BC-AP Sports Digest

Associated Press Updated: April 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm • Published: April 17, 2014 0

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed at 5 p.m. by Jay Cohen and at 1 a.m. by Pat Horne. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800 845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. Reruns are available from the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.

TOP STORIES

BKN--PLAYOFF PREVIEW

To get another shot at LeBron James, the San Antonio Spurs may first have to go through Dirk Nowitzki, then James Harden and Dwight Howard, and finally Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. A rematch of last year's thrilling NBA Finals is possible, but the Spurs and Heat face tough paths to get there. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 7 p.m.

— With:

— BKN--Playoff Capsules. By Brian Mahoney and Tim Reynolds. 300 words for each of eight series, photos by 5 p.m.

BBN--DODGERS-PUIG-SMUGGLERS

MIAMI — Dodgers star Yusiel Puig fled Cuba on a boat run by smugglers who allegedly made death threats against him and a boxer, according to court documents. The papers describe a dangerous odyssey of shady characters, unpaid debts and violence. By Legal Affairs Writer Curt Anderson. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— With:

— SAN FRANCISCO — BBN--Dodgers-Puig's Journey. By Janie McCauley. UPCOMING: 450 words, photos by 8 p.m.

BKC--DUKE-PARKER

Jabari Parker is entering the NBA draft, and there's a strong chance he'll be the No. 1 pick. The 6-foot-8 All-American forward was the highest-scoring freshman in Duke history. Coach Mike Krzyzewski calls Parker "the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be." By Aaron Beard. SENT: 250 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.

NHL PLAYOFFS

Thursday Games:

HKN--BLACKHAWKS-BLUES

ST. LOUIS — The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks begin their bid for a repeat title on the road. The Blues appear vulnerable after losing six in a row to end the regular season, but hope to have several injured mainstays back in the lineup. By R.B. Fallstrom. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.

HKN--WILD-AVALANCHE

DENVER — Patrick Roy, the Hall of Fame goaltender turned coach, has the Avalanche back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Colorado opens against the Minnesota Wild, who feel as if they're peaking at just the right time after struggling earlier this season. By Pat Graham. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 9:30 p.m.

HKN--KINGS-SHARKS

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. The big question for San Jose is whether Antti Niemi or Alex Stalock gets the start in goal for Game 1 of the first-round series. By Josh Dubow. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 10:30 p.m.

— Also:

— NEW YORK — HKN--Flyers-Rangers. By Ira Podell. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

— Friday Games:

— TAMPA, Fla. — HKN--Canadiens-Lightning. By Fred Goodall. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— BOSTON — HKN--Red Wings-Bruins. By Howard Ulman. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos.

— ANAHEIM, Calif. — HKN--Stars-Ducks. By Greg Beacham. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 8 p.m.

NEW/DEVELOPING

BOX--BEIBUT'S BIG CHANCE

LAS VEGAS — Beibut Shumenov speaks five languages and trains 10 to 12 hours a day in his waterfront mansion, where the garage is filled with boxing gloves he collects. He wants people to know who he is, and Saturday night he gets that chance when he takes on ageless Bernard Hopkins in a light heavyweight title fight. By Boxing Writer Tim Dahlberg. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

OLY--UKRAINE-LVIV IN LIMBO

LONDON — With the crisis in Ukraine escalating by the day, the prospect of the Winter Olympics going to the former Soviet republic seems hard to imagine. Yet, the western Ukrainian city of Lviv hasn't given up on its bid for the 2022 Games. By Stephen Wilson. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— With:

— KRAKOW, Poland — OLY--Krakow-2022 Bid. SENT: 250 words.

— Also:

— RIO DE JANEIRO — OLY--Rio 2016-Strike. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 300 words, photos.

COLLEGE ATHLETES

WASHINGTON — Northwestern University and a group trying to unionize college athletes are trading accusations as the National Labor Relations Board considers the school's appeal of a federal ruling that scholarship athletes essentially are university employees. By Tom Raum. SENT: 300 words, photos.

