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Mavs Snap Grizzlies' 6-Game Streak, 90-83 (AP)
Dallas Maverick's Darrell Armstrong (10) drives past Memphis Grizzlies' Bobby Jackson (24) to score over teammate Keith Van Horn, left, during the first quarter Friday, Dec. 9, 2005, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Jim Weber)AP - Dirk Nowitzki matched his season high with 35 points and grabbed nine rebounds Friday night as the Dallas Mavericks beat Memphis 90-83 to snap the Grizzlies' six-game winning streak.


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Mets, Franco OK $2.2M, Two-Year Contract (AP)
AP - General manager Omar Minaya and the New York Mets wanted Julio Franco so badly they gave a 47-year-old backup a two-year contract.

Bulls Send Pippen's 33 to Rafters (AP)
Former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, left,  shares a laugh with former coach Phil Jackson, center, and teammate Michael Jordan as Pippen's number is retired during halftime of the Bulls game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Dec. 9, 2005, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)AP - Scottie Pippen did his best to check his emotions. It didn't work. Surrounded by Michael Jordan and other former teammates and coaches, an emotional Pippen fought back tears as the Chicago Bulls retired his number 33 during halftime of Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.


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U.S. to Face Strong Group at '06 World Cup (AP)
National soccer team coaches from Ghana, Ratomir Dujkovic, Italy, Marcello Lippi,  the United States, Bruce Arena, Czech Republik, Karel Bruckner, from left to right, pose for photographers after the final draw put them in Group E for the 2006 World Cup in Leipzig, Germany, Friday Dec. 9, 2005. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)AP - The first round of the 2006 World Cup looks a lot like 1990 to the United States. The Americans were drawn Friday into a difficult first-round group for next year's tournament in Germany. They'll open June 12 against the Czech Republic, the world's second-ranked team. Next up is three-time champion Italy on June 17, followed by four-time African champion Ghana on June 22.


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Colorado Hunts for Barnett's Replacement (AP)
Colorado coach Gary Barnett pauses during a news conference Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005. Barnett reluctantly stepped down as football coach of Colorado on Thursday, accepting a $3 million settlement and ending a tenure that was riddled by off-the-field problems but ultimately done in by recent bad results on the field. Barnett said the decision was made by athletic director Mike Bohn. (AP Photo/Bill Ross)AP - Colorado's athletic director was pleased with the school's progress in the search for a new football coach Friday, a day after severing ties with Gary Barnett and putting himself on the clock to save this year's recruiting class.


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Jaguars' Taylor to Return for Colts Game (AP)
AP - Jaguars running back Fred Taylor will play against Indianapolis on Sunday after missing three of the past four games because of an ankle injury, but starting center Brad Meester's biceps injury will force him to miss the rest of the season.

Spurs Beat Celtics for 17th Straight Time (AP)
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21), center, defends Boston Celtics guard Orien Greene (0), foreground, during the third quarter in  San Antonio, Friday, Dec. 9, 2005.  San Antonio won, 101-89. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)AP - Tim Duncan scored 20 points and remained unbeaten against Boston in his career as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Celtics 101-89 Friday night.


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Merloni Takes Indians Minor League Deal (AP)
AP - Utility infielder Lou Merloni agreed Friday to a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians, returning to the team he played for in 2004.

Australians Welcome Brazil World Cup Pick (AP)
AP - Fans of one of the seemingly weaker teams whooped with delight when Australia was picked to play defending champion Brazil in the first round of the World Cup.

Avalanche Beat the Devils 4-3 in Shootout (AP)
Colorado Avalanche center Brett McLean, right, is checked by New Jersey Devils' Scott Gomez as he attempted to stuff the puck into the net past Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur during the second period Friday night, Dec. 9, 2005, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)AP - Antti Laaksonen scored the only goal in seven rounds of a shootout to give the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.


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Remember the Patriots
While the Colts and Bengals have grabbed the NFL's spotlight, the defending champs lurk in the background.

