National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Colin Kaepernick eager to have Miami case resolved

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says on Twitter he's eager to have the truth come out in a Miami investigation involving him and two other NFL players.

Miami Police on Tuesday released two calls to a 911 dispatcher saying a woman identifying herself as Jesus was lying naked in a bed and refusing to leave. The callers said the woman wanted to spend time with a third man who wasn't there.

Kaepernick posted Wednesday: "On 911 calls, I'm glad the truth is getting out. Info that came out earlier was totally wrong. I look forward to this matter being resolved."

Police say the players also involved in the case are 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton and Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette. None has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Indy expects Irsay to help make Super Bowl pitch

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts owner Jim Irsay is expected to make the final pitch for Indianapolis' Super Bowl bid May 20 in Atlanta.

Irsay has been undergoing treatment since March when he was arrested near his home in an Indianapolis suburb. The arrest report said he had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his car.

Pete Ward, Irsay's assistant in the Colts' organization, told reporters Wednesday that Irsay would speak during the five minutes owners are given to lobby other owners to award their city the Super Bowl. That will follow 15-minute presentations from each city vying to host the 2018 Super Bowl - Indy, Minneapolis and New Orleans.

The owners meetings would be Irsay's first public appearance since the arrest.

Warriors begin search for next coach

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has never been afraid to take a risk. And he knows his latest move - firing coach Mark Jackson - comes with a lot of risk.

Lacob just believes it's one worth taking.

After jettisoning Jackson on Tuesday, Lacob and general manager Bob Myers moved forward on filling the team's coaching vacancy Wednesday. Lacob said he has no set criteria for his next coach and no timetable to make the hire, but he's counting on the search to attract more candidates - and more top-tier talent - than when he hired Jackson three years ago.

"We do have some ideas of what we want to do," Lacob said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "We will look at all the basic aspects such as basketball experience, and I don't mean coaching necessarily. Someone like Mark Jackson had played 17 years in the NBA, that's a lot of experience. In this case it might be more coaching experience, it might not. We're kind of open to that.

"But it has to be someone with good pedigree, someone who's a leader, someone who can deal with the pressure of a situation. We have been somewhat successful now and want to go to the next level."

The job is certainly a far more attractive one than when Lacob hired Jackson away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. The Warriors are coming off a 51-win season and consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in 20 years, and they've surrounded star Stephen Curry with young talent.

Lacob compared the decision to change coaches to how he built his fortune as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. He said there's a different person to lead a business at different stages of development, and the Warriors have gone from a "startup" company to an organization looking to maximize its output.

"Or in this case win an NBA championship," he said. "And we just felt overall we needed a different person to go forward and get to the next level."

Where the Warriors go for their next coach is unclear. Lacob and Myers both declined to discuss specific candidates.

Former NBA player and current TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr, who is also a candidate for the New York Knicks job, has close ties to Lacob and Warriors President Rick Welts from Kerr's time as the general manager for the Phoenix Suns. Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who went to high school in nearby Martinez, California, has been mentioned for multiple openings the past few years but has yet to show a desire to go back to the bench.

If the Warriors look to the college ranks, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut's Kevin Ollie are rising stars in the profession. Lacob, who insisted NBA coaching experience is not a requirement, could also try to make a splash by luring a more tenured coach such as Michigan State's Tom Izzo to the professional ranks. Or, as was the case with Jackson, make another unconventional hire.

The one thing Lacob is banking on is he should have a more wide-ranging field than when he made his first coaching hire as owner. Among the coaches the Warriors reached out to during that search: Jackson, Michael Malone, Mike Brown, Brian Shaw, Dwane Casey, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Budenholzer.

"We think this is a very attractive job," Lacob said. "Compared to three years ago, we have an outstanding organization. Three years ago, not only was the team not winning, but the organization needed a lot of work."

Lacob also understands a new coach comes with the risk of disrupting team chemistry.

Nearly every player publicly called for Jackson to return - most notably Curry, whom Lacob said was told of the decision ahead of time. Lacob said he hopes his ownership group has built enough clout with players and fans since it bought the franchise in 2010 that they will have faith in the decisions management makes.

"I think they have the same goals as us - to win and to achieve a high level of success," Lacob said. "And I think they have to trust us a little bit, that we have the same goals and we're going to do everything we can to bring in the best coach possible and will manage the attributes of each player in a way that will allow us to win as many games as possible."

Fire at rented house of ex-tennis star Blake kills 3

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Firefighters found three bodies in a burning mansion owned by former tennis star James Blake, who was renting out the Tampa Bay-area house and not there at the time, officials said Wednesday.

Hours after the fire was reported about 6 a.m. EDT, firefighters were still there putting out hot spots at the 7,600-square foot home located north of downtown Tampa. It could be days before detectives are able to sift through the charred debris, officials said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez said detectives don't yet know the identities of the victims.

