Lakers dig themselves a hole
SAN ANTONIO, May 8 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Spurs pushed the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers into a very bad spot Wednesday night.
The New Jersey Nets, meanwhile, took control of their conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics.
Bruce Bowen, whose chief job was to contain Kobe Bryant, made a team playoff-record seven three-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points as the Spurs crushed the Lakers, 114-95, in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
A defensive specialist, Bowen's primary responsibility in this series is to guard Bryant, who is one of the NBA's top offensive players. He also is expected to hit an occasional shot.
Bowen did a lot more than that as the Spurs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the series. They made a major statement in Game 2, never trailing and leading by as many as 33 points.
Taking advantage of good looks at the basket, Bowen went 10 of 12 from the field and made seven of eight three-pointers. He sank five three-pointers in the first half, helping the Spurs open a 60-43 lead. San Antonio extended the advantage to 94-67 after three quarters, rendering the final 12 minutes meaningless.
Bowen was averaging just 5.6 points in his first seven playoff games. His previous postseason high had been 13 points in last season's conference semifinals against the Lakers.
Rookie Manu Ginoboli, a key factor in Game 1 for San Antonio, had another big game. The Argentina native had 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 17.
Things were so bad after three quarters for the Lakers that Bryant and superstar center Shaquille O'Neal watched the final 12 minutes from the bench. Both scored 27 points.
The Spurs, seeking revenge after being eliminated by the Lakers in the playoffs each of the previous two seasons, look to keep the momemtum going when the series shifts to Los Angeles on Friday night
In East Rutherford, Jason Kidd collected 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and Richard Jefferson scored 25 points as the Nets held on for a 104-95 victory over the Celitcs in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Nets endured a lengthy scoring drought for the second straight game, but took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with the Celtics. Boston wasted Paul Pierce's first career playoff triple-double.
Kidd capped the third quarter with a layup to give New Jersey its largest lead at 82-66, but he and Jefferson started the final period on the bench.
The Celtics, who rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat the Nets in Game 3 of last year's conference finals, opened the fourth quarter with 14 straight points. They pulled within 82-80 on a pair of free throws by Pierce with 7:48 left.
Jefferson, who returned with 8:24 to go, answered with a pair of foul shots 51 seconds later for New Jersey's first points of the period.
The Nets had an 85-82 lead before scoring 11 of the next 14 points. Jefferson made two jumpers before capping the spurt with a reverse dunk for a 96-85 cushion with 3:03 left.
Boston hosts Game 3 Friday night.
Wild forces Game 7
ST. PAUL, Minn., May 8 (UPI) -- Minnesota forced a decisive seventh game in their Western Conference semifinal series Wednesday night with a 5-1 win over Vancouver.
Andrew Brunette scored two of Minnesota's three power-play goals.
Minnesota is on the verge of duplicating its feat in the conference quarterfinals, when it rallied from a three games to one deficit to eliminate the highly favored Colorado Avalanche.
Like in the opening round, the Wild will play Game 7 just 24 hours after Game 6, this time at Vancouver's GM Place.
The Canucks also overcame a three games to one deficit in the opening round against St. Louis. On Thursday night, however, they must bounce back from consecutive blowout defeats.
After scoring 10 goals in the first four games of the series, Minnesota has totaled 12 in the last two.
The Wild went three for five with the extra man, grabbing the lead in the second period on power-play tallies by Brunette and defenseman Lubomir Sekeras. Antti Laaksonen collected a goal and an assist before Brunette struck again on the power play with 9:23 remaining.
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski had the lone goal for the Canucks, whose forwards have been outscored, 20-8, in the series. Linemates Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi combined for 94 goals during the season but have just one in the series and none in the last five games.
Jordan out as president of Wizards
Jordan was irate at the decision, but it paves the way for him to perhaps buy in as a partner of the NBA expansion team in Charlotte.
"It was well understood that when I finished playing, I would return as president of basketball operations, and this was definitely my desire and intention," Jordan said in a statement.
"However, today, without any prior discussion with me, ownership informed me that it had unilaterally decided to change our mutual long-term understanding. I am shocked by this decision and by the callous refusal to offer me any justification for it."
Pollin, meanwhile, had nothing but praise for Jordan and his efforts for the Wizards.
"I want to emphasize my sincere thanks to Michael for his time with this franchise," Pollin said. "While the roster of talent he has assembled here in Washington may not have succeeded to his and my expectations, I do believe Michael's desire to win and be successful is unquestioned."
Pollin also expressed his gratitude for Jordan's on-court contributions.
"I firmly believe that Michael's time with us as a player will have a lasting impact on every player on our roster, and there is no question that our fans were treated to a very unique two seasons as the greatest player in the world completed his career here in Washington," Pollin said. "We were extremely fortunate to witness his final season."
Pollin, Wizards minority owner Ted Leonsis, and Jordan met Wednesday at MCI Center along with Pollin's attorney, David Osnos, and Jordan's attorney, Curtis Polk.
The Washington Post reported the meeting lasted about 30 minutes and, according to its sources, Jordan left the building angry and in a hurry.
Two team sources told the New York Times recently that ownership was suspect of Jordan's work ethic as an executive, and that many players were not unhappy that his playing career with the team ended.
The Times also reported many of Jordan's teammates refused to contribute to a retirement gift.
