Bryant passes Shaq, Malone, West for most All-Star starts
Kobe Bryant has been voted to his NBA-record 15th consecutive All-Star start, leading four Los Angeles players into next month's game. Lakers teammate Dwight Howard and the Clippers' Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will join Bryant in the Western Conference lineup for the Feb. 17 game in Houston. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the MVP of last year's game, rounds out the five.
Kevin Garnett held off Chris Bosh in fan balloting, giving the East two Boston Celtics and two Miami Heat players. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will represent the defending champions and receive passes from Rajon Rondo. New York's Carmelo Anthony is the other starter.
Bryant finished with 1,591,437 votes, edging James by about 7,800 to finish as the top vote-getter and break a tie with Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone for the most consecutive starts.
■ Shelvin Mack is back in the NBA. The former Bryan Station High star signed a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.Mack, a 6-foot-3 point guard, was called up from the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 20.5 points, 8.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.43 steals in 14 games.
■ DeMarcus Cousins had nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and also had 16 rebounds, five assists and three steals in the host Sacramento Kings' 95-94 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. John Wall had 14 points, 10 assists and three steals in a season-high 26 minutes for Washington.
■ LeBron James eclipsed the 20,000-point milestone Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, becoming the youngest in NBA history to reach the milestone. The previous youngest to score 20,000 was Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who got there when he was 29 years, 122 days old. James was 28 years, 17 days on Wednesday.
James also recorded his 5,000th career assist. He is the 13th player with 20,000 points and 5,000 assists.
Keeneland sets richer spring schedule
Keeneland announced a spring schedule of 16 stakes races worth $3.625 million Thursday, an increase in purses of $200,000 over last year's meet. The 16-day spring meeting will be held April 5-26. Fifteen of the stakes are graded, highlighted by five Grade I's.
The meet's richest races are the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland for 3-year-old fillies on April 6 and the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, for 3-year-olds on April 13. Both are signature prep races on the road to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.
The other three Grade I races are the Madison Stakes April 11, the Maker's 46 Mile on April 12, and the Jenny Wiley Stakes April 13.
Mickelson 9 back in his season opener
Phil Mickelson opened his season with an eventful even-par 72 on Thursday in the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., leaving the 42-year-old nine strokes behind the first-round leaders.
Recovering from flu-like symptoms, Mickelson had three birdies, a bogey and a double bogey at La Quinta Country Club — one of three courses used in the pro-am event that he won in 2002 and '04.
Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro and James Hahn topped the leader board at 9-under 63.
■ With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods struggling, fifth-ranked Justin Rose and unheralded Jamie Donaldson had 5-under 67s Thursday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates.
McIlroy, playing with new clubs after his Nike sponsorship deal, shot a 75 and risks missing the cut. Woods shot an even-par 72.
Cards hire longtime assistant Arians
The Arizona Cardinals have filled the NFL's final head coaching vacancy by hiring Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
The 60-year-old longtime assistant went 9-3 as Colts interim head coach while Chuck Pagono was undergoing treatment for leukemia last season.
■ The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as the franchise's fifth head coach.
Bradley, 46, spent the last four seasons in Seattle, earning a reputation as a fiery assistant who got the most from his players. His defense improved each of the last three years. This season, the Seahawks ranked first in points allowed (15.3), fourth in yards (306.2) and tied for fourth in takeaways (31). The Jaguars were 30th in the league in total defense in 2012.
■ Seattle moved quickly to fill its vacant defensive coordinator position by hiring Dan Quinn away from Florida.
■ The Cleveland Browns named Norv Turner their new offensive coordinator. Turner, fired by the Chargers as head coach earlier this month, led San Diego to a 59-43 record in six years.
Federer to face last remaining Aussie
Roger Federer is one of the most popular athletes in Australia, where he has won four of his 17 Grand Slam titles. But his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday night set Federer on course for a third-round match against Bernard Tomic, the last remaining Australian in the men's or women's draws.
The 20-year-old Tomic beat German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8) on a day when temperatures hit 106 degrees. "I don't think it matters whether he's the last Australian or 10 more," Federer said. "There's always excitement about Aussies playing here."
Louisville star top pick in MLS draft
Louisville defender Andrew Farrell was selected by the New England Revolution with the top pick in Major League Soccer's draft. The 20-year-old was a first-team All-American last season as a junior, when he shifted from midfield to the back line. New England acquired the top pick from Toronto a day earlier.
■ Mark Emmert says the NCAA has to keep pushing to find the balance between the games that everyone loves and the rules that regulate them. The NCAA president stressed amateurism in his state of the organization address in Grapevine, Texas.
But Emmert also told more than 3,000 delegates at the NCAA convention that some of the rules are "simply far too complex" and even inexplicable at times. The NCAA board is expected this week to approve a sweeping set of changes. They could include eliminating rules about how and how much coaches communicate with recruits, and allow college and high school players to accept money for travel expenses and prize money at non-scholastic events.
■ Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was initially hesitant about playing in the World Baseball Classic because of the way others have been hurt or struggled at the start of the season. A talk with Team USA manager Joe Torre eased his mind. Phillips was on the 27-player provisional roster submitted on Thursday.
■ Jackson Davis poured in 30 points and Lafayette outdueled Perry County Central late to win 74-70 at Georgetown's Toyota Classic.
■ His video game company in bankruptcy, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is selling the blood-stained sock he wore during the 2004 World Series.
■ Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf is in prison after threatening a staffer and violating his therapeutic plan at a drug treatment center in Helena, Mont. Leaf was serving nine months of a five-year sentence at the Nexus Treatment Center.
The last word
John Wall told SI.com's Bryan Rosa of his off-court relationship with ex-Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins:
"I talk to him all the time. Just tell him to keep his head. ... Whenever he's on the court, he's doing a great job when he's not in foul trouble or suspended."