Bulls take down Raptors to control final playoff spot
A message in the Chicago locker room read: "How bad do we want it?" The way Joakim Noah played, it was easy to tell.
Derrick Rose scored 26 points, Noah had 18 points, 19 rebounds and matched a career-high with seven assists, and the Bulls beat Toronto 104-88 on Sunday night to take a one-game lead over the Raptors for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
"I knew it was a really important game, I was really focussed," Noah said. "I just wanted to go out there and impose my will as much as I could, just be aggressive offensively and defensively. It was a huge win, and I just wanted to make sure that our team played harder than their team."
Chicago has won eight of 12 since Noah returned from a foot injury that forced him to miss 10 games. The Bulls went 0-10 without him.
"He's a guy who's always energetic, always yelling and talking," Rose said. "He's always energy while he's out there, and you want to do the same when you see him do all that stuff."
Trail Blazers 91, Lakers 88: Martell Webster hit three free throws with 3.1 seconds left, and Portland moved into a tie for seventh place in the Western Conference standings with a road victory over the defending NBA champions. Portland (49-31) snapped a five-game road losing streak against the top-seeded Lakers (56-24) while tying San Antonio with two games to play.
Magic 98, Cavaliers 92: Mickael Pietrus scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter, and Jameer Nelson hit a big three-pointer in the closing minutes as Orlando geared up for the post-season with a road win over Cleveland, which gave LeBron James another day off to rest for the NBA playoffs.
Nuggets sign ailing Karl's son
Coby Karl wants his chance with the Nuggets to be more than a heartwarming tale. The son of Nuggets Coach George Karl, who is battling throat and neck cancer, was signed Sunday by Denver. It's a generous gesture, for sure. But Coby Karl is hoping to show that he earned this spot, and it's more than just a gift to his ailing dad.
"I know that's going to be out there," Coby Karl said. "But that's the last thing I want it to be. As a basketball player, I'd like to think my skills have gotten me here."
Coby Karl was playing for the Idaho Stampede of the D-League, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds a game.
Season ends well for Flyers, Crosby
While the rest of the NHL wrapped up the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers got a jump start on the playoffs. Sidney Crosby put on a show of his own Sunday and nearly skated off with another scoring title. He settled for a share of his first goal championship.
Both the Flyers and Rangers faced the same Game 7 reality on Sunday in Game 82 of the season. Win and you're in. Lose and go home. Henrik Lundqvist starred for New York by making 46 saves through overtime, but he was beaten twice in the shootout and took a 2-1 loss. Philadelphia clinched the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and became the NHL's last participant to qualify for the playoffs. Now they will face the second-seeded New Jersey Devils in the opening round.
Crosby, 22, hit the 50-goal milestone for the first time in his already brilliant five-year NHL career. His second goal against the Islanders, scored 55 seconds into the middle period, gave him a league-best 51 goals and his first Maurice Richard Trophy. He is the co-winner with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, whose empty-netter in the closing seconds Sunday of the Lightning's 3-1 win over Florida was his 51st goal.
Castroneves wins first Alabama event
Helio Castroneves' strategies were all about preservation: First the fuel and then the lead. Castroneves deftly managed both tasks and held off Scott Dixon to win the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, coasting to the finish line after coming off caution with two laps to go. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner took over in the stretch run when Marco Andretti headed to pit road with seven laps to go.
Castroneves then treated the new IndyCar venue to his "Spider-Man" move, climbing a chain link fence in front of the grandstands and pumping his fists to the fans. Dario Franchitti was third. Will Power had won the first two races and was dominant in qualifying and practice but had to settle for fourth, still comfortably hanging onto his points lead. Danica Patrick continued to struggle, finishing 19th — right where she started.
Chela, Wozniacki take titles
Juan Ignacio Chela rallied to beat American Sam Querrey 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston for his first title since he beat Carlos Moya at Acapulco in March 2007. Ranked 82nd in the world, Chela came in quietly, started winning and feeling better as the seeded players started falling.
"Once I won my first match, I started feeling confident," he said. "Then as I got closer to the end I did feel like I could take it."
■ Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki took advantage of Olga Gorvotsova's numerous mistakes and successfully defended her title in the MPS Group Championships in Florida with a 6-2, 7-5 victory Sunday.
Holyfield, 47, beats Botha in Vegas
Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is using George Foreman's comeback more than 15 years ago as inspiration. The 47-year-old Holyfield (43-10-2, 28 KOs) knocked out 41-year-old Frans Botha with 2:05 left in the eighth round Saturday night in Las Vegas. Holyfield (43-10-2) knocked the defending champion down 31 seconds earlier with a right to the chin. There were only 3,127 people at the Thomas & Mack Center, most rooting for Holyfield in his first fight since Dec. 20, 2008, when he lost a majority decision to Nikolay Valuev.
"George Foreman said, 'It's not about my age,'" Holyfield said. "He became heavyweight champion of the world."
20,000 watch Texas Stadium crumble
More than 20,000 people gathered at tailgate parties and other spots Sunday to watch fireworks go off one last time over Texas Stadium before a ton of dynamite lit up the Dallas Cowboys' longtime home and brought it to the ground. The building known for the giant hole in its roof — "so God can watch his team," according to local lore — was demolished in a planned implosion set off by the 11-year-old winner of an essay contest. The Cowboys played 38 seasons in Texas Stadium, winning five Super Bowls during that time.
Cancellara wins Paris-Roubaix
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland won the Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, capturing the race for a second time and claiming his second victory in a one-day cycling classic in eight days. Cancellara won by two minutes after dominating a field that included three-time winner Tom Boonen of Belgium.
The last word
Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce said things could get interesting in the playoffs after his team and the Milwaukee Bucks got into several altercations for the second straight game Saturday night. Boston and Milwaukee could meet as early as the first round, not that Pierce needs any reminder:
"A couple technicals here, a couple of technicals there. Maybe we are setting up something for a week and a half."