L.A.'s Bryant youngest of fiveto reach 30,000 point mark
Kobe Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to eclipse 30,000 career points and only the fifth overall to hit that mark when he hit a short jumper with 1:16 to go in the first half at New Orleans on Wednesday night. Bryant is 34. Wilt Chamberlain was 35 when he hit the mark, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone were each 36 and Michael Jordan was 38.
■ Kevin Garnett scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Boston Celtics beat the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 104-94 in Rajon Rondo's return from a two-game suspension. Rondo had 17 points and 11 assists.
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Chiefs GM eulogizes Belcher
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who witnessed Jovan Belcher take his own life last weekend, gave a eulogy for the fallen player during a one-hour memorial service attended by Chiefs players, coaches and staff, including chairman Clark Hunt, on Wednesday.
"It was rough on him," former Chiefs great and Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said of Pioli. "For him to get up and say something, I don't know how he got through it."
Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Belcher from pulling the trigger on Saturday in the parking lot of the Chiefs' practice facility shortly after Belcher had shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, the mother of their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey.
Bell said in addition to Pioli, an uncle of Belcher's also spoke.
"He's done what he did, and it's over with," Bell said. "and now we have to sit back and see where we go from here. I'm in a daze."
■ John Skelton will be back at starting quarterback when Arizona plays the Seahawks Sunday in Seattle, replacing rookie Ryan Lindley, who was woeful in a 7-6 road loss to the New York Jets.
■ The Vikings placed ailing wide receiver Percy Harvin on injured reserve, abruptly ending a season that began so well for one of the NFL's most versatile players.
■ Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas called former teammate Peyton Hillis "a terrible distraction" last season, and said the running back put his contract situation ahead of the team. Hillis is returning to play in Cleveland this week with the Kansas City Chiefs.
■ Rex Ryan is sticking with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. The coach passed over fan favorite Greg McElroy, who came off the bench and rallied the Jets to a 7-6 win against Arizona.
■ Running back Ryan Grant signed with Green Bay, returning to the Packers to help shore up a position decimated by injuries.
■ D.J. Williams is preparing for his first start for Denver since Jan. 14 with ex-Cat Wesley Woodyard still hobbled by a sprained left ankle.
Larkin wants Hall free of PED users
Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin says players who used performance-enhancing drugs don't deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown. Inducted into the Hall last summer after a 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, Larkin told The Associated Press Wednesday that players who cheat shouldn't receive baseball's highest individual honor. Larkin says he thinks there needs to be definitive guidance on who has done performance-enhancers and who has not. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are all up for selection for the first time.
■ A person familiar with the negotiations says the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a $15 million, two-year contract with right-hander and former Wildcat Joe Blanton.
■ Free-agent outfielder Jason Bay reportedly has reached a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
■ Versatile infielder Jeff Keppinger has reportedly reached agreement with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract. The former Red hit .325 with a career-high nine home runs and 40 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season.
Optimism breaks out in labor talks
Negotiations between hockey owners and players are going so well that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says he's "pleased with the process" — even if he has been left outside the latest rounds of discussions. Still stuck on the perimeter with players' association executive director Donald Fehr, Bettman made a brief statement Wednesday on the state of the ongoing lockout after the league's board of governors met for about two hours in New York.
"We feel good about the information we got," new Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson said.
Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the six owners participating, also painted an optimistic picture. "We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal," said Tanenbaum.
Gymnastics team hosts Blue-White
The University of Kentucky gymnastics team returns to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday at 6 p.m. for the Blue-White Meet, days after the team checked in at No. 25 in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches Poll.
Admission to the scrimmage is free. The Wildcats' intra-squad meet is the final tuneup ahead of the Jan. 6 season opener in Berkeley, Calif., with host Cal, No. 13 Auburn and No. 19 Arizona.
Kentucky is coming off one of the best seasons in program history after posting three consecutive scores of 195.875 or higher to finish the season with Kentucky's best-ever three-meet stretch.
The Wildcats return 10 letter winners.
Four Olympians stripped of medals
Eight years after winning Olympic medals in Athens, four track and field athletes from eastern Europe were ordered to hand them back Wednesday because of positive doping tests, while Lance Armstrong can hold onto his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games a little while longer.
The International Olympic Committee executive board disqualified four athletes whose 2004 Athens doping samples were retested this year and came back positive for steroids, including shot put gold medalist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine. Also stripped of medals were hammer throw silver medalist Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus and two bronze medalists — women's shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia and discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus.
The IOC held off stripping Armstrong of the bronze he won in the cycling road time trial, citing procedural reasons for the delay.
■ Jockey Frankie Dettori has been banned from racing for six months by French horse racing stewards following a positive drug test. The 41-year-old, British-based rider tested positive for an unidentified banned substance Sept. 16 at a race meet at Longchamp.
■ American defending champion Lexi Thompson opened with a 3-under 69 Wednesday at the Dubai Ladies Masters, three shots off the leaders. Shanshan Feng and Florentyna Parker both shot 66s.
■ Rutgers University is suing the Big East Conference, trying to avoid paying a $10 million exit fee for leaving en route to the Big Ten. Big East bylaws state a school must give 27 months' notice and pay a $10 million withdrawal fee. The suit says the Big East selectively enforced the rules, with some schools not having to give notice.
The last word
Tony Stewart passed up a chance to race for Roger Penske in the Indianapolis 500. The three-time NASCAR champion said Wednesday that he wouldn't attempt to race in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
"It's a great opportunity, but it's very hard when you're running three Cup teams right now. ... It's kind of like being at Thanksgiving dinner. My plate is finally full."