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Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni resigns

LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni resigned Wednesday after less than two seasons on the job.

Team spokesman John Black confirmed D'Antoni's resignation, ending the brief tenure of the Lakers' fourth head coach in less than three years.

D'Antoni went 67-87 after taking over the Lakers early in the 2012-13 season. He replaced the fired Mike Brown, who lasted just 71 games after replacing 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson in 2011.

The injury-plagued Lakers were 27-55 this season, their worst campaign in more than 50 years and the second-worst winning percentage in franchise history.

With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol sitting out large chunks of the season while the Lakers lost an NBA-worst 319 man-games to injuries, the 16-time NBA champion franchise missed the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons and only the third time in 38 years.

"Given the circumstances, I don't know that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "On behalf of the Lakers, we thank Mike for the work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude that he brought to the team every day. We wish him the best of luck."

The 62-year-old D'Antoni had one year left on his contract, but wanted the Lakers to pick up his option year for 2015-16 to have any chance of success. The Lakers apparently refused, leading to D'Antoni's resignation.

D'Antoni walked away from a $4 million payday for next season, although he may receive a portion of that money as severance.

A phone message left for D'Antoni wasn't immediately returned.

Despite the Lakers' injuries on a roster consisting mostly of players on one-year contracts, Los Angeles fans largely directed their anger during a rare down season toward D'Antoni. Lakers great Magic Johnson, who was sharply critical of D'Antoni's coaching style, hailed the news on his Twitter account.

"Happy days are here again!" Johnson tweeted. "Mike D'Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn't be happier!"

D'Antoni also has coached the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks. He reached two Western Conference finals with Nash in Phoenix before having much less success in New York.

"Whenever a coach isn't there anymore, for whatever reason, all of us in the fraternity feel badly," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the Spurs' playoff victory over Dallas. "He is a heck of a coach and heck of a guy. You always feel badly when something like that happens. I just hope that what he wants is going to be what happens for him. He is a special guy."

D'Antoni's signature up-tempo style of play seemed an odd match from the start with the aging, ball-dominating Bryant and the Lakers, who ran Jackson's deliberate triangle offense to perfection.

Lakers owners Jerry and Jim Buss curiously chose D'Antoni to replace Brown over Jackson, who strongly contemplated a return for a third stint on the Los Angeles bench. Jackson became the president of the Knicks in March.

Kupchak said he will begin the search immediately for the Lakers' fifth head coach since 2011 - including Jackson, who walked away from the team after falling short of a third consecutive championship.

D'Antoni's departure will allow the Lakers' franchise overhaul to begin in earnest after their worst season since 1957-58 back in Minneapolis. Los Angeles missed the postseason for just the second time in the 17-season career of Bryant, who occasionally clashed with D'Antoni.

The Lakers have a top-10 pick in a strong draft and just three players under contract for next season, including Nash and Bryant. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history will make more than $48 million over the next two years.

A coaching change also might make the Lakers more attractive to Gasol, an unrestricted free agent who intimated he wouldn't consider returning if D'Antoni still coached the team. Kupchak has said the Lakers are very interested in re-signing the 7-foot Spaniard, one of the top available free agents.

"There would have to be significant changes," Gasol wrote in Spanish on his personal blog recently. "I've never concealed the fact that D'Antoni's style doesn't suit my game. Everybody knows this. I don't know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team."

After joining the Lakers on short notice last season, D'Antoni was unable to assemble a contending team immediately around Bryant and Dwight Howard, who struggled to embrace the pick-and-roll game so important to D'Antoni's offense.

Los Angeles won 45 games last season despite its awful start under Brown. But the Lakers lost Bryant to a torn Achilles tendon late in the regular season before getting swept out of the first round by San Antonio.

Howard left the Lakers as a free agent last summer, fleeing to Houston for less money to escape the Lakers' drama and high expectations.

Bryant played in just six games this season after breaking a bone near his knee in December, and Los Angeles never had a consistently competitive team in his absence. Nash also missed most of the season with various injuries, but the 40-year-old point guard hopes to play again next season.

D'Antoni realized he would take the blame for the Lakers' woes this season, and the veteran coach seemed comfortable with the prospect when the team packed up for the summer.

"Every coach should be under scrutiny," D'Antoni said two weeks ago. "Some coaches get fired even after the best years they've ever had. ... There's always things we could have done better, and it's easier with hindsight. Things don't always go smoothly. For the most part, our guys were very competitive. For us, there are some silver linings in there, but in hindsight, it's disappointing for everybody."

Howard, Lin lead Rockets over Blazers 108-98

HOUSTON (AP) Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin came off the bench to score 21 points and help the Houston Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 108-98 on Wednesday night to avoid elimination.

The Trail Blazers lead the first-round series 3-2 entering Game 6 on Friday in Portland.

A basket by Damian Lillard got the Trail Blazers within two points before James Harden stepped back and swished a 3-pointer to make it 103-98 with about three minutes left. The shot brought the crowd, which was clad almost completely in red shirts emblazoned with the words "Clutch City" on them, to its feet.

That started a 12-0 Houston run to close it out. Harden finished with 17 points and seven assists.

Houston finally slowed down LaMarcus Aldridge, limiting him to eight points, after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Lillard added 26.

Lin got extended minutes on Wednesday night with Pat Beverley dealing with an illness. Beverley had five points in 21 minutes.

The Rockets led by as many as 17 points in the first half. Portland cut it to one point three times in the fourth quarter, but never went back on top.

