Raiders grab home-field edge, Eagles fail
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Eagles were deprived homefield advantage throughout the playoffs Sunday.
The Oakland Raiders, however, managed to reach that goal.
Completing an unlikely late-season run that earned them a playoff bid, the New York Giants produced yet another ugly victory with a 10-7 win over the Eagles. Philadelphia scored four plays deep into the game and could not manage another point as New York overcame four turnovers to reach the playoffs for the third time in six years under Coach Jim Fassel.
Matt Bryant's 39-yard field goal 5:10 into overtime Saturday gave the mistake-prone Giants the win after Philadelphia's David Akers missed a potential game-winning kick in the final moments of regulation.
Philadelphia (12-4) would have wrapped up the home-field edge in the NFC with a victory. Green Bay can now do so with a win Sunday against the New York Jets. A Green Bay loss would toss the home-field advantage back to the Eagles.
New York's Tiki Barber rushed for a career-high 203 yards, but he fumbled the ball away three times. The last of those was recovered by Eagles rookie safety Michael Lewis at the New York 26 with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter.
But the normally reliable Akers, who had converted 30 of 33 field goal attempts this season, missed a 35-yarder wide right with 1:12 left.
In Oakland, the Raiders wrapped up the AFC home-field edge with a soggy, 24-0 blanking of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City was eliminated from playoff contention.
Under first-year coach Bill Callahan, the Raiders (11-5) used a potent ground game to secure the victory.
Charlie Garner rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown during a steady rain that turned the field into a quagmire.
Lakers begin to look familiar
The win came after Robert Horry guaranteed the Lakers would be a .500 team by the end of January. His prediction meant the three-time defending champions would have to win 12 of their next 14 games, starting with this contest at the Pepsi Center.
Bryant had a streaky first half. He made his first nine shots in the first quarter as Los Angeles raced to a 31-18 lead, then missed all six attempts in the second as Denver closed within 55-47 at halftime.
But Bryant recovered and made five of nine shots in the third quarter. He sank Los Angeles' final three baskets as it took an 82-69 lead into the final period.
O'Neal simply overwhelmed the Nuggets' frontcourt. He shot 10 of 15 from the field and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Overall, the Lakers played one of their better games of a difficult season as they improved to 4-13 on the road. They shot a season-high 58 percent, held a 42-25 rebounding advantage and matched a season best for points.
Other NBA results: Indiana 91, New Orleans 84; Orlando 101, Boston 95; Washington 84, Atlanta 76; Detroit 106, Minnesota 82; San Antonio 109, Chicago 95; Dallas 107, New York 82; New Jersey 104, Milwaukee 96; Utah 98, Philadelphia 69.
Red Wings extend unbeaten streak
NASHVILLE, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Sergei Fedorov capped a three-goal outburst in the second period Saturday night as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Nashville Predators, 4-2.
Detroit extended its season-best unbeaten streak to seven games.
Fedorov scored his 18th goal with 4:49 to go in the second, helping Detroit improve to 5
Kris Draper had the other goal for the Red Wings, who avenged a 3-1 loss at Nashville on Oct. 26.
Andreas Johansson ended a 10-game drought with his team-best 13th goal for the Predators, who had a season-high three-game unbeaten streak stopped.
Other NHL results: Minnesota 4, Buffalo 3; New York Islanders 3, Carolina 0; Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 2; Boston 1, Atlanta 0; St. Louis 6, Columbus 1; New York Rangers 2, Florida 1; New Jersey 2, Washington 1 in overtime; Phoenix 4, Philadelphia 0.
Wisconsin wins thriller
SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A 37-yard field goal by Mike Allen in overtime Saturday night gave Wisconsin a thrilling 31-28 win over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl.
Brooks Bollinger came up with a series of clutch plays at the end of regulation Saturday night, including the tying touchdown in the final minute, before Allen came through with the game-winner.
Wisconsin overcame four tunovers to defeat the 14th-ranked Buffaloes.
The Badgers (8-6) won the coin toss in overtime and elected to play defense first. They pushed the Buffaloes (9-5) back, forcing a 45-yard field goal attempt by Pat Brougham that was pushed well right.
Wisconsin ran the ball up the middle three straight plays, setting up Allen's kick, which sailed through the middle of the uprights to give the Badgers a fourth straight bowl victory and seventh in eight tries under Coach Barry Alvarez.
Wisconsin tied it, 28-28, on a one-yard keeper by Bollinger with 51 seconds left in regulation. Bollinger completed two fourth-down passes on an 80-yard drive, including a 30-yarder to Darrin Charles to the Colorado one.
