National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Brewers sign Garza to four-year deal

MILWAUKEE (AP) Free agent pitcher Matt Garza signed a four-year contract with Milwaukee on Sunday, strengthening the top of the rotation and boosting the Brewers' hopes following a disappointing season.

The Brewers made the announcement, saying the contract included a vesting option for the 2018 season. Earlier in the afternoon, team owner Mark Attanasio was on stage during a question-and-answer session at a fan event and said a deal was in place.

"Matt is an established top-of-the-rotation pitcher who provides our staff with experience and quality depth," general manager Doug Melvin said.

A person familiar with the negotiations, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the contract, told The Associated Press the four-year deal was worth $50 million with an extra $1 million per year in reachable performance bonuses for a starter.

The 30-year-old righty went 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA last season for the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. He missed most of the first two months while recovering from an injury that affected his side and back.

Garza will join Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse as Milwaukee's top starters. He is 67-67 with a 3.84 ERA in eight seasons with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, the Cubs and Texas.

Garza was looking forward to pitching - and hitting - back in the NL Central.

"It's fun. I like the Central, I like pitching in the Central," Garza said in a conference call. "I like swinging the bat in the big parks."

The move also adds depth to the staff and puts less pressure on young pitcher such as Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg in the back end of the rotation.

"We've said now for a couple of years that we're focusing on pitching and pitching depth," Attanasio told reporters. "You can never have enough pitching depth, and I would argue we have as much pitching depth as we've had (in) my 10 seasons of ownership."

Garza was the MVP of the 2008 AL championship series, beating Boston twice while with Tampa Bay. He also has thrown the only no-hitter in Rays' history, on July 26, 2010, against Detroit.

His signing had been rumored for days, though the Brewers were seemingly a surprise suitor for Garza's services. The team issued a statement Thursday that they were in talks with Garza but hadn't reached a deal then.

"These deals can go to the 11th hour and then not come together," Attanasio said. "So you don't know until you know."

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

Bosh leads Heat over Spurs in Finals rematch

MIAMI (AP) Chris Bosh scored 24 points on 9 for 10 shooting, LeBron James added 18 points and the Miami Heat rolled past the San Antonio Spurs 113-101 on Sunday in an NBA Finals rematch from last season.

Mario Chalmers scored 16 points for Miami, which used Dwyane Wade as a reserve for the first time since Jan. 6, 2008. Wade - an All-Star starter again this season - had not played in any of Miami's most recent four games while dealing with ongoing knee rehabilitation, and finished with eight points and five assists in 24 minutes.

Michael Beasley scored 12, Norris Cole scored 11 and Ray Allen added 10 for Miami. Bosh has made 17 of his last 18 shots from the floor.

Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 23 points.

Ducks beat LA Kings 3-0 on Dodger Stadium ice

LOS ANGELES (AP) Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey scored first-period goals, and the Anaheim Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night in the NHL's first warm-weather outdoor game.

Jonas Hiller made 36 saves in his 20th career shutout as the league-leading Ducks dominated the landmark meeting of Southern California's two hockey teams under the stars in Chavez Ravine. Andrew Cogliano added an empty-net goal with 1:29 left to close this unusual chapter in the NHL's expanded slate of outdoor games.

The league threw a California carnival for the event, filling left field with a beach volleyball court and right field with a fireworks-laden stage where Kiss performed. People in shorts and tank tops played Frisbee and practiced yoga between periods while skateboarders rolled past a ball hockey court featuring youth teams.

Although the temperature was 63 degrees with significant humidity when Wayne Gretzky dropped the first puck, the ice held up fairly well in the night air. The Ducks' outstanding season also remained solid in their 21st victory in 24 games, while the Kings lost their fifth straight game.

The Kings hosted the first official outdoor game west of the Rocky Mountains in recognition of the NHL's near half-century in Los Angeles and their rivalry with the Ducks, who joined the league two decades ago.

And though this game bore little resemblance to the snowbound outdoor contests in northern climes, visiting teams still improved to 7-1-1 in the NHL's slate of outdoor games.

The teams wore specially designed jerseys for the game, with the Kings' crown logo dominating their gray jerseys while the Ducks sported bright orange. After a day filled with fan events and celebrations of the cold-weather sport's rich California roots, Anaheim showed who's currently in charge of this rivalry.

The Ducks followed up their 2-1 victory in Thursday's rivalry meeting in Anaheim by opening a seven-point lead over Chicago atop the overall standings.

Jonathan Quick made 18 saves as the Kings matched their longest skid of an otherwise solid season. After getting a goal in the opening minutes of Thursday's loss, Los Angeles hasn't scored in 116 consecutive minutes against the Ducks.

Hiller stopped a penalty shot in the first period by Anze Kopitar, the Kings' leading scorer, and the Swiss netminder turned away every good scoring chance after that in his fourth shutout and 24th victory of the season.

The Kings came out flying on the temporary ice, generating 20 shots in the first period. But the high-scoring Ducks got all the shots that counted.

Just 2:45 in, Perry scored the first goal in Dodger Stadium history, connecting rather easily on a rebound of Ryan Getzlaf's shot off a faceoff. Less than six minutes later, Beleskey was alone at the side of Quick's net to score on a play set up by Teemu Selanne's pass.

Kopitar was awarded a penalty shot midway through the period when Ben Lovejoy hooked him on a breakaway, but the Kings' leading scorer couldn't do much with the puck, and Hiller stopped it.

Cogliano had the best scoring chance of the second period, but lost the puck on a breakaway. Hiller was outstanding after struggling in his last start against Winnipeg, and Cogliano wrapped up the win in the closing seconds with his 17th goal.

NOTES: The crowd was announced at 54,099 - a number that likely made Gretzky smile. ... Despite significant public interest, the game didn't sell out until early Saturday. The NHL overpriced many tickets when they first went on sale, forcing price reductions and refunds in the sections that weren't selling. ... The Kings have missed both of their penalty shots this season. ... Perry joined Cristiano Ronaldo as the first players to score a goal in their respective sports at Dodger Stadium. Last August, Ronaldo scored Real Madrid's first goal against Everton in the stadium's first soccer game.

No. 21 Michigan beats No. 3 Michigan State 80-75

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Nik Stauskas made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:12 left and finished with 19 points and freshman Derrick Walton Jr. scored a season-high 19, lifting No. 21 Michigan to an 80-75 win over No. 3 Michigan State on Saturday night to remain the only Big Ten team without a conference loss.

The Wolverines (15-4, 7-0 Big Ten) went on a 10-0 run late in the game to take control and held on to win for just the second time in 15 games at the Breslin Center.

Michigan is the first team since at least the 1996-97 season to win three straight games against top-10 teams in the regular season, according to STATS. It was coming off a win against No. 10 Iowa at home after beating then-No. 3 Wisconsin on the road.

The Spartans (18-2, 7-1) had won 11 straight since losing to North Carolina at home.

Michigan State's Gary Harris scored a career-high 27 points and didn't get much help offensively from his team that was without two of its best players. Freshman Alvin Ellis scored a season-high 12 points, surpassing his scoring total from his first seven Big Ten games.

Keith Appling was held to 10 points on 3 of 11 shooting, a setback for a team that was without two of its best players. Adreian Payne missed a fifth straight game with a sprained right foot and Branden Dawson was out for the first time since he said he broke his right hand hitting a table.

