Dolphins maintain control of division
MIAMI, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Rookie Chris Chambers had a pair of touchdown catches Monday night to help the Miami Dolphins stay in command of the AFC East with a 41-6 crushing of the Indianapolis Colts.
Miami improved to 9-3 and owns a 1 ½-game lead over the New England Patriots in the race for the division title. With the right combination of results next weekend, the Dolphins can clinch a playoff spot.
Chambers continued his coming-out party with touchdown grabs of two and 32 yards -- a pair of athletic catches that gave Miami a 27-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The 10th wideout selected in the 2001 draft, Chambers is the first rookie receiver with seven touchdowns since Minnesota's Randy Moss had 17 in 1998.
Jay Fiedler threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another as the Dolphins recorded their largest point total since a 41-22 win in St. Louis closed the 1995 regular season.
Brock Marion took care of the defensive end for Miami, recording his first career two-interception game. He also had eight tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning continued an horrific run, throwing three interceptions. He has as many interceptions (20) as touchdown passes this season.
Indianapolis (4-8) committed all of the game's four turnovers.
Alderson says contraction deal could be close
BOSTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Major League Baseball executive vice president Sandy Alderson said Monday that owners and the players' union were negotiating a proposed contraction settlement and that an agreement, "could come at any time."
A published report Monday suggested players and owners were inching closer to an agreement that would table contraction until 2003.
Commissioner Bud Selig has said baseball would eliminate two teams and the owners had hoped to do so in time for the 2002 season. Although the teams that will be eliminated have not been announced, varying reports have suggested they will be Montreal and Minnesota.
"I think things could be resolved fairly soon," Alderson said at an improptu news conference at baseball's winter meetings. "Then again, they might not be. There have been discussions for several days on the topic and a deal could come at any time. I'd rather not speculate on when or comment on any aspects of a deal until an agreement is reached."
Alderson's comments come during a gathering of baseball officials that has been paralyzed by uncertainty.
Jazz rallies past Mavericks
SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Karl Malone and Donyell Marshall scored the first 16 points during an 18-1 run over the final 4:39 Monday night as the Utah Jazz rallied to defeat the Dallas Mavericks, 107-98.
Dallas led, 97-89, with 4:53 to go on a dunk by Eduardo Najera, but Malone scored on a jumper to begin the run. After Juwan Howard made it 98-94 on a free throw with 3:32 to go, Utah held Dallas scoreless.
Marshall tied the game on a layup with 2:43 left and Utah took the lead on a jumper by Malone with 2:18 remaining.
Malone finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds and John Stockton added 21 points and 12 assists. Marshall contributed 17 points and seven boards and rookie Andrei Kirilenko had 16 points and six steals.
Dallas was paced by Dirk Nowitzki's 27 points and 10 rebounds and Steve Nash's 25 points and eight assists. Najera and Howard each added 12 points, but All-Star Michael Finley tallied only six while making two of 11 shots.
In the only other NBA game on the schedule Monday night, the Los Angeles Clippers downed Orlando, 100-92.
Vernon shuts out former team
CALGARY, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Mike Vernon made 28 saves and Jarome Iginla scored his league-leading 24th goal Monday night to lead the Calgary Flames to a 2-0 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings.
Vernon, who won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 1997, made eight saves in the first period, 13 in the second and seven in the third for his first shutout of the season and 27th of his career.
After recording an NHL-record 190 penalty minutes in the third period of a 4-0 loss to Anahiem on Sunday night, the Flames appeared in the penalty box just three times.
Detroit, which leads the NHL with 99 goals, extended its losing streak to a season-high four games and has tallied just three times in its last four contest. The Red Wings had not been shut out this season.
Iginla scored the only goal Vernon needed four minutes into the third period. Dean McAmmond picked up a rebound at the left side of the crease and blindly centered the puck. With Dominik Hasek caught out of postition, Iginla fought his way past defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and into the crease for the tap-in.
Other NHL results: Columbus 3, New Jersey 1; Carolina 4, New York Rangers 3 in overtime; Philadelphia 3, Atlanta 1; Montreal 4, Minnesota 0; Anaheim 1, Colorado 1; Tampa Bay 1, Vancouver 1.
Chaney takes over Knicks
NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Two days after Jeff Van Gundy's unexpected resignation, the New York Knicks announced Monday that Don Chaney would coach the team for the rest of the season.
Chaney, who owns an unimpressive 266-382 NBA coaching record, guided the Knicks to a 101-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers Saturday night after Van Gundy resigned earlier in the day.
"I am very grateful to the Knicks organization and am looking forward to taking over the head coaching duties for one of the world's greatest sports franchises," Chaney said.
Chaney, 55, is in his seventh season on the Knicks' coaching staff. He was passed over for the Knicks' interim job in favor of Van Gundy after Don Nelson was fired during the 1995-96 season.
The NBA Coach of the Year with the Houston Rockets in 1990-91, Chaney has not had a head coaching job since he was fired by the Detroit Pistons following the 1994-95 season. Chaney had a disastrous two-year tenure with Detroit, posting a 48-116 record.
Prior to his stint in Detroit, Chaney coached the Rockets (1988-91) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1984-87). During his time in Los Angeles, Chaney once attempted to choke enigmatic center Benoit Benjamin.
Cardinals sign Isringhausen
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Cardinals finally made it official Monday, announcing they had signed righthanded reliever Jason Isringhausen to a four-year contract with a club option for 2006.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the former Oakland Athletics closer reportedly will earn $7 million per season.
Isringhausen had 67 saves for the A's over the last two seasons and fills a need the team has had for the better part of the last four seasons.
A resident of Godfrey, Ill., Isringhausen chose playing closer to home for less money than he could have received from the Texas Rangers. Texas owner Tom Hicks told the Dallas Morning News that Isringhausen turned down a four-year, $30 million offer.
"It was a tough decision but it came down to wanting to remain close to home and playing for a winner," Isringhausen said at a news conference.
After being plagued by injuries as a starter with the New York Mets, Isringhausen developed into one of the game's premier closers midway through the 1999 season.
Cubs trade for Alex Gonzalez
CHICAGO, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Chicago Cubs acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Toronto Blue Jays Monday for reliever Felix Heredia and a player to be named.
Gonzalez, 28, had the longest tenure of any Blue Jay. He is a steady fielder who has developed increasing power. He will take over for starting shortstop Ricky Gutierrez, who was not offered arbitration by the Cubs.
"He's quicker, he runs better and has power for a shortstop," Cubs general manager Andy McPhail said in comparing Gutierrez and Gonzalez. "He's going to finish his three-year contract at a younger age than Gutierrez would have started it."
Gonzalez batted .253 with 17 homers and 76 RBI last season -- all career highs. He also led all American League shortstops in assists, total chances and double plays.
Gonzalez made news at last year's winter meetings when he signed a four-year, $24 million contract. As one of the few viable options at shortstop, Gonzalez cashed in.
A career .245 hitter over parts of eight seasons, Gonzalez has 83 homers, 350 RBI and 85 stolen bases in 890 career games.
Jaguars suspend Soward
JACKSONVILLE, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin said Friday receiver R. Jay Soward had been suspended until further notice.
"He is suspended indefinitely," Coughlin said at his media conference. "It's my choice. I'll handle it internally."
Soward's latest undisclosed violation of team rules caused Coughlin to suspend the second-year receiver for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.
Two weeks ago, Soward completed consecutive suspensions totaling 10 games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He has not played in a regular season game since Dec. 17, 2000.
A first-round pick in 2000, Soward has been a bust on and off the field. Expected to fill in as the third receiver behind starters Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, Soward had just 14 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown in 13 games last season.
LSU's top rusher to miss Sugar Bowl
BATON ROUGE, La., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Louisiana State leading rusher LaBrandon Toefield will miss the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 due to a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the school announced Friday.
Toefield suffered the injury late in the second quarter of LSU's 31-20 upset of Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday night in Atlanta.
The 12th-ranked Tigers (9-3) will play Big Ten Conference champion Illinois in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
Toefield, a sophomore, will undergo reconstructive surgery sometime in the next few weeks when the swelling in the knee subsides.
In 12 games this year, Toefield rushed for 992 yards and tied an SEC single-season record with 19 rushing touchdowns.
American wins second straight World Cup event
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- American Bode Miller won his second straight World Cup, capturing an evening slalom event Monday to establish himself as a pre-Olympic favorite.
Miller, 24, won a giant slalom in Val d'Isere Sunday. He built on a first run lead down the floodlit Miramonte piste to win in one minute, 36.01 seconds, sending a message to current World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter.
Italy's Giorgio Rocca, who many label as the new Alberto Tomba, delighted the masses of home fans huddled at the bottom of the piste by placing second in 1:36.53.
Norway's Tom Stiansen, the 1997 World Cup slalom champion, finished third in 1:36.92. The Norwegian had lost valuable time after a bad error midway down the course, but made up an amazing amount of ground in the final four gates to salvage a place on the podium.
The victory moved Miller to within 15 points of Eberharter in the overall rankings.