National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

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."

Heisman winner Winston begins baseball season

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston wants to help Florida State win another national championship - in baseball.

"I just want to have an effect on this team like I did the football team," Winston said Friday before his practice of the 2014 season with Florida State's baseball team. "I just want to be a team player and get this show going."

If the show is as successful on the baseball diamond as it was on the gridiron, the Seminoles will be hoisting the championship trophy at the College World Series in Omaha.

And that's a possibility. The Seminoles have the talent to be title contenders.

Florida State was picked to win the ACC Atlantic Division by the league's coaches and the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Winston is the favorite to win the closer role.

"Having Jameis win a national championship in baseball, I think that's going to bring a lot to our team," outfielder DJ Stewart said. "He's won a championship, so he's going to bring that to us.

"That definitely motivates us. We see our football team do it, we're like, `Why can't we do it?""

Winston has some work to do before he's in baseball shape, though he has a fastball that reaches 95 mph and an effective slider. Coach Mike Martin called Winston a "very dominating pitcher" by the end of the 2013 season, but he wants a change-up added to the repertoire.

"You've got to keep the hitters guessing," Martin said. "If you're a two-pitch guy, you're obviously looking for one or the other. Fifty-fifty, I don't like."

And being the Heisman winner won't force the coaching staff to be cautious with Winston's playing time.

"We will use Jameis just like we do everybody else," Martin said. "We're not going to treat him any differently and he doesn't want to be treated any differently. He's a Seminole baseball player now. We're going to use him outfield, we're going to use him on the mound, we're going to use him as a DH some.

"But we want him to be our closer when it's all said and done. That's what we're going to prepare him to be."

Winston said he takes the same mentality to the closing role as he does to the quarterback position. He admitted , however, that baseball brings a unique set of challenges.

"That's why I like playing both, because I can take my football mentality and put it with baseball," Winston said. "You can be successful that way, especially when you're as confident as I am.

"It's different. But I've still got the same mentality. Baseball is a hard sport. It's a failing sport. It's far more stressful in the batter's box than on the mound because I actually have control of everything on the mound. Pitching is probably easier to me mentally than hitting."

Winston posted a 3.00 ERA in 2013 with a 1-2 record, two saves, 21 strikeouts and 12 walks in 27 innings pitched as a reliever. He hit .235 with seven doubles and three triples in 41 games.

The plate is where he really wants to improve.

"I've got to get back into the swing of things," Winston said. "I used to be a hitter in high school. Now I've got to get back in the groove of things.

"That's the one thing I don't like about baseball. In football I can make my adjustments fast. It's more of like a strategize sport. Baseball, if you mess up out there, everyone's looking at you. You can't hide it. I've got to get better at hitting."

Sharks sign Thornton, Marleau to 3-year extensions

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks locked up two of their cornerstone players before they could hit the open market this summer, signing three-year extensions Friday with captain Joe Thornton and franchise leading goal-scorer Patrick Marleau.

The contracts prevent the two stars from becoming unrestricted free agents this summer and keep them under contract with the Sharks through the 2016-17 season.

"We really appreciate them helping us keep this group together and contributing in this way," general manager Doug Wilson said. "They both did step up. It says a lot about both of them as people and teammates."

ESPN first reported the deals that will pay Thornton an average of $6.75 million over the three years and Marleau $6.66 million. Thornton also has a no-trade clause, according to his brother John, who is also his agent.

Thornton and Marleau were the top two picks in the 1997 draft with Thornton going to Boston and Marleau to San Jose. The Sharks acquired Thornton in a deal on Nov. 30, 2005, and the two have helped the Sharks win the most regular-season games in the NHL since that time.

They also both insisted on waiting to sign until knowing the other player was coming back, too.

"That created a unique dynamic in the negotiations because it was two individual negotiations but it was contingent to them knowing we're a better team with both instead of one," Wilson said. "That tells you the respect between the two players."

Despite all the regular-season success, San Jose is still searching for its first trip to the Stanley Cup finals. The Sharks lost the Western Conference finals in 2010 and 2011, and were knocked out in seven games in the second round last season against Los Angeles. San Jose is poised for another run this season and is currently fifth in the league with 72 points.

Even at 34 years old, Thornton and Marleau are still playing at an elite level. Thornton leads the NHL with 47 assists and is sixth with 53 points. Marleau was picked for the Canadian Olympic team and has 21 goals and 26 assists this season.

"They're elite level players that are still playing at elite levels," Wilson said. "They're only 34 years of age. They are both strong and healthy and very high fitness guys."

