National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Rivers declines chance to speak with Sterling

LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he declined a chance to speak with owner Donald Sterling, who is alleged to have made racist comments in a recorded conversation.

"I was asked, do I need to talk with Donald, and I passed, quite honestly," Rivers said Monday. "I don't think right now is the time or the place, for me, at least. I just took a pass."

Sterling is purported to have told a woman not to bring black people to his games or associate with them.

"Yeah, I believe he said those things. But I still want to make sure," Rivers said during a conference call. "As far as believing those things? I heard what he said. Until someone tells me differently, you usually listen to what people say. I haven't given him his due process. I haven't given him an opportunity to explain himself and quite honestly right now I don't want him to. I want to wait for that further judgment."

The coach canceled practice Monday, a day after a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors that evened their playoff series at 2-2.

"I just felt like they needed to breathe. They've been inundated with this," Rivers said.

Still, he said pretty much the entire team was at the club's practice facility.

"I'll go down and say hi to them and talk to them, make sure they're in the right place. Right now it's more than basketball. This is a non-basketball decision that I thought I had to make and I thought it was right decision. If you get your life better, then you can probably do your work better. They need to do that."

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

"These last 48 hours or so have been really hard for our players and everyone," Rivers said. "I'd just like to reiterate how disappointed I am in the comments attributed to our owner. I can't tell you how upset I am, our players are."

Warriors coach Mark Jackson suggested that Clippers fans should boycott the game.

"I believe if it was me, I wouldn't come to the game," Jackson said. "I believe the fans, the loudest statement that they can make as fans is to not show up to the game. ... To me, it will make the noise of it not being tolerated. That this is a different time. It's unfortunate, and we cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit."

Rivers said he knew Jackson was speaking from his heart and that everyone has their opinion.

"I don't share that. I hope it's packed and people are cheering for us, the players. And they were cheering for the players before this happened. But if they feel differently, who can say they're wrong? And I'm not the one that's going to say that, I can tell you that."

Rivers said it's still to be determined whether he or a player will address the crowd.

"Again, we don't know the right answer," Rivers said. "We want to do right here. We want to make the best decisions here. If we feel that's something will help our fans, then it will be done. If we feel it's something they don't need, we won't do it. The tickets have already been sold. The fans, they're in a dilemma as well. We want them to cheer for their players and their team. Because it's still their players and their team, and it will be their players and their team. I think from what I get from the fans I've heard from, that's how they feel, like, `This is my team, these are my players I'm cheering for, and that's not going to change.' I hope that continues."

Rivers said the controversy has been tough on his players.

"What other players are going through `Should I be playing' thoughts in the middle of a playoff series? I sympathize for my players. They didn't sign on for this. Yet here they are and they're in the middle of it and they have to deal with it. They didn't do anything wrong and they're in the middle of it, and they didn't ask to be. I feel terrible for them. I'm going to try to do whatever I can to make them OK."

Advertisers back away from NBA's LA Clippers

NEW YORK (AP) - Advertisers are backing away from the Los Angeles Clippers after racist comments attributed to the NBA team's owner.

Mercedes-Benz USA said Monday its dealerships are ending their sponsorship of the Clippers in the wake of comments allegedly made by the team's owner, Donald Sterling. Used car dealership chain CarMax, airline Virgin America, and the Chumash Casino Resort are doing the same.

Four other sponsors, Kia Motors America, energy drink maker Red Bull, hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators and Yokohama Tire, said they are suspending their advertising and sponsorship activities with the team. Yet another sponsor, insurer State Farm, said it "will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization."

The Clippers declined to comment.

The incident highlights the risks that companies face when they make sponsorship deals. The deals can bring goodwill when things are going well, but brands face a tough spot when they link themselves with teams or athletes that become mired in controversy. Advertising experts say that once the bad news is out there, a negative association could have already been made in the eyes of consumers.

Allen Adamson, managing director of research firm Landor Associates, said there's little benefit for brands to stick with their sponsorship deals in this instance.

"There's some benefit in moving quickly," he said. "You can always renew your sponsorship later, but the longer you're linking your brand to a brand in trouble, the higher the risk."

Paul Swangard, managing director at Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, said sponsorships like Carmax and Virgin America can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions, depending on terms of the agreement. He said many brands might be waiting to see what happens at the NBA's press conference on Tuesday.

"The early indication is that this could be incredibly damaging to the franchise if things aren't dealt with quickly," he said

This isn't the first time companies have had to consider whether to keep a sponsorship deal after a controversy erupts. Nike and other sponsors dropped disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong after his doping scandal. But many sponsors stood by golfer Tiger Woods after he acknowledged infidelities and went to rehab for sex addiction.

Sterling has come under fire for comments he is alleged to have made in a recorded conversation with a woman. Portions of that conversation were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, leading to a national outcry. The NBA is planning a news conference Tuesday on its investigation into Sterling.

"CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers' owner completely unacceptable," Richmond, Va.-based CarMax Inc. said Monday in an emailed statement. "While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship."

Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm also described the remarks as offensive and said it will monitor the situation as the facts are sorted out. It will continue to run its Born to Assist ad campaign, which began in December 2012 and features Clippers point guard Chris Paul as himself and a fictional, mustachioed insurance-selling twin, Cliff Paul. State Farm said that campaign is part of its overall sponsorship of the NBA.

Kia's suspension of sponsorship and ads with the Clippers does not affect its deal with Clippers star Blake Griffin, who appears in commercials for the car company.