Michigan, though, didn't have any sympathy.

The Wolverines, who lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. early to the NBA, have been playing without standout center Mitch McGary because he needed back surgery.

Caris LeVert scored 17 for the Wolverines and made a trio of his team's 11 3-point shots on 19 attempts.

Michigan also scored on second-chance points, turning 11 offensive rebounds into 15 points as it outrebounded the Spartans 34-30.

Carr, Fales help South to 20-10 Senior Bowl win

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Dee Ford prefers to keep things simple: Play hard and fast, and let others worry about his NFL draft stock.

That approach certainly worked at the Senior Bowl.

The Auburn defensive end had two first-half sacks, and Derek Carr and David Fales each threw a touchdown pass in the South's 20-10 victory over the North on Saturday.

Ford, who earned positive reviews from observers during the week, quickly dismissed a reporter's suggestion that he made some money in the draft with his performance.

"I don't do this for cash," said Ford, selected the game's MVP. "I do this for pride. I do this because I really, really want to be great. The money will come. I'm just all about perfecting what I do.

"I've still got a lot of work. I've got the combine and pro day. My life doesn't stop here. I've got to be consistent."

The showcase game for top senior NFL prospects was mostly dominated by the defenses. The South racked up five sacks of Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and intercepted three North passes. Princeton's Caraun Reid also had two sacks.

"Just talking to the linemen, they said these guys are kind of quick coming off the ball," Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd of the North said. "You've got to go out there and try to help those guys out."

Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Fales of San Jose State and received the South's Most Outstanding Player honors.

Wisconsin's James White scored on a 1-yard run with 6:04 left for the North's only touchdown. He was selected the North's MOP after rushing for 62 yards on 11 carries and making five catches for 15 yards.

"I wanted to come out here and prove that I could do it all as a running back: Pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, run inside and run outside," White said. "I think I did it pretty well this week."

Ford, meanwhile, couldn't quite do it all: He batted down a pass in the backfield deep in North territory that would have been a sure touchdown if he'd held onto it.

"I could have had a TD," said Ford, who still celebrated the play with a little dance. "I couldn't find the ball. That's stuff I need to work on."

Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews briefly interrupted an interview to hand Ford a football.

"Game ball, baby," Matthews told him. "I got that for you."

Offensively, it looked just like what it was: an all-star game with players trying to get in sync with only a few days of practice.

The quarterbacks who made the fewest mistakes won the day as the South built a 20-3 lead.

Fresno State's Carr started fast with three straight completions on the South's opening drive. He capped the march with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Colorado State tight end Crockett Gillmore and finished 7 of 12 for 45 yards.

"He was so open, I just wanted to get the ball in his hands and let him go," Carr said.

Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's first two drives ended with field goals of 50 and 39 yards by Auburn's Cody Parkey. Garoppolo, MVP of the East-West Shrine Game out of Tony Romo's alma mater, was a late addition to the roster after Alabama's AJ McCarron declined an invitation.

Garoppolo was 6-of-11 passing for 32 yards.

Miami's Stephen Morris was 10 of 18 for a game-high 89 yards but also was intercepted twice. Boyd was 7 of 16 for 31 yards with an interception.

Thomas only got five passes off, completing four for 17 yards.

"I don't think I had much time to do anything with it," he said.

Ford, who also had two sacks in the BCS championship, Parkey and Chris Davis all made a big impact a few weeks after their Auburn team lost to Florida State in the title game. Davis had an interception.

They left this one in a better mood.

"It was a great week for Auburn," Davis said. "Any time you get to come to an event like this, you want to showcase your talent. I think for the Auburn team, we did that."

Woods shoots 79 to miss cut at Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO (AP) Tiger Woods made his 2014 debut in a most dubious fashion - his first trip to Torrey Pines without sticking around until Sunday.

Woods went seven straight holes making bogey or worse and wound up with a 7-over 79 in the Farmers Insurance Open to match his worst score on American soil. For the first time in his career, he missed a 54-hole cut that is in effect when more than 78 players make it to the weekend.

Woods had to rally just to break 80.

After another poor chip on the par-3 eighth hole (his 17th of the third round), he chipped in to save par. On the par-5 ninth hole, he flubbed another chip to about 8 feet and made that for par and a 79.

Asked to stop for a comment at least with CBS Sports, Woods said, "No, I'm done." He signed a dozen autographs, climbed into a van and was driven away.

Perhaps the most remarkable figure of this week: He didn't make a single birdie on a par 5 over three rounds. In fact, he played them in 4-over par.

Still, what made the round so shocking is where it happened.

Woods was the defending champion and an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines as a pro, which includes his last major in the 2008 U.S. Open. He won a Junior World Championship on this public course along the ocean as a teenager. Woods had only finished out of the top 10 one time at Torrey on the PGA Tour, and that was in 2011 when his game was going through a major overhaul.

"It was definitely different seeing him make so many bogeys," said Jhonattan Vegas, who played alongside Woods on a gorgeous day of very little wind. "He's human. You don't expect to see that, but it's the game. It happens to everyone. And it happened to him today."

The highest score of his career was an 81 in the third round of the British Open at Muirfield, when he played most of his round in 40 mph wind and rain. Woods also had a 79 in the Memorial last year, at the Quail Hollow Championship in 2010 and in the first round of the 1996 Australian Open.

As stunning as it was to see, there was little cause for alarm.

This makes the second straight year that Woods was eliminated early in his season-opening tournament. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi a year ago after being assessed a two-shot penalty for taking relief from a sandy area. Woods went on to win five times last year and was voted PGA Tour player of the year for the 11th time.

He spoke earlier in the week about not being only a fraction off, which was plausible given the conditions at Torrey, especially on the South Course. For as dry as it has been this week, the rough is thicker and more lush than usual, especially right off the edge of the fairway. On the opening hole, Woods narrowly missed the fairway and could only advance the ball some 80 yards.

But he went south quickly on the fabled South Course.

Woods was in fairway, 254 yards from the flag on the par-5 18th in the middle of his round. A birdie would have put him within five shots of the leaders, who had just started the third round on the front.

His shot came up short and into the water, and his fourth shot flew the green into a plugged lie in the bunker. Woods blasted out and took two putts for bogey. On the first hole, he missed the green and chipped to 30 feet and three-putted for another double bogey, missing his bogey putt from just over 2 feet. It was the first time since the second round of the 2011 PGA Championship that he made consecutive double bogeys.

And then it was just one blunder after another - a three-putt on the par-3 third, a tee shot into the bunker on the fourth. From a front bunker on the par-5 sixth, he flew the green, chipped weakly to 6 feet and missed that par putt.

So when he ended that ugly streak with a birdie on the seventh, he removed his cap and waved to the crowd.

In the midst of this meltdown, Woods still found some perspective. Walking up the hill to the ninth tee, he spotted CBS Sports reporter Peter Kostis, working his first tournament since his bout with prostate cancer. Woods and Kostis have had their disagreements over the years, but the world's No. 1 player called out to him three times. Kostis walked over and Woods whispered into his ear that it was good to see him back at work.

Woods now goes to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week. There's a chance he might not show up at another PGA Tour event until Florida.