BKC--PRINCESS LACEY-CELEBRATION

EAST LANSING, Mich. — An 8-year-old Michigan State basketball fan whose battle with cancer inspired players, coaches and many more is honored by thousands at a memorial service at the campus arena. Lacey Holsworth's family asks those attending to wear bright colors ... and smiles. By Larry Lage. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos, video. Service starts 6:30 p.m.

TEN--MONTE CARLO MASTERS

MONACO — Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal eases into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals by beating Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-3. Stanislas Wawrinka, Roger Federer and David Ferrer also advance to the last eight. By Jerome Pugmire. SENT: 500 words, photos.

NBA PLAYOFFS

BKN--BULLS-PLAYOFF PUSH

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Lose a franchise player. Trade another All-Star. Somehow, it's all added up to this for the Chicago Bulls. They're one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs. They open against Washington on Sunday. By Andrew Seligman. UPCOMING: 650 words by 5 p.m.

BKN--PLAYOFFS-LONGSHOT HAWKS

ATLANTA — There's no bigger longshot in the playoffs than the Atlanta Hawks. Only the 15th team in the last 20 years to make the postseason with a losing record, the Hawks open against the top seed in the East, the Indiana Pacers. By Paul Newberry. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 5 p.m.

BKN--GRIZZLIES-MILLER

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Grizzlies signed Mike Miller last summer after he was let go by the Heat. He has become an iron man, the only Memphis player to appear in all 82 games and a big reason why the team is in the playoffs. Now his 3-point shooting will be key in the first round against Oklahoma City. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m.

— Also:

— PORTLAND, Ore. — BKN--Trail Blazers-Playoffs. By Anne M. Peterson. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— Selected team wrapups.

COMMENTARY

CAR--JOHN LEICESTER-041714

PARIS — As Earth's atmosphere warms alarmingly and fills with heat-trapping gases, the writing on the wall looms ever larger: Formula One has become a guilty pleasure. It is auto racing's equivalent of blue whale burger or wearing panda fur. By Sports Columnist John Leicester. SENT: 800 words, photos.

BASEBALL

BBA--YANKEES-RAYS

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays open a four-game series at Tropicana Field, with CC Sabathia and David Price pitching in a matchup of past AL Cy Young Award winners. Freelancer Mark Didtler covering. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 7:10 p.m. With: Hometown lead.

BBN--REDS REBOUND

CINCINNATI — Aroldis Chapman is throwing again. Jonathan Broxton is back in the closer's role. And the offense is finally coming around. After the worst start in the majors, the Cincinnati Reds are starting to come around. By Joe Kay. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m. ET.

BBN--DIAMONDBACKS-AWFUL APRIL

PHOENIX — The pitching is the worst in the majors, the defense is kicking balls all over the field and the hitting has been nowhere close to making up for it. At 4-14, the Arizona Diamondbacks are off to the worst start in team history and struggling to keep up their morale. By John Marshall. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m.

GOLF

GLF--RBC HERITAGE

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Masters runner-up Jordan Spieth, defending champion Graeme McDowell and Matt Kuchard highlight the start of the RBC Heritage. Also entered are former champions Nick Faldo and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. By Pete Iacobelli. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 7:30 p.m

GLF--CHAMPIONS TOUR-MASTERS' AFTERGLOW

DULUTH, Ga. — They acquitted them themselves quite nicely at the Masters: Miguel Angel Jimenez finished fourth, Bernhard Langer tied for eighth and Fred Couples tied for 20th. On Friday, they begin play at the Greater Gwinnett Championship on the Champions Tour. By Charles Odum. UPCOMING. 500 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— Also:

— KAPOLEI, Hawaii — GLF--LPGA Tour. UPCOMING: 350 words by midnight.

— KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — GLF--Malaysian Open. SENT: 300 words.

AUTO RACING

CAR--NASCAR-SWAN FUTURE

Swan Racing's future is on the rocks and the two-car team is reviewing its ability to compete in NASCAR. The team says it has been unable to land the sponsorship it needs and is "exploring every available option." By Dan Gelston. SENT: 550 words.