NBA announcement coming on Sterling amid fallout

Outrage over racist comments purportedly made by embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling hit a crescendo Monday, with corporations pulling their sponsorship deals with the team and coach Doc Rivers saying he believes "a very strong message" is coming from the NBA in response to the scandal.

That message will come Tuesday, when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver holds a news conference in New York where he could reveal sanctions the league will impose on Sterling.

A suspension of indefinite length and hefty fine - Silver can issue one of up to $1 million without approval of owners - are possible options. However, it remains unclear how far Silver's powers can reach at this point, even though the NBA constitution gives the commissioner's office a lot of latitude to protect the game's best interest.

Many players simply want Sterling ousted, with Lakers star Kobe Bryant tweeting he "should not continue owning the clippers."

"It needs to be handled in the right way," Rivers said. "I don't even know what the right way is. I have a hunch. But I don't know."

The Clippers had Monday off, with Rivers saying he wanted his team to try and regroup mentally after a whirlwind weekend where Sterling's alleged comments were revealed, first by TMZ and then in another recording posted on Deadspin. The NBA has not said if it was able to authenticate the tapes, but Sterling's wife told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that it was her husband on the recordings.

Rivers, who has declined a chance to speak with his boss, believes Sterling is on the tape.

"I can't tell you how upset I am," Rivers said.

Tuesday is shaping up as a potentially seismic day for the Clippers, in both the short- and long-term. Rivers' team will host Golden State on Tuesday - about 8 1/2 hours after Silver is scheduled to speak - in a crucial Game 5 of the teams' Western Conference first-round series, knotted now at two games apiece.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are already taking hits in other ways over Sterling's alleged comments.

CarMax and Virgin America announced they are ending their sponsorships of the team, and Kia Motors America plans to suspend its advertising and sponsorship activities with the franchise. Insurer State Farm said it "will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization," though the popular ad campaign featuring Clippers guard Chris Paul will continue, as will the company's initiatives with the NBA.

Los Angeles-based AQUAhydrate - launched by rap mogul Sean "P Diddy" Combs and actor Mark Wahlberg - also said it was suspending its sponsorship "in the wake of Sterling's alleged intolerable comments ... until the NBA completes its investigation."

Losing sponsors would not seem to be an issue that only hurts the Clippers, either. It could potentially impact bottom lines across the league because of revenue sharing and Basketball Related Income, or BRI.

"The opportunity before Commissioner Silver to take an uncompromising stand against any form of prejudice in the NBA is unprecedented in the league," said Marc H. Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League.

The NAACP said it has decided not to honor Sterling with a previously announced lifetime achievement award from its Los Angeles chapter. The NAACP said it also plans to return an undisclosed amount of donations the Clippers owner has made to the organization.

The Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation gave $5,000 to the NAACP's Los Angeles chapter in 2010, according to tax records, and Sterling was listed as his foundation's only contributor. There were no records of further NAACP contributions in 2011 or 2012, the latest years for which records were available.

Several team owners have condemned the alleged remarks in recent days, including Charlotte's Michael Jordan, Miami's Micky Arison, Washington's Ted Leonsis and Indiana's Herb Simon.

Regardless of what happens Tuesday, the saga surely will continue. And if Sterling is suspended, someone would likely have to be appointed to run the team, if even on an interim basis. Plus, there are numerous legal issues at play, including whether the recording was legally made and the matter of Sterling's wife suing the woman purported to be on the tape with Sterling.

Those issues, however, are not expected to play an immediate role in how the league decides to proceed.

"Clearly, there's things that have happened, but I don't know what they could have done in the past," Rivers said. "I know now that there seems to be proof that they can do something now. And so I'm not worried about the past - I'm worried about now and how we handle this. I think this is going to be handled the right way. I really have a lot of faith in Adam and the league."

Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay dies at 89

MIAMI (AP) Jack Ramsay served his country in World War II, coached Portland to the NBA title, was enshrined in the basketball Hall of Fame and became one of the game's most respected and revered broadcasters.

His life was, by any measure, complete.

"Our father led the greatest life that one could lead," the Ramsay family said in a statement released Monday, hours after the man that just about everyone in basketball called "Dr. Jack" died in Naples, Fla., at the age of 89.

No cause of death was announced, but Ramsay had fought several forms of cancer for many years and more recently was diagnosed with a marrow syndrome. Ramsay ended his broadcasting career with ESPN last year because of health problems and word came last week that he had been placed into hospice care.

"From his coaching tenure to his broadcast work, Dr. Jack left an indelible mark on every facet of our game and on every person he came in contact with, including me," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Added Miami Heat president Pat Riley, who was close to Ramsay for many years: "This is a very sad day for basketball, not just professional basketball, but the entire basketball world. The game has lost a giant."

Ramsay coached in the NBA for parts of 21 seasons before embarking on a second career as an NBA analyst, eventually working for ESPN. He was diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 and later battled growths and tumors that spread to his legs, lungs and brain, as well as prostate cancer.

Through it all, his affinity for fitness never wavered.

Ramsay, who competed in at least 20 triathlons during his life, worked out regularly into his 80s, even as he battled the various forms of cancer. He often spoke of his love of swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Even in his final year as a broadcaster, it wasn't uncommon for friends to marvel at how well he was moving about.

"Jack was a great man," Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird said, "and I don't use that term lightly."

Ramsay also spent several years late in his life caring for his wife, Jean, who was diagnosed in 2001 with Alzheimer's disease. She died in 2010.

"He was that rarest of men with a unique style that was inspirational and motivational about basketball and life itself," said Paul Allen, who owns the Trail Blazers.

