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Blake's beard going strong in Australia (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_te_ga_su/ten_australian_open"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.mel14501180352.australia_tennis_open_mel145.jpg?x=130&y=101&sig=.cRWmGw7Sw_qDzVYVGqnDQ--" align="left" height="101" width="130" alt="James Blake of the U.S., makes a forehand return to compatriot Alex Kuznetsov in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007. Blake won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.(AP Photo/Rick Stevens)" border="0" /></a>AP - James Blake hopes his beard is big and bushy by the end of next week. The superstitious Blake, who doesn't shave as long as he's still alive in a tournament, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open by beating hitting partner Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 Thursday.</p><br clear="all"/>

Pacers, Warriors make blockbuster trade (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_bk_ne/bkn_pacers_warriors_trade"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070117/capt.ny15801172044.pacers_warriors_trade_basketball_ny158.jpg?x=98&y=130&sig=9yZm3GxjYtcbsoR_eMotnw--" align="left" height="130" width="98" alt="Indiana Pacers' Stephen Jackson, right, puts up a shot against Philadelphia 76ers' Kyle Korver during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, in this March 26, 2006 file photo. The Indiana Pacers traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday Jan. 17, 2007 for forwards Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy as part of an eight-player deal designed to shake up two struggling teams. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" border="0" /></a>AP - Almost every player involved in the Indiana Pacers' eight-man trade with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday is likely to welcome the change of scenery.</p><br clear="all"/>

Wright shakes off bad game to lift Heels (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_co_ga_su/bkc_t25_ncarolina_clemson"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.scmc10201180132c.correction_north_carolina_clemson_basketball_scmc102.jpg?x=80&y=130&sig=JibTGal2p8fb0i4LO1gSuA--" align="left" height="130" width="80" alt="North Carolina's Brandan Wright (34) shoots over Clemson's K.C. Rivers (1) during the first half of their college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)" border="0" /></a>AP - Brandan Wright wouldn't let one bad game get under his skin. That's a freshman trait North Carolina fans can learn to love.</p><br clear="all"/>

Bryant scores 34 as Lakers beat Spurs (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_bk_ga_su/bkn_lakers_spurs"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.saa10501180332.lakers_spurs_basketball_saa105.jpg?x=130&y=110&sig=yAJQ3GvPVb1glX7d37JW8A--" align="left" height="110" width="130" alt="Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen (12) during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)" border="0" /></a>AP - Kobe Bryant knew it was his job to set the pace for the Los Angeles Lakers, so he focused on staying relaxed in a tough road environment. Bryant scored 34 points after a slow start, leading the Lakers to a 100-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.</p><br clear="all"/>

Robert Allenby leads Bob Hope Classic (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_go_su/glf_hope_classic"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.cacc10601180005.hope_classic_golf_cacc106.jpg?x=130&y=115&sig=b26jItco_XfxJTxwtDerfw--" align="left" height="115" width="130" alt="Robert Allenby of Australia lines up a putt on the 18th green at La Quinta Country Club during the first round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in La Quinta, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)" border="0" /></a>AP - The leaderboard had Robert Allenby flirting with golf's magic number. It was wrong, an error by the volunteer keeping his unofficial score. Allenby's 9-under 63 on Wednesday still was good enough to give him a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.</p><br clear="all"/>

Defense has done enough for the Saints (AP)
AP - Saints coach Sean Payton recently used the word "complementary" to describe the play of his defense this season.

Jazz snap losing streak to spoil Webber's Detroit debut (Reuters)
Reuters - The Utah Jazz snapped their longest losing streak of the season and spoiled Chris Webber's Detroit debut with a 100-99 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday.

Mariners' Putz gets $13.1 million deal (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bba_mariners_putz"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.wakc10101180117.mariners_putz_baseball_wakc101.jpg?x=101&y=130&sig=djbGwscJtxV8qwdm23SCFQ--" align="left" height="130" width="101" alt="Seattle Mariners closing pitcher J.J. Putz answers questions from the media after agreeing to three-year deal $13.1 million deal with the team on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007 at Safeco Field in Seattle. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)" border="0" /></a>AP - J.J. Putz impressed at least one opponent in his debut season as Seattle's closer: Barry Bonds.</p><br clear="all"/>

