Ryan's Place

Monday, February 27, 2006

Seahawks Re-Sign Weeks

I like this move. However, it most likely spells the end of Maurice Morris in a Hawks uniform (but I could be wrong).

From Jose Miguel Romero at The Seattle Times:

Seattle has re-signed practice-squad RB Marquis Weeks to a two-year contract.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Magic Lose to Rockets 84-89

From Sportsline.com:

Dwight Howard finished with just seven points and nine rebounds.

Rafer Alston had 13 points and 10 assists and Juwan Howard added 12 points and five rebounds for Houston.

Leading 44-39 at the half, Houston pulled away in the third quarter with a 16-4 run, led by a hook shot, turnaround jumper and several free throws from Yao.

The Rockets extended the lead to 74-54 before Orlando used a 22-6 run to close within four on Arroyo's two free throws with 1:51 left. Yao converted two free throws before Turkoglu hit a 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining to make it 82-79, but the Magic could get no closer.

"I think we lose concentration at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter -- think the game is done," Yao said. "In this league, nothing is easy."

Juwan Howard made a jumper and McGrady added two free throws to extend the lead back to seven with 22 seconds left.

"When you get down 20 points to a team like Houston, it is difficult because of the way they can control the tempo of the game," Magic coach Brian Hill said.

It was the Magic's 13th loss in 15 games, and the Rockets' 10th win in their last 12. Orlando had lost eight in a row before beating Seattle at home Friday night.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brewers Extent Yost's Contract

From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

The Brewers rewarded manager Ned Yost on Saturday with a contract extension that could keep him in Milwaukee through 2009.

Yost, 51, a former Brewers backup catcher who is entering his fourth season as manager and the final season of his current contract, got a two-year deal through 2008. The team holds an option for 2009.

"Everybody is very, very excited for Ned," said outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who has played for five different Brewers managers. "Nobody deserves it more than him. Nobody works harder and wants more for this organization than Ned."

The Brewers originally hired Yost on Oct. 29, 2002, after general manager Doug Melvin and assistant general manager Gord Ash took over in a major organizational shake-up. They inherited a franchise coming off its worst season, a 106-loss debacle that featured a managerial firing, clubhouse infighting and fan disgust.

The Brewers went 68-94 in Yost's first season and 67-94 in his second, but improved to 81-81 in 2005, snapping a 12-year losing streak. Attendance has risen in each season and will improve again in 2006 if Saturday's record-setting sales are any indication.

"The first time, I just signed whatever they threw at me," said Yost, who handled his own negotiations. "I just wanted an opportunity to prove myself. I had a pretty good idea that I felt like I could do it, but I wanted to prove it to myself and to everybody else."

The Brewers picked up Yost's 2006 option in August, and talks on an extension began in December, when Yost was in Milwaukee to unveil the team's retro Sunday uniforms. Melvin, who got a three-year extension during the offseason, made a first offer in early February and the deal was finalized Saturday morning, when Yost agreed to the 2009 club option.

Players were informed a few hours later, just before Yost delivered his annual address in the first full-squad meeting.

"We still have a young team, but it's really good for them to hear at the beginning of the year that the baseball management is set," said Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, who flew in Saturday and also addressed the team. "If you look at well-run companies on Wall Street, they don't have a lot of changes. And if you look at well-run baseball teams like the Atlanta Braves, they don't either."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Magic Beat Sonics 102-89

From Sportsline.com:

Some of the newest members of the Orlando Magic made a good first impression on their hometown fans.

Carlos Arroyo and Darko Milicic provided strong support for stars Dwight Howard and Grant Hill in Orlando's 102-89 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night that snapped an eight-game losing streak.

Howard had 23 points and 16 rebounds and Hill had 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, but it was Arroyo and Milicic, the second pick in the 2003 NBA draft, who lifted the Magic out of their latest slump.

Playing in Magic uniforms in front of their home fans for the first time since being acquired from Detroit a week ago, Arroyo had a season-high 18 points and four assists and Milicic had eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, all season highs.

