Raptors stay hot
UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Raptors are now two games clear of the Boston Celtics for first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division races.
The Raptors won for the 12th time in 13 games by dominating the fourth quarter of a 106-90 verdict over the Hawks. DeMar DeRozan poured in a game-high 25 points for Toronto, which trailed by one before outscoring Atlanta 30-13 in the final period.
Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (SHROO’-dur) was held to 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting.
Checking out Tuesday’s other NBA action:
— Robert Covington scored 22 points and rookie standout Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double in the 76ers’ 128-114 win at Charlotte. Simmons had 16 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds as the 76ers won for the third time in the last four games.
— The Wizards pulled out a 117-113 overtime win against the Heat behind Bradley Beal’s 30 points on 12 of 16 shooting. Beal hit six of his seven 3-point attempts to lead Washington’s 14-for-24 performance from beyond the arc. The Wizards ended a three-game skid and moved three games ahead of the second-place Heat in the Southeast Division.
Cavs’ Love discloses bouts with panic attacks, mental health
UNDATED (AP) — Cavaliers All-Star Kevin Love has opened up about his panic attack this season and his struggles with mental health.
The 29-year-old forward writes in an essay for the Players’ Tribune on Tuesday that he was overcome by anxiety during a Nov. 5 home game against Atlanta. He was briefly hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic and the episode left him shaken.
Love is currently sidelined with a broken left hand. He says he drew courage after Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan disclosed he has dealt with depression.
In other NBA news:
— Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $15,000 for public criticism of officiating following Saturday’s loss at Houston. Smart said Rockets guard James Harden is among those who receive favorable treatment from referees. Smart told the Boston Globe that “certain players” get “calls that other guys just wouldn’t get.”
Bell gets exclusive franchise tag from Steelers
UNDATED (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is among five NFL players who have received the franchise take before today’s deadline.
Others getting the tag were Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Detroit defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Bell is the only one to receive the exclusive tag, meaning he can’t negotiate with other teams. Both sides plan to continue negotiating a long-term contract, but the tag currently means Bell will receive the average of the top five salaries among running backs for 2018.
In other NFL news:
— Former Raiders player Aldon Smith has turned himself in to police in a misdemeanor domestic violence case and was booked into San Francisco County Jail. Records show Smith was booked Tuesday on suspicion of domestic violence and three related misdemeanors. San Francisco police had been looking for Smith since he fled a home Saturday night after someone called 911 to report a domestic violence incident.
— The Panthers have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension with Pro Bowl kicker Graham Gano (guh-NOH’). A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the deal is worth $17 million overall with $9 million guaranteed. The 30-year-old is coming off his best NFL season, converting all 29 field goals from inside of 50 yards and 29 of 30 overall, and made 34 of 37 extra points.
— Running back Chris Ivory has agreed to sign a two-year contract with the Bills, where the eight-year veteran will have an opportunity to serve as LeSean McCoy’s primary backup. Ivory finished with just 382 yards rushing and a touchdown last season and was inactive for four of the Jaguars’ final five games.
— The Ravens have re-signed defensive end Brent Urban to a 1-year contract, less than two weeks before he was slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Urban has played just 25 games while battling injuries during his four seasons with Baltimore.
— The NFL’s salary cap will be $177.2 million, more than $10 million above last season. Teams must be below that figure when the league season begins on March 14.
— Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he won’t force his players to stand for the national anthem, even though he believes kneeling is an ineffective way to promote social justice. Ross’ comments Tuesday in a statement released by the Dolphins came after the New York Daily News reported he said all of the team’s players will stand for the anthem in 2018.
— NFL referees Ed Hochuli (HAHK’-yoo-lee) and Jeff Triplette are retiring. Hochuli joined the league in 1990, and Triplette in 1996.
Bruins outlast Wings.
UNDATED (AP) — The Boston Bruins continue to put pressure on the Tampa Bay Lightning as the two teams battle for the NHL’s Atlantic Division title and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Brad Marchand completed a hat trick by scoring 34 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 6-5 win over the Red Wings. Marchand finished with five points, including a pair of second-period goals and two assists in the first.
Detroit rallied after Jason Krug and Jake DeBrusk scored in the opening minute, but Boston eventually won its fourth in a row to stay six points behind the Lightning.
Tampa Bay also won as Brayden Point scored 2:49 into overtime to complete a 5-4 triumph over the Panthers. Yanni Gourde scored twice and had an assist to support Andrei Vasilevskiy (va-sih-LEHV’-skee), who handled 45 shots.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
Patrik Laine (LY-nay) has a career-high 38 goals after recording his fourth career hat trick in the Jets’ 3-0 shutout of the Rangers. Steve Mason turned back 31 shots and Laine ran his point streak to nine games as Winnipeg won its third in a row.
