National Sports Briefs
WINSTON-SALEM ó The U.S. has a hot Andy Roddick, the No. 1 doubles team and the home crowd. France is missing its budding star and has to play on an extremely quick surface hand-picked by the Americans.
The deck is stacked for the U.S. as it continues defense of its Davis Cup title against France in the quarterfinals beginning today.
“The guys came in this week with a lot of confidence,” U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said Thursday. “I think our preparation has been excellent. We’ve gotten used to the court pretty quickly, and I think it plays into our strengths as a team. If we play well, we certainly feel good about our chances.”
McEnroe is putting out his familiar lineup of Roddick and James Blake in singles and the top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan for a record 10th straight time, France captain Guy Forget had to scramble this week.
DALLAS ó Dirk Nowitzki swished a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left, breaking a tie and giving the Dallas Mavericks a 97-94 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night that also clinched a playoff berth.
Nowitzki scored 32 points for the second time in five games since returning from knee and ankle injuries.
Nuggets 114, Warriors 105
OAKLAND, Calif ó Allen Iverson scored 33 points, J.R. Smith added 24 off the bench and the Denver Nuggets took control of the race for the final playoff spot.
NEW YORK ó The New York Liberty will host the first regular-season outdoor game in professional basketball.
The Liberty Outdoor Classic will be held July 19 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
– PALM HARBOR, Fla. ó Candace Parker was selected No. 1 by the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA draft.
The Associated Press player of the year joins Lisa Leslie, turning Los Angeles into one of the top teams in the league. The Sparks were a franchise-worst 10-24 last season with Leslie sitting out after giving birth to a daughter in June.
– RALEIGH ó Four women’s basketball players from ACC schools are headed to the WNBA.
LaToya Pringle was selected by the Phoenix Mercury with the 13th pick, and Tar Heel teammate Erlana Larkins went one pick later to the New York Liberty. North Carolina State forward Khadijah Whittington was taken by the Indiana Fever in the second round with the 26th overall selection.
Duke’s only draftee went one pick later when forward Wanisha Smith was selected by New York.
BEIJING ó Marion Jones gave up her Olympic medals. Her relay teammates aren’t quite as willing.
Jones’ former relay teammates paid for her doping offenses Thursday, losing their medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics as the International Olympic Committee stripped them from athletes who won gold with Jones in the 1,600-meter relay and bronze in the 400 relay.
Jones’ teammates on the 1,600 squad were Jearl-Miles Clark, Monique Hennagan, LaTasha Colander-Richardson and Andrea Anderson. The 400-relay squad also had Chryste Gaines, Torri Edwards, Nanceen Perry and Passion Richardson.
MINNEAPOLIS ó Former Minnesota Vikings great Carl Eller was charged Thursday with two felonies after a scuffle with police officers trying to arrest him for possible drunken driving. Prosecutors charged the 66-year-old Eller with fourth-degree assault and making terroristic threats.
– MIAMI ó Bill Parcells and the Miami Dolphins have begun contract negotiations with the agent for potential top draft pick Jake Long.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. ó Contract talks with Penn State coach Joe Paterno are on hold until the end of this season, when the 81-year-old’s deal expires.
Penn State president Graham Spanier told The Associated Press in an e-mail Thursday that both the school and Paterno, who is entering his 43rd season as head coach, agree a new deal isn’t necessary right now.