Ramsay enjoyed enormous popularity within the league. To commemorate his 89th birthday this year, Portland coach Terry Stotts wore a loud checkered jacket and open-collared shirt for a Blazers game - a nod to Ramsay's style of dress when he coached the club.

"Jack's life is a beacon which guides us all," Bill Walton, who was on Ramsay's 1977 title team in Portland, told USA Today in 2007. "He is our moral compass, our spiritual inspiration. He represents the conquest of substance over hype. He is a true saint of circumstance."

John T. Ramsay was born Feb. 21, 1925, in Philadelphia and enrolled at Saint Joseph's in 1942, eventually becoming captain of the basketball team for his senior season. He earned a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1949, which explains the "Dr. Jack" moniker.

Ramsay's began coaching Saint Joseph's in 1955. He was wildly successful there, going 234-72 and taking the Hawks to the NCAA tournament seven times and the Final Four in 1961.

"Great man," Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson, who played at Saint Joseph's a generation after Ramsay departed, wrote on Twitter. "The Greatest Hawk ever."

To Ramsay, the most significant part of the Saint Joseph's years was this: "I met my wife there," he said.

He was a founding father of sorts for the growth of the Big 5, the annual Philadelphia basketball series involving Saint Joseph's, La Salle, Penn, Villanova and Temple.

"The Big 5 was clearly the biggest thing any of those schools were involved in at that point," Ramsay said in a 2004 interview.

Ramsay became coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1968, joined the Buffalo Braves in 1972 and brought his craft to Portland in 1976. With a team featuring Walton, Lionel Hollins and Maurice Lucas, he delivered an NBA championship in his first season, beating the 76ers in six games for the title.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that I will cherish forever," Ramsay said in 1997.

Indeed, that was his lone NBA title. Walton got hurt the next year, crippling Portland's chances of getting back to championship form during that era. Ramsay coached the Blazers for nine more seasons without another trip to the Finals. He spent the final three years of his NBA coaching career in Indiana, resigning from the Pacers in 1988 after the team started 0-7.

Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA career and in 1996 was honored as one of the league's all-time top 10 coaches. And when Micky Arison bought the Heat, the first person he turned to was Ramsay, who wound up long being considered part of the franchise's family and even accompanied them to the White House to celebrate winning an NBA title.

"He will be sorely missed by us all," Arison said.

When he left the Pacers, Ramsay carefully did not use the word "retire," and began working as a television analyst on 76ers games. Eventually, he worked on Heat television broadcasts for eight seasons before moving full time to ESPN for radio and TV commentating before the 2000-01 season.

"So grateful that his path crossed ours," his former Heat broadcast partner Eric Reid wrote on Twitter early Monday. "Hall of Fame coach and man."

Ramsay's funeral is Thursday.

Ducks beat Stars 5-4 in OT to clinch series in 6

DALLAS (AP) Nick Bonino scored 2:47 into overtime, after getting one of Anaheim's two goals late in regulation, and the Ducks beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 in Game 6 on Sunday night to clinch the first-round series.

The Ducks scored twice in the final 2:10 of regulation to force overtime for the first time in the series.

In OT, Bonino skated around the from behind the net and got a puck over Kari Lehtonen's left shoulder to get the Ducks within 4-3.

Anaheim got the overtime-forcing goal with 24 seconds left after a wild scramble in front of the net with an extra skater and Lehtonen without his stick.

When the puck trickled free, Devante Smith-Pelly pushed into the open gap for his second goal of the game for a 4-4 tie.

Clippers stage silent protest to owner

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling before they faced the Golden State Warriors for Game 4 of their first-round series Sunday. Instead, they made a silent protest to generate attention.

In response to Sterling's purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team's games, the Clippers let their uniforms become a show of solidarity.

They ran out of the tunnel wearing their usual warmups. Then they huddled at center court and tossed the outer layer of their warmups to the ground, going through their pregame routine with their red Clippers' shirts on inside out to hide the team's logo.

Players also wore black wristbands or armbands during the game, which they lost 118-97. They also donned black socks with their normal jerseys.

"It's just us, only us. We're all we got," Clippers point guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.

The Warriors' announced sellout crowd of 19,596, decked out in gold shirts, booed the Clippers - as they always do - during team introductions.

Sterling's wife was sitting courtside across from the Clippers' bench. Commissioner Adam Silver had said Donald Sterling would not be at the game.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said prior to the game that he would remain the only one to speak for the team on the issue because players wanted to remain focused on basketball. Afterward, Rivers said he knew what his players had planned but didn't voice his opinion.

Rivers said he wasn't thrilled about the demonstration, though he didn't elaborate why. Even he, though, acknowledged that staying focused has not been easy since TMZ released the alleged recording of Sterling.

"Our message is to play," Rivers said. "Our message is that we're going to let no one and nothing stop us from what we want to do. And I think that's a good message. I really do. I think that's the message we're trying to send. And if we can pull this off all the way, I think that would be a terrific message."

In an overcrowded postgame locker room, most of the Clippers' players deflected comment or refused to answer questions related to Sterling - other than to say they remain united and focused on basketball.

Shooting guard J.J. Redick, who is white, said the controversy has impacted everybody on the team and around the league. He also admitted it might have affected their preparation.

"Maybe our focus wasn't in the right place would be the easiest way to say it," Redick said. "I didn't get the sense that we couldn't function. I thought we competed, but give them a lot of credit as well. It wasn't just the distraction of everything that has happened in the last 24 hours. Golden State played a great basketball game, let's keep that in mind."

While the Clippers wanted to let their play do the talking, other NBA players continued to speak out on the subject.