Rangers, Devils practice at Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK (AP) The biggest decision New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer had to make heading into his club's game at Yankee Stadium was whether to go with his surefire Hall of Fame goalie or the guy who has been hot lately.

Once Martin Brodeur got the starting nod, the longtime No. 1 New Jersey netminder had to figure out just how many layers of clothing to wear in the cold and snow. He was warmer than expected Saturday and planned to shed a few layers for Sunday's game against the New York Rangers.

Even though Cory Schneider has been on quite a roll, DeBoer is turning to Brodeur, the face of the franchise for the better part of two decades. No one was surprised by the choice, not even Schneider, who is 5-1-2 with a 0.96 goals-against average and .961 save percentage in eight starts dating to Dec. 28.

Still, DeBoer turned to Brodeur.

"It really is an easy decision from a right thing to do perspective," he said. "His career, 20 years with the Devils, what he's done, and he's played some excellent hockey for us this year."

Brodeur was reluctant to talk about his legacy and what he has accomplished with the Devils.

"I want to deserve to play because of the way I play now, not what I did in the past," the 41-year-old Brodeur said. "I'm happy to play a game. It's been a while. It's been over a week."

Brodeur understands the significance of taking part in an outdoor game, especially this one in such a historic place. Brodeur has played in only two of New Jersey's past eight games - winning one and losing one.

"I don't make the decision. I would have accepted it one way or the other," Brodeur said. "We're in a situation that sometimes we get these games that mean a lot to different people for different reasons. I guess they felt it meant a lot to me, and they put me in."

The decision was even easier at the other end of Yankee Stadium where Rangers coach Alain Vigneault went with his unquestioned No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist, instead of young backup Cam Talbot, who has had a fine season.

Lundqvist has experience with playing outside - having backstopped the Rangers' victory over the Flyers in Philadelphia two years ago. He also knows Yankee Stadium a bit, having attended ballgames there, but the big ballpark in the Bronx never looked like this in the summer.

"It was very special to walk out there today, but I think tomorrow when you hear the crowd ... you get goose bumps," he said. "It's a feeling you're looking for when you play the game. It gives you a lot of adrenaline.

"You try to enjoy that moment, but at the same time you need to be focused on what we have to do. It's an important game for both teams, and that makes it even more special."

Lundqvist also said he felt warm on the ice. The high temperature Sunday is expected to be around 20, a bit chillier than Saturday, but under sunny skies. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m., so there is a good chance it will be played during the warmest part of the day.

That will be much different Wednesday when the Rangers take on the rival New York Islanders under the lights at night when the temperature could be single digits.

The Rangers, the second-place team in the Metropolitan Division, come in having lost two straight at home after a 9-2-1 surge. The Devils, 5-1-3 in their past nine, are tied for fifth but are only two points behind.

"It's a big event for everybody that's in the organization, but at the end of the day, we're just playing hockey," Brodeur said.

Several Rangers tossed around a baseball near the perimeter of the rink that stretches from the first base line to the third base line and covers the majority of the infield.

The snow picked up in intensity as the day wore on. The Devils, as the designated home team, took to the ice first. Both teams had family members in tow, and the players were joined on the ice by their relatives once practice was over.

"This was the day where you get to enjoy it, you get to take everything in," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "We're all professionals in here and we know when we come to the rink tomorrow there's two points on the line."

Devils star Jaromir Jagr, another 41-year-old player, doesn't have the best memories of playing outdoors. He was with the Rangers back in 2012 and didn't come out unscathed in the elements in Philadelphia.

He acknowledged even being a bit envious of the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, who were slated to play in the warmth of Southern California inside Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.

"If I had a choice to play here or in L.A., I would probably choose L.A. Nothing against the Yankees or New York," Jagr said. "I had a bad experience two years ago. I got injured in the first period, and it was the same weather.

"It was pretty cold, and I think it's a lot tougher for the muscles to get warmed up."

The Devils are using the Yankees clubhouse, and even though this is a new version of Yankee Stadium, the presence of those who made the original building famous can be felt.

"When I walked in the Yankees dressing room, I was in awe," DeBoer said.

Lundqvist also paid homage to the ballpark and the Yankees, ordering up a mask and pads featuring the iconic pinstripes of the home team.

"We all feel very lucky to be here," he said. "Personally, to pay some respect to the Yankees organization - pinstripe pads and mask and stuff like that - it's a cool thing."

Babcock-led Canadians aim for another gold medal

DETROIT (AP) Mike Babcock has an unprecedented trio of hockey titles, coaching teams to Stanley Cup, Olympic and world championship victories.

And still, Babcock relentlessly strives for more success because he says it is "fun" to accomplish anything that is hard to do.

The Detroit Red Wings and Team Canada coach has a gold medal he was given after the 2010 Olympics in his home office, but said he doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about it.

"That's all in the past," Babcock said in a recent interview with The Associated Press in his office at Joe Louis Arena. "It's all about the present."

In the near future, Babcock will try to help the Canadians become the first team to earn consecutive gold medals and to win three overall since the NHL began letting its players participate in the 1998 Olympics.

"I don't think about that much," he insisted. "I think about the process of getting better every day. We had good selection process and we had a good camp."

Babcock borrowed an idea from Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo when Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews were among 40-plus players who gathered for an orientation camp last summer in Calgary, Alberta.

Canada couldn't put its best hockey players on ice because of the high cost of insurance, so Babcock put them through the paces with ball-hockey walkthroughs on a boarded-up international-sized rink.

"You can joke about it all day, and we kind of did," Toews recalled. "But we still had some intensity as we practiced and went through the motions so we understood his system. That should help us when we get out there."

The Canadians, like other teams with NHL players, will not have much time to practice in Russia before the games begin.

That's why Babcock consulted Izzo about how he prepares with limited time during NCAA tournaments.

"Tom Izzo tells me that he believes he has had success getting to Final Fours because of walkthroughs in hotels," Babcock said. "I'm a big believer that everyone learns differently. So, we did it on video, we did on paper and we did walkthroughs at the camp. So when we get to Sochi and we have a short period of time, players will know our structure."

Toews said Babcock's style is perfectly suited for Canada's quest that begins Feb. 13 against Norway.

"He's great for this type of tournament because of the way he teaches the game," Toews said. "He's clear, quick and to the point. He doesn't waste any time. No one loses focus in his video meetings and everyone is 100-percent clear about what they're supposed to do. For him to be able to do that with some of the most skilled players in the world and get them on the same page on a short-term basis, I think is pretty amazing."

Babcock wrote a book, "Leave No Doubt: A Credo for Chasing Your Dreams," that was published nearly two years ago in part about his experiences at the Vancouver Games.

He said the 2014 team won't be able to follow the same script.

"Each opportunity is different, so the blueprint for success has to be different," Babcock said. "We've spent a ton of time preparing and your preparation has to match the opportunity. Are there any guarantees? Absolutely not.

"We're going to have good players, but the team that will end up being winning will not necessarily have the best players."

Babcock turned a talented group of players into a cohesive team that won gold four years ago just as he did with the 2008 Red Wings and at the 2004 world championship.

Even though all hockey fans remember Canada won gold on home ice in 2010, not everyone remembers the struggles Sid the Kid and Co. had along the way.