"I thought Carlos and Darko both executed our offense well and made no mistakes as far as where they were supposed to be on the floor," coach Brian Hill said. "Carlos is experienced enough that he's going to get the ball to the right people and I was very pleased with Darko. He has a really good feel for the game."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Seahawks Place Transition Tag on Hutchinson

From Seahawks.com:

The Seattle Seahawks guaranteed that they would retain free agent Steve Hutchinson by placing the transition tag on their All-Pro left guard Thursday

The function of the transition tag is a tendered offer of $6.391 million, the average salary of the top-10 offensive linemen during the 2005 NFL season. Hutchinson still has the freedom to negotiate with other teams, but the tag reserves the right for the Seahawks to match any offer and retain his services.

“The important thing to take from this is that we very much want to keep Steve a Seahawk and our goal is to ultimately re-sign him,” said Seahawks President of Football Operations Tim Ruskell. “This is the best avenue for achieving that goal.”

The Seahawks and Hutchinson have until March 17 to negotiate a contract. If a contract is not signed by that date, the club will be required to wait until July to resume negotiations.

Hutchinson, 28, was selected by the Seahawks as the 17th pick overall in the 2001 draft as a two-time All-American out at Michigan. The 6-5, 315-pound Florida native has started 68 career games at left guard and earned his third-straight trip to the Pro Bowl this season.

Magic Trade Francis for Hardaway & Ariza

From Brian Schmitz at the Orlando Sentinel:

Steve Francis still couldn't believe his ears -- and he is partially deaf in his right one.

"I'm shocked . . . and relieved,'' Francis told the Sentinel by cell phone Wednesday. "As much speculation as there was, still, I didn't think it would happen."

What happened was that Francis was traded Wednesday by the Orlando Magic to the New York Knicks for forward Trevor Ariza and Penny Hardaway, a former Magic guard.

Francis played about a season-and-a-half for the Magic after arriving in the blockbuster Tracy McGrady trade with the Houston Rockets in 2004.

He was the last ex-Rocket standing, so to speak.

Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato arrived in the multiplayer deal between Orlando and Houston. Mobley was traded to the Sacramento Kings last season, and Cato was dealt to the Detroit Pistons last week.

Francis has been the subject of trade rumors for weeks.

"I didn't want to leave," Francis said. "I wanted to stay in Orlando and play for a long time. Am I [angry]? Hey, man, it's the NBA. You got to respect the business.

"I'm making a good living. I can't complain. It was just it has been tough on me and my family going through this. I was in limbo, man.

"I've seen other players, and they were all coming up to me saying, 'Man, are you all right?' They never seen somebody have to go through this for so long. New York. . . . It's cool.''

Francis' teammates genuinely liked him, but some didn't always like playing with him. They and the coaching staff might have grumbled privately -- Francis was prone to making a turnover as much as he was a highlight play -- but they were all complimentary in the wake of his exit.

"It's tough losing Steve," Magic guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "Steve's a good guy."

Veteran forward Pat Garrity sensed Francis was "glad to move on. People don't understand how tough it was for him to play with everything going on.

"The big problem is that we've never had any continuity [this season]; our group of guys was always changing. Who knows what would have happened if that had been different?"

Garrity said the club, by taking on Hardaway's expiring contract, was "giving itself room to operate.

"My inclination is to think we don't have many long-term contracts, except for the young guys, and they put themselves in a position to have [salary-cap] flexibility to build around."

Center Tony Battie said the trade of Francis said one thing to him: "I think they're giving the team to Dwight Howard, and that's the right thing to do. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Magic Lose to Nets 93-96

From Sportsline.com:

Playing without Francis and with Jameer Nelson (sprained right foot), Hedo Turkoglu (sprained left ankle) and Grant Hill (lower abdominal strain) sidelined, the Magic outhustled the Nets in the first two quarters and led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter.

"I don't know if it was the trade, but we were more focused," said DeShawn Stevenson, who had 14 points. "Everybody went out there and played together as a team."

Dwight Howard scored 17 for the Magic.

Kidd, Carter and Jefferson scored nine straight points to help New Jersey trail by one going into the fourth.

Dooling, Arroyo and Stevenson combined for 36 points on 15-for-20 shooting in the first half before New Jersey made adjustments at halftime and held them to just 14 points in the second half.

"In our mind we felt they were going to play even harder because they were undermanned," Carter said. "But the effort in the first half was not what we wanted."

