In Sports from United Press International

May 2, 2003 at 3:17 PM
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Three NBA series can end Friday night

PHILADELPHIA, May 2 (UPI) -- Three NBA teams can experience the joy of advancing to the next round Friday night in their best-of-seven series.

The three teams are Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas, who can close out New Orleans, Detroit, and Portland, respectively.

The fourth-seeded 76ers visit the New Orleans in Game Six of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Jamal Mashburn returned from a finger injury to score 21 points, and George Lynch victimized his former team with 12 of his 16 in the fourth quarter as the Hornets stayed alive with a 93-91 victory Wednesday.

The Sixers would have preferred the extra rest to take care of some bumps and bruises. Allen Iverson (lower back stiffness), Derrick Coleman (left hand swelling), and Tyrone Hill (illness) all missed practice Thursday, but are expected to play.

Iverson scored 30 points and Keith Van Horn ended a series-long slump with 21 for the Sixers, but both players wasted chances in the final seconds to provide a tie or lead.

"The opportunity was there, but we didn't get it done," Iverson said.

The eighth-seeded Magic can advance to the East semifinals for the first time in seven years with a win over the Pistons, who staved off elimination with a 98-67 home-court rout on Wednesday.

It was Orlando's worst playoff loss since a 99-64 pasting by Miami in the first round on April 24, 1997.

"They can't take them points that they won by and add it to the next game," said Orlando guard Darrell Armstrong. "Zero-zero when you start out (next)."

Orlando is trying to become the third No. 8 seed to topple a top seed. Only the 1994 Denver Nuggets and the 1999 New York Knicks have upset a No. 1 seed since the NBA playoffs expanded to its current number of teams in 1984.

Detroit has lost 12 straight road playoff games since a 93-80 win at Atlanta in Game Two of a first-round series in 1997.

The third-seeded Mavericks can reach the West semifinals for the third straight year with a win at Portland, which stayed alive with a 103-99 victory at Dallas on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers are trying to become just the third team to even a series after losing the first three games.

The others were the 1951 New York Knicks, who lost in seven games to the Rochester Royals in the NBA Finals, and the 1994 Nuggets, who lost in seven to the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals.

The winner of the Dallas-Portland series advances to face second-seeded Sacramento, who advanced Wednesday by knocking off the Utah Jazz in five games.

Successful knee surgery for Randy Johnson

PHOENIX, May 2 (UPI) -- Four-time reigning Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks has undergone successful arthroscopic knee surgery.

He is expected to miss 3-6 weeks.

Johnson, 39, spent time on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained right knee, but was activated Sunday and pitched six innings in a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets in the nightcap of a doubleheader. He gave up two runs and nine hits while striking out 12, but never seemed comfortable.

After the pain persisted early in the week, the Diamondbacks decided to take care of the injury now rather than allow their star lefthander to pitch while injured.

"He had a very good outing in New York, but after the flight back and the following day, his knee seemed to swell up again," said team physician Dr. Michael Lee, who performed the procedure. "The MRI showed a lot of fluid in the knee, and small cartilage pieces in the knee."

The Diamondbacks also have been without righthander Curt Schilling, who went on the disabled list Monday after undergoing an appendectomy. He is expected to start Saturday.

After signing a two-year, $33 million contract extension prior to the season, Johnson has struggled. He is 1-2 with a 6.94 ERA in four starts.

Johnson is coming off another dominant season, one that resulted in his fourth straight Cy Young Award and fifth overall. With Arizona, he is 81-29, and had not been on the disabled list since joining the Diamondbacks in 1999.

To fill Johnson's roster spot, the Diamondbacks recalled pitcher Brandon Webb from Triple-A Tucson of the Pacific Coast League. Coincidentally, Webb started the opener of the doubleheader Sunday against the Mets and picked up the win.

Chuck Amato gets contract extension

RALEIGH, N.C., May 2 (UPI) -- Chuck Amato, the head football coach at North Carolina State, has been given a one-year extension, meaning his contract runs though the 2007 season.

Amato has led the resurgence of the Wolfpack football program, and guided the team to an 11-win campaign last fall. That included a 28-6 rout of Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, 2003, and the first ever 10-win regular season.

It marks the third year in a row that the school has added a year to Amato's original five-year contract. The extra year was approved by the school's Board of Trustees.

The Raleigh News and Observer reported that Amato's total annual compensation package is thought to be around $750,000. An $840,000 annuity kicks in if he stays that long.

"We're going to keep Chuck Amato happy," Athletic Director Lee Fowler told the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun. "We'll do whatever it takes keep him. I hope to have Chuck Amato as our head football coach until he's done coaching college football."

"This just continues to show the commitment (Chancellor Marye Anne) Fox and our (Athletic Director) have made to our football program," Amato told the N&O. "I appreciate the faith in me and what we're trying to accomplish."

Before coming to Raleigh, Amato spent 18 years at Florida State, the last 14 as defensive coordinator.

Amato is just the fourth coach in ACC history, and the second ever at N.C. State, to earn bowl appearances in each of his first three years as head coach. Last season, N.C. State became the first ACC team to beat Florida State in back-to-back seasons since the Seminoles joined the conference, and in 2001, the Wolfpack was the first league opponent to beat FSU on their home field.