Bears linemen fined $50,000 each (AP)
Chicago Bears offensive linemen Olin Kreutz and Fred Miller were fined $50,000 each Friday for a fight that violated the NFL's personal conduct policy. The players were involved in the fight last month at the FBI shooting range in the Chicago area, prompting an internal investigation by the bureau. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue fined Kreutz and Miller because the league's special conduct policy...

Mularkley: Moulds suspended for conduct (AP)
Buffalo Bills coach Mike Mularkey admitted Friday that wide receiver Eric Moulds was suspended for "conduct detrimental to our team." After one of the most tumultuous weeks in Bills history, in which the Pro Bowl receiver was suspended without pay by team owner Ralph Wilson, Mularkey finally spoke to reporters about Moulds for the first time this week.

Davis hands starting job over to Foster (AP)
It wasn't exactly a concession speech, nor was it an official changing of the guard. But a proud running back stepped aside Thursday, admitting his understudy was the best man for the job. Stephen Davis has vacated his throne as the centerpiece of the Carolina Panthers' offense, gracefully handing it over to DeShaun Foster.

Seahawks put LB Jamie Sharper on IR (AP)
The NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks placed linebacker Jamie Sharper on injured reserve Friday, ending his season. Sharper, a nine-year veteran who signed with the Seahawks as a free agent in April, started the first eight games this season before being sidelined by a staph infection in his right knee.

Jaguars RB Taylor to play against Colts (AP)
Jaguars running back Fred Taylor will play against Indianapolis on Sunday after missing three of the past four games because of an ankle injury, but starting center Brad Meester's biceps injury will force him to miss the rest of the season. Jags coach Jack Del Rio said Friday that Taylor would be activated for the first time since the Tennessee game on Nov.

Jags ready for hyped rematch with Colts (AP)
Most of the Jacksonville Jaguars have downplayed their matchup against the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, saying it's merely the next one on the schedule and it's important mostly because it's a division game. Defensive end Paul Spicer was refreshingly more candid. "It's going to be a game for the ages around here," he said Wednesday.

Tomlinson sits out second practice (AP)
LaDainian Tomlinson practiced Friday for the first time this week as the Chargers continued preparations for Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins. Tomlinson, the NFL's fifth-leading rusher, bruised his chest in Sunday night's victory over the Oakland Raiders. Tomlinson said he was injured when Raiders linebacker Danny Clark dug his fist into his chest near the end of a tackle.

One more move for Saints in 2005 (AP)
Weather displaced the New Orleans Saints again Thursday, and it's getting on the nerves of quarterback Aaron Brooks. Freezing temperatures caused the Saints to move a morning walkthrough from a downtown parking lot back to the Alamodome, where the team was forced out earlier this week so the stadium could prepare for the NCAA women's volleyball tournament.

Raiders to start Tuiasosopo over Collins (AP)
Marques Tuiasosopo will start at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, who benched regular Kerry Collins. With no postseason to play for, the Raiders (4-8) are casting an eye toward the future. Oakland coach Norv Turner gave Tuiasosopo the nod on Wednesday and announced that he will start Sunday on the road against the New York Jets.

The Hot-lanta seat
Sooner or later, a NBA head coach will be axed. Standing at the front of the firing line is Atlanta's Mike Woodson.

O'Neal may return as early as Sunday (AP)
Shaquille O'Neal may return to the Miami Heat lineup as early as Sunday, following more than five weeks away because of a badly sprained right ankle. O'Neal missed his 18th straight game Friday night when the Heat hosted the Denver Nuggets. It's the longest injured stint for the 12-time All-Star since he missed 20 games with an abdominal strain early in the 1997-98 season when he was with the Los...