Carter drew Dooling's fifth foul and Kidd scored on a driving left-handed layup to give the Nets an 85-80 lead with under four minutes to play. But Pat Garrity rattled in a 3-pointer and Dooling, left alone 18 feet from the basket, sank a jumper to tie the game.

Kidd responded with his 3-pointer and, after Dooling missed a jumper, a drive down the right side for another score to restore the lead to five points. Garrity sank another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 94-92 with 27 seconds left, and Carter missed a foul shot after an intentional foul. On the ensuing possession, Kidd made two free throws with 18 seconds left to push the lead to 96-92.

Orlando outshot New Jersey 53 percent (36-for-68) to 42 percent (33-for-78) but missed 12 free throws and attempted only six 3-pointers, making two. Coach Brian Hill was impressed with his team's effort.

"I'm proud of the way they played," Hill said. "I told them to keep two things in mind: if we play as hard as we did tonight and we play as unselfishly sharing the ball, we'll win our share of games down the stretch."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Magic Start off 2nd Half of Season with Loss to Cavs

From Sportsline.com:

Orlando cut an 18-point deficit to 97-90 with 2:45 remaining.

James responded with six straight points in 1:16 to make it 103-90.

"He made three tough shots and that's what great players do - make great plays when the game is on the line," Magic guard Steve Francis said.

Two days after becoming the youngest All-Star game MVP in history, James brought the sellout crowd of 20,562 to its feet with several dazzling behind-the-back passes and one 45-foot shot that went in but didn't count.

Fans chanted "M-V-P, M-V-P," midway through the third quarter when they thought their hero was robbed of a 3-pointer from near midcourt.

With Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu lying injured along the baseline, Orlando players went to foul James to stop the clock. James, one step over the midcourt line, banked in a shot officials ruled off, not allowing the continuation play.

Turkoglu sprained his left ankle. X-rays were negative. He will have an MRI exam Wednesday and is doubtful for the Magic's game in New Jersey.

Francis, the key figure in a rumored multiplayer trade with the New York Knicks, scored 13 points in 27 minutes.

"I don't know anything about trades right now," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "It's all talk, there's nothing that I'm aware of that we have on the table."

Francis is aware of the speculation that cropped up after he was suspended two games last month for refusing to re-enter a blowout loss.

"They've been speculating for a long time," he said. "If it happens, it happens. I can't control it. I have to go out and play every night."

Hill said Darko Milicic, the No. 2 pick behind James in the 2003 draft acquired Feb. 15 with guard Carlos Arroyo from Detroit, will be given an opportunity to play - but only after the third-year center learns the system.

Milicic had two points in four minutes and Arroyo was scoreless in five minutes.

"I'm happy to get another chance to play, to see what I can do," said Milicic. "In Detroit, it was horrible for me. A nightmare."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Seahawks Sign Marmie

From Mike Sando at The News Tribune:

The Seattle Seahawks are expected to add former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Larry Marmie to their coaching staff in the coming days, NFL sources said Thursday.

Marmie, 63, spent the past two seasons as the Rams’ defensive coordinator. He was with the Cardinals from 1996 through 2003, serving his final four years there as coordinator.

The Seahawks interviewed Marmie this week.

Marmie recently interviewed for the Green Bay Packers’ opening as defensive backs coach. The job went to Kurt Schottenheimer.

In Seattle, Marmie presumably would help out with the secondary.

The Seahawks have sought to add another experienced coach to a group that already features coordinators John Marshall and Ray Rhodes.

Marshall took over for Rhodes during the 2005 season after Rhodes suffered two mild strokes; the team has not yet publicly defined their roles for 2006.

The Rams’ defense ranked 17th under Marmie in 2004 and 30th last season. Marmie posted a 22-21-1 record as head coach at Arizona State from 1988 to 1991.

The Seahawks have had success drawing from the Rams’ defense in recent years. Free-agent defensive ends Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher left St. Louis to become starters in Seattle, helping the Seahawks improve to a No. 16 defensive ranking last season.

The defense was particularly effective late in the season and during the playoffs as Seattle advanced to the Super Bowl.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Magic Trade for Darko, Arroyo

From Tim Povtak at the Orlando Sentinel:

In search of something -- anything -- to shake up a roster gone bad, the Orlando Magic acquired much-maligned forward Darko Milicic and backup point guard Carlos Arroyo from the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

The Magic gave up little-used and often-injured center Kelvin Cato and a future first-round draft pick.

