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Cal Routs No. 23 Syracuse, Earns Spot in 2K Classic Final

Cal Routs No. 23 Syracuse, Earns Spot in 2K Classic Final

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The California Golden Bears opened up a 12-point halftime lead, maintaining the advantage all the way until the final buzzer for a 73-59 upset win over 23rd-raked Syracuse on Thursday night.

With the victory, Cal (3-0) moves on to the finals of the annual 2K Classic against Texas on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

"We lost to them the past two years, and with guys that were returning it plays on your mind," said first-year head coach Cuonzo Martin. "But I thought our guys did a great job of accepting the challenge."

The Bears hit four consecutive three pointers late in the first half, holding a 34-22 advantage at the break. Jordan Matthews helped keep the game in control by scoring 20 of his 22 points in the second half. Meanwhile, the defense was strong against Rakeem Christmas, the leading scorer for Syracuse (2-1), holding him to just eight points before the big man fouled out. 

It was a sigh of relief when the final buzzer sounded for those associated with Cal. In each of the last two seasons, the Orange (2-1) have found ways to beat the Bears. The first came in the 2013 NCAA Elite Eight while the second was part of the Maui invitational during the 2013-14 campaign.

Both Kaleb Joseph and Michael Gbinije scored 13 points to pace Syracuse while Matthews poured in a game-high 22.

Cal will take on No. 10 Texas, who beat Iowa 71-57, in the championship game on Friday night.

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Charlotte’s Jeff Taylor Suspended 24 Games

Charlotte’s Jeff Taylor Suspended 24 Games

Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The NBA announced Wednesday that Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor would be suspended for 24 games without pay after pleading guilty to misdemeanor physical assault and malicious destruction of hotel property last month.

The 25-year-old will be credited the first 11 games of the season, which he sat out, and be forced to miss the next 13 as well. In total, the suspension will cost Taylor $119,689 of his $915,000 salary. As of Wednesday night, both Taylor and his officials were working with union officials to go over their options.

"This suspension is necessary to protect the interests of the NBA and the public's confidence in it," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release. "Mr. Taylor's conduct violates applicable law and, in my opinion, does not conform to standards of morality and is prejudicial and detrimental to the NBA."

Taylor was arrested on Sept. 25 at a hotel in East Lansing, Mich. after an altercation with a woman with whom he was reportedly having a romantic relationship. An NBA release stated that the two had been drinking heavily when an argument ensued, resulting in Taylor shoving the woman into the hallway, where she fell and struck her head. The statement also noted that Taylor punched a hole in the wall near his room.

Taylor was sentenced to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty in October. He also must complete 26 weeks of a domestic violence intervention program.

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Creighton Upsets (18) Oklahoma

Creighton Upsets (18) Oklahoma

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Trailing at halftime, the Creighton Bluejays rallied from 18 points down to knock off 18th-ranked Oklahoma 65-63 Wednesday night. The Bluejays (3-0) used a 24-4 run in the second half to turn the tide on the Sooners (1-1).

Playing without the 2014 Player of the Year in Doug McDermott, now in the NBA, Creighton opened the game shooting just 6-of-25 (24%) in the first half. That allowed Oklahoma to build up a 35-24 lead at the break as the Sooners return their three top scorers from a year ago.

The run began with consecutive three-pointers from Isaiah Zierden and Austin Chatman and sparked a 13-0 run that cut the deficit to 44-40 with 13:57 left in regulation. It was another Zierden triple that put Creighton ahead for the first time, with a 48-46 advantage. Both squads battled back and forth with Oklahoma eventually holding a 61-57 lead with less than four minutes to play.

Creighton then rattled off six straight points, taking the lead on Zach Hanson's layup with 49 seconds to play. Chatman would sink a pair of free throws to give the Bluejays a four-point advantage, before ultimately holding on by two.

Oklahoma's Buddy Hield led all scorers with 21 points, while Chatman paced the Bluejays with 17.

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Lakers Win Consecutive Games for First Time This Year

Lakers Win Consecutive Games for First Time This Year

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- For the first time in the 2014-15 season, the Los Angeles Lakers won consecutive games with a 98-92 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Kobe Bryant led the way with 29 points, seven assists, and five rebounds for the Lakers (3-9).

