In Sports from United Press International

Dec. 27, 2001 at 1:13 AM
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Issel accepts buyout, resigns

DENVER, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Denver Nuggets coach Dan Issel accepted a buyout from the team Wednesday and resigned as coach and president.

"I think the Nuggets organization is poorer for the loss of Dan Issel," general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "I care very much for Dan. I did talk to him about reconsidering. In the end, I think he felt coaching just wasn't for him."

Issel took a leave of absence Saturday after serving a four-game, team-imposed suspension for directing an ethnic slur at a fan two weeks ago.

Assistant Mike Evans had been serving as the Nuggets' acting coach in Issel's absence and will stay on in that capacity. After the distracting news Wednesday, the Nuggets lost at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 94-91.

Issel was suspended four games without pay for yelling at a fan following a 99-96 home loss to Charlotte on Dec. 11.

A day later, Issel was unable to hold back tears while expressing regret for the incident.

"During that whole week or 10-day period, Dan went through some very heavy emotions," Vandeweghe said Wednesday. "As long as I've known Dan, he's always done what's best for the organization. I did sense that Dan was troubled by some things."

Issel has served as player, coach, general manager and president of the Nuggets. He was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

He becomes the fourth NBA coach to either resign or be fired during the month of December -- joining New York's Jeff Van Gundy, Golden State's Dave Cowens and Chicago's Tim Floyd.

Roy reaches 500 victories

DALLAS, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Patrick Roy became the first goaltender in NHL history to record 500 wins Wednesday night, stopping 31 shots for his league-leading seventh shutout to carry the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-0 blanking of the Dallas Stars.

In his first crack at the 500 mark, Roy added that milestone to a growing list. In the past 14 months, he has broken Terry Sawchuk's NHL record for victories, captured a fourth Stanley Cup and unprecedented third Conn Smythe Trophy and become the first goalie to win 200 games for two different teams.

"When I started my career, consistency was very important for me," Roy said. "I've been fortunate to play for some very good teams."

As he left the ice, Roy was greeted by his 10-year-old son, Frederick, who is rooming with his father on Colorado's two-game road trip.

Linemates Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk supplied the offense for the Avalanche, who have lost just once in the last 16 games (12-1-3).

Belfour turned aside 13 shots for Dallas, which was denied a third straight win.

Other NHL results: Boston 3, Ottawa 2; Buffalo 3, Montreal 1; Carolina 4, Toronto 3; Philadelphia 4, Washington 1; Florida 3, Atlanta 3; New Jersey 4, Pittsburgh 0; Minnesota 3, Detroit 3; Tampa Bay 1, Nashville 0; Chicago 3, St. Louis 1; Los Angeles 1, Phoenix 1; Edmonton 3, Calgary 2; Anaheim 2, San Jose 1.

Mavericks win seventh straight

SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Steve Nash hit a three-pointer with six-tenths of a second remaining in overtime Wednesday night to give the Dallas Mavericks a 126-123 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, who received an NBA season-high 53 points from Tim Duncan.

Dallas extended its winning streak to seven games.

Duncan scored seven straight points, including a three-point play, as San Antonio grabbed a 123-120 lead with 1:14 remaining in the extra session. He missed a chance to extend the lead with 37 seconds left and Tim Hardaway tied it with a three-pointer eight seconds later.

After Malik Rose turned over the ball on the Spurs' next possession, Dallas held for the final shot. Nash, who scored 27 points, pulled up from way beyond the arc and made the winning jumper.

Terry Porter, whose three-pointer with five seconds left in regulation forced overtime, missed a desperation shot at the buzzer.

Duncan scored 21 points in the fourth quarter as he singlehandedly kept San Antonio close. He was so unstoppable that the Mavericks twice fouled Bruce Bowen late in regulation to prevent the ball from reaching Duncan.

Duncan made 19 of 28 shots and converted all 15 free throws to go with 11 rebounds. He eclipsed his previous career high of 46 points against Utah on Jan. 10, 2000. He also topped Shareef Abdur-Rahim's NBA season-high of 50 points on Nov. 23 against Detroit.

Nash teamed with Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki to score 81 points.

In Charlotte, Elden Campbell had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Baron Davis added 15 points and a career-high 15 assists Wednesday night as the Charlotte Hornets rallied for a 99-93 victory over the Washington Wizards, who had a nine-game winning streak snapped.

Other NBA results: New Jersey 91, Cleveland 89; Memphis 107, Chicago 85; Milwaukee 107, Atlanta 97; Indiana 89, Orlando 82; Phoenix 97, Houston 91; Minnesota 94, Denver 91; Utah 99, Boston 86; Sacramento 89, Portland 74; Golden State 101, Los Angeles Lakers 90; Philadelphia 100, Los Angeles Clippers 86.

