Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

AP Source: Salary cap increases to $123 million


The NFL salary cap for the 2013 season will rise to $123 million from $120.6 million in 2012, an NFL Players Association official familiar with negotiations over the figure told The Associated Press on Thursday.


The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.


The increase, which is larger than some in the NFL had anticipated, is a result of greater-than-expected revenues last season — primarily from NFL Properties — and a jump in projected league revenues, according to the official.


The league and the union work together to establish a cap number, based on parameters established under their collective bargaining agreement. The current 10-year CBA was signed in August 2011, ending the owners' lockout of the players.


One of the main areas of contention during that labor dispute was how to divide the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues, a figure that will keep rising, particularly once the NFL's new television contracts kick in for the 2014 season. Those additional revenues will be reflected in the salary cap for 2015, which is expected to see a more significant increase than the roughly 2 percent uptick from 2012 to 2013.


There was no salary cap in 2010, the final year of the old CBA. In 2011, the first year under the present deal, the figure was $120.375 million.


Over the next four seasons, from 2013-16, each of the NFL's 32 clubs will be required to spend an average of at least 89 percent of the salary cap in contract dollars, while overall league spending must average 95 percent in that span. That sort of minimum cash spending did not exist under the old CBA.


Another significant change under this agreement: owners and players divide types of revenues at different rates. Players receive 55 percent of revenue from the league's national TV and other media deals; 45 percent of licensing and national sponsorship deals, including NFL Properties; and 40 percent of local club revenues.


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Penn State upsets No. 4 Michigan 84-78


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Jermaine Marshall scored 25 points and Penn State upset No. 4 Michigan 84-78 on Wednesday night for its first Big Ten win of the season.


The Nittany Lions (9-18, 1-14) had lost 18 straight regular-season conference games dating to last season, but they roared back from a 15-point deficit with 10:39 left behind the energetic play of Marshall. The junior guard scored 19 in the second half, including four 3s that whipped Jordan Center fans into a frenzy.


D.J. Newbill added 17 points for Penn State, which hit a season-high 10 3-pointers. Marshall's twisting drive to the basket gave the Nittany Lions a three-point lead before Michigan's Glenn Robinson III misfired on a 3 with 17 seconds left.


Sasa Borovnjak had a memorable Senior Night, hitting two foul shots with 15 seconds left to seal the win. Moments later, Penn State fans rushed the court in delight.


Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points for the Wolverines (23-5, 10-5).


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Johnson wins 2nd Daytona 500; Patrick finishes 8th


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.


Patrick made history up front at the Daytona 500 Sunday, only to see Johnson make a late push ahead of her and reclaim his spot at the top of his sport.


It was the second Daytona 500 victory for Johnson, a five-time NASCAR champion who first won "The Great American Race" in 2006.


"There is no other way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500. I'm a very lucky man to have won it twice," said Johnson, who won in his 400th career start. "I'm very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport."


It comes a year after Johnson completed only one lap in the race because of a wreck that also collected Patrick, and just three months after Johnson lost his bid for a sixth Sprint Cup title to go two years without a championship after winning five straight.


Although he didn't think he needed to send a message to his competitors — "I don't think we went anywhere; anybody in the garage area, they're wise to all that," Johnson said — the win showed the No. 48 team is tired of coming up short after all those years of dominance.


"Definitely a great start for the team. When we were sitting discussing things before the season started, we felt good about the 500," Johnson said, "but we're really excited for everything after the 500. I think it's going to be a very strong year for us."


Patrick is hoping for her own success after a history-making race.


The first woman to win the pole, Patrick also became the first woman to lead the race. She ran inside the top 10 almost the entire race, kept pace with the field and never panicked on the track.


Her only mistakes were on pit road, where she got beat on the race back to the track, and on the final lap, when she was running third but got snookered by the veterans and faded to eighth. That's going to stick with Patrick for some time.


"I would imagine pretty much anyone would be kicking themselves about what they coulda, shoulda have done to give themselves an opportunity to win," she said. "I think that's what I was feeling today, was uncertainty as to how I was going to accomplish that."


There were several multicar crashes, but no one was hurt and none of them approached the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans in the grandstand at the end of the second-tier Nationwide Series race on the same track a day earlier. Daytona International Speedway workers were up until 2 a.m repairing the fence that was damaged in the accident, and track officials offered Sunday morning to move any fans who felt uneasy sitting too close to the track.


Several drivers said the accident and concern for the fans stuck with them overnight and into Sunday morning, and Johnson was quick to send his thoughts from Victory Lane.


"I just want to give a big shout-out to all the fans, and I also want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everybody that was injured in the grandstands," Johnson said.


Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose father was killed in this race 12 years ago, was involved in Saturday's accident but refocused and finished second to Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.


"Me personally, I was just really waiting to get the news on how everybody was, how all the fans were overnight, just hoping that things were going to improve," Earnhardt said, adding that he "wasn't really ready to proceed until you had some confirmation that things were looking more positive."


The race itself, the debut for NASCAR's new Gen-6 car, was quite similar to all the other Cup races during Speedweeks in that the cars seemed to line up in a single-file parade along the top groove of the track. It made the 55th running of the Daytona 500 relatively uneventful.


When the race was on the line, Johnson took off.


The driver known as "Five-Time" raced past defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart and pulled out to a sizable lead that nobody challenged over the final six laps.


Johnson and Keselowski went down to the wire last season in their race for the Sprint Cup title, with Johnson faltering in the final two races as Keselowski won his first Cup championship.


Although it was a bit of an upset that stuck with Johnson into the offseason, it gave him no extra motivation when he found himself racing with Keselowski late Sunday for the Daytona 500.


"As far as racing with Brad out there, you really lose sight of who is in what car," Johnson said. "It's just somebody between you and the trophy. It could have been anybody."


Once Johnson cleared Keselowski on the last restart he had a breakaway lead with Greg Biffle and Patrick behind him. But as the field closed in on the checkered flag, Earnhardt finally made his move, just too late and too far behind to get close enough to the lead.


Earnhardt wound up second for the third time in the last four years. But with all the crashes the Hendrick cars have endured in restrictor-plate races — teammate Kasey Kahne was in the first accident Sunday — team owner Rick Hendrick was just fine with the finish.


"We have a hard time finishing these races. Boy, to run 1-2, man, what a day," Hendrick said. Jeff Gordon, who was a contender early, faded late to 20th.


And Johnson considered himself lucky to be the one holding the trophy at the end.


"Man, it's like playing the lottery; everybody's got a ticket," he said. "I've struck out a lot at these tracks, left with torn-up race cars. Today we had a clean day."


Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Keselowski, who overcame two accidents earlier in the race, wound up fourth in Penske Racing's new Ford. Ryan Newman was fifth in a Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing and was followed by Roush-Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle, who was second on the last lap but was shuffled back with Patrick to finish sixth.


Regan Smith was seventh for Phoenix Racing, while Patrick, Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley rounded out the top 10.


Patrick was clearly disappointed with her finish. When the race was on the line, she was schooled by Earnhardt, who made his last move and blocked any chance she had.


Still, Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in the 500 when she passed Michael Waltrip on a restart on Lap 90. She stayed on the point for two laps, then was shuffled back to third. She ended up leading five laps, another groundbreaking moment for Patrick, who as a rookie in 2005 became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and now is the 13th driver to lead laps in both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500.


"Dale did a nice job and showed what happens when you plan it out, you drop back and get that momentum. You are able to go to the front," Patrick said. "I think he taught me something. I'm sure I'll watch the race and there will be other scenarios I see that can teach me, too."


Earnhardt was impressed, nonetheless.


"She's going to make a lot of history all year long. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch her progress," said Earnhardt Jr. "Every time I've seen her in a pretty hectic situation, she always really remained calm. She's got a great level head. She's a racer. She knows what's coming. She's smart about her decisions. She knew what to do today as far as track position and not taking risks. I enjoy racing with her."


Johnson, one of three heavyweight drivers who took their young daughters to meet Patrick — "the girl in the bright green car" — after she won the pole in qualifications, tipped his cap, too.


"I didn't think about it being Danica in the car," Johnson said. "It was just another car on the track that was fast. That's a credit to her and the job she's doing."


