by scoring 14 points, and the Indiana Pacers held the Washington Wizards to a franchise-low playoff total Friday night in an 85-63 victory.

The Pacers lead the Eastern Conference semifinal 2-1.

Washington made only 24 field goals, another team postseason worst, on 73 attempts, 32.9 percent. That included 4 of 16 on 3s, and it didn't get much better on free throws, where the Wizards were 11 of 21.

So much for the bandwagon-hopping in Washington. There were boos on occasion, and most of the crowd started heading to the exits after George's 3 with 3 1/2 minutes left made it 75-58.

Game 4 is Sunday in Washington.

Rangers fend off elimination, top Penguins 5-1

PITTSBURGH (AP) Derick Brassard scored twice, including New York's first power-play goal in 10 games, and the Rangers avoided elimination with a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday night.

Brassard ended New York's 0-for-36 slide with the man advantage by beating Marc-Andre Fleury late in the first period. Ryan McDonagh added another power-play goal in the second to help the Rangers force Game 6 in New York on Sunday.

Chris Kreider and Kevin Klein also scored, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots.

Evgeni Malkin had his third goal of the series for Pittsburgh. Fleury made 30 saves but lacked the crispness that allowed the Penguins to sweep Games 3 and 4 in New York.

NBA picks Dick Parsons as interim Clippers CEO

NEW YORK (AP) Dick Parsons is hoping for a short stint running the Los Angeles Clippers, though he's ready to stay on as long as it takes.

Moving the franchise away from Donald Sterling and to new ownership might require a lengthy fight, but it's one Parsons thinks is worthwhile.

"This is an issue that's actually bigger than just the Clippers, bigger than just the NBA in my judgment," Parsons said. "The whole world is kind of watching how, frankly, we as a country navigate our way through this crisis. So if I can help, I'm happy to try."

The NBA chose Parsons, the 66-year-old former Citigroup chairman and former Time Warner chairman and CEO, as interim CEO of the Clippers on Friday.

"I think it's a very good hire for us," said Doc Rivers, Clippers coach and senior vice president of basketball operations.

Parsons will oversee the management of the franchise and represent it at owners meetings while the league tries to force Sterling to sell following his lifetime ban for making racist remarks.

With Sterling barred from anything to do with the team or league, and team President Andy Roeser on an indefinite leave of absence, the league and Clippers worked together to find someone to lead the organization along with Rivers, who has spoken with Parsons a couple times.

"They've done a great job," Rivers said. "I trust the league in this so well. They're smarter than me in this. I don't have a lot to say, to be honest, and it's because I don't think I should have a lot to say in it."

Parsons, who is black, met with Commissioner Adam Silver on Monday and accepted the position Thursday. He had gotten to know Silver, then the deputy commissioner, when Time Warner owned the Atlanta Hawks, and he supports what Silver is trying to do now in his first crisis since replacing David Stern in February.

"He's a good man and he's trying to do the right thing and he's trying to do it in the right way, and he could use some help," Parsons said during a phone interview.

Parsons is currently a senior adviser at Providence Equity Partners and sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates. He has also been on President Barack Obama's economic advisory team.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii, where he played basketball, Parsons earned a law degree from Albany Law School in 1971 and became a staff lawyer for New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He moved to Washington when Rockefeller was appointed vice president, and also worked closely with President Gerald Ford.

Parsons left the legal field in 1988 to become president, then chairman and CEO of Dime Bancorp, Inc. He was Time Warner chairman and CEO from 2002-08, then chairman of Citigroup from 2009-12.

Silver said in a statement that Parsons "will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization."

"Dick's credentials as a proven chief executive speak for themselves and I am extremely grateful he accepted this responsibility," Silver added.

The owners' advisory/finance committee has already held two conference calls since Silver banned Sterling, fined him $2.5 million and said he would urge owners to force Sterling to sell the franchise he has owned since 1981.

That would require Sterling to be charged with violating the league's constitution and bylaws, followed by a three-fourths vote of owners after a hearing. Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, wants to keep her 50 percent ownership stake in the team, her lawyer said Thursday, and Silver said so far the ban only applies to Donald Sterling.

