New Jersey aadvances to NBA East finals
BOSTON, May 13 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Nets beat the Boston Celtics 110-101 in double overtime Monday to complete a four-game sweep of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Jason Kidd finished the Celtics, hitting a 3-pointer at the final buzzer. The Nets' guard again endured vicious taunts by Boston fans, but had the last laugh, just missing a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Not even the presence of legends Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn and John Havlicek could prevent the Celtics from getting swept in a seven-game series for only the second time in the history of the NBA's most storied franchise. They also were swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1983 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Nets, who erased an eight-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation, eliminated the Celtics for the second straight year and have won six straight playoff games overall.
They also became the first team in this year's postseason to win consecutive games on the road in the same series.
By closing out the Celtics, New Jersey earned an extended rest. The Nets will play either Philadelphia or Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals. That series is tied at two wins apiece.
Paul Pierce scored 27 points and Tony Delk added 23 for the Celtics, who took the Nets to six games in the Eastern Conference finals last season.
Kenyon Martin contributed 22 points for New Jersey, including all seven of his team's points in the first overtime.
Jackson cleared to return for Game Five
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., May 13 (UPI) - Two days after undergoing an angioplasty, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been cleared to travel to San Antonio for Game Five of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Jackson was released from Centinela Hospital Medical Center on Sunday morning but was advised by doctors to rest and missed Game Four. With Jackson's longtime assistant, Jim Cleamons, serving as coach, the Lakers evened the series with a 99-95 victory over the Spurs.
Jackson had a successful procedure on his heart to clear an artery that was 90 percent blocked. He had an angioplasty balloon inserted to open his left anterior descending artery and a stent placed in the artery.
The 58-year-old Jackson underwent follow-up tests Sunday morning before being released and will be on medication for several months.
Jackson, who had kidney stones earlier this season, was experiencing tightness and pain in his chest for several days and underwent tests Friday before the Lakers beat San Antonio, 110-95, in Game Three.
Los Angeles is trying to become just the second team in NBA history to win four titles in a row. To do that, they will have to become the eighth team in playoff history to win a series after losing the first two games.
No coach is better in the postseason than Jackson, who has won 25 straight playoff series - 12 with the Chicago Bulls and 13 with the Lakers. He has won nine championships, tying Red Auerbach atop the all-time list. His playoff record of 159-58 is the best in NBA history
Marrero to undergo ankle surgery
ST. LOUIS, May 13 (UPI) -- Eli Marrero will undergo right ankle surgery Tuesday and is sidelined indefinitely.
Marrero, who provides St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa with necessary flexibility in the outfield and behind the plate, suffered the injury in the fourth inning of St. Louis' game with the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. He damaged the ligaments in the ankle trying to avoid center fielder Jim Edmonds on a fly ball in right-center field.
Marrero, who had to be carried from the field, will have surgery Tuesday at Barnes West in St. Louis. Team physician George Paletta will perform the procedure and the team will make an announcement regarding Marrero's recovery time following the surgery.
The injury is the latest in a number of physical problems he has had this year.
Marrero endured a bout of gastroesophageal reflux during spring training, sidelining him for much of the preseason, then he missed significant time because of a deep thigh bruise suffered on Opening Day.
"It's a shame," said St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa. "He had a tough spring, the stomach thing. He was just starting to feel really good in all phases of the game."
"We lost a player and pretty much nothing came out of this but sitting around and getting somebody hurt."
Marrero was hurt trying to avoid a collision with centerfielder Jim Edmonds on a fly ball.
"We lost a player and pretty much nothing came out of this but sitting around and getting somebody hurt," Edmonds said.
The 29-year-old Marrero is hitting .227 with two homers and 15 RBI in 24 games. He has seen time at catcher, first base and all three outfield positions. He is a career .238 hitter with 43 homers and 182 RBI in 508 games over seven seasons with the Cardinals.
Redskins sign DE Peppi Zellner
ASHBURN, Va., May 13 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins plucked another defensive linemen from their bitter NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, signing end Peppi Zellner on Monday.
Zellner spent the first four years of his career with the Cowboys, starting 17 games the last two seasons. The Redskins previously signed defensive tackle Brandon Noble, a starting defensive tackle with Dallas last year.
The 6-5, 262-pound Zellner never turned into a pass-rushing force for the Cowboys. His best season was in 2001 when he replaced an injured Ebenezer Ekuban at right end and had 51 tackles and three sacks. Last year, Zellner started just two of 16 games and had 42 tackles.