The field was weakened by an early nine-car accident that knocked out race favorite Kevin Harvick and sentimental favorite Tony Stewart.


Harvick had won two support races coming into the 500 to cement himself as the driver to beat, but the accident sent him home with a 42nd place finish.


Stewart, meanwhile, dropped to 0-for-15 in one of the few races the three-time NASCAR champion has never won.


"If I didn't tell you I was heartbroken and disappointed, I'd be lying to you," Stewart said.


That accident also took former winner Jamie McMurray, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kasey Kahne out of contention.


The next accident — involving nine cars — came 105 laps later and brought a thankful end to Speedweeks for Carl Edwards. He was caught in his fifth accident since testing last month, and this wreck collected six other Ford drivers.


The field suddenly had six Toyota drivers at the front as Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers took control of the race. But JGR's day blew up — literally — when the team was running 1-2-3 with Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch setting the pace.


Kenseth, who led a race-high 86 laps, went to pit road first with an engine problem, and Busch was right behind him with a blown engine. Busch was already in street clothes watching as Hamlin led the field.


"It's a little devastating when you are running 1-2-3 like that," Busch said.


Hamlin's shot disappeared when he found himself in the wrong lane on the final restart. He tried to hook up with Keselowski to get them back to Johnson, but blamed former teammate Joey Logano for ruining the momentum of the bottom lane.


Hamlin offered a backhanded apology to Keselowski on Twitter, posting that he couldn't get close enough because "your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time."


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Fans injured when car sails into fence at Daytona


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — At least 30 NASCAR fans were injured Saturday when a car sailed into the fence at Daytona International Speedway, and large chunks of debris — including a tire — flew into the grandstands. No fatalities were reported from the accident on the last lap of the Nationwide Series race.


The crash began as the field closed in on the finish line, and rookie Kyle Larson's car came upon the wreck and went airborne into the fence that separates the track from the seats.


Large chunks of Larson's car landed in the grandstands, and one of his tires appeared to fly over the fence and land midway up the lower section. The car itself had its entire front end sheared off, with the burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence.


Speedway President Joie Chitwood said 14 fans were treated on site, and 14 others were taken to hospitals. Chitwood didn't give any updates on their conditions.


The number of those transported given by Chitwood was slightly lower than that given by local officials.


Halifax Health spokesman Byron Cogdell said 12 people were transported to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach and six others were taken to Halifax Health Medical Center of Port Orange. All were in stable condition, Cogdell said.


Lindsay Rew, a spokeswoman for Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, said its Daytona Beach hospital had one fan there who was in good condition. She said three others they had been expecting were diverted to another hospital.


No fatalities were reported at either hospital. Cogdell said two people taken to the Halifax in Daytona Beach arrived in critical condition, and one of those had life-threatening injuries, both were upgraded to stable condition.


The accident happened the day before the Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 — NASCAR's version of the Super Bowl. Daytona workers could be seen repairing the large section of fence where Larson hit, as well as the wall that was damaged in the accident.


"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans," Chitwood said. "Following the incident we responded appropriately according to our safety protocols, and had emergency medical personnel at the incident immediately.


"We're in the process of repairing the facility and will be ready to go racing tomorrow."


As emergency workers tended to injured fans and ambulance sirens wailed in the background, a somber Tony Stewart skipped the traditional post-race victory celebration.


Stewart, who won for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races, was in no mood to celebrate.


"The important thing is what going on on the frontstretch right now," said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion. "We've always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it's hard. We assume that risk, but it's hard when the fans get caught up in it.


"So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I'm more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was ... I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn't look good from where I was at."


The accident spread into the upper deck and emergency crews treated fans on both levels. There were five stretchers that appeared to be carrying fans out, and a helicopter flew overhead. A forklift was used to pluck Larson's engine out of the fence.


Chitwood waited by steps as emergency workers attended to those in the stands. Across the track, fans pressed against a fence and used binoculars trying to watch. Wrecked cars and busted parts were strewn across the garage.


"It's a violent wreck. Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it's truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.


It was a chaotic finish to a race that was stopped for nearly 20 minutes five laps from the finish by a 13-car accident that sent driver Michael Annett to a hospital, where his Richard Petty Motorsports team said he would be held overnight with bruising to his chest.


The race resumed with three laps to go, and the final accident occurred with Regan Smith leading as he headed out of the final turn to the checkered flag. He admittedly tried to block Brad Keselowski to preserve the win.


"I tried to throw a block. It's Daytona, you want to go for the win here," Smith said. "I don't know how you can play it any different other than concede second place, and I wasn't willing to do that today. Our job is to put them in position to win, and it was, and it didn't work out."


As the cars began wrecking all around Smith and Keselowski, Stewart slid through for the win, but Larson plowed into Keselowski and his car was sent airborne into the stands. When Larson's car came to a stop, it was missing its entire front end. The 20-year-old, who made his Daytona debut this week, stood apparently stunned, hands on his hips, several feet away from his car, before finally making the mandatory trip to the care center.


He said his first thought was with the fans.


"I hope all the fans are OK and all the drivers are all right," Larson said. "I took a couple big hits there and saw my engine was gone. Just hope everybody's all right."


He said he was along for the ride in the last-lap accident.


"I was getting pushed from behind, I felt like, and by the time my spotter said lift or go low, it was too late," Larson said. "I was in the wreck and then felt like it was slowing down and I looked like I could see the ground. Had some flames come in the cockpit, but luckily I was all right and could get out of the car quick."


It appeared fans were lined right along the fence when Larson's car sailed up and into it, but Chitwood indicated there was a buffer. He said there would be no changes to the seating before the Daytona 500.


"We don't anticipate moving any of our fans," Chitwood said. "We had our safety protocols in place. Our security maintained a buffer that separates the fans from the fencing area. With the fencing being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes."


Larson's car appeared to hit where the cross-over gate — a section that can be opened for people to travel back and forth from the infield to the grandstands — is located in the fence. Previous accidents in which drivers hit crossover gates were severe, but the gates were in the wall and not the fence for Mike Harmon's accident at Bristol in 2002 and Michael Waltrip's at the same track in 1990.


Still, NASCAR senior vice president Steve O'Donnell said it would be studied.


"I think we look at this after every incident," O'Donnell said. "We've learned in the past certain protocols put in place today are a result of prior incidents. Again, our initial evaluation is still ongoing. But it's certainly something we'll look at. If we can improve upon it, we'll certainly put that in play as soon as we can."


Larson had been scheduled to race his sprint car later Saturday night in Ocala, Fla., and even seemed restless to get there during the late stages of the Nationwide race. He pulled out of the event following the accident.


"Honestly, the race itself pales in comparison to the injuries sustained by the fans," said Chip Ganassi, the team owner who has Larson in his driver development program. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the fans that were injured as a result of the crash. As for Kyle, I am very happy that he is OK."


Keselowski watched a replay of the final accident, and said his first thoughts were with the fans. As for the accident, he agreed he tried to make a winning move and Smith tried to block.


"He felt like that's what he had to do, and that's his right. The chaos comes with it," Keselowski said. "I made the move and he blocked it, and the two of us got together and started the chain events that caused that wreck. First and foremost, just want to make sure everyone in the stands is OK and we're thinking about them."


Keselowski said the incident could cast a pall on the Daytona 500.


"I think until we know exactly the statuses of everyone involved, it's hard to lock yourself into the 500," Keselowski said. "Hopefully, we'll know soon and hopefully everyone's OK. And if that's the case, we'll staring focusing on Sunday."


___


AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Daytona Beach and Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.


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McIlroy: Another 1 bites the dust


MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — The snow is gone from the Match Play Championship, and so are Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.


In a stunning conclusion to what already is a bizarre week on Dove Mountain, Shane Lowry of Ireland made a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole to eliminate Rory McIlroy in the opening round of golf's most unpredictable tournament.


It was the third time in the last four years the No. 1 seed went home after one round.


Moments later, Charles Howell III finished off a fabulous round in cold conditions by defeating Woods on the 17th hole. Howell, who had not faced Woods in match play since losing to him in the third round of the 1996 U.S. Amateur, played bogey-free on a course that still had patches of snow and ice after being cleared Thursday morning.


The match was all square when Howell hit a wedge that stopped inches from the cup on the 15th hole for a conceded birdie. Then, he holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th and went 2 up when Woods badly missed a 12-foot birdie putt.


"I had nothing to lose," said Howell, who started the year outside the top 100 in the world and hasn't qualified for this World Golf Championship in five years. "In this format, match play is crazy. He's Tiger Woods. I was lucky to hang in there."


The final matches were played in near darkness, and they could have stopped after 15 holes. Woods wanted to play on, even though Howell had the momentum. Woods was 2 under for the day, and neither of them made a bogey.


"We both played well," Woods said. "He made a couple of more birdies than I did. He played well, and he's advancing."


McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, built a 2-up lead early in the match until Lowry rallied and grabbed the moment by chipping in for birdie on the par-3 12th and then ripping a fairway metal to within a few feet for a conceded eagle on the 13th.


Lowry missed a short par putt on the 14th, only for McIlroy to give away the next hole with a tee shot into the desert and a bunker shot that flew over the 15th green and into a cactus. But the two-time major champion hung tough, coming up with a clutch birdie on the 16th to stay in the game.


McIlroy nearly holed his bunker on the 18th, and Lowry followed with a steady shot out to 4 feet and calmly sank the putt.


"Deep down, I knew I could beat him," Lowry said. "There's a reason I'm here, and this is match play."


For McIlroy, more questions are sure to follow him to Florida for his road to the Masters. He now has played only 54 holes in the first two months of the season, missing the cut in Abu Dhabi and losing in the first round at Dove Mountain.


The Match Play Championship lost its two biggest stars in one day. The only other time the top two seeds lost in the opening round was in 2002, when Woods and Mickelson lost at La Costa.


Luke Donald nearly made it the top three seeds except for a clutch performance. He holed a 10-foot birdie putt to halve the 17th hole and stay tied with Marcel Siem of Germany. Donald then birdied the 18th from 7 feet to win the match.


Louis Oosthuizen, the No. 4 seed, rallied to get past Richie Ramsay of Scotland.


The opening round was halted Wednesday after 3½ hours because of a freak snowstorm that covered Dove Mountain with nearly 2 inches. It continued to snow at times overnight, and it took nearly five hours to clear snow from the golf course for the tournament to resume.


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Police add more confusion to Oscar Pistorius case


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The prosecution case against Oscar Pistorius began to unravel Wednesday with revelations of a series of police blunders and the lead investigator's admission that authorities have no evidence challenging the double-amputee Olympian's claim he killed his girlfriend accidentally.


Detective Hilton Botha's often confused testimony left prosecutors rubbing their heads in frustration as he misjudged distances and said testosterone — banned for professional athletes in some cases — was found at the scene, only to be later contradicted by the prosecutor's office.


The second day of what was supposed to be a mere bail hearing almost resembled a full-blown trial for the 26-year-old runner, with his lawyer, Barry Roux, tearing into Botha's testimony step by step during cross examination.


Police, Botha acknowledged, left a 9 mm slug from the barrage that killed Reeva Steenkamp inside a toilet and lost track of illegal ammunition found inside the house. And the detective himself walked through the crime scene without wearing protective shoe covers, potentially contaminating the area.


Authorities, Roux asserted, were selectively taking "every piece of evidence to try to extract the most possibly negative connotation and present it to the court."


The case has riveted South Africa, with journalists and the curious crowding into the brick-walled courtroom where Pistorius, dubbed the Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, faces a charge of premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day slaying.


Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and shot her out of fear, while prosecutors say he planned the killing and attacked her as she cowered behind a locked bathroom door.


The day seemed to start out well for the prosecution, with Botha offering new details of the shooting that appeared to call into question Pistorius' account of the moments leading up to the 29-year-old model's death.


Ballistic evidence, he said, showed the bullets that killed her had been fired from a height, supporting the prosecution's assertion that Pistorius was wearing prosthetic legs when he took aim at the bathroom door. The athlete has maintained he was standing only on his stumps, and felt vulnerable and frightened as he opened fire from a low position.


Projecting a diagram of the bedroom and bathroom, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it showed Pistorius had to walk past his bed to get to bathroom and could not have done so without seeing that Steenkamp was not asleep there.


"There's no other way of getting there," Nel said in disputing Pistorius' claim that he had no idea Steenkamp was no longer in bed when he pumped four bullets into the bathroom door, striking her with three.


Botha backed the prosecutor up, saying the holster for Pistorius' 9 mm pistol was found under the left side of the bed, where Steenkamp slept, and it would have been impossible for Pistorius to get the gun without checking to see if she was there.


"I believe that he knew that Reeva was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door," the detective said.


Botha described how bullets struck Steenkamp in the head and shattered her right arm and hip, eliciting sobs from Pistorius, who held his head in hands.


However, when asked if Steenkamp's body showed "any pattern of defensive wounds" or bruising from an assault, Botha said "no." He again responded "no" when asked if investigators found anything inconsistent with Pistorius' version of events, though he later said nothing contradicted the police version either.


Testimony began with the prosecutor telling the court that before the shooting, a neighbor heard "nonstop" shouting between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. at Pistorius' upscale home in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria.


However, Botha later said under cross examination that the witness was in a house 600 yards (meters) away, possibly out of earshot. He cut that estimate in half when questioned again by the prosecutor, as confusion reigned for much of his testimony.


At one point, Botha told the court that police found syringes and two boxes of testosterone in Pistorius' bedroom — testimony the prosecution later withdrew, saying it was too early to identify the substance, which was still being tested.


"It is not certain (what it is) until the forensics" are completed, Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecution Agency, told The Associated Press. It's not clear if it was "a legal or an illegal medication for now."


The defense also disputed the claim. "It is an herbal remedy," Roux said. "It is not ... a banned substance."


Still, Botha offered potentially damaging details about Pistorius' past, saying the athlete was once involved in an accidental shooting at a restaurant in Johannesburg and asked someone else "to take the wrap."


The runner also threatened men on two separate occasions, Botha said, allegedly telling one he'd "break his legs."


The detective said police found two iPhones in Pistorius' bathroom and two BlackBerrys in his bedroom, and none had been used to phone for help. Guards at the gated community did call the athlete, Botha said, and all he said was: "I'm all right," as he wept uncontrollably.


Roux later suggested that a fifth phone, not collected by the police, was used by Pistorius to call for help.


The question now is whether Botha's troubled testimony will be enough to convince Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair to keep Pistorius in prison until trial. While Pistorius faces the harshest bail requirements under South African law, the magistrate has said he would consider loosening them based on testimony in the hearing. Final arguments were scheduled for Thursday.


___


Gerald Imray reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press writer Michelle Faul in Johannesburg contributed to this report.


___


Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP. Gerald Imray can be reached at www.twitter.com/geraldimrayAP.


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Pistorius: Lover caught in tragedy or killer?


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius portrayed himself as a lover caught in tragedy, wielding a pistol and frightened as he stood only on his stumps, then killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder on Valentine's Day.


Prosecutors, however, said the double-amputee Olympian committed premeditated murder, planning the slaying, then firing at Reeva Steenkamp as she cowered behind his locked bathroom door with no hope of escape.


"She couldn't go anywhere," Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told a packed courtroom Tuesday. "It must have been horrific."


Weeping uncontrollably, Pistorius listened as his words were read out in court by his attorney during the opening of a two-day bail hearing, his first public account of the events surrounding the shooting death of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and reality TV star who had spoken out against violence against women.


"I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp," Pistorius said in the sworn affidavit. "I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms."


It was the first time that the prosecution and Pistorius provided details of their radically divergent accounts of the killing, which has shocked South Africans and fans worldwide, who idolized the 26-year-old track star known as the Blade Runner for overcoming his disability to compete in last summer's London Olympics.


Nel said Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he rose from his bed after a fight with Steenkamp, pulled on his prosthetic legs and walked about 20 feet from his bedroom to the locked toilet door and pumped it with four bullets, three of which hit the model.