Neighbors told detectives that Blake hasn't lived in the house for a while and was renting it out, she said. Detectives haven't talked with Blake, whose agent said he was certain Blake was not in Florida, but he wouldn't say where he was.

"He's not in Florida, I can tell you 100 percent that he's not in Florida," Carlos Fleming told The Associated Press.

Blake bought the home in the Avila subdivision in 2005 for $1.5 million, according to Hillsborough County property records. It had five bedrooms and five bathrooms. Video of the fire showed it totally engulfed in flames.

"It's in the back part of Avila, the million-dollar homes. It's a massive home," said Nacole Revette, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough Fire Rescue.

Avila is an exclusive enclave north of Tampa known for its mansions and heavy security. Many well-known athletes call the community home and over the years, various football, baseball and tennis players have bought homes in the subdivision, which has a country club and golf course.

Blake, 34, was ranked fourth on the ATP world tour in 2006. He also has the James Blake Foundation, an organization dedicated to cancer research, in memory of his father who died of gastric cancer.

Parker's 33 leads Spurs to 116-92 Game 1 win

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tony Parker had 33 points and nine assists and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in a resounding 116-92 victory over Portland, bullying the younger Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night.

Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 12 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.

More importantly for the Spurs, their bench contributed mightily after being virtually non-existent in the series against Dallas.

Marco Belinelli had 19 points and the Australian connection of Aron Baynes and Patty Mills had 10 points apiece.

The Spurs had their most complete game of the postseason, playing with the flair and fluidity that resulted in the league's best regular season record.

Portland, meanwhile, didn't come close to resembling the confident and sharp-shooting group that upset Houston in the opening round.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Damian Lillard had 17 points for Portland, but the All-Star duo combined for just 17 points in the first half as San Antonio built a 26-point lead.

Lillard was pushed out of the paint by 6-foot-7 Leonard early in the game and was nearly knocked off his feet defensively by a series of blistering picks.

It wasn't any easier physically for Aldridge, who opened the game shooting 1 for 5 against Tiago Splitter and Baynes.

Splitter had an early steal on a pass to Aldridge and nearly had a second when he poked a dribble away as the 6-11 forward attempted to push his way into the block. Splitter hit the court in a failed attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds, but it mattered little as the tone had been set for a long night for Aldridge and the Trail Blazers.

Duncan left the game with 4 minutes remaining in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls, but the Spurs increased their lead in his absence thanks to big bench contributions.

Baynes had an immediate impact after playing only the final 6 minutes of San Antonio's Game 7 victory over Dallas. He scored four points quickly and continued the physical defense against Aldridge that Splitter established.

Belinelli finished 3 for 5 from 3-point range, leading the Spurs' bench to leap to their feet in loud celebration after the Italian guard's struggles in the opening series. After going just 4 for 7 on 3-pointers against Dallas, Belinelli opened the game by hitting his first three attempts from long range.

The Spurs scored the opening eight points from close range as Portland missed its first six attempts from a variety of spots on the court.

Parker, who had 32 points in Game 7 against Dallas, scored 13 points in the first quarter on a series of drives and capped it with a corner 3.

NOTES: San Antonio and Portland had not met in the playoffs since the Western Conference finals in 1999, when Sean Elliott made a dramatic 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining to win Game 2 and spark a series victory. Dubbed the "Memorial Day Miracle," Elliott made the game-winning shot after catching a pass, turning with his heels hovering above the out-of-bounds line and firing a high-arcing shot over a hard-charging Rasheed Wallace. The Spurs would go on to win their first NBA title that season. . Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was in attendance as was NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein, who was dressed in his trademark leather outfit and hat. . Ginobili was issued a technical foul by Tony Brothers after slamming the ball to the court following a traveling violation with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter. . Entering the series opener, Duncan had played as many postseason games (218) as the entire Portland roster.

Wild jump back in series with 4-0 win over Hawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund scored goals less than 3 minutes apart early in the third period, and the Minnesota Wild recovered from a sluggish start for a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 19 saves for his first shutout in the playoffs in eight years, and the Blackhawks had their lead whittled to 2-1 with their first loss in 2 1/2 weeks.

Zach Parise put the exclamation point on the win with a power-play goal, the first in 25 chances for the Wild over their last two playoff series against the Blackhawks. Then Granlund tacked on an empty-netter with 1:17 left.

Game 4 is Friday in Minnesota.

Warriors fire coach Mark Jackson after 3 seasons

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Mark Jackson came to the Golden State Warriors talking big and brash. He promised playoff appearances and championships, and he delivered plenty of wins along the way.

Away from the court, though, Jackson never backed down from doing things how he wanted. His inability to mesh with management - and management's inability to mesh with Jackson - increasingly overshadowed his success and ultimately cost him his job.

