Sprained ankle will sideline Rondo at least a week
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will miss at least a week with a sprained left ankle.
Rondo was helped off the court after he hurt his ankle early in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's game against the New York Knicks. He returned and finished the game, then said afterward he expected to play against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.
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But General Manager Danny Ainge said on WEEI-AM on Thursday that Rondo's ankle was swollen after the game and will need "a couple of weeks, anyway." Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss clarified that no official timetable had been set.
When Celtics Coach Doc Rivers was asked before Thursday's game against the Hawks how long the guard would be out, he said: "I really don't have an update. One, two weeks."
The former UK standout is averaging 11.2 points and a career-best 13.8 assists. He has missed four games with hamstring and foot problems.
Rivers said Nate Robinson will take Rondo's place in the starting lineup. "Right now Nate's going to need to play a ton of minutes," Rivers said.
Wall misses ninth game; Wizards lose
Devin Harris had 29 points and nine assists and Brook Lopez added 18 points to lead the New Jersey Nets past the Washington Wizards 97-89 on Thursday night to snap an eight-game losing streak. The loss was the 13th straight on the road for the Wizards (6-18), who played without top overall draft pick John Wall and forward Andray Blatche, both of whom sat out the game with knee problems. Wall has missed nine of Washington's 24 games.
Noah out 8-10 weeks with hand injury
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah will miss the next eight to 10 weeks after having surgery on his right hand to repair a torn ligament. The team said Noah had successful surgery on Thursday morning to repair the ulnar collateral ligament, which is the band of tissue attached to the middle joint of the thumb. The fourth-year player has career-best averages in points (14.0) and rebounds (11.7).
■ Yao Ming has a stress fracture in his left ankle, and the Houston Rockets said there is no timetable for the return of the 7-foot-6 center whose NBA career may be in serious jeopardy after a series of injuries. Yao has been out since Nov. 10 with what had been called a bone bruise in the same ankle. An MRI performed Thursday revealed the stress fracture.
Source: Wood rejoining Cubs
Kerry Wood is returning to the Chicago Cubs, agreeing to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.
Wood pitched for the Cubs from 1998-08, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors when he was a hard-throwing starter.
He signed with the Indians as a free agent in December 2008 and was traded from Cleveland to the New York Yankees last July. Wood became Mariano Rivera's primary setup man and was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 24 appearances with New York.
■ Catcher Russell Martin finalized a $4 million, one-year contract with the New York Yankees on Thursday, a few weeks after rejecting an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers that guaranteed $200,000 more. When he turned down the Dodgers' deal, the team allowed him to become a free agent. Martin becomes the Yankees' primary catcher, with Jorge Posada shifting to designated hitter.
The 27-year-old was an NL All-Star in 2007 and 2008, but he set career lows last season with a .248 average, five homers and 26 RBI.
■ The Boston Red Sox signed right-handed reliever Matt Albers to a one-year contract, and ESPN.com reported that they also agreed to terms with former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. Boston also sent utilityman Eric Patterson to the San Diego Padres to complete the trade for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
■ A person familiar with the negotiations said six-time All-Star Magglio Ordonez and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a $10 million, one-year deal.
■ The Oakland Athletics sent two prospects to the Washington Nationals on Thursday for outfielder Josh Willingham, who batted .268 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI last season. The Nationals got outfielder Corey Brown and right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez, who threw a pitch at 103.2 mph last season at Triple-A Sacramento.
Three-wide racing expected at Daytona
The Daytona 500 could have higher speeds, wilder races and closer finishes next year. Drivers testing Daytona International Speedway for the first time since it was completely repaved agreed Thursday that NASCAR's premier event will feature tighter packs — cars running three wide at nearly 200 mph — and increase the possibility for breathtaking wrecks.
"It's certainly going to be more Talladega-type, really close, restrictor-plate racing," defending Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray said.
The notorious bumps in turns two and four are gone, and pit road is wider for increased safety. The result is a smoother track that causes less tire wear, creates faster laps and more tight-knit racing.
Ex-softball star returns as assistant
Former Kentucky softball standout Molly Johnson was hired by the school as an assistant coach, Coach Rachel Lawson announced Thursday. Johnson, UK's career leader in home runs (33) and batting average (.392), started more than 100 games at shortstop. "Molly is intelligent, intuitive, and has a work ethic that is unmatched by most," Lawson said.
Lochte sets first post-bodysuit record
Ryan Lochte snapped swimming's world record drought Thursday, setting the first individual mark since high-tech bodysuits were outlawed at the start of the year. The American won the 400-meter individual medley at the short-course world championships in Dubai. His time of 3 minutes, 55.50 seconds smashed the previous record set by Laszlo Cseh of Hungary by nearly two seconds.
FIFA to study winter World Cup for Qatar
FIFA's top officials left open the option of rescheduling the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to avoid the blistering summer. Any decision would require extensive talks with soccer federations and other overseers of the sport, they said Thursday. In separate remarks, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and general secretary Jerome Valcke said moving the Qatar matches to winter deserves study. It could protect players from heat and show flexibility for future bid cities. "FIFA's job is to have a World Cup that protects the players so we take note of the recommendations and go through the list of requirements," Blatter said. We will look into this and make the right decision."
The last word
Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest, on his commitment to a vegan lifestyle:
"About 80 percent. I like pork chops."