Some talked about the hurt Sterling's alleged words caused. Others urged Silver to take an aggressive stance against Sterling, who has a history of alleged discrimination. Most of them hoped Sterling would be removed as the team's owner someday soon.

Miami Heat star LeBron James said Silver needed to take action, going so far as to suggest "there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league." Lakers star Kobe Bryant wrote on his Twitter page that he couldn't play for Sterling. Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played for the Clippers from 1992-94, said he could forgive Sterling but couldn't play for him right now, either.

Asked if he needed to hear something from the league or Sterling to return as coach next year, Rivers said he didn't know and that he was just concentrating on the playoff series.

At the Trail Blazers' playoff game against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night, Portland players all wore black socks in solidarity with the Clippers players.

"I wanted to do something to support our brothers," Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge said before the game in Portland.

The players union, still without an executive director since firing Billy Hunter in February 2013, is following the situation closely. The union has asked former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to take a leading role on the players' behalf to address the Sterling matter.

Johnson and Silver attended the game Sunday. Johnson said he called an emergency phone meeting of every player representative to the union Saturday night and spoke with Silver before the game. He said this is a "defining moment" for the NBA and for Silver.

Johnson said players trust that the commissioner will meet their demands, which include: Sterling not attend any NBA games for the rest of the playoffs; a full account of past allegations of discrimination by Sterling and why the league never sanctioned him; the range of options that the league can penalize Sterling, including the maximum penalty, which players want if the audio recording is validated; assurance that the NBA and the union will be partners in the investigation; and an immediate and decisive ruling, hopefully before the Clippers host the Warriors for Game 5 on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Johnson also said there will be no league-wide protest by players or a boycott because there's enough attention on the issue already and that players "trust Adam Silver. They trust that Adam Silver will do the right thing."

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AP Sports Writer Joseph White in Washington contributed to this report.

Raptors even series with Nets, win 87-79

NEW YORK (AP) DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry added 22, and the Toronto Nets beat the Brooklyn Nets 87-79 on Sunday night to even their Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece.

Amir Johnson had 17 points for the Raptors, who started fast, gave up all of a 17-point lead, then shut the Nets down over the final 5 minutes to snap a 13-game road losing streak in the playoffs that went back 13 years.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Toronto, with the series now guaranteed a return to Brooklyn on Friday for Game 6.

Paul Pierce scored 22 points for the Nets, who were 3 for 17 in the fourth quarter and didn't have a field goal after Pierce's basket with 6:13 left gave them a 77-73 lead.

Kevin Garnett had 10 points for the Nets, but Joe Johnson and Deron Williams were mostly non-factors in getting outplayed by Toronto's backcourt. Johnson had only seven points on seven shots after averaging 23.7 points in the first three games, and Williams was 4 of 12 for his 10.

Pierce nearly carried the Nets without them, but Toronto put it together down the stretch to pull it out.

Garnett gave the Nets their last lead with two free throws with 4:58 left, but DeRozan made two free throws before Greivis Vasquez made a 3-pointer for an 83-79 advantage. The Nets had a series of offensive fouls along with their missed shots, and Lowry made a basket with 1:13 to go before closing it out with a pair of free throws.

The point guard bounced back nicely after the Nets banged him around in their Game 3 victory. Toronto nearly came from 15 down in the final 5 minutes to win that one, and carried that momentum into a quick start Sunday.

The Raptors scored a franchise playoff-record 35 points in the first quarter, then turned to their defense down the stretch for their first road victory in the postseason since winning at Philadelphia in Game 1 of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Now they won't need to win on the road again, with home-court advantage back in their favor.

Hunter-Reay wins 2nd straight year in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Ryan Hunter-Reay deftly guided his car around the rain-soaked track, stayed out of trouble and wound up with a much happier ending.

Hunter-Reay coasted to his second straight victory at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday when the rain-shortened IndyCar race finished under caution, with Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti behind him.

The win came two weeks after Hunter-Reay touched off what turned into a seven-car pileup with an ill-timed attempt to pass Josef Newgarden at Long Beach to end what had been a dominating performance.

"The week after Long Beach was a pretty long one," Hunter-Reay said. "It was one where I just wanted to get back in a racecar as soon as I could.

"We knew it would be tough here. When it came to race time, I had the car in the wet, I had the car in the dry. They gave me exactly what I needed. I knew it was going to be close to make it all work out because it was so easy to make a mistake today. Just thrilled. This victory feels real good."

A full-course caution came out for the final seven minutes of the timed race after rookie Mikhail Aleshin lost control and went off the track. That left Hunter-Reay unchallenged.

Scott Dixon was third, followed by Simon Pagenaud and pole-sitter Will Power, a two-time winner at Barber who had a slight but costly misjudgment on a slippery track in the tight Turn 5.

"He was out there cutting the grass," Hunter-Reay said. "I had to take advantage of that. It was so easy to do that today. I almost lost this race three times."

There was some slipping and sliding, especially in the minutes after the field switched from the wet tires with several drivers leaving the track.

He passed Power on lap 16 when the Australian left the track and skirted by the tire barrier before pulling back on.

"I kept creeping my braking point a little bit further and further, and I went too far," Power said. "It's tough to not push past the limits with wet patches everywhere. We really didn't have the pace in the dry anyway, but that sure didn't help our cause when I went off course."

The turn is called "Charlotte's Web" because of a huge spider sculpture stationed there.

"I almost threw it away three or four times there myself," Hunter-Reay said. "It was just tiptoeing around. It was a very fine line between getting it all right or getting it all wrong.

"Any guy that's been in an IndyCar on the Web will tell you that's how it is. You've got to go up the risk side to the get the reward out of it, but it's really easy to throw it all away."