The Warriors fired Jackson after three seasons Tuesday, ending the franchise's most successful coaching tenure in the past two decades but also one filled with drama and distractions.

"Obviously it was not made exclusively on wins and losses," Warriors owner Joe Lacob said.

Lacob and general manager Bob Myers both thanked Jackson, saying he helped make the Warriors a more attractive franchise. But Myers said the decision to dismiss Jackson was "unanimous" among the team's executives - though still not easy - in part because the Warriors want a coach who can "develop a synergy" with everybody in basketball operations.

Jackson's time with the Warriors will be remembered for the way he helped turn a perennially losing franchise into a consistent winner and the bold and bombastic way in which he did it.

He guaranteed Golden State would make the playoffs in his first season, then finished 23-36 after the NBA labor lockout. The Warriors went 47-35 last season and had a memorable run to the second round of the playoffs, and they were 51-31 this season before losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.

The Warriors, who have surrounded star Stephen Curry with a talented nucleus since Lacob's group bought the franchise in 2010, had not made the playoffs in consecutive years since 1991-92. They had made the postseason once in 17 years before Jackson arrived.

Lacob compared the decision to replace Jackson to his work as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

"There's a different CEO that may be required to achieve success at different stages of an organization's development," Lacob said. "When you're a startup company it's one thing, when you're a small-growth company it's one thing and when you're a mature company that's trying to reach a billion in sales - or in this case win an NBA championship - perhaps that's a different person. And we just felt overall we needed a different person."

Lacob and Myers declined to discuss the coaching search, other than to say it would begin immediately. Former NBA player and TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr, former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut's Kevin Ollie have been among the most talked-about candidates this offseason.

The Warriors know a new coach comes with the risk of disrupting team chemistry, especially considering nearly every player publicly called for Jackson to return, most notably Curry, whom Lacob said was told of the decision ahead of time. Myers also spoke to several players after he and Lacob informed Jackson of their decision in a meeting Tuesday morning.

"The hope and belief after talking to them is that they trust us and they believe that we make decisions to win as well," Myers said.

Jackson took to Twitter to thank the organization, players and fans. Several of his present and past players also applauded the job he had done.

Jackson, a former NBA point guard who had his best seasons with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, had never been a head coach at any level when Lacob hired him away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. A minister who runs a church with his wife near their Southern California home, Jackson often spoke of his Christian beliefs while surprisingly turning the Warriors into one of the NBA's best defensive teams.

But Jackson's boisterous personality at times did not play well with Warriors management, his staff and - to a much lesser extent - his players. And his attitude, which bordered on confidence and cockiness, also came off as increasingly insecure when the team struggled.

The Warriors still stuck by Jackson even when he created news off the court, including when reports surfaced in June 2012 that he and his family were the targets of an extortion attempt related to an extramarital affair he had six years prior, which led to questions about his credibility and morals.

The pressure on Jackson really heated up when the Warriors decided to pick up his contract option for the 2014-15 season last summer instead of negotiating a long-term deal as he had wanted. Management also encouraged Jackson to hire a strong tactician after top assistant Michael Malone - who had several disagreements with Jackson - left to become the coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Instead, Jackson promoted Pete Myers and other assistants and hired Lindsey Hunter and Brian Scalabrine. And while reports of rifts within the team surfaced on occasion, having two assistants dismissed - Scalabrine reassigned to the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz, and Darren Erman fired - in a 12-day span before the playoffs perpetuated the idea that Jackson had fostered an environment of dysfunction, which he repeatedly refuted.

The Warriors also parted ways with all of Jackson's assistants Tuesday.

Several home losses to lesser teams frustrated Lacob more than anything and cost the Warriors a chance to earn anything more than the sixth playoff seed, which they also had a year ago when they upset Denver in the first round before falling to San Antonio. The Warriors still showed a lot of fight - and an ability to make adjustments - with center Andrew Bogut out with a fractured right rib in the playoffs, pushing the third-seeded Clippers to seven games.

"George Karl was Coach of the Year last year and got fired," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years, and then gets fired. It's our job. It's a tough job, and I think everybody knows it now more than ever."

Bills DL Marcell Dareus arrested in Alabama

HEFLIN, Ala. (AP) A county sheriff's office says Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl defensive lineman Marcell Dareus has been arrested in Alabama on drug charges.

A jailer in Cleburne County in Heflin who would not give her name says Dareus was arrested Monday night by a state trooper and was released from the jail within an hour.

She says he was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. She did not have an attorney for him listed or a court date.

Sheriff Joe Jacks also confirmed to WVUA-TV that Dareus was arrested.

Dareus was selected third overall in the 2011 draft and is in his fourth season with the Bills. The 24-year-old played for Alabama.

Last season he had 7.5 sacks and 71 tackles.

Kershaw back with shutout ball, Dodgers top Nats

WASHINGTON (AP) Clayton Kershaw pitched seven shutout innings in his first outing since opening day, and Hanley Ramirez and Drew Butera homered as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 8-3 Tuesday night.

