April 9, 2012 in Sports

U.S. defeats France, awaits Spain in semis

Associated Press photo

American John Isner hits a return shot Sunday during his Davis Cup victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
(Full-size photo)

Tennis: Having beaten Roger Federer’s Switzerland and France on the road, the U.S. Davis Cup team now awaits a more daunting obstacle – defending champion Spain in the semifinals.

John Isner sent the Americans into the next round by winning Sunday’s opening singles match – a 6-3, 7-6 (4) 5-7, 6-3 victory over sixth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in Roquebrune, France. The U.S. is in the last four of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2008.

“We’ve had the worst draw you could possibly imagine. I’m shocked that we’re still in the Davis Cup this year,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “We’re going to be the underdog in Spain, but we’re going to come with guns blazing.”

Isner won both his singles in style, dispatching Gilles Simon on Friday and refusing to get rattled against Tsonga. Simon beat 19-year-old Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-3 in Sunday’s last match to make the final score 3-2.

In other quarterfinals, host Czech Republic topped Serbia 4-1 and host Argentina beat Croatia 4-1. The semifinals are in September.

• Serena Williams wins tourney: Serena Williams capped a dominant week with another powerful performance to beat Lucie Safarova 6-0, 6-1 and capture her first clay-court tournament in four years at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C.

Williams didn’t drop a set in five matches this week and lost only three games over the weekend, dispatching Samantha Stosur, 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals before ousting Safarova. She hadn’t won a tournament on clay – or even gotten to a final on the surface – since taking the 2008 championship here.

Knicks spoil Rose’s return to Bulls

NBA: Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 43 points, making the go-ahead 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds left in overtime as the New York Knicks spoiled a rusty Derrick Rose’s return to the lineup and beat the Chicago Bulls 100-99 in New York.

Rose scored 29 points after missing the previous 12 games with a strained right groin, but he shot only 8 of 26 from the field and missed a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left in regulation and the Bulls ahead by three.

• Garnett, Rondo spark Celtics: Kevin Garnett scored 20 points and Rajon Rondo dished out double-digit assists for his 17th consecutive game, finishing with 15 to help lead the Boston Celtics to a 103-79 win over the struggling Philadelphia 76ers in Boston.

Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley each added 18 points, and Paul Pierce had 17 as the Celtics won for the seventh time in nine games, improving their Atlantic Division lead to three games over both the 76ers and New York Knicks.

Nikola Vucevic led Philadelphia with 14 points and Andre Iguodala had 13. The 76ers have dropped 10 of 14, falling out of first in the Atlantic and forced to compete for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the Knicks for seventh place, one game ahead of Milwaukee.

• Wade-less Heat floor Pistons: LeBron James scored 26 points, Chris Bosh finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, and the Miami Heat steadily pulled away to beat the Detroit Pistons 98-75 in Miami.

James Jones scored 18 on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range for Miami, which played without Dwyane Wade for the 11th time this season. Wade sat out with right ankle soreness, which the team said was caused by an awkward landing on a missed dunk attempt against Memphis on Friday night.

The Heat are now 10-1 when Wade is sidelined this season, and are 18-1 in their last 19 home games.

• Thunder end 3-game slide: Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Oklahoma City had a 24-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters en route to a 91-75 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Oklahoma City, snapping the Thunder’s season-high three-game losing streak.

Oklahoma City remained percentage points behind San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference.

• Spurs up win streak to 11: Tony Parker scored 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs won their 11th straight game, beating the Utah Jazz 114-104 in San Antonio to maintain their slim lead atop the Western Conference.

Manu Ginobili added 23 points for the Spurs, who are now on their second 11-game win streak – a season best in the NBA.

Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Utah dropped 1 1/2 games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot with nine games left.

Boonen captures 4th Paris-Roubaix race

Cycling: Belgian rider Tom Boonen has won the Paris-Roubaix race for a record-tying fourth time, successfully breaking away from the pack about 35 miles from the end of the one-day classic in Roubaix, France.

The 2005 world champion crossed the finish line alone, before five chasing riders had reached the velodrome.

• Shanks reclaims pursuit title: Alison Shanks of New Zealand reclaimed her women’s individual pursuit title by beating Britain’s Wendy Houvenaghel by more than two seconds on the final day of the world track cycling championships in Melbourne, Australia.

Shanks produced a time of 3:30.199 at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena to comfortably beat Houvenaghel on 3:32.350.

Johnson resigns from LSU, has TCU in mind

Miscellany: Trent Johnson resigned as LSU’s men’s basketball coach, the announcement coming on the eve of his expected introduction as TCU’s coach.

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said Johnson is leaving the Tigers after four seasons to take another head coaching position.

Alleva didn’t say where Johnson was headed, but TCU said Sunday that a “major announcement” involving its men’s basketball program would be made during a news conference on the Fort Worth campus this afternoon.

Johnson had a 67-64 record in four seasons at LSU.

• Jaguars’ Knighton has surgery: Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton had eye surgery an undisclosed incident in Jacksonville, Fla.

According to Knighton’s Twitter page, he was at Pure nightclub in Jacksonville, but team officials say they are “gathering information about what happened and are not able to further comment at this time.”

Knighton is a fourth-year player from Temple.

• Canada beats Finland: Laura Fortino, Caroline Ouellette and Gillian Apps scored goals to help Canada beat Finland 3-2 in the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Burlington, Vt.

Canada rebounded from an opening 9-2 loss to the United States on Saturday night.

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