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Thursday's Sports In Brief

Thursday's Sports In Brief

LOS ANGELES (AP) Josh Hamilton is heading to the Los Angeles Angels, lured with a $125 million, five-year contract that steps up the migration of high-profile stars to Southern California.

The Angels persuaded the free-agent outfielder to leave the Texas Rangers with their third big-money offseason signing in two years. Hamilton heads to Anaheim after first baseman Albert Pujols came West for $240 million last December along with pitcher C.J. Wilson - Hamilton's Texas teammate - for $77.5 million.

Still, the Angels failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year. General manager Jerry Dipoto had said Wednesday that he didn't think a major move was ``imminent or required.''

But owner Arte Moreno pulled off another coup by getting Hamilton. The 2010 AL MVP, Pujols and AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout combined for 103 home runs and 316 RBIs last season.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins finalized a $10 million, two-year contract with right-hander Kevin Correia to fill a rotation spot after their starters posted the second-worst ERA in the majors last season.

The 32-year-old, an All-Star in 2011, went 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA for Pittsburgh this year.

He will make $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2014. This will be his fourth major league team and first time in the AL.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court will hear Barry Bonds' appeal of his obstruction of justice conviction early next year.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral arguments for Feb. 13 before a three-judge panel in San Francisco.

The career home run leader was convicted in April 2011 of one felony obstruction count for giving an evasive, rambling reply during a 2003 grand jury appearance when asked whether he received drugs that required a syringe.

The jury deadlocked on three charges he made false statements, and prosecutors dropped those counts in August 2011.

HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - Two days of talks between the NHL, the players' association, and federal mediators still haven't provided any answers how to end the lockout.

Representatives from the fighting sides made it into the same room with a federal mediator. They just didn't make any noticeable progress.

After a failed day Wednesday when the parties on either end of the hockey labor dispute never met with each other, lawyers from each group spoke face to face. They appear no closer to a deal to save the season.

Players' association special counsel Steve Fehr, who met with league lead counsel Bob Batterman, said the sides intend to talk Friday either in person or by phone. At no point on either day this week did union executive director Donald Fehr meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

PRO FOOTBALL

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said witnesses in the NFL's bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints have lied about him and the organization, and that their stories might change in federal court.

Alluding to a defamation lawsuit filed by Saints linebacker Jon Vilma against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Vitt angrily said he feels the truth about the pay-for-pain system will come out before U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who is presiding over the pending case in New Orleans.

Vitt's comments came a day after The Associated Press reported that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified in recent NFL appeal hearings that he tried to stop the Saints' bounty program, only to be overruled by Vitt. The AP obtained transcripts from the closed-door hearings, which were held for Vilma and three other players who had been punished in the bounty probe.

COLLEGE SPORTS

NEW YORK (AP) - The Big East is headed for another break up. This time, the seven prominent basketball schools that don't play FBS football are planning to cut ties with the ever-changing conference.

The divorce is expected to be complicated, maybe even contentious, with millions of dollars and possibly the future of the league at stake.

The Big East's non-football members - St. John's, Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, Seton hall, Providence and Villanova - decided to separate from the conference, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials from those schools are still sorting through details and trying to figure how best to split from the conference. No official announcement was imminent, the person said.

GOLF

NEW YORK (AP) - Weary of two decades of defeat in Europe, the Americans are breaking from precedent with a captain uniquely suited for the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland.

Tom Watson will be by far the oldest man to fill the role and the first repeat captain for the U.S. since Jack Nicklaus in 1987. But he's also the last American to lead the team to victory on the road, and he knows how to win in the blustery Scottish weather.

The Americans have lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cups and have not won away from home since 1993, when Watson was the captain at The Belfry in England. They are coming off a staggering loss this year at Medinah, where Europe strung together a remarkable rally from a 10-6 deficit going into the final day to win by one point.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

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Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

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Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

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