Wizards

Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

NEW YORK (AP) Coach of the month in November, out of a job by New Year's.

The Brooklyn Nets have elevated expectations this season, and a .500 record wasn't good enough. Coach Avery Johnson was fired Thursday, his team having lost 10 of 13 games after a strong start to its first season in Brooklyn.

``We don't have the same fire now than we did when we were 11-4,'' general manager Billy King said at a news conference in East Rutherford, N.J. ``I tried to talk to Avery about it and we just can't figure it out. The same pattern kept on happening.''

Assistant P.J. Carlesimo will coach the Nets on an interim basis, starting Friday night with a home game against Charlotte. King said the Nets might reach out to other candidates, but for now the job was Carlesimo's. The GM wouldn't comment on a report that the team planned to get in touch with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

NEW YORK (AP) - Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was suspended one game without pay by the NBA for flailing his leg and making contact with the groin of Charlotte Bobcats' Ramon Sessions.

The incident happened with 8:12 left in the fourth quarter of the Heat's 105-92 victory over the Bobcats on Wednesday night. Sessions was called for a foul on the play. Wade will serve the suspension Friday night when the Heat visit the Detroit Pistons, and return Saturday night in Milwaukee.

NEW YORK (AP) - Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard was fined $35,000 by the NBA for a flagrant foul against Denver's Kenneth Faried.

Howard was ejected with 5:02 left in the third quarter in the Lakers' 126-114 loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday night. He was called for a flagrant foul 2 when he jammed his hand in Faried's face as the Denver forward drove the lane.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) - Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

He was examined by a foot specialist and an MRI confirmed the diagnosis. Gasol is listed as probable for Friday night's game against Portland.

NEW YORK (AP) - New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton won't need surgery on his broken right pinky finger and is expected to be out at least a month.

PRO FOOTBALL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Greg McElroy has a concussion and will be replaced by Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets' starting quarterback in the season finale at Buffalo on Sunday.

Coach Rex Ryan said McElroy, preparing to make his second NFL start in place of the benched Sanchez, was lifting weights and had headaches. He went to the team's training staff and then revealed he was suffering concussion-like symptoms after being sacked 11 times in the Jets' 27-17 loss to San Diego last Sunday.

Ryan says he chose to start Sanchez over Tim Tebow because the team has just two practices and a walkthrough to prepare before the game and he feels ``more comfortable'' with Sanchez.

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman won his appeal of a four-game suspension for use of performance enhancing substances, making him eligible for the NFL playoffs.

Sherman posted ``I won,'' on his Twitter account, followed by teammates tweeting their congratulations.

The decision was made by former NFL executive Bob Wallace.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A person familiar with the penalty says the NFL has fined Panthers quarterback Cam Newton $21,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league hasn't announced the fine.

Newton shouted at and bumped referee Jerome Boger in the fourth quarter of Carolina's penalty-plagued 17-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers All-Pro tackle Justin Smith is unlikely to play Sunday in the regular-season finale against Arizona because of a partially torn left triceps. The injury could force Smith to miss some or all of the postseason.

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent was driving with a suspended license and had a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit at the time of the car crash that killed teammate and friend Jerry Brown, according to documents released by police.

The 24-year-old Brent was tested after the crash in the early hours of Dec. 8 at 0.189 percent, well above the Texas limit of 0.08. One police report said Brent was intoxicated, driving over the speed limit and swerving out of one lane when he struck a curb in Irving, a suburb of Dallas, causing the car to flip over.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Glasco Martin ran for three touchdowns, Nick Florence threw for two scores and ran for another, and Baylor overwhelmed UCLA 49-26 in the Holiday Bowl.

WASHINGTON (AP) - David Fales completed 33 of 43 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns as No. 24 San Jose State completed a comeback season with a 29-20 win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Duke running back Josh Snead fumbled at the Cincinnati 5 with 1:20 left and Brendon Kay threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce with 44 seconds to go, lifting the Bearcats to an improbable 48-34 win over the Blue Devils.

Kay threw for 332 yards and his four scoring passes were a Belk Bowl record.

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Matt Barkley's career at Southern California is over, a shoulder injury bringing a disappointing end to his record-breaking, four-year run as the Trojans' quarterback.

Coach Lane Kiffin announced that the senior quarterback won't play in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech because of an injured shoulder. Instead, redshirt freshman Max Wittek will make his second career start.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Free agent slugger Hideki Matsui retired from professional baseball, saying he is no longer able to perform at the level that made him a star in two countries.

The 2009 World Series MVP with the New York Yankees and a three-time Central League MVP with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants struggled in a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Rays last season and recently made up his mind to call it a career after 20 years - the first 10 in Japan.

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) - Hall of Fame baseball catcher Carlton Fisk pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge, two months after police found him asleep in his pickup truck in a suburban Chicago cornfield.

Fisk, 64, was sentenced to one year of court supervision and must pay $1,250 in court costs. He also must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and counseling.

TENNIS

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Andy Murray's 2013 season got off to a shaky start with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Janko Tipsarevic in the opening match of the World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament.

Quick Links

WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

As Rui Hachimura continues to grow and take his lumps at the NBA level, one important point of development for the Wizards' rookie will be finishing through contact at the rim. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

On Wednesday night against the Spurs, Hachimura hit a nice hook shot over LaMarcus Aldridge and then finished through traffic after attacking a closeout a few plays later. He entered the game shooting nearly 70 percent at the rim, a major reason why he's one of the top-scoring rookies this season. 

Then at the end of the first half, Isaiah Thomas found Hachimura on a back-door cut for the easy slam. Well-timed cuts are a great source of points for young players. 

After the break, the ninth-overall pick flashed a little finesse at the rim for another pretty finish. 

His three-point shooting will have to improve at some point down the line and learning better positioning as a defender is something every rookie has to go through. 

Both of those skills can be improved in the practice gym or in the film room. Finishing at the basket through contact is learned by repetition in-game, so it's a promising sign to see Hachimura take the ball to the rim. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

gregg-popovich-becky-hammon.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosting the Spurs on Wednesday night brought together two of the 11 NBA teams that currently employ a female assistant coach. The Wizards have Kristi Toliver on their bench and the Spurs have Becky Hammon.

That confluence prompted a question to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich on the future of women in the NBA coaching ranks and whether a head coaching hire could happen sometime soon. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Though it has been five years since he hired Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in league history, Popovich is uncertain on exactly when a team will make the leap to hiring a woman to run their operation.

"That depends on people and organizations," he said. 

"It's a process and it doesn't happen quickly. But I think the more women there are [in the game] and as it becomes more commonplace and more the rule, it will then depend on an organization realizing there are women that can do this. Every woman can't, every man can't. But the point is there gotta be enough to choose from and it's gotta be pretty commonplace before I think somebody's gonna pull the trigger."

Popovich believes it will happen, he's just not sure when. The Wizards hiring Toliver last summer was another step in that direction and he believes she and others are showing the basketball world what they are capable of.

"There's no difference between a woman who knows the game and a man who knows the game. It's just another prejudice that probably has to be overcome just like a lot of other prejudices in the world have become less and less as people paid attention to them," Popovich said.

Hammon made the news over the weekend when Popovich was ejected from the Spurs' loss to the Kings and a committee of assistants coached the rest of the game. Popovich was asked why he didn't appoint Hammon to serve in the role for the rest of the game and he told reporters he was "not here to make history." 

Still, though there has never been a female head coach in any of the four major U.S. sports, it seems like the NBA is by far the closest with people like Hammon and Tolliver already knocking on the door.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: