Second round of NBA playoffs begins
SAN ANTONIO, May 5 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Spurs host the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers Monday night in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.
The second round of the NBA playoffs officially begins earlier in the evening, when the New Jersey Nets meet host Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
On Sunday, Spurs center Tim Duncan became the first player to win back-to-back MVP awards since Michael Jordan in 1991 and '92. On Monday, he likely will receive a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at SBC Center when he is presented with the MVP trophy, but he would most like the crowd to be cheering at the end of the game.
The Spurs won all four regular-season meetings from Los Angeles, but the Lakers have eliminated San Antonio from the playoffs each of the last two years, winning eight of the nine postseason games -- 4-1 in the second round last year, and 4-0 in the conference final in 2001.
Many of the Lakers said afterwards that Duncan's predictable passing off the double teams made it easier to rotate their defense. However, the Spurs' key additions, wing players Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson, make them more athletic for this series.
The Spurs likely will use as many as four players to contend with the 7-1, 335-pound O'Neal, who missed two of the four regular-season games against San Antonio. Center David Robinson, in his last NBA season, will get help from Duncan, Malik Rose, and Kevin Willis against O'Neal.
Bryant imposed his will in last year's playoff series, leading the Lakers a pair of down-to-the-wire wins in San Antonio. Bruce Bowen likely will draw the assignment of guarding Bryant.
The Lakers won their 13th straight playoff series under Phil Jackson, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 4-2, in the first round. Los Angeles won the last two games by a combined 46 points.
O'Neal and Bryant combined for 60.5 points per game, accounting for 57 percent of the Lakers' offense in the first round. O'Neal also averaged 15.3 rebounds, and Bryant had 6.7 assists.
Duncan faced constant double teams in the Spurs' 4-2 series victory over Phoenix, and took just 12 shots per game, but the 7-footer still averaged 18.7 points on 52 percent shooting along with 16 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 3.5 blocked shots per contest.
Point guard Jason Kidd averaged a triple double when the Nets beat the Celtics, 4-2 in the Eastern Conference finals last year.
Kidd averaged 17.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 10.2 assists against the Celtics last season.
Tony Delk averaged 15.5 points and hit 13-of-30 three-pointers in Boston's 4-2 series win over the Indiana Pacers in the first round, but playing against Kidd will be far different than Indiana's tandem of Jamaal Tinsley and aging Tim Hardaway.
"Boston's guards are going to be in a lot of trouble," said Milwaukee guard Gary Payton, who was outplayed by Kidd in the first round.
Boston star Paul Pierce hopes to erase the memory of last year's series against the Nets, when he shot 36 percent from the field (40-of-110), with a 10-for-29 effort from the floor in Games Five and Six, both Celtic losses.
In New Jersey's clinching Game Six win, Pierce and Antoine Walker shot a combined 12-of-36 for 30 points.
Including last year's playoff series, the Nets have won six of the last seven meetings from Boston, taking the last three by an average of 21 points.
Solomon named at St. Bonaventure
OLEAN, N.Y., May 5 (UPI) -- As first reported, Anthony Solomon Monday was named head men's basketball coach at St. Bonaventure, replacing the fired Jan van Breda Kolff.
ESPN first reported Friday that Solomon, 38, would get the job. He has been an assistant at Notre Dame for the past three years under Mike Brey, played collegiately at Virginia, and will take over a program mired in turmoil.
"Anthony Solomon has the leadership, experience and character that are critical to St. Bonaventure University and our men's basketball program," said St. Bonaventure Athletic Director Paul Grys. "He is one of the bright young coaches in the game, and we are thrilled to have him. He is a balanced man who is equally dedicated and passionate about both his work and his family. We think he is a perfect fit."
"St. Bonaventure is a tradition-rich basketball program that really excites me," Solomon said. "I feel honored and blessed that I am able to begin my career as a head coach at St. Bonaventure. The values that are stressed by the University are the values I've lived throughout my life. With my 15 years of experience in the coaching profession, I feel that I have prepared myself for this opportunity."