In the only other bowl game Saturday, Wali Lundy scored four touchdowns and Virginia used a series of trick plays to crush 13th-ranked West Virginia, 48-22, in the inaugural Continental Tire Bowl.
The Cavaliers (9-5) had fewer first downs and total yards than the Mountaineers (9-4) but forced the game's only two turnovers and returned a punt for a touchdown in snapping a four-game bowl losing streak.
Virginia also lost star receiver Billy McMullen, who suffered a shoulder injury in the opening minutes. He sat on the bench as his team scored 28 points in the first half.
After an off day Sunday, the bowl action will resume Monday with Arkansas playing Minnesota in the Music City Bowl and Oregon facing Wake Forest in the Seattle Bowl.
Pitino beats former team
LOUISVILLE, Ky., Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Marvin Stone scored 16 points in an emotional reunion Saturday as Louisville defeated 14th-ranked Kentucky, 81-63, before a raucous crowd of 20,061.
Stone transferred from Kentucky last year after the 6-10 forward had been dismissed by Coach Tubby Smith for disciplinary reasons in late December. Stone came to Louisville to play for Rick Pitino, who coached Kentucky to a national title during an eight-year stint before leaving for the NBA in 1997.
Pitino returned to the college game last season and lost his first meeting with Kentucky, 82-62, in Lexington.
This time around, Pitino had the crowd on his side. He helped them along with a pregame message that was displayed on the scoreboard, emphasizing the importance of the Freedom Hall fans as a sixth man.
It worked. The crowd helped the Cardinals (7-1) rally from a double-digit deficit in the first half before urging them along during a dominant final 20 minutes.
After the final horn, the crowd stormed the court.
"I normally don't care until the end, but I think our guys deserve it," Pitino said. "We'll embrace this win for a short period because we have Ohio State next week. But this is a big win for us."
Kentucky was one of four teams among the top 14 in the country to be defeated Saturday. No. 5 Oklahoma lost to No. 17 Mississippi State, 54-45; No. 7 Illinois fell to Memphis, 77-74; and no. 11 Indiana suffered its second straight setback, a 71-64 loss to Temple.
The second-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers, however, had no trouble in blasting George Mason, 65-41. Top-rated Duke plays Sunday at home against Dayton.
Todd Simpson suspended two games
NEW YORK, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The NHL suspended Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Todd Simpson two games without pay Saturday for careless use of his stick.
The incident came against Los Angeles Kings center Ian Laperriere during their game Thursday night.
With 7:29 to go in the second period of Phoenix's 4-3 overtime loss, Simpson received minor penalties for roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct and high-sticking.
Considered a repeat offender, Simpson will forfeit $35,366 based on his salary. He missed Saturday's game against Philadelphia and will not play in Monday's contest against Edmonton.
Simpson also received a three-game suspension on Nov. 27 for a high-sticking infraction against Dallas Stars winger Rob DiMaio.
Putzer edges Olympic champion
SEMMERING, Austria, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Italian Karen Putzer won her third World Cup race of the season Saturday by capturing a giant slalom over Olympic champion Janica Kostelic.
Putzer, who won a giant slalom in Val d'Isère and a super-G in Lake Louise, crossed the finish line in an overall time of two minutes 11.10 seconds.
Kostelic, who stood in seventh place after a mediocre first run, produced a tremendous second run and looked ready to grab her very first World Cup giant slalom victory.
But the Croatian triple Olympic champion was forced to settle for second by 0.37 seconds after a technically perfect second run by her Italian rival.
Putzer, 24, is Italy's new leader on the Alpine skiing circuit following the absence of Olympic silver-medallist Isolde Kostner, who crashed over three weeks ago in training in Lake Louise but plans to return after the first of the year.
Putzer now leads the World Cup giant slalom standings with 229 points, followed by Kostelic with 209 points. She is also second in the overall standings behind the Croatian all-rounder.
Flames hire Darryl Sutter
CALGARY, Alberta, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The Calgary Flames introduced new Coach Darryl Sutter on Saturday, ending a controversial three-week search.
Sutter takes over for interim Coach Al MacNeil, who fell to 4-5-2 with Friday night's 4-3 loss to Toronto. MacNeil had replaced Greg Gilbert, who was fired Dec. 3.
Just two days earlier, Sutter was axed by San Jose. After three weeks, plenty of rumors and harsh criticism for their handling of the situation, the Flames finally have a coach.
Calgary, which has not reached the playoffs since 1995, is tied for last in the Western Conference with 28 points.
Sutter becomes the second member of his family to coach the Flames. Older brother Brian compiled an 87-117-37-5 record in three seasons with Calgary, which fired him following the 1999-2000 season.