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National

  • Timberwolves win NBA lottery

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves won the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night, the first time since 2004 the team with the worst record won the No. 1 pick.
    After years of bad luck in the lottery, things finally worked out for the Wolves, who can perhaps choose between big men Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of national champion Duke to put next to Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins.
    “We’re in this for big stakes,” said Flip Saunders, the Wolves’ president and coach. “The big thing about this is getting good talent that can blend together. This is another big step.”
    The Los Angeles Lakers moved from the fourth spot to second, keeping a pick they would have sent to Philadelphia if it fell outside the top five. The 76ers are third followed by the New York Knicks, who had the second-best odds of winning but instead fell to fourth 30 years after winning the first draft lottery and drafting Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.
    Not since Orlando won the right to pick Dwight Howard in 2004 had the NBA’s ultimate game of chance came out in favor of the team with the best odds. The Timberwolves had a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick after finishing 16-66.

  • NFL moves back extra points

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The NFL is moving back extra-point kicks and allowing defenses to score on conversion turnovers.
    The owners on Tuesday approved the competition committee’s proposal to snap the ball from the 15-yard line on PATs to make them more challenging. In recent seasons, kickers made more than 99 percent of the kicks with the ball snapped from the 2.
    “There was strong sentiment coming out of our meetings in March that something had to be done with our extra point,” said Texans general manager Rick Smith, a member of the competition committee that proposed this specific rule change. “From a kicking perspective the try was over 99 percent (successful), so we tried to add skill to the play.
    “It was also a ceremonial play.”
    The accepted proposal places the 2-point conversion at the 2, and allows the defense to return a turnover to the other end zone for the two points, similar to the college rule. The defense can also score two points by returning a botched kick.
    The change was approved only for 2015, then will be reviewed. But Smith predicts it will become permanent.
    “This isn’t an experiment,” Smith added. “This is a rule change. We expect this to be a part of the game.”
    The vote was 30-2. Washington and Oakland voted no.

  • NFL finds Patriots probably cheated

    Tom Brady: Unbelievable.
    The 243-page report on “Deflategate” came out Wednesday and stopped barely short of calling the Patriots star quarterback a cheater. It did, however, call some of his claims “implausible” and left little doubt that he had a role in having footballs deflated before New England’s AFC title game against Indianapolis in January and probably in previous games.
    In his report, attorney Ted Wells said the quarterback “was at least generally aware” of all the plans to prepare the balls to his liking, below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.
    Wells said it was “more probable than not” that two Patriots employees — officials’ locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski — executed the plan.
    For his trouble, McNally asked for expensive shoes and signed footballs, jerseys and cash. He brokered the deals over a series of salty text messages with Jastremski that portray Brady as a hard-to-please taskmaster. “F--- Tom,” one read.
    For the biggest home game of the season, McNally came through, taking the footballs from the officials’ locker room into a bathroom before delivering them to the field, the report said.

  • Santa Fe’s Rotich wins Boston Marathon

    BOSTON (AP) — Lelisa Desisa ran through the rain to earn a second Boston Marathon victory and his first chance to enjoy it.
    The 25-year-old Ethiopian broke the tape again on Boylston Street on Monday as the world’s most prestigious marathon tried to return to its routine two years after Desisa’s first Boston win was overshadowed by the twin explosions at the finish line.
    “Lelisa did not get to have the kind of victory celebration that a champion of the Boston Marathon should have,” Boston Athletic Association spokesman Jack Fleming said, interrupting the post-race news conference to place the champions’ trophy at Desisa’s side. “Lelisa, we want you to get your due today.”
    Desisa won the 2013 race just hours before two bombs killed three people and wounded 260 others, turning what should be the pinnacle of any distance runner’s career into an afterthought. On Monday, he finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 17 seconds to claim a golden olive wreath and $150,000.
    Kenya’s Caroline Rotich, who lives and trains in Santa Fe, won the women’s race, beating Mare Dibaba in a shoulder-to-shoulder sprint down Boylston to win by 4 seconds on a cold and rainy day that thinned the crowds but didn’t lessen their enthusiasm for the city’s signature sporting event.

  • NFL reinstates Adrian Peterson from suspension

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Adrian Peterson has been cleared to return to the NFL. Now all that remains to be settled is where he will play next season.
    Commissioner Roger Goodell sent the Minnesota Vikings star a letter on Thursday advising him of his reinstatement. Peterson missed most of last season while facing child abuse charges in Texas.
    Goodell wrote that Peterson will have to fulfill all the obligations of his plea deal that reduced a felony charge to a misdemeanor.
    Goodell also told Peterson he would have to continue attending counseling while adhering to the league's new personal conduct policy to avoid further discipline.
    "Any further violation of the personal conduct policy by Peterson would result in additional discipline, which could include suspension without pay or banishment from the NFL," the league said.
    Peterson's agent has said the star running back wants to play elsewhere next season. But the Vikings say they have no plans to trade him.
    "We look forward to Adrian re-joining the Vikings," the team said in a statement issued after the announcement.

