O'Neal too much for Nets
LOS ANGELES, June 8 (UPI) -- Shaquille O'Neal, professional basketball's ultimate weapon, continued to push his team toward a third straight league championship Friday night with a 40-point performance that gave the Los Angeles Lakers a 106-83 win over the New Jersey Nets and a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
Playing perhaps their final home game of the season, the Lakers jumped on O'Neal's shoulders and broke open the game with 12 straight points late in the third period -- a run that gave them a 20-point advantage.
A New Jersey surge that came with O'Neal on the bench allowed the Nets to get within six early in the fourth, but when the enormous center returned, Los Angeles quickly rebuilt a double-digit lead and coasted the rest of the way.
The best-of-seven series now moves to New Jersey for the next three games, if three are needed. The first of those games will be played Sunday night with the Nets hoping to figure out a way to improve on what has been a woeful shooting performance thus far in the series.
Dealing with O'Neal, however, will be a different matter. While O'Neal was on the court Friday night, the Lakers outscored the Nets by 36 points.
Los Angeles faced elimination two straight games in the Western Conference championship series against Sacramento. In those two games, plus the first two games of this series, O'Neal has made 52 of 96 shots from the field, 48 of 67 free throws, pulled down 58 rebounds and scored 154 points.
In Game 2 Friday night, he was 14 of 23 from the field and 12 of 14 from the line. He was also credited with eight assists.
Ferrero, Costa reach French Open final
PARIS, June 8 (UPI) -- It will be an All-Spanish French Open final Sunday.
No. 11 Ferrero will meet 20th-ranked Albert Costa, who defeated countryman and practice partner Alex Corretja, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the first men's semifinal match.
Corretja will serve as the "best man" at Costa's wedding next week, but Costa was the better man on clay Friday in a match that lasted three hours and 10 minutes and will also play in his first Grand Slam final.
One of only seven players in the Open Era to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros three straight years, Ferrero made the third time a charm. He previously won two five-set matches in the tournament and eliminated Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals.
Safin, the Australian Open runnerup, was appearing in his third consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. He lost to Pete Sampras in the U.S. Open semifinals last September and was defeated by Thomas Johansson in the Australian Open final in January.
England wins on penalty kick
SAPPORO, Japan, June 8 (UPI) -- England and Argentina added to their historic rivalry Friday with a fierce 90 minutes of World Cup soccer that was decided by a single blow of the whistle.
That whistle signaled a penalty kick for England in the 44th minute and David Beckham, considered a villian in his home country after the World Cup four years ago, made good on his opportunity.
England went on to down Argentina, 1-0, and moved to the top of its group alongside Sweden as the tournament headed into its second weekend.
Spain, meanwhile, became the first country to clinch a spot in the second round while Nigeria became the second country, along with Saudi Arabia, to be eliminated from contention.
The Spanish ensured they will be a part of the round of 16 by overcoming an early deficit to defeat Paraguay in a Group B match played in Jeonju, 3-1. And Sweden, which earned a 1-1 tie with England earlier in the tournament, recorded a 2-1 decision over Nigeria in Kobe.
The England-Argentina game had been anticipated for months, ever since they were drawn into Group F along with Nigeria and Sweden.
The old rivals played a violent match in the 1996 World Cup in England, which the home team won, and one the event's most memorable games was played between them in Mexico 16 years ago. That one saw Argentina advance thanks to a Maradonna goal that was allowed even though he batted the ball into the net with his hand. The Argentines went on to win the championship.
And four years ago, in the round of 16, Argentina advanced on penalty kicks after Beckham had been sent off for a retaliatory tackle. For that transgression, Beckham was roundly booed in his various club appearances.
But Beckham's efforts during World Cup qualifying regained the hearts of his countrymen and he battled back from a broken foot so he could be a part of this World Cup. In England's first game, a tie against Sweden, Beckham left for a second-half substitute. But he stayed in the entire way Friday night as the English fought off Argentina's relentless second-half attack.
His penalty kick was a powerful blast delivered straight ahead and past goalkeeper Pablo Cavallero, who was leaning to his right in hopes of guessing correctly.
Michael Owen, who hit the left post with a shot earlier in the match, drew the penalty when he was taken down by Mauricio Pochettino.
There were 41 fouls called in the game and Argentina had almost two-thirds of the possession time. But England had far more quality scoring chances and put together a solid defensive effort during the all-out Argentina attack that came during the closing minutes.
Interleague play returns
BOSTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Luis Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs Friday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks took a big lead and hung on for a 7-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in a battle between the best teams in their respective leagues.
In the highlight attraction on the first night of interleague play this season, Gonzalez hit a two-run blast in the Diamondback's three-run third and drew a bases-loaded walk that gave them a 7-1 lead in the fourth.
Kim took over for Myers with one out in the ninth and earned his 15th save in 17 chances. Batista lasted seven rocky innings to notch the win, giving up five runs and seven hits.
An ineffective Frank Castillo (4-6) made it just three innings, allowing seven runs and eight hits as the first-place Red Sox fell to 15-12 at home.
Bonds went two for three with a pair of singles, a walk and stolen base in his Yankee Stadium debut, receiving mostly boos from the crowd of 55,053. He made his first career Bronx appearance a year after hitting a record 73 homers.
Mussina (9-2) allowed both of Bonds' hits but little else over six-plus innings, giving up one run on eight singles and a walk while striking out six.
Mike Stanton got one batter in the seventh before Steve Karsay worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Mariano Rivera struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 18th save.
The National League won the first round of interleague games Friday night, 8-6.
