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Feb. 8, 2013 at 11:00 PM
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Nadal reaches semifinals in Chile

VINA DEL MAR, Chile, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Rafael Nadal, making his return to competition after a seven-month absence, easily reached the semifinals Friday at the VTR Open.

Nadal, the No. 1 seed, dispatched Daniel Gimeno-Traver at the clay-court event to set up a semifinal meeting with Jeremy Chardy.

"This gives me reasons to think I'm on the right way," said Nadal, the former top-ranked player in the world who left the tennis circuit following last year's Wimbledon Championships to have knee surgery.

Chardy, a semifinalist in this event a year ago, advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 decision over Paolo Lorenzi.

The other semifinal will match Horacio Zeballos and Carlos Berlocq. Zeballos outlasted Albert Ramos in the quarterfinals 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6) and Berlocq moved on without having to play when Guillaume Rufin withdrew with an abdominal strain.

Nadal is seeking the 51st tournament title of his career. This spring, he will attempt to win the French Open for the eighth time in nine tries.

Lakers rally from 19 down to defeat Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Kobe Bryant came close to a triple-double Friday in helping rally the Los Angeles Lakers from a 19-point deficit to a 100-93 win over Charlotte.

One night after being run over by the Boston Celtics, the Lakers again looked lethargic in the early going against the Bobcats -- winners of only 11 games all season.

Charlotte led 71-52 just past the midway point of the third quarter, but the Lakers came back to take the lead for good at 92-91 on a 3-pointer from Jodie Meeks with 3:02 to play.

The field goal from Meeks touched off an 11-2, game-closing run for the Lakers, who improved to 4-2 on a seven-game road trip that will conclude Sunday in Miami.

Six Los Angeles players reached double figures with Bryant scoring 20 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out eight assists. Steve Nash and Earl Clark both added 17 points while Dwight Howard had 12.

Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens each scored 20 for the Bobcats, who have lost six in a row.

Charlotte built an 18-point lead before losing to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Dec. 18.

Report: Oden could return to NBA

AKRON, Ohio, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The Akron Beacon Journal reported Friday former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden, who has not played in more than three years, is nearing a return to the NBA.

The newspaper said the Cleveland Cavaliers were preparing an offer to the 25-year-old 7-footer that would be made after the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

Oden is one of the NBA's hard-luck stories, having spent five injury-plagued seasons with Portland after being taken with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft. Chronic knee problems limited him to 82 games with the Trail Blazers before he was released last March.

His final appearance with Portland was Dec. 5, 2009.

Oden's agent, Mike Conley, said Oden had been hoping to return to pro basketball for the 2013-14 season, but that he could put on a uniform before that. Conley said Oden had met with officials from the Cavaliers.

Oden averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds while with the Blazers. He missed three entire seasons after having three knee operations.

Snedeker shares Pebble Beach lead

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Brandt Snedeker, runner-up to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson the last two weeks, shared the lead Friday after 36 holes at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Snedeker shared first place with Ted Potter Jr., with both players having played two rounds in 8-under par. Potter shot a 67 on the par-70 Monterey Peninsula Shore Course Friday while Snedeker posted a 68 at the par-72 Spyglass Hill Golf Club.

Each of the 156 players compete over the three courses being used for the tournament before a cut is made Saturday. Those surviving the cut will play the fourth and final round at the Pebble Beach Golf Links Sunday.

Those tied for third at 7-under included Fredrik Jacobson, John Merrick, Patrick Reed and first-round co-leader Hunter Mahan.

Mickelson, the defending champion, was 2-under through 36 holes in a tie for 39th place.

Snedeker finished four shots behind Woods two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, played at Torrey Pines, and then wound up four shots behind Mickelson last week at the Phoenix Open.

Although he has yet to win on the PGA Tour this year, Snedeker is out front in the FedEx Cup points list. He won the 2012 FedEx Cup and the $10 million that went with it.

Potter won on the tour for the first time last year at the Greenbrier Classic.

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