SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Olympics' Blade Runner faces charge of murdering girlfriend
Reeva Steenkamp, the model, and Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic champion and Olympic competitor, were glamorous young fixtures on the South African celebrity scene.
But early Thursday, police arrived at Pistorius' house in a gated community in Pretoria to find Steenkamp, 30, dead from multiple gunshot wounds in a puddle of blood. And before the day was out, Pistorius, 26, who ran on carbon-fiber blades that earned him the nickname Blade Runner, had been charged with murder.
Early news reports that Pistorius had accidentally shot his girlfriend, thinking she was an intruder, gave way to grim police news conferences announcing previous law enforcement complaints about domestic incidents at his home and the current charges of murder. The development stunned a nation that had elevated Pistorius to iconic status as a national sporting hero, an emblem of the ability to overcome acute adversity.
Pistorius, who was born without fibulas, had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday, and he battled for many years to compete against able-bodied athletes.
His arrest is a stark reminder of the violence that permeates South Africa, where fear of armed robberies and carjackings prompt the wealthy to take refuge in heavily guarded gated compounds and arm themselves with handguns. "The best case is that he shot her by mistake," said Hagen Engler, a journalist who edited FHM, a magazine that frequently featured Steenkamp, whom he knew well. "And that is a particularly South African mistake, that we are so paranoid you are ready to fire off bullets when you don't know who is coming. We are such a messed-up country in some ways."
James leads Heat, but torrid streak ends
LeBron James had 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and the visiting Miami Heat trampled the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-100 in a Thursday night showcase before the All-Star break.
James was in position to continue his NBA record run of games with at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting to seven, but missed a three-pointer with just over a minute left. That dropped him to 14-for-24 in the game, or 58 percent. Chris Bosh chipped in 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Heat won their sixth straight against the Thunder dating to last year's NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant had 40 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma City.
■ The Houston Rockets have recalled forward Terrence Jones. The 6-foot-9 Jones was a first-round pick (18th overall) by the Rockets last summer out of Kentucky. He averaged 18.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 17 games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He's appeared in 11 games for Houston this season.
■ Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett says this ''is definitely my last All-Star game.'' Garnett would not elaborate on why he wouldn't be back after playing in the exhibition for the 15th time in his 18-year career. Is Garnett, 36, is planning to retire? He wouldn't say.
Waltrip to honor Sandy Hook victims
Michael Waltrip, two-time Daytona 500 champion, will carry a special Sandy Hook School Support Fund paint scheme in the Feb. 24 Daytona 500. The No. 26 has special significance in that it represents the 20 children and six adults who were killed by a lone gunman on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn.
NASCAR chairman Brian France, Waltrip and other NASCAR officials introduced the paint scheme to the public Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. It was introduced to the children and families of Sandy Hook in Newtown at a private event last week.
The Newtown event "to me personally, it was one of the hardest things and best things I've ever done," France said. "Being in Newtown last week and delivering a moment of happiness to that community was unlike anything I've ever experienced."
■ NASCAR will likely require baseline concussion tests for all drivers in 2014. Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations, said officials have also urged drivers to get an ImPACT test before this season.
■ James Hylton is retiring after 50 years of NASCAR racing. The 78-year-old driver says this will be his last season. Hylton has made 602 starts in the Sprint Cup Series since his rookie season 1964. He won at Richmond in 1970 and at Talladega two years later.
Kuchar returns with first-round 64
Coming off a three-week break, Matt Kuchar might not recall golf feeling this easy. He opened with three straight birdies, all of the putts inside 3 feet. He finished with back-to-back birdies at Riviera, holing a 25-foot putt on the 18th hole for a 7-under 64 that gave him the first-round lead in the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles.
Brandt Jobe, returning from a serious neck injury last summer, put his experience to use on the course he played more times than he can remember while at UCLA. He ran off four straight birdies late in his round, only to close with a bogey on the 18th to finish at 66.
■ Teen star Lydia Ko shot a 10-under 63 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour's season-opening Women's Australian Open. The 15-year-old amateur won the New Zealand Women's Open on Sunday for her third victory in a professional tournament.
■ LSU will introduce Cam Cameron as the Tigers' new offensive coordinator on Friday. Cameron will take over for Greg Studrawa, who remains as offensive line coach.
Studrawa took over as offensive coordinator unexpectedly in 2011 when ex-U of L coach Steve Kragthorpe, who'd been hired for the job months earlier, announced he had Parkinson's disease and would only serve as quarterbacks coach. Cameron served as the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator from 2008-2012. He was fired late in 2012, missing out on the Ravens' Super Bowl run.
■ Oakland Athletics closer Grant Balfour has a meniscus tear in his right knee. The A's estimate he will be back pitching in 4-6 weeks.
The last word
Prominent NBA agent David Falk, a Washington Wizards season ticket holder, doesn't like John Wall — at all. He inexplicably went out of his way to say this to Washington Post columnist Mike Wise:
"I would trade him and get rid of him. ... He doesn't have a feel for the game. He only knows how to play one speed. Magic Johnson had a great feel, a court sense, by the time he was a sophomore in college. Chris Paul had it by the time he was a sophomore in high school. You can develop your jump shot all you want, but if you don't know how to play more than an up-and-down game by the time you're about 20 as a point guard, the chances of learning are very slim. I don't see it happening."