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Lakers edge Nuggets to advance

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, top, goes up for a shot as Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo attempts to defend. (Associated Press)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, top, goes up for a shot as Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo attempts to defend. (Associated Press)

NBA: Pau Gasol had 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, Metta World Peace scored 15 points in his return from a seven-game suspension, and the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the visiting Denver Nuggets for a thrilling 96-87 victory in Game 7 on Saturday night to win their first-round series.

Steve Blake scored a playoff career-high 19 points and Kobe Bryant had 17 points and eight assists for the Lakers, who blew a 16-point lead in the second half before surviving a finale with wild momentum swings and furious physical play.

• Garnett leads Celtics past 76ers: Kevin Garnett scored 29 points – his most in the regular or postseason this year – and added 11 rebounds to spark the Boston Celtics to a 92-91 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Rajon Rondo had 17 assists, 13 points and 12 rebounds for Boston for his eighth career playoff triple-double.

• James wins MVP: LeBron James is the NBA’s MVP for the third time.

The Miami Heat forward officially becomes the eighth player in league history to win the award three times. The league made the announcement shortly before James was to appear at a news conference in Miami to discuss the award.

• Rose has surgery to repair torn ACL: Derrick Rose had surgery on a torn knee ligament, and the Chicago Bulls said they will give an update early next week on the recovery of their star point guard.

• Hawks co-owner Gearon fined $35K: The NBA has fined Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. $35,000 for publicly criticizing NBA officiating and making negative comments about an opposing player.

The NBA also fined Hawks rookie Ivan Johnson $25,000 for directing an obscene gesture toward fans.

Gearon was quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as calling Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett “the dirtiest guy in the league” on Wednesday.

NHL: Brad Richards and Michael Del Zotto scored, Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves, and the New York Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 over the visiting Washington Capitals.

Richards scored less than 2 minutes in, and Del Zotto doubled the lead in the third period to help the top-seeded Rangers improve to 5-0 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden. That set up a matchup with the New Jersey Devils, the team the Rangers beat in the 1994 conference finals en route to their first Stanley Cup title in 54 years.

Federer wins to reach Madrid Open final

Tennis: Roger Federer will play for his third Madrid Open title with a chance to take over the No. 2 spot in the world rankings after cruising past Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-3 in the tournament semifinals in Madrid.

The Swiss star and former No. 1 advanced to a finals matchup against Tomas Berdych, who edged Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) in the other semifinal.

A victory will push Federer ahead of Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the rankings.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams will meet top-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the final after each won their semifinal in straight sets.

Na takes Players Championship lead

Golf: Kevin Na didn’t feel comfortable about anything except his name atop the leaderboard at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Na rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for one of only three rounds without a bogey on a tough day at the TPC Sawgrass. It gave him a 4-under 68 for a 12-under 204 and a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar as he goes after the richest prize on the PGA Tour – a five-year exemption and a spot in all the majors.

Tiralongo wins stage; Hesjedal takes lead

Miscellany: Paolo Tiralongo of Italy won the seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia in Rocca di Cambio, Italy, while Ryder Hesjedal replaced Adriano Malori as the overall leader to become the first Canadian to wear the pink jersey in the cycling race.

• Phelps settles for another second place: Michael Phelps settled for another runner-up finish at swimming’s Charlotte Grand Prix when he was edged by China’s Wu Peng in the 200-meter butterfly in Charlotte, N.C.

Phelps was second all the way, trailing Wu at the first turn.

• Kemper, Huerta grab U.S. Olympic triathlon spots: Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, showing little rust from seven months away from competition, pulled away on the run and captured the ITU World Triathlon in San Diego with a time of 1 hour, 48, minutes 46 seconds.

Hunter Kemper and Manuel Huerta both qualified for the U.S. Olympic team with fifth- and ninth-place finishes, respectively.

• Americans among early winners in women’s boxing: Two-time world champion Sofya Ochigava of Russia and Olympic test event winner Natasha Jonas of England won their first bouts in the 132-pound class at the world women’s boxing championships in Qinhuangdao, China.

Other winners included Americans Quanita Lee Underwood, Raquel Mller and Claressa Maria Shields.

• Michigan men, Bucknell women take Dad Vail titles: Michigan won the varsity eight heavyweight race to capture the men’s team point trophy at the 74th Dad Vail Regatta on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River.

Duke won the women’s heavyweight eight. Bucknell won the overall women’s team point trophy.

• U.S. sweeps Canada to earn trip to London: The U.S. men’s volleyball team is headed back to the Olympics.

The defending gold medalists punched their ticket to London by sweeping Canada (28-26, 25-18, 25-20) in the NORCECA Olympic qualification tournament at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.

Mark Valeski wins Belmont’s Peter Pan

Horse Racing: Mark Valeski rallied to beat Right to Vote by 1 1/4 lengths in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.

Trainer Larry Jones and owner Brereton C. Jones had initially planned to run the colt in the Kentucky Derby, but felt he wasn’t sharp, so the Peter Pan became the plan.

• Arcadius dies after winning $150,000 race: Arcadius collapsed and died as he was being cooled down after winning the $150,000 Iroquois Steeplechase at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn.

The 8-year-old gelding collapsed at a station placed just beyond the finish line of the 3-mile race.


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