It's the 12th career win for Hunter-Reay, who was alone up front during the caution until Andretti pulled even at the finish line to savor the moment with his teammate. He led three times for a total of 40 laps.

"They've given us great cars here, and a second win in a row for Ryan is awesome," said Andretti, whose radio worked only sporadically down the stretch.

Dixon said running a time race was "kind of annoying" and Andretti said it removed some strategy from the formula. They wound up going 69 laps, and Hunter-Reay was up front for the final time starting on No. 52.

"The race should be the full distance," Dixon said. "To have to shorten these races for TV, you know, I understand the difficult predicament that everybody is in, but these are championship races. They all pay the same amount of points.

"You decide to take 30 laps off them ... I think it changes strategy a lot and you're constantly chasing that window. Then ultimately you finish on a caution, too, which is also a bit of a bummer for the fans. In the future, hopefully we can find a way around that."

Drivers were focused on handling the track conditions, not payback from any lingering anger over Long Beach clashes.

It ended badly for Aleshin, who walked back to pit road while the rest of the field finished. Earlier Sebastien Bourdais had spun the Russian from behind, leaving him stalled. Bourdais received a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

The race was a change-up for Dixon, who finished second in each of the first four races at Barber.

"We went the wrong way, but it was an interesting day," Dixon said. "Whenever you have a rain delay it sort of puts a strain on everybody trying to figure out what we need to do.

"The cars were pretty good. The track suits wet conditions. There were a few troublesome areas with standing water and a few of the guys found those spots. But generally the race went fairly smoothly."

Kerr says he spoke with Knicks' Jackson on weekend

NEW YORK (AP) Steve Kerr said Sunday he spoke with Phil Jackson twice over the weekend and that they will continue discussing the possibility of him becoming coach of the New York Knicks.

Kerr said he had dinner with Jackson, his former coach with Chicago and the new Knicks team president, on Friday night and they talked again Saturday. Kerr is in New York to work the game between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors for TNT.

"There's a lot to cover on both sides and this was the first time we've talked about the job. It just opened up last week and so we've got a lot of things to discuss," Kerr said.

Jackson fired Mike Woodson and the rest of the Knicks coaching staff after a 37-45 season, and again said he wasn't interested in returning to coaching.

Though Kerr has never been a coach, he has been mentioned as a candidate for the job since Jackson was hired in March. Jackson said last week he hoped to speak with Kerr soon to see gauge his desire to do the job, and it definitely interests Kerr.

"How could it not?" Kerr said. "I mean, it's the Knicks and it's Phil Jackson, my coach. So I'd be crazy not to look into it."

Kerr said he has wanted to coach since stepping down as Phoenix Suns general manager in 2010. He won three titles playing for Jackson in Chicago, and agreed with his former coach that they have similar views of the game.

"I know Phil last week said we share the same space, which I think is well said," Kerr said. "We share a lot of the same philosophies. I learned a lot of my basketball from him and Tex Winter, and so I think it's safe to say that we have a lot of the same ideas."

Winter taught the triangle offense and was a longtime Jackson assistant when he used the system to win an NBA-record 11 championships as a coach. Jackson said he won't insist the Knicks coach run it, but has made clear his belief in it.

Woodson went 109-79 with the Knicks, leading them last season to their first division championship since 1994, but was fired with a year left on his contract. He said Sunday on NBA TV that coaching the team that drafted him out of college was like a "dream come true."

"And the last two years, prior to coming into this season, was a good two seasons for our ballclub and our fans. And this year things just didn't work out," Woodson said. "Sometimes in life things just don't work out according to plan. But I look at it, overall, it was a good run."

Jackson said he doesn't have a timetable, though he hoped to have a coach in place by the July summer league. Kerr said it was tough to do things quickly because he's on the road so much of the spring working games.

He's been going to training camps and meeting with coaches, and wants to work with players instead of another role in a front office.

"I've been preparing for this and if it's something that feels like the right fit, it's something I'm going to do," Kerr said.

Blackhawks eliminate Blues with Game 6 win

CHICAGO (AP) Duncan Keith had a goal and three assists, and the Chicago Blackhawks used a four-goal third period to finish off the St. Louis Blues with a 5-1 victory in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday.

Chicago won four in a row after a slow start in St. Louis. The defending Stanley Cup champions will play the winner of the Minnesota-Colorado series in the Western Conference semifinals. The Avalanche lead the Wild 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Minnesota on Monday night.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw and Keith scored in the third period as the Blackhawks improved to 14-2 in home playoff games over the last two seasons. Corey Crawford made 35 saves, keeping Chicago in a tie game when St. Louis controlled the second period.

Wizards defeat Bulls 98-89, take 3-1 series lead

WASHINGTON (AP) In his customary seat next to the bench, Ted Leonsis sported a No. 42 jersey in support of his suspended forward. By the time the game was over, the Washington Wizards owner stood and cheered as the crowd chanted "Free Ne-ne!!"

Trevor Ariza had a career playoff-high 30 points, and the Wizards scored the first 14 points of the game and barely looked back Sunday, overcoming the absence of their so-called "X-factor" as they beat the Chicago Bulls 98-89 to take 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference series.

Ariza made 6 of 10 3-pointers, John Wall added 15 points and 10 assists for the Wizards, who forced 16 turnovers and committed only six. The other big difference came at the 3-point arc, where Washington went 8 for 19 and Chicago just 4 for 19.

The Wizards, seeking to win a playoff series for only the third time since the 1970s, can finish off the Bulls in Game 5 on Tuesday in Chicago.