"We had to beat the Swiss in a shootout," Babcock recalled. "We had to beat the U.S. in overtime. We got a big-time save by Roberto Luongo against the Slovaks.

"You've got to line up the moon and stars to win and that's why it's so much fun because it's so hard to do."

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Pierce, Garnett visit Celtics for 1st time as Nets

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) Paul Pierce might have trouble finding the visitors' locker room or controlling his emotions in his return to Boston.

Beating the Celtics? That should be the easy part.

Pierce and Kevin Garnett will face their former team on their old home court for the first time Sunday night since the blockbuster trade that sent them to the Brooklyn Nets on draft night.

"It's going to be a little weird," Pierce said.

The former captain spent all 15 of his previous seasons with Boston. Garnett was there for the past six. Together with Ray Allen, they led the team to its 17th NBA championship in 2008. They made it back to the finals in 2010, but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the seventh game.

Quite a turnaround from the four straight seasons without a playoff series victory before they teamed up.

"The emotions probably will be high just because of the success that we had," Garnett said. "We were fortunate to be part of that whole transformation and some things are forever, man, and I'm happy to say that I'm part of that era."

A bygone era for the Celtics.

In full rebuilding mode, they have only five players who were teammates with Pierce and Garnett last season. The Celtics are 3-16 in their last 19 games.

"They're going through a lot of different changes, sort of like the change they went through when I was there before we got Kevin and before we got Ray," Pierce said. "They're still trying to find their identity."

The Nets struggled early, going 10-21. But they're 9-1 in their last 10 games with Pierce and Garnett playing important roles.

The teams met twice in the exhibition season, but Garnett sat out both games while Pierce played only the one in Brooklyn. Both played in the teams' first regular-season meeting, a Nets win in Brooklyn.

When they return to Boston, video tributes for both players are scheduled during timeouts or at the end of quarters.

Will Pierce be as emotional as former coach Doc Rivers was when he returned with his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, following his departure from Boston after last season?

His reaction, Pierce said, "is something you can't script.

"It's going to be a lot of emotions. You play your whole life there. You won a championship there. The first time coming to the building (as a visitor), I never thought it would happen."

Garnett was a visitor during 12 seasons with Minnesota before joining the Celtics. His intensity quickly made him a fan favorite.

"I'm sure the emotions are going to be very high and I'll react accordingly," Garnett said, "but we're there to win a game and I hope this doesn't overshadow the game. It'll be good to see (Rajon) Rondo and some other personal friends that, obviously, don't play. Other than that, it's another game that I've got to be prepared for."

Rondo was in just his second pro season when Garnett arrived and became a mentor. Now the Celtics' point guard is the new captain and came back from major knee surgery in time to play against his former teammates.

"I talk to them all the time, text," Rondo, who has played four games since returning, said after practice Saturday. "I don't think it'll affect us at all. It's part of the process. This isn't the first time (ex-Celtics) have come back in this building."

First-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens doesn't know Garnett or Pierce. He does know what they mean to the franchise.

"Those guys did so many great things for this organization," Stevens said. "You're thankful for what they did."

They turned a struggling organization into a champion.

They were "the blueprint (for) what a professional is," Rondo said, "leading by example, just great role models."

But that's in the past.

"It's something I will never forget about," Rondo said, "but you're only credited with what you've done as of late."

For the Nets, that's been pretty impressive with their climb in the standings. Now comes a special touch, the return of Pierce and Garnett to applause from Celtics fans.

"It's going to be fun," Pierce said. "I don't know how I'll react, what emotions are going to be going through my head. Wait and see."

OSU remembers 10 who died in plane crash

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma State honored the lives of the 10 men affiliated with the school who died in a plane crash 13 years ago with a moment of silence before tip-off of the 11th-ranked Cowboys' game against West Virginia on Saturday.

Denver Mills, Nate Fleming, Dan Lawson, Jared Weiberg, Pat Noyes, Bill Teegins, Will Hancock, Brian Luinstra, Kendall Durfey and Bjorn Fahlstrom died in a crash on Jan. 27, 2001, about 40 miles east of Denver as the plane was returning to Stillwater from a game against Colorado. Eight of the 10 families were represented at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday.

The Memorial Lobby at Gallagher-Iba was opened 90 minutes before tip-off. At halftime, organizers of the annual "Remember The 10 Run" planned to donate race proceeds to OSU Counseling Services.

Peyton Manning eyes Super Bowl title with 2nd team

For all the NFL records Peyton Manning owns - and there are plenty - he is one victory away from the one accomplishment that eventually might define his legacy more than any other.

If Manning's Denver Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks next weekend, he would become the first starting quarterback to win Super Bowl titles with two franchises.

Manning is already a larger-than-life figure in Indianapolis, of course, widely credited with turning a basketball town into a football town by making the Colts truly matter. He led them to two NFL championship games, winning in 2007, losing in 2010.

And now Manning, at the age of 37, two years removed from sitting out an entire season after a series of neck operations, has a chance to forever stamp himself as a figure of similar importance in Denver, too. As it is, he already has joined Craig Morton and Kurt Warner as the only QBs to lead two clubs to the Super Bowl, although they didn't win with both.

"If he can win this game, he definitely will be an icon in two cities," said Morton, who was in Denver for six of his 18 NFL seasons. "Well, he probably already is. But ... there's so much focus on the Super Bowl. If you win, you're in granite. If you lose, you're in the mud."

Spoken from experience.

Morton went 0-2 as a Super Bowl starter, losing with the Dallas Cowboys in 1971, then the Broncos in 1978. Warner went 1-2, winning with the St. Louis Rams in 2000, then losing with them in 2002, before losing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.

There are similarities.

Morton eventually lost his starting job in Dallas, spent some time with bad New York Giants teams, then rebuilt his career in Denver. Warner eventually lost his starting job in St. Louis, spent some time with the Giants (before being replaced by Manning's younger brother, Eli), then rebuilt his career in Arizona.

"Everybody thought I was done. They thought I couldn't play anymore. So to get back to that level and go back to the Super Bowl is a great accomplishment," said Warner, who works for the NFL Network. "It's cool to have Peyton there, after there were all the questions about his health. Similar to me, he was let go and sent off to greener pastures. He's such a special player anyway, but here's an opportunity to put some icing on that cake and separate himself from all the other great quarterbacks."

The older Manning was let go by the Colts after missing all of 2011, then wooed by champion-QB-turned-executive John Elway to Denver, where No. 18 quickly resumed his year-in, year-out excellence. Manning's offense set a passel of league records this season, including his individual passing standards of 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, which is why he's expected to land a fifth NFL MVP award, adding to yet another mark he already holds.

And while Manning is not the sort to wax on about his standing in the game or his status in Denver, he did reflect a bit on the journey he's been on.

"I had never switched teams before. I had no idea how long it would take to form some chemistry offensively, to get comfortable with the culture," said Manning, who threw for 400 yards in the AFC championship game victory over the New England Patriots.

"I talked to some other players that had changed teams, and I think it depends on the individual, how you mesh with your new teammates, how comfortable you are in your new surroundings," he said.

It's rare for a player at any position to transition well enough from one team to another to help both win a championship.

Manning, the only member of the active rosters of the Broncos or Seahawks who's won a Super Bowl previously, can become only the 15th starting player to win titles with two teams, according to STATS.

