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Smith grows up as 49ers beat Seahawks (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_fo_ga_su/fbn49ers_seahawks"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061215/capt.sea12412150508.49ers_seahawks_football_sea124.jpg?x=130&y=95&sig=x.Y86MbCjTf0nhbbMlD10Q--" align="left" height="95" width="130" alt="San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) scrambles away from Seattle Seahawks Kelly Herndon, left, and Chuck Darby before completing a touchdown pass to Frank Gore in the fourth quarter in a football game Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006, in Seattle. The 49ers won, 24-14. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)" border="0" /></a>AP - The setting was perfect for Alex Smith to fail: His team was trailing, it was cold and wet, and the crowd expected another Seahawks' division title. Instead, with crisp, confident passes and nimble running, Smith put together the best 15 minutes of his young career.</p><br clear="all"/>

Matsuzaka's the toast of Beantown (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bba_red_sox_matsuzaka"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.macs11712142338.red_sox_matsuzaka_baseball_macs117.jpg?x=116&y=130&sig=PfiAEjrnQqG4WRbH9_Q5Eg--" align="left" height="130" width="116" alt="Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka shows off his Boston Red Sox jersey and cap at a news conference to announce his signing with the Red Sox, at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, Dec., 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)" border="0" /></a>AP - After eight years in the Japanese Leagues and a contentious month of negotiations with the Boston Red Sox, the Monster finally got to see the Green Monster in person.</p><br clear="all"/>

Ginobili, Spurs show Hornets no mercy (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_bk_ga_su/bkn_nba_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061215/capt.laab10912150530.spurs_hornets_basketball_laab109.jpg?x=73&y=130&sig=qUo4z4YXp24VD1aJsSn9kQ--" align="left" height="130" width="73" alt="San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, right, of Argentina, goes up for a shot past New Orleans Hornets forward Rasual Butler in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006. The Spurs won 103-77. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)" border="0" /></a>AP - San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is getting the consistency he expects from his veteran stars. Playing against the undermanned Hornets team they easily could have overlooked, the Spurs started fast and never trailed in a dominant 103-77 victory over New Orleans on Thursday night.</p><br clear="all"/>

Cyclist indicted in steroids probe (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_ot/cyc_athletes_steroids"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.fx10112141931.athletes_steroids_fx101.jpg?x=78&y=130&sig=E_x3.qmKTCChsSDULAWCfw--" align="left" height="130" width="78" alt="Tammy Thomas of the U.S. raises her hand in celebration after winning the women's sprint final against fellow American Tanya Lindenmuth at the World Cup Track Cycling in Sydney, Australia, in a May 12, 2002 photo. Former elite cyclist Tammy Thomas was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of hindering the government's steroid probe. Thomas, 36, is accused of four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury investigating a steroid ring that spanned across many sports. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)" border="0" /></a>AP - Prosecutors sent a clear message Thursday to Barry Bonds and everyone else linked to the federal steroids investigation: lie to us, and we'll come after you. Former world silver medalist cyclist Tammy Thomas, 36, was the latest sports figure and first athlete to be indicted for hindering the 3-year-old grand jury probe. She faces three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.</p><br clear="all"/>

Lundqvist shuts down Stars, twin brother (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_ho_ga_su/hkn_nhl_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061215/capt.dna10112150246.rangers_stars_hockey_dna101.jpg?x=130&y=92&sig=MQxPQKFYkIOhcduXlmry.g--" align="left" height="92" width="130" alt="Dallas Stars left wing Jussi Jokinen (36) of Finland attempts to gain control of a puck as New York Rangers defenseman Karel Rachunek (23), of Czech Republic, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist, of Sweden, look on in the first period of a hockey game in Dallas, Thursday, December 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)" border="0" /></a>AP - Henrik Lundqvist was unusually distracted on the busiest night of his young NHL career. His eyes and mind wandered but his focus remained on the puck. The New York Rangers' second-year goalie made a career-high 43 saves in a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars, who added his twin brother to the roster before the game.</p><br clear="all"/>

Hunt's death leaves void for Chiefs, NFL (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_hunt_somber_chiefs"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.ksez10412142217.chiefs_hunt__ksez104.jpg?x=89&y=130&sig=eEvm0f3LSeMmOzs31hL.Wg--" align="left" height="130" width="89" alt="A Kansas City Chiefs' flag waves in the wind at half-staff near the parking spot of Chiefs' owner Lamar Hunt outside of Arrowhead Stadium Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006, in Kansas City, Mo. The flag was lowered in memory of Hunt who died Wednesday due to complications from prostate cancer. Hunt was 74. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)" border="0" /></a>AP - The mood was somber around Arrowhead Stadium. The death of Lamar Hunt came as no shock, but it was still difficult to imagine the Kansas City Chiefs without their humble and farsighted founder.</p><br clear="all"/>

