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Leaders Tumble, and Arakawa Wins Gold (AP)
Shizuka Arakawa, of Japan, skates  with her gold medal  after winning   the Women's Free Skate  in Turin, Italy during the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)AP - Shizuka Arakawa clutched the Olympic gold medal in her hand, refusing to let it go lest it all be a mistake. It was hers, all right. And Japan's. A surprise winner from a surprise country.


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Wallace Lifts Pistons Over Pacers (AP)
Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace (36) deflects a lay-up by Indiana Pacers center David Harrison during the second quarter of their basketball game at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)AP - The Detroit Pistons were struggling through a rare off night Thursday. Fortunately for them, Rasheed Wallace picked up a technical foul.


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Mavericks Win 13th Straight at Home (AP)
AP - With Josh Howard hurt and the Dallas Mavericks struggling on both ends of the court, Dirk Nowitzki knew he had to start scoring. He and Jason Terry turned into quite a duo against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Ellis Breaks Back Vertebra in Accident (AP)
Kevin Ellis of the United States starts his first run in Men's Skeleton, at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games at Cesana Pariol, Italy, in this Friday, Feb. 17, 2006 file photo.  Ellis 32, from Dallas, was injured Thursday Feb. 23, 2006, while competing against members of the U.S. luge team in a made-for-TV, non-Olympic sledding event.(AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski, file)AP - American skeleton racer Kevin Ellis broke a vertebra in his back Thursday while competing against members of the U.S. luge team in a non-Olympic sledding event being filmed for television.


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Hedrick Looking for Another Gold in 10km (AP)
United States' bronze medalist Chad Hedrick leaves with his medal at the end of the medal ceremony for the Men's Speedskating 1,500 meters at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Wednesday Feb. 22, 2006. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)AP - Chad Hedrick finally had a chance to rest. Now, after four Olympics races — and one very juicy feud — he'll try to finish these Winter Games like he started. With a gold medal. Hedrick is the world record holder heading into Friday's 10,000 meters, the final men's speedskating event.


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Broncos Linebacker Pleads Guilty to DUI (AP)
AP - Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired and was sentenced to a year of probation and 24 hours of community service, the Rocky Mountain News reported on its Web site Thursday.

Pistons pip Pacers to maintain home dominance (Reuters)
Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson (3) shoots under pressure from Cleveland Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden (R) during fourth quarter NBA action in Philadelphia February 22, 2006. The 76ers defeated the Cavaliers 116-107. REUTERS/Tim ShafferReuters - Rasheed Wallace had 28 points and nine rebounds to guide Detroit to an 88-83 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, giving the Pistons their 11th consecutive home win.


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Ramirez Only One Absent From First Workout (AP)
Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry, left, and Red Sox president Larry Lucchino laugh before the team's first full-squad workout during baseball spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Brita Meng Outzen)AP - Here's what Manny Ramirez missed by skipping the Boston Red Sox's first full-squad workout Thursday:


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AS Roma Defeats Brugge, Advances at UEFA (AP)
AS Roma's Edgar Alvarez of Honduras, right, in action with Brugge's Michael Kluwkowsky during the UEFA Cup soccer match at Rome's Olympic stadium, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. Roma won the match 2-1 and advance to the quarterfinals. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)AP - AS Roma, Udinese and Palermo advanced to the final 16 of the UEFA Cup on Thursday. Following a 2-1 win on the road in the first leg, AS Roma defeated Brugge 2-1 on goals by Alessandro Amantino and Cesare Bovo to win the total-goals series 4-2.


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Predators Send Legwand to AHL After Surgery (AP)
AP - The Nashville Predators sent center David Legwand down to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Wednesday for a conditioning assignment.

NFL's growth industry
INDIANAPOLIS – Offensive tackles' profiles have increased in this year's draft, especially D'Brickashaw Ferguson's.

Culpepper to stay with Vikes (AP)
Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper was assured by team owner Zygi Wilf that the Vikings haven't spoken to other teams about a potential trade. Culpepper, the subject of various trade rumors, released a statement Thursday saying he and Wilf talked on the telephone earlier in the week about his situation.

Seahawks give Hutchinson transition tag (AP)
The NFC champion Seattle Seahawks designated All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson as the team's transition player on Thursday after the sides were unable to reach a long-term contract. Hutchinson will receive a one-year contract for the average salary of the top 10 offensive linemen from the 2005 season, $6.39 million.

Panthers make Foster transition player (AP)
The Carolina Panthers protected running back DeShaun Foster from free agency Thursday by naming him their transition player. Foster is now guaranteed $5.13 million next season if he doesn't sign a long-term contract. Foster can still talk to other teams when the NFL's free agent period starts next Thursday, but the transition tag gives Carolina the right to match any offer.

