CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 25 points as the Miami Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the third quarter and won their 24th straight game, 98-95 over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night to extend the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Heat are within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
James and his teammates have insisted the record isn't one of their goals, and for more than 30 minutes the defending champions seemed disinterested and on the verge of losing for the first time since Feb. 1. Miami trailed 67-40 with 7:44 left in the third quarter. But behind the irrepressible James, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists, the Heat inched closer to history by matching the biggest comeback in the NBA this season, according to STATS.
James had 14 points in the fourth as Miami completed its second straight comeback. The Heat rallied from 17 down — 13 in the fourth quarter — to beat Boston 105-103 Monday night and snap a tie with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.
DAYTON, Ohio — Tyrone Garland led the guard-driven offense with 22 points, and La Salle wrapped up the NCAA tournament's First Four by getting the better of an old-fashioned shootout, beating Boise State 80-71.
It was a notable moment for the 13th-seeded Explorers (22-9), who hadn't even been in the tournament for 21 years. Now, they head to Kansas City to play fourth-seeded Kansas State on Friday.
In the first game, A.J. Davis stepped in for James Madison's suspended leading scorer and had 20 points, leading the Dukes to a 68-55 win over LIU Brooklyn. By Joe Kay.
James Madison (21-14), which won its first NCAA tournament game in 30 years, next takes on top-seeded Indiana, also in Dayton.
NEW YORK (AP) — The breakaway basketball schools kept the Big East name and the conference tournament in Madison Square Garden. In return, they left behind tens of millions of dollars to the football members.
That was easy to do with a lucrative television contract awaiting.
The new Big East launched as a 10-member league Wednesday with the additions of Butler, Creighton and Xavier and a 12-year deal with Fox. The agreement is worth about $500 million with the possibility of increasing to $600 million were the league to add more members, according to a person with knowledge of the details. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the value of the agreement was not made public.
The so-called Catholic 7 schools completed their exit from the Big East earlier this month. They'll start play with their three new colleagues in the fall.
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — President Barack Obama is picking Indiana to go all the way in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
ESPN revealed that Obama picked the Hoosiers to win it all in his 2013 bracket. He predicted Louisville, Ohio State and Florida would round out the Final Four.
Obama has made an annual tradition of giving his bracket predictions to ESPN but only correctly picked the winner once — North Carolina in 2009. He says he thinks he can do better in his second term.
On the women's side, Obama selected Baylor, California, UConn and Notre Dame to advance to New Orleans. Baylor, UConn and Notre Dame are all No. 1 seeds and California is a No. 2 seed.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse has been under investigation for possible NCAA violations, mostly in its basketball program, for at least a year, according to two media reports.
CBS Sports.com, citing an unidentified source, reported that the school has received a letter of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA.
The Post-Standard reported NCAA investigators have been conducting interviews with Syracuse employees and former employees. The newspaper said the investigation includes the handling of former player Fab Melo's academic eligibility.
In 2012, the star center was declared ineligible for the NCAA tournament days before it started.
PHOENIX (AP) — If it was good enough for football's greatest running back, NFL owners figure, it should work in the 21st century.
Team owners passed a player safety rule barring ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field. Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney put the change succinctly.
"Jim Brown never lowered his head," he said with a smile. "It can be done." And according to the rules, it must be done beginning this season.
The second significant player safety rule passed this week to help protect defensive players came with much debate. Several coaches and team executives expressed concern about officiating the new rule, but Commissioner Roger Goodell championed it and it passed 31-1. Cincinnati voted no. On Tuesday, the league took the peel-back block out of the game.
The tuck rule, one of the most criticized in pro football, was eliminated. Now, if a quarterback loses control of the ball before he has fully protected it after opting not to throw, it is a fumble.
CHICAGO (AP) — Brian Urlacher wanted to re-sign with the Chicago Bears. Instead, they're parting ways with the veteran linebacker after 13 years.
General manager Phil Emery said that the team couldn't agree on a contract with Urlacher, for years the heart and face of the franchise. He is now a free agent after being slowed by a knee problem and then missing the last four games of the season with a hamstring injury.
The 34-year-old Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, started 180 games from 2000 through 2012, recording a team-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 draft has 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles. He was the AP's defensive player of the year in 2005 and helped lead the 2006 team to the Super Bowl.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
The league said that Jackson will miss the first four games of the regular season. he Redskins re-signed Jackson to a one-year contract with a $715,000 base salary this month to keep him from becoming a restricted free agent.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The New York Yankees might be minus Derek Jeter on opening day.
The star shortstop missed his second straight exhibition game because of inflammation in his surgically repaired left ankle. General manager Brian Cashman said there was a chance Jeter could begin the season on the disabled list.
The 38-year-old Jeter received an anti-inflammatory injection in his ankle. The Yankees start the regular season April 1 at home against Boston. Jeter broke his ankle last year in the first game of the AL championship series against Detroit. He waited a while before making his debut in a spring training game, starting out as a designated hitter on March 9 and later playing in the field for the first time.
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez could be sidelined for more than two months or maybe just two weeks because of an injured right thumb.
Ramirez was hurt diving for a ball while playing third base Tuesday night in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. He helped the Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico 3-0. Ramirez was set to have an MRI on Wednesday night after returning to Dodgers camp. Manager Don Mattingly said a mild sprain would likely leave the All-Star infielder out for a couple of weeks, but a major injury would make it much longer.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will honor the community of Newtown and the memory of those killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School when the teams play opening day April 1 at Yankee Stadium.
Pregame ceremonies include a joint honor guard of Newtown police and firefighters, and a moment of silence at which time a list of the victims' names will be recognized on the center-field scoreboard.
The Yankees and Red Sox will wear a special ribbon on their uniforms. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has asked that all other 28 major league teams wear the ribbon during their opening games.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama athletic director Mal Moore is stepping down to become special assistant to the president because of health problems after a lengthy reign at his alma mater that ended with the Crimson Tide's football program back on top nationally.
The 73-year-old Moore, who played and coached for Paul "Bear" Bryant" and then hired football coach Nick Saban, has been hospitalized at Duke University Medical Center since March 13 with pulmonary problems. He has been the Tide's athletic director since 1999, and will work under university President Dr. Judy Bonner.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the University of Connecticut to continue paying for the education of athletes who lose their scholarships due to injury, illness or even a coach's decision.
The bill, now before legislature's higher education committee, is modeled after a law passed last year in California. It would require any school that receives more than $5 million through the sale of media rights to use some of that revenue to educate students who have lost athletic scholarships.
The bill is authored by the majority leader in the state Senate, Martin Looney, who acknowledged the target is UConn. He said the legislation also would apply to students who have used up their athletic eligibility but are still in the process of pursuing their degree.
LONDON (AP) — With the eight-year deadline approaching, the IOC will retest doping samples from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin in a bid to catch any drug cheats who escaped detection.
IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist told The Associated Press that samples will be retested with more advanced techniques to search for banned substances that couldn't be found in 2006.
Positive tests would result in athletes being retroactively disqualified and stripped of medals.