Other interleague results: Baltimore 4, Los Angeles 2; New York Mets 4, Cleveland 3; Toronto 8, Colorado 0; Philadelphia 11, Detroit 1; San Diego 8, Tampa Bay 4; Montreal 4, Chicago White Sox 3; Atlanta 13, Texas 7; St. Louis 12, Kansas City 6; Minnesota 12, Florida 7; anaheim 4, Cincinnati 3; Oakland 5, Houston 3; Chicago Cubs 2, Seattle 0.
In the only National League game, Pittsburgh beat Milwaukee, 6-1.
Stanley Cup Finals resume Saturday
RALEIGH, N.C., June 8 (UPI) -- The Carolina Hurricanes gained a split and a great measure of respect from the Detroit Red Wings in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 3 will be played Saturday in Raleigh, where the Hurricanes' three scheduled home games in the Finals sold out in 20 minutes.
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper scored 13 seconds apart late in the third period to lift the heavily-favored Red Wings to a 3-1 victory Thursday night to even the series at one game apiece.
With six minutes remaining in the third period and the game tied, 1-1, overtime seemed inevitable. And that is Carolina's domain. The Hurricanes improved their postseason overtime record to 7-1 with a 3-2 victory in the series opener on a goal by captain Ron Francis.
But Lidstrom took a pass from Sergei Fedorov at the top of the right faceoff circle and blasted a one-timer over goaltender Arturs Irbe's glove, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead with 5:08 remaining in the third period.
After the ensuing faceoff, Lidstrom fed Draper and the center of Detroit's "Grind Line" wristed a shot from the left circle over Irbe's left shoulder into the top right corner of the net.
The goals came 13 seconds apart, falling one second short of the Finals record.
Lennox-Tyson will finally meet
MEMPHIS, Tenn., June 8 (UPI) -- It has been billed as good vs. evil.
A gentle chess-playing Brit against the street thug from Brooklyn. Mr. Likable against Mr. Despicable.
For Lewis, Tyson represents an opportunity to secure his spot in the sport's lore. The 36-year-old Lewis (39-2-1, 30 KOs) has fought the best the division has had to offer throughout his career -- with Tyson the lone exception.
A victory Saturday likely would provide Lewis with the recognition that has escaped him most of his tenure.
Lewis has beaten nearly all the top heavyweights, including Tony Tucker (W12), Frank Bruno (TKO 7), Ray Mercer (W10), Andrew Golota (KO 1) and Shannon Briggs (TKO 5). Lewis fought to a questionable draw with Evander Holyfield, but won the rematch in November 1999.
Lewis' Achilles heal is his chin, which betrayed him in title loses to Oliver McCall in 1994, and two fights ago when he was stunned by unheralded Hasim Rahman in South Africa.
Again Lewis showed his mettle by knocking out Rahman in four rounds in November.
War Emblem tries for Triple Crown
ELMONT, N.Y., June 8 (UPI) -- War Emblem tries to become just the 12th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred history when he competes in Saturday's 134th Belmont Stakes.
It is the third time in six years that Bob Baffert will saddle a horse in pursuit of horse racing's ultimate prize. He won the first two legs of the Triple Crown with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998. Both colts finished second in the Belmont by less than 1 1/2 lengths combined.
"The other two times were totally different. It was unchartered waters and there were always the little doubts that we weren't doing the right thing," Baffert said, "We feel like we've done our homework and we are ready for Saturday."
Some of the other trainers have done their homework as they try to stop War Emblem from becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Fifteen horses have come up short in the Belmont after winning the first two legs, including six in the last 20 years. The most recent example was in 1999, when Charismatic was upset by Lemon Drop Kid.
Indy appeal to be heard
INDIANAPOLIS, June 8 (UPI) -- Team Green, believing it should have been declared the winner of last month's Indianapolis 500, will get an opportunity to present its final appeal during a hearing scheduled for June 17.
The hearing, to be conducted by Indy Racing League president Tony George, will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Helio Castroneves was declared the winner of the May 26 race, but CART owner Barry Green filed a protest with race officials Monday.
Green strongly believes that his driver, Paul Tracy, was ahead of Castroneves when the yellow light was turned on following a crash on the 199th lap of the 200-lap race.
George is expected to make a ruling within 30 days, as per Indy Racing League rules. His decision will be final.
Roberts leads at Buick classic
HARRISON, N.Y., June 8 (UPI) -- Following a five-hour rain delay, Loren Roberts carded a 3-under-par 68 Friday to take the 36-hole clubhouse lead at the Buick Classic.
Roberts was two shots in front of his Tennessee neighbor, David Gossett.
With 78 golfers stranded on the course by darkness after overnight and morning rain drenched Westchester Country Club, Segio Garcia, Stewart Cink, Jerry Kelly and Chris Smith had the best chance of catching Roberts. They were all at 6-under.
The second round will resume Saturday at 7:30 a.m. The final groups to tee off Friday completed only four holes.
Roberts grabbed the first-round lead with a 64 that included nine birdies. He had five more around a pair of bogeys Friday as he moved a step closer to his eighth career title.
At the Senior PGA Championship in Akron, Ohio, Wayne Levi shot a 2-under 68 that vaulted him into a one-shot lead after two rounds. Only four players were under par midway through the tournament. Levi was at 3-under 137 with Larry Nelson, Larry Ziegler and Walter Hall all at 138.
And in Wilmington, Del., Beth Daniel navigated the tough Dupont Country Club course in 1-under-par 70 to open a two-shot lead at the midpoint of the LPGA Championship. Daniel is seeking her first victory in seven years.