Kershaw (2-0) was stubborn in his return after missing 32 games, allowing nine hits but striking out nine without a walk.

The two-time NL Cy Young winner had been on the disabled list for the first time in his career, sidelined by a strained back muscle after winning March 22 in the major league opener in Australia.

The Dodgers kept outfielder Yasiel Puig out for the second straight game since he crashed into an outfield wall in the ninth inning Sunday at Miami.

Jayson Werth had four hits for the Nationals.

Blake Treinen (0-1), making his first major league start, allowed three unearned runs in five-plus innings.

Call overturned, Marte safe, Pirates nip SF in 9th

PITTSBURGH (AP) Starling Marte was called out, then ruled safe on a replay review with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates over San Francisco 2-1 Tuesday night and ending the Giants' six-game winning streak.

It was 1-all when Marte tripled off the right-field wall against Tim Hudson. Marte slid into third, got up and bolted home when the relay from second baseman Ehire Adrianza skipped by third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval recovered to throw home and plate umpire Quinn Wolcott initially ruled Marte was tagged by San Francisco catcher Buster Posey. A brief review showed Marte's right hand touched the plate before Posey tagged his chest.

Tony Watson (3-0) worked one inning. Marte scored both Pittsburgh runs and Ike Davis added two hits.

Hudson (4-2) allowed two runs on five hits in 8 2-3 innings, striking out five and walking one.

Subban, Weise lead Canadiens past Bruins 4-2

MONTREAL (AP) P.K. Subban and Dale Weise each had a goal and an assist, Carey Price made 26 saves, and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Tuesday night to take the lead in their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.

The Canadiens are up 2-1 with Game 4 set for Thursday in Montreal.

Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller also scored for the Canadiens, who were outplayed for long stretches but made the most of quick-strike attacks.

Patrice Bergeron and Andrej Meszaros scored for the Bruins.

Balanced Heat take Game 1, top Brooklyn 107-86

MIAMI (AP) Turns out, the Miami Heat can beat the Brooklyn Nets.

And rest hardly led to rust for the two-time defending NBA champions.

LeBron James scored 22 points, Ray Allen added 19 and the Heat stayed perfect in this postseason by beating the Nets 107-86 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series. It was the first win for Miami in five meetings with Brooklyn this season.

Chris Bosh scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade finished with 14 points and Mario Chalmers had 12 for Miami, which recorded at least one regular-season win against every team except Brooklyn, losing four times by a total of 12 points.

This one was a different story.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson scored 17 points each for the Nets, who got only eight from Paul Pierce and no points from Kevin Garnett in 16 minutes.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night.

A 24-9 run in the third quarter blew things open for the Heat, who hadn't played in eight days after sweeping Charlotte in the opening round. James finished 10 for 15 from the field and Allen - who had never faced his former Boston "Big 3" compatriots Pierce and Garnett in the playoffs - was 4 of 7 from 3-point land.

Miami's lead was 55-52 early in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Williams, and every indication was that the Heat and Nets - who played three one-point games and a double-overtime affair in the regular season - were heading down to the wire again.

Not quite.

The Heat took off on the 24-9 run over a 7-minute span, with Bosh scoring the first seven points of that burst to get Miami going. Allen's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 14, James and Chris Andersen (who left in the fourth with a right knee contusion) added two free throws apiece and just like that Miami's lead was up to 79-61.

For Brooklyn, it was a collapse at an unexpected time. The Nets had the best third-quarter scoring differential in the East after Jan. 1, but were outscored 33-23 in that pivotal quarter in Game 1.

It was a hectic news day long before Heat-Nets, with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant being announced as the league's MVP, the firing of Golden State coach Mark Jackson and the NBA saying that Los Angeles Clippers president Andy Roeser would be taking an indefinite leave as part of the fallout related to the Donald Sterling scandal.

And pregame lineup moves by both clubs lent more intrigue. Miami brought Shane Battier - who played 2 minutes, total, in the first round against Charlotte - back into the starting five, while Brooklyn reinserted Shaun Livingston into its lineup after using him off the bench late in the Toronto series.

After never leading by more than seven points against Brooklyn in the regular season, the Heat led by 11 after a drive by James with 3:32 left in the first half. But the Nets closed on a 14-6 run, and Williams' first beat-the-clock 3-pointer of the game sent Brooklyn into halftime down 46-43.

Williams did it again in the third, but that one only got Brooklyn within 79-66.

NOTES: The Heat held a pregame moment of silence for Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay, who died last week at the age of 89. ... David Beckham, who will be bringing an MLS team to Miami, sat next to the Heat bench. ... Livingston was on the court to warm up for the second half with about 10 minutes left in the intermission. Small problem: The rack of basketballs wasn't on the court yet. ... The Nets are 1-9 all-time against Miami in playoff games. ... Miami had not won consecutive Game 1s since the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 2012 playoffs.