"It's a real challenge to go to a different location, different group of guys. A completely new adjustment," said Bart Oates, a center on championship clubs with the New York Giants in 1987 and 1991, and the San Francisco 49ers in 1994.

"People will remember Peyton in Denver, no matter what. But if you bring them a championship, they'll love Peyton. That's immortalized," Oates added. "They celebrate championships every year. They don't celebrate runners-up."

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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton in Englewood, Colo., contributed to this report.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Kubot, Lindstedt win Aussie Open doubles title

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt won the Australian Open men's double title in their first Grand Slam as a team with a 6-3, 6-3 win Saturday over American Eric Butorac and South Africa's Raven Klaasen.

Kubot and Lindstedt dominated from the start, fending off the only breakpoint they faced and wrapping up the final in just an hour and five minutes.

Lindstedt of Sweden has previously lost three Grand Slam doubles finals - all at Wimbledon with Horia Tecau. Poland's Kubot was playing for his first major title.

The 36-year-old Linstedt said he was originally supposed to play with Jurgen Melzer, but scrambled to find a new partner in December when Melzer was injured.

"I'm quite happy that you said yes," Lindstedt told Kubot in his acceptance speech

Butorac and Klaasen - who had an upset win over top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan in the third round - upped their tempo in the second set to stay in touch, but could only watch as their opponents served out the match. In the first round, they beat local favorite Pat Rafter, who came out of retirement at the age of 41 to play doubles with Lleyton Hewitt.

"I never dreamed that I would actually play in (the Australian Open) and to be here playing in a Grand Slam final was an absolute dream come true," Butorac said.

Li Na tops Cibulkova, wins Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia - Seven months after giving retirement serious thought, Li Na made it third time lucky in an Australian Open final with a 7-6 (3), 6-0 win over Dominika Cibulkova to become the oldest women's champion here in the Open era.

Li, who turns 32 next month, lost finals to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and to Victoria Azarenka last year. In between, she won the 2011 French Open in one of the many firsts she's established for Chinese tennis.

Widely popular at Melbourne Park for her funny post-match interviews and wise cracks about her husband and his snoring, Li didn't disappoint the Rod Laver Crowd in her first victory speech.

She first thanked her agent, Max, "for making me rich," her coach Carlos Rodriguez and then her husband, former coach and constant traveling companion, Shan Jiang.

She told him he was "even famous in China."

"So thanks for him give up everything just traveling with me to be my hitting partner, fix the drinks, fix the racket. So thanks a lot, you are a nice guy," she said, pausing for the laughter. "Also you are so lucky, find me."

In both her previous finals at Melbourne Park, Li won the first set but went down in three. Against Azarenka last year, she stumbled and twisted her ankle, and needed a medical timeout in the third set after hitting her head on the court.

She had no such trouble against No. 20-seeded Cibulkova on Saturday night, racing through the second set in 27 minutes after taking the first in a tiebreaker.

Li's supporters were everywhere in the crowd, some with Chinese flags painted on their faces, others holding Chinese flags or giant signs painted with Chinese characters.

Her fans got her through the nervous first set, chanting, "Li Na, Let's Go," in Mandarin during every changeover.

Li opened the final by breaking Cibulkova, holding, then getting a breakpoint chance in the third game. But Cibulkova held, and then broke back in the sixth game thanks to Li's consecutive double-faults. Li broke in the 11th game and had a set point serving for the set in the 12th, but lost three straight points to ensure it went to the tiebreaker.

As Li began her roll in the second set, someone yelled - before Cibulkova served - "C'mon Li Na, bagel her!"

She did.

A half hour later she was holding up both thumbs to the crowd, and holding back tears as she hugged her Slovakian rival at the net. She went immediately to the side of the court to shake hands with her coach Rodriguez.

The diminutive Cibulkova, one of the shortest players ever to reach a Grand Slam final at 1.61-meters (5-foot-3), had four wins over Top 20 players on her way to the final, including a fourth-round upset of third-seeded Maria Sharapova and a straight-sets semifinal trouncing of No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska.

She had to pull the microphone down closer to her before her post-match speech.

"These were just fantastic two weeks of my life," she said, pausing to laugh, and then cry. "Hello to everybody in Slovakia. This means a lot for our country and I'm happy I can be the one here for Slovakia."

No. 4-ranked Li, who reportedly has four-times more followers on her Chinese social networking site than there are people in Slovakia, had a good run through the tournament as other star players like Serena Williams, Sharapova and Azarenka tumbled out by the quarterfinals.

She opened with wins over the two youngest players in the tournament, then saved a match point in her third-round win over Lucie Safarova. In the semifinals, she held off 19-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, and never had to face a player ranked in the top 20 en route to the final.

Li said it didn't matter how she got there, only that she'd finally broken through to win the title at her favorite major.

Rodriguez had to talk Li into playing Wimbledon after she told him she wanted to retire in the wake of the criticism that followed her early exit at the last French Open. He encouraged her to just to play and see how she went at the All England club before making such a big career decision. She responded by reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, the semifinals at the U.S. Open and now breaking her drought in Australia.

On Saturday, she paid tribute to his calm, composed approach and support.

"Before the match he was telling me to relax, just think it's a match, don't think it's a final," she recounted, admitting that she'd even taken time out for a short afternoon sleep to help with nerves. "When he was coaching me, he always say `believe in yourself.' He always believed in me, I never believed in myself. That was my problem."

Now she's already promising to come back and defend her Australian title.

"Finally I got her," Li said as she put a hand on the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup for the first time. "Last two times was very close."

Nadal faces new Swiss star at Aussie Open final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) At an Australian Open marked by upsets and new story lines, Rafael Nadal will play Sunday's final against a man often called the "other" Swiss tennis player.

Now, after a stunning run in Melbourne, Stanislas Wawrinka has a new nickname: The Stanimal - a tribute to his gritty, fight-until-the end style of tennis. Fittingly, perhaps, the name was apparently coined by none other than Roger Federer, in a tweet of support for his friend which quickly caught on earlier in the tournament.

Now that Federer is out of the running - he lost to Nadal in the semifinals - the 17-time Grand Slam winner and long-time ambassador for Swiss tennis has joined those cheering for Wawrinka to win his first Grand Slam final. It is a match that holds historical significance for all three players.

If the No. 1-ranked Nadal wins, as the odds suggest he will, the 27-year-old Spaniard will become the first player to win each of the majors twice in the Open era. It would be his 14th Grand Slam trophy and bring him one step closer to Federer's all-time record of 17.

If No. 8-ranked Wawrinka beats Nadal to win his first major title, he catapults to a career high of No. 3 in the rankings. Just reaching the final assures Wawrinka of the No. 5 spot, meaning for the first time he will pass Federer, who is now ranked sixth.

On the eve of the final, Wawrinka said he was still shocked by his success.

"It's insane. It's incredible," the 28-year-old Wawrinka said Saturday, speaking to reporters in English and in his native French. "I never imagined that one day I would be here, playing in the final."

After a breakthrough year in 2013, Wawrinka is playing the best tennis of his life in Melbourne. He knocked out four-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals and beat No. 7 Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. He knows how tough it will be to beat Nadal - he's tried and failed 12 times.

