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Nets Reach Playoffs; Pacers Avoid Pistons (AP)
AP - Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets are going to the playoffs, while Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal and the Indiana Pacers avoided a first-round matchup with the team they brawled with in mid-November.

LeBron's Super Season Ends on Downer (AP)
AP - LeBron James did all he could to make the playoffs. It wasn't enough.

Miller Ends Last Regular Season With Win (AP)
AP - Reggie Miller's farewell party was almost perfect. After hearing celebrities laud 18 stellar seasons with Indiana, Miller's final regular-season game had a familiar ring — he sparked a fourth-quarter rally to lead the Pacers past Chicago 85-83 Wednesday night.

Santana Gets New Baby, Win on Same Day (AP)
AP - Johan Santana's unbeaten streak isn't the only thing that's growing. On Wednesday night, so did his family. Pitching hours after his wife gave birth to the couple's second child, Santana helped the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4, extending his major league-best streak of consecutive starts without a loss to 19.

Garciaparra Injury Overshadows Cubs' Win (AP)
AP - Nomar Garciaparra had barely made it out of the batter's box when he stumbled to the ground wincing in pain and clutching his groin. The sight of the All-Star shortstop throwing his helmet in frustration as he was being carried off the field overshadowed an impressive outing by teammate Carlos Zambrano in the Chicago Cubs' 3-1 victory Wednesday night over the host St. Louis Cardinals.

Cardinals Show Off Major Uniform Makeover (AP)
AP - The Arizona Cardinals are ready to leave their lackluster history in the desert behind, starting with their uniforms.

NBA Wrap: Carter Leads Nets Into Playoffs, Cavs Miss Out (Reuters)
Reuters - Vince Carter scored 37 points to help the New Jersey Nets clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 102-93 road win over the Boston Celtics on the last day of the regular season Wednesday.

NL Wrap: Encarnacion Leads Marlins Rout of Mets (Reuters)
Reuters - Juan Encarnacion homered and drove in four runs as the Florida Marlins slammed the New York Mets 9-2 in Miami Wednesday.

Jamaica Beats Guatemala 1-0 in Soccer (AP)
AP - Luton Shelton scored on an overhead kick in the 14th minute to give Jamaica a 1-0 win over Guatemala in a exhibition game Wednesday night.

NHL Won't Start With Replacements in Fall (AP)
AP - The NHL is searching for a deal, not replacements for its locked-out players. With speculation mounting that hockey would return next season no matter what, even if that meant using replacement players, commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that the league won't return to the ice in October if a new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been reached with the players' association.

Deals in the works
Trade talk is heating up, starting with the Dolphins' interest in dealing the No. 2 overall pick to Minnesota.

Dolphins' Saban wants to deal No. 2 pick (AP)
Now that the Miami Dolphins have a top-five pick in the NFL draft for the first time in 38 years, new coach Nick Saban wants to trade it. Saban inherited the No. 2 choice behind San Francisco when he took over a team coming off its worst season since the 1960s. But because the Dolphins have only four other picks, with none in the second round, Saban has been shopping his first-round choice for a...

Jets to trade 1st-round pick to Raiders (AP)
The Raiders agreed to a trade with the New York Jets on Wednesday that will send tight end Doug Jolley to the Jets and give Oakland a first-round pick in this weekend's NFL draft after all. Jolley, a fourth-year tight end out of Brigham Young University, goes to New York along with a second-round pick in exchange for the Jets' 26th overall pick, one Raiders source and one NFL source said, both...

House to hold hearing on NFL steroid use (AP)
The congressional committee that investigated steroid use in baseball will turn its investigation to the same problem in football. The panel said Tuesday it will ask NFL officials and union representatives to testify at a hearing next week. ``A public review of the NFL's strategy for combatting steroid use marks the next step in our investigation,'' said Rep.

Raiders trade CB Buchanon to Texans (AP)
The man who calls himself ``Showtime'' is leaving the Oakland Raiders, and both sides appear happy to be parting ways. The Raiders traded disgruntled cornerback Phillip Buchanon to the Houston Texans for two draft picks Tuesday, nearly four months after he publicly ridiculed the franchise with no warning leading into the final game.

