Wednesday's Sports in Brief
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, making him the fifth player in NBA history to score 30,000, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a two-game skid with a 103-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.
Bryant entered the game needing 13 points to eclipse the scoring milestone and did so with a short jumper late in the first half that was perhaps the least spectacular of his baskets, which included the usual array of soaring dunks, demoralizing transition 3-pointers and turnaround, off-balance jumpers.
The only other players to score more than 30,000 are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
``It's pretty awesome,'' Bryant said. ``These are players I respect tremendously and obviously grew up idolizing and watching and learned a great deal from.''
The 34-year-old Bryant is younger than the other four were when they hit the mark, but Bryant also turned pro at 18, and is in his 17th season.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday his $250,000 fine of the San Antonio Spurs was justified because the club went beyond what league owners agreed was a reasonable approach to resting healthy players.
Stern said coaches should have the authority to rest players at the end of the season, but that teams should not rest four starters little more than a month into it, and the team made matters worse by not notifying the league beforehand.
NEW YORK (AP) - NHL labor talks that began Wednesday afternoon stretched to early Thursday morning and representatives for the league and the players both said the long talks were ``candid'' and offered some sense of hope by announcing negotiations would resume later Thursday.
``We had good, candid dialogue,'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said early Thursday after nearly nine hours of talks at a Manhattan hotel. ``There continue to be some critical open issues between the two parties, and we understand the union should be getting back to us (Thursday) on some of those issues.''
Very little information leaked out of the meeting room, but it is believed that each side submitted proposals to the other and spent lots of time apart discussing what was offered. One point of contention is the length of the new contract, with owners looking for a 10-year pact, and players wanting a shorter term.
The players' association is expected to have internal discussions Thursday morning before meeting with the NHL later in the day.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels added starter Joe Blanton and reliever Sean Burnett to their retooled pitching staff. Jeff Keppinger found a new home, as did Eric Chavez.
The big deals, however, remained on deck at baseball's winter meetings.
Jason Bay, Randy Choate, Nate Schierholtz and a diamond full of players wound up in different places Wednesday, while top contenders waited for a pair of free-agent prizes to make their decisions.
The lone trade was minor, with Detroit sending left-hander Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh for a young catcher.
Former MVP Josh Hamilton and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke remained in play. They're the driving forces in this market and depending on where they go more moves are likely to follow.
Texas would like to re-sign Hamilton, at the right price.
New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey also keeps drawing attention. He lives near the Opryland Hotel and dropped in for a visit, though there's no change in his situation. Signed for next season, he wants a new contract, while several clubs, including Boston, want to trade for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The mother of Jovan Belcher says her love for her son and his girlfriend has not diminished since the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker killed the 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins and then shot himself in the head at the Chiefs' complex.
Cheryl Shepherd had been living her son and Perkins to help care for their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, and was at the couple's home Saturday morning when Perkins was shot.
``That's my son, and I love him,'' Shepherd said in a brief telephone conversation Wednesday. ``She's my daughter-in-law, just like my daughter.''
Also on Wednesday, the Chiefs attended a memorial service for Belcher. Retired Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said general manager Scott Pioli and an uncle of Belcher's spoke during the service.
Shepherd, 54, was not happy about the release of recordings of the emergency phone call she made Saturday after Perkins was shot.
``I just got a phone call that they did that, and I don't appreciate it,'' she said. ``Right now I don't want to talk about it.''
In the emergency call, Shepherd begs Perkins to ``stay with me'' while frantically asking for an ambulance. She tells the dispatcher that Perkins is ``still breathing but please hurry. ... They were arguing, please hurry.''
Shepherd also told dispatchers that Perkins was bleeding, ``just barely'' awake and that it looked as though she was wounded in the back. She said Perkins moved when she spoke to her.
Under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the estate or guardian of the couple's daughter will receive more than $1 million.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Rex Ryan is sticking with Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets' starting quarterback.
The coach announced that Sanchez, benched Sunday against Arizona, will get the start this week over Greg McElroy and Tim Tebow when the Jets play the Jaguars at Jacksonville.
