Sports briefs: April 16

Auto racing

Biffle glad to finally get back to Victory Lane in Cup series

While the 49-race winless streak was wearing somewhat on Greg Biffle, there were also enough encouraging signs during the 18-month drought that he would win more races.

"It will take years off your life. I've probably lost several," Biffle said. "What kept me going or what keeps your spirit up is when you run good. ... We have run good, we just hadn't finished."

Biffle held on tight in the fastest Sprint Cup race ever on the 11/2-mile, high-banked track, pulling away after charging below Jimmie Johnson for a winning pass with 30 laps remaining on a windy and fast-paced Saturday night.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season points leader after five consecutive races now has a victory to go with that lofty status.

"To win like this and put a bunch of ground on the guys behind us certainly makes a statement, I think, for all the people that were wondering if this was kind of a fluke that we were still leading the points this far in," Biffle said.

Biffle's 17th career victory was his first since an October 2010 race in Kansas, where the series goes next week.

Kasey Kahne celebrated NASCAR's return to Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina with a win Sunday in the Truck Series race. The race was the first NASCAR-sanctioned event at The Rock since 2004. Kahne held off James Buescher for the victory.

Will Power kept Penske Racing perfect this season by picking his way through the field at Long Beach (Calif.) to win his second consecutive IndyCar Series race. Power was one of the 11 Chevrolet drivers penalized for changing the engines as a precautionary measure when teams reported to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The punishment was 10 spots on the starting grid, so Power, who qualified second, rolled off in 12th at the start Sunday. One race after driving from ninth to first to win, Power did it again.

■ Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai for his first career Formula One victory. Rosberg won by a staggering 20.6 seconds over McLaren's Jenson Button.


Pair of eagles helps Perry rally for 2nd

Michael Allen won the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am on Sunday for his second Champions Tour title, closing with a 3-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over Kenny Perry.

Perry (Lone Oak/Western Kentucky University) eagled the par-4 first hole and par-5 12th during a round of 65. It was the fifth time in the event's history that a player had a pair of eagles in a round.

"It got me in a good frame of mind," Perry said. "It took a lot of pressure off of me. I just knew I needed to shoot 65 or lower. I'm six behind starting the day. I did it. I played a beautiful round of golf."

Allen won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship, but he was winless in 40 Champions Tour events since then.

"It's been a long time since I beat these guys," Allen said. "I haven't beat them very often. It's very nice to get on 18 and finally go, 'man, I got them all.'

"To be honest, I've played a lot of really good golf out here and I knew it was going to come again soon," Allen said.

Louis Oosthuizen won the Malaysian Open, a week after losing a playoff to Bubba Watson in the Masters. The South African completed a 3-under 69 in the rain-delayed third round, then closed with a 68 for a three-stroke victory over Stephen Gallacher.

"I was a little surprised to win here after that," Oosthuizen said. "I thought I would be a lot more tired. My golf was a bit up and down in the morning at the end of the third round, but I settled down and played well later."

Carl Pettersson finished with a 2-under 69 for a five-shot victory over Zach Johnson on Sunday in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C. Pettersson birdied three of the first five holes on the way to building a five-shot lead by the turn.

Top-ranked Luke Donald needed to finish eighth or better to retain his ranking, but tied for 37th and will fall behind Rory McIlroy.


Orton helps Magic clinch playoff berth

Jameer Nelson scored 21 points and the Orlando Magic clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with a 100-84 win over the host Cleveland Cavaliers. Orlando led from wire-to-wire despite playing without star center Dwight Howard, who has missed the last four games with a herniated disk in his back.

Orlando took another injury hit in the first quarter when Glen Davis, who had played well at center with Howard sidelined, sustained a sprained right knee and didn't return.

Former Kentucky standout Daniel Orton helped fill in at center and scored a career-high 11 points to go with five steals, four rebounds and three blocks in 29 minutes. Orton had appeared in only nine career games going into Sunday, playing 45 minutes with six points and 10 rebounds. "I got a little winded at times, but the adrenalin kept me going," Orton said.

Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists to help the Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Bobcats 94-82 despite playing without three of their star players. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were given the night off to rest and did not make the trip to Charlotte, N.C., to face the NBA-worst Bobcats.

LeBron James had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade added 28 points and nine boards, and the Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks 93-85 on Sunday to clinch the Southeast Division title.


2 Western Kentucky football players shot

Two Western Kentucky football players were recovering after being wounded by gunshots outside a bar in Bowling Green. A statement from the school's athletic department said defensive lineman Tevin Holliman and defensive back Ricardo Singh were each hit once, and their wounds weren't life-threatening. The shooting early Sunday outside the Lava Lounge happened hours after the team played its annual spring game. Bowling Green Police spokesman Ronnie Ward said it appears someone shot into a crowd outside the bar and struck the players.

■ The Tampa Tribune reported that Dwayne Schintzius, the 7-foot-2, 275-pound center who played at Florida from 1987-90 and nine seasons in the NBA, died Sunday from respiratory failure. Schintzius, who had leukemia, had endured months of complications after receiving a second bone-marrow transplant. He was 43.

Danny Briere, Matt Read and Max Talbot each scored two goals to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to an 8-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday in a fight-filled Game 3 in the opening-round series. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux also scored to help the host Flyers take a 3-0 lead in the combustible best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

■ The Los Angeles Sparks are expected to select Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike at No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft on Monday. She led the Cardinal to consecutive Final Fours, losing to eventual champion Baylor this season. After Ogwumike, this year's draft will be wide open. Miami's Shenise Johnson, Tennessee's Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen, Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters and Natalie Novosel (Lexington Catholic), and Miami's Riquana Williams are among the top players available.

■ Kentucky softball senior Brittany Cervantes hit a home run in the seventh inning to cut Georgia's lead to 4-3, but the Bulldogs ended the rally shortly after at the UK Softball Complex on Sunday.

The last word

Save the fitness trainer for the rest of the PGA Tour; Carl Petterson knows he's fine the way he is. Sunday's RBC Heritage winner has never fit the tapered, powerful build made popular by Tiger Woods and copied by scores of young players. The one time the 34-year-old Pettersson did slim down and lost 30 pounds in 2009, he also lost his winning golf swing. So then he vowed to beef up and rediscover his game. The regimen? Pettersson said:

"Well, you drink 10 beers and (eat) a tub of ice cream before bed. That puts it on quickly."