Seattle close to releasing LB Chad Brown (AP)
The Seattle Seahawks are ready to release linebacker Chad Brown to create salary cap room for free agent pickup Jamie Sharper, team president and general manager Tim Ruskell confirmed Wednesday. Seattle's front office has spent the past month trying to rework Brown's salary, but the 12-year veteran faces a big pay cut.

Belichick takes long-term view of draft (AP)
The New England Patriots go into the draft with a team that already looks different than last season's champions. Ty Law and Troy Brown were released and Tedy Bruschi had a mild stroke that could sideline him at least for this season. Still, coach Bill Belichick isn't counting on immediate contributions from the players he picks this weekend.

Redskins add another first-round pick (AP)
A day of mixed signals from the Washington Redskins ended with an unexpected twist: a trade that leaves the team with two picks in the first round of Saturday's NFL draft. Paying a hefty price for a short-term gain, the Redskins on Tuesday acquired the No. 25 overall pick from the Denver Broncos. In exchange, Washington gave up its third-round selection (No.

The People's Voice plays both sides of the ball
Some of Dan's readers feel an NBA age limit is the way to go. Others ask, where would the NBA be without LeBron James?

Nets clinch last playoff berth (AP)
Vince Carter landed awkwardly, grimaced and leaned on a table near the Celtics' bench. The game wasn't even 5 minutes old and already New Jersey's playoff chances seemed to sink as he limped to the locker room. He knew better. Less than 3 minutes after missing a layup and being kneed in the left Achilles' tendon by Antoine Walker, Carter returned to help the Nets earn the NBA's last playoff berth...

Pacers win Miller's finale (AP)
Amid chants of ``Reg-gie! Reg-gie!'' and a plea for ``one more year,'' Reggie Miller played his final regular-season game after 18 years as one of the NBA's great clutch shooters. Thanks to Jermaine O'Neal and Anthony Johnson, his farewell party Wednesday night was a success. ``There was so much surrounding this game, trying to stay focused,'' Miller said after an 85-83 victory over the Chicago...

76ers clinch No. 7 seed, to face Pistons (AP)
Kyle Korver openly rooted for Chicago. Josh Davis was flipping channels trying to locate ESPN. Marc Jackson insisted Philadelphia could beat any team. Allen Iverson scored 16 points and put the finishing touches on his fourth scoring title, and Philadelphia clinched seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 110-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Bobcats end Pistons' 11-game win streak (AP)
Emeka Okafor left the court for the final time as a rookie without his shirt or shoes, everything given away to the fans who cheered the Charlotte Bobcats on to a victory in their season finale. Okafor had 16 points and 19 rebounds as Bobcats closed out their inaugural season with a victory, snapping the Detroit Pistons' 11-game winning streak with a 97-86 win Wednesday night.

Lakers end dismal season with loss (AP)
Soon after the season finale, Kobe Bryant was already ticking off the reasons for the Lakers' dramatic slide this season. His ankle injury, and the 14 games he missed. Head coach Rudy Tomjanovich's resignation. Lamar Odom's shoulder. He did not mention the departures of Shaquille O'Neal or Phil Jackson.

Cavs win, but don't make playoffs (AP)
LeBron James dropped his head as the final buzzer sounded, a night of scoreboard watching having robbed any glory that came from his fourth triple-double of the season. On a night when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed some help to get into the playoffs, James kept looking at the out-of-town scoreboard and seeing the New Jersey Nets were catching up against the Boston Celtics.

Wolves finish disappointing season (AP)
Kevin Garnett quietly sneaked out the back door, avoiding the media on the last night of the Minnesota Timberwolves' disappointing season. It was a fitting finish to a chapter in Timberwolves history that few will want to talk about again. Ndudi Ebi had a career-high 18 points and eight rebounds and Michael Olowokandi had 10 points and 14 boards as Minnesota capped its season with a 95-73 victory...

Mavericks win ninth straight (AP)
The Dallas Mavericks are rolling into the playoffs, and should be well-rested after coasting through their regular-season finale. Josh Howard scored 27 points Wednesday night to lead Dallas to a 108-88 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavericks, who will play the Houston Rockets in the first round, closed the season by winning their last nine games and 13 of their final 14.

Heat close out season with win (AP)
The goals for the Miami Heat in their season finale were simple: stay healthy and get the reserves some minutes. If they won, so much the better. With Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade watching from the bench, the Heat won their final tuneup before the playoffs, beating the Orlando Magic 98-93 on Wednesday night.

