In Sports from United Press International

May 24, 2002 at 3:52 PM
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Lakers-Kings series resumes

LOS ANGELES, May 24 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Lakers hope Kobe Bryant will be healthy again and the officials will be fair when they host the Sacramento Kings Friday night in Game Three of the NBA Western Conference finals.

Bryant, who has been ill most of the week, suffered a bout of food poisoning before a Game Two loss in Sacramento on Monday after eating a hotel cheeseburger and a piece of cheesecake.

While there has been no proof of foul play, Bryant has felt foul enough to miss some practice time this week.

With Bryant at less than 100 percent, the Lakers had their playoff-record road winning streak halted at 12 games with Monday night's 96-90 loss, but the Lakers felt the setback had a lot to do with the officiating.

Star center Shaquille O'Neal was called for three fouls in the first half, when he scored 23 points. He was forced to play with foul trouble the rest of the way but finished with 35 points.

"In order to beat us, you have to have to beat us fair and square," O'neal said after the game. "There is only one way to beat us -- it starts with a 'C' and ends with a 'T' (cheat)."

Regardless of how they did it, the Kings drew even in a series that may end up completely missing sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic, whose severely-sprained right ankle has kept him out of the team's last four games.

Stojakovic, an All-Star who averaged nearly 19.0 points per game against the Lakers during the regular season, is not expected to play in Game Three or in Game Four on Sunday.

That will make it more difficult for the Kings to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1951, when they were known as the Rochester Royals. They are in the conference finals for the first time since moving to Sacramento.

The Lakers are seeking their third straight NBA title and 14th all time. They have lost just three games in the last three postseasons.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference finals resume on Saturday as the Boston Celtics return home to host the New Jersey Nets in Game Three.

The Celtics evened that series with a 93-86 victory Tuesday night.

Packers sign free agent LB Robert Jones

GREEN BAY, Wis., May 24 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers, looking for help at linebacker, have signed free agent Robert Jones to a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jones, a 10-year veteran, spent last season with the Washington Redskins. He signed with the expansion Houston Texans as a free agent March 1, but was released 12 days later.

Jones, 32, brings a wealth of experience to Green Bay's linebacking corps. He is expected to contend for a starting position at both inside linebacker positions with Torrance Marshall and Nate Wayne.

Jones also brings a winning pedigree to Green Bay, having been a member of three Super Bowl title teams with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s.

During his career, Jones has started 128 of 150 games, registering 974 tackles and eight sacks.

Phillies' manager Bowa suspended

PHILADELPHIA, May 24 (UPI) -- Philadelphia Phillies Manager Larry Bowa will miss his team's series with the Montreal Expos this weekend after being hit with a three-game suspension by the league for excessive arguing against Arizona on May 17.

Bowa will not appeal the suspension, which was handed down Thursday prior to the Phillies' series finale with the New York Mets.

Bowa was ejected in the eighth inning of the Phils' 12-9 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Following a series of disputed plays, Bowa had to be restrained from going after plate umpire Tony Randazzo by veteran umpire Bruce Froemming. Specifically, according to Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's Vice President of On-field Operations, he was suspended for "arguing excessively" and for making "inappropriate comments" to Randazzo.

Bowa accused Watson of having a vendetta against him and called the suspension "absurd."

Asked why he didn't appeal the decision if he felt so strongly, Bowa snapped, "They listen to one side of the story, and it wouldn't do any good."

Bench coach John Vukovich will run the team in Bowa's absence.

Twins activate 3B Corie Koskie

The Minnesota Twins will get back another one of their ailing infielders Friday night, with third baseman Corie Koskie having recovered from a torn right hamstring.

Koskie, one of the most complete third basemen in the American League, has missed 13 games since suffering the injury while sliding into second base in a 4-1 loss to Kansas City on May 7.

He worked out at the Metrodome on Thursday morning, fielding ground balls, taking batting practice and running the bases. Friday is the first day he is eligible to be return to action.

"Everything went good," said Manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team opens a series in Anaheim Friday night. "He said he felt great."

The Twins have been playing without three-quarters of their infield.