Colts' Wayne agrees to 6-year, $39M deal (AP)
Reggie Wayne wanted to stay with a winner. The Indianapolis Colts' wide receiver passed up a chance to become an unrestricted free agent and agreed to a $39 million, six-year contract Wednesday. The move makes Wayne one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers and allows the Colts to use their franchise tag on another player if they choose.

Raiders CB Woodson to become free agent (AP)
The Oakland Raiders declined to use the franchise tag on cornerback Charles Woodson for a third straight season, making the Heisman Trophy winner an unrestricted free agent next month. Woodson, who hasn't played a full season since 2001, was limited to six games last year before breaking his right leg Oct.

Niners Pro Bowl LB Peterson cut loose (AP)
The San Francisco 49ers decided to let Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson become an unrestricted free agent by not making him their franchise player Thursday. The 49ers also released nine players, including receiver Johnnie Morton, cornerback Ahmed Plummer and defensive end Chris Cooper. Peterson, who missed most of the 2004 season with a torn Achilles' tendon, was one of the team's most popular...

Bills cut former first-rounder Williams (AP)
Offensive lineman Mike Williams was released by the Bills on Thursday, ending a disappointing four-year tenure in Buffalo for the former No. 4 draft pick. The move allows the Bills to save more than $3 million in salary cap space for next season. Williams had two years left on his contract, was due a $3 million roster bonus in July and was scheduled to count about $10.8 million against the cap next...

Tug of war
Could Larry Brown possibly have signed off on a deal that brought another shoot-first guard into the Knicks backcourt?

Watson, Patterson in nine-player trade (AP)
Earl Watson returned to the Seattle SuperSonics and forward Ruben Patterson was dealt from Portland to Denver on Thursday as part of a four-team, nine-player trade. The Sacramento Kings also were involved in the deal, which was confirmed after approval by the NBA and is subject to all players passing physicals.

Mavs win club-record 13th in row at home (AP)
With Josh Howard hurt and the Dallas Mavericks struggling on both ends of the court, Dirk Nowitzki knew he had to start scoring. He and Jason Terry turned into quite a duo against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nowitzki had 31 points and Terry scored 23, and they sparked the two key runs that pushed the Mavericks to a 97-87 victory Thursday as Dallas won its franchise-record 13th straight home game.

Rasheed leads Pistons over Pacers, 88-83 (AP)
The Detroit Pistons were struggling through a rare off night Thursday. Fortunately for them, Rasheed Wallace picked up a technical foul. As has become his trademark, Wallace turned up his game after the technical, scoring 11 of his game-high 28 points in a key fourth-quarter surge to lift the Detroit Pistons to an 88-83 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.

Lakers storm past Kings behind Kobe's 36 (AP)
For a while there, it was just like old times for the Los Angeles Lakers. And veterans Kobe Bryant and Devean George were right in the middle of things. Bryant and George, key members of the Lakers' three championship teams from 2000-02, scored nine points each during an 18-3 fourth-quarter run that propelled the Lakers to a 106-85 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

Knicks acquire Steve Francis from Magic (AP)
After the New York Knicks acquired Steve Francis, they played as if they were trying to justify the need for him. The Knicks had 13 assists and 16 turnovers in their 103-83 loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. So it shouldn't take much for Francis to crack New York's lineup. "I looked at the stat sheet, we had five assists in the first half," Knicks coach Larry Brown said.

Blazers' Telfair suspended two games (AP)
Portland Trail Blazers guard Sebastian Telfair was suspended for two games by the NBA for violating the league's firearms policy. The suspension stems from the discovery of a loaded firearm during a pre-flight inspection on the team's private plane following a game in Boston earlier this month. Telfair admitted to authorities that the gun was his girlfriend's, and that he had grabbed her bag...

Financial problems for Trail Blazers (AP)
Billionaire Paul Allen's spokesman said Thursday the future of the Portland Trail Blazers is in doubt after Allen's investment managers estimated the NBA franchise stands to lose more than $100 million over the next three years. Lance Conn, who heads Vulcan Capital, Allen's privately held investment firm, told The Associated Press in an interview that "all options are on the table" because "the...

Stern asks for Seattle arena renovations (AP)
NBA commissioner David Stern asked Washington state lawmakers Thursday for tax money to renovate the Seattle SuperSonics' arena, saying there could be consequences if the state doesn't act. "A substantial amount has been done for the baseball and football teams. I'm here personally to find out whether the same is being considered fairly for the NBA," Stern said at a legislative hearing, flanked by...

Heat acquire Anderson from Rockets (AP)
Derek Anderson was acquired Thursday by the Miami Heat in a trade that sent guard Gerald Fitch to the Houston Rockets. Anderson, sidelined much of this season with a strained right calf, has averaged 10.8 points in 20 games. The 6-foot-5 swingman has averaged 13.0 points and 3.6 assists in his nine-year career.