Taj Gibson scored a career-high 32 points on 13 for 16 shooting for Chicago, but his teammates combined to go 22 for 62 from the field. He made more field goals in the first half (8) than the rest the Bulls combined (7). Mike Dunleavy, who scored 35 points in Game 3, could barely get a look, much less a basket. He went 0 for 3 from the field in the first half and finished 3 for 8 with six points.

Chicago's Kirk Hinrich committed four turnovers, and NBA Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah had a quiet 10 points and 15 rebounds against the Nene-less Wizards.

Nene was suspended for the game after grabbing Jimmy Butler's head during a face-to-face confrontation in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' Game 3 loss. Wall this week called Nene the "X-factor," and for good reason: Since the March 2012 trade that brought the Brazilian to D.C., Washington is 65-63 when he plays and 21-41 when he doesn't, although the club did hold its own by winning 12 of 21 when Nene went down with a knee injury late in the regular season.

Washington stormed to a 14-0 lead, with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau calling a timeout after each Wizards "touchdown." Chicago's first seven possessions consisted of six missed shots and two turnovers. Butler finally got the visitors on the board with an 18-footer 4:12 into the game.

The next sequence: Hinrich hit the side of the backboard with a baseline jumper, and Ariza hit a 3-pointer that took an odd carom off the rim to make the score 17-2. The ball was truly bouncing Washington's way.

Trevor Booker, starting in Nene's spot, swung his right arm and scowled after rejecting a D.J. Augustin layup attempt, but

But foul trouble took its toll on the Wizards' non-Nene frontcourt. Booker, Marcin Gortat, Drew Gooden and Al Harrington all had two fouls by early in the second quarter. Shortly after picking up his third, Booker - while seated on the bench - and Gibson were assessed double technicals, the ninth and 10th technical fouls issued in the feisty series.

The Bulls pulled within four in the second quarter, but the Wizards closed the half on a 21-10 run. Bradley Beal swung the ball to Ariza on the right baseline for a 3-pointer at the horn, giving the Wizards a 55-40 lead at the break.

The Wizards led by 23 early in the fourth, but the Bulls threatened a late comeback. Gibson's jumper with 1:41 to play made the score 91-83, the first and only time Chicago pulled within single digits in the second half.

But a layup by Gortat and a Gortat-to-Ariza feed for a dunk got the lead quickly back to 12, forcing a Bulls timeout. As the teams headed to the benches, the graying millionaire wearing No. 42 stood, clapped and waved a red Wizards rally towel.

Notes: Ariza's six 3-pointers tied a Wizards playoff record. ... Bulls F Carlos Boozer committed five fouls - all in the third quarter. ... Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who played during the Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" era, was asked to compare today's game to those rough-and-tumble days. "Not even close," Wittman said. "It's like sixth-grade flag football compared to NFL tackle football." ... After responding well to Leonsis' appeal to show up on time for Game 3, Wizards fans reverted to their late-arriving ways Sunday. The empty seats at tipoff resembled something more like a November midweek affair against Charlotte than a playoff game for a franchise that had been absent from the postseason for six years.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Rangers push Flyers to brink of elimination

NEW YORK (AP) Brad Richards and Dominic Moore scored second-period goals, and Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves as the New York Rangers pushed the Philadelphia Flyers to the brink of elimination with a 4-2 victory in Game 5 on Sunday.

Defenseman Marc Staal gave the Rangers the lead in the first period and they extended it in the second in taking a 3-2 edge in the first-round series. Game 6 is Tuesday in Philadelphia. If necessary, a deciding seventh game would be back at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

The teams have alternated wins the entire series.

Magic: Sterling 'shouldn't own a team anymore'

Magic Johnson called upon the NBA to "come down hard" on Donald Sterling, even saying that the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Clippers should essentially be ousted from the league.

"He shouldn't own a team anymore," Johnson said Sunday.

Johnson's comments were among the strongest condemnations yet of Sterling, who allegedly made racially charged comments in an audio recording obtained and released by TMZ. Included in the recording: A male, purported to be Sterling, urging a woman to not bring black people to his team's games and upset that she posted photos of herself posing with black friends on her Instagram account.

One of those now-deleted photos is believed to have been of the woman posing with Johnson. On Sunday, Johnson said Sterling was one of the first people he met after moving to Los Angeles, where he was a Lakers star for many years.

"I had a friendship with him. So for him to then make these comments, or alleged comments, about myself as well as other African-Americans and minorities, there's no place in our society for it," Johnson said. "There's no place in our league, because we all get along. We all play with different races of people when you're in sports. That's what makes sports so beautiful."

Johnson spoke on ABC's playoff pregame show Sunday.

Both the Clippers and the NBA are investigating the audio tape and the comments on it, and Commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday night that he's hoping for a swift resolution.

"He's got to come down hard," said Johnson, adding that Sterling should also come forward and say he no longer wants to own a team. "This is bad for everybody. This is bad for America."

Johnson said he would not attend Clippers games as long as Sterling owns the team. He also said the Clippers should be focused on their playoff series with Golden State and not the latest scandal involving their long-controversial owner.

Obama: Reported comments by team owner 'racist'

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) President Barack Obama on Sunday described comments reportedly made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers "incredibly offensive racist statements," before casting them as part of a continuing legacy of slavery and segregation that Americans must vigilantly fight.

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk," Obama said when asked to respond to Donald Sterling's reported comments.

Obama's description of the controversy as part of a larger historical context is the latest example of his continuing willingness to expound on matters of race in his second term.

After avoiding much mention of race relations during his campaign to become the first black president and in his first term, the president last summer offered a personal reflection in response to the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. And now Obama has spoken out against an audio recording of a man identified as Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games.