Thornton has 1,171 career points, the most of any player since he entered the league in 1997-98. He is currently 25th on the NHL's all-time assist list with 834 and 48th on the career points list.

Marleau has played all 1,216 career games with San Jose, notching 425 goals and 483 assists. He is fourth in the league in goals the past six seasons with 187 and is 72nd all-time.

Marleau ranks first on the Sharks career list for points, goals, power play goals, short-handed goals, game-winning goals and shots.

Wilson has always done a good job locking up his key players before they hit free agency at below market prices. Thornton is taking a slight pay cut from his expiring three-year deal that pays him an average of $7 million a year.

Marleau, who negotiated his own contract after the death of his agent, Don Baizley, this summer, also took a slight pay cut from the four-year deal that pays him an average of $6.9 million a year.

With these deals done, the Sharks have locked up almost all of their important players before free agency starts in July. The one key remaining potential unrestricted free agent is 37-year-old defenseman Dan Boyle, who is talks with the Sharks about a new deal.

The Sharks have already reached long-term deals with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and forwards Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns.

"We think we're set very well for the future, and we also think we're in a very good position to focus on the now," Wilson said.

Seattle's Sherman fined $7,875 for taunting

NEW YORK (AP) Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was fined $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting in the final minute of the NFC championship game against San Francisco.

Sherman's fine was confirmed by the league Friday.

Sherman was flagged after he made a choking gesture toward the San Francisco bench that he said was directed at quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Sherman had just deflected a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone that was intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith and clinched Seattle's 23-17 victory.

Sherman ran over and after tapping Crabtree on the backside and extended his hand for a handshake. Crabtree then shoved Sherman in the face. The All-Pro cornerback then made the choking gesture.

Sherman was the only player fined in the game.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Ex-Cowboy Brent gets 180 days in jail, probation

DALLAS (AP) Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent avoided prison Friday and instead was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation for a drunken car crash that killed his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown.

Brent was convicted Wednesday of intoxication manslaughter for the December 2012 crash on a suburban Dallas highway that killed Brown, who was a passenger in Brent's car. Brent could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He was also fined $10,000.

Brent, 25, closed his eyes when the judge read the jury's verdict. He was kept in custody after the hearing.

One of his attorneys, Kevin Brooks, described the former defensive tackle as "somber."

"I'm really kind of overwhelmed with the results," Brooks said. "It's kind of what we've been fighting for from Day 1. I'm happy for Josh. Josh is still sad and grieving and that's something he's going to carry with him the rest of his life."

Brent's family members and supporters cried and hugged as the courtroom emptied after the hearing. His mother, LaTasha Brent, spoke briefly as she left the courthouse, saying she was there to support her son.

Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, wasn't in the courtroom when the verdict was read. She publicly forgave Brent, and said during Thursday's sentencing proceedings: "He's still responsible, but you can't go on in life holding a grudge. We all make mistakes."

Jackson was the last witness the jury heard, and lead prosecutor Heath Harris said her testimony probably helped Brent get probation.

"The victim's family will always have a bearing on the punishment phase," Harris said. "Should it make a difference? What if she had been wanting the maximum? Would they have given the maximum? That's why we let the jury decide."

Prosecutors were pushing for prison time for Brent, whose trial came weeks after a teenage boy in neighboring Tarrant County received no prison time for an intoxication manslaughter conviction in a drunken crash that killed four people. In that case, a defense expert argued that the teen deserved leniency because his parents had coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility - a condition the expert termed "affluenza."

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whose headquarters isn't far from the spot where Brent crashed, said in a statement that it was "shocked and appalled" by the athlete's sentence.

"This punishment sends the message that it's OK to drink and drive - but it's absolutely not," MADD said.

Brent and Brown, a linebacker on the practice squad, also played together at the University of Illinois and were close friends. They were headed home from a night of partying with Dallas teammates when Brent lost control of his Mercedes and crashed. Officers who arrived on scene saw Brent trying to pull Brown's body from the wreckage.

Blood tests pegged Brent's blood alcohol content at 0.18 percent, which is more than twice the state's legal limit to drive of 0.08 percent. Prosecutors told jurors that the burly, 320-pound lineman had as many as 17 drinks on the night of the crash.

"We never quarrel with a jury's decision," said Harris, who passionately urged the jury to send Brent to prison. "All we can hope and pray is that I believe the jury saw something salvageable in him ... and he does get some help."

Judge Robert Burns scolded Brent after reading the verdict, saying his actions "bring shame to the city of Dallas." The judge also mentioned Brent's 2009 drunken-driving conviction in Illinois, which the prosecution revisited in making its case for prison time.