While that potential fight goes on, the Clippers are trying to stay focused on the playoffs following their most successful regular season ever. They are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder entering Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Parsons said he wouldn't be involved in an ownership fight and hopes one won't even be necessary, that "cooler heads and rationality" would allow the NBA and the Clippers to work through the turmoil without a legal battle. He doesn't know how long that could take.

"I know the NBA would love to get this done before the next season begins, but who knows what's going to happen? It's open ended," Parsons said.

"We're here until sort of we can work our way through the point of transition."

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AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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Harvick sets track record to win Kansas pole

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Kevin Harvick has a second straight shot at winning from the pole at Kansas Speedway.

Harvick was back on top at the 1.5-mile track, posting a track record to help propel him to his second pole of the season. Harvick posted his record 194.658 mph lap Friday in the second round of NASCAR's knockout qualifying format. His No. 4 Chevrolet hit 194.252 in the third round to give him two straight poles at Kansas, after he won from the top spot at October's race.

"It was `Freaky Fast' today, so just have to put it all together tomorrow night when it counts," Harvick said.

Harvick has two wins this season and won from the pole at Darlington. He will lead the field to green Saturday under the lights for the first time in a Sprint Cup race at Kansas. Joey Logano joined Harvick on the front row.

Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five.

His qualifying spins over, Keselowski worked hard defending himself from drivers - like former champion Jimmie Johnson - who said he didn't need to race so hard when he was out of contention Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Keselowski fell six laps off the pace while his car was repaired from an earlier accident. When he returned to the track, he decided to race hard with the leaders in an attempt to slowly get his laps back and maybe put himself back in position to win.

Keselowski eventually spun in the middle of the pack to trigger a 14-car accident that wrecked former champions Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Johnson.

"You have to think being six laps down you are not going to get back on the lead lap," Johnson said Friday. "There is an opinion, if you are on the race track you deserve a right to go race regardless how many laps down you are. I'm sure that is probably a smaller percentage of people have that opinion. It's very easy when you are caught up in that wreck is to go, `Why were you racing? You are six laps down.' It just depends on where you are."

Keselowski brushed off the barbs from his rivals.

"That's his right," Keselowski said. "We all hold the steering wheel. There's 43 of us out there and we all hold it a little bit differently and make different decisions. It would be quite lame to watch if we all did the same thing and had the same ideas and personnas.

"I'd say in most cases, I probably wouldn't have done it. But in that case, I felt like it was the proper thing to do with having the potential to race the 1 car (Jamie McMurray) and get back in sequence. If we got back in sequence, we had enough speed in our car, with yellows, to have a shot at winning the race. I wasn't ready to give up."

Kurt Busch was sixth, followed by Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart. Danica Patrick qualified ninth for her second straight top-10 start and Greg Biffle was 10th.

Harvick said a little 15-minute pep talk with Patrick may have spurred her to another solid qualifying run. She set a track record on her first lap, though it was topped multiple times during the three rounds.

"She just basically needed to quit thinking about it and smash the gas," he said. "That's what she said. She's done a great job in trying to take in all the information."

Harvick, who jumped from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing, pulled away from Kurt Busch and Gordon on a late restart to win a wreck-filled race in October at Kansas.

"I don't think it's going to be like the way it was when they dropped the green flag last fall here," he said.

Harvick won his eighth pole in 477 career starts.

"It makes life a lot easier when you can have pit stall one," he said. "Hopefully we can have a good night tomorrow night, but the weekend has gone good we had a great test here a few weeks ago and everything has carried right over."

Kaymer takes 1-shot lead over Spieth at Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth are having a blast at The Players Championship - one because he's playing good golf again, the other because that's all he's been doing.

Kaymer followed his record-tying 63 on the Stadium Course on the TPC Sawgrass with a 3-under 69, capping off his round by hitting a pitching wedge to 3 feet on an island green with a back pin on the 17th hole.

He had a one-shot lead going into the weekend as he tries to end more than two years without a victory.

"Everything is coming together nicely," said Kaymer, a former PGA champion and world No. 1.

Spieth, in his first big tournament since his runner-up finish at the Masters, hasn't shown any signs of a letdown. He pieced together another bogey-free round and converted pure swings into tap-in birdies on consecutive holes on the back nine that carried him to a 6-under 66.

