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Heat Win in Riley's Return to Coaching (AP)
Miami Heat head coach Pat Riley shouts instructions to his team as they played Chicago Bulls in the first quarter Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005 in Chicago.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)AP - Everything about Pat Riley's return to the sideline looked familiar: whistling at his players through a curled tongue, stalking the sideline in French cuffs and slicked back hair.


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Young, Bush, Hawk Head AP All-Americans (AP)
Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk (47), right, sacks Illinois quarterback Tim Brasic (15) in the first quarter Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005 at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Hawk was selected to The AP All-America first team defense, released Tuesday Dec. 13, 2005.  (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)AP - Vince Young can claim at least one victory over Southern California this season. The Texas quarterback was selected to The Associated Press All-America team released Tuesday, relegating USC's Matt Leinart to second-team.


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T.O. Gets Lots of Love From Peers (AP)
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens drapes a towel over his arm as he impersonates a waiter after a 4-yard touchdown pass reception against the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter in this  Oct. 23, 2005 file photo, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)AP - Terrell Owens had the microphone and all the attention from a crowd filled with teammates, NFL stars and a few celebrities at his birthday bash.


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DePaul Ends No. 16 Wake's Home Win Streak (AP)
Depaul's Sammy Mejia celebrates his teams 84-81 victory over Wake Forest during the closing moments of the second half at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005.  Mejia had a team high 24 points in the upset over 16th ranked Wake Forest.  (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)AP - Sammy Mejia scored a season-high 24 points — including a basket to answer a late Wake Forest run in the final seconds — and DePaul beat the 16th-ranked Demon Deacons 84-81 on Tuesday night to snap their 21-game home winning streak.


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Cooke's Goal Lifts Canucks Over Rangers (AP)
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, of Sweden, watches the puck, shot by Vancouver Canucks' Matt Cooke (24) fly by into the goal during the third period Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Canucks won 3-2. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)AP - Matt Cooke knocked in a rebound with 4:31 left, snapping a tie in his first game since missing 17 with a broken jaw and lifting the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.


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Falcons Optimistic Vick Will Play (AP)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (7) walks to the locker room in the fourth quarter of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday, Dec. 12, 2005. Vick bruised his ribs on a play when he was tackled by the Saints Dwight Smith. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)AP - Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora remained optimistic Tuesday that the bruised ribs quarterback Michael Vick suffered Monday night will not keep him out of Sunday's game at Chicago.


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Column: Pat Riley Hires Coach He Trusts (AP)
Miami Heat head coach Pat Riley watches his team as they play the Chicago Bulls in the first quarter Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005 in Chicago.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)AP - It was always just a matter of time before Miami Heat president Pat Riley turned the ballclub over to the only coach he's ever really trusted — himself.


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Atlanta Braves May Be on Market (AP)
AP - The Atlanta Braves may be on the market. A statement released by the team Tuesday said Time Warner is exploring the possibility of selling the Braves and the Turner South cable network, which carries many of the Braves' games.

Wizards for Sale, but Will Stay Put for Now (AP)
AP - The Wizards are still for sale but will remain in Kansas City at least through the next season.

Injuries to Islanders' Blake Not Serious (AP)
New York Islanders Jason Blake is taken off the ice after being injured as Merk Parrish and Minnesota Wild  Kurtis Foster look on during the third period, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)AP - Islanders forward Jason Blake had complete feeling in all of his extremities and didn't sustain any serious back or neck injuries when he crashed headfirst into the boards Tuesday night in New York's 4-3 loss to Minnesota.


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Rough and tumble week
Several of the NFL's power teams suffered derailments as they began posturing for the playoffs.

Mora: Rib injury shouldn't sideline Vick (AP)
Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora remained optimistic Tuesday that the bruised ribs quarterback Michael Vick suffered Monday night will not keep him out of Sunday's game at Chicago. Mora said Vick should play against the Bears, even if he is held out of most of this week's practice schedule. Mora confirmed Tuesday that X-rays on Vick's ribs were negative.

Dungy hopes new goals keep Colts focused (AP)
Tony Dungy wants his team focused on four things: Improving, staying healthy, building momentum and protecting their home field. Anything else, like going unbeaten, is a bonus. "Our only goal right now is to improve and be better when we hit January," the Indianapolis Colts coach said. "We just want to keep getting better in practice and games." With three weeks left in the season, the Colts have...

Superdome may reopen for football Nov. 1 (AP)
The Superdome, heavily damaged when Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, can be repaired and ready to reopen for major football events by Nov. 1, a consultant's report says. "The Superdome has become the most recognizable symbol of New Orleans," Tim Coulon, chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition Board, said after report from the Ellerbe Beckett architecture firm was released.