``I have to get this decision right,'' Ryan said, ``and I believe I have.''
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice and appeared on track to return this weekend against San Diego.
Roethlisberger hasn't played since spraining his right shoulder and dislocating a rib in a 16-13 overtime victory over Kansas City on Nov. 12. He was limited in practice but coach Mike Tomlin was encouraged by Roethlisberger's performance.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings placed ailing wide receiver Percy Harvin on injured reserve, abruptly ending a season that began so well for one of the NFL's most versatile players.
Coach Leslie Frazier answered questions about Harvin's status cryptically and vaguely at his regular news conference, when he ruled Harvin out of practice again because of the severely sprained ankle that has kept him out of the last three games. Then about six hours later, the Vikings announced the move that declared their top pass-catcher done for the year.
HOUSTON (AP) - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won the Lombardi Award as college football's best lineman or linebacker.
Te'o, also a Heisman Trophy finalist, had 103 tackles and seven interceptions this year to help the undefeated Fighting Irish reach the BCS championship game against Alabama.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - California hired Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes in hopes that the offensive mastermind can revive a program that struggled in recent years under the fired Jeff Tedford.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Purdue hired Darrell Hazell as its new football coach.
Hazell won this season's Mid-American Conference coach of the year award after leading Kent State to its first winning season since 2001, first bowl appearance in more than four decades and the brink of a BCS bowl game.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says he won't coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl after taking the job at Arkansas. He believes former coach and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will be on the sideline when Wisconsin plays Stanford on Jan. 1.
MIAMI (AP) - Florida International fired football coach Mario Cristobal after six seasons.
Athletic director Pete Garcia made the announcement, calling FIU's season ``a total collapse'' and saying the program needs to go in a different direction.
LONDON (AP) - Lionel Messi was taken off the field on a cart because of bone bruise to his left knee in Barcelona's 0-0 tie with Benfica in a Champions League game, while defending champion Chelsea failed to advance to the final 16 in the tournament.
With Barcelona already assured of advancing to the second round, Messi entered as a reserve in the 58th minute.
Messi's left knee collided with the right hand of Benfica's Artur as the Argentine star ran onto Gerard Pique's long pass and tried to round the goalkeeper in the 85th minute. Messi took a left-footed shot from an angle, then fell to the field in pain. He rolled onto his back and held the knee, then was loaded onto a cart.
``It's a bruise, which doctors have been having a look at,'' Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova said. ``We now have to wait for the results of tests, but the feeling is that it isn't more serious than a knock.''
Barcelona later tweeted that tests confirmed Messi has a bruised bone on the outside of his left knee.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - Eight years after winning Olympic medals in Athens, four track and field athletes from eastern Europe were ordered to hand them back because of positive doping tests.
Lance Armstrong, meanwhile, can hold onto his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games for a little while longer.
The International Olympic Committee executive board disqualified four athletes whose Athens doping samples were retested earlier this year and came back positive for steroids, including shot put gold medalist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine.
Also stripped were hammer throw silver medalist Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus and two bronze medalists - women's shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus.
The case of a fifth bronze medalist, weightlifter Oleg Perepechenov of Russia, remains pending.
The IOC said it will ask the International Association of Athletics Federations to get the four medals back and readjust the results and rankings from the Athens Games.
Until then, no decision will be taken on reallocating the medals. Adam Nelson of the United States finished second in the shot put and would stand to move up to gold.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - American defending champion Lexi Thompson opened with a 3-under 69 at the Dubai Ladies Masters, three shots off the leaders.
Shanshan Feng and Florentyna Parker both shot 66s after the first round.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Tony Stewart passed up a chance to race for Roger Penske in the Indianapolis 500.
The three-time NASCAR champion said at the International Motorsports Industry Show that he wouldn't attempt to race in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
``As much as I would like to do it, we just don't have the time to do it proper,'' Stewart said. ``The IRL is so competitive now, you're not going to just show up like drivers used to do in the past and be competitive.''