Tigers win fourth straight
The Tigers ran their winning streak to four games.
Inge's two-run shot in the second inning off Orioles starter Omar Daal (2-4) gave the Tigers the lead for good, 2-1. Inge belted a solo homer off Daal in the fourth inning for his first career multi-home run game.
Monroe capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the ninth as the Tigers recorded their first three-game sweep at Baltimore since Sept. 24-26, 1993. Detroit has scored six or more runs in each of its last five games after notching at least six runs just twice in the previous 27 contests.
Gary Knotts (1-3) picked up his first win of the season after allowing four runs and six hits in five innings.
David Segui went four for four, including a solo homer in the first, for Baltimore, which has lost five of six since sweeping Detroit last week at Comerica Park.
Other American League results: Boston 9, Kansas City 6; Minnesota 11, Tampa Bay 6; Texas 5, Toronto 4.
Giants continue to roll
MIAMI, May 7 (UPI) -- Damian Moss pitched six innings Wednesday night as San Francisco extended its winning streak to four games with a 3-2 win over Florida.
Benito Santiago drove in a pair of runs to pace the attack. San Francisco owns a seven-game lead in the NL West.
Florida starter Josh Beckett left after just one inning with a stiff right elbow, adding to the growing list of injuries on the Marlins' pitching staff.
Beckett was examined by team physician Dr. Daniel Kanell and will see noted arm specialist Dr. James Andrews on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala.
Florida's injury problems were of no concern to Moss (5-0), who allowed one run and five hits while walking four and striking out five. Three relievers followed, with Tim Worrell recording the final five outs for his 10th save.
Florida has lost a season-high five straight games.
Other National League results: Chicago 2, Milwaukee 1; Philadelphia 5, Arizona 2; Montreal 12, San Diego 9 in 10 innings; Cincinnati 4, St. Louis 2; Los Angeles 2, New York 1; Houston 13, Pittsburgh 4. Colorado's game at Atlanta was rained out and will be made up as part of a double header Thursday night.
Whitsitt forced out in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore., May 8 (UPI) -- Bob Whitsitt, often the lightning rod for Portland's persistent problems, was forced out Wednesday as president and general manager.
Blazers owner Paul Allen announced Wednesday that Whitsitt will step down after nine seasons with the NBA team while retaining his role as president of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
"We mutually agreed this was the best thing for the team and the community," said Allen, who owns both the Blazers and the Seahawks.
The Trail Blazers were eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs for a third straight season on Sunday. After losing the first three games to the Dallas Mavericks, the Blazers won three in a row only to fall in the seventh game.
Whitsitt has borne the brunt of criticism from fans, who have questioned the character of players he has brought to the team while trading away favorites. He has been known throughout the league as "Trader Bob" for having made 19 trades and acquiring 14 lottery players for the team even though the Blazers have never had a lottery pick.
His relationship with the fans likely hit a low during the tenure of Coach Mike Dunleavy. During one game, a fan was ejected for displaying a sign that read "Fire Whitsitt."
In an effort to diffuse the negative press, the Blazers tried to mail the fan some team paraphernalia. But a Blazers staffer mistakenly sent the merchandise postage due.
Canada reaches world semis
TURKU, Finland, May 8 (UPI) -- Canada blew a two-goal lead before defenseman Eric Brewer scored 37 seconds into overtime Thursday for a 3-2 win over Germany.
The victory put Canada into the semifinals of the World Hockey Championships.
Brewer's goal came during a four-on-three situation as Daniel Kunce was called for slashing late in the third period. Canada had not won an overtime game in the Olympics or World Championships since Paul Kariya tallied to beat the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals of the 1994 Olympics.
Canada had a power play when Ryan Smyth, Brewer's teammate on the Edmonton Oilers, opened the scoring 3:04 into the game. Daniel Briere tipped defenseman Cory Cross' shot past goaltender Robert Muller with 7:17 left in the second period to double Canada's lead.
Sean Burke made 28 saves for Canada, which will face the Czech Republic in the semifinals on Friday.
Hejduk set up Jan Hlavac's goal to make it 1-0 with 3:34 remaining in the opening period. Hejduk, who led the NHL with 50 goals for the Colorado Aavalanche this season, scored on the power play off a pass from defenseman Tomas Kaberle to make it 2-0 at 9:01 of the second.
Slovakia used a 3-1 triumph over Switzerland to advance to a meeting with Sweden, which rallied from a four-goal deficit for a stunning 6-5 victory over Finland.
Weir returns to PGA Tour Thursday
CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 8 (UPI) -- Three weeks after capturing his Masters title, Mike Weir returns to the PGA Tour Thursday for the opening round of the Wachovia Championship.
Ten of the top 12 money winners on the tour will be playing, although Tiger Woods will again be among the missing.
The Canadian is No. 5 in the World Golf rankings and is in position to easily make the International Team for the 2003 Presidents Cup.
With Woods missing from the Tour for at least two more weeks, Love has a chance to increase his lead on the money list. He has earned $3.75 million while Woods has $3.07 million.
There is speculation Woods will play at the Colonial later this month, which is the same tournament in which Annika Sorenstam will compete. If Woods does not play there, he will wind up making only one appearance on the PGA Tour between the Masters and U.S. Open -- that being at the Memorial Tournament.