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Dec. 2, 2010 at 11:08 PM
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LeBron answers boos with 37 points

CLEVELAND, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- LeBron James answered the boos of his former hometown fans with 37 points Thursday and Miami blasted Cleveland 118-90.

James made his first trip back to Cleveland since leaving the Cavaliers in free agency this year. That move made him a despised figure in a town that once treated him as a hero and the fans greeted him with a wave of boos and catcalls every time he touched the ball.

Those boos began to diminish, however, when James scored eight points in a 16-0 run late in the first period.

James made 15-of-25 shots from the field, grabbed five rebounds, handed out eight assists and sat out the entire fourth quarter.

It was the best all-around performance of the year for the Heat, who began the season as favorites to win the NBA title but found themselves in third place in their division heading into Wednesday's game. Miami has captured three in a row, equaling its longest winning streak of the season.

Dwyane Wade added 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Heat, James Jones had 18 points off the bench and Chris Bosh scored 15. Cleveland shot 56 percent from the field and turned the ball over just eight times.

Cleveland, which has dropped two in a row, was led by Daniel Gibson with 21 points. None of the Cleveland starters had more than 11 points.

James appeared to take the constant harassment in good spirits, often smiling and joking with teammates. He hugged Cleveland's Mo Williams after the game and then immediately left the court flanked by security guards.

The teams will meet three more times this season with one of those games scheduled for Cleveland.

Crosby's hat trick leads Penguins

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Sidney Crosby provided all of the Pittsburgh scoring with the seventh hat trick of his career Wednesday, boosting Pittsburgh to a 3-2 win over Atlanta.

The Penguins won their eighth straight game, moving two points in front of Philadelphia for the lead in the Atlantic Division.

Crosby has had a hat trick in each of Pittsburgh's last two home games and he extended his point streak to 14 contests.

His first goal came 7:32 into the opening period and rallied the Penguins into a 1-1 tie. He put Pittsburgh in front with a backhander 4:24 into the second and tipped in a shot 6 minutes later.

Nik Antropov brought Atlanta within a goal with 1:26 to go in the second, but the Thrashers could not get another one past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Crosby has 21 goals for the season, tying him with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for most in the NHL.

Fleury made 20 saves in helping the Penguins to their longest winning streak in three seasons. Atlanta had a six-game winning streak snapped.

Ondrej Pavelec took the loss while making 25 saves.

Woods takes lead in own tournament

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods, winless on the PGA Tour in 2010, shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to grab a one-shot lead in the Chevron World Challenge.

Woods hosts the event, which is not an official stop on the tour, and has won it four times.

Rory McIlroy and U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell were tied for second place at 66 while Dustin Johnson and Stewart Cink both shot a 69 at the Sherwood Country Club.

This was the first year since he turned professional in 1996 that Woods did not capture a tour event. His winless season came as his marriage collapsed and ended in divorce.

Woods has also lost his No. 1 world ranking to Lee Westwood, although Woods could regain the top spot this week if he wins and Westwood finishes outside the top four at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.

Despite taking the first-round lead, Woods said he had a poor day with the putter.

"I didn't really make any putts," he said. "It is weird shooting 7-under par when I only made one putt all day."

Defending champion Jim Furyk shot a 72 and was tied for eighth. The field includes 12 of the top 21 players in the world rankings.

NCAA seeks tighter recruiting rules

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday his organization would do its best to avoid a repeat of the recent turmoil surrounding Auburn star Cam Newton.

"We will work aggressively with our members to amend our bylaws so that this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics," Emmert said.

His comments came one day after the NCAA ruled that Newton would not lose his eligibility at Auburn despite evidence that Newton's father had attempted to obtain money from at least one university in exchange for the quarterback's services.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that Newton's father would be limited in his association with the Auburn athletic program.

Undefeated Auburn will play on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship game against South Carolina. A win in that contest would put Auburn in the national championship game.

The NCAA's investigation failed to reveal any proof Newton knew his father had, in effect, attempted to sell Newton to the highest bidder.

"We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could 'shop around' a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete's eligibility," Emmert said.

"I'm committed to further clarifying and strengthening our recruiting and amateurism rules so they promote appropriate behavior by students, parents, coaches and third parties."

Newton has thrown for 2,254 yards and 24 touchdowns this season and run for 1,336 additional yards and 18 scores.

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