In Sports from United Press International

April 28, 2003 at 11:26 PM
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Philadelphia builds 3-1 lead in NBA East

NEW ORLEANS, April 29 (UPI) -- Allen Iverson scored 22 points Monday night as Philadelphia beat New Orleans, 96-87, for a 3-1 lead on the NBA East.

The 76ers played a virtually flawless fourth quarter over the Hornets in their NBA Eastern Conference first-round series.

In Game Three, Philadelphia trailed by two points early in the final period before the Hornets scored 15 in a row. During the decisive quarter, the Sixers committed six of their 16 turnovers, leading to 11 points for New Orleans.

Game Four was a different story as Philadelphia was almost perfect in the fourth quarter, particularly whenever the Hornets tried to rally. A jumper by David Wesley with 6:36 remaining got New Orleans within 81-80.

But Philadelphia took control with an 13-2 burst, building a 94-82 lead with 2:50 remaining. Iverson, who had missed 11 of his previous 12 shots, made a pair of big baskets during the spurt and helped on the defensive end as the 76ers held the Hornets without a basket for nearly six minutes.

Baron Davis scored a playoff career-high 34 points for the Hornets, who again were without Jamal Mashburn. New Orleans' leading scorer could miss the rest of the series with a dislocated right middle finger.

Game Five is Wednesday at Philadelphia.

Later Monday night, Sacramento, with a 2-1 lead, was at Utah.


Tampa Bay down only 2-1 in NHL East

TAMPA, Fla., April 29 (UPI) -- Dave Andreychuk rescued Yampa Bay Monday night in the NHL East.

Andreychuk scored with 13:52 remaining as the Lightning squandered a three-goal lead before pulling out a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game Three of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series.

All the momentum was with the Devils after they scored three times in the second period to tie it. But Andreychuk reversed it and helped the Lightning win the first home second-round game in team history.

Moments after New Jersey's John Madden put a shot from the blue line off the right goalpost, Tampa Bay counterattacked. Devils defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky could not clear the puck up the left boards, Andreychuk picked it off and worked a give-and-go with Ben Clymer.

A former Devil, Andreychuk got the return feed in the slot and wristed a shot inside the left goalpost for his 42nd career playoff goal and first game-winner since the 1993 conference quarterfinals for the Toronto Maple Leafs and current New Jersey Coach Pat Burns.

The goal did not sit well with Burns, who protested from the bench after he was unable to make a late player change.

Nikolai Khabibulin bounced back from a shaky second period and stopped all nine shots in the third, finishing with 24 saves, as the Lightning cut their deficit in the best-of-seven series to two games to one.

The Devils shrugged off the loss of Captain Scott Stevens but could not come all the way back from a 3-0 deficit and fell to 1-2 on the road in the postseason.

Just 77 seconds into the game, Stevens was struck on the left side of his face by a slap shot off the stick of defenseman Pavel Kubina. He left a trail of blood as he slid on the ice, was helped to the locker room and did not return.

Game Four is Wednesday at Tampa Bay.

In the NHL West, Anaheim which had a 2-0 lead was host to Dallas later Monday night.


Popovich named top NBA coach

SAN ANTONIO, April 29 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Spurs have their first-ever NBA Coach of the Year.

Gregg Popovich earned that distinction Monday after guiding the Spurs to a 60-22 record and their third straight Midwest Division title.

The Spurs matched Dallas for the league's best record and earned the top seed in the playoffs. San Antonio was 41-9 after Jan. 1 and became the first team in NBA history to win 18 of its last 20 road games.

"The reason this has happened is I have a staff that is pretty incredible," Popovich said. "They have done a great job all year long."

San Antonio's best-of-seven first round Western Conference series with the Phoenix Suns is tied 2-2. The Suns evened the series with an 86-84 win on Sunday.

Popovich kept the Spurs on track despite numerous injuries to center David Robinson, who was limited to 64 games. This year also saw the emergence of second-year guard Tony Parker, who averaged 15.5 points per game, and strong play from guard Emanuel Ginobili, who spent the last five seasons playing in Argentina.

