National Sports Briefs
HOMESTEAD, Fla. ó Jimmie Johnson’s run for his fourth straight Cup title starts from the pole.
Johnson turned a lap of 173.919 mph on Friday to top qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a big boost for the Hendrick Motorsports star as he tries to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive championships.
“We did an awesome job today, and I feel that the start will go smoothly,” Johnson said.
The start could be tricky for the unflappable Johnson. Scott Speed qualified second and Marcos Ambrose third, two drivers who haven’t spent very much time on the track racing up front and around Johnson.
Johnson won his fourth pole of the season in the No. 48 Chevrolet hours after it was announced he signed a contract extension to drive for Hendrick Motorsports through the 2015 season. He has 23 career poles in 291 Cup races.
Johnson goes into Sunday’s Chase for the championship finale with a 108-point lead over Martin and needs only to finish 25th or better to win the title.
Martin and Tony Stewart round out the top five.
Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who still has second place within reach, qualified 20th. Johnson, Martin and Gordon are trying to give Hendrick Motorsports a 1-2-3 finish in the season points standings.
ASHBURN, Va. ó Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis was at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Friday to have his concussion evaluated.
“We’re going to make sure we take care of all the details. We’re for Clinton getting well,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said.
– NEW ORLEANS ó New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush has been held out of practice for the third straight day, and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay.
Bush came out of the St. Louis game with swelling and soreness in his left knee, which was surgically repaired twice in a three-month span a year ago.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ó D.A. Points shot a 2-under 70 at Del Monte, and Matt Bettencourt had a 71 in wind and rain at Spyglass Hill to share the second-round lead Friday in the Callaway Golf Pebble Beach Invitational.
WASHINGTON ó Travis Moen and Tomas Plekanec scored in a three-minute span early in the second period, Michael Cammalleri added a goal in the third, and the Montreal Canadiens withstood a furious comeback to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Friday night.
Panthers 2, Red Wings 1, OT
DETROIT ó Bryan McCabe’s goal 40 seconds into overtime gave Florida a win over Detroit.
Bruins 2, Sabres 1, OT
BUFFALO, N.Y. ó Patrice Bergeron scored with 47 seconds into overtime, lifting Boston past Buffalo. Bergeron won a faceoff and then was in the slot to tip in a shot by Zdeno Chara.
Wild 3, Islanders 2
ST. PAUL, Minn. ó Owen Nolan’s goal with 67 seconds remaining, his second of the game, sent struggling Minnesota over the Islanders.
BOSTON ó Vince Carter scored 26 points, Rashard Lewis had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics 83-78 on Friday night.
Paul Pierce scored 21 for Boston, which has lost three of its last four.
Cavaliers 105, Pacers 95
INDIANAPOLIS ó LeBron James scored a season-high 40 points, and Cleveland rallied to beat Indiana.
Hawks 105, Rockets 103
ATLANTA ó Josh Smith soared through the lane to drop in a missed shot with 0.7 seconds remaining and Atlanta won its seventh in a row, beating Houston to maintain the NBA’s best record.
Raptors 120, Heat 113
TORONTO ó Chris Bosh had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Andrea Bargnani had 24 points and 10 rebounds and the Raptors snapped a three-game losing streak.
Bucks 95, Bobcats 88
MILWAUKEE ó Rookie Brandon Jennings scored 29 points to lead Milwaukee over Charlotte, with minority owner Michael Jordan on hand to witness his Bobcats drop their seventh straight.
Stephen Jackson scored 22 points in his third game with his new team. Gerald Wallace added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Flip Murray had 17 points for Charlotte.
Mavericks 104, Kings 102
DALLAS ó Jason Terry scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and Dallas got 52 points from the bench in winning its fifth straight.
Grizzlies 102, 76ers 97
PHILADELPHIA ó Rudy Gay tied his season high with 33 points, including a clutch jumper with 19 seconds remaining, Zach Randolph added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Memphis registered its their first road win of the season.
Thunder 127, Wizards 108
OKLAHOMA CITY ó Kevin Durant scored 35 points, Russell Westbrook added 26