"Look, we had a bad start," Bryant said. "Are we a 3-9 team? No. We're a much better team than that. We got off to a really bad start, but we'll (get better)."

Trailing by four with less than a minute to play, Los Angeles used a 7-1 run to take a 94-92 lead and pick up the victory. Nick Young scored 16 points in just his second game of the season, scoring 17 in Tuesday night's win. Young added a pair of free throws late to seal the win.

The Rockets (9-3) were playing without center Dwight Howard who missed the game with a knee injury. James Harden paced Houston with 24 points while three other players scored in double figures. Despite shooting 15-of-38 from beyond the arc, the Rockets turned the ball over 17 times and were out-rebounded 47-38 in the loss.

It was the first meeting between the Western Conference foes after Houston's opening night win in Los Angeles. That contest featured a small spat between Howard and Bryant, heightening the drama going into Wednesday's game. 

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Bucks Outlast Brooklyn in Triple Overtime

Bucks Outlast Brooklyn in Triple Overtime

Jed Jacobson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In his first trip back to the Barclays Center since leaving the team, Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets 122-118 in triple overtime on Wednesday. The Bucks (7-5) trailed by eight at halftime but rallied to force extra play.

In the first overtime, Milwaukee actually had a chance to win the game. With the game tied at 105, Brandon Knight picked off a pass from Joe Johnson with 2.9 seconds remaining. Knight then sprinted the length of the court and missed a wide-open layup to send the game into the second overtime.

However, that memory did not stay with Knight long. The guard would end up hitting a game-tying three late in the second overtime, and the game-clinching free throws in the third. Knight finished with 18 points and eight assists in the win. 

"My teammates trusted me to make the next shot to force a third overtime, so that's really what it's all about," Knight said, "and we stuck through it as a team."

The Nets (4-7), who lost their fifth straight, were led by a season-high 26 points from Brook Lopez. 

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Fan Dies at Trail Blazers Game After Collapsing in Stands

Fan Dies at Trail Blazers Game After Collapsing in Stands

Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(PORTLAND, Or) -- Tragedy struck the game between the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers last night as a female fan collapsed during the fourth quarter and later died.

Sandra Zickefoose, 67, received immediate medical attention after she fell unconscious in the lower bowl of the arena and was soon rushed to a local hospital. 

Zickefoose and her husband had been season ticket holders of the Trail Blazers since 2011, according to the team.

The Trail Blazers released a statement after hearing the news of Zickefoose's death:

"The Portland Trail Blazers, our players and Rose Quarter staff are saddened to learn of Ms. Zickefoose's death, and extend our deepest condolences to her husband Michael Cowan, and their family. We are grateful to all on-site medical personnel, other first responders and the medical professionals seated near Ms. Zickefoose who administered treatment and assistance during last night's emergency. We also thank Trail Blazers fans for their tremendous outpouring of support and concern."

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LeBron Powers Cleveland to Win Over Nuggets

LeBron Powers Cleveland to Win Over Nuggets

Christian Petersen/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Behind a near triple-double from LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped a brief two-game skid with a 110-101 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday. James scored a team-high 22 points while also dishing out 11 assists and pulling in seven rebounds.

Cleveland (2-3) led by 18 after the first quarter, which included nine total assists. The Cavs had just six assists in the their last game, a 100-102 loss to Utah. Despite only scoring two points in the period, James did have six assists by himself. As a team, the Cavaliers dished out 25 assists in the win.

"We were in tune defensively from the beginning and ... sharing the ball," James said. "We were locked in. I was very pleased with that."

Cleveland led by as many as 21 points in the second half, but the Nuggets (1-4) were able to claw their way back into the game. Randy Foye, who led Denver with 28 points, hit a layup with six minutes left in regulation to cut the deficit to 96-88. Less than 90 seconds later, it was a six point game.

Dion Waiters then stole a pass from Wilson Chandler and dunked it home at the other end, stopping the Denver momentum and giving the Cavaliers a 100-92 lead. Despite being outshot from the floor, Cleveland was 24-of-33 at the foul line while the Nuggets went just 10-of-15.