Popovich replaced Bob Hill as coach of the Spurs in December 1996, and owns a 339-185 regular season record. He guided the Spurs to their only NBA title in 1999.


Slovakia, Finland win blowouts

TAMPERE, Finland, April 29 (UPI) -- Sloavkia and Finland got big production from a few NHL players and cruised to routs Monday in the preliminary round of the World Hockey Championships.

Ziggy Palffy had two goals and two assists and Jozef Stumpel scored a goal and set up three others as Slovakia routed Japan, 10-1. Saku Koivu had three assists and Teemu Selanne had two goals and an assist as Finland had an even easier time with Slovenia, 12-1.

In Monday's other game, the Czech Republic had no trouble with Austria, posting an 8-1 victory to improve to 2-0. The Czechs and Finns meet Wednesday in the final preliminary round game for both nations.

Stumpel, who had 14 goals and 37 assists in 78 games with the Boston Bruins this season, opened the scoring seven minutes into the contest with a power-play tally. Palffy, who had 37 goals and 48 assists in 76 games with the Los Angeles Kings, took a pass from Stumpel and scored a shorthanded goal to double the lead just past the midway point of the first period.

Japan's only goal came with 9:29 left in the first as Kuniko Sakurai sent a pass that hit Takeshi Saito's skate and deflected past goaltender Pavol Rybar.

Palffy restored the two-goal lead with 3:21 left in the opening period when he lifted a shot from the slot over Masahito Haruna.

Ladislav Nagy of the Phoenix Coyotes scored an unassisted goal 4:45 into the second and Richard Zednik of the Montreal Canadiens tallied just over 11 minutes later to make it 7-1.

Washington Capitals right wing Peter Bondra and Miroslav Satan of the Buffalo Sabres failed to score for the Slovaks, who had a 53-16 advantage in shots on goal.

Koivu, the Montreal Canadiens captain who last season came back from stomach cancer, assisted on a power-play goal by New York Islanders defenseman Janne Niinimaa that began the rout 3:58 into the game. Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Aki Berg doubled the lead just 29 seconds later.

Right wing Tomi Kallio, who played seven games with the Philadelphia Flyers this season, also scored twice for Finland, which was coming off Saturday's 5-1 win over Austria.

Radim Vrbata of the Carolina Hurricanes and Martin Straka of the Pittsburgh Penguins each scored twice to help the Czechs remain atop Group D. Tomas Vokoun of the Nashville Predators stopped 26 shots and Robert Reichel of the Maple Leafs contributed three assists in his tournament debut.

Headed to relegation play, the United States wraps up the preliminary round Tuesday against unbeaten Russia (2-0). Canada has posted two straight convincing wins and faces unbeaten Sweden on Tuesday.


Former Georgia football coach dead at 78

DULUTH, Ga., April 29 (UPI) -- Johnny Griffith, a former football player and coach at Georgia who still owns the record for the longest rushing touchdown in school history, died Monday at age 78.

Griffith was a member of the Bulldogs' undefeated 1946 team that defeated North Carolina in the Sugar Bowl. He had a school-record 89-yard TD run earlier that season against Furman.

Griffith was an assistant on the Bulldogs' staff under Wallace Butts from 1956-60. He was head coach from 1961-63 and posted a 10-16-4 record before being replaced by current Athletic Director Vince Dooley.

Griffith also coached at South Georgia College.


Eustachy apologizes for behavior

DES MOINES, Iowa, April 29 (UPI) -- Iowa State men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy spent all day Monday trying to deflect his behavior earlier this year at a student party.

The "after-hours" party took place at an apartment near the University of Missouri campus.

The Des Moines Register reported Monday that Eustachy went to the party with Josh Kroenke, a member of the Missouri squad, shortly after the Cyclones' 64-59 loss to the Tigers on Jan. 23. The paper said that at his news conference after the game, Eustachy had described himself as "as disappointed as I've been in a long time," and criticized his players, saying: "This is the real world. Our guys have to get tougher."

