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Two-time defending champ Mackey out front

Lance Mackey is closing in on his third straight Iditarod title. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Lance Mackey is closing in on his third straight Iditarod title. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Lance Mackey rested his dogs Tuesday while nearing another Iditarod title, taking advantage of a Bering Sea blizzard that kept mushers hours behind him waiting out the brutally cold wind.

Mackey, the two-time defending champion, gave his dogs 61/2 hours of rest at the Elim, Alaska, checkpoint, 123 miles from the Nome finish line before leaving the checkpoint at about 11 a.m. local time.

Sebastian Schnuelle and John Baker were in second and third place, respectively, moving slowly on the trail to Elim. But they were about two hours from reaching the checkpoint when Mackey left.


Royals sign Ponson

Sidney Ponson, 32, will get another chance to pitch, this time with the Kansas City Royals.

Coming off two starts for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, Ponson signed a minor league contract with the Royals and was invited to big league camp.

•Ramirez will play sparingly: Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said it was a mistake to put Manny Ramirez in the outfield last weekend and that his star slugger will be restricted to hitting when he first returns to exhibition play.

Ramirez played the field Sunday against Colorado and felt a tight hamstring the first time he tried to run full out.

•Clemens’ lawyers in court: Lawyers for Roger Clemens asked a federal judge to reconsider his decision dismissing most of a defamation suit the pitcher filed against his former personal trainer.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison dropped most of Clemens’ lawsuit against Brian McNamee on Feb. 12, saying statements McNamee made to baseball investigator George Mitchell were protected.


Bulls surprise Celtics

John Salmons tied a career-high with 38 points and the Chicago Bulls rallied for a 127-121 win over the visiting Boston Celtics, despite 37 points from Paul Pierce.

The Celtics were trying to clinch a share of the Atlantic Division title.

•Cavaliers edge Magic: LeBron James dropped a long 3-pointer with 47.4 seconds left and added two free throws with 8.7 seconds to go as the Cleveland Cavaliers improved to 30-1 at home with a 97-93 win over the Orlando Magic.

•Mavericks nip Pistons: Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 and the Dallas Mavericks finally took advantage of an injury-depleted team, leading the visiting Detroit Pistons from start to finish in a 103-101 victory.

Richard Hamilton was a late scratch for Detroit because of an aggravated groin problem. With Rasheed Wallace (calf) and Allen Iverson (back) also out, the Pistons were missing a combined average of 48.5 points per game.

•Pistons owner remembered: NBA commissioner David Stern and former great Isiah Thomas were among hundreds of mourners who gathered to remember the late Detroit Pistons owner and philanthropist William Davidson.

Pistons president Tom Wilson and former player and current team executive Joe Dumars were among the pallbearers. Davidson died Friday at the age of 86.


Coyotes top Sharks

Shane Doan scored with 26.9 seconds remaining and the Phoenix Coyotes edged the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in Glendale, Ariz.

Doan, who assisted on Phoenix’s previous three goals, scored on the backhand as he was being tackled from behind by defenseman Rob Blake.

•Red Wings rally: Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg scored 1:32 apart in the third period to wipe out a one-goal deficit and rally the host Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

•Malkin hits century mark: NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin tied a career high with five points to surpass 100 for the second consecutive season and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the visiting Atlanta Thrashers 6-2.

Malkin finished with two goals and three assists. He leads teammate Sidney Crosby by 10 points in the scoring race.


Peppers wants out

Julius Peppers wants out of Carolina and wouldn’t mind going to New England.

The Panthers will let him go only for what they feel is fair compensation.

A day after the Panthers dismissed an report that Peppers was close to being dealt to New England for a second-round pick, a person close to Peppers said the Patriots are one of the teams for which he’d like to play.

The Dallas Cowboys and two other unidentified NFC teams also are on Peppers’ four-team wish list.

•Florida State appeals: Florida State will appeal part of an NCAA punishment that would strip the school of victories in 10 sports, including as many as 14 in football. The university president called the penalty “excessive and inappropriate.”

Football coach Bobby Bowden has 382 career wins – one fewer than Penn State’s Joe Paterno, the major college leader.

Having 14 victories subtracted from Bowden’s official total could ruin his chances of retiring as the NCAA leader.

•Oklahoma Wesleyan wins: Steve Briggs scored 27 points and hit a late, go-ahead 3-pointer to help Oklahoma Wesleyan (35-2) to a 60-53 win over College of the Ozarks (25-11) in the NAIA Division II title game in Point Lookout, Mo.

•MLS eyes Vancouver: The Vancouver Whitecaps are expected to be introduced as soon as Thursday as the second Canadian Major League Soccer franchise.

•Wins matter in F1: Formula One’s championship will be decided by the number of race wins and not accumulated points, the governing body FIA decided.

•McDowell’s team tops Woods’: Graeme McDowell shot a 6-under-par 66 and the rest of his team at Lake Nona piled on to win the Tavistock Cup 17-13 against an Isleworth team led by Tiger Woods.

The Tavistock Cup, held this year at Lake Nona, is a competition between two high-profile golf clubs in Orlando, Fla.


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