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O'Neal Dominates As Pacers Top Nets (AP)
Indiana Pacers' Jermaine O'Neal, left, puts up a shot against New Jersey Nets' Nenad Krstic, of Serbia and Montenegro, during the first quarter of an NBA first-round playoff  basketball game in Indianapolis, Thursday, April 27, 2006.  (AP Photo/AJ Mast)AP - Maybe Jermaine O'Neal's $15,000 fine was worth it. The NBA fined O'Neal on Thursday for publicly criticizing officials after Indiana's Game 2 loss at New Jersey. Unfazed, he tied a career playoff high with 37 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and the Pacers beat the Nets 107-95 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.


Selig: MLB Not Planning Bonds Celebration (AP)
San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds watches the flight of his two-run home run off of New York Mets' Billy Wagner in the ninth inning of their baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 26, 2006. The Mets won 9-7 in 11 innings. It was Bonds' career home run number 711. At left is Mets' catcher Ramon Castro. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)AP - Barry Bonds will have to wait until he passes Hank Aaron before baseball throws a party for him. Major League Baseball is not planning any celebration for Bonds if and when he tops Babe Ruth's mark of 714 home runs, commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday.


Even Without Martin, Nuggets Beat Clippers (AP)
Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, center, gets trapped with the ball as Los Angeles Clippers guard Quinton Ross, left, and forward Elton Brand close in from the sides in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' 94-87 victory in Game 3 of the teams' NBA Western Conference first-round playoff series in Denver on Thursday, April 27, 2006. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)AP - The Denver Nuggets didn't need their fiery forward to get back into their playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers. Playing without Kenyon Martin, who was suspended for insubordination, the Nuggets beat the Clippers 94-87 Thursday night behind Carmelo Anthony's hard-fought 24 points.


Earnhardt Posthumously Enters Hall of Fame (AP)
AP - Dale Earnhardt was already the most popular driver stock car racing has ever known. Now he's a Hall of Famer, too.

Broussard Drives in 8 As Indians Cruise (AP)
Cleveland Indians' Ben Broussard watches his first inning grand slam off Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett in a Major League baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2006, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)AP - Ben Broussard was glad he didn't hear the fans calling his name. Broussard drove in a career-high eight runs and the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 15-3 Thursday night, handing Josh Beckett his first loss with his new team.


Bush, Williams, Leinart, Young among top prizes in draft (Reuters)
Former University of Southern California runningback Reggie Bush speaks with members of the media at a media luncheon in New York April 27, 2006. Bush, who amassed 42 touchdowns, 6,551 all-purpose-yards and won two national championships while playing in 39 games for USC is likely to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft which will take place in New York on April 29. (Mike Segar/Reuters)Reuters - The National Football League plays its version of high-stakes poker on Saturday when the league's 32 teams wheel and deal before declaring their choices in the 2006 draft of college players.


Calm O'Neal leads Pacers to Game Three victory over Nets (Reuters)
Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal (R) and Pacers center Scot Pollard (L) defend against New Jersey Nets guard Vince Carter as Carter shoots during the fourth quarter of game three in their NBA first round playoff at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis April 27, 2006. (Brent Smith/Reuters)Reuters - Jermaine O'Neal stayed out of foul trouble and the Indiana Pacers stayed ahead of the New Jersey Nets in their Eastern Conference quarter-final with a well-deserved 107-95 win in Indianapolis on Thursday.


Smoky Fire at Busch Creates Diversion (AP)
St. Louis Cardinals' John Rodriguez is tagged out at home plate by Washington Nationals catcher Brian Schneider in the eighth inning of their baseball game on Thursday, April 27, 2006, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Rodriguez was thrown out at home plate as he tried to score on a Juan Encarnacion single. (AP Photo/Kyle Ericson)AP - A small trash fire in the left-field construction zone at new Busch Stadium caused a smoky diversion near the end of the St. Louis Cardinals' victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.