Terrence Jones added a basket for Houston after the big 3 by Harden before Howard got after Aldridge on the other end. He blocked his short jump shot, sending it out of bounds. Portland got the ball back and Aldridge got the ball again, but he badly missed a shot with Howard in his face as the shot clock expired, leaving Aldridge yelling for a foul.

The Rockets were up by nine early in the fourth quarter after four quick points from Lin before Portland used an 8-0 run, with the first four points from Nicolas Batum, to cut the lead to 91-90 with 7:39 remaining.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Matthews cut Houston's lead to 62-58 early in the third quarter. He added 12 more points in the period to finish with 18 of Portland's 29 points.

Howard and Lin carried the Rockets in the third, combining for 18 points. Howard had 10 and Lin scored the rest, including a long two as the shot clock expired with Lillard right in his face.

Matthews, who was 4 for 5 from long range in the third, made two 3-pointers within 20 seconds late in the quarter to cut Houston's lead to two points. But Lin finished off the quarter with a three-point play to make it 82-77 entering the fourth.

Robin Lopez received a flagrant-1 foul when he fouled Howard in the air while fighting for a rebound and pulled him to the ground by the shoulders on the way down. Howard made one of two free throws to stretch Houston's lead to 74-68 with three minutes left in the quarter.

Houston led by three after one and used an 11-0 run to start the second quarter and go up 41-27. Jones scored the first four points in that span and rookie Troy Daniels capped it with a 3-pointer.

The Trail Blazers had six turnovers while the Rockets built the lead and didn't score until a pair of free throws by Aldridge with about nine minutes left until halftime.

Howard picked up his third foul soon after that and went to the bench.

Portland scored the next five points to get within seven but the Rockets used a 10-0 spurt to push the lead to 51-34. Lin had a reverse layup and a 3-pointer during that run.

The Trail Blazers ended the first half with a 14-5 run, with eight points from Lillard, to cut the lead to 56-48 at halftime.

Aldridge had just six points at halftime after sitting out about half of the first quarter after getting his second foul.

NOTES: The Trail Blazers wore patches on their jerseys to honor Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay, who died on Monday at 89. Ramsay coached the team to an NBA title in 1977. The plaid patch has the words "Dr. Jack" and a "77" to honor the championship team. The Blazers will wear the patch for the remainder of the postseason. ... Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon watched from a courtside seat. ... Chandler Parsons added 20 points for Houston.

Raptors blow 26-point lead but beat Nets 115-113

TORONTO (AP) Kyle Lowry scored a career playoff-high 36 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer after Toronto had blown a 26-point lead, and the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-113 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 and Greivis Vasquez added 15 for the Raptors, who would advance to face Miami in the second round with a victory in Game 6 on Friday in Brooklyn.

Game 7, if necessary, would be Sunday in Toronto.

Joe Johnson scored 30 points and Mirza Teletovic had 17 for the Nets, who scored 44 points in the fourth quarter.

Spurs beats Mavs 109-103, take 3-2 series lead

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tony Parker had 23 points hours after the birth of his first child and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in a 109-103 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

Manu Ginobili had 19 points and Tiago Splitter added 17 points and 12 rebounds as San Antonio regained home-court advantage in the tense series against their intrastate rival. Tim Duncan added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points for the Spurs.

Vince Carter scored 28 points, making numerous heavily contested shots in going 10 for 16 from the field for Dallas.

After averaging 16 points in the series' first four games, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki found the stroke in scoring 26 points. Nowitzki was 10-for-20 shooting, but it wasn't enough to overcome Parker and the Spurs returning to form.

Carter's 3-pointer with 3 minutes left pulled Dallas within 98-94 but Parker followed a minute later with his only 3-pointer of the game, punctuating the shot with a loud scream.

Parker had his finest start since the series opener despite playing on little sleep following the early morning birth of his son, Josh, with fiancee Axelle Francine. The All-Star point guard mixed in three manic driving layups and two mid-range jumpers to start the game shooting 5 for 7.

San Antonio took its largest lead of the game at 24-11 6 minutes into the first quarter as Ginobili hit a 3-pointer seconds after entering the game.

The Spurs rediscovered the aggressive defense, long-range shooting and fluid ball movement that fueled them to the league's best record.

San Antonio was 8 for 16 from 3-point range and had 24 assists while committing just six turnovers.

Ginobili gathered a loose ball in the paint and tossed an outlet to Parker, who found Leonard racing to the basket for a right-handed dunk despite a late foul by Monta Ellis. Leonard missed the ensuing free throw, keeping San Antonio's lead at 49-44 lead with 3:15 remaining in the first half.

Danny Green hit a 3-pointer to give San Antonio a 67-57 lead with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter after starting a fast break by tipping the ball from behind on a driving Ellis.

Duncan rebounded Parker's missed jumper over Samuel Dalembert and fed the ball to Splitter, who found Ginobili cutting to the lane for a scoop layup and a 51-46 lead.

Splitter threw a bounce pass into the lane to feed a cutting Parker for a layup with 7 minutes remaining in the game for a 91-81 lead.

NOTES: After initially stating that an ouster of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was a "slippery slope," Dallas' Mark Cuban refused to comment after NBA commissioner Adam Silver did just that Tuesday. In response to discriminatory and racist comments by Los Angeles' longtime owner, Silver handed Sterling a lifetime ban, fined him $2.5 million and will seek a three-quarter majority vote from NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. "I'm going to tell you exactly what I did," Cuban said. "I went and looked at a picture of my house since I'm on the road and I saw that it was made out of a whole lot of glass, so I decided I don't have anything more to say on the whole topic. That's my statement." When asked how he would vote, Cuban said, "That's it. That's all I've got to say." . Dalembert had to be helped off the court after twisting his left ankle while getting tied up with Green on a rebound. Dalembert returned to the game in the second quarter and finished with two points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes.