Lady Gaga concert rescheduled because of Wizards

WASHINGTON (AP) Lady Gaga was no match for the NBA's playoff schedule.

The Washington Wizards announced Tuesday that the Grammy winner's May 15 concert at the Verizon Center has been moved up to May 12 because it conflicts with a possible Game 6 in the club's Eastern Conference playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.

The conflict has caused much consternation among Gaga fans who had planned months ahead to travel to Washington on a specific date, but the NBA's television commitments held sway.

Wizards and Verizon Center owner Ted Leonsis blogged his "sincere apology" for inconveniencing the singer's fans.

Ex-New York Jets cheerleader sues, arguing low pay

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) A former cheerleader with the New York Jets has sued the team, claiming she and others were underpaid in violation of New Jersey state wage laws.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in state Superior Court in Bergen County, where the Jets and the New York Giants play their home games at MetLife Stadium.

The cheerleader is identified in court papers as Krystal C. California-based attorney Sharon Vinick says she and other members of the Jets Flight Crew earned $150 per game and $100 for required special events. But she says they weren't paid for practices or other appearances.

Vinick says when the unpaid hours are factored in the $1,700 per season works out to $3.77 per hour. She also represents cheerleaders with the Oakland Raiders in a similar lawsuit.

A Jets spokesman won't comment on the lawsuit.

Mariano Rivera would pick Pedroia over Cano at 2B

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Retired Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says he would take Boston's Dustin Pedroia over former teammate Robinson Cano as his top second baseman.

That's fine by Cano, who insists he respects Rivera as the best ever, no matter what.

"There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame-caliber talent," Rivera said about Cano in his new book published Tuesday. "It's just a question of whether he finds the drive that you need to get there."

"I don't think Robby burns to be the best. I think he's content to enjoy the game and help his team and go home. You don't see the red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players," Rivera said.

Cano has moved on out West with Seattle, determined not to let Rivera's words in "The Closer: My Story" affect him or his new team.

"Everybody has a different opinion. That's his opinion and I have to respect his opinion," Cano said before Tuesday night's game at Oakland. "I'm not going to go too far into this. That's the only thing that I can say. My focus right now is this team. I'm here, we're winning. I was over there already and now I'm here and now I'm focused on the team. I'm going to be excited for my teammates."

Baseball's career saves leader played nine seasons with Cano. Rivera retired after last year, and Cano left the Yankees in the offseason and joined the Mariners on a $240 million, 10-year contract as the new centerpiece of the franchise.

Rivera played against Pedroia for eight years in New York's rivalry with the Red Sox.

"Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs, every time. It's a special thing to see, a little guy like that who is willing to do whatever it takes," Rivera said. "If I have to win one game, I'd have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman."

Rivera cites Roberto Alomar and former teammate Chuck Knoblauch as second baseman he'd consider alongside Cano in the debate over the best at the position. In the end, Rivera decides on Pedroia.

Cano has played at least 159 games in each of the past seven years - and Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon insists that durability shows plenty about his love for the game and desire to be great and stay in the lineup every day.

Cano will let those numbers provide all the necessary information.

"Everybody knows I play 160 games," he said. "How does Mariano feel? I respect that and I'm always going to have respect for him, a guy that I spent nine years with and for me is always going to be the best closer. That's how I feel."

McClendon said he was "surprised" to learn of Rivera's remarks regarding Cano.

"I'm extremely proud, I'm humbled and I feel blessed to be able to manage a guy of Robinson Cano's character and his ability to play the game of baseball. He's a Seattle Mariner and I'm proud to have him," McClendon said. "One thing I know about human nature, I don't know what Robinson Cano is feeling inside, just like you don't know what I'm feeling inside. It's impossible for me to justify that or answer that. All I can tell you is check the book, he plays 160, 162 games a year. I think that's pretty good passion.

"The last nine years, he's been the best second baseman in baseball, offensively and defensively, and the awards and the numbers back it up."

In the book, written with New York Daily News reporter Wayne Coffey, Rivera says there has been a decrease in atmosphere at New York home games following the move to new Yankee Stadium for the 2009 season.

"It doesn't hold noise, or home-team fervor, anywhere near the way the old place did," he said. "The old Stadium was our 10th man - a loud and frenzied cauldron of pinstriped passion, with a lot of lifers in the stands. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's hard to see that the new place can ever quite duplicate that."

Thunder star Kevin Durant wins first MVP award

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant has plenty of scoring titles. Now, he finally has an MVP trophy to go with them.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star won the NBA's top individual honor Tuesday, receiving 119 first-place votes. Miami's LeBron James, who had won the last two MVP awards and four of the previous five, finished second with six first-place votes, and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers was third.