Although the Pistons are expected to waive Cato -- getting him only for his expiring contract -- the Magic have plans for Milicic, who has been a bust since the Pistons used the No. 2 pick of the 2003 draft to select him.

"He's a young big guy with a lot of potential,'' said Otis Smith, Magic assistant general manager. "If you're going to take a run at a player, you want to make that run at a 7-foot player.''

The key to the deal was the Magic's future draft pick. The Pistons will receive the pick in 2007 unless it is a top-five pick. If the Magic pick among the top five that year, they keep the pick, and the Pistons automatically get their pick in 2008.

"You have to look at him, at his age and say, 'If he were in the draft this year, where would he go?' " Smith said. "He would go pretty high.''

Milicic, from Serbia, is 20 years old, 7 feet and 250 pounds with good basketball skills. His lack of production with the Pistons has been puzzling because he has athleticism. Former Pistons Coach Larry Brown often questioned his desire and work ethic in his first two years.

Milicic hardly has played with the Pistons, a veteran-filled team that reached the NBA Finals in each of his two seasons. He is averaging just 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.6 minutes this season, struggling to find any consistent playing time on the NBA's best team.

Last season he averaged just 1.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in only 6.9 minutes.

The Magic (19-32) are hoping he might develop with considerable playing time on a rebuilding team. They are hoping he could play alongside Dwight Howard, their 20-year-old center/forward.

The departure of Cato leaves only Steve Francis from the Magic's trade of Tracy McGrady to Houston in 2004. Cuttino Mobley was traded to Sacramento last season in exchange for Doug Christie, who hardly played before departing. Cato became the Magic's starting center last season, averaging 7 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Magic Lose Again to Heat 100-110

From Sportsline.com:

Orlando trailed by 21 at the end of the third quarter, and by 29 into the fourth, but used an 11-point run to close within six with 2:13 left. Gary Payton then hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:55 remaining -- and another from the same spot with 48.8 seconds left -- and Wade hit several free throws to help seal the victory.

"We missed some shots and didn't execute the way we're capable of executing, and the next thing you know they just crept back in it," Walker said. "You have to give them credit. Any team on a losing streak, if they got any pride in themselves, they're going to fight back, and they fought back and made it interesting down the stretch."

The Southeast Division-leading Heat coast into the All-Star break with a 32-20 record and good prospects for the rest of the regular season.

Orlando has now lost 10 of its past 11 games, entering the break with a 19-32 record and very little chance of making the postseason.

"We've just got to get everybody on the same page here. It's a disappointing first half to the All-Star break," Magic coach Brian Hill said.

All Orlando starters scored in double figures, led by Howard and Tony Battie with 16. Hedo Turkoglu and DeShawn Stevenson each scored 14, while Steve Francis added 12 points and six assists.

Grant Hill had seven points in 14 minutes, coming off the bench for the third straight game after missing 13 while recovering from a sports hernia.

Brewers Re-Sign Ohka for One Year

From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

For the second time this month, the Brewers avoided an arbitration hearing thanks to some after-hours bargaining.

On Wednesday, the team finalized terms of a one-year contract with starter Tomo Ohka, paying the right-hander a base salary of $4.53 million. Ohka can boost that total by hitting three tiers of performance incentives, the first of which kicks in at 185 innings pitched.

For weeks, it had appeared the Brewers were headed to a hearing with Ohka that was scheduled for Thursday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ohka, who is in his final year of arbitration and will become a free agent following the 2006 season, had requested a salary of $5.2 million while the Brewers offered $4.25 million.

"He's a guy who usually gives you a chance to win," general manager Doug Melvin said on Wednesday from Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Ariz., where Brewers pitchers and catchers are required to report on Friday. "Tomo did a good job for us last season after Ben [Sheets] went down."

The Brewers acquired Ohka from the Washington Nationals on June 10 for second baseman Junior Spivey in a deal that bolstered Milwaukee's rotation while opening a position for top prospect Rickie Weeks.

