National Sports Briefs
Associated PressDALLAS ó Dirk Nowitzki matched his season high with 39 points and new starter J.J. Barea provided quite a spark in the fourth quarter, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 112-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
Nowitzki had 37 points through three quarters and the Mavs seemed to be comfortably headed to victory when the Suns began to make things interesting. But just when they got within 10, Barea ó a 5-foot-11 backup point guard-turned-co-starter alongside Jason Kidd ó helped Dallas regain control by single-handedly guiding a 10-0 run. Soon after, he nailed a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 23 and punctuated it with a loud scream.
CHICAGO ó The Chicago White Sox completed a six-player trade with Atlanta on Thursday, sending right-hander Javier Vazquez and lefty reliever Boone Logan to the Braves for four prospects.
The White Sox acquired catcher Tyler Flowers, infielders Jonathan Gilmore and Brent Lillibridge and left-handed pitcher Santos Rodriguez.
Vazquez was 12-16 with a 4.67 ERA in 33 starts for the AL Central champions this season, surpassing 200 innings for the eighth time in nine years, but he struggled down the stretch.
– ST. LOUIS ó The St. Louis Cardinals addressed one of their major offseason concerns, acquiring shortstop Khalil Greene from the Padres.
The 29-year-old Greene hit just .213 with 10 home runs last year, and struck out 100 times in 105 games. But in 2007, he had 27 homers, 44 doubles and 97 RBIs.
– BOSTON ó AL Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia and the Boston Red Sox agreed to a $40.5 million, six-year contract which includes a club option for 2015.
Pedroia led the AL with 213 hits, 118 runs and 54 doubles in helping the Red Sox win a wild-card berth. He batted .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs and also stole 20 bases to become the first AL second baseman to win the MVP award since Nellie Fox in 1959 with the Chicago White Sox.
– SAN FRANCISCO ó Federal prosecutors dropped four counts of lying to a grand jury against Barry Bonds, leaving him to face trial next year on 10 counts of making false statements plus an additional obstruction of justice charge.
Bonds faces the same potential sentence range ó probation to roughly two years in prison ó if convicted. His trial begins March 2.
– SAN FRANCISCO ó Edgar Renteria became the second free agent to join the San Francisco Giants in as many days, receiving an $18.5 million, two-year contract to replace 11-time Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel.
– MILWAUKEE ó Free agent reliever Jorge Julio agreed Thursday to a $950,000, one-year contract with Milwaukee, adding a right-hander with experience as a closer to the Brewers’ thin bullpen.
– PITTSBURGH ó The Dodgers have been involved in extensive talks this week about acquiring longtime Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, with one hang-up being his $7.25 million salary for next season.
– NEW YORK ó Baseball salaries started to slow this year even before the economy nosedived.
The average salary in Major League Baseball this season was $2.93 million, the players’ association said Thursday in its annual report. The 3.6 percent increase was the smallest since 2004, when the average declined 2.5 percent from the previous season.
NEW YORK ó Sean Avery surged past camera crews and reporters Thursday, choosing to save his comments this time for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during a three-hour disciplinary hearing.
The Dallas Stars forward was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday just hours after he used a crude expression to describe former girlfriends now dating others while speaking to reporters.
Hockey’s most notorious pest came to league headquarters in midtown Manhattan to give his version of the latest events that landed him in big trouble. Now it’s up to Bettman to determine just how long Avery will be kept off the ice.
– NEW YORK ó Barry Melrose will return to ESPN as a hockey analyst on Jan. 1.Melrose, who was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning last month, will appear on SportsCenter and ESPNEWS. He’ll often be paired with analyst Matthew Barnaby.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. ó Matt Simpkins, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Oakland, Calif., has been cleared to join the University of Memphis basketball team.
Coach John Calipari said Thursday the NCAA Clearinghouse authorized Simpkins to begin practice with the No. 18 Tigers Friday. The player had signed a national letter of intent with Memphis last spring.
Last year, Simpkins played at The Patterson School in Lenoir. He averaged 17.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.1 blocks.
GREENSBORO ó Three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape can pursue their lawsuit against former prosecutor Mike Nifong after a judge rejected his appeal to keep the case in bankruptcy court.
Nifong won indictments against Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann in 2006 after a woman claimed she was raped at a team party. But state prosecutors later declared them innocent and victims of a “tragic rush to accuse,” and Nifong was disbarred.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ó Michelle Wie ran off four straight birdies inside 8 feet late in the second round Thursday for a 7-under 65 that gave her a share of the lead among early finishers at the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament.
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