Sele signs with Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Free agent righthander Aaron Sele, who has won at least 15 games each of the last four seasons, signed a three-year contract Wednesday with the Anaheim Angels.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal reportedly is worth between $20 million and $22 million.

Sele was the highest paid player on the Seattle Mariners at $7 million last season, when he was 15-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 33 starts. He set a team record by opening the campaign with a career-best eight straight wins.

The 31-year-old Sele allowed 216 hits and 51 walks in 215 innings while striking out 114. He also recorded two complete games and a shutout but lost all three starts in the American League playoffs and is 0-6 lifetime in the postseason.

While the postseason has proved difficult for the 6-5 righthander, the regular season has been a different story. No American League pitcher has more wins since 1998 than Sele (69), who has made two trips to the All-Star Game.

Staley to turn pro

PROVO, Utah, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Brigham Young running back Luke Staley will forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft, the university announced Wednesday.

Staley, the Doak Walker winner as the top running back in the country, rushed for a BYU single-season record of 1,582 yards before suffering a broken right leg against Mississippi State on Dec. 1.

The 6-2, 225-pound Staley, who suffered the injury on the final drive of the game against Mississippi State, underwent surgery on Dec. 18 to repair damaged ligaments in his ankle that resulted from the broken bone in the leg.

Staley led the nation in scoring at 15.5 points per game and ranked third in rushing, averaging 143.8 yards per contest. He set another BYU mark by rushing for 28 touchdowns in 2001.

Staley missed BYU's 72-45 loss to Hawaii on Dec. 8 that ended the Cougars' hopes of a 13-0 regular season.

Tagliabue named most powerful in sports

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was the most powerful person in sports in 2001, according to an annual poll released Wednesday by The Sporting News.

Tagliabue finished second on the list twice before, including last year, when Tiger Woods became the the second athlete ever to head the top 100. The 61-year-old Tagliabue has been ranked 16th or higher every year on the list, which TSN first published in 1990.

George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees and CEO of the newly formed YES Network, was No. 2 on the list, followed by Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp., which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and part of English soccer power Manchester United.

Rounding out the top 10 were IMG CEO Mark McCormick, NASCAR's Bill France Jr., NBA commissioner David Stern, Anheuser-Busch executives August Busch IV and Anthony T. Ponturo, CBS Sports president Sean McManus, President George W. Bush and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, was 11th, one spot ahead of Woods. Washington Wizards forward Michael Jordan, the first athlete to be ranked first on the list in 1997, entered the 2001 survey at No. 33. Jordan made his second comeback this season after spending the 2000-01 campaign as the Wizards' president of basketball operations.

Charles Howell PGA rookie of the year

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Charles Howell III, who earned more than $1.5 million in 2001 while utilizing sponsors' exemptions, was named Wednesday as PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

The 22-year-old Howell began the year without a tour card, but the former NCAA champion at Oklahoma State made the cut in 20 of 24 starts. He recorded five top-10 finishes, losing to Japan's Shigeki Maruyama in a playoff at the Greater Milwaukee Open.

Howell, who led all tour non-members on the money list with $1,520,632, edged Jose Coceres of Argentina and U.S. Open champion of Retief Goosen of South Africa for Rookie of the Year honors.

Bob Gilder was named Senior PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. A long-time member of the PGA Tour, the 50-year-old won twice in his first season on the elder circuit.

Gilder, who captured the season-ending Senior Tour Championship, recorded 13 top-10 finishes and ranked eighth on the money list with $1,684,986.

He beat out Bruce Lietzke, Terry Mauney, Sammy Rachels and Bobby Wadkins for the honor.

Joe Durant and John Schroeder were named Comeback Players of the Year on their respective tours.

Blevins out at least a month

LEXINGTON, Ky., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Kentucky guard J.P. Blevins will be sidelined four to six weeks after suffering a broken wrist in Saturday's victory over Indiana, the school announced Wednesday.

"This is a terrible injury for J.P.," Wildcats coach Tubby Smith said. "There is no one on this team that's worked as hard as he did getting ready for the season, and now he's been dealt a second significant injury.

"At this point, we just hope he can recover quickly because we'll need his help for our stretch run."

Blevins is averaging 2.7 points and 1.4 assists in seven games, including three starts, for eighth-ranked Kentucky (7-2). The 6-2 senior missed the first two games of the season with a severely sprained ankle.

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