"I've played him so many times, and lost so many times, but I'm going to try again," Wawrinka said. "I know what I have to do. I know that I have to play aggressive, serve really well, and try to always push him."

"I'm playing my best tennis here," Wawrinka added. "Physically, I'm ready.".

Nadal says he's ready, too, for a breakthrough at what he calls his unluckiest Grand Slam. Nadal won in Melbourne in 2009 but in subsequent years struggled with injuries during or before the season's first major. He missed the 2013 Australian Open during a seven-month layoff for illness and a knee injury. He returned to win the French and U.S. Open last year but reaching the final in Melbourne holds special significance.

"After missing last year for me it's really, really emotional to be back on this court, Rod Laver Arena, and to be able to play another final," said Nadal, who has known Wawrinka since they were teens, playing junior tournaments in Europe.

"He's a good friend, a great guy. I'm so happy for him that he's in the final. He deserves it," Nadal said. "I know it will be a very, very tough match."

Wawrinka's other longtime friend, Federer, had hoped Sunday's story would be about an all-Swiss final. But after losing the latest installment of the Federer-Nadal rivalry, he's cheering for Wawrinka.

"I hope he wins, and I hope he gives everything he has," Federer said. "There's no reason not to believe that he can beat Rafa."

"Stan's in his first Grand Slam final, so that makes Stan also unpredictable. He's got to use that to his advantage."

Anthony sets records with 62 points as Knicks roll

NEW YORK (AP) Carmelo Anthony shot his way past Kobe Bryant, Bernard King and Kevin Durant, and he pulled off one more impressive achievement.

He brought smiles to the New York Knicks in a miserable season.

Anthony scored a career-high 62 points to break the franchise and current Madison Square Garden records, and the Knicks beat the Charlotte Bobcats 125-96 on Friday night to stop a five-game losing streak.

Facing daily questions about the Knicks' miserable present and his own uncertain future, Anthony not only seized an MSG record, but gave the building back some life.

And when Anthony threw in a shot from midcourt at the halftime buzzer, Amare Stoudemire laughed hysterically in his suit jacket from the bench, the rest of his teammates standing and roaring.

"Just to see everybody smiling once again, that's what I was more excited to see," Anthony said. "Guys on the bench smiling, high-fiving, having fun once again, that's the only thing I care about."

The records were great, too.

Anthony made 23 of 35 shots and even added 13 rebounds in the NBA's highest-scoring performance this season.

Anthony had 56 after three quarters, bettering Durant's previous season high of 54, and stayed in for the first few minutes of the fourth to break King's Knicks record of 60 set in 1984 and Bryant's arena record of 61 set five years ago.

"I made history tonight, with the performance, but just to be a part of that group of people, like I said, there's only a small group of people that knows what that zone feels like and tonight I was one of them," Anthony said.

It was easily the highlight of the season for Anthony, on pace to miss the playoffs for the first time in his career and facing frequent questions about his future with the team as he heads into free agency this summer.

That was all on hold for one night, the focus simply on Anthony's amazing scoring.

He easily passed his previous career best of 50 points and possibly could've even passed 70 or more had the game been close. Instead, he checked out for good after breaking the records when he banked in a short jumper with 7:24 to play.

"I've seen him score a lot of points, but that was some performance right there," said J.R. Smith, who was also a teammate of Anthony's in Denver.

Smith noticed a different focus from Anthony before the game, a seriousness replacing the usual laughter. Perhaps some of it was some added pregame motivation after the team watched a video featuring Muhammad Ali, one of Anthony's favorite athletes.

With the Knicks desperately thin in the frontcourt after losing Andrea Bargnani on top of the injuries to Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, Anthony simply took on more of the scoring load as New York won for the first time on its eight-game homestand after dropping the first three.

King, elected to the Hall of Fame last year, said he was proud of Anthony, whom he considers one of the best players in the game.

"If anyone was to break my Knicks record that I have held for so long, I'm absolutely delighted that it was Carmelo," King said through the team's public relations department.

Al Jefferson had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats, snapping his streak of four straight 20-10 games. Charlotte had won two in a row, holding division leaders Toronto and the Los Angeles Clippers to an average of 93 points.

But the Knicks, who had lost to the Bobcats 10 days ago to start their current skid, shot 56 percent. So what happened to Charlotte's defense?

"Melo. Enough said," Jefferson said.

Anthony made 20 of his first 26 shots against what had been a good defensive team, but there was no defense for the zone Anthony was in.

"When he's in one of those zones, ain't nothing nobody can do about it," Jefferson added.

Last season's scoring champion had eight points in the first 2 1/2 minutes, went 8 of 10 in the first quarter and had 20 points as the Knicks led 30-21. He skipped his usual break and kept playing deep into the second quarter before finally taking a seat with 4:34 left, shortly after missing an open jumper.

He returned with 2 1/2 minutes left to finish the half in style, throwing in a buzzer beater from just inside halfcourt to cap his 15-of-21 half and make it 67-46.

Turned out Anthony was just getting started.

He made his first five shots in the second half and the Bobcats would eventually grow frustrated, picking up two technical fouls on one play after Anthony's 3-pointer late in the third.

He made both free throws, part of his 10-for-10 showing at the line, and said he tried to check himself out earlier but his teammates wouldn't allow it.

Notes: Kemba Walker, who had 25 points in all three previous matchups against the Knicks, sat out his third game in a row with a sprained left ankle. ... The Knicks said Bargnani, who tore the ulner collateral ligament in his left elbow, won't require surgery and will instead just need rest and treatment.

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Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

Spieth steals the show at Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO (AP) The crowd was by far the largest at Torrey Pines, with eight-time champion Tiger Woods in the middle of the action.

And if the fans could not be seen on this overcast afternoon, they could be heard after shots close to the flag, or putts that found the bottom of the hole.

It was just like old times, with one very big exception.

Woods wasn't the star attraction Friday. He was little more than a spectator.

In his group was Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan who is full of talent, not bluster. He ran off three straight birdies to tie for the lead, knocked in another one on his penultimate hole at the North Course (No. 8) to take the outright lead and left Woods in his wake.

"The kid's got talent," Woods said.

Spieth had a 9-under 63, giving him a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink going into the weekend of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods had a 71 on the North, which played about 4 1/2 strokes easier than the South Course, and thus was not a particularly good score. He wasn't that bad, but off enough to get into some deep patches of rough that kept him from getting close and having reasonable birdie chances. Woods was nine shots behind.

Cink ripped a 3-wood from 280 yards onto the green at the par-5 ninth on the tough South Course for a two-putt birdie and a hard-earned 71.

"I'm looking forward to playing with Jordan," Cink said. "I've never seen him hit a ball, so that will be fun."

This whole PGA Tour thing has been a blast for Spieth, especially considering where he was a year ago.

Spieth made his pro debut at Torrey Pines last year, and even though he missed the cut, the experience was such that he remembers more of every shot from his opening round on the North than any other tournament he played last year.

Even the start of his pro career is comical in retrospect. Spieth, even though he was low amateur at the U.S. Open at Olympic Club the year before, had to go through pre-qualifying just to get into the Monday qualifier. He didn't make it, and then was given a sponsor exemption. And then he was gone by the weekend.