First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz missed six games with a wrist injury before returning Wednesday, and second baseman Luis Rivas has been out since the first week of the season with a broken arm.

Last season, the 28-year-old Koskie became the first American League third baseman with 100 runs, 25 homers, 100 RBI and 25 stolen bases. He also was the first Twin since Gary Gaetti in 1987 to reach the 25-homer and 100-RBI plateaus in the same season.

This year, Koskie is hitting .311 with four homers, 19 RBI and three stolen bases in 34 games.

To make room for Koskie, the Twins optioned infielder Casey Blake to Triple-A Edmonton of the Pacific Coast League. Blake was 4-for-20 since taking Koskie's roster spot.

Diamondbacks RF Bautista to have shoulder surgery

PHOENIX, May 24 (UPI) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks announced late Thursday that Danny Bautista will undergo left shoulder surgery. He will miss a minimum of three months.

The rightfielder suffered the injury in Wednesday night's game against the San Francisco Giants while diving for a fly ball.

Bautista, who turns 30 on Friday, initially was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, but an MRI Thursday revealed a large tear in the labrum, a tear in the anterior capsule, a ligament tear and a bruised humerus bone.

Team orhopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Lee will perform the surgery to repair the injuries in seven to 10 days once the swelling in the area has subsided.

After a strong postseason in 2001, when the Diamondbacks won the World Series, Bautista assumed a starting role this season and was batting .325 with six homers and 23 RBI in 40 games.

Draw announced for French Open

PARIS, May 24 (UPI) -- Andre Agassi, seeking his eighth Grand Slam title and second at Roland Garros, begins the French with a qualifier before battling through a draw that includes a handful of dangerous claycourt players.

In the women's draw, the Williams sisters cannot face each other until the final. Top-seeded Jennifer Capriati meets fellow American Marissa Irvin in the first round.

Among Agassi's possible opponents are 11th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain and Argentina's Gaston Gaudio, one of two ATP Tour players with a pair of claycourt titles this season.

Agassi, one of only five men to win all four Grand Slam titles, doesn't appear to have a challenge until a possible third-round encounter with the 25th seed, Tommy Robredo of Spain.

If Agassi reaches the quarterfinals, his opponent could be Ferrero, who has made it to the semifinals each of the last two seasons and has claimed five of his six career titles on clay.

Agassi, the fourth seed, doesn't have it as bad as No. 1 seed Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, whose portion of the draw contains three former French Open winners, including two-time defending champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil.

Hewitt also could face Carlos Moya of Spain or Michael Chang before the quarterfinals. His opponent in the final eight could be Pete Sampras, who owns a record 13 Grand Slam titles but none at Roland Garros.

Although he is the top seed, Hewitt has played in only eight events this season and has not fared well on dirt, reaching the semifinals just once in four tries. He made it to the quarters last year.

That would be a good week for Sampras, who has not made the final eight at Roland Garros since a semifinal appearance, his only one in 12 French appearances, in 1996. He has a tough first-round opponent in Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi.

Elsewhere in the men's draw, second-seeded Marat Safin of Russia has potential matchups with No. 6 Tim Henman of Britain, No. 13 Andy Roddick of the United States and dangerous dirt players like Sebastien Grosjean of France and Argentina's David Nalbandian.

Third-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany likely has the most challenging road among the top four seeds to the semifinals. His quarter of the draw contains No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson and clay specialists like Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco and Alex Corretja of Spain.

In the women's draw, all eyes are on the Williams sisters, who have met in a Grand Slam final just once, with Venus overcoming Serena in last year's U.S. Open.

Venus Williams is seeded second as she seeks her fifth career Grand Slam title, all in the past three years. She faces Bianka Lamade of Germany in the first round.

Serena Williams, who is seeded third and is looking for her second Grand Slam title and first since the 1999 U.S. Open, opens with Martina Sucha of Slovakia.

Capriati, the defending champion, is the top seed as she continues her quest for the Grand Slam, having won the Australian Open in January. She has won three of the last five majors, making it at least as far as the semifinals in each.

Kim Clijsters of Belgium is the fourth seed, countrywoman Justine Henin, who has reached two straight claycourt finals this year, is seeded fifth.

The French Open gets underway Monday.

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