That contradicted the runner's statement, read aloud by defense attorney Barry Roux, who described how the couple spent a quiet night together in the athlete's upscale home in a gated community in the capital of Pretoria, then went to sleep around 10 p.m.


Sometime before dawn, Pistorius said he awoke, and walking only on his stumps, pulled a fan in from an open balcony and closed it. That's when he said he heard a noise and became alarmed because the bathroom window, which had no security bars, was open and workers had left ladders nearby.


"It filled me with horror and fear," Pistorius said in the statement.


"I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes," he said. "I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night."


Too frightened to turn on a light, Pistorius said, he pulled out his pistol and headed for the bathroom, believing Steenkamp was still asleep "in the pitch dark" of the bedroom.


"As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself," he said, adding that he shouted to Steenkamp to call the police as he fired at the closed toilet door.


It was then, Pistorius said, that he realized Steenkamp was not in bed.


He said he pulled on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick down the toilet door before finally giving up and bashing it in with a cricket bat. Inside, he said he found Steenkamp, slumped over but still alive. He said he lifted her bloodied body and carried her downstairs to seek medical help.


But it was too late. "She died in my arms," Pistorius said.


"We were deeply in love and I could not be happier," the athlete said. "I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine's Day but asked me only to open it the next day."


Pistorius broke down in sobs repeatedly as his account was read, prompting Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair to call a recess at one point.


"Maintain your composure," the magistrate said. "You need to apply your mind here."


"Yes, my lordship," Pistorius replied, his voice quivering.


Nair adjourned the case until Wednesday without ruling on whether Pistorius would be granted bail. However, he said the gravity of the charge — which carries a mandatory life sentence — meant the athlete's lawyers must offer "exceptional" reasons for bail to be granted, making his release unlikely.


Roux, the defense attorney, said there was no evidence to substantiate a murder charge. "We submit it is not even murder. There is no concession this is a murder," he said.


The prosecutor disagreed.


"It is our respectful argument that 'pre-planning' or premeditation do not require months of planning," Nel said. "If ... I ready myself and walk a distance with the intention to kill someone, it is premeditated."


Hundreds of miles from the Magistrate's Court, a memorial service was held for Steenkamp in the south coast city of Port Elizabeth. Six pallbearers carried her coffin, draped with a white cloth and covered in white flowers, into the church for the private service and cremation.


Relatives recalled how the model with a law degree had campaigned against domestic violence and had planned to don black for a "Black Friday" protest in honor of a 17-year-old girl who was recently gang-raped and mutilated.


What "she stood for, and the abuse against women, unfortunately it's gone right around, and I think the Lord knows that statement is more powerful now," said her uncle, Mike Steenkamp.


South Africa has some of the world's worst rates of violence against women and the highest rate in the world of women killed by an intimate partner, according to a study by the Medical Research Council, which said at least three women are killed by a partner every day in the country of 50 million.


Since the shooting, several of Pistorius' sponsors have dropped him. On Tuesday, Clarins Group, which owns Thierry Mugler Perfumes, said it would withdraw all advertising featuring the Olympian. A cologne line with the company, called A(asterisk)Men, bears his image.


___


Associated Press writer Michelle Faul in Johannesburg and AP photographer Schalk van Zuydam in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, contributed to this report.


___


Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP. Gerald Imray can be reached at www.twitter.com/geraldimrayAP.


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Jerry Buss, Lakers' flamboyant owner, dies at 80


Jerry Buss built a glittering life at the intersection of sports and Hollywood.


After growing up in poverty in Wyoming, he earned success in academia, aerospace and real estate before discovering his favorite vocation when he bought the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. While Buss wrote the checks and fostered partnerships with two generations of basketball greats, the Lakers won 10 NBA titles and became a glamorous global brand.


With a scientist's analytical skills, a playboy's flair, a businessman's money-making savvy and a die-hard hoops fan's heart, Buss fashioned the Lakers into a remarkable sports entity. They became a nightly happening, often defined by just one word coined by Buss: Showtime.


"His impact is felt worldwide," said Kobe Bryant, who has spent nearly half his life working for Buss.


Buss, who shepherded his NBA team from the Showtime dynasty of the 1980s to the current Bryant era while becoming one of the most important and successful owners in pro sports, died Monday. He was 80.


"Think about the impact that he's had on the game and the decisions he's made, and the brand of basketball he brought here with Showtime and the impact that had on the sport as a whole," Bryant said a few days ago. "Those vibrations were felt to a kid all the way in Italy who was 6 years old, before basketball was even global."


Under Buss' leadership, the star-studded, trophy-winning Lakers became Southern California's most beloved sports franchise and a signature cultural representation of Los Angeles. Buss acquired, nurtured and befriended a staggering array of talented players and basketball minds during his Hall of Fame tenure, from Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy to Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard.


Few owners in sports history can approach Buss' accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA Finals 16 times during his nearly 34 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010. Whatever the Lakers did under Buss' watch, they did it big — with marquee players, eye-popping style and a relentless pursuit of success with little regard to its financial cost.


"His incredible commitment and desire to build a championship-caliber team that could sustain success over a long period of time has been unmatched," said Jerry West, Buss' longtime general manager and now a consultant with the Golden State Warriors. "With all of his achievements, Jerry was without a doubt one of the most humble men I've ever been around. His vision was second to none; he wanted an NBA franchise brand that represented the very best and went to every extreme to accomplish his goals."


Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Bob Steiner, his assistant and longtime friend. Buss had been hospitalized for most of the past 18 months while undergoing cancer treatment, but the cause of death was kidney failure, Steiner said.


"When someone as celebrated and charismatic as Jerry Buss dies, we are reminded of two things," said Abdul-Jabbar, the leading scorer in NBA history. "First, just how much one person with vision and strength of will can accomplish. Second, how fragile each of us is, regardless of how powerful we were. Those two things combine to inspire us to reach for the stars, but also to remain with our feet firmly on the ground among our loved ones. ... The man may be gone, but he has made us all better people for knowing him."


With his condition worsening in recent months, several prominent former Lakers visited Buss to say goodbye. Even rivals such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Clippers owner Donald Sterling hailed the passion and bonhomie of the former chemist and mathematician who lived his own Hollywood dream.


"He was a great man and an incredible friend," Johnson tweeted.


Buss always referred to the Lakers as his extended family, and his players rewarded his fanlike excitement with devotion, friendship and two hands full of championship rings. Working with front-office executives West, Bill Sharman and Mitch Kupchak, Buss spent lavishly to win his titles despite lacking a huge personal fortune, often running the NBA's highest payroll while also paying high-profile coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.


"Jerry Buss was more than just an owner. He was one of the great innovators that any sport has ever encountered," Riley said. "He was a true visionary, and it was obvious with the Lakers in the 80's that 'Showtime' was more than just Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was really the vision of a man who saw something that connected with a community."


Ownership of the Lakers is now in a trust controlled by Buss' six children, who all have worked for the Lakers in various capacities for several years. With 1,786 victories, the Lakers easily are the NBA's winningest franchise since he bought the club, which is now run largely by Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss.


"We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community," the Buss family said in a statement issued by the Lakers.


"It was our father's often-stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well, and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy."


Johnson and fellow Hall of Famers Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy formed lifelong bonds with Buss during the Lakers' run to five titles in nine years in the 1980s, when the Lakers earned a reputation as basketball's most exciting team with their flamboyant Showtime repartee.


The buzz extended throughout the Forum, where Buss turned the Lakers' games into a must-see event. He used the Laker Girls, a brass band and promotions to keep Lakers fans interested during all four quarters. Courtside seats, priced at $15 when he bought the Lakers, became the hottest tickets in Hollywood — and they still are, with fixture Jack Nicholson and many other celebrities attending every home game.


"Anybody associated with the NBA since 1980 benefited greatly from Jerry Buss' impact on the game," Steiner said. "He had a different way of looking at things than I did, and people who had been raised in basketball."


Buss paid the Lakers' bills through both their wild success and his groundbreaking moves to raise revenue. He co-founded a basic-cable sports television network and sold the naming rights to the Forum at times when both now-standard strategies were unusual, further justifying his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.


"The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come," NBA Commissioner David Stern said. "More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend."