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Stephenson’s Three Downs Hawks in Double Overtime

Stephenson’s Three Downs Hawks in Double Overtime

Christopher Trottman/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Lance Stephenson hit a three at the buzzer to give the Charlotte Hornets a 122-119 double overtime win over Atlanta on Firday night. It was the first three-point attempt of the year for Stephenson and the first game-winning shot of his career.

"For me to hit that big shot, there was a lot of emotion that came out," Stephenson said. "I got real hyped."

With 2.7 seconds left in the second overtime, Stephenson begged coach Steve Clifford to draw up a play for him. Clifford did and Stephenson proceeded to inbound the ball Marvin Williams before getting it back on a handoff. The 24-year-old's shot banked off the glass and in for the win, prompting Stephenson to leap onto the scorer's table in celebration.

Charlotte (3-3) had a shot at victory in regulation, but Al Jefferson missed a free throw with 9.9 seconds. The Hornets also blew a six point lead in the first overtime and almost gave away the game in the second extra session. As Kemba Walker drove to the basket, he lost his balance and threw up a wild shot that resulted in a 24-second violation. Fortunately for the Hornets, Kyle Korver was called for an illegal screen on the inbound, giving the ball right back.

Jefferson finished the game with 34 points while Al Horford led the Hawks (1-3) with 24 points.

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Smart Carted Off in Celtics Win

Smart Carted Off in Celtics Win

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Celtics guard Marcus Smart was carted off the court Friday night after injuring his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Boston's 101-98 win over Indiana.

The rookie appeared to step on the Pacers Lavoy Allen and immediately went to the floor, clutching his left ankle. Team doctors rushed to his side before calling for a stretcher. His leg was immobilized and he was carted off the court, giving a thumbs up as he departed.

"It was really scary and then, obviously, he was writhing in pain, so that makes it even more scary," coach Brad Stevens said. "We're hoping it's a sprain, but we don't know that. So obviously a great deal of concern for him, No. 1. And hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later because he's really playing great basketball."

Smart was the 6th overall pick by the Celtics in this year's NBA draft and was averaging 7.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in the first four games of the season. Five players scored in double figures for Boston who improved to 2-3 while the Pacers dropped to 1-5 on the young season.

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WNBA Star Griner Injured by Knife Attack in China

WNBA Star Griner Injured by Knife Attack in China

Christian Petersen/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner was injured in China on Monday when a drunk man cut her on the elbow with a knife.

Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said that Griner sustained the cut when the man attempted to board the team bus after practice. Griner did not require stiches and did not need to go to the hospital. 

Colas also stated that one of Griner's teammates was stabbed by the man but was not injured because she was wearing two jackets. 

Griner was named the WNBA's Defensive Player of the Year and was the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 by the Phoenix Mercury. 

Griner averaged 15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game last season as she helped lead the Mercury to the 2014 WNBA title.  

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Sources: Indiana Suspends Two Players for Failed Drug Tests

Sources: Indiana Suspends Two Players for Failed Drug Tests

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Indiana men's basketball team has yet to play a game this season, but the Hoosiers have already suffered some key losses. Days after sophomore forward Devin Davis was hospitalized following a car accident, two more players have been suspended for failing a drug test, sources say.

Head coach Tom Crean said on his radio show Monday night that Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams have both been suspended for four games after failing their second drug test.

"We also had a couple of other bad choices made this summer. We're not a program that waits for this or that," Crean said on his radio show. "They made those bad choices. The rules say they sit a certain amount, well I say they sit more. Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams, they're also going to sit for four games."

Williams started all 32 games last season for Indiana, averaging 7.3 points per game. The 6'7" forward was expected to be a heavy contributor for the Hoosiers.

Robinson, however, played just nine games and averaged 6.4 points per contest.

Crean also announced that Emmitt Holt, the freshman who was driving the car that struck Davis, will also be suspended for four games.

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Brook Lopez Returns, Nets Dominate Thunder

Brook Lopez Returns, Nets Dominate Thunder

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in nearly a year, Brook Lopez stepped on the court in an NBA game. The Brooklyn center scored 18 points and pulled in six rebounds as the Nets beat Oklahoma City 116-85 in their home opener on Monday night.