Rangers top Flyers in Game 7, advance to face Pens

NEW YORK (AP) Daniel Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot scored second-period goals, and the New York Rangers advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 on Wednesday night.

The Rangers shook off a 5-2 thrashing in Philadelphia on Tuesday and knocked out the Flyers about 24 hours later, improving to 6-0 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden. New York will face another Metropolitan Division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the next round starting on Friday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves, allowing only a third-period goal to Jason Akeson 3:32 into the final frame. He protected the one-goal lead at 7:25 when he made an awkward save against Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

The Rangers mobbed Lundqvist after the final buzzer, while the Flyers consoled their goalie Steve Mason.

Mason, who didn't start until Game 4 because of injury, was sharp in stopping 31 shots, but he couldn't will his club to a complete comeback after the Flyers fell into a 3-2 series hole. The Flyers dropped to 9-7 in Game 7 after winning their previous three.

No team won consecutive games in the series. The Rangers, who finished two points ahead of Philadelphia during the regular season, made the most of their home-ice advantage by taking three of the four games in the Garden.

Carcillo, re-inserted into the Game 7 lineup, scored the all-important first goal 3:06 into the second off a picture-perfect pass from Mats Zuccarello.

Zuccarello threaded the puck with a behind-the-back feed from near the right circle between the legs of Flyers defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Braydon Coburn to Carcillo for the redirection into the net.

It was the second goal of the series for Carcillo, who played for just the third time in the series and the first at home. Carcillo had come out of the penalty box less than a minute earlier after serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.

The Rangers nearly doubled the lead later in the frame when they mounted a flurry of pressure in the crease, only to be stymied by Mason and done in by errant whacks at the puck.

But Philadelphia couldn't capitalize on that mistake or on two power plays in the period in which the Flyers were outshot 18-5.

New York did grab a 2-0 lead with 8:14 left in the second when Pouliot also turned a crisp pass into his second goal of the series.

Derick Brassard sent the puck from the right-wing boards into the slot and appeared to be aiming for defenseman Marc Staal, but Pouliot streaked down the middle, snared the puck and steered it past Mason to send the once-nervous crowd into a towel-waving frenzy.

The Flyers held an 11-10 shots advantage in the first scoreless opening period of the series.

New York again failed to capitalize on the lone power play in the frame, stretching its streak of futility to 21 straight advantages. When the Rangers did put pressure on Philadelphia, Mason stood tall just as he did in winning Game 6 at home on Tuesday night.

Rick Nash, still searching for his first goal of the series, nearly got it when after a Flyers turnover created a chance for him from the slot. But his drive was knocked away by Mason, who stretched out his gloved hand to deflect it.

Nash also struck a goal post in the first minute of the game.

Lundqvist matched Mason at the end as the Flyers had several stretches of puck possession within the Rangers zone. His best stop came when Matt Read let go a screened shot 4 minutes in.

NOTES: Carcillo replaced J.T. Miller, who had played in the previous two games of the series. Carcillo is 3-0 in career Game 7s and has scored in two of them. Carcillo had four goals in the regular season in 57 total games with Los Angeles and the Rangers. ... This was the only first-round series that didn't require overtime in any game.

California Chrome made 5-2 Derby favorite

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) The only time Victor Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby was aboard War Emblem in 2002. They broke from the No. 5 post, the same position he'll start the 140th edition of the race with early 5-2 favorite California Chrome.

"Hopefully, that's my lucky number," Espinoza said Wednesday.

Eight horses have won from there, most recently Funny Cide in 2003.

"I think it's a perfect spot," trainer Art Sherman said. "I think we break clean, he'll get out of a lot of trouble. He's got a little gas leaving there."

At 77, Sherman could become the oldest trainer to win the Derby, surpassing Charlie Whittingham's record of 76 when Sunday Silence won in 1989.

California Chrome comes into the Derby having won his last four starts by a combined 24 1/4 lengths.

"Just an amazing horse to ride," Espinoza said. "I let him do his own thing and I think he likes that."

Hopportunity was made the 6-1 second choice in the full field of 20 horses.

Hopportunity, who lost to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, drew the No. 11 post for the race Saturday at Churchill Downs. He's trained by Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner with two starters.

"Other than California Chrome, who's proven he's a really good horse, there's a lot of horses in there that are pretty close," Baffert said. "There's a lot of parity in this field."

His other horse, Chitu, is a 20-1 long shot that drew the No. 13 post.

Wicked Strong, named for the victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombings, is the 8-1 third choice and will break from the 20th post on the far outside. He and the No. 10 horse, Wildcat Red, will be last ones loaded into the starting gate, so they won't be in there very long.

Some trainers don't like the No. 20 post because their horse is on the far outside and has to quickly make its way over toward the rail to save ground.

Calvin Borel will break from the No. 19 post aboard Ride On Curlin. The jockey nicknamed "Bo-rail" for his love of riding along the rail has won three Derbies since 2007, and he'll have to hustle his horse over quickly to snag his favorite position.

California Chrome, Hopportunity and Wicked Strong were the only horses listed at single digits by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.

Danza is the 10-1 fourth choice and drew the No. 4 post. He's one of four horses trained by Todd Pletcher. The others are: Intense Holiday, 12-1; Vinceremos, 30-1; and We Miss Artie, 50-1.

