Spurs face sanctions for resting starters
The San Antonio Spurs will be punished by the NBA for their decision to send four top players home and not make them available to play in Miami against the Heat on Thursday night.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the decision to rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green — the core of the Spurs — was in the team's best interest. The league wasn't happy about it, and Commissioner David Stern promised that San Antonio would be penalized.
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"I apologize to all NBA fans," Stern said. "This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."
Before the game, Popovich said he decided to sit his core when he saw how challenging this particular part of the schedule was for his team. Thursday's matchup ended a six-games-in-nine-nights swing for the Spurs, who won their first five on the trip.
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was suspended for the third time this calendar year on Thursday when the NBA told him to sit out two games without pay for starting a skirmish that sent players sprawling into the courtside seats.
Rondo will miss Friday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers and Sunday's against the Bucks in Milwaukee. He will also give up $200,000 in pay.
Celtics center Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 for his role in the scuffle, and Nets forward Gerald Wallace was fined $35,000.
Veteran point guard Derek Fisher signed a contract Thursday with the struggling Dallas Mavericks, who are still playing without injured star Dirk Nowitzki and lost Jason Kidd in free agency during the offseason. The 38-year-old Fisher, who has played 16 NBA seasons with four teams, could make his Dallas debut in Saturday night's home game against Detroit.
Alleged tree poisoner pleads not guilty
The Alabama fan accused of poisoning the trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner has returned to Louisiana. The Opelika-Auburn News reported that Judge Jacob A. Walker III granted Harvey Updyke's release from jail during a Wednesday hearing in Lee County Circuit Court. Updyke has completed a mental examination at Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility in Tuscaloosa to determine if he is competent to stand trial.
An Alabama man on Thursday began serving a two-year prison sentence for an obscene act against an unconscious LSU fan in a Bourbon Street restaurant after the BCS national title game in January, a videotaped incident that went viral on the Internet.
He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of obscenity. The incident took place last January after Alabama defeated LSU at the Superdome to claim the BCS title. A video that went viral on the Internet showed Downing expose his genitals and perform a simulated sex act on the unconscious man at the restaurant in front of a crowd of other Alabama fans.
Nebraska and Oklahoma will renew one of college football's greatest rivalries for two seasons. The schools announced Thursday they have signed a contract that will have the Cornhuskers and Sooners play in 2021 in Norman, Okla., and in 2022 in Lincoln, Neb.
Tyrann Mathieu, an All-American cornerback nicknamed the "Honey Badger" who was kicked off the Louisiana State University football team before this season, will enter the 2013 National Football League draft. Mathieu won the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defensive player in college football and was one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy as the sport's top player. Mathieu, 20, in August was dismissed from the LSU football program three weeks before the start of his junior season by coach Les Miles for violating team rules.
Packers' Benson out for season
Green Bay Packers running back Cedric Benson will remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season after having surgery on his foot. The Packers made the announcement Thursday, one day after coach Mike McCarthy says Benson had surgery. Benson finishes the year with 248 yards rushing on 71 carries.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson says he missed the team bus to Soldier Field on Sunday because he overslept. Peterson was about 20 minutes late to the stadium for the game against the Chicago Bears, then side-stepped questions after the game about the reason for it.
The New Orleans Saints players say their bus was pelted with eggs by airport workers after they touched down in Atlanta. The Saints (5-6) face the first-place Falcons (10-1) Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.
Watney takes lead at World Challenge
Nick Watney made birdie for the first time ever on the 14th hole at Sherwood during a strong back nine that carried him to a 5-under 67 and a two-shot lead Thursday in the World Challenge. He did well enough to surge past Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley and Graeme McDowell. Tiger Woods, the tournament host and defending champion, had a number of good par saves and scratched out a 70.
Bill Haas bogeyed two of the last three holes Thursday in the Nedbank Golf Challenge to slip back into a share of the first-round lead with Nicolas Colsaerts. Two shots ahead after the 15th hole, the American dropped strokes on 16 and 18 to match Colsaerts at 2-under 70 in the 12-player event at Gary Player Country Club.
Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the second round of the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament. The 18-year-old Jutanugarn had a 10-under total at LPGA International in the five-round event.
Wondolowski wins league MVP
San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski has won the MVP award in Major League Soccer. The league's leading scorer with 27 goals tied the single-season record. He won 91 percent of MLS club management votes, 97 percent of media votes and 71 percent of player votes.
Alex Morgan scored three first-half goals as the Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. women's team beat Ireland 5-0 in an international friendly Wednesday. Sydney Leroux added two goals to help the top-ranked United States to the win.
Volleyball hosts NCAA tournament
The 16th-seeded Kentucky volleyball team will hit the floor to begin the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. when it plays host to East Tennessee State in Memorial Coliseum. This marks the eighth-consecutive tournament appearance for the Wildcats.
UK will host a portion of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons with the first and second rounds on Friday and Saturday. Notre Dame and Ohio State will meet on Friday at 5 p.m. in the first match of the night. The winners of both matches will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The last word
Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall says he has heard of players using many substances in an effort to gain an edge on the field, some less obvious than others.
"Guys try anything just to get that edge. ... I've heard crazy stories. I've heard of guys using Viagra, seriously."