Carter outshoots LeBron, Nets beat Cavs (AP)
After halftime, the one-man Vince Carter Show became more of an ensemble piece. Carter scored a season-high 38 points -- 26 in the first half -- and Richard Jefferson added 18, including nine in the final 5:07 as the New Jersey Nets won their fourth straight road game, 109-100 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Iverson lights up Bobcats for 43 points (AP)
The Philadelphia 76ers let another lead slip away. Only this time, they still managed to win. Allen Iverson scored 43 points and Kyle Korver tied a career high with 26, helping the Sixers end a four-game losing streak with a 119-115 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. Philadelphia nearly blew a 15-point lead with 3:47 left, but held on to win for only the third time in 11 games.

Anthony scores 40 as Nuggets beat Heat (AP)
Everyone in the arena seemed to watch the flight of Antoine Walker's 3-point try with 33 seconds left. Apparently, no one wearing a Miami Heat uniform saw Greg Buckner going the other way. Fortunately for Denver, Andre Miller did. He grabbed the rebound of Walker's miss and found Buckner for an easy layup that put the Nuggets ahead to stay in their 100-92 win over the struggling Heat on Friday...

Spurs run streak over Celtics to 17 (AP)
Here's one more reason for the Boston Celtics to regret not getting the chance to draft Tim Duncan in 1997: They haven't beaten the San Antonio Spurs since. Duncan scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds on Friday night as the Spurs beat the Celtics for the 17th straight time, 101-89. Boston is the only team in the NBA without a victory over San Antonio during the Duncan era, though it had some...

Fines for long shorts not sitting well (AP)
The NBA players' union filed a grievance on behalf of 13 players who were fined $10,000 each for wearing their shorts too long. The rule calls for shorts to be 1 inch above the knee. Fines were handed out to New York's Nate Robinson and Stephon Marbury; Philadelphia's John Salmons, Kyle Korver, Allen Iverson and Kevin Ollie; Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley; Denver's...

Kobe heats up late as Lakers beat Bulls (AP)
Little by little, Kobe Bryant sees it coming together. The work ethic is there and, lately, so are the results. Bryant scored 23 points, Lamar Odom added 19, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls 93-80 Friday night for their fourth straight victory. "It's just been patience," Bryant said. "We've said from the beginning, it's a process.

Nowitzki, Mavs end Grizzlies' win streak (AP)
The more Memphis fans booed, the more shots Dirk Nowitzki made. Nowitzki matched his season high with 35 points and grabbed nine rebounds Friday night as the Dallas Mavericks beat Memphis 90-83 to snap the Grizzlies' six-game winning streak. Memphis fans quickly got on Nowitzki, taking issue with the Dallas star's comments that the Mavericks should have done a better job against Pau Gasol when the...

Lewis, Evans propel Sonics (AP)
Rashard Lewis scored 26 points and Reggie Evans grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds to lead the Seattle SuperSonics past the Utah Jazz 106-90 Friday night. The Sonics' win was marred by forward Danny Fortson's ejection in the fourth quarter, when he had to be restrained by teammate Ray Allen, coach Bob Weiss and assistant Jack Sikma after receiving his second technical foul of the game.

Power rankings
Sidney Crosby spoke out and said what the rest of the league already knows – the Penguins need to try harder.

NHL goal leader Gagne out two weeks (AP)
Already depleted by injuries, the Philadelphia Flyers will be without NHL goals leader Simon Gagne for two weeks. The All-Star forward, who leads the league with 23 goals, has a groin tear. "It's tough news to take right now, especially with the start I have had and everything was going well," Gagne said after an MRI on Friday confirmed he had a tear.

Petrovicky's hat trick lifts Thrashers (AP)
Ronald Petrovicky has learned that playing time must be earned. Petrovicky made a point that he deserves more playing time as he finished off his first three-goal game with an empty-net goal, powering the Atlanta Thrashers to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. Petrovicky, recently benched for six straight games by coach Bob Hartley, had only one point in three games since...