"The judge obviously has a right to express his opinion," said George Milner, one of Brent's attorneys. "I guess the difference is there's no one in that courtroom that knows Josh the way Kevin and I do. And so I see a different person."

Brent played in all 12 games of the Cowboys' 2012 season prior to the crash. He retired from the NFL in July, but less than a week shy of his 26th birthday, he's still young enough to play, although he hasn't said if that's what he wants.

"He's never talked about football to me unless I specifically asked questions about football," Milner said. "I think he's just trying to figure out how he's going to deal with the situation where he is."

If Brent did want to play again, it's unclear if he'd have to serve a suspension before he could take the field again.

"This is an issue we will deal with down the road," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email Friday.

After wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who was then on the Cleveland Browns, pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter for striking and killing a Florida pedestrian with his car, Goodell suspended Stallworth for the entire 2009 season.

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

Aldridge scores 44 as Blazers beat Nuggets

PORTLAND, Ore. -- LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 44 points and 13 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a 110-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

Wesley Matthews added 24 points for the Blazers (32-11), who snapped a two-game losing streak coming off a 2-2 road trip. The Blazers have not lost three straight this season.

Wilson Chandler had 18 points for Denver (20-21), which has lost four of their last five games after a five-game winning streak.

The Blazers trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but chipped away at Denver's lead to pull to 91-90 on Wesley Matthews' turnaround fadeaway before taking the lead on his 15-foot jumper.

The teams wrestled for control, but Aldridge's jumper put Portland up a 102-99 with 3:08 left.

Chandler and Timofey Mozgov made consecutive baskets to regain the lead for Denver, and it was back-and-forth until Aldridge made four consecutive free throws to shouts of "M-V-P," from the Portland crowd, giving the Blazers a 108-105 lead.

Chandler missed a jumper with 8 seconds left and Aldridge made more free throws for the final margin. The two-time All-Star, who came in a disappointing fifth among Western Conference frontcourt players in All-Star voting, made eight straight free throws to close the game.

Blazers owner Paul Allen addressed the media at halftime, talking on a wide range of topics including a contract extension for Aldridge, which the team will consider "at the appropriate time."

Kenneth Faried got two quick fouls early in the game and had to sit, but the Nuggets still led 30-28 at the end of the first quarter, paced by Anthony Randolph off the bench.

Nate Robinson's 3-pointer stretched Denver's lead to 44-37, and the Nuggets went on to lead by as many as 12 points in the second quarter.

Portland went on a 9-0 run to close to 51-48, but Denver held on to 67-59 lead at the half.

Randy Foye hit a 3-pointer early in the third quarter to stretch Denver's lead to 78-63. The Nuggets led 91-86 heading to the fourth.

Earlier in the day, Aldridge and teammate Damian Lillard were named to the 2014-16 U.S. men's national team pool, the first step toward making the Olympic team. Faried was also invited.

The All-Star team starters were also announced before Thursday night's game. Aldridge finished fifth in fan voting among Western Conference frontcourt Blazers, while Lillard finished seventh among guards. Both players will have a chance to make the team if they are selected by the league's coaches.

NOTES: The Blazers defeated the Nuggets 113-98 in Denver their first meeting of the season on Nov. 1. ... Portland is the only team to have used the same starting lineup all season. ... The Nuggets announced earlier this week that forward Danilo Gallinari will miss the rest of the season after undergoing a second surgery on his left knee. Gallinari averaged 16.2 points per game last season for Denver. ... Actor Billy Dee Williams was at the game.

Bosh, James carry Heat past Lakers, 109-102

MIAMI (AP) Chris Bosh scored 31 points, LeBron James added 27 points and 13 rebounds and the Miami Heat never trailed in a 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole each finished with 11 points to help the Heat beat the Lakers for the eighth time in their last nine meetings. Ray Allen added 10, and Miami shot 58 percent and outrebounded the Lakers 48-35.

Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol each scored 22 points for the Lakers, who lost for the 14th time in their last 17 outings. Nick Young added 19 points - needing 20 shots to do it - for Los Angeles, which nearly came all the way back from a 16-point second-half deficit.

Michigan St F Dawson breaks hand in film session

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Michigan State's latest film session was a major flop.

Junior forward Branden Dawson will be out four to five weeks after breaking his right hand Thursday when he banged it on a table while watching video.

Dawson said he was reviewing film of the third-ranked Spartans' win over Indiana with teammates and coach Tom Izzo and became angry with his play of late.