The rest of the year turned out OK. With no status on any tour, he earned temporary membership (the big boost was a runner-up finish in Puerto Rico), secured his card for the next season, won the John Deere Classic for instant membership, was picked for the Presidents Cup team and finished No. 7 in the FedEx Cup.

"It seems like three or four years ago, it really does with all of last year, what it encompassed," he said.

So long ago that a pairing with Woods - the defending champion, unofficial king of Torrey Pines, supreme commander of his PGA Tour universe and No. 1 player in the world - wasn't really that big of a deal.

"I wasn't intimidated by any means," Spieth said. "I grew up watching him, just like I did with a lot of these veterans out here, so I've idolized him, watched him win majors and whatnot. It's exciting to finally be paired with him."

They played a practice round at the Presidents Cup. They were teammates. Spieth had every reason to feel as if it was just another round.

And it's not the first time he was in the company of a big-time star. In September, he played in the final round with Phil Mickelson at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Spieth is a huge fan of Mickelson, though it didn't show.

The kid shot 62, a round so strong that Mickelson quickly got on the phone with Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and told him he should pick Spieth. And he did.

Mickelson, meanwhile, had so much soreness in his back that after a 73 on the South to finish eight shots out of the lead, he withdrew from the tournament. Mickelson cited muscle pain in his lower back, saying that he would consult doctors to figure out his next move. He feared that swinging differently to protect his back might get him into bad habits.

Spieth has no such habits at the moment.

This is the third time in eight rounds this year that his name has been atop the leaderboard at the end of the day. He shared the lead after the first and third rounds at Kapalua. Then again, he missed the cut in the Sony Open. And this tournament is only halfway through.

Even so, Woods was impressed, though not surprised.

"He hits it a long way, phenomenal putter. He made a boatload of putts today from the 10- to 20-foot range, and on poa greens, that's not easy to do. He was pouring them in there. He had speed to them, too. That's what you have to do to putt on poa. ... He putted with a lot of confidence."

That used to be Woods, and it still might be. This is his 2014 debut, his first competition in six weeks. And while it's a long shot to win from nine shots back and 49 players ahead of him, Woods was quick to remember that he made the cut with two shots to spare in 1999 and had a 62-65 weekend to win by two at Torrey Pines.

That was before the South Course - where the final two rounds are played - was lengthened ahead of the 2008 U.S. Open (which Woods won). No one has shot better than 67 on the South for two days.

Phil Mickelson withdraws because of back pain

SAN DIEGO (AP) Phil Mickelson withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open on Friday night because of muscle pain in his back.

Mickelson shot a 1-over 73 on the South Course at Torrey Pines in the second round, leaving him eight strokes behind leader Jordan Spieth. Mickelson said after the round that he feared getting into bad habits by altering his swing to keep his back from hurting. This is hometown tournament and he said he wanted to keep playing.

His management company released a statement late Friday evening that Mickelson had decided to withdraw. Mickelson said he would talk to doctors to figure out the best course of action.

Mickelson is to defend his title next week in the Phoenix Open.

"I love this tournament and I want to play here. I love playing in San Diego and this is a place where I grew up playing, so I really want to play," Mickelson said after his round. "And part of me also says that I'm getting in bad habits. And if I hit it in this rough here, I've really got an issue because I've got to swing awfully hard to get it out and it jars it. So I'm a little torn right now on the best plan of action."

He was eight shots behind Jordan Spieth.

Mickelson doesn't have a history of back problems. It began to bother him last week in Abu Dhabi, where he was a runner-up.

But even after treatment overnight, and some improvement, the pain returned and he said he was altering his swing to avoid his back hurting. He averaged 265 yards off the tee, which is 23 yards below last year's average for driving distance.

"The first tournament of the year and I'm always excited to start the year, but I also want to be smart because I'm getting into some bad habits so I've got to sort of weigh where I'm at," Mickelson said earlier Friday. "I would love to go out and at least give it a try early on and see if I can get a hot hand and maybe get something going, but I also want to be smart about this."

Mickelson plays a busy West Coast schedule. After Phoenix, he is scheduled to play at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am the following week. Mickelson is not planning to play at Riviera or Match Play because his children have spring break at two schools.

"I have the entire year. I've got majors coming up. I've got other tournaments coming up and I don't want to get in bad habits," Mickelson said. "My game is pretty sharp getting ready to start the year and I could tell I'm making terrible swings out there relative to the way I've been swinging."

Game on: Kings, Ducks say Dodger Stadium is ready

LOS ANGELES (AP) Teemu Selanne skated off the ice and walked to the visitors' dugout at Dodger Stadium, rubbing the eye black on his cheekbones in disbelief beneath the Southern California sky.

"If somebody would tell me 10 years ago that we were going to do this, I would have said they're crazy," Selanne said. "But we have the technology to do it now, and it's pretty great."

Dodger Stadium isn't a field of dreams for many hockey players, but the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks are thrilled by the chance to play the NHL's most unlikely outdoor game on Saturday.

Both teams got their only practice on the ice Friday under clouds and cooler temperatures than the recent string of 80-degree days. The local rivals came away fairly impressed with the ice sheet in place for the league's first warm-weather stadium game.

Although outdoor humidity and heat are bound to cause some slush and steaminess on the ice, it's nothing these teams can't handle when the puck drops well after sundown.

"It was a little better than I thought it was going to be," Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "It's warm, but it's L.A. You're going to get cooler temperatures at game time, and that's going to help us out."

Speed and slick passing could be difficult on a naturally choppy surface, but the Ducks and Kings are confident they'll adjust to much the same challenges faced in every outdoor game - only without the snow. Los Angeles defenseman Robyn Regehr noticed he couldn't stop sweating after the opening minutes of practice, while Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller plans to pay special attention to hydration.

"It'll be very hot, and probably a lot of guys will be cramping up with the loss of fluids," Ducks forward Dustin Penner said. "The ice is a little sticky, sounds a little hollow, but it looks better than at other outdoor games."

The game counts for two points in the standings, but the players realize they've also got to enjoy this improbable moment. The teams skated with friends and family after their practices while workers put the final touches on the unique accoutrements for California's outdoor game.

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf got his son on skates for the first time in his life - at least until he started crying inconsolably.

"It's amazing to get to play in an outdoor game, but I'm really glad I don't have to wear a toque and mittens," said Getzlaf, who grew up playing outdoors in Saskatchewan. "Obviously, the weather is a little different than what I'm used to, but that's great."

The beach volleyball court in left field is ready, and so is the performance stage in right where Kiss will play. There's a ball hockey court between the mound and the backstop, and a cordon of palm trees just behind the open center-field fence.

"This is the crown jewel for hockey in Southern California," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "We both live in a great part of the world, and this will be a great showcase for how far hockey has come in this area."

The boards, benches and glass were trucked in from the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., but the ice has been built up patiently over the last 10 days. The league's ice-making crew covered the sheet in a heat-reflecting blanket during the day and worked through the night to establish a game-worthy surface.

"It's a different feeling playing outdoors," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "There are so many different aspects in the game that are going to make it more challenging for both teams - getting your legs moving, getting used to the ice, getting used to the boards. So instead of a skilled, high-paced game, I think you're going to see a physical battle out there, and I think that's something a lot of real hockey fans will appreciate."