The firestorm over Sterling's comments has quickly engulfed the NBA. Obama cast the comments through a broader prism of racism in America, adding that "we constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength."

"The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that's still there, the vestiges of discrimination," Obama said during a news conference in Malaysia, where he was traveling.

"We've made enormous strides, but you're going to continue to see this percolate up every so often," he added. "And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out some much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves."

In the recording attributed to Sterling recording and posted on the website TMZ, a male voice questions his girlfriend's association with minorities. TMZ reported the woman, V. Stiviano, is of black and Mexican descent.

The man asks Stiviano not to broadcast her association with black people or bring black people to games. The man specifically mentions Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on the recording, saying, "Don't bring him to my games, OK?"

Obama said he's confident NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will address the matter. He said the NBA has "an awful lot of African American players, it's steeped in African American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this."

Silver had said the NBA needs to confirm authenticity of the audio tape and interview both Sterling and the woman in the recording. He called the tape "disturbing and offensive" and promised to investigate quickly.

NBA probing alleged recording of Clippers owner

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Anger, frustration and calls for action echoed around the NBA on Saturday after an audio recording surfaced of a man identified as Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games.

Everybody except for the embattled Clippers owner, who has a decades-long history of alleged discrimination and offensive behavior, seemed to have a response.

The league said it was investigating the recording posted on TMZ's website, calling the comments "disturbing and offensive."

President Barack Obama, asked to respond at a news conference with Malaysia's prime minister during Obama's visit to the country Sunday, called the reported remarks "incredibly offensive racist statements."

"I don't think I have to interpret those statements for you, they kind of speak for themselves," Obama said. "When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything. You just let them talk. And that's what happened here."

Obama also expressed confidence the NBA would address the situation, and said the United States still wrestles with "the legacy of race and slavery and segregation."

"Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country," Obama said. "It's got an awful lot of African-American players. It's steeped in African-American culture. And, I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this."

Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, a target of Sterling's remarks, said he wouldn't attend Clippers games as long as Sterling was the owner. Miami Heat star LeBron James asked new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to take aggressive measures, saying "there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league."

"Obviously, if the reports are true, it's unacceptable in our league," James said. "It doesn't matter, white, black or Hispanic - all across the races it's unacceptable. As the commissioner of our league, they have to make a stand. They have to be very aggressive with it. I don't know what it will be, but we can't have that in our league."

Silver spoke Saturday night in Memphis, Tenn., before the Grizzlies' game against Oklahoma City, repeating that the league finds the audio tape "disturbing and offensive" and that Sterling agreed to not attend the Clippers' game Sunday at Golden State.

"All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy, which is why I'm not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling," Silver said. "We will, however, move extraordinarily quickly in our investigation."

Silver said the NBA needs to confirm authenticity of the audio tape and interview both Sterling and the woman in the recording. The Clippers will be back in Los Angeles for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

"We do hope to have this wrapped up in the next few days," Silver said.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said players discussed boycotting Game 4 of their first-round playoff series during a 45-minute team meeting but quickly decided against it.

"I think the biggest statement we can make as men, not as black men, as men, is to stick together and show how strong we are as a group," Rivers said. "Not splinter. Not walk. It's easy to protest. The protest will be in our play."

Clippers President Andy Roeser said in a statement that the team did not know if the tape is legitimate or has been altered. He said the woman on the tape, identified by TMZ as V. Stiviano, "is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would `get even."'

Roeser also said the recording does not reflect Sterling's beliefs. He added that Sterling is "upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him" about Johnson, whom he called Sterling's friend.

In the recording posted on TMZ, the man questions his girlfriend's association with minorities. TMZ reported Stiviano, who is of black and Mexican descent, posted a picture of herself with Johnson on Instagram - which has since been removed.

The man asked Stiviano not to broadcast her association with black people or bring black people to games. The man specifically mentioned Johnson on the recording, saying "don't bring him to my games, OK?"

"I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner," Johnson responded on Twitter. He also said the alleged comments are "a black eye for the NBA" and said he felt bad that friends such as Rivers and Clippers point guard Chris Paul had to work for Sterling.

Paul released a statement through the players' union that said "this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively." He also said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star guard who is the chairman of a search committee to find a new director for the union, would take a leading role to help players address the matter.

Paul and Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin declined further comment on the issue after the team's practice at the University of San Francisco. Other players were not made available as Rivers said he would speak for the team.

"A lot of guys voiced their opinions. None of them were happy about it," Rivers said. "This was a situation where we're trying to go after something very important for us, something that we've all dreamed about all our childhoods. Donald or anyone else had nothing to do with that dream, and we're not going to let anything get in the way of those dreams."

On TNT's halftime studio show Saturday, host Charles Barkley said "this is the first test of Adam Silver." He said Silver had to "suspend him and fine him immediately."

In Dallas, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said "I have plenty of opinions, just not going to share them. He fended off several inquiries before saying: "Obviously, if any business or entrepreneur says or does things that aren't congruent with what the organization is trying to convey, that's a problem. But it's not my problem."

Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played for the Clippers from 1992-94, said of Sterling's comments: "My feeling would be the same, no matter if I was coaching, playing or a fan. There's no place for it."

Jacky Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, said the organization planned a protest outside Game 5 of the Clippers-Warriors series Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Sterling, a real estate owner, bought the Clippers in 1981. He is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA since Lakers owner Jerry Buss died last year.

Sterling has been frequently criticized for his frugal operation of the Clippers, although in recent years he has spent heavily to add stars such as Paul and Rivers, who is in his first year as coach. Sterling also has been involved in several lawsuits over the years, including ones with accusations of discrimination.

