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Kobe to be re-examined before deciding injury fate

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant's torn right rotator cuff will be re-examined Monday before the Los Angeles Lakers decide whether the superstar guard needs potentially season-ending surgery.

Bryant was examined Friday in Los Angeles after the third-leading scorer in NBA history tore his rotator cuff Wednesday in New Orleans.

"We know it's a tear, but we don't know to what degree," coach Byron Scott said Friday in San Antonio. "Monday we'll find out if he's going to have surgery or not. That's disappointing in of itself. We know we're going to miss him for a length of time, we just don't know how long yet."

A completely torn rotator cuff typically requires surgery and several months of rehabilitation, which means Bryant's 19th NBA season could be over. Bryant's previous two seasons also ended early due to injuries.

A partial tear sometimes can be managed while an athlete continues to play, but the Lakers have declined to specify the severity of Bryant's tear.

Yet it's clear the 36-year-old Bryant has a major injury for the third straight season, his famously resilient body finally wearing down from the accumulated grind of nearly two decades with the Lakers and numerous long postseason runs.

He tore his Achilles tendon in April 2013, and he played in just six games last season before breaking a bone near his left knee.

"He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around as far as dealing with injuries and things like that, and being able to come back," Scott said after the Lakers' morning shootaround in San Antonio. "Everybody said he was done after the Achilles, and he came back pretty strong. Knowing him the way I know him, I know he doesn't want to go out this way. I think he will rehab it if that's the case, and then we'll wait and see."

Team physician Steve Lombardo confirmed the initial diagnosis and discussed treatment options with Bryant on Friday. Bryant will be examined again by Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic on Monday, and they'll decide whether Bryant should have surgery.

Bryant joked about the injury on his Twitter account Friday: "This is what happens when I pass too much!"

Bryant was injured while throwing down a two-handed dunk in the Lakers' loss to the Pelicans. He traveled home before the Lakers played at San Antonio on Friday night.

Bryant has sat out eight games in the last month to rest, so the struggling Lakers (12-31) have grown used to playing without their top scorer.

Bryant felt shoulder pain at the beginning of the season, but hadn't mentioned it lately. The Lakers believe Bryant's torn rotator cuff occurred on the dunk.

"I said, `Are you all right?"' Scott recalled. "He was like, `Yeah, I'm good, just bothering me a little bit. Once I get warmed up, I'm fine.' After that point, I never thought about it."

Although the Lakers rested Bryant extensively this season to preserve the wear on his high-mileage body, Scott still laments playing Bryant for too many minutes in early-season games. Bryant has been on a strict 32-minute limit over the past month.

The Lakers repeatedly have said they're determined to preserve Bryant's health into next season, when he is due to make $25 million. Los Angeles has struggled on the court for two straight seasons, but Bryant remains one of the world's most popular athletes, with his presence essentially guaranteeing a sellout in arenas across North America.

Bryant is the NBA's highest-paid player at $23.5 million this season.

---

AP freelancer Raul Dominguez in San Antonio contributed to this report.

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 02:14:00 +0000
Warriors' Thompson scores NBA-record 37 points in quarter

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson has set an NBA record for the highest-scoring quarter in league history, getting 37 in the third against the Sacramento Kings.

The All-Star hopeful made all 13 of his shots, including nine from 3-point range, and both of his free throws in the quarter Friday night.

Thompson also set the league record for most 3s in a quarter.

Carmelo Anthony had 33 points in a quarter on Dec. 10, 2008, while with Denver. Joe Johnson made eight 3s in a quarter for Brooklyn in 2013.

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 05:51:00 +0000
A redo of a trade, Johansen goes No. 1, Ovie waits and waits

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Phil Kessel was once again dealt for Tyler Seguin, Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen was the No. 1 overall pick and superstar Alexander Ovechkin did not get his new car.

In a wild and comic NHL All-Star draft to set the lineups for Sunday's game, almost nothing went the way anyone might have guessed.

The highlight of the evening was Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals' $10-million-a-year goal-scoring superstar, pleading to be taken last in the 17-round draft. Why? To compensate for the embarrassment of being the player no one wanted, the NHL gives the last player standing a new car.

At one point during the evening, a TV interviewer approached Ovechkin backstage and he hid behind a white piece of paper on which he had printed: "I want to be last. Need a car."

Ovechkin, the league's leading goal-scorer last year, came close to getting his wish. He lasted until there were just three players remaining, but then captain Nick Foligno selected him.

Ovechkin slumped in mock dejection in his chair, looked at the ceiling and sighed loudly. Then he looked into the camera and mouthed one word: "WHY?"

Foligno watched Ovechkin slowly walk onto the stage before despondently putting on a black Team Foligno jersey.

"Hey, Ovie, buy a car!" Foligno called out.

As it turned out, Ovechkin barely missed out on a new set of wheels. The two players who went last - Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nashville rookie Filip Forsberg - each got the keys to a new car in a break from tradition.

"He wanted the car but it seems like he always gets everything he wants," said Rick Nash, one of the assistants to captain Jonathan Toews. "I think the captains had other plans."

