Sports briefs: Oct. 2

October 2, 2013 

NBA

Noel staying involved at Sixers' training camp despite injury

Former University of Kentucky star Nerlens Noel is months away from playing in a game for the Philadelphia 76ers, but his ACL injury isn't keeping him from participating in the team's training camp.

"He is on the same routine everyone is, except for when this stuff (scrimmages) gets going," Coach Brett Brown told the The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. "We have him on a shooting program on the sideline when the game is going on. He's lifting a lot, doing different stuff with the players. We're finding anything we can to keep him engaged. I'm excited he'll be with us on the road, because that is really a chance to get to know each other."

Noel has primarily been working on his shot, the newspaper reported. He was limited offensively while at Kentucky, shooting just under 60 percent from the floor despite most of his shots being close to the net. He also struggled from line, shooting 52.9 percent.

"We really want to go from ground zero with his shot," Brown told the Star-Ledger. "Do a lot of one-handed, simple form shooting. Let him stay very close to the basket and do that for a good six weeks. Create different games for him and highlight different fundamentals and techniques."

Rajon Rondo, another former Kentucky standout working his way back from an ACL injury, went through a non-contact, morning walkthrough as the Boston Celtics opened training camp on Tuesday. He then rehabbed on his own while observing the team's full-contact afternoon session, ESPN reported.

"He went through the morning workout and he's probably going to do one workout per day," Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said. "Then he took the afternoon off, but he was very active in the afternoon. He was in the huddle, he was in the drills as far as communicating. You saw him leading our stretching at the end, he was really active today."

As for Rondo's morning workout, ESPN reported that Stevens said, "He's doing shooting drills, he's moving. We're not doing anything defensively, so there's not a lot of lateral movement there. But he's doing everything else, and he works out with our strength and conditioning people and does his rehab. From everything I know, that's all part of his rehab."

Celtics second-year forward Jared Sullinger told ESPN that Rondo's leadership was a constant presence on the floor on Tuesday.

"Honestly, he's been the eyes of the team for many years and he's still the eyes," Sullinger said. "He sees what we don't see and he's constantly talking to us. Even though he's not playing, he's coaching for us. He's a big-time help."

Greivis Vasquez's competition with Isaiah Thomas for the Sacramento Kings' starting job at point guard started Tuesday with a lively first workout. Vasquez, acquired in an off-season trade, has already been impressed by DeMarcus Cousins.

"I love Cuz," Vasquez said. "I'm going to have so much fun playing with him. I'm going to find him all the time. I'm playing with a great center, an All Star-caliber player, and we're going to win."

■ Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the NBA season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday.

General Manager Sam Presti said the three-time All-Star had knee swelling that would not subside, and the procedure was intended to solve the problem. He said doctors determined that a loose stitch was to blame for the swelling, that Westbrook's lateral meniscus has healed properly and the procedure was successful.

Westbrook previously had surgery in May to repair cartilage in his right knee after he was hurt in Game 2 of Oklahoma City's first-round playoff series with Houston. He had never missed a game in his five NBA seasons before the injury.


College football

Navy-Air Force matchup in jeopardy

The U.S. Department of Defense has ordered the suspension of all service academy intercollegiate athletics as a result of the government shutdown, putting Saturday's Navy-Air Force football game in question. A decision on whether Saturday's game in Annapolis can be played will be made Thursday, said Navy Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk, who added that there is a significant possibility that the game will be either canceled or postponed.

Gladchuk said that a record number of tickets — a sellout of about 40,000 seats — have been sold for the game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. It's considered Navy's biggest home game of the 2013 season and is scheduled to be televised nationally on CBS.

"It's going to be a setback of the highest order if this game doesn't happen," Gladchuk said.

Gladchuk estimated that not having the game could cost the Naval Academy in the millions of dollars and would have "tremendous ripple effects in regard to the community and the local economy."

■ Oregon star running back De'Anthony Thomas is unlikely to play against Colorado this weekend after emerging from practice wearing a boot on his injured right ankle.

Running backs coach Gary Campbell told reporters on Tuesday that the speedy junior's return is "not going to happen" when the No. 2 Ducks (4-0) visit Colorado (2-1) on Saturday.

Thomas was injured on the opening kickoff of second-ranked Oregon's 55-16 victory over California on Saturday night, slipping on turf that was slick from a driving rain.

Thomas has rushed for 338 yards rushing and six touchdowns this season. He also has 485 all-purpose yards through three games.


Hockey

Maple Leafs wins NHL's season opener

Tyler Bozak scored a short-handed goal and Mason Raymond netted the winner in his first game with the Maple Leafs as Toronto spoiled the Montreal Canadiens' home opener with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night. It was the first game on the NHL's opening night.

James van Riemsdyk and Dion Phaneuf also scored in a fight-filled game in which Montreal's new enforcer George Parros was carried off on a stretcher following a bout. Toronto's Colton Orr pulled Parros down during the fight, and the Canadiens forward's face crashed into the ice.

Lars Eller's second goal of the game with 2:22 left brought the Canadiens within 4-3 but they couldn't get even. Eller also set up a goal by Brendan Gallagher.

The mood turned somber 2:34 into the third period when Parros was prone on the ice. Orr had fallen and pulled down Parros, who was bleeding and looked woozy. A team of trainers from both teams spent several minutes treating him.


Auto racing

Larson to make Cup debut at Charlotte

Kyle Larson will make his Sprint Cup Series debut next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving for Phoenix Racing. Larson will drive Oct. 12 and he is also scheduled to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 27.

The two races are a warm-up for Larson as he prepares to move full-time to the Sprint Cup Series next season for Chip Ganassi Racing. He'll drive the No. 42 Chevrolet next season as Juan Pablo Montoya's replacement.

■ Indianapolis Motor Speedway will open two days earlier than expected to accommodate the new Grand Prix of Indianapolis road race. Track officials announced Tuesday that the inaugural May 10 race will be televised by ABC. Practice will begin May 8 with qualifying scheduled for May 9. The current road course will undergo major changes, including new corners, longer passing zones and bigger, taller mounds so fans can see more racing.


The last word

NBA legend Michael Jordan said he could beat LeBron James in a one-on-one basketball game when he was in his prime. He's not sure about defeating one of the league's top stars:

"I don't think I would lose. Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves."

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