— Travis Zajac (ZAY’-jak) scored twice and Taylor Hall extended his team-record point straight to 19 games by collecting two assists in the Devils’ 6-4 win against the Canadiens. Zajac scored twice in the last two minutes of the first period to put New Jersey ahead 4-0, helping the Devils get within three points of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
— Artemi Panarin (ahr-TEH’-mee pah-NAH’-rihn) and Pierre Luc-Dubois (look doo-BWAH’) each had a goal and two assists as the Blue Jackets topped the Golden Knights, 4-1 to move two points ahead of Florida for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Joonas Korpisalo (YOO’-nuhs kohr-pih-SAH’-loh) turned back 37 shots and blanked Vegas after Erik Haula scored 90 seconds into the third period.
Canucks rookie Brock Boeser out 4-6 weeks with back injury
UNDATED (AP) — Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (BEH’-sur) will likely miss the remainder of the NHL season because of a back injury.
Boeser fell into an open gate at the players’ bench after trying to make a hit on Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck during Monday’s 4-3 win over New York. The star rookie left Rogers Arena on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital after the collision.
In other NHL news:
— The Bruins say rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy is out for at least four weeks with a sprained left MCL suffered in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Montreal. McAvoy has scored seven goals and 32 points in 59 games this season.
— Jonathan Cheechoo (CHEE’-choo) has retired from hockey after playing seven NHL seasons and finishing with four years in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
— Flames goalie Mike Smith practiced Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury against the Islanders on Feb. 11. Smith called practicing “a step in the right direction,” but added that it’s premature to determine when he’ll be cleared to play.
TOP-25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
Wright State, College of Charleston, LIU Brooklyn reach NCAA Tourney
UNDATED (AP) — A few more men’s basketball teams have earned automatic berths in the NCAA Tournament.
Grant Benzinger had 19 points and nine rebounds as Wright State beat Cleveland State 74-57 to win the Horizon League Tournament title. Kenny Carpenter had 18 points and Tyree Appleby scored 15 for the Raiders.
Wright State will play in college basketball’s showcase for the third time in school history and the first since 2007.
Joe Chealey had 32 points and the College of Charleston rallied from 17 down in the second half of an 83-76 comeback win against Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic Association final. The Cougars trailed 42-25 with 17:27 left in the second half, then took control by hitting their first four shots of overtime to go ahead 75-69.
LIU Brooklyn has reached the NCAA Tourney for the first time in five years after Joel Hernandez delivered 32 points and seven rebounds in a 71-61 victory against Wagner in the Northeast Conference title game. Raiquan Clark had 20 points and eight rebounds for the fourth-seeded Blackbirds.
Coe says Russians could be stopped from competing in track
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — IAAF president Sebastian Coe says Russians could be stopped from competing as neutral athletes if the country fails to shows “dramatic progress” in the fight against doping.
Russia has been suspended since 2015, when the World Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of widespread doping. The only Russians allowed to compete at IAAF events since then have been designated as neutral athletes.
Coe says the world needs to know Russian athletes are in a “system of confidence and trust.”
UNDAYED (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have worked out a one-year, $3 million deal with outfielder Jon Jay, a contact that allows him to earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses. Jay made $8 million last season while hitting .296 with two home runs and 34 RBIs in 141 games for the Chicago Cubs last season, including a .350 average in 40 at-bats as a pinch-hitter. Jay did not commit an error in 141 chances last season and will turn 33 before opening day.
Also in the majors:
— The Oakland Athletics have formally released designated hitter Brandon Moss, who was 4-for-10 with two walks in four exhibition games. The 34-year-old Moss had been acquired from the Royals on Jan. 29 and is still guaranteed $7.25 million this season and a $1 million buyout of his 2019 club option.
— The Nationals have sent pitching prospect Seth Romero home from camp for an unspecified violation of team policy. Romero was the team’s first-round pick last year and had been on the minor league side of Washington’s camp. He was kicked off the University of Houston team during his final season there for a violation of team rules.
UK politicians could skip World Cup in Russia over spy case
LONDON (AP) — The British government says politicians might not attend the World Cup in Russia if Moscow is found to be behind the unexplained illness of a former spy.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in critical condition after collapsing in the English city of Salisbury on Sunday.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the House of Commons there would be a “robust” British response if Russian involvement is proved, which could possibly impact on the participation in the World Cup. The Foreign Office later clarified that the comment referred to dignitaries and officials, not the England soccer team, which is scheduled to compete at the tournament, which starts in June.
Former ESPN on-air personality files sex harassment lawsuit
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former on-air personality has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was subjected to sexual harassment at ESPN and then fired in retaliation for complaining about it.
Adrienne Lawrence says in the complaint filed in federal court in Connecticut that she was subjected to unwelcome advances from anchor John Buccigross. She says he sent her unsolicited shirtless photos and used inappropriate nicknames for her.
RACING-NASCAR-HALL OF FAME NOMINEES
Jeff Gordon among new nominees for NASCAR Hall of Fame
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jeff Gordon is among the new nominees up for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next year.
The four-time NASCAR champion was added to the list of 20 nominees in the first year Gordon was eligible. He retired from full-time competition after the 2015 season with 93 career Cup victories.
Also added to the list this year were Harry Gant, a driver whose career spanned two decades and two series, four-time championship winning crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine, and car owners John Holman and Ralph Moody.