Foligno and Toews, chosen last week as team captains for the All-Star teams, revisited history by recreating the 2009 deal. In that trade, which greatly affected two Original Six franchises, the Boston Bruins sent Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a first-round draft pick that would become Seguin.

Midway through the draft, Foligno and Toews huddled at the back of the stage before Foligno leaned into the microphone and said, "I've always wanted to say this: `I have a trade to announce!"'

Both Kessel, who has flourished through some up and down years in Toronto, and Seguin, now a Dallas Stars scorer who shares the league lead with Nash with 28 goals, laughed at the irony.

"Well, fellas, I've been there before," Kessel said with a grin. "I got traded for the same person and I think it worked out OK for everyone."

Kessel had been grabbed by Team Toews with the second pick - a dramatic difference from the 2011 All-Star draft when he was the last player taken.

The whole evening began with a surprise pick. Foligno, having a career year for the Blue Jackets, won the "puck flip" to make the first selection. He quickly took his teammate, Johansen, the only player in the league with two points streaks of at least 10 games this season.

Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks captain, was helped by assistants Nash and Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf. Foligno was aided by Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

After the top two picks, Foligno took Chicago's Duncan Keith and Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar, while Toews picked Nashville's Shea Weber and Philadelphia's Jake Voracek.

The captains were required to take three goalies within the first 10 rounds and six defensemen by the end of the 15th round.

There were surprises long before the draft. Thanks to an overwhelming bit of ballot-box stuffing by voters in his homeland, Latvia native Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres was the leading vote-getter with almost 1.6 million votes.

Some of the league's top players - Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, along with Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky - will miss the game while mending injuries.

The players will square off for their teams in the skills competition on Saturday night before meeting at Nationwide Arena in the first All-Star game played in Ohio's capital city.

Ovechkin wasn't talking after the draft, but Foligno said he clearly would have to lift the spirits of the Russian star.

"It must be something back home in Russia that Honda Accords are hot right now," Foligno laughed. "Who knows what the deal was. But I feel bad. I'm going to have to talk to him. He seems really disappointed he didn't get it."

---

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 03:30:00 +0000
For injury-prone Illini, the next man up is the manager

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) The injury situation at Illinois has come to this: Coach John Groce has added team manager Ryan Schmidt to the roster.

After almost four full seasons of working with towels, water bottles and the stools players sit on during timeouts, the 6-foot senior guard will wear No. 14 on Saturday when Illinois travels to Minnesota (12-8, 1-6 Big Ten).

"I never really expected to suit up for the orange and blue," said Schmidt, who played high school ball at Bloomington (Ill.) Central Catholic and considers himself a lifelong fan. "My room's decked out in Illini gear."

Groce said he added Schmidt to make sure Illinois (13-7, 3-4) had enough players to practice and - just in case - enough players for game day.

"Ryan's a great kid and has been here the entire time I've been here," the third-year coach said. "Obviously played in high school, and was a really good high school player."

Schmidt said some Division II and III schools showed interest in him but he chose Illinois for academic reasons. He is an accounting major.

Illinois lost starting point guard Tracy Abrams for the season when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament before the season started. Leading scorer and rebounder Rayvonte Rice broke a hand this month and is out until next month. And this week, guard Aaron Cosby had surgery for a torn retina, an injury that Groce said Friday is improving but won't let him back on the court right away.

In Wednesday's win over Purdue, Illinois essentially used seven players.

Enter Schmidt, whose first call with the good news was to his parents.

"Neither of them believed me," he said. "It took a little bit of explaining."

Schmidt changed his Twitter profile Friday to read "Former basketball manager & current walk-on."

A check of the online team roster showed an update, too. There was Schmidt's name tucked in among players who see the floor every game, complete with a one-line bio: "Four-year team manager added to the roster as a walk-on on Jan 23, 2015."

Schmidt said he will take a crash course in Illinois' playbook, but said some things will not change. He still expects to carry the stools out onto the court during timeouts, he said.

"That's my specialty," Schmidt said.

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 22:44:00 +0000
Mark Cuban: NBA should dump fan voting for All-Star game

DALLAS (AP) Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested the NBA should do away with fan balloting for the All-Star game, saying the leading total of 1.5 million votes for Golden State's Stephen Curry was so low it was "embarrassing."

Cuban said Friday the roster should be expanded to 14 players from the current 12. He said coaches or general managers or both should choose the teams.

The outspoken owner said the low total for Curry was evidence that the "system's broken, absolutely, positively broken."

"And fans are allowed to vote more than once, right?" Cuban said "That's embarrassing. To think that we couldn't get people to vote enough times. No one even tried to hack it. That's how bored they are."

Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista led baseball's All-Star fan voting last year with about 5.9 million ballots.

Cuban said he didn't know how NBA All-Star voting was trending in recent years, and said he favors people voting if the numbers were better because "then the fans have spoken."

"But when the number of voters isn't enough to even get anybody to notice ... that means basically .01 percent of NBA fans cared enough to vote," Cuban said.

The NBA said balloting was up 28 percent over last year despite the voting window being almost a month shorter, and the vote was more spread out because every player was eligible for the first time.

Curry finished about 42,000 votes ahead of LeBron James. The All-Star game is Feb. 15 in New York.

Sat, 24 Jan 2015 06:51:00 +0000

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