Radosavljevic named Chivas USA coach (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_so_ne/soc_chivas_usa_radosavljevic"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.canu10201180003.chivas_usa_radosavljevic_soccer_canu102.jpg?x=86&y=130&sig=VfdglGTMVhc3Eh7nLWAcuA--" align="left" height="130" width="86" alt="Preki Radosavljevic, Major League Soccer's only two-time Most Valuable Player, poses during a news conference Wednesday Jan. 17, 2007 in Carson, Calif. Radosavljevic was hired to replace Bob Bradley as coach of Chivas USA.(AP Photo/Nick Ut)" border="0" /></a>AP - Preki Radosavljevic, Major League Soccer's only two-time Most Valuable Player, was hired Wednesday to replace Bob Bradley as coach of Chivas USA.</p><br clear="all"/>

NHL's Young Stars snub motivates Stastny (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_sp_ho_ga_su/hkn_coyotes_avalanche"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070118/capt.dxa10701180447.coyotes_avalanche_hockey_dxa107.jpg?x=130&y=112&sig=fTRQLtgjh2y0iFWs1dgniQ--" align="left" height="112" width="130" alt="Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny, left, scores his second goal of the game over Phoenix Coyotes goalie Curtis Joseph, center, as defenseman Ed Jovanovski comes in to cover in the third period of the Avalanche's 4-3 victory in an NHL hockey game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)" border="0" /></a>AP - Colorado Avalanche rookie Paul Stastny insists he isn't angry about being overlooked for the NHL's Young Stars Game next week.</p><br clear="all"/>

Charles Robinson: Altered state

Schottenheimer to return to Chargers (AP)
Marty Schottenheimer might be down to one last chance to get the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl. Three days after the talented Chargers melted down in a stunning 24-21 playoff loss to New England, team president Dean Spanos decided Wednesday that bringing Schottenheimer back for the final year of his contract gives San Diego its best chance to win.

Vick's water bottle seized at airport (AP)
Michael Vick reluctantly surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport that contained a residue "closely associated with marijuana," police said Wednesday. The Atlanta Falcons' quarterback entered a concourse Wednesday morning at the airport with the 20-ounce bottle. He eventually handed it over and boarded his flight to Atlanta.

Patriots' Harrison upgraded to doubtful (AP)
The last time Rodney Harrison was healthy enough to play in the postseason, he starred in the 2005 Super Bowl. The next time he's likely to get into a playoff game would be this year's Super Bowl, if the New England Patriots make it that far. The strong safety who hits hard and talks trash was listed as doubtful Wednesday.

Source: Dolphins, Cameron to meet again (AP)
San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron arrived in town Wednesday for a second interview with the Miami Dolphins, a person familiar with the team's search said. The person requested anonymity because Dolphins officials declined comment and may be close to a decision. Cameron, 45, first interviewed with the Dolphins shortly after coach Nick Saban left for Alabama on Jan.

Ravens extend coach Billick's contract (AP)
The Baltimore Ravens extended coach Brian Billick's contract Wednesday following the best season in franchise history. The team simply sent out a one-line statement to make the announcement, and promised no further details or discussion. Asked about his contract Monday, Billick made it clear he would prefer the situation remain a personal matter.

Vinatieri can kick Pats out of playoffs (AP)
This is Adam Vinatieri's favorite time of year. Each playoff week, the two-time Super Bowl hero seems to reinforce his reputation as the NFL's best clutch kicker. Give Vinatieri an opportunity to win a postseason game, and he's money. Now, in the AFC title game, Indianapolis' biggest offseason addition might get a chance to boot his former team, New England, right out of the playoffs.

Steelers meet with Grimm for six hours (AP)
Russ Grimm sounded like a man who can't wait to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers. He can only hope the Steelers agree he's ready to become only their third head coach in 38 years. Grimm, a Steelers assistant for six seasons and their assistant head coach for three, met for six hours Wednesday during his second interview in a week with owner Dan Rooney, president Art Rooney II and director of football...

Raiders' search for coach picks up steam (AP)
Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, left,  leaves the Oakland Raiders headquarters in Alameda, Calif., Friday, Jan. 5, 2007. The Raiders latest coaching search began Friday, a day after head coach Art Shell was fired following the team's worst season in more than four decades.  Many of the defensive players are pushing for Ryan to get the job. The son of former Philadelphia and Arizona coach Buddy Ryan, Rob Ryan was the architect of the league's third-ranked defense, one of the team's few bright spots.

The Oakland Raiders brought in Southern California quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian for a second interview Wednesday as the team intensified its search for a new head coach. Sarkisian, the first candidate to interview after Art Shell was fired, met again with owner Al Davis and other team executives, a person in the league with knowledge of the search said on condition of anonymity.


Falcons RB Dunn has shoulder surgery (AP)
Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn had arthroscopic surgery for a damaged shoulder that bothered him much of the season. The procedure was performed last week. Dunn will need several months of rehabilitation before he's able to resume football workouts, the team said. But he should make a full recovery.