Davis helps Warriors edge past Rockets (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_bk_ga_su/bkn_rockets_warriors"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061215/capt.oas10712150615.rockets_warriors_basketball_oas107.jpg?x=130&y=123&sig=CV.152MgICb0onorPvTHkg--" align="left" height="123" width="130" alt="Golden State Warriors' Baron Davis (5) celebrates the win as Houston Rockets' Yao Ming (11) walks off the court at the end of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006, in Oakland, Calif. At left is Warriors' Adonal Foyle. The Warriors won, 109-107. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)" border="0" /></a>AP - Baron Davis got the ball with the clock winding down, glanced to the sideline and saw that coach Don Nelson had no plans for a timeout.</p><br clear="all"/>

Column: Who's the Evil Empire now? (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bba_jim_litke121406"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.masr10412142230.red_sox_matsuzaka_baseball_masr104.jpg?x=106&y=130&sig=oaJJjcC9jqWPRUF5A1ERGg--" align="left" height="130" width="106" alt="Newly signed Boston Red Sox Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, right, tries on a Red Sox cap as team manager Theo Epstein, left, looks on during a news conference held to announce the signing, in Boston Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)" border="0" /></a>AP - Hot as that century-old bidding war between Boston and New York is at the moment, Roger Clemens might be tempted to pitch until he's 50.</p><br clear="all"/>

Court upholds tainted ref's conviction (AP)
AP - The referee at the center of German soccer's biggest match-fixing scandal in 30 years will have to serve a prison sentence after an appeals court upheld his conviction Friday.

Sedin scores winner; Canucks top Flames (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061215/ap_on_sp_ho_ga_su/hkn_flames_canucks"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061215/capt.vcrz10712150502.nhl_canucks_flames_hockey_vcrz107.jpg?x=130&y=94&sig=b0nKwKgeASRbk_vbbe8iRw--" align="left" height="94" width="130" alt="Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin, center, celebrates with teammates Daniel Sedin (22) and Jan Bulis after scoring against the Calgary Flames during the second period of NHL action in Vancouver, Canada, Thursday, December 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Richard Lam,CP)" border="0" /></a>AP - The Vancouver Canucks took a stand against Calgary, helped by the fact the Flames were playing on the road.</p><br clear="all"/>

Eternal arrangements
Late owner Lamar Hunt set up a trust to make sure his family would have control of the Chiefs even after his passing.

49ers top Seahawks, stay in playoff hunt (AP)
The setting was perfect for Alex Smith to fail: His team was trailing, it was cold and wet, and the crowd expected another Seahawks' division title. Instead, with crisp, confident passes and nimble running, Smith put together the best 15 minutes of his young career. Smith accounted for three fourth-quarter touchdowns -- two passing, one running -- and the San Francisco 49ers prevented the Seattle...

Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt dies at 74 (AP)
Lamar Hunt, the soft-spoken son of a Texas oil tycoon whose vision gave birth to the modern NFL, is being remembered as a man who changed the face of pro football. "Lamar Hunt was one of the most influential owners in professional football over the past 40-plus years," Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said Thursday as plans were being made for burial of the 74-year-old sports...

Bears DT Tank Johnson faces gun charge (AP)
Chicago Bears' defensive tackle Terry "Tank" Johnson was charged Thursday with possession of a firearm without proper identification after police said they found six guns at his Gurnee home. The misdemeanor charge carries a potential penalty of up to a year in jail, said Jeff Pavletic, first assistant state's attorney in Lake County.

Teenage girl sues Marcus Vick for $6.3M (AP)
A 17-year-old girl who claims she had an almost two-year sexual relationship with Miami Dolphins rookie Marcus Vick has filed a lawsuit against him, accusing him of sexual battery upon a minor, fraud and other charges. The lawsuit -- filed Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court -- states that the girl was a 15-year-old honor student at Christiansburg High School when she first had sex with...

Bengals LB Pollack's career in doubt (AP)
Bengals linebacker David Pollack will need surgery for the cracked bone in his neck, likely ending his football career. Pollack cracked the bone while making a tackle against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 17 and was placed in a halo brace that immobilized his neck. Doctors told him that if the fracture healed without surgery, he could resume his career.

Steelers' Porter fined $10K for remarks (AP)
Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for what league spokesman Steve Alic called "vulgar, inexcusable statements" to Cleveland's Kellen Winslow after Steelers' 27-7 win over the Browns last Thursday. Incensed by a late hit on one of his teammates in the fourth quarter by Winslow, Porter made a derogatory slur questioning the Cleveland tight end's sexual orientation...