"We made out well," Pletcher said. "It doesn't matter where you draw, you're just looking for a clean trip."

Mike Maker will saddle a trio of horses: General a Rod, 15-1; Harry's Holiday, 50-1; and Vicar's In Trouble, a 30-1 shot that drew the dreaded No. 1 post.

Rosie Napravnik will be aboard Vicar's In Trouble trying to become the first female jockey to win the Derby. She was fifth last year with Mylute, the highest finish by a woman in history. Napravnik watched the draw from the jockey's room at the track.

"I was just kind of shocked, being the first one drawn," she said. "Vicar's real sharp out of the gate and I think he'll be able to get in good position. There's been plenty of winners out of the one-hole, so Vicar's not in trouble yet."

Eight horses have won from the first spot in the starting gate, but none since Ferdinand in 1986. Most trainers despise the No. 1 hole because their horse starts next to the rail and could get pinched going into the crowded first turn.

The starting gate is loaded two horses at a time, and the first ones to go in will be Vicar's In Trouble and No. 11 Hopportunity, meaning they'll have the longest wait while the rest of the field is loaded.

"He's a pretty cool, calm horse so he should be fine in there," Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith said about Hopportunity.

Hoppertunity didn't race as a 2-year-old, setting him up for a chance to break one of the Derby's oldest jinxes: no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without racing at 2.

The No. 10 post has produced the most Derby winners with nine, most recently in 2005, when Smith won with 50-1 shot Giacomo. Wildcat Red, trained by Jose Garrafalo, landed in that spot this time.

The other 50-1 shot in the race is Commanding Curve, who will break from the No. 17 post.

The 21st horse on the points list is Pablo Del Monte, an also eligible who would need a defection before 9 a.m. Friday, when Derby wagering opens, to get into the $2.2 million race.

Post time is 6:32 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Heisman winner Winston accused of taking crab legs

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was issued a civil citation after sheriff's deputies said he walked out of a supermarket without paying for $32 worth of crab legs and crawfish.

The 20-year-old Florida State quarterback said he forgot to pay for the food. The offense was relatively minor but drew attention both because of his stature and because it was his latest brush with the law. Winston had been the subject of a much more serious, monthslong investigation into allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman in December 2013. A prosecutor declined to charge him, citing a lack of evidence and gaps in the accuser's story.

Leon County Sheriff's Maj. Michael Wood said Wednesday that Publix employees called deputies, who went to Winston's apartment about three hours later. Winston was cooperative and told the deputies he forgot to pay for the food, but he did not contact the store or return there to pay for the items, Wood said.

"The facts are not in dispute," Wood said. "He left without paying."

Winston issued a statement through his lawyer saying he had intended to pay, "but made a terrible mistake for which I'm taking full responsibility. In a moment of youthful ignorance, I walked out of the store without paying for one of my items.

"I realize that I am in the public spotlight and my conduct needs to be above reproach."

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Winston led Florida State to an undefeated season and national football championship. For the season, he passed for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, completing nearly 67 percent of his throws.

Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin suspended Winston, a relief pitcher, indefinitely until he completes community service. Football coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement that he supports Martin's decision.

Although Winston was cleared in the sexual assault case, the university is facing a federal investigation into how it handled the woman's accusations.

The investigation lagged for months after Tallahassee Police Department officials said they were told the accuser wanted to drop the case, but the woman's lawyer denied that. The accuser's lawyers have said the police department botched the investigation because detectives didn't quickly identify possible witnesses or obtain surveillance tape from the bar where the victim says she was first approached by Florida State football players.

Winston also has had two other run-ins with police, though he was not charged in either case.

In November 2012, police were called to an apartment complex in which 13 windows had been damaged by BB guns. Winston and his roommate at the time said Florida State players were engaged in a series of "battles" with each other, although they denied shooting BB guns themselves.

In another incident, police records show Winston came into a Burger King with three men but did not order food, instead asking for a water cup he repeatedly filled with soda over an employee's objections. The report says Winston was never interviewed about the incident because the restaurant declined to prosecute.

Senate leader: NFL Redskins should change name

WASHINGTON (AP) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it's time for the NFL's Washington Redskins to change their name, linking the issue to racist comments by a professional basketball team owner.

In a Senate speech Wednesday, the Nevada Democrat said Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is hiding behind tradition in retaining his team's name, which critics call racially offensive.

Reid called on Snyder "to do what is morally right" by changing the name. Reid has criticized the name before, telling The Washington Post in March that he thinks it will be changed within three years.

Reid said his state has 22 tribes and that the only tradition behind the Redskins' name was one of racism.

Reid congratulated the NBA for banning Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling for life. Sterling was caught in an audio recording making racist comments about blacks.

Reid said it's time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to follow the NBA's lead and rid his league of bigotry and racism.

Other prominent politicians have criticized or questioned the Redskins' name. President Barack Obama told The Associated Press in October: "If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team - even if they've had a storied history - was offending a sizable group of people, I'd think about changing it."

Several members of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats, have urged Snyder to change the team's name.

Jagr, Malhotra and Moore finalists for Masterton

NEW YORK (AP) The New Jersey Devils' Jaromir Jagr, Carolina Hurricanes' Manny Malhotra and New York Rangers' Dominic Moore are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy.

The league announced Wednesday the finalists for the honor that goes "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

The winner will be announced June 24 in Las Vegas during the NHL Awards show.

Instead of retiring, the 42-year-old Jagr led the Devils with 67 points this season. Malhotra has resumed a career that was put in doubt because of an eye injury. Moore came back to the NHL this season after taking a leave to care for his wife, who had liver cancer and died last year.