"Everything in my life, I had to take it," Durant said at a ceremony in Edmond. "They're not going to give it to you out of sympathy. I wouldn't want it any other way. This was another case, if I wanted to win the MVP, I had to go take it. I felt that this was the year I did that."

Durant won his fourth scoring crown in five years by averaging 32 points. The 6-foot-9 forward helped the Thunder go 59-23, second-best in the league, despite playing much of the season without three-time All-Star Russell Westbrook by his side because of a nagging knee injury.

"He's basically put himself in front of everybody else in the league and shown that he's the best player in the world," Westbrook said at the end of the regular season.

James agreed, saying Monday: "Much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season."

Durant's run of 41 consecutive games this season with at least 25 points was the third-longest streak in NBA history.

"It was a two-man race, and then toward the end, it was kind of a no-brainer," Griffin said.

James averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists while shooting nearly 57 percent from the field.

Griffin averaged 24.1 points and 10.1 rebounds.

"It's an honor, really," he said of finishing third. "It's hard to believe. I'm honored and humbled by that."

Durant scored at least 40 points 14 times. He also averaged 7.4 rebounds and a career-high 5.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field.

While Westbrook was out after his most recent knee surgery, Durant averaged 35 points and 6.3 assists as the Thunder went 20-7 and remained among the league's elite.

Westbrook's injury gave Durant an opportunity to use his improving skills as a playmaker.

"I've always been a player that was excited for my teammates' success," Durant said.

Teammates and opponents say Durant became a more complete player this season. They praised him for improving his court vision, consistently making the extra pass and moving more efficiently without the ball.

"I think we take it for granted," teammate Nick Collison said. "To be able to stay on for long periods of time - have to cut hard, catch the ball in the right spot and defend on the other end - is tough to do. To be able to show that shows that he has an edge to him. He doesn't take a night off."

Durant's slight build could be considered one of his few weaknesses, but he has improved in dealing with opponents who try to push him around.

"I don't really think that matters with him," Westbrook said. "He just takes on the challenge. When people try to be physical, he takes on the challenge and becomes more aggressive."

Though Durant's consistency stood out this season, he had several exceptional games. He scored 48 points on Jan. 4 at Minnesota, then scored 48 again two games later at Utah. He scored a career-high 54 points in a home win against Golden State on Jan. 17 and two games later scored 46 at home in a victory against Portland.

Two games after that, he had a triple-double - 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists - in a win at Philadelphia, and he followed that with 41 points in a victory over Atlanta. He scored 51 points at Toronto on March 21 in a staggering 53 minutes and hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime.

He capped it off in the season finale by scoring 21 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter against Detroit and winning the game with a dunk with 16.5 seconds left. The Thunder overcame a 10-point deficit in the quarter to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

"I put in so much work and so many people helped me," he said. "I feel like we all won it. Our equipment guy gave me a hug today and said, `This is my first MVP,' and I thought about that. And I said, `Yeah, this is our first MVP.' I couldn't have done it without the teammates, without the trainer. Everybody. We all just did this together."

Top Clippers exec Roeser taking leave of absence

LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles Clippers President Andy Roeser is taking an indefinite leave of absence while the NBA restructures the franchise in the wake of owner Donald Sterling's lifetime ban.

Roeser's immediate departure was announced Tuesday by the NBA. The league announced plans last week to appoint a CEO to oversee the franchise in Sterling's absence.

"This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and urged owners to force him to sell the Clippers a week ago, responding to league-wide outrage over racist comments made by the 80-year-old real-estate mogul.

Sterling is the NBA's longest-tenured owner after buying the Clippers in 1981. Roeser, one of the Clippers' alternate governors, is one of the league's longest-tenured executives, having just completed his 30th season with the team.

The announcement of Roeser's leave surprised Clippers coach Doc Rivers while he prepared the team for Game 2 of its second-round playoff series in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

"I knew they were going to bring in a new CEO eventually, but it is (a surprise)," Rivers said. "I just didn't know about it. I'm glad I didn't know about it, actually. I think the NBA is doing their job, and we're just trying to keep this thing together."

Roeser has been a loyal frontman for Sterling since the franchise's days in San Diego, and he stood by Sterling during every controversial stretch of the owner's career. Only radio and television play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler has worked for the Clippers longer than the 54-year-old Roeser, who became team president in 2007.

But Roeser infuriated many longtime Clippers employees last week after Sterling's private conversation was made public by TMZ.

While nearly everyone else was reacting with outrage, Roeser released a statement questioning whether the recordings of Sterling were legitimate, while simultaneously apologizing on Sterling's behalf for sentiments about Magic Johnson on the recordings. Roeser's statement was sympathetic to Sterling and criticized V. Stiviano, Sterling's longtime associate and the other voice on the recordings.

