National sports briefs: Mourning’s jersey retired

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Associated Press
MIAMI ó On the night Miami retired Alonzo Mourning’s number, Orlando’s big man wrecked the party.
Dwight Howard scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, passing Wilt Chamberlain as the youngest NBA player to reach the 5,000-board mark, and the Magic kept their grip on the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Heat 101-95.
Rashard Lewis had 21 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining for Orlando (55-18). Dwyane Wade scored 13 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter for the Heat.
With tears streaming from his eyes, Mourning watched his jersey raised to the rafters, making him the first player in the organization’s 21-year history to receive that honor.
* SALT LAKE CITY ó Deron Williams had 24 points and 13 assists as Utah beat the New York Knicks 112-104.
The Jazz led by 24 early in the third quarter but fell behind by a point in the fourth before closing the game on a 20-11 run.
Carlos Boozer had 21 points.
* EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ó Richard Jefferson had 29 points and 10 rebounds against his former teammates and Milwaukee snapped a five-game losing streak with a 107-78 victory over New Jersey.n CHARLOTTE ó The Charlotte Bobcats have hired an NFL executive to try to boost ticket sales. Former Buffalo Bills vice president Pete Guelli will take over the sales and marketing job that had gone unfilled since Greg Economou left before the season.
The team has made numerous changes in the front office since Bob Johnson paid $300 million for the expansion franchise, which began play in 2004. The team ranks 27th out of 30 NBA teams in attendance this season.
Guelli spent 11 years with the Bills. He’ll begin his new job April 20.
* NEW ORLEANS ó Hornets forward James Posey will miss at least the next three games with a sprained left elbow.
* CLEVELAND ó Zydrunas Ilgauskas became only the fourth Cavaliers player to score 10,000 points, but he doesn’t have the ball marking the accomplishment.
The ball went into the stands as the March 21 game against Atlanta ended and disappeared as the crowd left the arena. Security officers were told to watch for the ball leaving the arena, but nothing came of the alert.
RALEIGH ó Angel McCoughtry had 21 points and 13 rebounds as Louisville claimed its first Final Four berth by upsetting top-seeded Maryland 77-60 in the Raleigh Regional final. Marissa Coleman finished with 18 points and Marah Strickland had 15 for the Terps (31-5).
* BERKELEY, Calif. ó Jayne Appel had a career-high 46 points and 16 rebounds in the third highest-scoring performance in NCAA tournament history, overwhelming Iowa State’s helpless defense and carrying Stanford back to the Final Four with a 74-53 victory in the Berkeley Regional final.
Only Drake’s Lorri Bauman (50 points in 1982) and Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes (47 in 1993) have scored more points in an NCAA tournament game.
NEW YORK ó Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman Dan Girardi scored 2:04 apart during New York’s three-goal second period, and Henrik Lundqvist earned his 20th NHL shutout to lift the Rangers to a 3-0 victory that sent the New Jersey Devils to a fifth straight loss.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó Linebacker Brandon Spikes spent the first few minutes of Florida’s first spring practice fielding punts.
It wasn’t pretty.
When he finally caught one, teammates and fans gave him an ovation. Spikes responded with a bow. It probably won’t be the last chance for Spikes to relish the spotlight. The team’s leading tackler the last two seasons, Spikes decided to return for his senior year and try to win a third national championship.
“It’s definitely a dream,” Spikes said. “Right now, that’s the drive for us.”
Spikes, who is from Shelby, grew up watching his single mother work 12-hour days at a fiberglass plant. He also spent the last five years visiting his older brother in prison.
His mom, Sherry Allen, moved to Gainesville after getting laid off following 23 years at the plant. She now has a janitorial job at a local school. Spikes’ brother, Breyon Middlebrooks, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2003, the result of a drug deal in 2001.
But Spikes put his NFL plans on hold for a year.
“I just sat down with the people I love, the coaching staff and my family and my friends and went from there,” said Spikes, who is closing in on a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. “We weighed the pros and cons. I just felt like coming back to school would benefit me more as far as education and getting better.”
* OMAHA, Neb. ó Nebraska coach Bo Pelini signed a contract extension following a 9-4 season, boosting his annual salary to $1.85 million. The contract runs through the 2013 season.
* HOUSTON ó Patrick Edwards, the Houston receiver who broke his leg when he ran into a metal service cart in a game last year, says he plans to play this season. Edwards also said he will pursue legal action against Marshall, where the injury happened.
He was running full speed for a long pass when his right shin crashed into the cart just beyond the end zone. Marshall officials apologized after the incident, and several Thundering Herd players visited Edwards in the hospital.
Edwards told Houston television station KRIV he’s confident he can return at full strength.
ORLANDO, Fla. ó Davis Love III needed someone else’s misfortune to get into the Masters, and he almost got it.
Love fell out of the top 50 in the world ranking Sunday by four-hundredths of a point, and it all came down to a shot by Pat Perez on the 18th hole at Bay Hill that cleared the rocks framing the water by about a foot.
Perez was able to play his next shot from short of the green and make bogey to tie for fourth. That gave Perez, who already was eligible for the Masters, enough points to move up to No. 48 and knock Love out of the top 50.
This week’s world ranking was the cutoff for the top 50 to qualify for the Masters, and four players earned invitations ó Alvaro Quiros of Spain (No. 25), Prayad Marksaeng (No. 47), Mathew Goggin of Australia (No. 49) and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (No. 50).
The only remaining ticket to Augusta National is to win the Shell Houston Open this week.
* NEW YORK ó Tiger Woods’ win Sunday has produced the highest overnight television rating since the U.S. Open.
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. ó Venus Williams overcame a sluggish start and wobbly finish to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 at the Sony Ericsson Open.
Williams advanced to the quarterfinals and defied the upset trend that has eliminated six of the top 10 women. Among those ousted Monday were Elena Dementieva and Amelie Mauresmo.
Top-ranked Serena Williams twice lost five games in a row but finished with a flourish and beat Zheng Jie 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal reached the fourth round by beating qualifier Frederico Gil 7-5, 6-3. Andy Murray defeated Nicolas Massu 6-4, 6-4.