Donald Sterling banned for life by the NBA

NEW YORK (AP) NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league.

Almost unanimously, owners supported the commissioner Tuesday as he handed down one of the harshest penalties in the history of U.S. sports.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views. They simply have no place in the NBA," Silver said at a news conference.

Sterling, 80, is banned for life from any association with the league or the Clippers, and was fined $2.5 million - the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution. If three-fourths of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

A message left seeking comment at Sterling's business office hadn't been returned Tuesday afternoon. Team spokesman Seth Burton said in an email that the Clippers had no plans to issue a statement from Sterling on Tuesday, but the franchise released a statement "wholeheartedly" supporting Silver's decision.

After the announcement, the Clippers' website featured only a simple message: "We are one." The mantra was repeated by the team's public-address announcers and chanted by their fans several times during their playoff game Tuesday night, a cathartic 113-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Players and civil rights leaders alike cheered Silver's quick action. Players' union officials said that if the league's punishment hadn't included a mandate for Sterling to sell the team, players were considering boycotting playoff games, including Tuesday's matchup with Golden State in the team's first home game since the scandal erupted.

"We wanted to be a part of this decision, and we wanted Adam Silver to know where we stood. And we were very clear that anything other than Sterling selling his team was not going to be enough for us," said Roger Mason Jr., the first vice president of the players' union.

The Clippers received raucous cheers when they took the court for warmups before Game 5. Two days earlier, they dumped their team warmup jerseys in a pile at center court in Oakland in a gesture of defiance against their owner before losing Game 4 of the series.

Chris Paul, the Clippers' All-Star point guard and the president of the players' union, issued a brief statement before leading Los Angeles against the Warriors.

"In response to today's ruling by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, my teammates and I are in agreement with his decision," Paul said. "We appreciate the strong leadership from Commissioner Silver and he has our full support."

Paul then had 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Clippers won Game 5 and moved within one victory of just the franchise's third playoff series victory since Sterling bought the team nearly 33 years ago.

Sterling's comments - which were recorded by his girlfriend and released by TMZ on Saturday - harmed the league, Silver said. Sponsors were threatening to abandon the NBA, and criticism was coming from fans on social media and even the White House.

Sterling criticized V. Stiviano - purportedly the female voice on the recording - for posting pictures of herself with black athletes Magic Johnson and Matt Kemp.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling asks the woman on the recording.

"Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multiethnic league," Silver said.

The NBA's longest-tenured owner keeps his team for now - and Silver said he didn't know if Sterling would fight to do so permanently.

But he can't attend games or practices, can't be involved in any personnel decisions or participate in board of governors meetings.

Just three days after the scandal broke, and hours before the Clippers hosted their biggest game of the season, Silver apologized to some of the league's black pioneers while meting out a punishment he believed would satisfy outraged players and fans.

Sterling's Clippers have been one of the most incompetent franchises in pro sports, and nearly all of their previous seasons would have been finished by now. But after the most successful two-year stretch in Clippers history, the current team is a title contender led by Doc Rivers, a black coach whom Sterling brought in from Boston and paid $7 million a year.

"(Silver) made the decision that really was the right one that had to be made," Rivers said before the Clippers' game. "I don't think this is something that we rejoice in or anything like that. I told the players about the decision, and I think they were just happy there was a resolution and that it's over, at least the start of it. I think we're all in a better place because of this."

Silver said the ban applied only to Sterling, and there had been no discussions about whether he could sell to a family member. Sterling's estranged wife, Rochelle, has been closely involved with the franchise for years.

Many owners supported Silver, and none of them publicly defended Sterling.

"We applaud the firm punishment handed out today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and appreciate the swiftness with which the NBA conducted its investigation," Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said in a statement.

The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts, Silver said.

Sterling, with an estimated net worth of about $2 billion, did not comment, though Silver said he did not apologize for his remarks. Silver said Sterling confirmed that he was the person on the recording.

Silver hasn't even been on the job three months and already had to face a crisis that threatened the league not only financially - with several companies ending or suspending their sponsorships of the Clippers. Staples Center carried almost no advertising Tuesday night, with most sponsorship signage either removed or covered.

The scandal affected the NBA even more on a social level. The league survived the Indiana Pacers' brawl with Detroit Pistons fans, and referee Tim Donaghy betting on games he officiated. But this brought a different level of outrage, particularly because the league could have done something sooner about Sterling, who has faced federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in his business dealings.

"This has all happened in three days, and so I am hopeful there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the Clippers organization," Silver said. "But as I said earlier, I'm outraged so I certainly understand other people's outrage."

Rivers canceled practice Monday and declined a meeting request from Sterling. He wouldn't address whether he would return next season if Sterling were still in control, a stance reaffirmed by the coach before Game 5 of the Clippers' playoff series with Golden State.

That might not be an issue if the owners vote to oust the owner.

Sterling is estranged from his wife and had been dating Stiviano, 31. In court documents, Stiviano describes him as a man "with a big toothy grin brandishing his sexual prowess in the faces of the Paparazzi and caring less what anyone else thought, the least of which, his own wife."

Silver said when he first heard the audio, he hoped it had been altered or was fake, but thought it was Sterling. And it doesn't matter if Sterling didn't realize he was being recorded, Silver said.

"Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they're now public, and they represent his views."

Jordan, Paul lead Clippers over Warriors, 113-103

LOS ANGELES (AP) Hours after owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life, the Los Angeles Clippers returned to an energized Staples Center and beat the Golden State Warriors 113-103 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.

