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Murray beats Dimitrov to defend Brisbane title

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Murray beats Dimitrov to defend Brisbane title

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray kicked off 2013 with a successful defense of his Brisbane International title, holding off the up-and-coming Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (0), 6-4 and then dedicating Sunday's victory to an absent friend.

``Thank you very much,'' Murray said, his voice starting to break at the end of the trophy presentation. ``He's back home watching ... you're going to get through.''

He didn't immediately reveal the name of his friend, but signed ``For You Perched'' on a small plaque.

Murray began his breakthrough season in 2012 by winning in Brisbane and followed that up later with career-changing titles at the London Olympics and U.S. Open.

He heads into the Australian Open, starting Jan. 14, as the reigning major champion and without the enormous pressure that has followed him on every previous trip to Australia to end what had been a drought dating back to 1936 for British men at majors.

The 21-year-old Dimitrov raced to a 4-1 lead in his first ATP World Tour final, stunning Murray with some impressive single-handed backhands, but lost his nerve and was broken when serving for the set at 5-3. After getting back on serve, No. 3-ranked Murray saved a set-point with an ace and forced a tiebreaker, which he dominated.

In the second, Murray drilled a backhand into the net to give up a service break and a 4-3 lead to Dimitrov, and chastised himself as he sat in his chair at the changeover, yelling: ``legs, legs, legs, legs, legs.''

He raised his game immediately to break back in a three-game roll, getting quick points from a backhand passing shot and a stunning return to set up a break point and a backhand winner down the line to level.

Murray held at love for a 5-4 lead in a service game that lasted 56 seconds and then broke Dimitrov again to finish it off in 1 1/2 hours.

``I was up a break and I was actually not playing bad tennis at all I thought,'' the No. 48-ranked Dimitrov said. ``He's one of the best returners in the game by far. He picked up couple of my serves on big points, so that gave him extra confidence. Then he stepped up with his serve.

``He's a top guy, so he has his rhythm, his routine on court. When he has to play good, he plays good. So I didn't feel that I was far from winning the set or even the match, but still that was a little margin that he got covered.''

Dimitrov beat No. 2-seeded Milos Raonic, the big-serving Canadian, No. 7 Jurgen Melzer and 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis en route to his first career final.

And Murray thinks Dimitrov, who has been compared with 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer as a younger player, could be on the verge of bigger things.

``It's his first final. Everyone will agree he played some extremely exciting tennis, it was a very tough match,'' Murray said. ``He's just changed coaches, started with a new team, so congratulations to them - I'm sure they're going to do great things together.''

Murray made a shaky start to the tournament, dropping a set in his first match against No. 199-ranked Australian qualifier John Millman, but the Scot gradually picked up momentum in wins over Denis Istomin and - after falling behind a break in the first set - was leading fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-4, 2-0 when the Japanese player withdrew from their semifinal with an injured left knee.

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WATCH: Bradley Beal's tomahawk slam is going to give Andre Drummond nightmares

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USA Today

WATCH: Bradley Beal's tomahawk slam is going to give Andre Drummond nightmares

If Andre Drummond felt disrespected by the Pistons just for trading him to Cleveland, then he is definitely not going to be a fan of Bradley Beal after the Wizards' star put him on a poster Friday night at Capital One Arena.

Good thing for Drummond, when Beal attacked the rim shortly after, he knew to move out of the way.

Drummond was traded to the Cavaliers during the trade deadline from the Pistons.

Back in January on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while he was still playing in the Motor City, Beal reminded Drummond not to guard him on the perimeter either.

After crossing up Drummond, Beal hit him with a step-back three and then reminded him that you should really slide your feet on defense. 

Drummond won't be looking forward to any further trips to the nation's capital.

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NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

After signing Markieff Morris to a contract following the former Wizard's buy out from the Pistons, the Lakers reportedly waived center DeMarcus Cousins to open a roster spot. 

Health has been a major issue over the last two years for Cousins. He hasn't played a game this year thanks to a torn ACL he suffered before the season, and he missed all but 30 games last year due to an Achilles injury he suffered with the Pelicans midway through the 2017-18 season. 

Before injuries robbed Cousins of the majority of his prime, he was arguably the best big man in the game. Prior to his Achilles injury in New Orleans, he was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 47% percent from the floor and 35.4% from three on 6.1 attempts per game. 

For the Wizards, Cousins could represent another low risk, high reward big man acquisition that the Lakers couldn't find any use for. Washington acquired both Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner from LA for practically nothing and both have played well after their relocation to D.C. 

Also, John Wall played with Cousins at the University of Kentucky and both have mentioned a desire to play together again at some point. Neither player is expected to return from injury this season, so they could both go on an NBA revenge tour together alongside Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura. 

In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see what Cousins decides to do. According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, Cousins won't officially be waived until Sunday. The team who claims him will be able to offer him up to $4.2 million in salary this summer. 

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