CAR--F1--CHINESE GP

SHANGHAI — Nico Rosberg expects another tight race with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix. They dueled for the lead at the Bahrain GP and nearly collided before Hamilton edged Rosberg at the line by a second. SENT: 550 words, photos.

FEATURES

FBN--JETS-JOHNSON

NEW YORK — Chris Johnson has heard all the doubts about whether he'll be anything close to the running back who ran for more than 2,000 yards with Tennessee in 2009. After signing with the Jets on Wednesday, he wants to show he's still an electrifying playmaker and a perfect fit for his new team. By Dennis Waszak Jr. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 4 p.m.

SOC--US-SOCCER WATCH

Little has gone right for Jozy Altidore in his first season at Sunderland, with the American striker scoring just twice while struggling for playing time. Altidore is still being counted on by U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann, who has plans for a competitive pre-World Cup training camp beginning next month. By Kurt Voigt. UPCOMING: 500 words by 3 p.m.

GYM--NCAA WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The NCAA women's gymnastics championships feature four past national champions — 2013 winner Florida, UCLA, Utah and Alabama. And that's just the evening session of the semifinals. At least one former champ won't make the cut Friday night for the next day's finals. By John Zenor. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m.

ATH--JOYNER-KERSEE-WEST BANK

EL BIREH, West Bank — Dozens of Palestinian girls and women, most of them newcomers to the world of running, get a lesson in the basics from one of track and field's greats — three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. By Mohammed Daraghmeh. SENT: 650 words, photos.

MMA--UFC-ORLANDO

The UFC will anoint its top heavyweight title contender this weekend in Orlando. Brazil's Fabricio Werdum is eager for a shot at the belt after sitting inactive for most of the last two years, but he'll have to get past Travis Browne, who's on a roll in the division. By Greg Beacham. UPCOMING: 600 words by 8 p.m.

LEGAL

— PRETORIA, South Africa — Pistorius-Trial. Prosecutor at Oscar Pistorius trial tries to undermine forensic expert. By Gerald Imray. SENT: 350 words, photos.

— BOSTON — Aaron Hernandez-Associate. Associate of Aaron Hernandez charged with lying to grand jury. SENT: 130 words.

OTHER NEWS

— BKW--North Carolina-DeShields. Star freshman Diamond DeShields to transfer from North Carolina women's team. By Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. SENT: 120 words. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— MONTREAL — FBO--CFL-Alouettes-Johnson. Former NFL star Chad Johnson heading to CFL with Alouettes. SENT: 130 words.

— LEXINGTON, Ky. — BKC--Kentucky-Calipari. Kentucky coach John Calipari awaits players' decisions about staying or leaving for the NBA. By Gary B. Graves. SENT: 120 words, photos. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— ANN ARBOR, Mich. — FBC--Michigan-Dierdorf. Dan Dierdorf back in booth as radio analyst for Michigan football in return to alma mater. By Larry Lage. SENT: 550 words, photos.

— KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — TEN--Malaysian Open. Dominika Cibulkova reaches quarterfinals of Malaysian Open. SENT: 100 words.

— RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — WRE--Saudi-Wrestling. WWE wrestlers in Saudi Arabia for matches. SENT: 120 words, photos.

CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL Playoff Capsules.

— BBO--Baseball Capsules.

— GLF--Golf Capsules.

___

Thursday's Time Schedule (EDT)

NHL Playoffs

Philadelphia at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.

Chicago at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.

Los Angeles at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

Baseball

Atlanta at Philadelphia, 1:05 p.m.

Cleveland at Detroit, 1:08 p.m.

Toronto at Minnesota, 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.

Seattle at Texas, 2:05 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers at San Francisco, 3:45 p.m.

Colorado at San Diego, 6:40 p.m.

Milwaukee at Pittsburgh, 7:05 p.m.

St. Louis at Washington, 7:05 p.m.

N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m.

Boston at Chicago White Sox, 8:10 p.m.

Kansas City at Houston, 8:10 p.m.

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