In 22 appearances with the Brewers, including 20 starts, Ohka went 7-6 with a 4.35 ERA. Overall, he was 11-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts and three relief appearances.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Magic Lose to Heat 93-107

From Sportsline.com:

The Magic, who never led, have lost nine of their past 10 games. They fell to 6-19 on the road.

Miami has won nine of the past 10 in the series. The teams meet again Wednesday night in Orlando, then begin the All-Star break.

"Another win Wednesday will make us feel great about the way we're playing," Wade said.

Hedo Turkoglu, Steve Francis and Keyon Dooling scored 15 points each for the Magic, and Grant Hill had 12 off the bench in 20 minutes. The game was Hill's second after missing the previous 13 recovering from a sports hernia.

Wade and O'Neal combined for several scores. Wade earned a hug from O'Neal by leaping to catch a long pass on a fast break, spinning in the air and hitting his teammate under the basket for a dunk.

O'Neal made a no-look pass to set up a dunk by Wade.

"They're as good as any combination in the league -- as good as any combination the past 10 years," Hill said.

"We're just playing smart basketball," O'Neal said.

He started fast for the second game in a row, with the Heat repeatedly pounding the ball to him in the low post as he worked against 20-year-old Dwight Howard.

"He's a tough guy to guard," Howard said. "Sometimes you can't do anything about him scoring. You just have to run back down the court."

In the past two games, O'Neal has totaled 41 points in the first half.

"It's time for me to start picking it up," he said. "People are playing me a certain way, and I know what to do and when to do it."

Miami scored in the final second of each of the first two periods -- on baskets by Jason Williams and Antoine Walker -- and led 61-52 at halftime. It was 77-62 midway through the third quarter, and at that point Miami was shooting 63 percent.

Orlando missed its first seven shots in the final period, helping Miami pull away to a 92-76 lead. The Magic were never closer than 10 points in the final quarter.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

6 of 7 Seahawks Participate in Pro Bowl

From Seahawks.com:

Derrick Brooks and the NFC's solid defense gave the NFL's so-called inferior conference something to feel good about.

Brooks returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown, the AFC committed six of the Pro Bowl's 10 turnovers, and the NFC rallied for a sloppy 23-17 victory Sunday in a game that didn't turn out to be the offensive show most expected.

Brooks, the Tampa Bay linebacker playing in his ninth straight Pro Bowl, was honored as the game's outstanding player and received a car on the field shortly after the game ended.

Neil Rackers kicked a 22-yard field goal with 6:29 left to give the NFC a 20-17 lead. With Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, the NFC moved 59 yards before its drive stalled, and coach John Fox was booed for opting for the field goal on fourth-and-2.

Hasselbeck was 10-of-17 for 85 yards for the game, and the AFC's Larry Johnson and the NFC's Tiki Barber were the game's top rushers with 33 yards each.

Shaun Alexander, the NFL's Most Valuable Player, dressed for the game but didn't play because of a sprained right foot. He was hurt in Seattle's Super Bowl loss. Seahawks rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu led the NFC with 6 tackles.

Steve McNair mishandled two snaps from center after that, and the NFC recovered both. Jeremiah Trotter fell on the second one at the AFC 18, and Rackers kicked a 20-yard field goal with 1:10 left to complete the scoring.

The AFC reached the NFC 49 before McNair threw three incompletions and was sacked by Michael Strahan on the game's final play.

AFC teams have won five of the past six Super Bowls including Pittsburgh's 21-10 triumph over Seattle on Feb. 5, and the NFC had lost four of the last five Pro Bowls entering this one.

Magic Lose to Celtics 94-102

From Sportsline.com:

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Magic, losers of five straight road games. Hedo Turkoglu added 16 points and Hill had 15 after missing last 13 games due to rehab from a sports hernia.

"I feel pretty good," Hill said. "It's just a little rust out there, a couple of times I lost the ball."

After the Magic tied it 84-all, Pierce scored six points - five from the free throw line - during a game-turning 12-4 run as Boston took a 96-88 lead with 1:30 left.

"Well, in Paul Pierce, they have one of the best drivers in the game and unfortunately we fouled him a little too much," Orlando coach Brian Hill said.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Magic Lose to Pistons 73-84

From Sportsline.com:

The Orlando Magic could have used a few All-Stars of their own Friday night. Instead, they were all playing for the other team.