NHL won't start next season with replacement players (AP)
The NHL is searching for a deal, not replacements for its locked-out players. With speculation mounting that hockey would return next season no matter what, even if that meant using replacement players, commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that the league won't return to the ice in October if a new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been reached with the players' association.

Canada beats United States in world championship tuneup (AP)
Rick Nash and Dan Boyle scored first-period goals, and Canada defeated the United States 3-1 Wednesday night in a tuneup for the world hockey championships. Matt Cullen scored a power-play goal in the third period for the United States, which opens against Slovenia on May 1 in Austria. Scott Walker added an empty netter for the Canadians, who play Latvia on April 30.

USA Hockey adds C Yan Stastny to World Championship roster (SportsTicker)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Ticker) - The United States is ready for the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.

NHL will not start in October without labor agreement (SportsTicker)
NEW YORK (Ticker) - If the NHL season starts in October, it will not be with replacement players.

Report: Bertuzzi reinstatement hearing scheduled (AP)
The NHL plans a hearing April 26 to decide on reinstating Todd Bertuzzi, who was suspended indefinitely after decking Colorado forward Steve Moore with a punch that broke his neck, the Canadian Broadcasting Co. reported. NHL spokesman Frank Brown confirmed Monday a meeting was planned with Bertuzzi but would not say when, The Vancouver Province newspaper said.

Agent: Forsberg would like to return to Avalanche if possible (AP)
Peter Forsberg would love to play with the Colorado Avalanche if there is an NHL season this fall, according to his agent. ``That's his mind-set at the moment, and I don't think he's looking to get out of Denver. He loves Denver,'' agent Don Baizley told The Denver Post. Forsberg, a former Hart Trophy winner as the NHL's MVP, played for Modo in Sweden this past season.

NHL lockout convinced Aaron Miller he's no housewife (AP)
This spring has been unlike any other Aaron Miller has had during his hockey career. ``I've been having fun in the sun at Manhattan Beach,'' said Miller, a defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings. ``I've just been hanging out with my two daughters a lot, walking the older one to school. I feel like a housewife.'' Not any more.

NHL, players' association return to bargaining table (AP)
The NHL and players' association returned to the bargaining table Tuesday and met for six hours, hoping to build momentum off talks that began two weeks earlier. Negotiations centered around a new, hybrid concept -- which addresses the relationship between player costs and league revenues -- that was first discussed during the last round of talks in Toronto on April 4.

Gomez suffers hairline fracture, out 3-4 weeks (AP)
New Jersey center Scott Gomez will be sidelined up to a month with a hairline fracture in his pelvic area, Devils president Lou Lamoriello said Monday. Gomez was hurt after he got blindsided while playing for the Alaska Aces of the ECHL in a playoff game Saturday night in Bakersfield, Calif. The ECHL suspended Bakersfield right wing Ashlee Langdone for the hit, pending further review.

Trading Paint: Tracks, drivers and more
No topic is off limits in this week's mailbag.

Driver Ramirez released from hospital (SportsTicker)
SONOMA, California (Ticker) - One day after being involved in an accident during a NASCAR Nextel Cup test session at Infineon Raceway, Jose Luis Ramirez was released from John Muir Medical Center.

Biffle overpowering in Texas victory (AP)
Greg Biffle's body was sore heading into the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Biffle wins NASCAR Nextel Cup Samsung/RadioShack 500 (SportsTicker)


Stewart has fiery ending at Texas (AP)
Tony Stewart made a fiery exit Sunday.

Late pass pushes Kahne to Busch win in Texas (AP)
Kasey Kahne got past 19-year-old rookie Reed Sorenson just before the final caution and held on the final two laps after the restart for a NASCAR Busch Series win Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Bourdais wins IROC in Texas (AP)
Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais became just the fourth foreign-born driver to win an IROC race, leading the final 22 laps Friday night at Texas after Kurt Busch suffered the same kind of bad luck that has plagued him in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series. Bourdais regained the lead when Busch cut a tire and slammed hard into the outside wall in the second turn.

Another pole for Newman (AP)
Ryan Newman almost lost control of his car just before taking the green flag for his qualifying run, and still won another pole.

Rudd, 48, not retiring type just yet (AP)
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – With a NASCAR-record 757 consecutive starts in stock car racing's premier series, Ricky...

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