"I know I haven't been playing how I know I can play and I got frustrated and slammed my hand against the table," Dawson said. "When Dr. (Jeff) Kovan told me how long I was going to be out, tears came down my eyes because this team is really important to me and I love Michigan State. I want to be a part of it, playing."

Dawson was scheduled for surgery Thursday night, and the Spartans (18-1, 7-0 Big Ten) will be without him for Saturday's home game against No. 21 Michigan (14-4, 6-0).

In addition, Adreian Payne has missed MSU's last four games with a foot injury, and Izzo said the senior center probably won't be ready to play against the rival Wolverines in a showdown between the only Big Ten teams without a conference loss this season.

"His chances of playing Saturday are slim to none," Izzo said. "When he'll play is going to be strictly between me and him. The doctors are in it only to give me information. I swear to you, he's champing at the bit to play."

Payne was averaging 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds before sitting out wins over Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Indiana. Izzo didn't totally rule out a Saturday return for Payne, but insisted it's unlikely.

"He won't practice (Friday)," Izzo said. "If he wakes up Saturday morning and can run 10 miles on the treadmill and come in here and cut and jump, I'm starting him."

Michigan State must also replace Dawson in the starting lineup after he broke the fifth metacarpal in his right hand Thursday morning.

Dawson ranks second in the Big Ten with 8.7 rebounds per game. The most likely candidate to start in his place is forward Kenny Kaminski. A redshirt freshman, Kaminski has appeared in 12 games this season and made 17 of 31 attempts from 3-point range.

"I came out in practice today knowing my role is going to be a little bigger," Kaminski said. "I'm not going to be sleeping too much until Saturday. I'm going to live in the film room, live in the gym, just trying to prepare."

Izzo said he isn't sure who will start against the Wolverines yet, but someone will have to step up in Dawson's absence. He's also hoping this becomes a teachable moment for Dawson.

"Somebody else is going to get another chance," Izzo said. "If you want to try to find the silver lining, then my hope is (Dawson) sits back, looks at things and figures out he is a difference-maker for us."

Dawson addressed the team before practice Thursday.

"I'll be ready around tournament time," he said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes to help this team out on the bench, in the locker room, during the game, in practice, just to see those guys do great against Michigan and from here on out."

Browns hire Mike Pettine after twisting search

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Mike Pettine knows he might not have been Cleveland's first choice or even the Browns' second pick.

All that matters to the son of a high school coaching legend is that he's the one they selected.

"It's been my life-long dream to be an NFL head coach," Pettine said Thursday, "and however that opportunity presents itself, it's fine with me."

After nearly a month of twists, turns and talk, the Browns found their man.

Buffalo's defensive coordinator, who didn't seem to be on Cleveland's radar when the team began a coaching search last month, signed a five-year contract Thursday and was named the Browns' seventh full-time coach since 1999. Pettine replaces Rob Chudzinski, fired on Dec. 29 after just one season.

The Browns interviewed 10 candidates before deciding on the 47-year-old Pettine, who has built a solid reputation with a no-nonsense approach with his players.

"I have been nicknamed BFT - Blunt Force Trauma," he said. "The days are too short to dance around subjects some time and I think guys appreciate that."

His straight-forward style attracted Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who set out to find a "strong winner" and feels the clean-shaven Pettine can lead Cleveland's resurgence.

"He's very smart," Haslam said. "He's aggressive. He's innovative. You can see he's tough. He's going to be very demanding. He's going to set high standards for our organization."

Pettine spent one year with the Bills after four as Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator with the New York Jets. Before that, Pettine was an assistant coach in Baltimore, giving him some familiarity in Cleveland's division.

Pettine understands there are challenges in turning around the Browns, who have lost at least 11 games in each of the past six seasons and made the playoffs once in their expansion era. Pettine believes the Browns have talent - as evidenced by their six Pro Bowlers - and wants to be the one to return them to glory.

"There's only 32 of these jobs and they don't come along often," Pettine said. "People ask me, `Why didn't you wait? There will be chances next year?' I don't know if I believe in that. When you put all the factors together, this franchise is in position, given the right leadership, to win."

Pettine emerged as the favorite to become Cleveland's fourth coach in six years as the Browns eliminated candidates and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, considered the front-runner when the search started, told the team to move on without him.

His hiring ends a 25-day odyssey for the Browns. It was a quest filled with rumors, denials, withdrawals and far too much drama for a franchise seeking stability.

At the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, Browns tight end Jordan Cameron echoed the sentiments of most Cleveland fans.

"I'm just happy to have a coach," he said.

The Browns flew to Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday to interview Pettine for the second time at the Senior Bowl. The four-hour meeting came shortly after Gase, the first candidate the team contacted, called Haslam and withdrew from consideration.