Solomon's responsibilities at Notre Dame included recruiting, academic development, game planning, and scouting of opponents with specific coaching duties with the perimeter players. Among the players, he helped recruit to Notre Dame was Torin Francis, a high school All-American forward from Massachusetts.
Prior to working at Notre Dame, Solomon spent six seasons at Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
He was Assistant Athletic Director for Basketball Operations at Clemson from 1998-2000. In his first season there, the Tigers went 20-15 and advanced to the championship game of the NIT.
He had been an assistant coach at his alma mater for four seasons from 1994-98, and also has been an assistant at Richmond, Manhattan, and Bowling Green.
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 guidelines.
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.
Report: Mike Shula eyed by Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 5 (UPI) -- It appears that Miami Dolphins quarterback coach Mike Shula is the leading candidate to succeed Mike Price as football coach at Alabama.
The Birmingham News reported Monday that sources indicate Shula, a former quarterback for the Crimson Tide, was called Saturday night, shortly after the firing of Price, by President Robert E. Witt.
One source said Witt and Athletic Director Mal Moore flew to Fort Lauderdale Sunday to speak with Shula over the weekend, and had been given permission to talk with Shula by Dolphins Coach Dave Wannstedt.
"Mike is the perfect fit for a program in need of an image boost and stability," one source told the paper. "He has the background and expertise to tweak the offense (installed by Price during spring practice). He will keep most of the staff in place. He knows the Alabama family."
The Tuscaloosa News said the pair returned home late Sunday night.
"We made it home safe," Moore said after emerging from the jet. "We visited with someone. It would be premature to say who we visited with. We are recruiting and looking and visiting with everyone."
Moore flew fly to Orlando Monday morning for the Southeastern Conference Athletics Directors meeting. Before he left Tuscaloosa, he said it would not take long to make a new hire.
""The players deserve a quick decision, and I want to deliver," Moore said before departing.
The Tuscaloosa News reported that Price's two sons, offensive coordinator Eric Price and quarterbacks coach Aaron Price, who were Alabama staff members, have told Moore they plan to leave, and will not be retained.
Shula has the support of former Alabama Coach Ray Perkins.
"He played for me and then he coached for me, and, of course, I played for his father (Hall of Fame former Dolphins coach Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history)," Perkins said. "I love the guy. I think the university would be very, very fortunate if they could get him."
The Tuscaloosa News mentioned other possible candidates, including Carolina Panthers assistant coach Richard Williamson, former Alabama center Sylvester Croom, and former Jacksonville Jaguars Coach Tom Coughlin, who also is a former head coach at Boston College.
The tenure of Price ended Saturday without him having worked a single game. He was unable to defuse the controversy surrounding his off-the-field behavior, which included a visit to a topless bar in Pensacola, Fla., and unusual charges to a hotel bill.
Orioles place Surhoff on DL
BALTIMORE, May 5 (UPI) -- Veteran outfielder B.J. Surhoff has been placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right hamstring.
Surhoff, 38, suffered the injury in the eighth inning of Saturday's 6-1 win over Kansas City. He pulled up after rounding first base, and thought he had prevented any major damage.
By placing him on the DL, the Orioles were able to make room for lefthander Eric DuBose, who made his major league debut Sunday against the Royals.
Manager Mike Hargrove said the injury "did not appear to be serious."
"You want to be patient with these things," said Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie. "He's a veteran player, and you don't want to rush him out there hurt. Age plays a part in these injuries."
Surhoff is the fourth Oriole to go on the DL in the first 30 games, joining first baseman David Segui, outfielded Marty Cordova (elbow surgery), and pitcher Rodrigo Lopez (strained left oblique muscle).
Meanwhile, the oft-injured DuBose, a former first-round draft pick who has endured several arm injuries and almost retired last season, allowed only three hits in 6 1/3 innings, and left the contest trailing only 1-0.
Immediately after the game, he was sent back to Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate at Ottawa because veteran righthander Pat Hentgen will be used while Lopez is on the DL. Hargrove said the Orioles want DuBose to remain a starter, which he will do at Ottawa, and not pitch out of the bullpen.