DeAndre Jordan had 25 points, a playoff career high, and 18 rebounds while Chris Paul scored 20 points.

Commissioner Adam Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million and called on NBA owners to force him to sell the team for making racist comments.

The Clippers were greeted with a standing ovation when they came out for pregame warmups.

Players from both teams wore black socks.

The Clippers are on the brink of just their third playoff series victory since Sterling bought the team in 1981. Game 6 is Thursday night in Oakland.

Grizzlies hold off Thunder 100-99 in OT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Mike Miller scored 21 points and the Memphis Grizzlies held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-99 in a record fourth straight overtime game Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.

Oklahoma City rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by Miller and called a timeout, trailing 100-99 with 2.9 seconds remaining. Kevin Durant of the Thunder missed a long 3-point attempt and teammate Serge Ibaka tipped the ball in on the rebound. The shot was reviewed and it was determined that it was released after the buzzer, ending the game.

Zach Randolph added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who will host Game 6 on Thursday.

Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

Wizards eliminate Bulls with 75-69 victory

CHICAGO (AP) John Wall finished with 24 points, Nene scored 20, and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 75-69 on Tuesday night to clinch their first-round series in five games.

Bradley Beal scored 17 points, and the fifth-seeded Wizards advanced in the postseason for just the third time since the 1970s. They will meet Indiana or Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

It's a huge step for a franchise that hadn't been to the postseason since 2008, but with Wall and Beal leading the way, they won 44 games during the regular season.

The Wizards turned a halftime tie into a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and hung on down the stretch.

Chicago's comeback chances took a big hit early in the final quarter when Taj Gibson crumbled to the court clutching his left ankle after he tried to block a layup by Wall with the Wizards up by six points. He had to be helped off the court and did not return.

Bryce Harper has surgery on left thumb

HOUSTON (AP) Washington outfielder Bryce Harper had surgery on his injured left thumb on Tuesday and will be out for an extended period of time.

Manager Matt Williams would not commit to a time frame, but said "that time frame is out there" after reports Monday that he would be out until at least July.

"The doctor reported that everything went fine, and we got a little message from Bryce about getting back and taking BP post-surgery," Williams joked.

"It went fine, we'll have to see how long it takes ... we expect him to heal fast. Given his history, he has healed pretty fast. We are optimistic about it, but we're not really sure how long it is going to take."

The two-time All-Star was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with what was then called a sprained left thumb.

Williams talked about what Harper's absence will mean for his team.

"It hurts a lot. He's a fantastic player," Williams said. "We'll certainly miss him, but we're going to have to step up."

He was injured on Friday night against San Diego on a headfirst slide into third base on a triple. He remained in the game until after the next inning.

Despite the injury, Williams is not opposed to headfirst slides.

"Bryce had another collision sliding feet first earlier in the year, and he hurt himself last year sliding feet first," Williams said.

"It's something that you can't control. The play that he hurt himself on, he was trying to get to third base the quickest he could, and I don't know if he is safe if he slides feet first. He was safe sliding head first, but he got the thumb in the wrong position."

The 21-year-old Harper is batting .289 with one home run and nine RBIs this season.

Harper was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2012 after hitting .270 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs.

Union: NBA players considered boycott before ban

LOS ANGELES (AP) NBA players strongly considered boycotting playoff games if Commissioner Adam Silver hadn't ruled harshly against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Players' union Vice President Roger Mason Jr. said Tuesday he spoke to representatives from every playoff team about the possibility of boycotting the upcoming postseason games in solidarity against any ruling that didn't include a mandate for Sterling to sell the Clippers.

"We didn't want to jump to conclusions, but we were prepared that if this decision came down, we were prepared to move forward that way," Mason said. "We didn't think that this was just a Clippers issue, so we didn't want to put the pressure on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and that team. We wanted to band behind our brothers to do the right thing."

The Clippers host the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, one of three playoff games on the NBA schedule. Three more are scheduled for Wednesday.

Before Game 5 on Tuesday night, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he wasn't certain his players had formally discussed a boycott. He thought the Clippers instead were just hoping for a suitable response from Silver.

"I think they had the trust that there would be," Rivers said. "I'm glad we don't have to find out."

The Clippers and Warriors weren't made available to reporters before Game 5.

Mason believes every team would have embraced a boycott, and the veteran guard said Silver was made aware of the possibility of the unprecedented move by Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento mayor and former NBA player who is advising the union on the issue.

"I spoke to (Warriors forward) Jermaine O'Neal, and he pretty much said that their team would be on board," Mason said.

During a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, several current and former players proclaimed their support for Silver's decision. Sterling was fined $2.5 million and banned from the NBA for life for racist comments made in a recorded conversation.

Silver also said he will urge the NBA's board of governors to compel Sterling to sell the Clippers.

"We were very clear that anything other than Sterling selling his team was not going to be enough for us," Mason said.

Mason said the players aren't yet completely satisfied. They want a concrete timetable for the board governors' vote necessary to force Sterling to sell his team.

But Mason is confident the other NBA owners will vote to force Sterling to sell.

"I know a lot of the owners personally from spending time in negotiations, and I would be shocked if it wasn't unanimous," Mason said.

Wicked Strong running for Boston in Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Wicked Strong has a built-in fan base for the Kentucky Derby. Like the entire city of Boston.

The colt named in honor of the victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombings figures to be among the favorites for Saturday's race. He's got the credentials, having impressively won the Wood Memorial at 9-1 odds.