T.O. gets, and gives, love at party (AP)
Terrell Owens had the microphone and all the attention from a crowd filled with teammates, NFL stars and a few celebrities at his birthday bash. Owens didn't use the opportunity to take shots at Donovan McNabb or anyone else in the Philadelphia organization. With at least 19 Eagles in the room, why would he?

Moulds back, future uncertain in Buffalo (AP)
If these final three weeks are Eric Moulds' last as a member of the Buffalo Bills -- a thought that's crossed the veteran receiver's mind -- he would rather they not be tarnished by dispute. Determined and upbeat, Moulds returned to practice Tuesday after serving a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team following an apparent sideline disagreement with an assistant coach during...

Texans hire Reeves as special consultant (AP)
Grasping for answers in their 1-12 season, the Houston Texans hired Dan Reeves as a special consultant to team owner Bob McNair on Monday. McNair made it clear that Reeves, an NFL head coach for 23 seasons with the Broncos, Giants and Falcons, was not brought in to critique coach Dom Capers or general manager Charley Casserly.

Denver CB Williams out with groin injury (AP)
The Denver Broncos have avoided the big injury this season. Finally, luck caught up with them, when starting cornerback Darrent Williams pulled up hurt. Williams, the rookie who was elevated to a starting position in Week 3, is expected to miss four weeks -- maybe less if rehab goes good -- after hurting his right groin while chasing down Baltimore's B.J.

Chargers face uphill battle for playoffs (AP)
The San Diego Chargers were still shaking their heads on Monday at the jam they've gotten themselves into. In order to make it back to the playoffs, the Chargers need to win their last three games and get help from other teams. That's asking quite a lot, because those three games are at undefeated Indianapolis and then Kansas City, with the season finale at home against AFC West-leading Denver.

Seahawks rest before making final push (AP)
Moments after his Seahawks finished off San Francisco on Sunday to improve to 11-2, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren called together his players for a surprise announcement. But it really shouldn't be that much of a surprise anymore. Holmgren told his men they had Monday off. That means a third consecutive two-day mini-vacation before practice resumes Wednesday.

Seeing clearly
Now that roughly a quarter of the season is in the books, Steve Kerr has a clearer picture of who's for real.

Heat edge Bulls in Riley's return (AP)
Everything about Pat Riley's return to the sideline looked familiar: whistling at his players through a curled tongue, stalking the sideline in French cuffs and slicked back hair. And relying on his All-Star big man to win the game. Riley's second tenure as Miami Heat coach got off to a successful start Tuesday, getting 30 points from Shaquille O'Neal in a 100-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Carmelo puts on show for Jordan (AP)
Carmelo Anthony knew he hadn't taken that many shots and he wasn't paying attention to the scoreboard. So it took a moment for him to realize he just had a career night. Anthony scored 42 points to lift the Denver Nuggets past the Charlotte Bobcats 101-85 on Tuesday night. "I didn't even know I had it," he said.

Duncan leads Spurs past Clippers in OT (AP)
Tim Duncan hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to send the game into overtime and then led the Spurs past the Los Angeles Clippers for a 95-87 victory Tuesday night. The Spurs climbed back from deficits as large as eight against the Pacific Division's leader, outscoring the Clippers 11-3 in overtime.

Wells beats buzzer for Kings win (AP)
Bonzi Wells is fast becoming the Sacramento Kings' go-to player in crunch time. Wells hit a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired to lift the Kings to a 93-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. "My heart is still pounding," said Wells, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter of a victory over New Orleans on Sunday.

Magic's Hill expected to play Wednesday (AP)
After spending all season on the bench with an abdominal injury, star forward Grant Hill is expected play for the Orlando Magic for the first time this season Wednesday against the New York Knicks. Hill had surgery for a sports hernia Oct. 31 and was expected to miss three to six weeks. He started practicing full-speed last week, but was held out of Saturday's win over Denver to allow more practice...

Harrington, Hawks knock off Cavaliers (AP)
In every NBA season there are always a few unexpected bumps. The Cavaliers have banged into a big one. Al Harrington scored 20 points, Tyronn Lue had a season-high 19 and the Atlanta Hawks controlled Cleveland from start to finish and won their second road game, surprising the sluggish Cavaliers 100-94 on Tuesday night.

Pacers' rookies to fill Artest's minutes (AP)
Sarunas Jasikevicius and Danny Granger will go from rookie role players to key contributors now that the Indiana Pacers are trying to trade Ron Artest. Artest said over the weekend he wants to be traded. Now, Jasikevicius and Granger stand to gain much of his playing time. Jasikevicius already has stepped into the gap while several Pacers missed time with injuries.