Rasheed Wallace scored 26 points and Richard Hamilton added 23 as the Detroit Pistons cruised to an 84-73 victory.

Chauncey Billups had 11 points and 14 assists, while Ben Wallace contributed 10 rebounds for the Pistons. A night earlier, those players made Detroit the first team with four All-Stars since the Lakers in 1998.

Dwight Howard led Orlando with 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Hedo Turkoglu added 17 points.

Detroit pulled away with a 14-2 third-quarter run fueled by several jumpers by Rasheed Wallace and some Orlando mistakes. After turning the ball over seven times in the first half, the Magic gave it away eight times in the third.

"When you're playing a good team like that, you've got to take care of the basketball," Magic guard Keyon Dooling said.

Orlando didn't score for the first 5:14 of the fourth quarter, when Dooling hit a 10-foot jumper. By then the Magic were down 72-56 and wouldn't recover -- though Steve Francis' layup with 1:04 remaining brought them within 10.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Magic Lose to Bucks in 2 OTs, 89-94

From Sportsline.com:

The Bucks capitalized on Orlando's 3-for-17 shooting in the two extra sessions for its sixth straight home win over the Magic.

The Bucks, 14-1 at home against Orlando since the start of the 1997-98 season, also earned their season-high fourth straight home victory.

Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 27 points. DeShawn Stevenson added 14 before fouling out in the second overtime. Steve Francis, who came in averaging 20.8 points per game in his career against the Bucks, scored only eight.

After a season-high five-game winning streak, the Magic have lost six of seven, including four straight on the road.

Redd's 3-pointer put Milwaukee ahead 88-86 with 3:25 left in the second overtime. Turkoglu made one free throw, but Gadzuric dunked as Milwaukee went up 90-87 with 1:37 left. Turkoglu made a layup, but T.J. Ford, who finished with 11 points and eight assists, answered with a driving layup to keep the Bucks ahead by three.

"It was getting longer and longer, going back and forth, back and forth," Gadzuric said. "Shots weren't falling, but eventually we played good solid defense and shut them down."

Pat Garrity missed a 3-pointer for Orlando and on the Bucks' next possession, Stevenson fouled out and sent Simmons to the line for two free throws. He made them both for the final margin.

"We played tough in the first overtime, but in the second overtime, we just ran out of gas," Garrity said.

In the first overtime, Redd made two free throws and Simmons hit a 22-foot shot as the Bucks took an 83-79 lead with 3:29 left.

The Magic missed their first four shots before Stevenson's layup pulled them to 83-81 with 2:22 to play.

Redd missed consecutive shots to give Orlando a chance, and Turkoglu eventually tipped in a miss by Stevenson to tie it at 83 with 13 seconds to play. Redd missed a baseline jumper as time expired in the first overtime.

In regulation, Dwight Howard made two free throws as the Magic took the lead at 77-76 with 2:24 to play.

Stevenson scored on a layup, but after a timeout by Orlando, the Magic turned the ball over and Ford worked the ball to Simmons, who hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left.

Francis had one last opportunity to win it for Orlando, but missed as the clock wound down. The Magic made several attempts to tip it in, but time expired.

"We didn't execute on our last two offensive possessions down the floor and it cost us the basketball game," Hill said.

Brewers Re-Sign Clark to Two Year Deal

From Adam McCalvy at MLB.com:

The Brewers and Brady Clark made an overnight deal to avoid an arbitration hearing. A few hours later, they agreed to skip the whole process next year.

After first coming to terms on a one-year, $3.2 million contract on Wednesday, Clark and the Brewers later made it a two-year, $7 million deal that will carry Clark into free agency following the 2007 season.

"We didn't have intentions of doing a multi-year deal down there," said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who had just returned from St. Petersburg, Fla. "But we're glad to get it done."

It got done in a hurry. Melvin and Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash traveled Tuesday to Florida expecting to attend a 9:30 a.m. ET hearing on Wednesday against Clark and his agent, Bobby Barad. Clark had filed for $3.5 million in arbitration while the Brewers offered $3 million, and neither side seemed ready to budge.