Rivers said Roeser's statement upset many loyal Clippers employees who had been horrified by Sterling's comments. Rivers held meetings with much of the Clippers' front-office staff last week while Sterling was ousted, encouraging them to keep working for the franchise.

"I think that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way," Rivers said. "Andy right away said that was the wrong statement, so he apologized for that, and then we moved on."

Roeser joined the organization in 1984 from an accounting firm. Two years later, he became executive vice president, overseeing all facets of the team's business operations. He has been president of the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation since it began in 1994.

He helped bring Rivers to Los Angeles from the Boston Celtics last June, and was part of the acquisition of All-Star guard Chris Paul in 2011. Roeser also oversaw the development and construction of the team's training facility that opened in 2008.

Rivers is the Clippers' senior vice president of basketball operations, working alongside executive vice president of player personnel Gary Sacks on the basketball side of the team's operations.

Rivers didn't expect Roeser's absence to affect the Clippers' playoff run, noting he already had wide latitude to run the team however he wished.

"That's how they've allowed me to work for the most part, anyway," Rivers said. "Andy, he's basically allowed me to do what I needed to do. I would have to call him every once in a while on stuff. It's nothing big in the next couple of weeks that's going to have to be decided anyway, and I think the league understands that."

The Clippers overcame the distraction of Sterling's banishment to outlast Golden State in a seven-game first-round series on Saturday night.

After just one day off, they returned to the court and trounced Oklahoma City 122-105 on the road Monday night in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Police: Winston avoided walking in front of deputy

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston appeared to pause to avoid walking in front of a deputy before leaving a supermarket without paying for crab legs and crawfish, according to a sheriff's office incident report.

A Leon County sheriff's deputy who reviewed security video of the incident involving the Florida State University quarterback and baseball closer said Winston can be seen walking from the Publix supermarket's seafood counter to a dairy case, where he picked up a package of butter.

But before leaving the store, he stopped near bins of sale items near the front entrance as off-duty Deputy Marc Graves passed.

"Mr. Winston paused visibly near a series of sale bins and allowed Deputy Graves to pass in front of him. The pause appeared to be an attempt to avoid walking in front of Deputy Graves. Mr. Winston then walked behind Deputy Graves, passed all points of sale, and exited the store without paying for the merchandise," said the report prepared by Deputy Michael Crego.

Winston told deputies he walked out and forgot to pay for three pounds worth of Old Bay seasoned steamed crab legs and a pound of Cajun seasoned crawfish. But he said he didn't take the butter. He said he decided on the way out of the store that he didn't need it and placed it in a sale bin instead of returning it to the dairy cooler.

The report says deputies were unable to determine whether Winston took the butter or placed it in the sale bin.

Winston signed a civil citation admitting he committed petit theft and was suspended from FSU's baseball team for three games until he completed 20 hours of community service.

"Mr. Winston apologized repeatedly and stated he wanted to `make it right,"' Crego wrote.

Paralyzed athlete will speak at Rutgers graduation

Former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand, whose recovery from a paralyzing injury suffered during a game has become a unifying and inspirational story for the school, was announced Tuesday as one of its commencement speakers, a day after he said the offer to do so was rescinded "for political reasons."

The announcement from Rutgers President Robert Barchi, who said there was a "miscommunication" about the speeches, is the latest development in a strange saga surrounding the May 18 ceremony.

The New Jersey university initially announced that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would give the keynote address, and school officials maintained that she would not be "disinvited" as some students and faculty protested her selection, including holding a sit-in last week. They objected largely because of her role in deciding the U.S. would go to war in Iraq.

But on Saturday, Rice withdrew from the speech.

On Monday, former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, who was one of the chairmen of the Sept. 11 Commission, was named as the new keynote speaker.

Hours after that announcement, LeGrand tweeted that he had been offered the chance to give the speech, but that the university rescinded the offer "for political reasons."

Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor said when university officials spoke with LeGrand, they may have given the impression that he was to be the keynote speaker, when that was not the plan. LeGrand will speak before Kean at the ceremony.

LeGrand did not return a message from The Associated Press seeking further details.

Later in the day, though, he tweeted that he had spoken with Barchi and would be speaking at commencement. "(Let's) keep the focus on the graduates," he wrote.

Before the resolution was announced, he told NJ.com that athletic director Julie Hermann told him on Monday that Rutgers had decided to go with another speaker. Trevor said he would look into that assertion.

In his statement Tuesday afternoon, Barchi said LeGrand had been invited as one of multiple speakers.

"It was never our intention that Eric would be the only speaker. We have resolved that miscommunication and are delighted to have him participate," Barchi said. "Eric holds a special place in the hearts of the class of 2014 and the entire university community. We are thrilled that he will be joining us on stage to make this special occasion ever more memorable."

LeGrand also will receive a degree at the ceremony.

He was paralyzed from the neck down while making a tackle on a kickoff during a 2010 game against Army. He now is able to breathe on his own and stand upright with the help of a metal frame.