In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children. The Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.

In March 2011, Sterling won a lawsuit against former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor when a jury rejected the Hall of Famer's claim of age discrimination and harassment. Baylor, who was 76 at the time, had sought about $2 million after claiming he was forced out of the job he had held for 22 years. The team said Baylor left on his own and a jury awarded him nothing.

Sterling is a courtside fixture at Clippers home games. But he rarely visits the team's locker room at Staples Center, although he made an appearance in December 2012 after the Clippers won their 11th straight game, when he led an awkward locker room cheer.

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AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; AP Sports Writers Teresa M. Walker in Memphis, Tenn.; Beth Harris in Mesa, Ariz.; Schuyler Dixon in Dallas; Rick Freeman in New York; and Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., also contributed.

MacKinnon leads Avs to 4-3 OT win over Wild

DENVER (AP) Nathan MacKinnon scored 3:27 into overtime after P.A. Parenteau tied the game late in regulation, helping the Colorado Avalanche rally for a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night and a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.

MacKinnon poked the puck past Darcy Kuemper's glove with two defenders all over him. The rookie also had two assists.

Parenteau scored with 1:14 left after Avalanche coach Patrick Roy pulled goaltender Semyon Varlamov with 2:22 remaining. The strategy worked out yet again.

The series switches back to Minnesota for Game 6 on Monday.

Nick Holden and Cody McLeod also added goals for the Avalanche.

Kyle Brodziak, Zach Parise and Matt Moulson scored for the Wild. Two of Minnesota's goals came after a Colorado defenseman shattered their stick and had to play without one.

O's Davis headed to DL with oblique strain

BALTIMORE (AP) Orioles slugger Chris Davis will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique, a development that came as a disappointing surprise to the first baseman after he expressed confidence he would soon return from the injury.

Davis left Friday night's game against Kansas City after four innings. He received an MRI on Saturday, and the results indicated that rest would be the best course of action.

"A little bit worse than what we thought it was going to be," Davis said Saturday night. "It's kind of crazy because I don't feel terrible. I've never had anything like this before. I figured it would just be a few days and then we'd forget about it."

Davis led the majors last season with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs. He has only two homers this season, and it will be a while before he gets to add to that total.

"I guess the DL is the best choice right now," he said. "Hopefully things will go well and I'll be able to bounce back quickly."

Earlier in the day, Davis expressed confidence that he wouldn't miss more than a few games.

"It's definitely disappointing, frustrating," he said. "I do a lot to try and take care of my body and prevent injuries. You play this game long enough eventually you're going to run into something like this. But I'm going to stay positive."

It is uncertain when the injury occurred, although Davis suspected the muscles in his left side might have been weakened when he dived for groundballs in Boston and Toronto before the Orioles returned home to face the Royals.

On Friday night, Davis winced after hitting a flyball in the third inning. He played another inning before manager Buck Showalter removed him from the game.

Now, it appears as if Showalter will have to adjust to being without Davis for at least the next two weeks.

"It's something we think will take the DL period at a minimum, so we'll start with that (Sunday)," the manager said.

Right fielder Nick Markakis was in the starting lineup at first base Saturday night. Before batting practice, three Baltimore coaches worked with Markakis at the position, going over throws and positioning.

The Orioles recalled infielder Jemile Weeks from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday to provide an extra bat after optioning reliever T.J. McFarland to Norfolk late Friday night.

Utility infielder Ryan Flaherty also is expected to get time at first base. Flaherty has been playing third base while the Orioles wait for Manny Machado to come off the disabled list following offseason knee surgery.

Asked if subbing for Davis, an All-Star last season, will be imposing, Flaherty replied, "I got stuck trying to do that for Manny the first couple weeks."

Machado could play in Class A Frederick or Norfolk on Monday. It appears the Minnesota series on May 2-4 could be the most likely time for him to return to the Orioles, Showalter confirmed.

Logano's late move gets him victory at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Joey Logano took advantage of a three-car duel by sneaking below the trio to take the lead Saturday night, outrunning former champions Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keslowski to win at Richmond International Raceway.

Logano's first career victory on the 0.75-mile oval came seemingly from nowhere after a restart with nine laps to go. He sat fourth and on the outside with Kenseth leading, Dale Earnhardt Jr. alongside in second and Gordon on the inside in third, in prime position to sneak underneath the leader and grab the victory.

Instead, when Gordon, Kenseth and Keselowski raced in a triangle jockeying for position, Logano went underneath all three with three laps to go and then held off Gordon for his fifth career victory.

James, Heat top Bobcats 98-85 for 3-0 series lead

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) LeBron James had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and the Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 98-85 Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference first round series.

Dwyane Wade added 17 points for the Heat, who can close out the best-of-seven Monday night.

James, who was an efficient 10 of 18 from the field, pushed his record to 18-0 against the Bobcats since joining the Heat in 2010. Miami has won 19 straight overall against Charlotte.

Al Jefferson had 20 points for the Bobcats, who are still searching for the first postseason win in franchise history.

After trailing most of the first half, the Heat took a 42-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers. Miami closed the half on a 16-4 run.

Wizards' Nene suspended for 1 game

NEW YORK (AP) Washington Wizards forward Nene has been suspended by the NBA for Game 4 of the team's first-round series against the Chicago Bulls for head-butting and grabbing Jimmy Butler around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down.

Nene received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game for the incident, which occurred with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' 100-97 loss to the Bulls on Friday night.

Nene will serve his suspension when the Wizards host Chicago in Game 4 on Sunday. The Wizards lead the series 2-1.

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