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National Sports Briefs: Personal problems for Mavs’ Nowitzki

Associated Press
DALLAS ó Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki offered no explanation Thursday about the arrest of a woman at his home, saying only that he is having personal troubles now.
When asked about his relationship with 37-year-old Cristal Taylor, who was arrested on a probation violation and theft of services warrants Wednesday, Nowitzki declined comment.
“It’s pretty obvious that I’m going through a tough time in my personal life right now, but like I always have, I want to kind of keep my private life private,” he said. “I’m not at the stage where I can talk about it yet and feel comfortable talking about it.”
Dallas police said Taylor was taken into custody Wednesday morning at Nowitzki’s home. She remained in Dallas County Jail on Thursday on $20,000 bond. A jail official said there was no record of an attorney for Taylor.
A 2006 indictment alleging theft of service in Jefferson County in southeast Texas listed eight aliases for Taylor, who was accused of not paying for dental services in the range of $1,500 to $20,000.
DEATH THREAT
PITTSBURGH ó The Washington Capitals notified Pittsburgh-area police after a death threat made against Capitals star Alex Ovechkin surfaced on a hockey message board.
The message board poster bragged he was going to kill Ovechkin and didn’t care if he went to jail.
“We became aware of an inappropriate comment on a message board and referred it to the appropriate authorities,” according to a statement issued Thursday by the Capitals. “We appreciate their diligence and have every confidence in our club’s safety.”
The Pennsylvania state police computer crime task force is investigating the threat, which was first reported by Pittsburgh TV station WPXI.
Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading goal scorer, has five goals in the first three games of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series against Pittsburgh. He scored the game’s first goal during Washington’s 3-2 overtime loss in Game 3 on Wednesday night, hours after the threat was posted.
The Capitals and Penguins play Game 4 in Pittsburgh tonight.
GOLF
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ó Ben Crane should have known what was coming when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole of the day. He kept right on pouring them in until he had a 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead in The Players Championship.
Crane made four birdie putts longer than 20 feet, kept his ball on land throughout another wild opening round Thursday on the TPC Sawgrass and wound up atop a leaderboard devoid of the biggest stars.
Tiger Woods couldn’t make a putt outside 4 feet.
Phil Mickelson ran off three straight birdies early in his round, then couldn’t keep the ball in play.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia opened with a 71 and already was looking forward to going home to Spain.
Crane couldn’t relate.
He had a one-shot lead with a large group at 67 that included Retief Goosen, David Toms, Camilo Villegas and Scott Verplank.
– WILLIAMSBURG, Va. ó Lorena Ochoa shot a 7-under 64 to take a one-shot lead over Lindsey Wright after the first round of the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill.
TOLEDO
TOLEDO, Ohio ó The seven former football and basketball players charged in an alleged point-shaving scheme at Toledo include a running back who led the team in rushing one season and a backup who rarely carried the ball.
Four were basketball starters ó one a hometown star who finished his career as Toledo’s third-leading scorer and another who grew up poor in Puerto Rico and became the Mid-American Conference’s freshman of the year.
The connection between all of them, federal investigators say, was a suburban Detroit businessman and gambler who made dozens of phone calls to the players, handed out cash and gifts and made large bets on Toledo games.
Investigators say the point-shaving scheme at Toledo began in the fall of 2004 and continued until 2006.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. ó Quarterback B.J. Coleman is joining the Chattanooga Mocs after two seasons with Tennessee.
Coleman redshirted in 2007 and played in three games in 2008. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder can play immediately and will have three years of eligibility with the Mocs. He left Tennessee because he felt he wasn’t getting a fair opportunity to play.
– OMAHA, Neb. ó Former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller is suing EA Sports and the NCAA, saying the video-game maker wrongly uses the names and likenesses of college athletes in its products and that the NCAA sanctions the practice.

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