NHL facilities guru Dan Craig's improbable ice sheet actually has been among the smoothest aspects of this strange chapter in the league's expansion of its outdoor slate this season. While Southern California's growing hockey fan base embraced the novelty of the concept, the league overpriced tickets for the event, forcing reductions to avoid the embarrassment of a non-sellout.

But the hiccups likely will be forgotten when fans get a look at the ice in the middle of baseball's third-oldest active park.

"The lights are going to be different, and the glare is going to be a little different," said Kings center Anze Kopitar, who grew up playing indoors in Slovenia. "But come game time, I don't think we're going to be worried too much about that."

Bills hire ex-Lions coach Schwartz to run defense

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone wasted little time filling a big hole on his staff by reaching a deal with recently fired Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator.

Marrone also turned to Schwartz's former staff to address another need by agreeing to hire Todd Downing to coach the young crop of quarterbacks, led by last year's rookie first-round pick, EJ Manuel.

The additions were announced Friday night, a day after defensive coordinator Mike Pettine left the team after one year to take over as the Cleveland Browns' head coach.

"We are excited to add a talented and accomplished coordinator in Jim Schwartz to our staff," Marrone said in a statement released by the team. "Schwartz has led aggressive and productive defensive units throughout his time in the NFL, and we feel our defense will continue to improve under his leadership."

Schwartz was fired Dec. 30, a day after the Lions missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record. In four seasons in Detroit, the 47-year-old Schwartz was 29-51. That included a 10-6 finish in 2011 when the Lions reached the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Schwartz becomes the Bills' fourth defensive coordinator in four years and has big shoes to fill in taking over a unit that emerged as the team's strength last season.

Pettine's departure had the potential of under-cutting much of the progress the Bills hoped would carry over into next season after a 6-10 finish that extended the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 14 seasons.

Though the Bills were inconsistent against the run, they still finished 10th in the NFL in fewest yards allowed - Buffalo's best ranking since finishing second in 2004. And they finished second in the NFL with a franchise-record 57 sacks.

Schwartz has 20 years of NFL coaching experience, including eight seasons as the Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator from 2001-08.

The Titans' defense three times finished among the NFL's top 10 in fewest yards allowed. Tennessee was particularly stingy in stopping the run, finishing sixth or better in yards rushing allowed, including a first-place ranking in 2003.

It's unclear how many positions Schwartz will have to fill on his defensive staff because there's a chance Pettine may lure some of his assistants to Cleveland. The Bills currently have one opening after inside linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach was fired last week.

Schwartz takes over unit that produced four Pro Bowl selections, defensive linemen Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus and safety Jairus Byrd. Byrd's status is uncertain after he played under a one-year franchise tag last season.

The defense also includes linebacker Kiko Alonso, an NFL rookie of the year candidate.

Schwartz has a fiery personality, and an aggressive approach to defense much like Pettine, which is being counted on to ease the transition.

The knock against Schwartz in Detroit was the Lions' inconsistencies and undisciplined style of play. In 2012, the Lions lost their last eight games after a 4-4 start. Last season, they collapsed during a stretch in which they blew fourth-quarter leads in losing six games during a seven-game stretch.

Downing's addition filled Marrone's desire to add a quarterbacks coach to his staff after offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett doubled at the position last year. Marrone had expressed an intention to ease Hackett's burden entering his second season.

Lack of experience and injuries didn't help the position. Manuel missed six games because of knee injuries. Undrafted journeyman Thad Lewis went 2-3 in five starts, while undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel struggled in a 23-13 loss to Kansas City.

Downing has 11 years of NFL coaching experience, and spent the past three seasons at the same position in Detroit, where he mentored Lions starter Matthew Stafford.

The 33-year-old Downing is familiar with Lewis, who spent last offseason in Detroit before the Bills acquired him in a trade in August. And he also coached Manuel at last year's Senior Bowl.

"Todd Downing is a bright and energetic coach," Marrone said. "He played a pivotal role in the development of Detroit's quarterbacks during his tenure: most notably Matthew Stafford, the franchise's all-time leading passer. Downing will be a valuable addition to our offensive coaching staff."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

White Sox give manager Ventura extension

CHICAGO (AP) As their win total plummeted last season, one thing remained steady for the Chicago White Sox - their faith in Robin Ventura.

The White Sox rewarded their manager with a multi-year contract extension Friday, announcing the move hours before their annual fan convention opened.

The terms were not disclosed.

The extension comes after the White Sox dropped from second in the AL Central in Ventura's first season to last with 99 losses in his second year.

"You lose 99 games, there are going to be questions like that, about where this organization's headed and why they think the people in charge are the right people to get them through their end goal," general manager Rick Hahn said. "I would say we saw in 2012 and 2013 two extremes in terms of being a first-place club and being a club that was a disappointed in terms of performance. Throughout each of those extremes, Robin's leadership was unwavering."

Ventura's contract was set to expire after this year. He turned down an extension before the 2013 season, leading to speculation that he might not want to stick around much longer, but he insisted that wasn't the case. He wanted to give Hahn - then in his first season as GM - a chance to work with him before making a long-term commitment.

"I just felt it was important for Rick to have a full year of doing the job, us working together," Ventura said. "Then, you have the ability and freedom to decide if I'm the right guy for the job. Nothing really changed in my mind of where I want to be and what I want to do. It's just more of it being his first time going through, I just wanted to make sure he had the ability and the freedom to do that. Now with the way last year went, the offseason, a lot of communication, a lot of talks of where we're headed, how we're going to do it - I'm excited to just keep going."

Hahn, who got bumped up from assistant GM in October 2012 to replace the promoted Ken Williams, called it a selfless act by Ventura.

"(It) allowed me the latitude to get comfortable," Hahn said. "It speaks to what kind of good man he is and actually makes a decision like this all the easier because of it."

A former All-Star third baseman, Ventura had never managed at any level when he replaced Ozzie Guillen. And the results his first season were promising.

The White Sox led the Central for much of 2012 before finishing second to Detroit with 85 wins, but there was a huge drop-off last year. Chicago wound up last in the division at 63-99, giving Ventura a 148-176 mark in two seasons.

The White Sox hit just .249 as a team and their home run total dropped from third in the majors at 211 to 19th at 148. With little speed, there was no way to make up for the drop in power, and compounding the problem was the poor play on defense.

They went from leading the majors in fielding percentage to ranking 29th, with Alexei Ramirez committing 22 errors and tying the Cubs' Starlin Castro for the major league lead among shortstops.

"It's imperative that we show improvement," Hahn said. "It's imperative that we show growth, especially on the position player side. We feel we have the ability to contend. But the most important thing for us is going to be allowing these young guys room to grow."

Ventura's steady hand, his ability to relate, came up over and over on Friday. It's why the White Sox believe he is the right manager, particularly on a team with some key young players.

They signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract, hoping he can add pop. They'll have a full year with outfielder Avisail Garcia after acquiring him from Detroit in the midseason deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston, too.

They've added some youth, athleticism, to their lineup. They believe they have enough pitching to compete with Chris Sale leading the rotation, even if they didn't land Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka.

And they insist Ventura's the man to lead them.

"He just doesn't miss on how to handle guys," longtime star Paul Konerko said. "He's stern with them, he gets his point across. But for a team of this makeup, Robin is such a good fit. I'm glad he would want to stay."

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