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Dubinsky, Foligno lift CBJ to 1st home playoff win

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno's wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

The Blue Jackets overcame a 3-0 deficit for their first home playoff victory in the franchise's 13 seasons, sending the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night tied 2-2.

Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, James Neal scored in a span of 5:01 of the first period to stake the Penguins to a 3-0 lead. But Ryan Johansen and Dubinsky each had a goal and an assist and Boone Jenner also scored for Columbus, making only its second postseason trip.

It was the fourth time in the series that the team that scored first - and also went on to hold a 3-1 lead - lost.

With the Penguins hanging on to a 3-2 lead in the third period, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a big save on Matt Calvert's second shot in a flurry. Calvert later got behind Brooks Orpik on a breakaway and his forehand clanged off the crossbar, setting off a loud groan in the arena.

But Fleury was the culprit when he went behind the cage to handle Jack Johnson's pass around the boards in the final minute. He whiffed trying to handle the puck and was stuck out of position, allowing Johansen to slide a centering pass through the crease where Dubinsky netted it with 22.5 seconds left.

What followed was the loudest sound heard in the Blue Jackets' mostly dismal 13 seasons.

In the overtime, the Blue Jackets had the best of it - as they had for all but the start.

Foligno carried the puck through the neutral zone and was just across the blue line when he fired a low wrister that he tucked under Fleury's glove. As the players piled on top of Foligno, the crowd went crazy.

Fleury had been brilliant throughout the third period, finishing with 42 saves. His Columbus counterpart, Sergei Bobrovsky, also was spectacular at times with 22 saves.

The Penguins rolled to a quick 3-0 lead and ended up with a dreaded 3-1 lead after a period - and once again it vanished.

Just 11 seconds after Jussi Jokinen was called for hooking, the Penguins took advantage of a James Wisniewski turnover near the blue line with Brandon Sutter carrying the puck through the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 break with Adams. Sutter flipped a backhander to Adams, whose rising shot from the right circle beat Bobrovsky high on the stick side at the 6:09 mark.

Pittsburgh quieted a loud capacity crowd with two goals in the span of 33 seconds in the middle of the opening period.

While on the power play after Derek MacKenzie went off for roughing, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Niskanen's rocket from the right point was redirected by Kunitz.

Before the details of that goal could be announced, the Penguins won another faceoff in the offensive zone and Jokinen then beat the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger to a loose puck. He tapped the puck with his outstretched stick toward the right hash mark where Neal unloaded a hard one-timer past Bobrovsky.

It was the first goals of the series for Adams, Kunitz and Neal, who combined for 67 goals in the regular season.

The Blue Jackets played well to close out the period. Their kill unit held off the Penguins on just over a minute of 5 on 3 and killed off two more penalties.

Then at the 16:39 mark, former Penguin Mark Letestu's shot from the high slot was tipped in by Jenner, who had his back to Fleury as he muscled the puck past him.

Columbus dominated the second period, scoring the only goal and outshooting the Penguins 18-6.

A double-minor penalty on Lee Stempniak for high sticking eventually led to the Blue Jackets scoring again, this time with a two-man advantage. The Penguins killed the first 2 minutes of the 4-minute penalty, but picked up another minor penalty when Sutter was called for delay of game. From low on the right wing, Brandon Dubinsky slid a centering pass that Artem Anisimov was able to deflect toward the goal line, with Johansen jamming in the loose puck at the 14:20 mark.

On yet another power play with just 5 seconds left in the period, the Blue Jackets almost got the tying goal but the puck bounced over Cam Atkinson's stick when he had a wide open net.

From the time the Penguins built their 3-0 lead until the end of the second period, they were outshot 25-8.

Notes: The NHL announced earlier Wednesday that Game 5 will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Pittsburgh. ... Columbus was without rookie D Ryan Murray, who was wearing a boot after being hit with a puck in practice. Veteran Nick Schultz took his spot. ... Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said he was hopeful C Marcel Goc (ankle) may be able to play in the series. ... Likely NHL MVP Crosby has not scored a goal in his last nine playoff games and Evgeni Malkin hasn't found the net in his last eight.

