In Sports from United Press International

March 8, 2003 at 12:25 AM
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Frightening moment delays Celtics game

BOSTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Boston downed the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, 83-72, in a game that was halted when an irritating substance was released in the seating area.

Security officers said witnesses told them a spectator dropped a cannister between rows of seating near the court and that a number of people then ran out of the arena.

Fans and players alike felt a burning sensation in their lungs and nasal passages, but after about 10 minutes, the substance had weakened enough for referee Hue Hollins to continue the game.

Police officers reviewed security tapes after the games in hopes of identifying the person or persons who released the substance, which security personnel said was probably mace or pepper spray.

En route to their eighth straight loss and third straight since Dennis Johnson took over as coach for Alvin Gentry on Monday, the Clippers were delivered a poor shooting performance in the first half.

They shot just 25 percent from the field during the opening two quarters, but trailed just 31-30.

Johnson, a member of two NBA championship teams in Boston, received a standing ovation before the game, then watched Celtics rookie guard J.R. Bremer have the best game of his career.

Bremer finished with a career-high 25 points. He scored 11 during the a key third-quarter spurt, which turned a 35-34 lead with 9:10 remaining into a 54-43 advantage with 2:22 to play.

Other NBA results: New York 111, Orlando 102; Milwaukee 85, Washington 82; Dallas 91, Miami 89; New Orleans 102, Cleveland 76; Sacramento 108, Utah 105 in overtime.

Fedorov records hat trick

DETROIT, March 8 (UPI) -- Sergei Fedorov recorded a hat trick and rookie Henrik Zetterberg scored twice Friday night to lead Detroit past St. Louis, 7-2.

The Red Wings opened a four-point lead over the Blues in the race for the Central Division title.

After missing the last two games with a back injury, Fedorov returned in style by scoring on his first two shots. He completed his second hat trick of the season and sixth of his career with his 27th goal at 4:42 of the second period to chase Blues goaltender Fred Brathwaite.

Fedorov later picked up an assist to complete a four-point night. He has seven goals and 13 assists during an 11-game points streak.

Tomas Holmstrom scored a goal and set up another and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom collected four assists for the Red Wings, who extended their winning streak to nine games. They are 11

0-1 in their last 12 overall and 8
0-1 in their past nine at home.

Former Blue Curtis Joseph made 29 saves to raise his record to 8-1-0 in his last nine games.

Other NHL results: Carolina 1, Minnesota 0; New York Rangers 5, Philadelphia 1; Tampa Bay 4, Colorado 3; Florida 2, Atlanta 1; Calgary 2, Chicago 0; Nashville 2, Dallas 1.

Bob Tway leads Ford Championship

MIAMI, March 8 (UPI) -- Bob Tway birdied three of his final five holes for a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Friday to give him the lead at the Ford Championship.

It has been eight years since Tway's last PGA Tour win.

"Anytime you shoot 68, you got to be pleased," said Tway, whose 11-under 133 was one shot better than Jim Furyk.

Paraguay's Carlos Franco shot a 68 and was tied for third at 9-under 135 with first-round leader Rod Pampling of Australia, who shot a 71.

Tway, 43, has not had a great start to the year but has felt his game turning around in the last week or so.

The 1986 PGA Championship is among seven career tour victories for Tway. However, he has won only once in the last dozen years, that coming at the 1995 Heritage Classic.

Conference tourney titles on the line

GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 8 (UPI) -- The first four automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament will be determined Saturday.

The final weekend of the regular season will also see the second-ranked team in the country playing at No. 3 and the fourth-ranked club playing at No. 5.

Tournament champions will be decided Saturday when Central Florida plays Troy State in the Atlantic Sun Conference, North Carolina-Asheville takes on Radford in the Big South Conference, Austin Peay faces Tennessee Tech in the Ohio Valley Conference and East Tennessee State plays Chattanooga in the Southern Conference.

While all that is going on, No. 3 Florida will host No. 2 Kentucky and No. 5 Oklahoma will be at home against No. 4 Texas in games that will help determine the top seeds in the NCAA tourney.

Giants cut Jason Sehorn

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 8 (UPI) -- The New York Giants Friday released cornerback Jason Sehorn after he refused to accept a $4.3 million paycut.

After losing his starting job last season, Sehorn would have been an expensive nickel back for the Giants with a salary of $5.3 million in 2003. He had said he expected to take a paycut, but was not willing to play for $1 million.

The failure to restructure a deal hurts the Giants as well since Sehorn will count for $7.3 million against the salary cap in 2003. All of Sehorn's signing bonus money from a six-year, $36 million contract signed before the 2001 season will be lumped into the 2003 cap.

