Rondo second to Wade at guard in All-Star voting
Boston Celtics guard and former Kentucky standout Rajon Rondo is on pace to be voted as a starter for the NBA All-Star game. Rondo is second at guard behind Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.
Rondo, who made his first All-Star team last season as a reserve, and Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett are on pace to start, as are Heat teammates LeBron James and Wade.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant is the top overall vote-getter for the game in his home Staples Center on Feb. 20.
Houston's Yao Ming has a sizable lead at center in the Western Conference despite being out for the season with a foot injury. If an injured player is voted to start, Commissioner David Stern chooses an injury replacement for the roster and the conference's coach tabs a reserve to start.
Starters will be announced Jan. 27.
■ Kevin Durant scored 28 points, Russell Westbrook had 15 points and nine assists and the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder beat the short-handed Dallas Mavericks 99-95 on Thursday night. Shawn Marion had a season-high 25 points for the Mavericks, who were without top scorer Dirk Nowitzki for a career-high sixth straight game with a sprained right knee.
■ Houston Rockets center Yao Ming underwent surgery Thursday to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, a procedure he says may end his career. The 7-foot-6 Yao has played in only five games this season. The seven-time All-Star missed all of last season following reconstructive foot surgery.
Taurasi's Olympic status in doubt
American basketball star Diana Taurasi had her contract terminated by Turkish club Fenerbahce on Thursday after her "B" sample tested positive for doping. Taurasi faces a ban of up to two years, putting in jeopardy her chances of playing for the United States at the 2012 London Olympics. Taurasi's "A" sample tested positive last month for the banned stimulant modafinil following a Turkish league game on Nov. 13. Taurasi had been suspended by Fenerbahce ever since.
The International Olympic Committee bars any athlete given a doping penalty of six months or more from competing in the next games. Taurasi helped the Americans win gold medals at the past two Olympics and was the leading scorer when the U.S. won the women's world championships. Geno Auriemma, the United States coach for the 2012 Olympics, said the former University of Connecticut star told him that she did not take modafinil. He also said he didn't know if Taurasi had any problems with sleeplessness.
Kearns added to Indians' roster
The Cleveland Indians officially added outfielder Austin Kearns to their 40-man roster by designating outfielder Jordan Brown for assignment. Kearns, a former Lafayette High School star, rejoined the Indians last month, signing a one-year, $1.3 million free-agent contact. He began 2010 with Cleveland before being traded to the New York Yankees on July 30. He batted .272 with eight homers and 42 RBI in 84 games for the Indians.
■ Reliever Jared Burton and the Reds agreed to a one-year, $750,000 deal on Thursday, leaving four Cincinnati players eligible for arbitration. Burton spent most of last season with Triple-A Louisville, where he was 2-4 in 33 games with a 2.61 ERA. He was sidelined by a thyroid problem and strained muscles in his left side.
■ Outfielder David Murphy and the Texas Rangers avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $2.4 million, one-year contract. Murphy hit .291 with 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 138 games for the AL champion Rangers last season.
■ First baseman Derrek Lee finalized a $7.25 million, one-year contract Thursday with the Baltimore Orioles, who hope he can provide punch to a lineup that ranked 21st in home runs last season. The 35-year-old free agent had 19 homers and 80 RBI in 148 games with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves last year.
■ Second baseman Dan Uggla and the Atlanta Braves finalized a $62 million, five-year contract Thursday that avoided salary arbitration. Uggla batted .287 with 33 homers and 105 RBI last season.
Stallions win 108-105 in home opener
The Bluegrass Stallions won their Premier Basketball League home opener at Georgetown on Thursday night against a team that included two former Kentucky Wildcats. Kenny Jones scored 21 points to lead the Stallions to a 108-105 victory over the Rochester Razor Sharks and former Cats Perry Stevenson and Jared Carter. The Stallions, coached by former UK player Jay Shidler, went with a three-guard lineup, including former Georgetown standout George Baker, who scored 11 points. "I decided to go small because I thought we could run on them," Shidler said. Stevenson had 16 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes for Rochester. Carter had two points and six rebounds.
Venus Williams loses Aussie warm-up
Venus Williams lost to second-ranked Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday at the Hong Kong Classic exhibition tournament in her first match since the U.S. Open. Williams was sidelined with a left knee injury for the last part of the 2010 season and is using the tournament as her only warm-up for the Australian Open. Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, said she wasn't surprised by her rustiness. "I know my best tennis will come with each and every match," Williams said.
U.S. women bring back Heinrichs
Former U.S. women's coach April Heinrichs returned to the U.S. Soccer Federation on Thursday as technical director of women's national teams, just two months after the Americans' shocking loss to Mexico forced them to win a pair of playoffs to reach this year's World Cup. "Over the last 10, maybe 15 years, the other countries have spent time, energy and now new resources across all of our sports, soccer as well. These countries have caught up," she said. "And it's a matter of us now saying, 'OK, where do we need to go now?' "
Russian team kicked off flight
About 30 members of Russia's gold medal-winning World Junior Hockey Championships team were asked to get off a Delta Air Lines flight for being unruly as they boarded for takeoff early Thursday morning, an airport spokesman said. The group had arrived at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in time for a 6:10 a.m. flight to Atlanta, but was turned back by the flight crew. "They were definitely intoxicated, that's for sure," bus driver Curtis Hall, who drove the Russians from the Adam's Mark hotel to the airport, told The Buffalo News. "They were so drunk they had to carry a couple of the guys onto the bus." Russia overcame a three-goal deficit in the third period to stun Canada 5-3 in the gold-medal game Wednesday night.
The last word
Marvin Morgan, English soccer player, wrote the following on Twitter after fans of his Aldershot team booed him when he was substituted during a 2-1 loss to Hereford:
"Like to thank the fans who booed me off the pitch. Where's that going to get you! I hope you all die."