Sixers reserve sidelined with calf tear
PHILADELPHIA, May 13 (UPI) -- Philadelphia 76ers reserve forward Tyrone Hill will be sidelined three to four weeks with a muscle tear in his right calf, the team announced Monday.
Hill, who is averaging 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10 playoff games for the Sixers, suffered the injury with 1:50 left in the third quarter of Sunday's 95-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons. An MRI taken Monday revealed a right gastrocnemius tear that will not require surgery.
The Sixers received some good news regarding guard Eric Snow as X-rays on his left hand after Sunday's game were negative. Snow, who has a contusion on his hand and tendinitis in his right foot, is officially listed as a game-time decision but played 38 minutes on Sunday.
The Sixers won both games in Philadelphia this past weekend to even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at two wins apiece.
The Pistons host Game Five on Wednesday.
Blake loses again at Hamburg Masters
HAMBURG, Germany, May 13 (UPI) -- James Blake's claycourt struggles continued Monday in the first round of the $2.83 million Hamburg Masters.
The 16th-seeded American lost his third straight match, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-2, to Argentina's Gaston Gaudio.
Blake has lost three of his four matches on European red clay this season but reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships.
No. 7 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand also has struggled on the dirt and was handed his third consecutive defeat, 6-4, 6-3, to Spain's Feliciano Lopez. Srichaphan has lost four of his last five matches.
No. 11 Gustavo Kuerten, the 2000 champion from Brazil,dispatched Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 6-2, 6-4, to improve to 14-5 lifetime at this event. The three-time French Open winner surprisingly has not been dominating this claycourt season, producing a 10-5 record and losing in the early rounds in two of the last three events.
Kuerten next meets Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, the Estoril champion who crushed Romanian qualifier Adrian Voinea, 6-0, 6-2.
Playing in only his fourth tournament at this level, Spanish teen Rafael Nadal continued to impress with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over France's Paul-Henri Mathieu. The 16-year-old qualifier, who has reached five Challenger finals this year, advanced to the third round in his first Tennis Masters Series event at Monte Carlo last month.
Nadal could play fellow Mallorcan and second seed Carlos Moya in the second round.
Britain's Tim Henman, trying to come back from shoulder surgery last year, beat American Jan-Michael Gambill, 7-5, 6-4. He raised his record to just 3-5 this season.
Also, South African Wayne Ferreira routed Germany's Alexander Waske, 6-3, 6-2; Belgian Olivier Rochus defeated Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4; Lars Burgsmuller of Germany beat American qualifier Hugo Armando, 6-4, 6-4; and Spain's David Sanchez overcame Mardy Fish of the United States, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
This French Open tune-up awards the winner $462,313.
United States to play in Bratislava
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 13 (UPI) -- The Slovak National Tennis Center in Bratislava was announced Monday as the venue for the United State's Davis Cup playoff round tie against Slovakia.
The match will be played from Sept. 19-21.
The best-of-five match series will be contested on a red clay court at the 4,200-seat facility.
The United States lost its first-round encounter at Croatia in February and now must win against Slovakia in order to qualify for the 16-team 2004 World Group that competes for the Davis Cup. The American have dropped four straight road ties since beating host Zimbabwe in the opening round of the 2000 Davis Cup.
The only prior meeting between the United States and Slovakia came in the first round in Oklahoma City last year, which was won by the Americans, 5-0.
Stackhouse uncertain about future with Wizards
WASHINGTON, May 13 (UPI) -- Veteran small forward Jerry Stackhouse is questioning whether he will be a member of the Washington Wizards next season.
He made the revelation to the Washington Times in the midst of the turmoil created by the last week's firing of Michael Jordan as President of Basketball Operations and, according to the paper, the unexpected resignation of Wes Unseld as General Manager.
"It's up in the air," Stackhouse, who can opt out of the final two years of his contract this summer, told the paper. "I don't dislike the team at all. I like the players on the floor, and we have some young talent. The most important thing to me is that we can go forward. I'm at the point in my career that I just want to win. That will play a big part in any decision I make. Right now, I can't make an easy decision."
Stackhouse, led Washington in scoring this past season with 21.5 points per contest in 70 games, indicated he was concerned about the team's current instability.
"We don't have anything in place, so it would be premature for me to say what I plan to do one way or the other," Stackhouse said. "Nobody knows what's going to happen. They could go in a totally different direction, but whatever they do, all the focus has got to be about making the team better. It has to be on doing whatever it takes to make this team a winner."
He made the comments before the Times broke the news about Unseld. He had indicated on May 2 that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence. During the time, it had been reported that he would have both knees replaced.