Middlesbrough, Sevilla Advance to Finals (AP)
Middlesbrough's Massimo Maccarone celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Steaua Bucuresti during the UEFA Cup semi-final second leg match at The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough in England Thursday April 27, 2006.  Substitute Massimo Maccarone scored in the 89th minute for Middlesbrough to beat Steaua Bucharest 4-2 Thursday and advance to its first UEFA Cup final. (AP Photo/Owen Humphreys,PA)AP - Middlesbrough and Sevilla advanced to the final of the UEFA Cup with semifinal victories Thursday night.


Red Wings Tie Series Against Oilers (AP)
Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall, left, celebrates his goal against the  Edmonton Oilers with teammate Pavel Datsyuk during the first period of NHL Western Conference Quarterfinals hockey action at Edmonton's Rexall Place in Canada on Thursday, April 27, 2006. (AP Photo/John Ulan,CP)AP - The Detroit Red Wings scored three power-play goals, including Nicklas Lidstrom's game-winner on a two-man advantage in the third period, in a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.


Moment of truth
NEW YORK – Before he can proceed with his NFL future, Reggie Bush must answer questions about his collegiate past.

Even top players uncertain before draft (AP)
Two days before the NFL draft, even the players who will be picked at the top are tired of listening to the chatter and reading the gossip. In other words, just get on with it. "There's so much uncertainty I don't even pay attention to what they're saying anymore," Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, said Thursday during an NFL-sponsored media session for six of...

With Favre back, Packers get DB Woodson (AP)
The Green Bay Packers made their first major splash in the free-agent market this offseason, agreeing to terms with defensive back Charles Woodson on Wednesday. Woodson's agent, Kevin Poston, said the Packers agreed to a seven-year deal for $52.7 million, including $10.5 million in the first year of the contract.

Texans will draft Bush or Williams No. 1 (AP)
Sorry, Vince, but you won't be playing for your hometown team. The Houston Texans will take Southern Cal running back Reggie Bush or North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams with the first pick in Saturday's draft, general manager Charley Casserly said Wednesday. The Texans dashed the hopes of Texas fans who have been clamoring for the team to pick Vince Young, a Houston native who led the...

QB Young is scouts' ultimate conundrum (AP)
Nobody quite knows what to make of Vince Young. A quarterback? For sure. The best one on this weekend's draft board? Well, it's funny how a player's stock can rise and fall in the span of weeks and months. The Texas quarterback, one of the best "athletes" in the draft, once struggled so much with the Longhorns that some felt he'd be better off at another position.

Favre returning to Packers (AP)
Brett Favre certainly isn't the first star quarterback to have a difficult time deciding when the time is right to step aside. Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath are considered prime examples of NFL legends who held on too long. And Favre's fellow Green Bay Packers icon, Bart Starr, includes himself on that list.

Vikes release RB Onterrio Smith (AP)
Onterrio Smith proclaimed himself the "Steal of the Draft" after Minnesota picked him in the fourth round out of the University of Oregon in 2003. Three years later, it's clear why he didn't go any higher. The Vikings released Smith on Wednesday with at least six weeks left on his one-year suspension for violating league drug policy -- ultimately deciding there was too much trouble in his past to...

Talks between Seahawks, Holmgren ongoing (AP)
Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell said Wednesday that talks with Mike Holmgren about the coach's future with the team beyond this season are ongoing. Holmgren is in the final year of a $32 million, eight-year contract. As recently as this month, weeks after the franchise's most successful season ended with a Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh, Holmgren said he was unsure whether he wanted to extend...

The unselfish Kobe
Kobe Bryant stuck to Phil Jackson's game plan, again playing team basketball in leading the Lakers past Phoenix.

Shaq held to eight points, Bulls win (AP)
Instead of looking like his old self, Shaquille O'Neal simply looked old, flustered and frustrated. O'Neal had one of his worst playoff performances, and the Chicago Bulls took advantage, beating the Miami Heat 109-90 on Thursday night in a game that got heated in the end. The Bulls pulled within 2-1 in the first-round series and host Game 4 on Sunday.