"Eric DuBose was outstanding," said Hargrove. "The key for him now is staying healthy and waiting until a spot opens."
The Orioles also have recalled righthander Travis Driskill from Ottawa. He was 2-0 with a 2.32 ERA for the Lynx, and pitched effectively in stretches for the Orioles last season.
Driskill was 8-8 with a 4.95 ERA, mostly as a starter. Last season was his first in the majors after nine minor league seasons.
White Sox option Stewart
CHICAGO, May 5 (UPI) -- The Chicago White Sox have optioned rookie lefthander Josh Stewart to Triple-A Charlotte of the International League.
The move was necessary to make room for righthander Dan Wright, who will be activated Monday from the 15-day disabled list.
Wright, sidelined since spring training with inflammation in his right elbow, made a rehabilitation start for Charlotte on Saturday. He allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, did not walk a batter, and struck out five.
Wright, 25, compiled a 14-12 record with a 5.18 ERA in 33 starts for the White Sox in 2002. He appeared in three games, two starts, in spring training, going 0-1 with a 16.88 ERA. His last spring appearance came on March 24 at Colorado, where he tossed 2.0 scoreless with two strikeouts.
Wright went 14-12 with a 5.18 ERA in 33 starts for the White Sox in 2002.
Stewart, 24, made five starts for Chicago, going 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA.
Anthony signs with Edmonton
EDMONTON, Alberta, May 5 (UPI) -- Reidel Anthony has become the latest wide receiver to try to rejuvenate his football career north of the border.
The first-round pick of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997 Monday signed with the Edmonton Eskimos.
Terms were not disclosed.
Anthony played five years with the Buccaneers, catching 144 passes for 1,846 yards before reuniting with his college coach Steve Spurrier in Washington. The Redskins released him after training camp, and he failed to hook up with any NFL team last season.
"Reidel Anthony has performed at a high level in the NFL, and we think he has the tools necessary to be effective in the more wide-open CFL," said Eskimos Coach Tom Higgins.
Anthony enjoyed his best year in 1998, when he caught 51 passes for 708 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2001, he had a career-low 13 receptions for 162 yards.
V. Klitschko to fight on Lewis undercard
Klitschko (32-1, 31 KOs) is the WBC mandatory challenger, and on June 21 will fight on the undercard, when Lewis takes on Kirk Johnson of Canada. Lewis was hoping for a rematch with Mike Tyson, but the former champion said he was not ready to fight Lewis after knocking out Clifford Etienne in less than a minute in February.
Lewis' title will not be on the line against Johnson, and Klitschko's opponent has not yet been announced.
"After the long negotiations I'm more than happy that this case is brought to the rung eventually," said Klaus-Peter Kohl, Klitschko's promoter. "Lennox has proven he's a big champion and a gentleman who takes every big challenge."
Klitschko, 31, has won five bouts since his only loss to IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd in April 2000. Most recently, he recorded a 10th-round TKO over Larry Donald in November.
"I'm excited to box in L.A. first and then vs. Lennox Lewis," Klitschko said. "I was sure I'd box for the world title. It had to be Lewis as far as I am concerned. Now, one of my biggest goals in my career is close -- fight a big champion for a big title. I am sure I will convince the American fans with my performance."
The 6-7 1/2 Klitschko resides in Germany, where his last eight fights have been. He has not fought in the United States since August 1998, when he stopped Ricardo Kennedy in the first round.
Wladimir Klitschko (40-2, 37 KOs), Vitali's younger brother, was considered to be one of the top threats among heavyweights, but suffered a second-round TKO loss to journeyman Corrie Sanders in March. Vladimir Klitschko, 26, is the only boxer to beat Byrd, recording a unanimous decision in October 2000.
Three teams can advance in NHL playoffs
ANAHEIM, Calif., May 5 (UPI) -- Anaheim and Ottawa will try to advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history Monday night when they continue their respective series.
Also Monday, the Vancouver Canucks look to reach the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1994 when they host Minnesota in Game Five of their series.
Anaheim, which had made only one prior trip to the Western Conference semifinals before completing a stunning sweep of the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in the quarterfinals, failed in its first chance to eliminate top-seeded Dallas on Saturday.