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 02:16:00 +0000
Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97

MIAMI (AP) LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to help seal the win for Miami. Mario Chalmers added 11 for the Heat.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23 from the floor. Kemba Walker added 16 and Gerald Henderson scored 15 for the Bobcats.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Charlotte.

The Bobcats were down three with 10 seconds left, but never got a tying shot off. Wade stole the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts with 3 seconds left, made a free throw and that was enough for the Heat - who wasted a big first-half lead, then saw another one in the fourth quarter get whittled down to nearly nothing.

It's hard to find any good news for Charlotte, between this two-game hole and the ongoing injury concerns revolving around their best player. Not only have the Bobcats lost 18 straight games to Miami, but the Heat have never dropped any of the previous 11 postseason series in which they've grabbed a 2-0 series lead.

James, between his time in Cleveland and Miami, is 11-0 in such situations. Wade has been part of nine previous 2-0 leads with the Heat, and six of those series ended in no more than five games.

Miami's lead was 91-77 midway through the fourth, and after blowing a big first-half lead it appeared as though the Heat finally had some breathing room.

A few minutes later, it looked a whole lot different.

Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist and Douglas-Roberts combined for all the damage in a 10-0 run, getting the Bobcats within 91-87. But Bosh hit a jumper to stop Miami's scoreless drought, the Heat followed that with a stop, and Bosh struck again on the ensuing possession with a drive that pushed the Heat's lead back to eight with 3:36 remaining.

With that, it was Charlotte's turn - five straight points, with Jefferson scoring with 1:42 left to make it 97-94. And Douglas-Roberts had a chance to tie it with 1:09 left, but his 3-pointer bounced off the rim.

After a free throw by James, Walker hit a 3 with 11.9 seconds left to get Charlotte within one. But James swished a pair of free throws moments later, Wade came up with the steal, and Miami escaped.

Miami led 57-47 at the half, and the Bobcats - who missed 17 of their first 22 shots - were fortunate not to be in bigger trouble.

Jefferson was obviously laboring in the early going and missed seven of his first eight shots, part of the reason why the Heat were able to run out to a 36-21 lead with 9:50 left in the half. Chalmers - whose availability was in doubt until about an hour before game time because of a bruised shin - scored 11 of those points, and the Heat seemed to be rolling.

Charlotte thought otherwise.

A 14-2 run got the Bobcats right back into it, with Jefferson getting consecutive baskets and Kidd-Gilchrist scoring seven points to help the Bobcats close the gap to 38-35. But James Jones, who came up big off the bench for Miami in Game 1, hit a 3-pointer to stop the run and the Heat's lead was quickly back to 16, before late 3's by Gary Neal and Walker got Charlotte within 10 again.

Things tightened more in the third. The Heat led by as much as 11 during the period, before Charlotte got within four twice. Miami led 79-72 entering the fourth.

NOTES: James has signed a deal with William Morris, which will represent him in entertainment-related projects. "It's been in the works," said James, who added that his management team was handling the deal so he could focus on the playoffs. ... Game 3 will be Charlotte's first playoff home game since April 26, 2010, against Orlando. No current Bobcats appeared in that game - but Heat F Rashard Lewis did, playing for Orlando.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 01:53:00 +0000
Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105

HOUSTON (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within three. Lillard made two free throws before Harden fouled out about 10 seconds later. Mo Williams and Lillard both made a pair of free throws after that to secure the win.

Aldridge became the first player with consecutive 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James did it in May of 2009 after scoring a career-high and franchise playoff-record 46 in an overtime win in Game 1.

Dwight Howard was unstoppable early and scored 25 points in the first half, but managed just seven in the second half.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:44:00 +0000
Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Monta Ellis scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.

Shawn Marion scored 20 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 16, Devin Harris had 18 and Jose Calderon 12 for Dallas, which never trailed after the opening minutes of the second quarter.

Manu Ginobili had 27 points, Tony Parker added 12 and Tim Duncan 11 for the Spurs.

Dallas didn't relent in Game 2 after blowing a 10-point lead in the final eight minutes of the series opener. San Antonio's ineptness had as much to do with tying the series, however. The Spurs averaged 14.4 turnovers during the regular season, but had 15 with 3 minutes left in the first half. They finished with 22 turnovers, which resulted in 33 points for the Mavericks.