If the Giants had waited until after June 1 to waive Sehorn, it would have cost them $1.5 million in cap money in 2003 and $5.8 million in 2004.

The 31-year-old Sehorn lost his starting right cornerback job to second-year player William Peterson last season and was clearly not happy in his nickel back role.

A second-round pick in 1994 out of Southern California, Sehorn was a reserve and special teams player his first two seasons in New York. In 1996, he became the starting right cornerback and led the team with five interceptions, including a 23-yard touchdown.

Falcons acquire Price from Bills

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., March 8 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons acquired free agent receiver Peerless Price from Buffalo Friday for the 23rd overall pick in this year's draft.

Atlanta promptly signed Price to a multi-year contract.

Price was designated as a franchise player by the Bills, forcing the Falcons to work out a trade.

Price, 26, enjoyed a breakout season in 2002 with Drew Bledsoe as his quarterback, catching 94 passes for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns. But Price wanted to play in Atlanta, where he will team up with young superstar quarterback Michael vick.

"The Falcons give me the opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with Mike Vick," Price said. "He (Vick) creates so many more opportunities for me with his ability to scramble. That creates more offense for me."

The Bills assured themselves of receiving some type of compensation for Price by placing a franchise tag on him. The Arizona Cardinals failed to use that strategy with unrestricted free agent receiver David Boston and received nothing in return when Boston signed with San Diego.

Newman wins NASCAR pole

HAMPTON, Ga., March 8 (UPI) -- Ryan Newman was one of six drivers clocking better than 190 miles per hour Friday and grabbed the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500.

Driving a Dodge Intrepid, Newman covered the 1 1/2-mile speedway, considered the fastest on the Winston Cup circuit, in 28.963 seconds and averaged 191.417 mph.

The 2002 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, Newman got off to a terrible start this season but has gotten progressively better. He finished 43rd and last in the season-opening Daytona 500, but was 14th in the Subway 400 and seventh in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

Last year, Newman claimed six poles and won one race as he edged Jimmie Johnson for top rookie honors.

Veteran and Georgia native Bill Elliott was the only other driver to eclipse 29 seconds, clocking 28.991 seconds and 191.232 mph, also in a Dodge. He just missed the 56th pole of his career.

Elliott Sadler in a Ford Taurus, Bobby Labonte in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Jimmy Spencer in a Dodge completed the top five. Labonte won the pole last week in Las Vegas.

Qatar Open in jeopardy

DOHA, Qatar, March 8 (UPI) -- Amid growing concerns over political unrest, 35 golfers have withdrawn from the European Tour's Qatar Open, scheduled to be played next week.

With neighboring Iraq potentially on the verge of war, the 12th event on the European Tour schedule could be in trouble and, at best, will be depleted.

Despite tour executive director Ken Schofield saying that "all preparations including golf course, accommodation and transportation are complete and secure," many players are heeding advice from the British government.

Qatar has been placed on the list of countries the Foreign Office is advising should be visited only for essential business.

Among those who have pulled out are Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie and Seve Ballesteros. Defending champion Adam Scott has also withdrawn.

South America to host 2014 World Cup

ZURICH, Switzerland, March 8 (UPI) -- Soccer's world governing body announced Friday the 2014 World Cup will be held in South America, short circuiting plans by officials in the United States to bid on the tournament.

The announcement came during the second day of FIFA Executive Committee meetings.

South America has not hosted the World Cup since 1978. The 2006 World Cup will take place in Germany and the 2010 event will be held in Africa, although a final determination has not been made on the exact site.

FIFA also delayed a decision on whether to expand the World Cup field from 32 to 36. South American countries had asked for the change to be made for the 2006 World Cup, but no decision will be made until the next executive committee meeting on May 3.

Miller's chances running out

SHIGAKOGEN, Japan, March 8 (UPI) -- Bode Miller's bid to become the first American in two decades to win the overall World Cup title took a hit when Friday.

Hoping to pick up points in his chase of Stephen Eberharter, Miller was disappointed when Friday's giant slalom was canceled.

Strong winds and poor visibility at the Shigakogen resort forced organizers to scrap the next-to-last giant slalom of the season. More gusts are expected Saturday, putting a scheduled slalom event in jeopardy.

Miller trails Eberharter by 93 points for the overall title and is 90 points behind Switzerland's Michael Von Gruenigen for the giant slalom crown.

The last American to finish first overall was Phil Mahre in 1983.

The final events of the World Cup season are scheduled for March 12-16 in Lillehammer, Norway.

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