Showtime couldn't last forever, but after a rough stretch in the 1990s, Buss rekindled the Lakers' mystique by paying top dollar to hire Jackson, who led O'Neal and Bryant to a three-peat from 2000-02. Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles under Jackson in 2009 and 2010.


The current Lakers (25-29) have struggled mightily despite adding Howard and Steve Nash in a couple of moves that were typical of Buss' big, brash style. Los Angeles could miss the playoffs this spring for just the third time since Buss bought the franchise.


"Today is a very sad day for all the Lakers and basketball," Gasol tweeted. "All my support and condolences to the Buss family. Rest in peace Dr. Buss."


Although Buss gained fame and another fortune with the Lakers, he also was a scholar, Renaissance man and bon vivant who epitomized California cool his entire public life.


Buss rarely appeared in public without at least one attractive, much younger woman on his arm — at Southern California football games, high-stakes poker tournaments, hundreds of boxing matches promoted by Buss at the Forum — and, of course, Lakers games from his private box at Staples Center, which was built under his watch. With his failing health, Buss hadn't attended a Lakers game in the past two seasons.


After a rough-and-tumble childhood that included stints as a ditch-digger and a bellhop in the frigid Wyoming winters, Buss earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from USC at age 24, and had careers in aerospace and real estate development before getting into sports. With money from his real-estate ventures and a good bit of creative accounting, Buss bought the then-struggling Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and both clubs' arena — the Forum — from Jack Kent Cooke in a $67.5 million deal that was the largest sports transaction in history at the time.


Last month, Forbes estimated the Lakers were worth $1 billion, second most in the NBA.


Buss also helped change televised sports by co-founding the Prime Ticket network in 1985, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his work in television. Breaking the contemporary model of subscription services for televised sports, Buss' Prime Ticket put beloved broadcaster Chick Hearn and the Lakers' home games on basic cable.


Buss also sold the naming rights to the Forum in 1988 to Great Western Savings & Loan — another deal that was ahead of its time.


Born in Salt Lake City, Gerald Hatten Buss was raised in poverty in Wyoming before improving his life through education. He also grew to love basketball, describing himself as an "overly competitive but underly endowed player."


After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Buss attended USC for graduate school because he loved its sports teams. He also became a chemistry professor and worked in the missile division of defense contractor McDonnell Douglas before carving out a path to wealth and sports prominence.


His real-estate portfolio grew out of a $1,000 investment in a West Los Angeles apartment building with partner Frank Mariani, an aerospace engineer and co-worker.


Heavily leveraging his fortune and various real-estate holdings during two years of negotiations, Buss purchased Cooke's entire Los Angeles sports empire along with a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County. Buss immediately worked to transform the Lakers — who had won just one NBA title since moving west from Minneapolis in 1960 — into a star-powered endeavor befitting Hollywood.


"One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. "I try to keep that identification alive. I'm a real Angeleno. I want us to be part of the community."


With showmanship, fearless spending and a little drafting luck, Buss quickly succeeded: Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and coach Paul Westhead led the Lakers to the 1980 title. Johnson's ball-handling wizardry and Abdul-Jabbar's smooth inside game made for an attractive style of play, and the Lakers came to define West Coast sophistication.


Riley, the former broadcaster who fit the L.A. image perfectly with his slick-backed hair and good looks, was surprisingly promoted by Buss early in the 1981-82 season. He became one of the best coaches in NBA history, leading the Lakers to four straight NBA finals and four titles, with Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green playing major roles.


"I was privileged to be part of that for 10 years and even more grateful for the friendship that has lasted all these many years," Riley said. "I have always come to realize that if it weren't for Dr. Buss, I wouldn't be where I am today."


Overall, the Lakers made the Finals nine times in Buss' first 12 seasons while rekindling the NBA's best rivalry with the Boston Celtics, and Buss basked in the worldwide celebrity he received from his team's achievements. His partying became the stuff of Los Angeles legends, with even his players struggling to keep up with Buss' lifestyle.


Johnson's HIV diagnosis and retirement in 1991 staggered Buss and the Lakers, the owner recalled in 2011. The Lakers went through seven coaches and made just one conference finals appearance in an eight-year stretch of the 1990s despite the 1996 arrivals of O'Neal, who signed with Los Angeles as a free agent, and Bryant, the 17-year-old high schooler acquired in a draft-week trade.


Shaq and Kobe didn't reach their potential until Buss persuaded Jackson, the Chicago Bulls' six-time NBA champion coach, to take over the Lakers in 1999. Los Angeles immediately won the next three NBA titles in brand-new Staples Center, AEG's state-of-the-art downtown arena built with the Lakers as the primary tenant.


After the Lakers traded O'Neal in 2004, they hovered in mediocrity again until acquiring Gasol in a heist of a trade with Memphis in early 2008. Los Angeles made the next three NBA Finals, winning two more titles.


Through the Lakers' frequent successes and occasional struggles, Buss never stopped living his Hollywood dream. He was an avid poker player and a fixture on the Los Angeles club scene well into his 70s, when a late-night drunk-driving arrest in 2007 — with a 23-year-old woman in the passenger seat of his Mercedes-Benz — prompted him to cut down on his partying.


Buss owned the NHL's Kings from 1979-87, and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks won two league titles under Buss' ownership. He also owned Los Angeles franchises in World Team Tennis and the Major Indoor Soccer League.


Buss' children have pledged to continue his commitment to the Lakers' distinctive success, although their efforts haven't been rewarded in the past three years while Jerry Buss ceded many decision-making responsibilities to Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and the second-oldest child. While daughter Jeanie runs the franchise's business side, Jim Buss now has the final say on basketball decisions.


Jerry Buss still served two terms as president of the NBA's Board of Governors and was actively involved in the 2011 lockout negotiations, developing blood clots in his legs attributed to his extensive travel during that time.


"I am blessed with a wonderful family who have helped me and guided me every step of the way," Buss said in 2010 at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "This support is the best anybody could ever have."


Buss is survived by his six children: sons Johnny, Jim, Joey and Jesse, and daughters Jeanie Buss and Janie Drexel. He had eight grandchildren.


Arrangements are pending for a funeral and memorial service, likely at Staples Center or a nearby theatre in downtown Los Angeles.


___


Associated Press writers Beth Harris and Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.


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Danica Patrick wins pole for NASCAR's Daytona 500


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick has made history before — as a woman and a racer, in Indianapolis and Japan.


The spotlight is nothing new. But never has it been this bright before.


Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole Sunday, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR's premier circuit. It's by far the biggest achievement of her stock-car career.


"I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl," she said. "That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning. Then I feel like thriving in those moments, where the pressure's on, has also been a help for me. I also feel like I've been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me. I don't think any of it would have been possible without that.


"For those reasons, I've been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really just hope that I don't stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make. We are excited to do it."


Her latest stamp in the history books came with a lap at 196.434 mph around Daytona International Speedway. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session, then had to wait about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot.


Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off. Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 mph in qualifying. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500.


"It's great to be a part of history with Danica being on the pole," said Gordon, who joked that at least he was the fastest guy. "I think we all know how popular she is, what this will do for our sport. Congratulations to her. Proud to be on there with her."


The rest of the field will be set in duel qualifying races Thursday.


However the lineup unfolds, all drivers will line up behind Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet SS.


And she knows her latest achievement will mean more public relations work.


The routine is nothing new for Patrick, who was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500. She finished third in 2009, the highest finish in that illustrious race for a woman. And she became the only woman to win an IndyCar race when she did it in Japan in 2008.


Hardly anyone witnessed that victory.


Leading the field to the green flag in NASCAR's showcase event should be must-watch television.


"That's a huge accomplishment," team owner and fellow driver Tony Stewart said. "It's not like it's been 15 or 20 years she's been trying to do this. It's her second trip to Daytona here in a Cup car. She's made history in the sport. That's stuff that we're proud of being a part of with her. It's something she should have a huge amount of pride in.


"It's never been done. There's only one person that can be the first to do anything. Doesn't matter how many do it after you do, accomplish that same goal. The first one that does always has that little bit more significance to it because you were the first."