Pacers take 2-1 lead as O'Neal scores 37 (AP)
Maybe Jermaine O'Neal's $15,000 fine was worth it. The NBA fined O'Neal on Thursday for publicly criticizing officials after Indiana's Game 2 loss at New Jersey. Unfazed, he tied a career playoff high with 37 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and the Pacers beat the Nets 107-95 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Minus Martin, Nuggets top Clippers 94-87 (AP)
The Denver Nuggets didn't need their fiery forward to get back into their playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers. Playing without Kenyon Martin, who was suspended for insubordination, the Nuggets beat the Clippers 94-87 Thursday night behind Carmelo Anthony's hard-fought 24 points. The Nuggets will try to tie the series 2-2 Saturday night in Denver, after which Martin might be allowed to...

Report: Nash to win second straight MVP (AP)
Steve Nash will be named the NBA's most valuable player for the second year in a row, The Arizona Republic reported on Wednesday. The newspaper cited a league source familiar with the voting, but said the official announcement may not come for two weeks. The NBA did not comment on the report, posted on the Republic's Web site Wednesday.

Mourning ineffective in return for Heat (AP)
Alonzo Mourning, sidelined by a torn right calf muscle since March 22, returned to the floor the Miami Heat on Thursday night and played eight scoreless minutes a 109-90 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The 6-foot-10 Mourning, a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, entered the game late in the first quarter when Shaquille O'Neal picked up his second foul.

Arenas out to upstage LeBron (AP)
See LeBron play well. See the Cleveland Cavaliers win. See LeBron play not-so-well. See the Cavaliers lose. The first-round meeting between the Cavaliers and Washington Wizards might as well be called the LeBron James Series, given all the attention paid to the Cleveland star making his playoff debut. Gilbert Arenas wouldn't mind doing a bit of upstaging.

Artest won't lower intensity in return (AP)
Ron Artest only had one prediction for Game 3 of the Sacramento Kings' playoff series against San Antonio: He'll be there. And the Kings believe their defensive star's return after a one-game suspension will give them another good chance to beat the Spurs on Friday night after two tough losses back in Texas -- one in 34-point blowout fashion, and the other on the heartbreak of Brent Barry's...

Lakers successful so far in slowing Suns (AP)
The Phoenix Suns are at their best when they are racing downcourt, with Steve Nash finding the open man for layups and 3-pointers or scoring himself. That's how they began the first round of the playoffs, rolling up 39 points in the first quarter on their way to a 107-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1.

Grizzlies need help to end playoff slide (AP)
The Memphis Grizzlies' newfound togetherness and winning attitude has been missing in the playoffs. Their stingy defense has been anything but so far. Perhaps now, though, the homecourt advantage will come into play -- or maybe even some Memphis mojo. Whatever. The Grizzlies need help. Down 0-2 in their playoff series with Dallas, the Grizzlies took a break Thursday to contemplate their elusive search...

Proud Senator
Returning to the Ottawa lineup shortly after the death of his mother, Wade Redden gave his team a lift.

Sens move Tampa to brink of elimination (AP)
So much for the idea the Ottawa Senators might be vulnerable in the first round of the NHL playoffs because of rookie goaltender Ray Emery. Emery stopped 30 shots and Martin Havlat scored for the fourth straight game Thursday night, leading the Eastern Conference's top seed to a 5-2 victory that pushed the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the brink of elimination.

O'Donnell helps Ducks even series in OT (AP)
Teemu Selanne and Jean-Sebastien-Giguere, Anaheim's stars, stepped up. It was less-heralded teammate Sean O'Donnell who won the game. The defenseman scored on a slap shot 1:36 into overtime Thursday night to give the Mighty Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames and even their best-of-seven playoff series after four games.

Red Wings even series with Oilers (AP)
The Detroit Red Wings scored three power-play goals, including Nicklas Lidstrom's game-winner on a two-man advantage in the third period, in a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. The win that evened the playoff series after four games had Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish livid with referees Marc Joannette and Dean Warren.