Both sides met throughout the day Tuesday and finally came to terms on a one-year contract at about 1:45 a.m., less than eight hours before the scheduled hearing. It was announced later Wednesday morning.

But the groundwork had already been laid for a second year, and after Melvin and Ash had returned to Milwaukee and Barad to New York, it was finalized with one phone call.

Clark will earn $3.2 million in 2006 and $3.8 million in 2007. There are no incentives involved, Melvin said.

Why add the second year? Clark, who originally entered professional baseball as an undrafted free agent with the Reds in 1996, gets the security that comes with a guaranteed two-year contract. And if he performs anything like he did in 2005, the Brewers will save significantly on his 2007 salary.

Clark led the Brewers in 2005 with a .306 batting average and 94 runs scored. He earned a $1.15 million base salary but bumped his pay to $1.425 million with incentives.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Magic Lose to Wizards 82-94

From Sportsline.com:

The Magic were good fodder for the occasion. Steve Francis (five points) and Hedo Turkoglu (four) each had season-lows in points. DeShawn Stevenson scored 20 points, Dwight Howard had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Keyon Dooling had 16 points for the Magic, who have lost five of six.

"Once I didn't get in the groove early, it was kind of hard to pick it up," said Francis, returning to the area where he starred at the University of Maryland. "It was a tough game, man. I would think that I would come in and have, like, 70, but it was the complete opposite."

Orlando outshot the Wizards 47 percent to 42 percent, but had 18 turnovers. The Magic beat the Wizards twice earlier this season, but a key player in both victories, Jameer Nelson, is out with a sprained foot.

The Wizards got key contributions from three role players. Awvee Storey made his first career start in place of Jared Jeffries, who sat out with a bruised back. Donell Taylor went 4-for-4 and scored 10 points in the second quarter, and Michael Ruffin played solid defense in the fourth.

Seahawks Lose in Super Bowl 10-21

From NFL.com:

The Steelers certainly got plenty of help from the Seahawks. Seattle was plagued by penalties, drops, poor clock management and a critical fourth-quarter interception of Matt Hasselbeck just when the NFC champions seemed ready to take the lead.

Instead, Pittsburgh (15-5) got the clinching score with the kind of trickery that has carried it through an eight-game winning streak.

Versatile wideout Antwaan Randle El, a quarterback in college, took a handoff from Parker, sprinted right and threw perfectly to Ward for a 43-yard TD with 9:04 remaining. It was the first Super Bowl touchdown pass by a receiver.

Bettis, with 43 yards on 14 carries, had a minimal role in what was the final game for the NFL's No. 5 career rusher.

So did quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The most noteworthy play for the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl was a horrid pass that Kelly Herndon of the Seahawks (15-4) returned a record 76 yards.

That set up the Seahawks' only touchdown, a 16-yard pass to Jerramy Stevens -- Joey Porter, his verbal sparring partner all week, was nowhere in sight. Neither was All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.

But with Parker's burst and Seattle's self-destructive tendencies, the Steelers completed their postseason march through the NFL's top four teams: Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver and Seattle, with all the wins coming away from Heinz Field.

"I could've had an even better day," said Ward, who had five receptions for 123 yards and the touchdown.

Seattle, looking nothing like a team that rampaged through its conference, damaged itself all day. It had four penalties for 40 yards in the opening half, one that nullified a touchdown pass.

The second half wasn't much better, and Ike Taylor's 24-yard return with Hasselbeck's poor throw gave Pittsburgh the one last opportunity it needed.

"This is a tough pill to swallow," Holmgren said, "but we accomplished a lot this year. While you don't have a great feeling after a game like this, I want them to remember this feeling, so they can build on it."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Magic Beat Celtics 100-91

From Sportsline.com:

The Orlando Magic are tired of being so streaky.

Dwight Howard and Steve Francis each scored 18 points, and the Magic ended a four-game skid by outplaying the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter of a 100-91 victory Saturday night.

Orlando has lost four straight, won five in a row, then lost four straight again over the last three weeks.

"I know we're not going to run the table, I just hope we can get some type of consistency going," said Francis, who added seven assists and six rebounds. "Guys are tired and banged up right now, but we've got to pay attention and lock in mentally."

Francis has had his own ups and downs this season, but is averaging 25.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds in his last five games.