Wicked Strong is owned by a Boston-based partnership that has pledged to donate 5 percent of any money won by the bay colt during the Triple Crown series to the fund set up for the bombing victims.

"It's a neat thing," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "Might be an extra force that will help us, if you believe in that kind of stuff."

Does Jerkens?

"Sometimes you do," he replied. "Things seem to happen like that for some unexplained reason."

Wicked Strong began racing with the name Moyne Spun. Donald Little Jr., who heads the Centennial Farms partnership, didn't like that moniker and decided to rename the horse with the marathon bombings in mind.

His first thought was Boston Strong, but the name was already taken. So the new name became Wicked Strong - giving it a linguistic Boston twist.

It seems to fit the once-headstrong colt, which got away from his handlers a couple times early in his career. That's why Jerkens keeps a pony waiting to escort Wicked Strong back to the barn after a trip to the track.

The colt ranked fourth on the points leaderboard that determines the maximum 20-horse field for the 1 1/4-mile Derby. The victory in the Wood - his first in a stakes race - and the 100 points that went to the winner put him in the Derby picture.

"He ran terrific," Jerkens said of the colt's 3 1/2-length win. "He laid up closer to the pace without any effort, which I thought was great. The pace was really lively and he was sitting up five or six (lengths) off the lead without any effort. He certainly finished up good."

The victory in the Wood was just Wicked Strong's second in six career races.

He will be the first Derby starter for both Centennial Farms, which won the 1993 Belmont Stakes with Colonial Affair, and Jerkens, a 55-year-old son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens.

"It's nerve-wracking, especially when you're here with only one horse," the younger Jerkens said. "You're looking at him so much, you almost start creating problems."

Jerkens has 23 horses in his New York-based stable. He's currently tied for 16th in the New York Racing Association trainer's standings, winning at a 25 percent clip.

His 85-year-old father tried three times to win the Derby, his best finish being sixth place in 1978 with Sensitive Prince. He sent his son off to Louisville with the advice to treat the Derby like any other race.

"A lot of people fall into that trap of second-guessing themselves," the younger Jerkens said. "You can't let anybody or anything sway your judgment. Don't train him any different just because somebody will come up to you and say, `So and so went out there and did this with his horse.' I'm confident in how we've handled him so far."

Jerkens thought he had a shot at winning the Derby in 2009 with Quality Road, calling him "the most talented horse I ever put my hands on." Quality Road won the Florida Derby, but injured his right back foot that day. Later, he hurt his right front foot and missed the Triple Crown series.

Less than two months later, the late owner-breeder Edward Evans fired Jerkens and sent Quality Road to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Now Jerkens is actually at Churchill Downs with a chance to win, for himself, his father and the city of Boston. His father is nicknamed "The Giant Killer" for his record of big upsets, and Jerkens would like nothing more than to add to the family history.

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AP freelance writer J.J. Hysell contributed to this report.

No NBA owners saying they'll side with Sterling

MIAMI (AP) A majority of NBA ownership groups reached Tuesday by The Associated Press say they will vote to force embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell his club.

The teams were then contacted by The Associated Press on the specific question of whether Sterling should be forced to sell, and 16 ownership groups said yes, while another eight declined to reveal their stance.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants Sterling to sell as part of the extremely stiff series of sanctions brought against the league's longest-tenured owner in response to racist comments. Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and said he will press the other teams in the NBA to support his desire to make Sterling sell.

Within minutes of Silver announcing the sanctions in New York, most of the clubs in the league - including the Clippers - put out statements supporting the league's moves.

Five ownership groups, not including the Clippers themselves, could not be reached Tuesday. None of the teams contacted by AP said they would vote in favor of Sterling retaining his ownership, and most teams requested that their stance be kept private.

"The Commissioner was correct to ban Mr. Sterling from all official NBA business, to levy the stiffest allowable fine, and we will support his recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise," read a statement from Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and team president Michael Reinsdorf. "We believe Commissioner Silver's decision reflects the best interests of the NBA and public civility."

For Sterling to be forced to sell, 75 percent of NBA clubs would have to vote in favor of such a move. That means if 29 teams vote, Silver would have to get 22 yes votes. If all 30 clubs have a vote, the number needed for passage rises to 23.

"I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him," Silver said.

Fox News reported that Sterling said Tuesday he has no plans to sell the club. Under NBA rules, the league will have to present Sterling with some sort of notice announcing that it intends to seek the termination of his ownership, and give him an opportunity to respond. At some point, the league's Board of Governors would then be called, presumably for a vote.

"We are whole-heartedly behind Adam's recommendation and plan to vote accordingly," Orlando Magic chairman Dan DeVos said.

Mariners' Cano booed in return to Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK (AP) Robinson Cano drew loud boos Tuesday night in his first at-bat at Yankee Stadium since signing a $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners last winter.

Cano had a big smile when he came to bat in the first inning and gave a wink to New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.

The sparse crowd on a dreary evening responded with a Bronx cheer.

The five-time All-Star struck out swinging and the fans mocked him with cheers.

When Cano took his position at second base, the Bleacher Creatures didn't chant his name, as they did for so long. Instead, they shouted: "You sold out!"

Hours earlier, Cano looked at ease sitting in front of a microphone in the interview room at Yankee Stadium. He also looked a lot different than the previous times he'd sat in the same spot.

A well-trimmed beard. A Seattle Mariners "S" on the navy cap. And questions about being heckled by the only fans he knew for the first nine years of his career.

Cano has moved on from an acrimonious offseason that ended up with him leaving New York for a 10-year deal with the 91-loss Mariners.

