In brief: Suns sweep Spurs; on to West finals
NBA: The Phoenix Suns swept away seven years of bad playoff memories brought by the San Antonio Spurs.
Steve Nash scored 20 points and played with a right eye that was swollen shut as Phoenix swept host San Antonio from the Western Conference semifinals with a 107-101 win Sunday night. Amare Stoudemire led the way with 29 points to help the Suns get past the Spurs in the playoffs for the first time in five tries.
Nash’s right eye needed six stitches after taking an errant elbow from Tim Duncan.
Meanwhile, one of the more remarkable stories of the playoffs continues. Three months after Phoenix was on the brink of trading Stoudemire and calling it a season, the Suns are returning to the West finals for the first time since 2006.
•Rondo, Celtics even series against Cavs: Rajon Rondo had 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, and the Boston Celtics beat the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 97-87 to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at two games apiece.
Rondo had a playoff career high in rebounds and matched his best scoring night in his fourth postseason triple-double. He played 47 minutes with some of his bigger-name teammates in foul trouble, and fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” as he knocked down a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left.
Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett scored 18 apiece for the Celtics, who rebounded from the worst home playoff loss in franchise history and ensured they’ll get at least one more game at home. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Cleveland before the series returns to Boston on Thursday night.
LeBron James scored 22 points and seemed frustrated during a seven-turnover performance. Shaquille O’Neal added 17 points, his high for this postseason, but was on the bench when the Celtics blew by the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.
Canucks rebound, extend series
Hockey: Kevin Bieksa scored two goals, Roberto Luongo made 29 saves and the Vancouver Canucks beat the host Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 to stay alive in the Western Conference semifinals.
Chicago leads the series 3-2 and now it heads back to Vancouver – where the Blackhawks captured Games 3-4 – for Game 6 on Tuesday night.
The Canucks got the kind of performance they needed from Olympic gold medalist Luongo following three straight losses to the Blackhawks.
Christian Ehrhoff opened the scoring for the Canucks, just 59 seconds into the game, quickly quieting the crowd at the United Center who had hoped to see the Blackhawks make the conference finals for a second straight season.
•Ovechkin scores as Russia opens worlds with win: Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin scored to help two-time defending champion Russia open with the world hockey championhips with a 3-1 victory over Slovakia in Cologne, Germany.
Also in Group A, Belarus rallied to top Kazakhstan 5-2.
In Group C, Jaromir Jagr set up three goals to help the Czech Republic beat France 6-2. Jiri Novotny had a goal and two assists for the Czechs.
Also in Group C, Matt Weinhandl had three goals in Sweden’s 5-2 win over Norway.
Henin, Sharapova knocked out
Tennis: Former top-ranked players Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova crashed out in the first round of the Madrid Masters.
Aravane Rezai beat Henin 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, and Lucie Safarova edged Sharapova 6-4, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded Venus Williams beat Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-4, 6-2.
On the men’s side, ninth-seeded David Ferrer beat Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6 (2). Ivo Karlovic topped Evgeny Korolev 6-4, 7-6 (5) to set up a second-round match with sixth-seeded Fernando Verdasco. Juan Monaco beat Simon Greul 6-1, 6-1.
•Querrey wins Serbia Open: Sam Querrey survived a match point as he rallied to beat John Isner 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to win an all-American Serbia Open final at Belgrade, Serbia.
The second-seeded Isner wasted a match point in the second set while serving and leading 5-3. His powerful first serve seemed to have deserted him in the crucial moments as Querrey converted a break point with a forehand passing shot.
•Youzhny beats Cilic to win BMW Open: Mikhail Youzhny beat top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to win the BMW Open in Munich for his first title of the year.
The second-seeded Russian captured the BMW Open at his third attempt in the final, having lost in 2007 and 2009.
Webber leads Red Bull to victory
Miscellany: Red Bull’s Mark Webber won the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, Spain, while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel filled out the podium after Lewis Hamilton crashed with one lap remaining.
Webber made it 10 straight winners from pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya after the Australian drove a flawless race for a 24-second victory over Alonso and his third career victory.
•Farrar wins second stage of Giro: Tyler Farrar made a late charge to win the second stage of the Giro d’Italia in a sprint finish, while Cadel Evans took the overall leader’s pink jersey in Utrecht, Netherlands.
The American rider recovered from being involved in a crash earlier in the race to win the 130-mile stage in 4 hours, 56 minutes, 46 seconds.
•Resse gets sixth career Bassmasters win: Skeet Reese had a big final day to beat his closest competitor by more than 7 1/2 pounds for his second Bassmasters victory of the year at Guntersville, Ala.
Reese, from Auburn, Calif., caught 25 pounds, 15 ounces of Lake Guntersville bass on the day for a four-day total of 100-13. Davy Hite, from Ninety Six, S.C., was second at 93-3 and John Crews, of Salem, Va., third at 92-11.
•Finchum wins 10-meter platform final: Thomas Finchum beat two Chinese divers to win the men’s 10-meter platform final with a 517.95 at the USA Diving Grand Prix at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In women’s 3-meter springboard final action, Han Wang of China won the event with a 359.60.