Drawn and quartered
TURIN, Italy – There was never a sense of urgency for Team USA hockey, so a quarterfinal exit shouldn't be a surprise.

Modano skips final U.S. hockey meeting (AP)
Mike Modano packed up his stuff and left Italy on Thursday morning, skipping a final meeting with his Olympic teammates after they were eliminated a night earlier in the men's hockey quarterfinals. USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said the longtime Dallas Stars forward -- who sharply criticized team management after the Americans' elimination Wednesday -- was the only member of the 23-player...

No-gold Canada rethinks future plans (AP)
All that talent. All that money. All that nothingness. Canada, the land that invented hockey but somehow can't seem to win at it regularly, sent what it thought was its best-ever Olympic men's team to Turin. Oh, it made history for sure, but in entirely the wrong way. O Canada? No, in these games the bottom line was: Russia 2, Canada 0.

Familiar foes in hockey semifinals (AP)
Henrik Lundqvist goes against Jaromir Jagr daily in practice with the New York Rangers. The rookie goalie knows all of Jagr's signature moves, his tendencies, how his slap shot carries off his stick and what he does on breakaways. So Sweden's goaltender should have a big advantage when he goes against hockey's most gifted scorer in the Olympic men's semifinals Friday, right?

Hasek not sure when he'll return to Sens (AP)
Ottawa Senators goalie Dominik Hasek said there's "very little chance" he'll be able to play when the NHL resumes March 1 and isn't sure when he'll return from a groin injury that forced him to withdraw from the Olympics. "Of course I'm worried, I'll be honest," the 41-year-old said Tuesday as he met with reporters for the first time since returning from the Turin Games.

Lamoriello to remain as Devils coach (AP)
Lou Lamoriello will remain as coach of the New Jersey Devils for the rest of the season. Lamoriello, also the team's president and general manager, informed players of his decision to remain behind the bench at practice Wednesday. He said the decision was made during the weekend after talks with Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek.

NHL committed to helping Pens stay put (AP)
The NHL remains committed to helping the Penguins find an arena and stay in Pittsburgh, the league's deputy commissioner said Thursday. The league supports a Penguins' plan for Isle of Capri Casinos to build a $290 million arena at no taxpayer cost as long as the company is awarded a state license to build a downtown slot machines parlor.

Sweden's Ohlund leaves game with injury (AP)
Sweden defenseman Mattias Ohlund collided with the boards in the second period against Switzerland and left the Olympic men's hockey game Wednesday. "He's at the hospital for some X-rays," Swede coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said after his team won 6-2. Ohlund, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, was injured when he was checked by Patric Della Rossa from behind, lost his balance and slid into the...

Habs G Theodore won't appeal drug test (AP)
Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore won't appeal a December drug test in which he tested positive for a steroid. Theodore was on Canada's preliminary Olympic eligibility list but was not placed on the final squad. He tested positive during random pre-Olympic screening for a drug that can be used to mask steroid use.

Legwand sent to AHL for conditioning (AP)
The Nashville Predators sent center David Legwand down to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Wednesday for a conditioning assignment. The 6-2, 190-pound center has three goals and 13 points in 26 games for the Predators, but has not played since having knee surgery on Dec. 12 to repair torn cartilage.

Full Fontana weekend
The Busch and Craftsman Truck series join the Cup circuit at California Speedway this weekend.

Notes: Real Cup season gets going in California (AP)
Now, the real season begins in NASCAR. At least that's what most of the Nextel Cup drivers and crew chiefs are...

Roush ready to rebound in California (AP)
No one could have been as eager to leave Daytona as team owner Jack Roush. All of his drivers finished outside...

Driver X produces bumper crop of prospects (AP)
The goal of Discovery Channel's "Roush Racing: Driver X" reality series was to find one driver and reward him or...

NASCAR juggernaut bounces back from adversity (AP)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson's victory in last Sunday's Daytona 500 is one more example of how...

Bank of America extends its NASCAR connection with new deal (AP)
Bank of America Corp. said Tuesday that it has reached a five-year agreement with International Speedway Corp. to sponsor four race tracks, including California Speedway near Los Angeles.

Knaus suspended three more races, fined $25,000 (AP)
NASCAR suspended crew chief Chad Knaus for three more races Tuesday and fined him $25,000 for making an illegal modification to Jimmie Johnson's car during preparation for the Daytona 500.

NASCAR suspends Hendrick crew chief Knaus (SportsTicker)
By Bruce Martin SportsTicker Contributing Editor

Hall of Fame Racing penalized after debut (AP)
Hall of Fame Racing, the NASCAR team owned by former NFL quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, received its first penalties Tuesday for infractions during the Daytona 500.

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