No Arenas, no problem for Wizards (AP)
With Gilbert Arenas ailing, Chucky Atkins made a strong case for the playing time he feels he deserves. Atkins started for the first time this season and ran the offense effectively, scoring 12 points with nine assists Tuesday night to lead a balanced attack in the Washington Wizards' 94-74 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

Nuggets G Boykins ends 253-game streak (AP)
Denver Nuggets reserve guard Earl Boykins missed Tuesday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats with a strained left hamstring, ending a streak of 253 consecutive games played. Boykins' streak was sixth among current NBA players. Boykins, hurt during Monday's practice, averages 12 points and 4.3 assists per game.

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

Blake injured in Islanders' loss to Wild (AP)
The New York Islanders' Jason Blake crashed headfirst into the boards midway through the third period, overshadowing the team's latest disappointing home game. Blake had complete feeling in all of his extremities and didn't sustain any serious back or neck injuries when he crashed headfirst into the boards Tuesday night in New York's 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Thrashers hold off late Red Wings rally (AP)
The Atlanta Thrashers have a long way to go on defense, but they know how to score, especially on the power play. "They have a ton of offensive talent," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock after Patrik Stefan scored a late goal to help Thrashers escape with a 7-6 win over the Red Wings Tuesday night. The Thrashers showed their scoring potential with four second-period goals.

Canucks G Cloutier out for season (AP)
Vancouver Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier will miss at least the rest of the regular season because of a knee injury that will require surgery. Cloutier partially tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee when Anaheim forward Rob Niedermayer ran into him in the crease during the first period of a Nov.

Cooke's late goal helps Canucks to win (AP)
Todd Bertuzzi had everything going his way at Madison Square Garden. He threw his body around like the old days and showed off his fine finishing skill on a breakaway. All that was missing were the lost minutes he spent in the penalty box. Bertuzzi heard boos all night but that didn't matter at the end because he and the Vancouver Canucks left with a spirited 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the...

Blues' Sanford shuts out Penguins, 3-0 (AP)
Curtis Sanford and Keith Tkachuk downplayed their individual accomplishments for the St. Louis Blues. Sanford made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season, and Tkachuk, Jamal Mayers and Doug Weight scored goals in a 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. "It's nice just to get the two points," said Sanford, making his first start since Nov.

Flyers stay unbeaten against Jackets (AP)
Philadelphia Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock is impressed with his teams' composure through recent adversity. Not only has Philadelphia played lately without leading scorers Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, and key defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Eric Desjardins, the team had to weather a challenging second period Tuesday night.

Brodeur saves Devils in shootout win (AP)
Brian Gionta came through again to help the New Jersey Devils end a four-game losing streak. Gionta, who leads the team with 18 goals, beat Ty Conklin with a backhand shot in a shootout Tuesday night to give the Devils a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. "I was feeling pretty confident," Gionta said.

Jackets' Fedorov to skip Turin Olympics (AP)
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sergei Fedorov will not play for Russia in the Turin Olympics Fedorov, a six-time NHL All-Star who turned 36 on Tuesday, said he needed the time to recuperate from a nagging injury and to adapt to his new team. "I don't think it is appropriate to delay my decision about the Olympics any further," Fedorov said in a statement released through IMG, which handles his...

Horton helps Panthers end skid (AP)
Nathan Horton has put a knee injury behind him in a big way for the Florida Panthers. Horton had his first career three-goal game to help the Panthers snap a four-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. Horton has seven goals in seven games after missing 10 games with the knee injury.

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

NASCAR champ to drive midget races under his own name (AP)
Tony Stewart will drive a midget car again, and won't try to fool anybody. The two-time NASCAR champion will drive in a pair of U.S. Auto Club indoor midget car races at Fort Wayne, where he won a 60-lap feature a year ago under an assumed name in an old junker he bought during a poker game the night before.

Audi to send a diesel to Le Mans race (AP)
Audi will be the first carmaker to send a diesel-powered vehicle to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Before the race June 17-18 in Le Mans, France, the R10 will have several tests, Audi motor sports chief Wolfgang Ullrich said Tuesday. A major one will be in March, in the 12-hour race in Sebring, Fla. "The R10 project is the biggest challenge Audi Sport ever faced," Ullrich said.

Iowa Speedway project gets more financing (AP)
NEWTON, Iowa - An Iowa-based construction company said it has obtained the financing to complete construction of...

Price of returning racing to North Wilkesboro is $12 million (AP)
A grass-roots group is lobbying to return racing to North Wilkesboro Speedway, but a $12 million price tag might be too steep for Wilkes County. That's the asking price of Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre, who own the former NASCAR track. A group calling itself Save the Speedway, which wants to bring racing back to the .625-mile oval, retired an online petition last week after gathering 4,582 signatures.

NASCAR's Pacific Northwest expansion plan faces tough road (AP)
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Is the land of lattes ready to join NASCAR Nation? The sport's leaders are betting on it with a...

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.

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