The paper Monday printed 12 photographs showing Eustachy during the early hours of Jan. 23, with beer, and in several photos embracing and kissing women on the cheek or being kissed on the cheek.

The paper said Eustachy issued a statement to the Register Thursday in which he confirmed meeting with President Gregory Geoffroy and Iowa State Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde about the incident, which the Register said was not the first.

"In the past, I have made some poor decisions that I regret," Eustachy, who is married and has two children, said in his statement. "I talked with President Geoffroy and Bruce Van De Velde last week about a variety of issues. I love Iowa State University and all the people who support our team. It's important to represent ISU in a manner that sheds a positive light on the university and the Cyclone men's basketball team."

There was no word from Van De Velde or Geoffroy on whether Eustachy would be disciplined.

Eustachy is the highest-paid state employee in Iowa, making upwards of $1 million annually.


Millwood NL PLayer of Week

NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- Philadelphia Phillies righthander Kevin Millwood, who on Sunday pitched the National League's first no-hitter in nearly 18 months, was named the league's Player of the Week on Monday.

Millwood needed just 108 pitches to blank the San Francisco Giants, 1-0, for just the ninth no-hitter in team history and the first since Tommy Greene stifled the Montreal Expos, 2-0, on May 23, 1991.

The last no-hitter in the NL was Bud Smith's 4-0 whitewash of the San Diego Padres for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 3, 2001. Ironically, Smith was acquired by the Phillies last July 29.

Millwood struck out 10 and walked three en route to his first complete game of the season and third career shutout. It came exactly one year after Derek Lowe of the Boston Red Sox pitched a no-hitter vs. Tampa Bay.

Earlier in the week, Millwood allowed one run over six innings in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.


Dawkins gets long-term deal from Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, April 29 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Eagles Monday signed veteran defensive back Brian Dawkins, a three-time Pro Bowler, to a seven-year contract.

The signing eliminated any uncertainty regarding his future.

Financial terms were not disclosed for Dawkins, who could have become an unrestricted free agent after the 2003 season.

Dawkins, 29, has been with the Eagles since he was a second-round pick in 1996. He has played in three Pro Bowls since then, and is an integral part of the team's defensive scheme under coordinator Jim Johnson.

"If I am going to build a football team, Brian Dawkins is my free safety," Johnson said. "Brian can play strong safety, cornerback, and free safety, and not miss a beat. He has the toughness to play strong safety, and the cover ability as far as playing corner."

In 2002, Dawkins, a strong safety extraordinaire, led the Eagles with career highs in tackles (131) and forced fumbles (seven), while registering three sacks and two interceptions.

In a Week 4 matchup with the Houston Texans, he became the first player in NFL history to record a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown reception in a single game.

In 103 NFL games, he has 10 sacks, 63 quarterback hurries, 76 knockdowns, 18 forced fumbles, and 11 fumble recoveries, and has been to the Pro Bowl three of the last four seasons.


Suggs to miss 2003 NFL campaign

CLEVELAND, April 29 (UPI) -- Record-setting running back Lee Suggs of Virginia Tech will miss the 2003 season after being drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by Cleveland.

Suggs, the 115th pick overall, suffered a partial tear of his rotator cuff while lifting weights in January and will need surgery. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported Monday that Suggs likely will require 4-6 months of rehabilitation.

We knew that he was facing shoulder surgery," Browns Head Coach Butch Davis said. "He may actually spend the entire (2003) season on injured-reserve. The projection is that it's a four or five-month recovery time. He'll come in for a physical sometime in the next seven-to-10 days."

Suggs missed the 2001 after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the season opener against Connecticut, but returned to action and in top form in 2002, when he rushed for 1,325 yards and 22 scores, and had 11 pass receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

Those numbers came despite sharing playing time with highly-regarded backfield mate Kevin Jones.

"They say it takes two years (after an ACL tear), and I had a pretty good year last year," Suggs said. "If it takes two years, then I should be even better this year."

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