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Mavs, Lakers, Hawks reach second round

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki dunks for two of his 33 points. (Associated Press)
Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki dunks for two of his 33 points. (Associated Press)

Basketball: Dirk Nowitzki had 33 points and 11 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks withstood a furious Portland comeback to beat the Trail Blazers 103-96 Thursday night and take the first-round playoff series in six games.

Jason Terry finished with 22 points as the Mavericks snapped the home-court advantage that each team had held during the playoffs and the regular season.

Bryant powers Lakers into second round: Kobe Bryant scored 22 of his 24 points in the first three quarters, then let his Lakers teammates take over in a dominant 98-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets that clinched the series for Los Angeles in six games.

Chris Paul finished with 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Hornets.

Los Angeles will play Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

Hawks topple Magic, will face Bulls: Joe Johnson scored 23 points and came up with a huge offensive rebound, leading the Atlanta Hawks to an 84-81 victory in Game 6, knocking the Orlando Magic out of the playoffs.

The Hawks, who won the series 4-2, advanced to the second round for the third straight year, this time against top-seeded Chicago.

NFL files motions seeking firm ruling

Football: While the NFL agreed to unlock its facilities to players beginning this morning, it held off on free agency and player trades in hopes the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis grants a stay of U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s order to lift the lockout.

In filing two motions, the league asked for a permanent stay pending an appeal and a temporary stay that would be in place until a ruling can be determined on the permanent stay.

The appeals court gave the players until noon today to file a response to the motion for a permanent stay. The league’s reply to the response is then due by 9 a.m. Monday.

Luongo stops ’em all for Canucks in opener

Hockey: Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots and made Chris Higgins’ second-period goal stand up in the Vancouver Canucks’ 1-0 win over the visiting Nashville Predators in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

It was Luongo’s second shutout of these playoffs and the third of his NHL postseason career. He made nine saves in the third period, including a short-handed breakaway by Mike Fisher 5:20 in, for the Canucks, who will host Game 2 on Saturday.

Hart finalists announced: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis are finalists for the Hart Trophy given to the NHL’s MVP.

NCAA addresses draft, eligibility

College athletics: College basketball players will have less time to decide whether to stay in the NBA draft and college football players will be spending more time in the classroom under NCAA Board of Directors changes that were adopted Thursday.

Football players could be suspended for up to four games, starting in 2012, if they fail to earn at least nine credit hours in the fall semester – or eight on a quarterly system.

Basketball players must decide before the first day of the spring signing period, typically mid-April, to pull out of the draft and retain their college eligibility. This year, players have until May 8 to withdraw from the draft.

Jones, Watson out front at Zurich Classic

Golf: Matt Jones holed out from 60 feet on his final hole for a 6-under 66 and a share of the first-round lead with Bubba Watson on Thursday in the Zurich Classic at Avondale, La.

Watson, the winner at Torrey Pines in late January, made a 32-foot eagle putt on the par-5 11th and had six birdies and two bogeys at TPC Louisiana.

Spokane’s Alex Prugh shot a 75.

Park, Kim go low in LPGA event: Grace Park and Song-Hee Kim shot 5-under 67s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala., the tour’s only event in a six-week stretch.

Park eagled the par-5 13th and had five birdies and two bogeys on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove complex.

Area resident Wendy Ward shot 75.

Chan on top of figure skating world

Figure skating: Elegant and athletic, Patrick Chan won his first world figure skating title in record fashion.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were far more whimsical, but no less mesmerizing in the pairs competition.

Chan and the German pair each set world records for the free skate and total points as they claimed titles at the world figure skating championships in Moscow. Chan’s total score of 280.98 points smashed the previous record of 264.41, set in 2008 by last year’s world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan.

Savchenko and Szolkowy scored 217.85 points for their playful “Pink Panther” program.

Omaha will host: Omaha has been chosen to host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2013.