"I can't put it in words," said Lopez, who broke his foot last December and was forced to miss the rest of the season. "It was great to be back out there. I've missed it for a long time and our team definitely took care of business tonight. Our guys make it easy."

Lopez was 6-for-10 from the floor in 24 minutes as the Nets (2-1) notched their biggest home-opening win ever. The center's 18 points was tied for the team-high, with Alan Anderson also pouring in 18 off the bench. Deron Williams added 17 points and nine assists as Brooklyn opened up a 32-19 lead after the first quarter, due in large part to going 5-for-7 from three-point land.

"It was just good to see him have that bounce, explosion," Kevin Garnett said of Lopez's return. "We know he's having foot problems. He's playing through a lot, man. And like I've said, if we're going to be anything, we're going to need the big fellow."

The Thunder (1-3) have been suffering their own injury issues with both Kevin Durant (foot) and Russell Westbrook (hand) unavailable. Reggie Jackson did make his season debut for Oklahoma City after missing the first three games, and scored a game-high 23 points in the loss.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 11/1/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 11/1/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NCAA Football: (7) TCU 31 (7-1) - (20) West Virginia 30 (6-3)

Florida 38 (4-3) - (11) Georgia 20 (6-2)

(13) Baylor 60 (7-1) - Kansas 14 (2-6)

(15) Nebraska 35 (8-1) - Purdue 14 (3-6)

(18) Oklahoma 59 (6-2) - Iowa State 14 (2-6)

Temple 20 (5-3) - (23) East Carolina 10 (6-2)

(24) Duke 51 (7-1) - Pittsburgh 48 (4-5) Double Overtime

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Kyle Busch wins the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. Joey Logano was second.

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Pacers’ George Takes Jump Shots at Practice

Pacers’ George Takes Jump Shots at Practice

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Less than three months ago, Paul George was being carried off the floor from a intersquad scrimmage with Team USA with a broken leg. On Monday, the Indiana Pacers forward was seen shooting jump shots with his teammates at practice.

Video surfaced from Pacers practice that showed George taking midrange jumpers as well as shooting some three-pointers in the gym following practice. The small forward suffered a grisly compound fracture in his right leg on Aug. 1 during a televised scrimmage with Team USA before the FIBA World Cup.

The 24-year-old has been cleared to put weight on his leg and begin upper-body workouts. George also proclaimed recently that he plans to play at some point during the upcoming NBA season.

A two-time All-Star, George has not missed more than three games in a season since the 2011-12 campaign. Last year he helped lead the Pacers back to the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 21.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

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Jeff Taylor Put On Leave By Hornets

Jeff Taylor Put On Leave By Hornets

Jed Jacobson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Charlotte Hornets announced on Friday that they have placed Jeffery Taylor on leave while the NBA investigates his arrest on domestic violence charges. A third-year forward, Taylor will not be allowed to participate in team activities during the investigation.

"We have informed Jeffery Taylor that effective immediately he will not be participating in any team-related activities while the NBA is investigating his conduct in this matter," the team said in a statement. "As an organization, we understand and appreciate the seriousness of this matter, and will assist the NBA and law enforcement in any way we can until this comes to an acceptable resolution."

Taylor was charged with one count of domestic assault, one count of assault and one count of malicious destruction of property on Thursday by East Lansing police, stemming from an incident at the East Lansing Marriott. A prosecutor said the police report will not be released during the investigation.

The 25-year-old is originally from Sweden but resides in North Carolina.

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Timberwolves Offer Max Deal to Bledsoe

Timberwolves Offer Max Deal to Bledsoe

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly offered a maximum contract to restricted free-agent Eric Bledsoe in hopes of a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns, Bledsoe's current team. 

The deal is for a reported four years and $63 million, exceeding the Suns offer of four years and $48 million. Bledsoe has told the Suns, as well as other teams, that he would only consider a max contract but would be willing to sign a qualifying offer worth one year and $3.7 million. By signing that deal, Bledsoe would make himself an unrestricted free agent following the 2014-15 season.