Zetterberg's two PP goals lift Red Wings (AP)
The Detroit Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals with their special teams. Henrik Zetterberg scored two power-play goals and Nicklas Lidstrom added a power-play goal and two assists to lead Detroit to a 4-3 victory Friday night The Red Wings, who are 5-0-0 when they score three power-play goals, were 3-for-6 with the man advantage.

Avs beat Devils on Laaksonen's SO goal (AP)
Antti Laaksonen was ready -- and relaxed -- when he finally got his turn in the seventh round of a shootout. The Colorado forward scored the only shootout goal Friday night to give the Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Laaksonen beat Martin Brodeur with a high backhander to help the Avalanche pull out the win on a night in which they squandered a 3-0 lead.

Without Lemieux, Pens lose 5-0 to Wild (AP)
For the first time in a season in which rookie Sidney Crosby has exceeded all expectations and his Pittsburgh Penguins have met none of theirs, Crosby is questioning his teammates' lack of effort. Marian Gaborik stole the puck from forward Shane Endicott and scored barely a minute into the game, setting the tone for the Minnesota Wild's 5-0 rout Thursday night that ran the Penguins' losing streak...

Penguins say Lemieux cheerful, upbeat (AP)
Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Craig Patrick knew owner-captain Mario Lemieux was feeling much better after yet another medical scare when he heard laughter in the team's executive offices Thursday morning. Lemieux, from his hospital bed, was text messaging club employees and, Patrick said, "I know everybody was chuckling every time they read one of them." Lemieux, whose oft-interrupted Hall...

Vokoun, Legwand out with knee injuries (AP)
Predators center David Legwand will have knee surgery on Monday and goaltender Tomas Vokoun will be out up to two weeks with a knee strain. Both had MRI exams after being hurt in Thursday night's 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers, the team said Friday. Legwand tore cartilage in his knee and is expected be out four weeks.

Kings' Bure to miss at least eight weeks (AP)
Valeri Bure of the Los Angeles Kings had surgery Friday to alleviate lower back pain and is expected to be sidelined at least eight weeks. The Kings said Bure is expected to begin his rehabilitation in about 10 days. The 31-year-old right wing hasn't played a regular-season game since signing with the Kings on Aug.

Sharks roll to fourth straight win (AP)
The San Jose Sharks are starting to think they got two superstars in last week's big trade with Boston. Joe Thornton has been even better than his teammates imagined -- and his arrival also has spurred Patrick Marleau to the best hockey of his NHL career. Marleau had his fourth straight three-point game, Mark Smith scored two goals, and the Sharks remained unbeaten with Thornton in the lineup,...

Observations
NASCAR's new TV deal made a splash, but Wall Street doesn't necessarily approve.

Motorsports companies down after NASCAR TV deal disappoints (AP)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Shares of motorsports companies fell Thursday after NASCAR's new television rights...

NASCAR agrees to eight-year television package with five networks (AP)
When no one else wanted NASCAR on its networks, ESPN was thrilled to air everything it could as an eager partner in the grass-roots effort to build stock car racing into a major sport.

NASCAR signs deals with ABC, ESPN, FOX, TNT, SPEED (SportsTicker)
BRISTOL, Connecticut (Ticker) - NASCAR soon will be all over the dial.

Toro Rosso makes Speed first US F1 racer since 1993 (AFP)
Scott Speed will become the first American to race in Formula One since Michael Andretti's ill-fated 1993 flop when he takes the wheel in 2006 for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the team confirmed.

NASCAR annoyed with drivers who skipped New York ceremonies (AP)
NASCAR officials are ``extremely disappointed'' in Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other drivers who failed to attend the season-ending awards ceremonies.

Stewart cashes in on record year (AP)
Tony Stewart's best year in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series reached the bottom line Friday, with the two-time champion setting a record for single-season earnings.

Earnhardt named most popular once again (AP)
Dale Earnhardt slipped this season in the points standings, but not in the popularity department.

Humbled Busch on hand for season-ending ceremonies (AP)
It took two quiet weekends out of a race car for Kurt Busch to realize he needed an attitude adjustment.

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