His situation leaves the Wizards in need of a head of Basketball Operations, a full-time General Manager, and possibly a new coach. The future of Doug Collins appears to be in doubt with all the changes and turmoil.
Santos cleared of wrongdoing
LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 13 (UPI) -- Jockey Jose Santos Monday was cleared of any wrongdoing by stewards at Churchill Downs, where the jockey rode Funny Cide to victory in the Kentucky Derby.
The meeting of the Kentucky Racing Commission was held after Santos had been accused of cheating.
At a Monday afternoon news conference, the commission revealed the results of a thorough review after a photograph published in the Miami Herald showed what might have been something other than a whip in Santos' hand.
The photo was taken as Santos crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs on May 3. Stewards at the track began a probe Saturday, two days after Frank Carlson of the Herald brought it to their attention.
Bernie Hettel, Kentucky's Chief Steward, said he and two other stewards "carefully examined dozens of photographs taken from a number of different angles at various points during the race, reviewed several videotapes, and conducted a thorough interview" with Santos.
The commission used local police to help enlarge pictures of Santos and his hand some 20 times. The three stewards also watched NBC's broadcast before voting unanimously to clear Santos.
"There is no evidence that would suggest that Mr. Santos had any prohibited device in his possession or that he engaged in any improper actions during the race," Hettel said.
While his wife and four children were in Albany, N.Y., receiving keys to the state following the first Derby victory by a New York-bred horse, Santos was at Monday's news conference.
"I'm thankful this nightmare is over," said Santos, 42, a native of Chile, who wore a suit while standing at the dais next to his attorney. "A week ago was the happiest moment of my life. Then, this photograph came and almost ruined my career, actually."
The former Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top jockey said he was angry and shocked upon learning of the controversy, but ready to move on as he prepares for Saturday's Preakness and a possible chance at the Triple Crown.
"It's already behind me," Santos said. "I have no doubt about it that this would end very soon. The pictures speak for themselves. I want to keep going on."
When asked if he would consider a lawsuit against the newspaper, Santos said he had no comment.
Among those present at Monday's news conference was new Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton, who was confident in the outcome.
"We regret any inconvenience or embarrassment," Sexton said, referring to Santos, his family, and trainer Barclay Tagg. "We certainly wish them luck headed into this year's Preakness."
Taken by Jamie Squire of Getty Images, the photo does depict a dark area in the space between Santos' hand and whip, although it is not clear what, if anything, he was holding.
Kentucky Racing Commission rules do not prohibit a jockey from holding something other than a whip, except those specifically prohibited, like an electrical device that might help the horse run faster.
Against the wishes of the racing commission, the Herald wrote its story Friday night after calling Santos at Belmont Park in New York. The report stated that Santos said he was carrying a "'cue' ring to call the outriders."
On Saturday, Santos told the Daily Racing Form that the Herald misunderstood him, and that the object was a "Q-ray" bracelet he wears for arthritis.
Santos, who speaks with a heavy accent, held up the bracelet at Monday's news conference.
Funny Cide became the first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby since 1929, holding off pre-race favorite Empire Maker with an impressive backstretch. He would have been only the second winning horse to be disqualified, joining Dancer's Image in 1968.
The news of possible wrongdoing by Santos threw the Preakness field into disarray.
When Empire Maker trainer Bobby Frankel heard Funny Cide might be disqualified, resulting in his horse being declared the winner, he decided Saturday to enter the star colt and removed Peace Rules.
Apparently convinced the investigation would reveal no smoking gun, Frankel changed his mind Sunday, announcing he would enter Peace Rules instead of Empire Maker.
Antonio Lawrence declares for NBA Draft
SAN JOSE, Calif., May 13 (UPI) -- Freshman forward Antonio Lawrence of San Jose State became the latest collegian Monday to declare for the NBA Draft.
Monday is the deadline for underclassmen to make a declaration. Spartans Coach Phil Johnson made the announcement.
Lawrence was second for SJSU in scoring this past season with 11.3 points per game. He also led the squad in rebounding at 6.2 per contest and steals with 45.
Lawrence shot 43.5 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from three-point range.
After the season, the 6-4 Lawrence was named to the All-Newcomer First Team of the Western Athletic Conference. Before college, he was listed by several recruiting services as one of the top-100 high school seniors in the class of 2002.
The graduate of San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., he also attended Andrew Jackson and Wolfson High Schools in Jacksonville, Fla.
The draft is June 26. The predraft camp, which is by invitation only, is scheduled for June 3-6 at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
June 19 is the deadline for early-entry withdrawal from the draft.