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Tuesday’s Sports Minute

Tuesday’s Sports Minute

RAPTORS KEEP THE LEAD: Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry drives to the basket during the first half of the NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Sunday, Dec. 14, in New York. Photo: Associated Press/Seth Wenig)

A look at the big sports stories making headlines today, Dec. 16.

BAD NEWS FOR THE COWBOYS

Cowboys running back and NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray has a broken hand that requires surgery. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones says it is difficult to expect that Murray will be able to play Sunday against Indianapolis.

Murray has 1,687 yards rushing and needs 87 yards to break Emmitt Smith’s franchise record of 1,773 yards. The 10-4 Cowboys need to win both remaining games to ensure the end of a four-year playoff drought. They finish the regular season at Washington after this week’s game against the Colts.

In other NFL news:

  • Robert Griffin III is back as the starter for the Washington Redskins. The announcement by coach Jay Gruden is the fifth starting quarterback change made by the rookie coach this season.
  • Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he’s taking a wait-and-see approach as to whether or not quarterback Cam Newton will play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Newton missed the second game of his career yesterday against Tampa Bay after an automobile wreck last week left him with two fractures in his lower back.
  • Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles has a sprained right foot and is questionable to play Thursday night against Tennessee. Chad Henne will start if Bortles can’t go.
  • The NFL Players Association has filed a federal lawsuit for Adrian Peterson, asking the court to dismiss an arbitrator’s decision to uphold the NFL’s punishment of the Minnesota running back. Peterson was suspended without pay for the remaining six games of this season by Commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of the child-abuse case that has kept the six-time Pro Bowl pick out of all but one game this year.
  • BLAZERS BEAT SPURS, RAPTORS KEEP CONFERENCE LEAD

    The Portland Trail Blazers have opened their season series with the San Antonio Spurs by knocking off the defending NBA champs.

    LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard each had double-doubles as the Blazers topped the Spurs 108-95. Aldridge scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Lillard added 23 points, 10 boards and six assists.

    Kawhi Leonard had a team-high 21 points for the Spurs, who played without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter and the injured Tony Parker.

    Also in the NBA:

  • Atlanta won for the 10th time in 11 games as Al Horford scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 93-86 triumph over Chicago. The Hawks led just 87-84 before Horford drained a 19-footer with just under a minute remaining.
  • Lou Williams scored 18 points and Kyle Lowry had 17 in Toronto’s third straight win, 95-82 against Orlando. The Raptors lead the Eastern Conference at 19-6.
  • Cleveland jumped out to a 21-0 lead before hanging on for a 97-88 win over Charlotte. LeBron James scored 27 points with 13 assists, while Kevin Love added 22 points and 18 rebounds to the Cavaliers’ ninth victory in 11 games.
  • Khris Middleton capped his 14-point night by nailing a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Milwaukee a 96-94 win at Phoenix. Brandon Knight had 20 points, including a jumper with 7.2 seconds left before Middleton moved the Bucks back over .500 at 13-12.
  • Indiana’s eight-game losing streak is over after Rodney Stuckey scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 110-91 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers. CJ Miles scored 20 for the Pacers, who led by as many as 39.
  • Boston battered Philadelphia 105-87 as Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 30 points and Avery Bradley added 15. The Celtics ended a three-game skid and dropped the 76ers to a league-worst 2-22 overall, 0-13 at home.
  • SOURCE SAYS COUGARS CLOSE TO HIRING BUCKEYES ASSISTANT

    A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the University of Houston is negotiating with Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman to be its new head coach.

    The 39-year-old Herman has been quarterbacks coach and play-caller for Ohio State teams that have gone 36-3 the past three seasons.

    The Cougars fired coach Tony Levine last week.

    KENTUCKY AND SOUTH CAROLINA LEAD THE WAY

    Kentucky’s Wildcats remain the unanimous choice as No. 1 in The Associated Press Top-25 men’s basketball poll. The 11-0 ‘Cats got all 65 first-place votes for the second straight week.

    Duke, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin round out the top five, followed by Virginia, Villanova, Gonzaga, Texas and Kansas.

    The only poll newcomer is No. 25 Michigan State, ranked again after a one-week absence. Northern Iowa dropped out after a double-overtime loss to VCU.

    For the women, South Carolina stays No. 1 in the AP poll for the fourth straight week after a 62-point win in its lone game last week.

    The first 14 teams remained unchanged with, second-ranked UConn followed by Texas, Texas A&M and Notre Dame. North Carolina, Stanford, Kentucky, Baylor and Louisville round out the first 10.

    PENS TOP EAST, ISLES RIGHT BEHIND

    The Pittsburgh Penguins stayed atop the Eastern Conference standings, while helping the New York Islanders move into second place.

    Steve Downie scored the game-winning goal on a power play and had an assist as the Penguins beat Tampa Bay 4-2. Marc-Andre Fleury turned back 28 shots to help the Pens improve to 3-0-2 in their last five games.

    Bryan Rust and Brian Dumoulin scored their first NHL goals in the Penguins’ 10th straight win over the Lightning.

    Pittsburgh leads the East with 44 points, two more than the Isles.

    The Islanders slipped ahead of the Lightning and Detroit in the East by turning a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2, shootout victory over New Jersey. Josh Bailey started and ended the Islanders’ comeback, scoring early in the second period and again in the fifth round of the shootout. Matt Martin also tallied for the Isles, who are tied with Anaheim and Chicago for the NHL lead with 21 wins.

    Also in the NHL, Buffalo blew a 3-1 lead before posting its fourth straight win, beating Ottawa 5-4 on Matt Moulson’s shootout goal. Brian Flynn tied the game for the Sabres with 3:29 remaining.

    REPORT: NEW DEAL FOR HARPER

    The Washington Nationals and outfielder Bryce Harper have come to terms on a $7.5 million, two-year contract, thus avoiding a grievance hearing scheduled for this week. A person familiar with the agreement says Harper will receive $2.5 million in 2015 and $5 million in 2016.

    The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year had been scheduled to have a $1 million salary in 2015, but the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf over whether he could void the final season of the $9.9 million, five-year contract he signed in 2010.

    In other baseball news:

  • Infielder Jed Lowrie and the Houston Astros have agreed to a $23 million, three-year contract. The switch-hitting Lowrie had 35 home runs and 155 RBIs over the last three seasons.
  • A person with direct knowledge of the deal says veteran reliever Jason Motte has agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. He went 1-0 with a 4.68 ERA in 29 games with the Cardinals after recovering from ligament replacement surgery.
  • The White Sox finalized a $42 million, three-year contract with free agent Melky Cabrera. The 30-year-old left fielder hit .301 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in 139 games with Toronto last season.
  • And Kansas City has worked out a one-year, $11 million package with outfielder Alex Rios, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The 34-year-old Rios hit .280 this year with four homers and 54 RBIs.
  • BEASLEY RETIRES FROM COMPETITION

    DaMarcus Beasley is retiring from the U.S. national team after 14 years.

    The 32-year-old Beasley was the first American to play in four World Cups. He scored 17 goals and made 121 international appearances.

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