  • Tsarnaev guilty on all charges in Boston Marathon bombing

    BOSTON (AP) — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted on all charges Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing by a jury that will now decide whether the 21-year-old should be executed or shown mercy for what his lawyer says was a crime masterminded by his big brother.
    The former college student stood with his hands folded, fidgeted and looked down at the defense table in federal court as he listened to the word "guilty" recited on all 30 counts against him, including conspiracy and deadly use of a weapon of mass destruction. Seventeen of those counts are punishable by death.
    The verdict, reached after a day and a half of deliberations, was practically a foregone conclusion, given his lawyer's startling admission at the trial's outset that Tsarnaev carried out the terror attack with his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan.
    The defense strategy is to try to save Tsarnaev's life in the upcoming penalty phase by arguing he fell under Tamerlan's evil influence.
    The two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line on April 15, 2013, killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 other people, turning the traditionally celebratory home stretch of the world-famous race into a scene of carnage and putting the city on edge for days.

  • Steelers safety Troy Polamalu retires

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — His flowing locks bouncing off the top of his No. 43 jersey, Troy Polamalu spent more than a decade flying across football fields as the heady but humble backbone of a defense that fueled the Pittsburgh Steelers' return to the NFL's elite.

    Now, his singular career is a part of franchise lore. Move over Joe Greene, Jack Lambert and Mel Blount. You've got company.

    Polamalu, an eight-time Pro Bowler and 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is retiring after 12 seasons, telling the only team he's ever played for that it's time for the next phase of his life. Polamalu's retirement was first reported by the Uniontown (Pa.) Herald-Standard.

    "Troy is a shining example of a football man in the way he loved the game, the way he respected the game and the way he played the game," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. "It's a shining example of the window into who he is. He is a legendary Steeler and a legendary man."

  • In the NCAAs, time doesn't always fly when you're having fun

    The whistle sounds. The horn blows. And the madness grinds to a halt.
    Another stoppage in play. Another lengthy timeout. Another chance for folks at home to grab something from the fridge or be subjected to the 50th iteration of Samuel, Charles and Spike's geography fail across the U.S. on their way to the Final Four.
    If it seems like time stands still during the NCAA Tournament, maybe that's because it does.
    The television breaks are stretched to a seemingly interminable 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a good half-minute longer than the regular season. And that doesn't include the 20-minute halftimes — five minutes longer than usual — or the additional 15 seconds or so the guys in the TV truck occasionally request to fit in one more commercial that helps CBS recoup the billions the company invested to televise the magic of March.
    What you don't see at home? Coaches milling about talking among themselves. Players trying to stay focused. Benchwarmers taking in the band or the crowd when they're not serving as de facto student managers.
    Yeah, for nearly all involved, the tournament is the biggest moment of their athletic lives. And during those all-too-frequent lulls, it's kind of a drag.

  • Change to extra points likely in NFL

    The NFL’s dullest play, the extra point, appears to be headed for some changes, perhaps significant ones, for the 2015 season.
    While team owners didn’t vote on any extra-point proposals Wednesday, there was so much discussion and interest in potential changes that the issue will be a main focal point for the next set of league meetings in May.
    “There’s a clear movement to wanting to change and change it this year,” said Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee and president of the Falcons.
    McKay’s committee will “develop alternatives and be ready for a potential vote” in two months in San Francisco.
    Among the possibilities are moving the line of scrimmage back for PAT kicks; placing the ball on the 1½-yard line for a 2-point conversion; eliminating the PAT kicks entirely, requiring teams to run a play from scrimmage; and allowing the defense to score, as in college football, if the ball is turned over on a 2-point try.
    McKay described the discussions as “lively, with lots of ideas ... it’s time to make this a football play.”
    “A couple coaches said they favor just lining up on the 2 and going for the 2-point play,” he said. “Or move the ball to the 1 1-2 for two points, or kick from the 15 for one, your choice.”

  • Minor League Baseball announces new pace of game regulations

    Minor League Baseball recemtly announced rules and procedures aimed at improving the pace of play in games at the Triple-A and Double-A levels.

    The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, will monitor the time taken between innings and pitches, and will limit the amount of time allowed during pitching changes. Umpires will continue to enforce rules prohibiting batters from leaving the batter’s box between pitches.

    Timers have been installed at all Triple-A and Double-A parks in plain view of umpires, players and fans to monitor the pace of play and determine when violations occur. The month of April will serve as a grace period, with players receiving warnings for infractions. Beginning May 1, rules will be enforced as written. The regulations and penalties for non-compliance are listed below.

    INNING BREAKS

    -Inning breaks will be two minutes, 25 seconds in duration. The first batter of an inning is encouraged to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left on the inning break timer. The pitcher must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position at any point within the last 20 seconds of the 2:25 break.