He hit both field goal attempts and went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the fourth period when Orlando seized control of the game. The Magic shot 73 percent (11-of-15) in the period, with Francis picking up two assists.

"Steve has played under control and yet at the same time has been aggressive at driving the basketball and creating opportunities," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "He's really played well lately."

Warren Moon To Be Inducted Into NFL Hall of Fame

From Mike Kahn at Seahawks.com:

As if it isn’t enough that the Seattle Seahawks are in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, one of the great figures in the history of Seattle football was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday.

Former Seahawks and University of Washington quarterback Warren Moon was one of six players inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday in a vote by the Pro Football Writers.

Moon was joined by former Dallas Cowboys Troy Aikman and Rayfield Wright, late defensive end Reggie White, linebacker Harry Carson and former coach John Madden.

The selection of Moon was particularly momentous. Although he didn’t intend to make race relevant in his selection to the Hall, there’s no getting around it. This was a ground-breaking announcement.

“To be the first African-American quarterback into the Hall of Fame, all African-American quarterbacks who played before me should share in this," Moon said. "I don't want to make this a racial thing, but I think it is significant. It shows that we have arrived at the pinnacle of our sport."

And it isn’t as if he didn’t earn it. Moon came out of the University of Washington in 1978 following a stunning upset of Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Nonetheless, the 6-2, 220-pound Moon was shunned by the NFL and headed to the Canadian Football League, where he played for the Edmonton Eskimos, leading them to five consecutive Grey Cups.

With so many mediocre quarterbacks on shaky teams, the NFL finally woke up. In 1984 he was signed by the Houston Oilers. Seventeen seasons later, he had thrown for an amazing 51,061 yards and 313 touchdowns – including being voted into nine Pro Bowls by his peers. He played 11 years for the Oilers, followed by three with the Minnesota Vikings, two with the Seahawks and his final two seasons were in Kansas City.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Magic Lose to Hawks 94-96

From Sportsline.com:

Hedo Turkoglu, who had 15 points, made the free throw for the technical foul, but Battie missed both free throws, leaving Atlanta with a 93-92 lead.

After Johnson missed a shot near the basket, Al Harrington rebounded the miss for Atlanta. Lue made one free throw with 19 seconds left for a 94-92 lead. Steve Francis then made two free throws with 11 seconds left to tie it.

Francis had 30 points and eight assists and Dwight Howard added 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, who held a 45-43 rebounding edge but surrendered 20 offensive rebounds to the Hawks. Battie had nine points and 13 rebounds but made only one of four free throws.

"They were able to get the offensive rebounds," Francis said. "That killed us. They got second shots."

Harrington had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta, which recently moved past last-place Charlotte in the Southeast Division.

"This is not the end of it," Johnson said of the winning streak. "We want to keep adding to it and make the game fun."

Orlando has been going through a similar rebuilding process after a 21-win season in 2003-04. It improved to 36 wins last season but lost its fourth straight Friday night.

The Magic led only 50-49 at halftime despite shooting 55 percent from the field, compared to 41.5 percent for the Hawks.

There were six ties in the third quarter, the last at 74 at the end of the period. But Orlando went almost four minutes without scoring to open the final period as Atlanta took an 80-74 lead.

The Magic pulled even for the first tie of the final period at 86-all on an inside basket by Howard with 3:02 left. Smith and Johnson answered with three-point plays as Atlanta grabbed a 92-86 advantage with 2:09 left.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Magic Lose to Clippers 94-106

From Sportsline.com:

The Magic are having a hard time finding anyone who can deliver during their three-game losing streak, especially during prolonged stretches of the game when their offense falls out of rhythm.

Steve Francis led Orlando with 21 points, but was only 5-of-13 from the field. Dwight Howard had 15 points and 15 rebounds, but he missed a dunk on a three-on-none fast break in the second quarter.

The missed dunk bounded out to nearly halfcourt and the Clippers converted it into an easy dunk at their end. It was one of three open dunks the Magic missed on the night.

"That whole play upset me," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "When you're three-on-none and don't score, that's inexcusable."

Added Francis: "It looked like we didn't have a lot of energy out there. We've got to find a way to get some drives where we play good consistently and not just for four or five games and then tanking it for three or four games."