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Curry and Thompson help Warriors beat Clippers 110-106

LOS ANGELES (AP) Stephen Curry scored 27 points, Klay Thompson added 25 and the Golden State Warriors held off the Los Angeles Clippers 110-106 Tuesday night for their 10th consecutive victory.

The Clippers blew a 17-point lead and had their seven-game winning streak snapped. Blake Griffin scored 40 points, Chris Paul added 27 and J.J. Redick 14.

Paul's layup drew the Clippers to 106-104 with 12 seconds left, but he was called for a backcourt violation when taking an inbounds pass from DeAndre Jordan with 9 seconds left.

Thompson and Curry combined on four straight free throws to close out the win for the Pacific Division champions.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:53:00 +0000
AP Newsbreak: AP study projects average MLB salary tops $4M

NEW YORK (AP) Even before the first pitch of the 2015 season is thrown, an eye-popping baseball record will be set.

The average salary when opening-day rosters are finalized Sunday will break the $4 million benchmark for the first time, according to a study of all major league contracts by The Associated Press. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw tops players at $31 million and Los Angeles projects to open the season with a payroll at about $270 million, easily a record.

"We're enjoying a tremendously bountiful season in baseball," said Toronto pitcher R.A. Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner with the New York Mets.

Fueled by the largest two-year growth in more than a decade, the average salary projects to be about $4.25 million, according to the AP study, with the final figure depending on how many players are put on the disabled list before the first pitch is thrown. That is up from $3.95 million on the first day of last season and $3.65 million when 2013 began.

"MLB's revenues have grown in recent years, with the increase in national and local broadcast rights fees being a primary contributor," said Dan Halem, MLB's chief legal officer. "It is expected that player compensation will increase as club revenues increase."

Baseball's average was approximately $50,000 in 1976, the last year before free agency. Back then, many players took offseason jobs to pay their bills.

Now almost all of them do their heavy lifting in gyms, not warehouses.

In a $9 billion industry propelled by ballpark luxury suites and premium tickets, regional sports networks and streaming video, more than half the major leaguers are millionaires.

The average broke the $1 million mark in 1992, topped $2 million in 2001 and reached $3 million in 2008.

By comparison, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers has risen slightly less than fourfold since the first class of free agents started negotiations in November 1976. And the average U.S. wage in 2013, the latest figure available, was $44,888, according to the Social Security Administration, up 1.28 percent from 2012.

"It isn't just the TV deals," union head Tony Clark wrote in an email to the AP. "From the parity on the field to the fan support & business off it (including the national TV contracts), the industry has never been healthier."

Last year, the Dodgers opened at $234 million and ended the New York Yankees' 15-year streak as baseball's biggest spenders. Still seeking their first World Series title since 1988, Los Angeles is No. 1 by a huge margin. The Yankees project to be second at about $215 million, followed by Boston at around $185 million.

Detroit is fourth at roughly $170 million - about $100 million less than the Dodgers. Coming off its third World Series title in five years, San Francisco is fifth, about $1 million behind the Tigers.

The low rollers are led by Miami (about $65 million), with Houston a few million dollars higher. The large-market Mets are right around $100 million, a mark they haven't reached since 2011.

"The industry is doing very well," Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "The owners are making a lot of money and the salaries for the players are going up."

Following Kershaw are Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander ($28 million), Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke ($27 million) and injured Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton ($25.4 million). Hamilton has a lengthy history of drug and alcohol abuse, and has been suspended in the past.

The AP's figures include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income for players on active rosters, disabled lists and the restricted list. For some players, parts of deferred money are discounted to reflect current values.

Payroll numbers factor in adjustments for cash transactions in trades, signing bonuses that are the responsibility of the club agreeing to the contract, option buyouts, and termination pay for released players. San Diego is receiving $18 million from the Dodgers to cover most of Matt Kemp's salary, and the Marlins are getting about $12.68 million from Los Angeles as part of the seven-player trade that sent Dan Haren to Miami.

---

AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 02:11:00 +0000
Lucic's late goal helps Bruins beat Panthers, 3-2

BOSTON (AP) Milan Lucic scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:09 left as Boston rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 Tuesday night, giving the Bruins two valuable points as the try to hang on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Tuukka Rask kept the puck out during a final scramble at the buzzer with Florida on a power play and an extra skater for goalie Roberto Luongo.

David Pastrnak scored the tying goal midway through the third and had an assist on Lucic's winner. Loui Eriksson also scored and Rask had 22 saves for the Bruins, who moved six points ahead of the Panthers in the late playoff push and maintained at least a three-point lead over Ottawa for the No. 8 seed.

Brandon Pirri and Brad Boyes scored in the second period for Forida and Luongo finished with 26 saves.

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 01:58:00 +0000
Saban kicks Alabama RB Tyren Jones off team after his arrest

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Nick Saban has kicked a second Alabama football player off the team, swiftly dismissing reserve running back Tyren Jones following his arrest for marijuana possession.