Delhomme misses practice again (AP)
Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme missed practice again Thursday, increasing the chances Chris Weinke will start this week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Delhomme missed his first game since 2003 on Sunday when damaged ligaments in his right thumb forced him to sit out the Panthers' loss to the New York Giants.

Giants DE Strahan does drills again (AP)
Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan took part in individual drills on Thursday for the second straight day, the first time that has happened since the New York Giants veteran sprained his right foot against Houston early last month. Strahan, who has missed the last five games, is listed as doubtful for Sunday's crucial game between the Giants (7-6) and the Philadelphia Eagles (7-6).

$2M award to Webster estate upheld (AP)
The estate of NFL Hall of Fame center Mike Webster is entitled to collect more than $1.5 million in disability benefits because brain damage left him unable to work following his football career. The unanimous decision Wednesday by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Baltimore judge's order that the NFL pay Webster's estate benefits retroactive to the date of his...

Bad Answer?
Allen Iverson may have too many question marks for teams to make a trade and help solve the Sixers' problems.

Warriors nip Rockets on Davis' 3-pointer (AP)
Baron Davis got the ball with the clock winding down, glanced to the sideline and saw that coach Don Nelson had no plans for a timeout. Thanks to Adonal Foyle's screen on Yao Ming moments later, Davis had an open look -- and he launched it. Davis hit a long 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to lift Golden State to a 109-107 victory over Houston on Thursday night, ending the Warriors' three-game...

Spurs cruise past undermanned Hornets (AP)
Manu Ginobili might want to keep a pad strapped to his lower back whether he's hurting or not. Ginobili continued his strong return from a lower back contusion in late November that caused him to miss four games, scoring 24 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 103-77 victory over the undermanned New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night.

Hornets owner committing to New Orleans (AP)
Hornets owner George Shinn is now leaning toward playing a full home schedule in New Orleans, backing away from the idea of asking the NBA's permission to play some home games in Oklahoma City next season. "Probably the best thing to do is give it a 100 percent chance here, and if it doesn't work it doesn't work.

May helps Bobcats end skid (AP)
Charlotte Bobcats head coach Bernie Bickerstaff has been looking for the right rotation of players to break the team out of its recent slump. He may have found the combination Thursday night, when Sean May and Adam Morrison came off the bench to combine for 54 points in the Bobcats' 99-89 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Stern confident Bobcats will succeed (AP)
NBA commissioner David Stern is confident the Bobcats will succeed in Charlotte and predicted Thursday that the franchise will be among the league's best in two years. The Bobcats' reception in Charlotte has cooled in the three years they've been here, with attendance ranking near the bottom of the league despite a sparkling new arena.

Suns win 12th straight, beat ailing Heat (AP)
Miami Heat coach Pat Riley has nothing but high praise for Steve Nash, the NBA's two-time reigning MVP. "He may be the best player in the league," Riley said. Riley's opinion was backed up Wednesday night, when Nash hit a 3-pointer with 2:20 left to stop a huge Miami run and help lift the Phoenix Suns to their 12th straight victory, 99-89.

Hall of Famer Paul Arizin dies at 78 (AP)
Paul Arizin, an early pioneer of the jump shot who led the Philadelphia Warriors to the 1956 NBA championship and was chosen one of the 50 greatest NBA players, died Tuesday night at his home in suburban Philadelphia. He was 78. A Hall of Famer who was cut from his high school team, Arizin died in his sleep, according to a statement from Villanova University, where Arizin had an outstanding college...

A.I. still in limbo, 76ers' skid at nine (AP)
The only Answer the Philadelphia 76ers have is on the trading block. The Sixers still can't find one to their losing streak, dropping their ninth straight game, 101-81 to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Paul Pierce and Ryan Gomes each scored 18 points, and Tony Allen had 16 for the Celtics, who won their third straight game on the road and moved to .500 there with wins at New Jersey and New...

Iverson on track to start for East (AP)
Allen Iverson is on pace to start in the NBA All-Star game for the Eastern Conference -- if he's still playing in it. Iverson, waiting to be traded by the Philadelphia 76ers, was the leader among East guards with 595,200 votes when the first set of returns were released Thursday. Iverson and NBA finals MVP Dwyane Wade of Miami had the top spots in the East backcourt.

Sullivan gets hat trick in Preds' win (AP)
Steve Sullivan's injured groin didn't slow him down. The rest it forced him to take might've even helped. Sullivan had a natural hat trick in the second period, and Scott Hartnell added two goals to lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. "They were quicker, they did everything at high speed and we couldn't handle it," Ottawa Coach Bryan Murray said.

Rookies Kopitar, Brust lead Kings to win (AP)
Barry Brust was grateful he had no time to contemplate the enormity of stopping Joe Thornton and his fellow San Jose Sharks. For the Kings' young goalie, simply doing it was much easier than thinking about it. Anze Kopitar scored two goals and Brust made 34 saves in his first NHL victory, leading Los Angeles to a 4-2 victory over the Sharks on Thursday night.