Even before her fast lap Sunday, Patrick was the talk of Speedweeks. Not only did she open up about her budding romance with fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but she was considered the front-runner for the pole after leading practice sessions Saturday.


And she didn't disappoint.


She kept her car at or near the bottom of the famed track and gained ground on the straightaways, showing lots of power from a Hendrick Motorsports engine.


"It's easy to come down here in your first or second year as a driver and clip the apron trying to run too tight a line or do something and scrub speed off," Stewart said. "That's something she did an awesome job. Watching her lap, she runs so smooth. ... She did her job behind the wheel, for sure."


The result surely felt good for Patrick, especially considering the former IndyCar driver has mostly struggled in three NASCAR seasons. Her best finish in 10 Cup races is 17th, and she has one top-five in 58 starts in the second-tier Nationwide Series.


She raced part-time in 2010 and 2011 while still driving a full IndyCar slate. She switched solely to stock cars last season and finished 10th in the Nationwide standings.


She made the jump to Sprint Cup this season and will battle Stenhouse for Rookie of the Year honors.


Starting out front in an unpredictable, 500-mile race doesn't guarantee any sort of result, but securing the pole will put her in the limelight for at least the rest of the week.


She also won the pole at Daytona for last year's Nationwide race.


This is considerably bigger.


The previous highest female qualifier in a Cup race was Janet Guthrie. She started ninth at Bristol and Talladega in 1977.


"It's obviously a history-making event that will last a long, long time," Guthrie said, praising Patrick's feat. "It's a different era, of course. Different times. I can't imagine what I would do with a spotter or somebody telling me how to drive. It's rather a different sport now. Back then, there was a much greater difference from the front of the field to the back."


Guthrie received a lukewarm reception from fellow drivers back then.


Patrick was much more welcomed, undoubtedly because of her background and popularity.


She's comfortable being in the spotlight, evidenced by her racing career, her television commercials and her sudden openness about her personal life.


"I think when pressure's on and when the spotlight's on, I feel like it ultimately ends up becoming some of my better moments and my better races and better results," Patrick said. "I just understand that if you put the hard work in before you go out there that you can have a little peace and a little peace of mind knowing that you've done everything you can and just let it happen."


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No. 2 Duke falls to Maryland 83-81


COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Seth Allen broke a tie by making two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and Maryland stunned No. 2 Duke 83-81 Saturday night to end a six-game skid against its bitter rival.


As the final horn sounded, thousands of fans from the sellout crowd charged onto the court to celebrate the Terrapins' most significant victory of the season. Maryland had lost 12 of 13 against Duke, including a 20-point embarrassment last month.


The Terrapins (18-7, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) did not trail after halftime but never could pull away from the weary Blue Devils, who were playing their third game in a seven-day span.


Duke (22-3, 9-3) trailed by 10 with 3:39 left but pulled even when Rasheed Sulaimon made three foul shots with 16.7 seconds to go. Quinn Cook then fouled Allen as the freshman guard drove through the lane, and Allen made both shots.


After a Duke timeout, Cook's desperation 30-footer bounced off the back rim. Chaos ensued as the fans immediately rushed the court.


Alex Len had 19 points and nine rebounds for Maryland, and Allen scored 16.


Duke had its six-game winning streak end. Seth Curry scored 25 and Cook added 18. But 6-foot-10 center Mason Plumlee (four points, three rebounds) was completely outplayed by the 7-1 Len, who went 6 for 8 from the field and 7 for 8 at the foul line.


Maryland committed a whopping 26 turnovers, eight by Allen. The Terrapins shot an impressive 60 percent from the floor and finished with a 40-20 rebounding advantage.


Maryland played without reserve guard Pe'Shon Howard, who was suspended for violating team rules. Despite being demoted from his starting role last month, Howard still leads the Terrapins in assists.


Maryland led 66-63 before Allen scored on a drive. Dez Wells then stole the ball from Cook and went in for a dunk for a seven-point lead with 5:20 left. After the Blue Devils closed to 71-63, James Padgett made a layup for Maryland and Wells made two foul shots for a 10-point cushion.


The crowd increased its volume with every subsequent basket by the Terrapins, whose previous win over Duke came in March 2010, when Greivis Vasquez celebrated Senior Night with a 20-point performance.


In this one, it was 80-72 before Curry made two straight 3-pointers to bring Duke to 80-78 with just under a minute left. After Wells was called for a charge, Curry had a 15-footer bounce in and out of the basket.


It was that kind of night for the Blue Devils.


This score was 39 all before Allen hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 run that included five points from freshman Shaquille Cleare. It was 53-43 before Curry bagged a 3-pointer, Alex Murphy made a layup and Curry drove the lane following Maryland's third turnover in a 60-second span.


That cut the gap to three points, and seconds after a 3-pointer by Cook got the Blue Devils to 55-53.


After the Terrapins went up by six, they committed turnovers on three straight possessions. That enabled Duke to close to 59-57 on a dunk by Murphy, but four straight free throws by Len gave Maryland a 64-59 advantage with 7:20 remaining.


The first half featured two ties, 10 lead changes and ended with the Terrapins up 35-34.


Maryland offset its 10 turnovers by shooting 56 percent from the floor and outrebounding Duke 17-10. Len had eight points on 4-for-4 shooting and contributed a team-high four rebounds.


Curry hit his first six shots and the Blue Devils had only one turnover over the first 11 minutes. Still Duke trailed 20-19 before Curry made two straight shots and Plumlee scored on an alley-oop dunk.


Curry (14 points) was one of only four Duke players to score before halftime. Josh Hairston had nine and Quinn added seven.


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Different looks for Heat, Lakers at All-Star break


HOUSTON (AP) — If Kobe Bryant's season seems tough, imagine what Dwyane Wade went through five years ago.


"I came to All-Star weekend one year, I think we had won nine games. Seriously," Wade said Friday. "I was looking for my 10th win at the All-Star game."


Things sure have changed for his Miami Heat.


Back where they first teamed up as All-Stars in 2006, Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh return as NBA champions who will start together for the Eastern Conference on Sunday night.


Now the misery belongs to Bryant, Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers, whose season has been so disappointing that Bryant was asked Friday if the All-Star weekend was a "retreat" for him.


"I don't know if it's a retreat, it's just more of an opportunity to get some rest, regroup, put the first half of the season behind us and move on," he said.


As Wade knows, the All-Star break can be just that — a break — from a forgettable season.


He arrived for the 2008 All-Star game with a 9-43 record after the Heat lost on Valentine's Day to the Chicago Bulls, on their way to a 15-win debacle just two years after they won the NBA title.


"I put all that aside though, and I came and I enjoyed the weekend, and when I went back to Miami, it was like, 'Oh my God, we're back in it,'" Wade said. "But All-Star weekend, you just enjoy being an All-Star. You enjoy being around the guys. You can kind of forget about that a little bit, unless you have the cameras and the microphones in front of you asking you questions about it, but besides that you try to enjoy it."


This time, the Heat celebrated Valentine's Day in Oklahoma City with a 110-100 victory over the Thunder, the team they beat in five games last summer for the title. They have won seven in a row, James is playing arguably the best basketball of his career, and they can relax and reminisce as they return to Houston.


"It's really indescribable," Bosh said, "just to not only win a championship with great guys, be in a great locker room, and just to have fun doing it, but just to be an All-Star every year, play with great teammates, I mean to play in front of a lot people in arenas every night. I don't take those things for granted."


James, Wade and Bosh were in their third NBA seasons when they were chosen for the 2006 game, which turned out like so many Heat games these days. James was voted MVP after scoring 29 points and leading a huge East comeback that was wrapped up when Wade made the go-ahead basket with 16 seconds left.


Think about that: James was already the best player that night, and he was nowhere near the player he is today.


"I'm a better player. At that point in time, I wasn't a complete basketball player. I couldn't shoot as well as I can now, I never posted up back then," James said. "More games, more playoff games, more knowledge. You continue to learn each and every day, it makes you a better player. That's what you want, to become a better player. That's what I want. I want to be the greatest of all-time. I try to do whatever it takes to get me in that position.


"Seven years, I've tried to improve each and every year."