After a pinstriped stay in which he helped lead New York to the 2009 World Series championship, the two-time Gold Glover said he was excited to make his debut at Yankee Stadium as a visitor.

Boos or cheers, he said.

Never as popular as Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera, there was plenty of talk about the reception Cano would get. He playfully participated in a Monday sketch on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon that showed both sides of the crowd equation.

Given a chance to boo a life-sized picture of Cano in a Manhattan park, each self-professed Yankees fan let him have it. But when the real Cano popped out from behind the poster wall, they gushed their appreciation and hugged the smiling star.

"I have to understand the fans. They're not going to cheer for you here. They're going to boo for you because you're on the opposite team," he said.

On the day he signed with Seattle, Cano said he didn't feel respected by the Yankees' offer of $175 million for seven years.

Asked if he still felt disrespected by the Yankees, Cano said he wanted to move past those comments.

"One thing I understand is this is a business. I can't control the Yankees," Cano said. "They made a decision. I guess we're both happy because I am happy where I am right now."

A streaky hitter during a durable career in which he never missed more than three games in a season from 2007-2013, Cano is on a run fans in New York became accustomed to. He went into the game batting .423 (11 for 26) with three doubles and three RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.

Overall he's batting .301 with one homer and 11 RBIs in 24 games, an average that's not too far off his career .309.

Cano was a fixture in the middle of the Yankees' order under Joe Girardi, hired as manager for the 2008 season. Girardi was certain the team didn't slight Cano.

"A hundred and 75 million dollars is a lot of money for seven years. I think we've always respected Robbie Cano and his talents and we will continue to respect Robbie Cano and his talents," Girardi said.

"I think you'll see that in how we try to pitch to him. We're not just going to put it right down the middle of the plate," he said.

NASCAR penalizes Ambrose and Mears for RIR fight

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) NASCAR punished Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears on Tuesday for their post-race altercation in the garage at Richmond International Raceway that led to Ambrose punching Mears in the face.

Ambrose was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through May 28. Mears was fined $15,000 and received the same probation.

NASCAR said in a statement both drivers were penalized for actions detrimental to stock car racing, and received a "Behavioral Penalty" because they were "involved in an altercation in the garage area after the race."

The two had been racing for a top-20 finish Saturday night when something occurred on the track to anger Mears. He confronted Ambrose in the garage area after the race, and shoved the Australian as Ambrose seemed to be walking away.

Ambrose responded with a right hook to Mears' eye that drew blood. He has not commented on the incident, but Richard Petty Motorsports issued a statement saying Ambrose would not appeal the penalty.

"Marcos Ambrose accepts the penalties levied by NASCAR after his actions at Richmond International Raceway," the statement said.

Seattle announces extension with Earl Thomas

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Earl Thomas was late to the announcement for his own contract extension, proving the Seattle Seahawks All-Pro free safety isn't just fast on the field.

Driving a little too speedy to the Seahawks' facility on Tuesday morning made Thomas late after getting pulled over.

"I didn't try and bulldog him and say, `My name is Earl Thomas.' Because then he would be like, `This dude is cocky,' and give me a ticket," Thomas joked. "He let me off. That's the moral of the story."

Thomas was locked up through the 2018 season when the Seahawks announced a four-year contract extension making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. The deal is worth $40 million over four years and includes $27.7 million in guaranteed money.

Thomas wanted the title of highest-paid safety. He also wanted the responsibility that comes with that. Thomas was hoping to get a long-term deal in place before the Seahawks start organized team activities later this month so there were no distractions heading into the 2014 season.

"I compete in everything that I do and I want to set the bar. That was my goal," Thomas said.

Thomas was Seattle's second first-round pick in the 2010 draft, the first with coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider leading the franchise.

It's turned out to be one of the most important selections the team has made since starting a makeover with the duo in charge of molding the Seahawks into a championship club.

Thomas is a two-time first-team All-Pro selection and regarded as the top safety in the NFL. The Seahawks would be a different defensive team if they didn't have Thomas' skills at their disposal. His speed allows Thomas uncommon range in coverage. He's become more disciplined staying within Seattle's defensive framework, and Thomas has remained reliable at cleaning up any problems in the back.

"I think the thing that comes to the front for me is this program has always been based on competition. When we look for players and coaches to add to our club we're always looking for great competitors," Carroll said. "When we had the chance to take Earl, I don't know that I appreciated it as much as I do now the great competitor that he is. He has throughout the time he's been with us as a very young man, has played at the highest level he can generate every single day that he's played for us in this organization."

Thomas gets the second major extension Seattle has announced this offseason after locking up Carroll through 2016. Now the question is if the Seahawks can get an extension done with All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

Staying in-house has been the Seahawks' priority this offseason; they also took care of bringing back defensive end Michael Bennett.

"Sherm has everything under control. He'll take care of it," Thomas said.

Schneider said the commitment to Thomas is another signal that Seattle doesn't intend on being a contender or a champion just once.

"I think you're seeing an evolution of our development in terms of acquisition and how we're building this team to be a consistent championship-caliber team," Schneider said. "We talk about it all the time we don't want to be a team that cruises in and cruises out."

Thomas wanted to share the day with those close to him. He made sure one of the photo ops before the formal announcement included most of the defensive coaching staff, along with teammate Kam Chancellor, who signed an extension through 2017 last offseason.

"That's my family. That's the people that have helped me," Thomas said. "... You learn from everybody, every opportunity you get. I don't waste my time. I invest everything."

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

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