Huet's 41 saves help Habs top Lightning (AP)
Cristobal Huet left the Tampa Bay Lightning wondering what they need to do to get another win. Huet made 41 saves, and Saku Koivu scored twice in the third period as the Montreal Canadiens came back for a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night. The Montreal goalie, who caught a break when Eric Perrin's goal late in the third period was waved off, stopped 17 of 18 shots in the first, 14 of 15 in...

Stoll, Horcoff goals give Oilers win (AP)
The stingy Minnesota Wild suddenly found trouble protecting a lead. Matt Greene scored his first NHL goal and Jarret Stoll and Shawn Horcoff found the net 14 seconds apart late in the third period to give the Edmonton Oilers a 3-1 comeback victory over the Wild on Thursday night. With 4:38 remaining, Stoll picked up Marc-Andre Bergeron's blocked shot in the slot and outfought Keith Carney for the...

Rangers win fifth straight, beat Stars (AP)
Oh brother, the New York Rangers are on a roll. Henrik Lundqvist, matched up against his twin brother, made a career-high 43 saves for the Rangers and Matt Cullen and Karel Rachunek scored two goals each, in New York's 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. "That's MVP goaltending, that's Stanley Cup goaltending," Rangers coach Tom Renney said.

Penguins and John LeClair part ways (AP)
Veteran left wing John LeClair was released by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. The former 50-goal scorer and Penguins general manager Ray Shero came to an agreement in which the club would not be responsible for the remainder of his $1.5 million salary. The deal allows the Penguins to save money, while the two-time U.S.

Afinogenov lifts Sabres over Panthers (AP)
Maxim Afinogenov's winning goal gave the Buffalo Sabres' struggling power play a much-needed lift. Afinogenov scored during Buffalo's 5-on-3 advantage early in the third period and the Sabres held on for a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. The goal snapped a power-play slump that had reached 3-for-48 over nine games.

Pens' Crosby being hailed by teammates (AP)
Sidney Crosby seems almost embarrassed by all the praise. A night after Crosby took over the NHL scoring lead with a six-point game, Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien called the 19-year-old star the best player in the NHL. And teammate Mark Recchi compared him to current and future Hall of Famers. Yet, Crosby was decidedly modest after scoring a goal and adding five assists in the Penguins' 8-4 win...

Bergeron leads Bruins over Devils (AP)
Spring training might be two months away, but credit new Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka with his first win in Boston. Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and Brad Stuart snapped a tie early in the third period as the Boston Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3 Thursday night. Matsuzaka, who signed a $52 million, six-year contract Thursday a month after the Red Sox bid $51.11 million for...

Red Wings cool down Savard's Blackhawks (AP)
Dominik Hasek stretched and sprawled all over the crease, showing the unique form that's made him the "Dominator" all these years. The 41-year-old Hasek made 29 saves, and Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson scored goals in the Detroit Red Wings' 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Family honor
Todd Bodine did something his older brothers couldn't; he won a major NASCAR championship.

Gordon excited about impending fatherhood (AP)
Jeff Gordon insists he won't trade his Ferrari for a family-friendly vehicle any time soon. That doesn't mean NASCAR's four-time champion isn't thrilled about becoming a father.

Burton signs Nextel Cup deal with Morgan-McClure (AP)
Former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton landed a full Nextel Cup ride Wednesday, signing a deal to drive the State Industries-sponsored No. 4 Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

Speed to replace Johnson in Race of Champions (AP)
Scott Speed, the only American driver in Formula One, was tabbed Wednesday to replace NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson on Team USA's entry in the Race of Champions Nations Cup in Paris. Johnson had to withdraw from the race after breaking his wrist over the weekend in a fall from a golf cart. Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr.

Florida D.A. says no special treatment given to NASCAR chief after erratic driving complaint (AP)
Police officers who responded to NASCAR chairman Brian France's condominium in response to a report of an erratic driver did not give him special treatment, a prosecutor said.

Gordon, supermodel wife expecting child in July (SportsTicker)
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon's Chevrolet Monte Carlo seats one. His every-day ride is going to need a car seat.

Hornish won't replace Johnson in Race of Champions (AP)
Sam Hornish Jr. declined an invitation to replace Jimmie Johnson on Team USA's entry in the Race of Champions Nations Cup in Paris. Hornish, the Indy Racing League champion, was contacted by Team USA officials after Johnson broke his wrist in a fall from a golf cart during a celebrity tournament last weekend.

NASCAR champ horsing around when hurt (AP)
Jimmie Johnson was ``horsing around'' on top of a moving golf cart when he fell off and broke his left wrist, his team told The Associated Press on Monday.

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