The Mighty Ducks played eight straight one-goal contests before rookie Niko Kapanen scored twice as the Stars chased Jean-Sebastien Giguere after two periods Saturday and posted a 4-1 victory in Game Five.
Dallas has never rallied from a three games to one deficit to win a playoff series. Giguere, who is 7-2 with a 1.47 goals-against average in the playoffs, has not lost consecutive games since Feb. 28 and March 2.
"All I can do is forget about it," Giguere said after Saturday's loss. "The next game is a new challenge. This is a learning process. You can't win every game. They are a great team and matched our intensity (Saturday)."
If the Stars win, they host Game Seven on Wednesday.
While the Ducks will try to close out their series at home, the Senators visit Philadelphia for Game Six of their Eastern Conference series.
Ottawa limited Philadelphia to two goals in eliminating the Flyers in five games in the quarterfinals last year. Thus far, the Flyers have managed just nine goals, and face a three games to two deficit as they try to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2000.
On Saturday, Roman Cechmanek surrendered four goals on 16 shots and was pulled in the second period as the Senators rolled to a 5-2 home-ice win.
Last year, Ottawa blew a three games to two lead and was eliminated in the conference semifinals by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia has trailed three games to two nine times, and has won Game Six on four occasions.
The Flyers visit Ottawa on Wednesday if they win Game Six. The winner of the series faces the New Jersey Devils, who eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the other semifinal in the East.
Sopel scored a power-play goal 15:52 into overtime to move the Canucks within one game of the conference finals.
With 2:06 left in regulation, Jovanovski deflected Sopel's one-timer from just above the left faceoff circle past goaltender Manny Fernandez.
Twelve of Vancouver's 29 goals in the playoffs have come from defensemen.
If the Wild beat the Canucks on Monday, they host Game Six on Wednesday.
Red Wings dump Robitaille
DETROIT, May 5 (UPI) -- The Detroit Red Wings Monday declined to pick up on the contact of veteran left wing Luc Robitaille, making him a free agent.
After getting swept out of the playoffs, the Red Wings began the process of trying to get younger.
Robitaille, 37, who is the all-time leader among left wingers with 631 goals, was the first to go. The move is not surprising since Robitaille finished with career-lows 11 goals and 31 points this season.
In the playoffs, he skated on the fourth line and had just one assist when the Red Wings were swept in the Western Conference quarterfinals by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Robitaille signed with the Red Wings as a free agent in July 2002, surpassed the record of Bobby Hull for most goals by a left wing (610), and earned his first Stanley Cup title.
"We are very grateful to have had Luc as a member of the Detroit Red Wings," said General Manager Ken Holland. "He was a big part of our 2002 Stanley Cup championship, and it was an honor to have him in a Wings uniform when he broke Bobby Hull's record as the top left wing goal scorer in NHL history. The Robitaille family will always be a part of our Red Wings family."
Robitaille had 30 goals and 20 assists in the 2001-02 season, and added four goals and five assists in 23 playoff games.
The 6-1, 215-pounder also set the single-season record for goals by a left winger when he had 63 with the Los Angeles Kings in the 1992-93 season.
An eight-time All-Star, Robitaille won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 1986-87, when he had 45 goals and 39 assists with the Kings.
In 1,286 games with the Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Red Wings, he has 688 assists and 1,319 points.
Canadiens re-sign Bulis
MONTREAL, May 5 (UPI) -- The Montreal Canadiens Monday re-signed center Jan Bulis to a two-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Bulis, 25, set career highs with 16 goals and 24 assists last season, and ranked second on the team with a plus-minus of plus-9.
"Jan Bulis was one of our best forwards last season," said Montreal General Manager Andre Savard. "At only 25, he has greatly improved his play, and he also possesses a very good work ethic. Jan is an important part of our young core of players for the upcoming seasons."
The Czech Republic native played parts of four seasons with the Washington Capitals before being acquired by Montreal in a six-player deal in March 2001.
Bulis has 51 goals and 101 assists in 328 career games.