The team had been expected to give Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a second interview, but if he was their pick, the Browns would have had to wait until after the Super Bowl to finalize a deal. Banner said the decision to hire Pettine before speaking with Quinn a second time was "tough."

As six other teams filled their head-coaching vacancies, the Browns kept looking. The lengthy delay led to a national perception the team didn't have a clear plan.

Aware of the criticism, Haslam sent a letter to Cleveland fans last week explaining why the team was being "methodical" in finding Chudzinski's replacement.

Haslam argued the view of the Browns was media driven.

"That's a perception that you all have generated," he said to reporters. "That's not the perception among candidates or football people that I've talked to around the country."

Browns CEO Joe Banner took a playful jab at Cleveland's front office, which was characterized locally as "The Three Stooges" when the search began.

"I don't know if you had a chance to meet Mike, but since (GM) Mike Lombardi and I are Moe and Larry, we went and set out to find Curly and we succeeded," he said. "That's why it took so long; there aren't a lot of Curlys running around the country."

Now that he's in place, Pettine is ready to roll up his sleeves and fix the Browns. Football is in his blood.

He learned the game from his father, Mike Pettine Sr., who won four Pennsylvania state championships and retired as the winningest coach in state history.

Not long after getting the job, Pettine phoned his dad.

"It was special," he said. "It didn't last very long because he knew I had a lot of stuff to get done. My poor mom answered the phone and he said "Is that Michael?" He ripped it out of her hands. They were both excited and knew how much work it went into this."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Four first-timers voted to NBA All-Star game

NEW YORK -- Kobe Bryant called for younger players in the All-Star game, and the fans listened.

They still want Bryant, too.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Paul George and Kyrie Irving were voted NBA All-Stars Thursday, putting four first-time starters in the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans.

Bryant was elected by fans to his 16th All-Star game, second-most in NBA history, but this one is shaping up as a kids' game.

Curry, perhaps the biggest snub last season, will join him in the Western Conference backcourt. Love passed Dwight Howard in the final days of voting and will start in the frontcourt along with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and the Clippers' Blake Griffin.

"Hey, I'm popular now," Love joked. "It's very humbling to me to be starting in the All-Star game. I tip my hat to the fans in the Twin Cities and all over Minnesota and beyond."

The four first-time starters are all 25 or younger. Curry went to All-Star weekend as a kid when his father, Dell, competed in the 3-point contest, and now he'll finally get to play in the game.

"It's kind of just a surreal feeling," Curry said. "I saw Kobe come on the screen and you knew that next person on the screen was going to be me or I was going to get left off that list. Just when I saw my name it was a real emotional kind of experience and glad my wife and daughter were here to watch it with me."

LeBron James was the leading vote-getter with 1.4 million and Miami teammate Dwyane Wade also was voted in Thursday. George, who has led Indiana to the league's best record, and New York's Carmelo Anthony are the other East forwards, and Irving will start at guard.

Bryant has been limited to just six games this season because of injuries and will be out until at least early next month. He said recently he hoped fans wouldn't vote for him and would instead look toward younger, more deserving players.

Fans picked him anyway. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with 19, was selected to more All-Star games.

But even Bryant could finish only second to Curry among West guards, a remarkable turnaround for the Golden State sharpshooter. He was the highest-scoring player not chosen last year, but moved past the Clippers' Chris Paul in the third returns of balloting, then passed Bryant in the final days to finish with more than a million votes and become the Warriors' first All-Star starter since Latrell Sprewell in 1995.

"I understand how big a deal it is to be selected on the team," Curry said. "And just how different the feeling was from last year, having gone through that experience and just trying to get back healthy, first and foremost, to give myself a chance come All-Star selection time."

Love also made a late move to surge into the top three, finishing about 8,000 votes ahead of Houston center Dwight Howard to become Minnesota's first All-Star starter since Kevin Garnett in 2007.

"I was hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, and knowing the worst was I was going to still probably end up in the All-Star game (as a coach's pick) and represent the West and the Wolves and the Twin Cities." Love said. "Right now, I'm very happy."

Indiana hadn't had one since Jermaine O'Neal a year earlier, but now George will get to play for Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who has already clinched the East's coaching spot.

"It means a lot because that means the fans are really watching us as a team," George said. "For us to have the No. 1 record in the league, and playing at a high level, I think the fans are starting to follow us as a whole and I think that's the biggest thing with me being a starter."

The reserves will be announced next Thursday. Head coaches in each conference will vote for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position.

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AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Antonio Gonzalez in Oakland, Calif. contributed to this report.

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

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