He's gotten to the point now where he ran off an NBA-record six straight games with at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting from the field, and seems to be distancing himself from anyone else that can take the MVP award he won last year for the third time in four years.


"He's doing well," Bosh said in a Texas-sized understatement. "That's the best way to put it."


Bosh was chosen as a starter Friday by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who will lead the East. He replaces Boston guard Rajon Rondo, who pulled out with a torn ACL.


Bryant and Howard are still here, away from a Los Angeles season that's been anything but a Hollywood story.


Considered a title contender after acquiring Howard and Steve Nash in the summer, the Lakers fell to 25-29 after they were blown out Wednesday by the rival Clippers, who opened a 13-game lead over them in the Pacific Division standings.


Smiling as he sat with his daughter, Natalia, Bryant laughed that he wished the All-Star break was a chance for the Lakers to "hit the reset button" on what he's said has been a most difficult season.


"Hopefully there's an easy button like in the commercial when we come back in the second half of the season and things are a little easier for us," he said.


Howard has battled injuries to his back and shoulder and has been nothing like the player who has been the NBA's dominant big man in recent years. He said at times he hasn't been having fun and has tried to ignore all the bad news around the team.


"You just try to stay away from the tube and do as much as I can to rehab my back and my shoulder and my mind, and really just get away from everything when I'm not playing basketball," he said.


If he's looking for a chance to enjoy himself this season, it may get no better than the next few days.


"It's a great weekend, it's an unbelievable weekend for the fans to be able to put all their favorite players together in one venue," James said. "We have a great time with it."


___


Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney


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Amputee Olympic star Pistorius charged in slaying


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter dubbed the Blade Runner, was charged Thursday in the Valentine's Day slaying of his girlfriend at his upscale home in South Africa, a shocking twist to one of the feel-good stories of last summer's Olympics.


Pistorius buried his face in the hood of his workout jacket as officers escorted him from a police station after his arrest in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, a 30-year-old model who had spoken out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women.


Police said she was shot four times in the pre-dawn hours at Pistorius' villa in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria. Officers found a 9 mm pistol inside the home and arrested Pistorius on a murder charge.


What sparked the shooting remained unclear, but police said they had received calls in the past about domestic altercations at the home of the 26-year-old athlete, who has spoken publicly about his love of firearms.


A police spokeswoman, Brigadier Denise Beukes, said the incidents included "allegations of a domestic nature."


"I'm not going to elaborate on it, but there have been incidents," Beukes said. She said Pistorius was home at the time of Steenkamp's death and "there is no other suspect involved."


Pistorius made history in the London Games when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics. He didn't win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and became an international star.


Thursday, companies quickly removed billboards and advertising featuring Pistorius, a national hero in South Africa who also inspired fans worldwide with the image of his high-tech carbon-fiber blades whipping through the air.


Kenny Oldwage, Pistorius' lawyer, told reporters the athlete was "emotional" after his arrest, "but he is keeping up." He said he planned to seek bail for Pistorius at a preliminary hearing Friday.


Pistorius has had troubles in the past in his personal life, which often featured fast cars, cage fighters and women.


In February 2009, he crashed a speedboat on South Africa's Vaal River, breaking his nose, jaw and several ribs and damaging an eye socket. He required 180 stitches to his face. Witnesses said he had been drinking, and officers found alcoholic beverages in the wreckage, though they did not do blood tests.


In November, Pistorius was involved in an altercation over a woman with a local coal mining millionaire, South African media reported. The two men involved the South African Police Service's elite Hawks investigative unit before settling the matter.


Pistorius' father, Henke Pistorius, said Thursday: "We all pray for guidance and strength for Oscar and the lady's parents."


A spokeswoman for Pistorius at Fast Track, an international sports marketing agency in London, said the athlete was assisting with the investigation and there would be no further comment "until matters become clearer."


The sprinter's former coach, Andrea Giannini, said he hoped the shooting was "just a tragic accident."


"No matter how bad the situation was, Oscar always stayed calm and positive," Giannini told The Associated Press in Italy. "Whenever he was tired or nervous, he was still extremely nice to people. I never saw him violent."


Firearms captivated Pistorius, the subject of an online Nike advertisement that featured him with the caption: "I am a bullet in the chamber." In November 2011, he posted a photograph on Twitter of himself at a shooting range, bragging about his score. "Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50shots! Bam!" he wrote.


Linked to a number of women by the South African media, Pistorius and Steenkamp were first seen together publicly in November. She was named one of the world's 100 Sexiest Women for two years running by the men's magazine FHM.


The leggy blonde with a law degree also appeared in international and South African ads and was a celebrity contestant on "Tropika Island of Treasure," a South African reality show filmed in Jamaica.


While known for her bikini-clad, vamping photo spreads, she tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape. Her tweets also focused on Pistorius, with one of her last messages noting her excitement over Valentine's Day.


"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she wrote. "It should be a day of love for everyone."


Police have not publicly named Steenkamp as the victim, saying only that a 30-year-old woman was killed. Steenkamp's publicist, however, confirmed in a statement that the model had died.


"Everyone is simply devastated," the publicist, Sarit Tomlinson, said. "She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed."


Police arrived at Pistorius' home after 3 a.m., and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive Steenkamp, police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said.


Officers later took Pistorius to a hospital so doctors could collect samples for DNA testing and check his blood alcohol content.


Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, and campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes.


He was initially banned because of his carbon fiber blades — which critics said gave him an unfair advantage — before being cleared by sport's highest court in 2008.


He was a last-minute selection to South Africa's Olympic team, competing in the 400 meters and the 4x400 relay. He later retained his Paralympic title in the 400 meters.


South Africa's Sports Confederation, its Olympic committee and the International Paralympic Committee all had no comment on the shooting.


Shock rippled across South Africa, a nation of 50 million where nearly 50 people are killed each day, one of the world's highest murder rates. U.N. statistics say South Africa also has the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, behind only Colombia.


"The question is: Why does this story make the news? Yes, because they are both celebrities, but this is happening on every single day in South Africa," said Adele Kirsten, a member of Gun Free South Africa.


"We have thousands of people killed annually by gun violence in our country. So the anger is about that it is preventable."


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Gerald Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa. Associated Press writers Michelle Faul and Ed Brown in Johannesburg contributed to this report.


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Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.


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Barry Bonds seeks dismissal of felony conviction


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A lawyer for Barry Bonds urged a federal appeals court on Wednesday to toss out the slugger's obstruction of justice conviction, saying a rambling answer he gave while testifying before a grand jury was not a crime.


Appellate specialist Dennis Riordan argued that Bonds was not formally or specifically charged with the felony that he was convicted of committing. A federal jury in April 2011 found baseball's all-time home runs leader guilty of obstruction for saying he was a "celebrity child" when asked about injecting steroids.


Prosecutors asked Bonds during his December 2003 grand jury appearance whether Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, ever gave him "anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?"


Bonds referred to his father, former major leaguer Bobby Bonds, when he responded "that's what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that — you know, that — I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see ..."


That particular exchange wasn't included in the indictment originally released in November 2007. The omission is "the dagger in the heart of this conviction," Riordan argued.


Further, Riordan said that Bonds ultimately answered the question when put to him again and denied receiving any substance to inject.


Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wondered aloud if Bonds' direct denial undercut the government's argument that Bonds intentionally misled the grand jury.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan countered that the denial was a lie because Bonds' former personal assistant, Cathy Hoskins, testified that she witnessed Anderson inject Bonds. Chan said Bonds' denial and his other rambling answers to the same question throughout his grand jury appearance added up to obstruction.


"He answered the question falsely each time," she said.


Bonds and his legal team are asking a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the lone felony conviction stemming from Bonds' 2½ hours of testimony in December 2003 before a grand jury investigating performance enhancing drug use and sales among elite athletes. Bonds, who was rejected by voters last month in his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, wasn't required to attend Wednesday's highly technical hearing, though Riordan said his client expressed a desired to watch the proceedings in person.


Riordan said outside court that he advised Bonds to watch from afar rather than personally attending the 35-minute session San Francisco. A local television station was given permission to show the hearing live and streamed at least a couple of segments on the Internet.


"His presence would have been a distraction," Riordan said.