Minnesota had inquired about Bledsoe while shopping all-star forward Kevin Love, but trade talks never reached a serious point. The Timberwolves are hoping to pair Bledsoe with Andrew Wiggins, whom they acquired from Cleveland for Love.

Phoenix has already started making possible arrangements for life after Bledsoe. The Suns signed free-agent Isaiah Thomas and drafted Tyler Ennis in the first-year player draft in June. Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points per game for Phoenix last season.

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Team USA Rolls to FIBA World Cup Gold

Team USA Rolls to FIBA World Cup Gold

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(MADRID) -- Team USA dominated from the start and repeated as World Champion for the first time, defeating Serbia 129-92 in the FIBA World Cup gold medal game on Sunday.

Kyrie Irving was named Tournament MVP and scored 26 points in the final contest. Irving made all six of his three-point attempts, while the team went 15-for-30 from distance.

"Obviously we didn't have a very close game all tournament, but for that to happen we had to play hard for 40 minutes and not relax and not give any inch while we were out there," guard Stephen Curry said.

In total, the U.S. shot 58-percent from the floor in another blowout. The Americans dominated the tournament, posting an average margin of victory of 32.5 points per game. What made the performance more impressive is that it came without the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant. James Harden added 23 points for Team USA as eight different players scored in double figures.

Team USA has now won 63 consecutive games and qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

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Chauncey Billups Announces Retirement

Chauncey Billups Announces Retirement

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The 2004 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Chauncey Billups, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

"It's just time. I'm happy, excited. The game was very, very good to me," Billups told Yahoo! Sports. "I felt like I was equally as good to the game the way I played it and the way I respected it and the way I carried myself through the process."

Billups played 17 seasons in the NBA for seven different teams, including playing for the Detroit Pistons from 2002-08 and winning a title in 2004.

The 37-year-old averaged 15.2 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game throughout his career. Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1997, Billups also played for the Pistons, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers.

Billups rejoined the Pistons this past season, averaging 3.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in only 19 games.

Detroit announced in June that they would not be picking up his option for the 2014-15 season.

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Team USA Advances to FIBA Semifinals

Team USA Advances to FIBA Semifinals

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(BARCELONA, Spain) -- James Harden scored all 14 of his points in the second half while Klay Thompson added 20 points, helping the United States pull away from Slovenia in a 119-76 win in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday.

The game was not as easy as the final score suggests, however. Team USA only led 49-42 at the half, with Slovenia closing the gap to as close as five in the third quarter. However, the Americans would reel off a 27-10 run before scoring the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to make it a 96-64 contest.

"We just stick to the program. We know it's tough for any team to run with us for 40 minutes because of how deep we are and how hard we work on the floor," said Stephen Curry. "I think we understand we didn't make many shots in the first half but our defense was pretty solid, and if we kept the pressure on them, things would open up."

Team USA shot just 36 percent in the first half, but finished the game at 50 percent, thanks in large part to Thompson's 20 points. The US will play Lithuania on Thursday in the semifinals.

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USA Basketball Dominates in FIBA Opening Game

USA Basketball Dominates in FIBA Opening Game

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(BILBAO, Spain) -- The United States began defense of their FIBA Basketball World Cup title with a 114-55 blowout over tournament newcomer Finland on Saturday. The US limited the Finns to just a pair of free throws in the second quarter, holding them to 0-for-17 from the floor.

"Our coaches were encouraging us to keep up that effort by telling us every timeout, every dead ball, they only had two points or whatever," guard Stephen Curry said. "That's just motivation to keep doing what we're doing."

The dominating effort continued into the third quarter as Finland ended up going 19 consecutive shots before one finally went in. by the time Tuukka Kotta's basket dropped with 8:48 to play in the third, the Americans had already built up a 62-20 lead.

Klay Thompson came off the bench to lead all players with 18 points while Anthony Davis poured in 17 as well. The 59 point margin of victory is just the second highest in USA Basketball history, sitting behind a 79 point win over South Korea in 1990. The Americans will next take on Turkey in group stage play, a rematch of the 2010 world basketball championship gold-medal game.

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