Dallas was extremely physical in the first half whenever Parker and Ginobili drove the lane, much to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich's dismay when no fouls were called - not that it mattered when they were. San Antonio finished 18 for 29 on free throws.

The Mavericks attacked the basket with the same intensity, finishing with 44 points. San Antonio pulled within 61-56 with 8:38 remaining in the third quarter when Kawhi Leonard made two of three free throws, but it was the closest it would get in the second half.

Nowitzki finished 7 for 19 after missing his first six attempts.

NOTES: Popovich received a standing ovation before the game after being recognized as the NBA Coach of the Year. Spurs owner Peter Holt presented Popovich with the Red Auerbach trophy, which he has won three times. ... After assigning Spurs nemesis Joey Crawford to officiate Game 1, the league had Danny Crawford on hand for Game 2 to the chagrin of the Mavericks' fans. But just as in the opener, both officials reserved most calls and non-calls for the opposition. Crawford's lack of calls led Popovich to scream at Crawford throughout the first half. ... Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones sat courtside beside Holt. ... Nowitzki was assessed a technical foul with 1:38 remaining in the first half after Ginobili was fouled by Marion on a 3-point attempt. Marion touched Ginobili's hip as he released the ball, but the Argentian appeared to exaggerate the contact when he fell to the floor. ... After scrambling to capture a loose ball under the basket, Tiago Splitter flung an overhead, two-handed no-look pass to an open Ginobili for a 3-pointer with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 02:51:00 +0000
Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers

NEW YORK (AP) Mike McCarthy promises there won't be any bad memories plaguing his Green Bay Packers when they open the NFL season on Sept. 4 at Super Bowl champion Seattle.

The last time Green Bay visited CenturyLink Field was in Week 3 of the 2012 season, a 14-12 Seahawks victory clinched on what now is often dubbed the "Fail Mary." Russell Wilson's desperation pass on the final play was called a touchdown reception for Golden Tate by the replacement officials.

A few days later, the lockout of the regular officials ended.

"This game won't be about the past," he said. "It will be about the 2014 Green Bay Packers.

It's the third straight season the Packers have traveled to face the defending Super Bowl champions.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for our football team," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We have experience playing in the kickoff opener three years ago, and we will draw on that. Obviously, being the visiting team this time presents new challenges. It will help sharpen our focus even more during training camp and the preseason."

That Thursday game is the first of four prime-time games on opening weekend. Also at night will be a Sunday matchup of AFC champion Denver and Peyton Manning hosting his former team, Indianapolis; and a Monday night doubleheader with the New York Giants at Detroit, followed by San Diego at Arizona.

The NFL will play three games in London: Dolphins-Raiders on Sept. 28; Lions-Falcons on Oct. 26; and Cowboys-Jaguars on Nov. 9. The Detroit-Atlanta game will kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET in an experiment to test the NFL's audience draw on a Sunday morning.

A Saturday doubleheader in Week 16 has San Diego at San Francisco and Philadelphia at Washington.

For the first time, games in Weeks 5 through 10 can be flexed from Sunday afternoon to night, with a limit of two. Beginning with Week 11, a Sunday game can be moved to prime time each week. Also, a select number of Sunday afternoon games are being "cross-flexed," moving between CBS and Fox to potentially draw more viewers.

The Thanksgiving tripleheader features three strong division rivalries: Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas, and Seattle at San Francisco, a rematch of the memorable NFC title game last January.

That game will be played in 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., which opens in Week 2 when they host Chicago in a Sunday night match.

Looking for the latest installment of Manning vs. Tom Brady? The Patriots host it on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 2.

And for those looking for the rematch of the Super Bowl, Seattle's 43-8 rout of Denver, it's on Sept. 21 at Seattle. Denver opens the season against three 2013 playoff teams: Indianapolis and Kansas City at home, then at the Seahawks.

"I think when you look at it, we have to start fast," Broncos general manager John Elway said. "We knew it was going to be a tough schedule playing the NFC West, and when we finish first in our division like we have the past three years, it is always going to be a tough schedule with a lot of good football teams on it."

Bye weeks begin in Week 4 when Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle and St. Louis are off. They end in Week 12 when Carolina and Pittsburgh are idle.

The season ends Dec. 28 with all divisional games.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 01:32:00 +0000

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