In its preseason poll, Sports Illustrated has N.C. State ranked No. 6 for this fall.

Report: Solomon to St. Bonaventure

BRISTOL, Conn., May 2 (UPI) -- The task of cleaning up the men's basketball program at St. Bonaventure apparently will be given to Notre Dame assistant Anthony Solomon.

ESPN reported Friday that Solomon will be named as the successor to Jan van Breda Kolff, and the deal is expected to be finalized next week.

Solomon, an assistant at Notre Dame for the past three years under Mike Brey, played collegiately at Virginia. He would take over a program mired in turmoil. Last month, van Breda Kolff was fired after a university investigation determined he had violated NCAA rules related to a player eligibility scandal.

In early March, the Atlantic 10 Conference stripped the Bonnies of six league victories, and barred them from the conference tournament after center James Terrell was ruled ineligible for violating NCAA junior college transfer quidelines.

That led to a boycott by the players, which forced the school to forfeit its final two regular season games against Massachusetts and Dayton.

The university was widely criticized for allowing the players to dictate policy, and there was even some speculation that the A-10 would expel the school from the league.

While that did not happen, the controversy surrounding Terrell and the player boycott, did lead to the resignation of University President Robert Wickenheiser and Athletic Director Gothard Lane.

The basketball team currently is being run on an interim basis by Van Breda Kolff's assistant, Billy McCaffrey.

Devils look to advance

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 2 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Devils try to advance Friday night to the Eastern Conference finals when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It will be Game Five of their best-of-seven series, and it's one of two series resuming Friday night. In the West, the Minnesota Wild try to get even at home in Game Four against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Devils could be the first team to advance to the conference finals in this postseason. They also could give themselves a breather, with the other series in the East, between Ottawa and Philadelphia, tied at two games each.

With the Flyers coming away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory Thursday, it could be a long series. If necessary, the series could stretch to Wednesday, meaning the next series would not begin until at least May 9.

That would give the Devils a week off, if they beat the Lightning Friday. If they do, it likely will be with defense, with Tampa Bay having totaled just seven goals in the series, three in their three losses.

The Devils are trying to make it to the conference finals for the third time in four years. Before losing to Carolina in the first round last season, they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the previous two seasons, splitting the series.

The Lightning are far less established, having made it to the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history. They had never won a series before bouncing Washington in six games to get to this point.

The Wild are in a similar position, having made it to the playoffs for the first time in their three-year-old history. They shocked the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, and can move closer to another stunning upset Friday.

The teams are well rested, last playing on Tuesday, when the Canucks came away with a 3-2 victory.

In Vancouver's Game Three win, each of their goals was scored on the power play, with Daniel Sedin scoring the decisive goal in the second period.

While the rest of the playoffs is gravy for the Wild, the heavily- favored Canucks are seeking their first trip to the conference finals since their Stanley Cup Final run of 1994.

They have won just two of seven series since.

Craig Patrick fires brother

PITTSBURGH, May 2 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick Friday fired brother Glenn, the coach of the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The minor league team went 36-32-7-5, and won a qualifying series in Glenn Patrick's fourth season as coach, but he had been criticized for his inability to produce NHL-caliber players for the big club.

"After reviewing all of the circumstances, we decided it was time to make a change," said older brother Craig Patrick.

In Glenn Patrick's four seasons with the "Baby Penguins," the team went 115-152-38-15. More importantly, few of the organization's prospects were able to contribute in the NHL.

Only one of Pittsburgh's last 10 first-round picks, right wing Aleksey Morozov, has become a proven NHL player, and some within the organization have blamed Glenn Patrick for his lack of teaching skills.

Minor league defenseman Brooks Orpik, a first-round draft pick in 2000, once said he had no idea what parts of his game needed improving because no one told him, although he later recanted the criticism, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Their AHL affiliate is just one of the Penguins' problems headed into the offseason.

They need a new coach to replace the fired Rick Kehoe, face the possible re-retirement of Mario Lemieux, and have no money to attract free agents.

For the first time since 1983-88, the Penguins have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. They were second-to-last in the NHL this past season at 26-42-6-5, which included a 16-game winless streak (0-14-2) over the final six weeks.

The Patrick brothers are members of one of hockey's most respected families.

Grandfather Lester led the New York Rangers to three Stanley Cup titles as coach and general manager. Father Lynn was an All-Star winger for the Rangers, and later was GM for Boston and St. Louis, and Uncle Muzz was a defenseman and GM-Coach of the Rangers.

Sir Cherokee scratched from Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 2 (UPI) -- Arkansas Derby winner Sir Cherokee has been scratched from Saturday's Kentucky Derby, reducing the field to 16.

Trainer Michael Tomlinson said the colt has a fracture in his right rear ankle but is expected to resume racing later this year.

"The timing of it is horrendous," he said Friday morning in the Churchill Downs barn area.

Sir Cherokee was to have started in the No. 3 post position. Instead, Brancusi and Supah Blitz each will move out one spot from the rail, leaving the No. 1 post empty.

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