Sports: NASCAR Chase Changes; Serena Loses Down Under; NBA, NHL, PGA

By: ap
By: ap

NASCAR-CHASE CHANGES
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A 16-driver championship field that would be whittled down to create a winner-take-all season finale is among radical changes reportedly being considered by NASCAR.
The Charlotte Observer first reported the possible changes Friday night.
The Observer cited anonymous sources in outlining a Chase field that would kick out the four lowest-ranked drivers after three races. The points would be reset, three more drivers would be kicked out after three more races and the finale would be a winner-take-all for the four remaining drivers.
NASCAR chairman Brian France has repeatedly said he wants to place a greater emphasis on winning. He's said he'd never ruled out tinkering with the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format in an effort to create the "Game 7 moments" he wants to create.

NBA-SCHEDULE
(AP) -- The NBA's Western Conference teams have dominated the East with regularity this season, but the Indiana Pacers continue to have success in interconference games.
The Pacers are 10-2 against the West and a league-best 32-7 overall following Saturday's 106-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul George scored 36 points and Lance Stephenson added 22 points and 12 rebounds to send Indiana to its fourth consecutive win.
The Clippers shot just 39 percent in ending a five-game winning streak.
Indiana's lead in the East remains 3 1/2 games over Miami following the Heat's 104-96 overtime win against Charlotte. LeBron James finished with 34 points and Chris Bosh had 25 as the Heat won their second straight since a three-game skid.
Portland owns a piece of the Western Conference lead after LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 30 points and 12 rebounds to the Trail Blazers' 127-111 win at Dallas. Nicolas Batum (bah-TOOM') scored 21 for the Trail Blazers, while Robin Lopez added 16 points and 12 rebounds to Portland's fifth consecutive win.
The Blazers and San Antonio are 31-9, one game ahead of Oklahoma City.

Also in the NBA:
-- Stephen (STEH'-fehn) Curry scored 28 points and David Lee added 22 in Golden State's 97-87 triumph at New Orleans.
-- Houston was a 114-104 winner against Milwaukee behind Terrence Jones' career-high 36 points and 11 rebounds.
-- Joakim (JOH'-keem) Noah had 21 points and 16 rebounds, while Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 13 boards in Chicago's 103-78 pounding of Philadelphia.
-- Josh Smith dropped in 22 points and Rodney Stuckey added 20 as Detroit knocked off Washington 104-98.
-- Nikola Pekovic had 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Kevin Love delivered 18 points and 13 boards in Minnesota's 98-72 romp over Utah.

BASKETBALL-RODMAN
(AP) -- Dennis Rodman has checked into an undisclosed alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his long-time struggle with alcoholism. That's according to his agent, who declined to say which facility will treat Rodman and how long he will be there.
Rodman recently returned to the United States from his latest trip to North Korea. He later apologized for comments he made in North Korea about a detained American missionary, saying he had been drinking and was under pressure as he organized an exhibition game there.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- The Australian Open women's quarterfinals will not include Serena Williams.
The top seed suffered her first loss since August, falling 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to No. 14 Ana Ivanovic (ee-VAH'-noh-vihch). Williams had won her last 25 straight matches and had never lost a set in four previous meetings with Ivanovic. Williams was seeking her 18th Grand Slam title and sixth at Melbourne.
Two-time finalist Li Na has advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth time in five years.
The fourth-seeded Li broke serve five times and rolled to a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova. Li fared better than ninth seed Angelique Kerber, who dropped her fourth-round match 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 to Flavia Pennetta. That sets up a quarterfinal meeting between Li and Pennetta.

T25 BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
(AP) -- Second-ranked Syracuse and No. 5 Wichita State remain two of the nation's three unbeaten teams in men's college basketball, along with top-ranked Arizona.
The Orange improved to 18-0 by rallying late for a 59-54 home win against No. 22 Pittsburgh. Freshman Tyler Ennis finished with 16 points, including a pair of driving layups and two free throws in the final two minutes.
Ron Baker scored 16 points and Fred VanVleet added 15 as the Shockers topped Indiana State 68-48 to improve to 19-0. With the victory, Wichita State extended school records for winning streak and best start to a season.
Meanwhile, third-ranked Wisconsin suffered its second straight loss since a 16-0 start. Nik Stauskus scored 23 points and hit a key 3 with 48 seconds left to push Michigan past the Badgers 77-70.