Steve Kerr: Addition by subtraction
An eight-player trade allowed the Warriors to unload two big contracts and the Pacers to get rid of one persistent problem.

Pacers, Warriors make eight-player deal (AP)
The Indiana Pacers exchanged problems with the Golden State Warriors, and the eight-man trade seems likely to help both sides -- though it might create a few new dilemmas for both clubs as well. The Pacers traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to Golden State on Wednesday for forwards Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy in a large, bold deal to shake up two struggling teams.

Suns rally to beat McGrady-less Rockets (AP)
The Phoenix Suns figured they'd have an easy time with the Houston Rockets, especially once they learned Tracy McGrady was out with a back injury. But the Suns struggled most of the game and didn't secure their 11th straight victory until the final minutes. Steve Nash had 21 points and 14 assists as Phoenix overcame an early 15-point deficit to beat the Rockets 100-91 Wednesday night.

Jazz spoil Webber's Pistons debut 100-99 (AP)
Chris Webber's debut and Chauncey Billups' comeback were spoiled by a team the Detroit Pistons can't seem to beat. Deron Williams scored a career-high 31 points, had 10 assists and made a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to help the Utah Jazz hold off Detroit for a 100-99 victory Wednesday night. The Pistons had a chance to win after a timeout with 5.1 seconds left, but Billups missed a 3-pointer...

Bryant scores 34, Lakers hold off Spurs (AP)
Kobe Bryant knew it was his job to set the pace for the Los Angeles Lakers, so he focused on staying relaxed in a tough road environment. Bryant scored 34 points after a slow start, leading the Lakers to a 100-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. "I had to set the tempo for the ballclub," Bryant said.

Randolph, Blazers rip road-weary Cavs (AP)
Rookie Brandon Roy said Portland's plan against Cleveland was easy: Keep LeBron James from making his shots. "When he's making his jump shots, he's almost unbeatable," said Roy, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Blazers' 94-76 victory over the road-weary Cavaliers on Wednesday night. "Tonight he wasn't making those shots," Roy added.

O'Neal could return to Heat Thursday (AP)
Shaquille O'Neal has vowed not to resume playing for the Miami Heat until his surgically repaired left knee is "1,000 percent." He's almost there. O'Neal went through an entire practice on Wednesday, his first time playing full-court, five-on-five since the Nov. 19 procedure to repair torn cartilage. And he could make his comeback Thursday, when the Heat host the Indiana Pacers.

Bulls post rare win in Milwaukee 99-90 (AP)
For three quarters, the Milwaukee Bucks goaded Chicago into playing up-tempo and out of control. Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon and Luol Deng stopped the sloppy show. Nocioni scored 21 points, Gordon added 20 and Deng had 19 to lead the Bulls to their third straight victory, 99-90 over Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

Wizards top Knicks on Butler's late dunk (AP)
The New York Knicks were on a mission to cool down Gilbert Arenas. They did, and paid for it. With the Knicks hounding the guard with the knack for game-winning shots, the Washington Wizards passed the ball from Antawn Jamison to DeShawn Stevenson to Caron Butler, who dunked with 2.2 seconds remaining Wednesday night to give his team a 99-98 victory.

Mavs happy with 32-4 run after 0-4 start (AP)
A few games ago, Avery Johnson turned to one of his assistant coaches and asked what the Dallas Mavericks' record was. Johnson wasn't really looking for an answer. The question was meant to emphasize that until late April, he cares less about wins and losses, and more about how they are playing. "I think your really experienced, good teams focus on those things," said Johnson, the reigning NBA coach...

Red Wings beat Central-leading Predators (AP)
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are coming on strong after slow starts. Zetterberg had two goals and an assist, and Datsyuk added four assists to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night. Nicklas Lidstrom, Jiri Hudler and Tomas Holmstrom also scored for Detroit, which won its fifth straight.

Turco matches Stars' wins record (AP)
Marty Turco began his NHL career as a backup for two seasons to Ed Belfour, the Stanley Cup-winning goalie for the Dallas Stars. While Turco hasn't yet been able to match Belfour's postseason success in four seasons since taking over as the starter, the three-time All-Star has caught his predecessor at the top of the Stars' franchise victory list.

Sabres pull away in third, top Bruins (AP)
Brian Campbell and Maxim Afinogenov scored 4 minutes apart in the third period, lifting the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. The loss spoiled a breakout game for Bruins rookie Phil Kessel, who enjoyed the first two-goal game of his career, in only his fifth game back since having surgery for testicular cancer.