LeGrand is known mostly for his hopeful outlook. He has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, helped with Rutgers football broadcasts, become a motivational speaker and signed a symbolic contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they were coached by his former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Last fall, LeGrand became the first football player to have his number retired by the university.

LeGrand told the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick that he was mapping out what he would say in a speech. "I was just going to give inspirational words about how they should attack life," he said. "All the things I've learned so far."

Penguins blank Rangers again, take 2-1 series lead

NEW YORK (AP) New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault finally took a shot at his club's taxing postseason schedule, but still won't say his players are tired.

Judging by their effort in their latest loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he might be right.

The Rangers pressed the pace and widely outshot the talented Penguins, but New York came out on the short end of a 2-0 decision on Monday - their second shutout defeat in two nights.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots one night after making 22 saves at home in a 3-0 Game 2 victory that tied the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Penguins now own a 2-1 lead, have knocked the Rangers back on their heels, and have reclaimed home-ice advantage.

"Back to back nights is not easy," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who gave his club a 1-0 lead with his first goal of these playoffs. "We believe in (Fleury), and with every game, we see him get more and more comfortable. That's contagious."

It is the first time the Rangers have been shut out in consecutive playoff games since the 1937 Stanley Cup finals against Detroit.

New York finished its first-round win over Philadelphia with three games in four days - including Games 6 and 7 on consecutive nights - and started this series with three in four again.

"We tried real hard. We were forced to play a stupid schedule - five games in seven nights," Vigneault said. "I am real proud of how our guys handled it.

"We put our best foot forward in each and every game. Now we've got a full day to recover (Tuesday), and we're going to get right back at it on Wednesday."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has said he wants his team to take advantage of the busy Rangers, but doesn't believe New York has been worn down.

"I didn't see a tired Rangers team at all," he said. "It's a lot of hockey games, but that's the schedule. I would much rather be playing in a 10-day period than stretch it out."

Crosby snapped a 13-game playoff drought with his second-period goal, and Jussi Jokinen also scored. Both goals came right after Pittsburgh killed penalties.

"The main thing is that you get chances and that you are out there creating things, making it tough on them," Crosby said. "That's the first step. Eventually you trust that it will go in."

The Penguins made the most of 15 shots, including just one in the third period.

New York's futile power play had already slowed down the offense, but now the Rangers can't score at all. They were 0 for 5 with the advantage Monday, pushing their streak to 34 failed opportunities.

"You might be frustrated right now, but it does no good," forward Brad Richards said. "We are in the middle of a series, and out of those three games, we played two real good ones."

The Rangers have consecutive losses in these playoffs for the first time and haven't scored since winning the opener in overtime. Game 4 is Wednesday in New York.

The tide turned in Pittsburgh's favor in the second period for the third straight game.

New York had 2:15 remaining on a 4-minute power play that began in the first, but couldn't cash in. To make matters worse for the Rangers, Crosby took a long stretch pass from defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, outraced Marc Staal, and beat Henrik Lundqvist between the pads from the left circle 19 seconds after James Neal left the penalty box. It was Crosby's 41st career playoff goal.

The Penguins struck for their second goal right after Jokinen jumped out of the box. He got to a loose puck in the neutral zone after Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello failed to connect on a backward pass in the Pittsburgh end.

Jokinen came in alone and scored his fifth of the playoffs with 4:40 left in the second - 8 seconds after his penalty ended.

New York was suddenly down by two and the weight of its anemic power play burdened the team even more. During the Rangers' last advantage in the second period, the Madison Square Garden crowd implored them to "Shoot the puck!" They did, but to no avail.

"I am happy about our whole team," Vigneault said. "We played a real strong game. That is one of the best two-way teams in the league."

The Rangers received their first power play 5:16 in when Marcel Goc was called for roughing Dominic Moore after an icing call.

Neal later got his 4-minute penalty for hitting Jesper Fast in the mouth with his stick with 1:45 remaining. Benoit Pouliot had the best chance during the first half of the advantage when he fired a drive off the right post with 14 seconds left in the period.

Before that, Zuccarello one-timed a pass from Pouliot during 5-on-5 play from the left circle that Fleury snagged with a stretch of his glove.

Lundqvist turned aside Chris Kunitz on a breakaway, for the second time in as many days, during New York's first power play.

"It's the first to four wins," Lundqvist said. "We will take a deep breath here and get ready for Wednesday.

"That's going to be a very important game for us. This is definitely not over."

NOTES: Crosby was nominated as a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, given annually to the "Most Outstanding Player." He won it last season and in 2007. ... The Rangers replaced rugged forwards Daniel Carcillo and Derek Dorsett with Fast and J.T. Miller, and put defenseman Raphael Diaz in for the first time in these playoffs. John Moore sat out.

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