In other top 25 finals:
-- Gary Harris scored 23 points and Denzel Valentine pulled down 11 rebounds to lead No. 4 Michigan State to its 10th straight win, 78-62 at Illinois.
-- Naadir Tharpe scored 21 points as 15th-ranked Kansas held off No. 9 Oklahoma State 80-78. Joel Embiid added 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks for the 13-4 Jayhawks, who blew most of a 47-30 halftime lead before holding on at the finish.
-- Buddy Hield scored all 19 of his points after halftime as No. 25 Oklahoma topped No. 12 Baylor 66-64, ending the Bears' 13-game home winning streak.
-- James Bell had 17 points and eight rebounds as hot shooting No. 6 Villanova beat DePaul 88-62 for their fifth straight win.
-- Casey Prather scored 21 points in his return from a knee injury and helped No. 7 Florida survive a scare from Auburn in a 68-61 win.
-- Jonathan Holmes scored 23 points and Cam Ridley had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Texas to an 86-76 win over No. 8 Iowa State, the third straight loss for the Cyclones.
-- Xavier Thames scored 18 points and 10th-ranked San Diego State used a 19-2 first-half run to earn its 15th consecutive win, 63-52 over UNLV.
-- No. 13 Kentucky got 26 points from freshman guard Andrew Harrison and 14 from his twin brother Aaron in a 74-66 win over Tennessee.
-- Cady Lalanne scored 16 of his 23 points in the first half and Chaz Williams scored all 20 of his points after intermission as No. 16 Massachusetts outlasted Elon 84-74.
-- Nick King scored 18 points and No. 17 Memphis beat Division II LeMoyne-Owen 101-78.
-- Louisvillle's Russ Smith scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the 18th-rated Cardinals past Connecticut 76-64.
-- Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points and 19th-ranked Cincinnati earned its 10th straight win by downing South Florida 61-54.
-- Bryce Cotton scored 23 points and LaDontae Henton added 19 as Providence upset 20th-ranked Creighton 81-68.
-- Josh Scott scored 20 points and Askia Booker had 13 to lead No. 21 Colorado over Southern Cal 83-62.
-- Jabari Parker scored 23 points to pace No. 23 Duke to a 95-60 blowout of North Carolina State.
-- Dwayne Evans had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 24 St. Louis pick up its 11th straight win, 70-48 against Fordham.
-- Jordan Loveridge scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead a balanced attack as Utah held off a late rally to surprise No. 25 UCLA 74-69.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-CLEMSON-SWINNEY CONTRACT
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has received a new, eight-year contract through 2021 and a raise that increased his total pay for next season to $3.15 million.
Swinney's previous deal paid him a total of $2.55 million and was good through 2017.
Clemson had its second straight 11-2 season, finishing up with a 40-35 victory over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. It was Clemson's third consecutive season with double-digit victories.

NHL-SCHEDULE
Ducks nip Blues
(AP) -- The Anaheim Ducks went back to their winning ways on Saturday after falling in Chicago two nights earlier.
Ryan Getzlaf (GETS'-laf) scored the game's first goal and set up Cam Fowler's game-winner while the Ducks were building a 3-0 lead in a 3-2 triumph at St. Louis. Frederik Andersen backstopped Anaheim's 19th victory in 21 goals, turning back 34 shots and blanking the Blues until Barrett Jackman scored midway through the third period.
The outcome gives the Ducks a six-point lead over second-place Chicago in the NHL's Western Conference. The Blues are 10 points back.

In other NHL play:
-- Martin St. Louis (mahr-TAN' san loo-EE') tied a Tampa Bay record with four goals, but Joe Pavelski's hat trick allowed San Jose to come away with a 5-4 win over the Lightning.
-- Philadelphia trailed 4-3 until third-period goals by Jakub Voracek, Michael Raffl and Matt Read gave the Flyers a 6-4 triumph over the New York Islanders.
-- Nick Holden had two goals and an assist to carry Colorado's offense in a 5-4 win at Nashville.
-- Alexander Semin (SEM'-ihn) scored twice in the third period to lift Carolina to its sixth victory in eight games, 3-2 against Florida.
-- Derek Stepan (STEP'-ahn) broke a 13-game goal drought and added two assists in the New York Rangers' 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
-- Toronto has a four-game winning streak after James van Riemsdyk (REEMZ'-dyk) scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:33 remaining in the Maple Leafs' 5-3 triumph against Montreal.
-- Niklas Kronwall scored with 27 seconds left in regulation before Tomas Tatar (tah-TAHR') notched the only shootout goal in Detroit's 3-2 verdict over Los Angeles.
-- Ryan Johansen scored the lone shootout goal and Columbus tied a team record with its sixth straight win by downing Buffalo 4-3.
-- Minnesota beat Dallas 3-2 on Nate Prosser's goal at 2:42 of overtime.
-- Jacob Trouba (TROO'-bah) scored his second goal of the game 1:10 into overtime to lift the Jets to a 3-2 victory over Edmonton.
-- Phoenix beat New Jersey 3-2 as Martin Hanzal provided the game-winning goal and an assist.

GOLF-ABU DHABI
Mickelson moves up, McIlroy moves down
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Phil Mickelson surged up the leaderboard with a 9-under 63 to take over second place in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The reigning British Open champ had nine birdies and two eagles to pull to within two shots of leader Craig Lee of Scotland.
Rory McIlroy thought he was alone in second, two off the pace. But he was hit with a two-shot penalty for an improper drop to give him a 70. He fell four shots off the pace.

PGA-HUMANA CHALLENGE
Reed pulling away
LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) -- Patrick Reed's consistency is making a runaway of the Humana Challenge.
For the third straight day on a third different course, Reed posted a 9-under 63 to widen his lead after three rounds. The Saturday round was played on the Nicklaus Course at PGA West and helped Reed open a whopping seven-shot lead.
Charley Hoffman and Brendon Todd are tied for second.


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