Avs end Coyotes' road winning streak (AP)
Colorado Avalanche rookie Paul Stastny insists he isn't angry about being overlooked for the NHL's Young Stars Game next week. "That's not really important to me," Stastny said after scoring two goals -- including the game-winner -- in Colorado's 4-3 victory over Phoenix 4-3 Wednesday night, ending the Coyotes' six-game road winning streak.

Pens may be close to deal for new arena (AP)
Gov. Ed Rendell and local leaders are expected to meet again Thursday with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the sides appear to be getting closer to completing a deal to build a new downtown arena. The private meeting would be the first since Jan. 4, when Penguins owner Mario Lemieux came away from a preliminary session with Rendell, county and city officials saying he was "very optimistic" that an...

Pens' Crosby fine after being speared (AP)
Penguins forward Sidney Crosby felt fine a day after the second-year star was speared by the stick of New York Islanders' All-Star Jason Blake. "It just kind of knocked the wind out of me," Crosby said Wednesday. "It's not something you want to dwell on. It's done and over. There's a lot more important things to worry about." Blake didn't receive a penalty following the hit that occurred with less...

Sharks' Cheechoo enjoying resurgence (AP)
Jonathan Cheechoo knows he hasn't done much this season to deserve his starting spot in the NHL All-Star game. The way he's playing now, the San Jose Sharks forward seems to think he still has time to earn it. Though Cheechoo is far off the superstar statistics he posted last season, he will line up alongside teammate Joe Thornton and Colorado's Joe Sakic when the Western Conference All-Stars take...

Rangers' Straka signs one-year extension (AP)
Martin Straka could've called it quits, gone back home to the Czech Republic, or chased a big free-agent deal. Instead, the 34-year-old forward -- who is enjoying one of his finest NHL seasons -- is sticking with the New York Rangers. Straka agreed to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday that will pay the center $3.3 million next season -- a $200,000 raise.

Devils' Brodeur beats Rangers 1-0 (AP)
Unlike a year ago, the New Jersey Devils aren't waiting until the final game to take control in the Atlantic Division. Martin Brodeur stopped 26 shots for his NHL-best eighth shutout of the season, defenseman Brad Lukowich scored a rare goal and the Devils opened a 10-point lead in the division with a 1-0 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Hossa's hat trick lifts Thrashers (AP)
While Yutaka Fukufuji kept making history, Marian Hossa gladly settled for another hat trick. Hossa scored three goals for the second time this season, leading the Atlanta Thrashers to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night and ruining the first start for Fukufuji. Already the first Japanese-born player in the NHL, Fukufuji was lifted less than two minutes into the second period...

Jerry Bonkowski: Racing into tomorrow

Busch breaks 190 mph in NASCAR "Car of Tomorrow" at Daytona (SportsTicker)
Kurt Busch proved that NASCAR's "Car of Tomorrow" can be more than effective Wednesday.

Mellow Montoya enjoying smooth NASCAR ride (AP)
Juan Pablo Montoya wasn't fazed by the fiery crash that ended his Nextel Cup debut. And if Ryan Newman wrecked him on purpose, Montoya doesn't care.

Benny Parsons, NASCAR champion in 1973, dies at 65 (AP)
Greg Biffle believes that without help from Benny Parsons, he never would have reached NASCAR's highest level. Michael Waltrip credits Parsons for giving him the courage to propose to his wife in Victory Lane.

Montoya: Schumacher a "nobody" in States (AP)
Michael Schumacher apparently can't understand why Juan Pablo Montoya would leave Formula One for NASCAR.

Former NASCAR champion Parsons dies of lung cancer (SportsTicker)
Former NASCAR champion and popular broadcaster Benny Parsons died Tuesday of complications stemming from his battle with lung cancer. He was 65.

Al Attiyah wins 10th stage of Dakar Rally (AP)
BMW driver Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah won the 10th stage of the Dakar rally on Tuesday. The Qatari driver completed the 227-mile route beginning and ending in the desert oasis of Nema in 3 hours, 49 minutes, 48 seconds. Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan, driving a Mitsubishi, was second, 28 seconds behind Al Attiyah.

Former NASCAR champion Parsons dies of cancer (AFP)
Former US stock car champion Benny Parsons, who won 21 races and 20 poles in 18 seasons, died of complications from lung cancer. He was 65.

At 72, Hylton plans comeback at Daytona 500 (AP)
Long after the big-budget NASCAR teams pulled into the Daytona garage, a bright yellow hauler -- sans the logos and pricey paint scheme -- navigated its way through the gate.

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