Jones is the third player in Saban's program arrested in the last four days, and the second to be dismissed.

Jones was charged Tuesday with possession of marijuana 2nd degree and released on $1,000 bond, Tuscaloosa police said in a news release.

Saban announced his dismissal a few hours later. The coach had suspended Jones indefinitely on Feb. 10 "for conduct not to the standard of the Alabama football program."

"Tyren Jones was indefinitely suspended from the football program early in the semester," Saban said in a statement. "He was given an opportunity academically and from a team rules standpoint, but he failed to do any of the things necessary to comply with the rules of the Alabama football program. He was dismissed from the team when he refused to follow the parameters given to him for reinstatement."

The coach recently has had to deal with several off-field issues.

Safety Geno Smith and since-dismissed defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor were arrested on Saturday.

Smith was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol for the second time in his Alabama career. Taylor, who had been dismissed from the Georgia team in July following a domestic violence arrest, now faces similar charges stemming from a separate incident in Tuscaloosa.

Saban steadfastly defended the January signing of Taylor, which had already drawn criticism, on Monday night.

"We've created many opportunities for players through the years and sometimes those things have worked out extremely well," he said. "We're sad to say in this case it didn't and we all take responsibility for that. We have a good program here at Alabama and we have a lot of good players who have done a lot of good things in this community on our team."

Not 24 hours later, Saban was forced to deal with another embarrassing incident.

Police say Jones and 25-year-old Brandon Lee Hansberry were arrested after an officer stopped a white Dodge Challenger for speeding at 11:27 a.m. Monday.

The officer smelled marijuana and found the drug and digital scales inside the vehicle, which belonged to Hansberry, according to the police news release. A small amount of marijuana was found in Jones's pocket. Jones ran for 224 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last season.

Two other passengers in the vehicle were released without being charged.

Hansberry was charged with one count of marijuana 1st degree and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He had an outstanding charge from Tuscaloosa police and was sent to the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $20,000 bond.

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 23:35:00 +0000
Still scoring after all these years, Ovechkin gets 50th goal

WASHINGTON (AP) Alex Ovechkin is 29, and his hair is flecked with gray nowadays. His coaches and linemates keep changing, as have the ways opponents try to stop him.

After 10 years in the NHL, one thing that stays the same about the guy known as Alex the Great: He can get the puck in the net.

Putting his name in the company of such past hockey superstars as Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux, Ovechkin is now one of only six players with at least a half-dozen 50-goal seasons. The Russian wing reached that milestone for the sixth time Tuesday night by scoring in the first period of the Washington Capitals' 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

"We're sort of immune to it now, really," Capitals defenseman Mike Green said with a chuckle. "We don't expect it, but it's amazing how he does it every year. It's one of the most difficult things to do, and he seems to find a way to accomplish that, season after season."

As the rookie of the year in 2005-06, Ovechkin scored 52 goals. He had a career-best 65 two seasons later, followed by 56, then 50. After three seasons in a row with fewer than 40 goals, he regained his touch a year ago with 51.

"Much different than my first year. They give more attention to where we are. They put the best guys, best defensive line, against us," Ovechkin said. "Obviously, if you have two or three shots on net, you have to score one."

On Tuesday, he had four shots, and his goal was the 472nd of his career, pulling even with Peter Bondra for the most by a Capitals player. Later against Carolina, Ovechkin recorded his 419th career assist, passing Michal Pivonka for No. 2 in franchise history, three behind current teammate Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovechkin and Backstrom have spent much of their time in the league as linemates, but with the season heading into its final two weeks, first-year Capitals coach Barry Trotz shook things up last weekend, separating his two best offensive threats.

How did that work out? In two games alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward, Ovechkin has three goals and one assist.

Trotz also moved Ovechkin moved back to left wing, his primary position for most of his career. A year ago under previous coach Adam Oates, though, Ovechkin played mostly on the right side.

When Oates became the fourth coach to depart the Capitals during Ovechkin's tenure, whispers resurfaced about whether the player was too tough to deal with. Trotz heard that talk - and says now it was unfounded.

"It's way better than expectations coming in. All the things that people were telling me were false and untrue. It's been a joy to work with Alex and be a part of the same group that he's with," Trotz said. "It's been really enlightening to me, and I'm trying to make it enlightening to everybody else that this is a good hockey player that can do some special things."

Only Gretzky and Bossy, with nine 50-goal seasons each, have reached the half-century mark more often than Ovechkin. Lemieux, Marcel Dionne and Guy Lafleur had six apiece.

"I mean, the potential there to put up staggering numbers, all-time numbers, is incredible. He's almost at 500 before he's 30 years old," Capitals forward Brooks Laich said. "And his game has changed, too. Even defenses have changed. He's done it on the left side; he's done it on the right side. ... He's a treat to play beside."

---

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Wed, 01 Apr 2015 06:44:00 +0000

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