Heat join elite club of teams with 20-game streak in season
LeBron James scored 27 points and the Miami Heat became the fourth team to win at least 20 consecutive games in a season, rallying to beat the host Philadelphia 76ers 98-94 on Wednesday night.
Dwyane Wade added 21 as the Heat needed big baskets over the final 2 minutes to top the Sixers for the milestone win.
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Only three teams had won at least 20 consecutive games in the same season: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33), the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20).
James and the Heat have started to acknowledge just how special this winning streak is. "When you have a streak like this, you have to have some luck," said James.
■ Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani is out for the season with an elbow injury. Bargnani, 27, sprained his right elbow Friday against the Lakers in Los Angeles. The Raptors said the injury is not related to the ligament problem in his elbow that sidelined him earlier this season. The top pick in the 2006 draft, Bargnani is averaging 12.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 35 games this season, a major drop-off from his production over the past few years.
Welker trades Brady for Manning
Wes Welker sure knows how to pick his quarterbacks.
The star receiver, Tom Brady's favorite target, is leaving New England and heading to Denver, where he'll join Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Also getting new deals were Reggie Bush in Detroit and Dashon Goldson in Tampa Bay.
Day 2 of the NFL's free agency frenzy was highlighted by Welker grabbing a two-year deal with the Broncos The best slot receiver in the league, Welker caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards and six TDs last season. Denver added defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, too.
Bush agreed to a four-year deal and could fill a huge hole at running back. The Lions haven't been able to count on 2010 first-round draft pick Jahvid Best, whose career is in doubt because of concussion issues. Bush rushed for 986 yards for Miami last season after gaining 1,086 yards in 2011, his first year with the Dolphins.
All-Pro safety Goldson got a five-year deal worth $41.25 million.
Cleveland remained active, agreeing to terms with linebacker Quentin Groves and tackle Desmond Bryant to further bolster a defense that added Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger on Tuesday.
Baltimore signed defensive lineman Chris Canty, offensive lineman Ramon Harewood and running back Damien Berry.
Kansas City added cornerback Dunta Robinson, receiver Donnie Avery and offensive lineman Bryan Mattison.
■ The Giants signed 11-year veteran place-kicker Josh Brown, who joins former Cowboys kicker David Buehler on the roster and apparently indicating free agent Lawrence Tynes won't be back.
■ Pittsburgh found its backup to QB Ben Roethlisberger in a Steel City native, Bruce Gradkowski.
■ Arizona, in dire need of help in the backfield, agreed on a one-year contract with former Steelers starter Rashard Mendenhall.
■ ESPN officially announced that Ray Lewis, the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, will join the network as a studio analyst.
U.S. women get big win for new coach
The United States has won the Algarve Cup for the ninth time, beating Germany 2-0 in the finals at Faro, Portugal.
Alex Morgan scored both goals in the first half as the American women won their first significant tournament under new Coach Tom Sermanni, who took over in late 2012.
Baseball cancels; Oswald honored
Inclement weather forced No. 9 Kentucky to cancel Wednesday's home game against Cincinnati.
Kentucky (14-2) will return to action at Florida on Friday at 7:30 p.m., the opener of a three-game series.
■ Chelsea Oswald was named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious NCAA Elite 89 award for indoor track and field. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships. Oswald boasts a 4.0 GPA, and competed in both the 3,000 meters and distance medley relay at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships last weekend. The Medina, Ohio, native earned All-America honors in both events for the 2013 indoor season. She finished fifth in the relay and ninth in the 3K.
Strasburg to start opener for Nats again
Stephen Strasburg will make his second Opening Day start for the Washington Nationals when the National League East champions open the season at home against the Miami Marlins on April 1.
Strasburg went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA last season before he was shut down after 1591⁄3 innings. The Nationals did not want to tax his arm in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
■ All over Florida and Arizona, spring training attendance is off and several things are to blame, aside from pricey tickets — early start, cold weather and lineups depleted by injured stars and players dispatched to the World Baseball Classic. The dip is nearly 14 percent lower than it was on this date last year, STATS said.
Games started early this season because players wanted to get in shape for the World Baseball Classic. "I think we started about eight or nine days too early," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said.
The weather hasn't been ideal, either — a freak winter storm out West and a cold snap down South.
Stevens tapped to ride Dullahan in Dubai
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will ride multiple Grade I winner Dullahan when he makes his expected start in the $10 million Dubai World Cup March 30.
Dullahan, winner of the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes and Grade I Pacific Classic in 2012, was piloted by European jockey Kieren Fallon while finishing 11th in the Group III Burj Nahaar last weekend. The 4-year-old son of Even the Score was ridden by Joel Rosario during his last U.S. run, a ninth-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Stevens came out of retirement in January following a seven-year hiatus and has 10 winners from 68 starters He won the 1998 Dubai World Cup aboard Silver Charm.
■ Mitch Seavey became the oldest champion in Iditarod history Tuesday night in Nome, Alaska. The 53-year-old outdueled Aliy Zirkle on the final stretch of the 1,000-mile race.
"This is for all the gentlemen of a certain age who think it ends at 50, 'cause it doesn't," said Seavey Led by Tanner, a 6-year-old, orange-brown husky, Seavey coasted down Nome's Front Street at 10:39 p.m. "I gotta go congratulate my lead dog Tanner," Seavey said. "He's probably the best I've ever had."
■ Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, 73, has been hospitalized in Tuscaloosa with heart problems. Moore was hospitalized for two days in August with an irregular heartbeat, then cleared to return to work. Moore has led his alma mater's athletic department since 1999 and hired Nick Saban, who has led the Crimson Tide to three national titles.
The last word
Former top-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki says her boyfriend, top-ranked golfer Rory McIlroy, has improved his fitness level so much that he likes working out even more than she does.
"Even in my off-season, I'm like, 'Can you just rest for a second? I don't want to see the gym. I don't want to hear about the gym.' ... He's like, 'No, but let's just go to the gym.'"