"I don't think it's going to be possible to stay bogey-free for two more rounds with the greens firming up," Spieth said, not sounding at all like someone making his Players Championship debut. "That's a nice goal to have, I think. When bogeys come, it's going to be how I rebound."

Kaymer was at 12-under 132. That matched the best 36-hole score on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass in 20 years, dating to Greg Norman's record-setting performance. Norman made only one bogey that week.

Spieth hasn't made a bogey all week - he has gone 51 holes without a bogey going back to the third round at Hilton Head - though he had to make a couple of tough chips look easy to keep a clean card.

The 20-year-old Texan was still on the practice range when he saw Kaymer finish at 12 under, a score that felt impossible to catch in warm, blustery weather. The grass remained soft on the golf course, however, allowing players to take aim at the flags.

Some players had no choice.

Adam Scott, in his first tournament as a married man, kept alive his hopes of going to No. 1 in the world this week with three birdies in his last four holes for a 67. That was a 10-shot improvement from Thursday and enabled him to make the cut on the number at even-par 144.

Rory McIlroy shot 42 on the front nine and appeared headed home early until making birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a 74 to make the cut.

Not so fortunate was Phil Mickelson. He missed his birdie attempt on No. 18 and had a 70 to miss by one. Mickelson now has missed the cut in the two biggest events of the year - the Masters and The Players.

"I don't feel bad about the game," Mickelson said. "But mentally, I'm just really soft right now."

Kaymer is winless dating to the HSBC Champions in Shanghai at the end of 2011. The more good scores he sees, the more often his name is on a leaderboard, the more confidence he gains. Darren Clarke watched it for two days, referring to him as a "finely tuned engineer."

Even so, the 29-year-old German is hesitant to look beyond the next day. He knows it's tough to follow a record-tying round with anything remotely close. So he lowered his expectations, figuring anything around par would be suitable, and then kept his distance from the field.

"Yesterday was just a very special day for me," he said. "Even though I shot 9-under par yesterday ... if people want to talk negative about it, I then shot six shots worse. But you can always go in the negative. I see very positive things that I backed up that 9-under par with another decent round."

Spieth was even better.

He had to scramble for par from short of the ninth green and from behind the 10th green. He hit his stride in the middle of the back nine with two shots that were nearly identical - a 6-iron on the par-3 13th that rode the ridge down to about 4 feet, and a 6-iron from 184 yards on the 14th to 3 feet.

"It was a nice break to land and roll to pin-high, because it was a very tricky pin with quite a bit of slope around the hole," he said.

Spieth has said he was proud of how he played the final round of the Masters, even with a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play. His game looks every bit as solid at Sawgrass, a course he had only seen while playing a junior event. He finished second in that one, too.

And that's what keep him going. Asked he if was getting bored being in contention so much, he smiled and said, "No, because I haven't won one."

"You should probably have to win every time in order for it to get boring," he said. "But not even Tiger gets bored."

Russell Henley didn't make a par over his last six holes - three bogeys, three birdies - for a 71 and was in third place at 8-under 136. Sergio Garcia (71), U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (71), Gary Woodland (71), Lee Westwood (71) and Jim Furyk (68) were six shots behind.

The course appeared to be getting slightly firmer by the end of the day. The excitement figures to start on the weekend.

Buffalo Bills trade WR Johnson to 49ers

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Receiver Stevie Johnson is heading to his hometown San Francisco 49ers after being the odd man out in Buffalo.

The Bills traded Johnson to the 49ers on Friday in a deal made before the start of the second round of the NFL draft. In exchange, Buffalo acquired an undisclosed pick next year. ESPN reported it was a conditional fourth-round selection.

The deal was made a day after the Bills traded up five spots to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the fourth pick.

Watkins' addition was the latest in a series of moves the Bills have made to restock their receiver position, and it led to Johnson being expendable after six seasons in Buffalo. The Bills also acquired receiver Mike Williams in a trade with Tampa Bay last month. Last year, Buffalo used second- and third-round picks to draft Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Johnson left Buffalo on Thursday, when he was spotted on a flight that landed in Las Vegas about an hour after Buffalo drafted Watkins.