Legal experts who have followed the case closely since his grand jury appearance in December 2003 are divided over Bonds' chances before Daly Hawkins and Judges Mary Schroeder and Mary Murguia, each of whom was appointed by a different Democrat president and all of whom are based in Phoenix, home of San Francisco's division rival Diamondbacks and about a 20-minute drive from the Giants' Scottsdale spring training facility.


One set of analysts argue that appellate courts are reluctant to overturn jury verdicts absent an overwhelmingly obvious mistake. They say that U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who ran the trial, is a respected jurist who has few of her cases overturned.


"There is a definite overriding respect of a jury's verdict," said Howard Wasserman, a Florida International University law professor. "Typically, it's pretty hard to get a jury's verdict reversed."


On the other hand, there are those lawyers who argue that Bonds stands a good chance to clear his name.


"The government's biggest hurdle is that testimony obstruction cases are usually based on blatant, undeniable lies to questions at the heart of an investigation," said William Keane, a San Francisco criminal defense attorney. "Here the prosecution limps in with only a single rambling, unresponsive, unimportant answer that is literally true."


Regardless of the outcome, University of New Hampshire law professor Michael McCann contends that the case was ultimately a loss of the U.S. Department of Justice. In a case that put a superstar athlete at the defendant's table, the jury deadlocked on three charges of making false statements


"The main thrust of the government's original case was that he lied when he denied taking steroids," said McCann, who also edits the popular Sports Law Blog. "That's not what he was convicted of. Obstruction was not the main charge."


If Bonds' conviction is upheld, he will have to serve 30 days house arrest.


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Body slam for wrestling: Sport cut from Olympics


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — For wrestling, this may have been the ultimate body slam: getting tossed out of the Olympic rings.


The vote Tuesday by the IOC's executive board stunned the world's wrestlers, who see their sport as popular in many countries and steeped in history as old as the Olympics themselves.


While wrestling will be included at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, it was cut from the games in 2020, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.


2004 Olympic Greco-Roman champion Khasan Baroev of Russia called the decision "mind-boggling."


"I just can't believe it. And what sport will then be added to the Olympic program? What sport is worthy of replacing ours?" Baroev told the ITAR-Tass news agency. "Wrestling is popular in many countries — just see how the medals were distributed at the last Olympics."


American Rulan Gardner, who upset three-time Russian Olympic champion Alexander Karelin at the Sydney Games in an epic gold-medal bout known as the "Miracle on the Mat," was saddened by the decision to drop what he called "a beloved sport."


"It's the IOC trying to change the Olympics to make it more mainstream and more viewer-friendly instead of sticking to what they founded the Olympics on," Gardner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Logan, Utah.


The executive board of the International Olympic Committee reviewed the 26 sports on its summer program in order to remove one of them so it could add one later this year. It decided to cut wrestling and keep modern pentathlon — a sport that combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — and was considered to be the most likely to be dropped.


The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.


"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling; it is what's right with the 25 core sports."


According to IOC documents obtained by the AP, wrestling ranked "low" in several of the technical criteria, including popularity with the public at the London Games — just below 5 on a scale of 10. Wrestling sold 113,851 tickets in London out of 116,854 available.


Wrestling also ranked "low" in global TV audience with a maximum of 58.5 million viewers and an average of 23 million, the documents show. Internet hits and press coverage were also ranked as low.


NBC, which televises the Olympics in the U.S., declined comment.


The IOC also noted that FILA — the international wrestling federation — has no athletes on its decision-making bodies, no women's commission, no ethics rules for technical officials and no medical official on its executive board.


Modern pentathlon also ranked low in general popularity in London, with 5.2 out of 10. The sport also ranked low in all TV categories, with maximum viewership of 33.5 million and an average of 12.5 million.


FILA has 177 member nations, compared to 108 for modern pentathlon.


Modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 Stockholm Games, was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.


It also benefited from the work of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president who is a UIPM vice president and member of the IOC board.


"We were considered weak in some of the scores in the program commission report but strong in others," Samaranch told the AP. "We played our cards to the best of our ability and stressed the positives."


Klaus Schormann, president of governing body UIPM, lobbied hard to protect his sport's Olympic status and it paid off in the end.


"We have promised things and we have delivered," he said after Tuesday's decision. "That gives me a great feeling. It also gives me new energy to develop our sport further and never give up."


The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC session, or general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for 2020, but it is extremely unlikely that it would be voted back in so soon after being removed by the executive board.


The other sports vying for a single opening in 2020 are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu, a martial art.


"Today's decision is not final," Adams said. "The session is sovereign and the session will make the final decision."


Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics, with Russia dominating the podium but Iran and Azerbaijan making strong showings. Women's wrestling was added to the Olympics at the 2004 Athens Games.


Tuesday's decision came via secret ballot over four rounds, with 14 members voting each time on which sport should not be included in the core group. IOC President Jacques Rogge did not vote.


Three sports were left in the final round: wrestling, field hockey and modern pentathlon. Eight members voted against wrestling and three each against the other two sports. Taekwondo and canoe kayaking survived the previous rounds.


"I was shocked," said IOC board member Rene Fasel of Switzerland.


"It was an extremely difficult decision to take," added IOC Vice President Thomas Bach of Germany. "The motivation of every member is never based on a single reason. There are always several reasons. It was a secret vote. There will always be criticism, but I think the great majority will understand that we took a decision based on facts and for the modernization of the Olympic Games."


Wrestling was featured in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. Along with Russia's Karelin, it has produced such American stars as Gardner, Bruce Baumgartner, Jeff Blatnick and Jordan Burroughs.


U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun also expressed surprise at the IOC decision, citing "the history and tradition of wrestling, and its popularity and universality."


"It is important to remember that today's action is a recommendation, and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world," Blackmun said in a statement. "In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes."


FILA said in a statement that it was "greatly astonished" by the decision, adding that the federation "will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC executive board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games."


It said it has always complied with IOC regulations and is represented in 180 countries, with wrestling the national sport in some of them.


The federation, which is headed by Raphael Martinetti and based in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, said it would meet next week in Thailand to discuss the matter.


Gardner cited wrestling's worldwide popularity and urged a campaign to keep it in the Olympics.


"It just seems like wrestling — if we don't fight, we're going to die," he said. "At this point, it's time for everybody to man up and support the program."


The decision hit hard in Russia, which has long been a power in the sport.


Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, suggested FILA had not done enough to keep the sport in the games.


"We want to hear what was done to prevent this issue from even being discussed at the board," he said on the Rossiya TV channel.


In comments carried by ITAR-Tass, Mamiashvili added: "I can say for sure that the roots of this problem is at the FILA. I believe that Martinetti's task was to work hard, socialize and defend wrestling's place before the IOC."


Alexander Leipold, a 2000 Olympic champion from Germany and former freestyle German team coach, said he was shocked.


"We are a technical, tactical martial sport where the aim is not to harm the opponent," he said. "Competing at the Olympics is the greatest for an athlete."


Wrestling's long history in the Olympics has featured some top names and moments:


— Karelin won the super-heavyweight gold in Greco-Roman over three straight Olympics — 1988, 1992 and 1996 — until his streak was ended by Gardner, who beat him for the gold in 2000.


— Baumgartner won four Olympic medals, including golds in 1984 and 1992.


— Blatnick overcame cancer to win gold in Greco-Roman at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, bursting into tears after the match. Blatnick died last year at age 55.


— Burroughs emerged as the star of the sport in London, where he won the 74-kilogram gold.


The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio.


Among those in Lausanne were the leaders of the recently created World Baseball Softball Confederation. The two sports agreed last year to merge in a joint bid to return to the games.


Don Porter, the American who heads international softball, and Riccardo Fraccari, the Italian who leads baseball, are working out the final details of their unified body ahead of their presentation to the IOC in May.


A major hurdle remains the lack of a commitment from Major League Baseball to release top players for the Olympics.


Porter and Fraccari said they hope to have another meeting with MLB officials in April in Tokyo.


"The next thing is to sit down with them and see how they can help us," Porter said. "It all depends on the timing, the timing of the season. It's not an easy decision to allow players a week off."


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Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Moscow and Luke Meredith in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this story.


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