Wednesday’s Sports In Brief
Kevin Durant scored 42 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, and the Thunder secured the No. 2 playoff seed in the Western Conference by rallying from 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Detroit Pistons 112-111 Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City will open the playoffs Saturday against Memphis, which grabbed the West’s No. 7 seed when Mike Conley hit two free throws with 1.1 seconds left in overtime to lift the Grizzlies to a 106-105 win over the Mavericks. The Mavericks dropped to the No. 8 seed and will open against at top-seeded San Antonio on Sunday.
In other Western Conference first-round matchups, the Los Angeles Clippers host Game 1 against Golden State on Saturday and Portland visits Houston on Sunday.
In the Eastern Conference, Washington clinched the No. 5 seed with a 118-102 win over Boston and will open at Chicago on Sunday in their first playoff appearance since 2008.
In other first-round matchups in the East, No. 1 seed Indiana hosts Atlanta on Saturday, Charlotte opens at Miami on Sunday and Brooklyn hosts Toronto on Saturday.
MILWAUKEE (AP) Bucks owner Herb Kohl reached a deal to sell the franchise to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million.
Kohl announced the deal at the BMO Harris Bradley Center hours before the team was to play its final game of a dismal season. The deal is subject to approval by the NBA and its Board of Governors.
Kohl is a former U.S. senator who has owned the team since 1985. Efforts to find new investors ramped up this year, and made it a priority to find owners or investors who will keep the franchise in Milwaukee.
NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Knicks signed former NBA champion Lamar Odom, who was out of the league this season.
The move gives new president Phil Jackson an offseason to look at the versatile forward who thrived in his system. Odom helped the Los Angeles Lakers win NBA titles in 2009 and 2010, and was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2011, Jackson’s final season as coach.
NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Jets and former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson agreed to terms on a deal.
Johnson met with the Jets all day Tuesday and stayed in town to watch the Knicks-Nets game in Brooklyn on Tuesday night before signing Wednesday. The team announced the move, but didn’t release terms.
Johnson was officially released by the Titans on April 7, three days after being told by the team of its decision. The former 2,000-yard rusher will team with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell to give coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg a versatile and deep backfield.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) – The Seattle Seahawks and wide receiver Sidney Rice agreed to terms on a deal.
Rice returns to Seattle after spending the last three seasons with the Seahawks. Rice was released by Seattle in February in a salary-driven move. He was scheduled to make $8.5 million this season under his previous contract.
The team confirmed the agreement without disclosing terms of his new deal.
PHOENIX (AP) – Lawyers for former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper are questioning the evidence authorities are using to justify keeping him in jail without bail on charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted two women.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville began a hearing on the subject Wednesday and is expected to conclude it Thursday afternoon. It’s the latest development in several ongoing sexual assault investigations involving Sharper in Louisiana, California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
A person familiar with the deal says quarterback Josh Freeman agreed to terms with the New York Giants.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the move.
Freeman was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October after a messy split. He signed with Minnesota four days later, but played just one game for the Vikings.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A federal judge in Philadelphia declined to approve deals for another batch of retired players suing the NFL over concussion-linked claims.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody’s preliminary ruling follows a similar ruling in January on the proposed $765 million umbrella settlement. She is skeptical that the fund is large enough to cover up to 20,000 players for 65 years, as intended.
HOUSTON (AP) – George Springer got his first game with the Houston Astros out of the way and now he’s hoping things will calm down and he can just play ball.
Springer, a highly touted prospect and first-round draft pick, singled and walked in his major league debut in Houston’s 6-4 loss to Kansas City in 11 innings.
BOSTON (AP) – The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach. Officials also expressed confidence in heightened security measures for Monday’s event while acknowledging the challenge of protecting an estimated 1 million spectators and 36,000 runners across 26.2 miles and eight Massachusetts communities.
VALENCIA, Spain (AP) – Gareth Bale raced down the field, avoided a defender and rolled the ball under goalkeeper Jose Pinto in the 90th minute, giving Real Madrid a 2-1 win over Barcelona and its 19th Copa del Rey title.
ATLANTA (AP) – Major League Soccer announced its newest team, unveiling an expansion team for Atlanta that will begin play in 2017 at the city’s new retractable roof stadium.
The team will be owned by Arthur Blank, who also owns the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. He donned a traditional soccer scarf and was serenaded by a burgeoning fan group that calls itself ”Terminus Legion,” a reference to the city’s former name.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – The two-week strike at Rio de Janeiro’s main Olympic complex continued despite an apparent settlement.
Rio Mais, the consortium building the venues at Olympic Park, said in a statement that about 300 workers showed up for work on Wednesday, but were told by labor union leaders to walk off the job again.
The strike, which began April 3, affects about 2,300 workers.