Marleau's hat trick lifts Sharks (AP)
Patrick Marleau quietly turned in another fantastic postseason performance -- and the San Jose Sharks needed every one of his three goals to take control of their series with the Nashville Predators. San Jose's captain had his third career postseason hat trick, and the Sharks pushed the Predators to the brink of elimination with a 5-4 victory in Game 4 on Thursday night.

Canadiens' Koivu out with eye injury (AP)
Montreal's Saku Koivu will miss at least one game because of an eye injury, and the Canadiens are preparing for the possibility that their captain could be out for longer. Four years after winning his battle with cancer, Koivu finds himself anxiously waiting to learn what damage was done to his left eye as the result of being accidentally hit with a stick during the second period of Montreal's 2-1...

Jagr, Rangers trying to avoid sweep (AP)
The smile and sense of humor that Jaromir Jagr displayed all season was back Thursday and belied the dire straits he and the New York Rangers suddenly find themselves in. Jagr was one of a handful of Rangers who took the practice ice the morning after another thorough beating by the New Jersey Devils left New York just one loss away from a quick playoff exit.

Avalanche up 3-0 on Stars, but cautious (AP)
Not since the New York Islanders came back to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1975 has an NHL team overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NHL playoffs. Only one other team, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, won a series after losing the first three games, but the Colorado Avalanche aren't putting it past the Dallas Stars to join that exclusive comeback club in 2006.

Flyers to continue physical play (AP)
Leave it to the former Broad Street Bullies to stick with a physical style in the new, offense-oriented NHL. Despite losing the first two games of their first-round playoff series against Buffalo, the Philadelphia Flyers didn't change their aggressive philosophy. Though the Sabres clearly are a faster team, the Flyers used their size to offset Buffalo's speed in Wednesday night's 4-2 win.

Staal's OT goal lifts Hurricanes (AP)
Carolina felt like it finally caught a few breaks and the Hurricanes can only hope they came soon enough to get their playoff run back on track. Eric Staal scored a power-play goal 3:38 into overtime Wednesday night to give Carolina a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens as the Hurricanes avoided falling into an 0-3 hole in their first-round playoff series.

Busch/Craftsman Trucks preview
The Busch field will be chasing Kevin Harvick at 'Dega while the trucks rumble at Gateway.

Earnhardt enters Hall of Fame (AP)
Dale Earnhardt was already the most popular driver stock car racing has ever known.

Junior's new paint job stirs some echoes (AP)
Father-son relationships are complicated enough, never mind trying to sort out the issues while nudging the speedometer toward 200 mph. Yet that's the delicate task Dale Earnhardt Jr. set himself this weekend at Talladega, hoping to honor the man who taught him the business while scaring the snot out of everybody else -- and still win the race.

Auction to be held to benefit ailing Ard (AP)
Richmond International Raceway has joined with former NASCAR Busch Series champions and other stars to...

Mayfield worries about slow start (AP)
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Jeremy Mayfield wants to make one thing crystal clear about his sorry start this season:...

Bowyer's breakout rookie season cements Childress success (AP)
CHARLOTTE – To gauge just how far Richard Childress Racing has come in its company-wide bid for...

Earnhardt to honor father with replica car (AP)
One object in any NASCAR driver's rearview mirror that may have appeared closer than it actually was: Dale Earnhardt's black No. 3 Chevrolet.

Two fans electrocuted outside Talladega track (AP)
Two NASCAR fans were electrocuted in a campground outside Talladega Superspeedway when a flagpole they were erecting touched power lines. Donny Lynn Wright, 42, of Remlap and Keith Alan Stell, 39, of Birmingham died Monday, said track spokeswoman Kristi King. Talladega County Coroner Jerry Castleberry pronounced them dead at the scene.

Drama in the Desert: Stewart, Biffle and Busch all have up-and-down day in Phoenix (AP)
Tony Stewart is in championship form, Greg Biffle has the worst luck imaginable and Kyle Busch is eerily similar to his big brother.

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