"Today's decision was not an easy one to make, especially involving a player like Stevie, who leaves everything he has on the field and is an emotional leader in our locker room," Bills general manager Doug Whaley said. "All of the decisions we make are done so in the best interest of our team."

The 49ers, by comparison, had a need for receiver and were expected to address the position in the draft. San Francisco instead gained an experienced player in Johnson to fill a key spot as San Francisco's likely No. 3 receiver behind Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

While Boldin received a new $12 million, two-year contract in March, Crabtree is entering the final season of his contract and San Francisco lost Mario Manningham in free agency.

Johnson spent the past four seasons as a starter in Buffalo. He became the Bills first player to break 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons in 2010-11, and extended the streak in 2012.

49ers first-round draft pick safety Jimmie Ward was thrilled to learn of the addition of Johnson as the defender made the rounds at team headquarters Friday.

"It's awesome," Ward said. "I'm a competitor so I like to play against the best guys. If you've got a lot of best guys on your team, that's only going to get me better at the end of the day."

Johnson's numbers dropped last year, when he finished with 52 catches for 597 yards in 12 games. Aside from being slowed by an assortment of injuries, he was excused by the team for the final two games of the season following the death of his mother.

Overall, he has 301 catches for 3,842 yards and 28 touchdowns in 75 games.

Johnson is from San Francisco and played collegiately at Kentucky. The Bills selected him in the seventh round in 2008.

At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Johnson can play on the outside, but is best suited to play an inside slot position.

Johnson is known for his outgoing personality and colorful touchdown celebrations that have, on occasion, gotten him into trouble.

Former Bills coach Chan Gailey benched Johnson for the final three quarters of Buffalo's 2011 season finale. The discipline occurred after Johnson was penalized a second time that season for an excessive touchdown celebration.

The Bills, who haven't made the playoffs in 14 seasons, are counting on Watkins to add a dynamic threat to an offense that lacked consistency last season under rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. Whaley acknowledged the risk he took with a "win-now" approach by giving up a No. 9 pick this year, plus a first- and fourth-round pick next year in trade with Cleveland to select Watkins.

That's fine with Watkins, who arrived in Buffalo earlier in the day.

"Throughout my whole life I've had high expectations of myself," Watkins said. "I can't wait to get it started."

In three seasons, Watkins set 23 school records, including career marks with 240 catches and 3,391 yards. His 27 career touchdowns matched a school record.

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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Santa Clara, California, contributed to this report.

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

Youngstown State offers president's job to Tressel

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) Trustees at Youngstown State University voted Friday to offer the president's job to former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who started his college coaching career there.

The Youngstown State appointment will not be official until a contract is signed, school spokesman Ron Cole said. The board chairman and vice chairman were authorized to begin negotiations.

Tressel, who has been an administrator at the University of Akron for two years, said he looks forward to building on Youngstown State's success.

"We are honored and privileged to accept the board's offer and we are humbled by this opportunity to return to the area and school that we deeply love," Tressel said in a written statement with his wife.

Tressel became a popular figure in the area while coaching Youngstown State's football team from 1986 to 2000, a run that included four Division I-AA national titles, and serving as the Penguins' athletic director for part of that time.

In picking the school's next leader, trustees chose the 61-year-old Tressel over the president of Southern Oregon University and the chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

"After fully examining each and every candidate and reviewing the input from hundreds of individuals across the campus and the community, the Board of Trustees believes Mr. Tressel is the right individual at the right time to lead Youngstown State University," board chairman Sudershan Garg said in a statement. "Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU's profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation."

Tressel recently was a finalist for but was not chosen to be president at the University of Akron, where he is executive vice president for student success. He went to Akron after being forced out at Ohio State following a scandal in which players sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos, leading to an investigation that resulted in sanctions against the team and Tressel.

While making his pitch for the president's job to faculty, staff and students at Youngstown State, he told reporters he was not planning to return to coaching and would accept his next position with the understanding that it would be long-term.

The faculty union at Youngstown State supported his bid to be president. The 13,500-student school launched its search for a new leader after President Randy Dunn accepted a job leading the Southern Illinois University system.

Tressel received a bachelor's degree in education from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1975 and a master's degree in education from the University of Akron in 1977.

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