Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 27, 2002 · Page 23
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 23

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Sunday, October 27, 2002
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"<Eije <3lnbtaita (gazette SPORTS Sunday, October 27, 2002 — C-5 Lakers go for four in a row By CHRIS SHERIDAN AP Basketball Writer The quest for a four-peat has begun, and so has the taunting from the Los Angeles Lakers. "I'm not worried about the Sacramento Queens," Shaquille O'Neal said. "Write it down. Take pictures. When we get back, there's going to be trouble." The 2002-03 NBA season begins Tuesday night with another ring ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the third straight year the Lakers have added to their jewelry collection. Now, the swaggering, strutting defending champions will try to do something that no NBA team has done in almost four decades — win a fourth consecutive title. The other 28 teams — and especially the target of the taunts 400 miles up the road — can only wonder whether there is a way to prevent the mighty Lakers from walking off as winners again next June. Nobody has found a way to knock diem off in the past three seasons, although the Sacramento Kings came close last spring. After taking a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals, the Kings lost a controversial Game 6 before dropping an overtime decision in Game 7. The Lakers moved on and swatted away New Jersey in a four-game sweep, getting as much pleasure from taking potshots at the Kings as they did in taking out the overmatched Nets. O'Neal and Phil Jackson have picked up where they left off, directing their jabs directly to the north when speaking about the upcoming season. O'Neal accused Vlade Divac of purposely fouling out in Game 7, and Jackson wondered aloud how the Kings might be affected by Divac's advancing age (34) and Chris Webber's indictment irr a case involving a former Michigan booster. "The jabs have continued back and forth, but that's just going to bring great anticipation for when we play each other," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. Sacramento will get its first shot at the Lakers on Christmas Day in a nationally televised matchup. By then, O'Neal should be back from the foot surgery that sidelined him for aJl of training camp and the preseason. Besides the Kings, the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks shape up as the strongest candidates to challenge the Lakers in the Western Conference. It may come down to a question of confidence when the playoffs arrive, and one of those team faces the daunting prospect of beating the defending champions not once, but four times. Another playoff team could be die Houston Rockets, who add 7-foot-5 rookie sensation Yao Ming of China. They'll all say they're capable of knocking off the Lakers, but will they believe it? "Talk is real cheap as far as believing goes. You have to beat the team to gain confidence," Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. Confidence when facing the Lakers has been a problem for many of the better teams in the West. The Spurs are 1-8 against Los Angeles in the past two postseasons; the Mavericks are only 1-7 against them in the past three seasons. (4-41 in the past decade). The Kings appeared capable and cocky enough to finish the job in last year's playoffs, but their 14-for-30 free throw shooting and their offensive meltdown in overtime of Game 7 doomed them. "I think with them, the most im- "portant thing is you have to believe you can get it done," said Spurs coach Greg Popovich, who jokingly suggested stealing O'Neal's car battery as perhaps the best plan for beating the Lakers. "With Kobe we'd probably do something similar, I just haven't thought of it yet," Popovich said. No similar confidence concerns burden teams from the East. The Nets shocked everybody by winning the No. 1 seed in the conference and a berth in the finals last season. The East remains wide open, with many teams having made major adjustments to their rosters in an effort to become next June's designated underdog. "Obviously, the West is a stronger conference. I think everybody respects that and knows that," said Nets coach Byron Scott, whose team acquired Dikembe Mutombo from Philadelphia with die clear aim of having a weapon to defend O'Neal should the teams meet again in the finals. First, of course, they have to get there. And plenty of teams — including Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards — will try to stop them. The Wizards added Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes and Charles Oakley in an effort to put together a team that can advance through the postseason. The Boston Celtics added Vin Baker, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired Keith Van Horn and Todd MacCulloch, and the Detroit Pistons dealt for Richard Hamilton. "The Eastern Conference is going to be who can stay healthy and whose team can blend well together," Washington coach Doug Collins said. "It's wide open." Not so in the West, where the team at the top is as clearly defined as the newly enlarged muscles on the arms of Kobe Bryant after a summer of weigh difting. Bryant and O'Neal give the Lakers a one-two combination that is becoming one of the most successful in NBA history, right up there alongside- BUI Russell and Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Jackson has had the good fortune to coach two of those dynamic duos, and his nine coaching tides tie him with Red Auerbach for. the most in NBA history. Back in the days when Auerbach was coaching the Boston Celtics, he motivated his team by asking them what they've done for him lately. The ploy was successful year after year, the Celtics winning 11 titles in 13 years from 1957-69 — nine of them in 10 years under Auerbach's direction. If the Lakers win another tide this season, Jackson will have No. 10. The Penguins' Alexandra Daigle celebrated with Aleksey Morozov after scoring a goal in the first period against the Sabres. (AP photo) Penguins' power play too much for Sabres By The Associated Press PITTSBURGH —The Pittsburgh Penguins thought an effective power play would be cridcal to a good start this season. So far, they've been right. The surging Pittsburgh power-play unit produced four consecutive goals to erase an early 1-0 deficit and lead the Penguins to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. "We have the best player in Mario Lemieux and another guy in the top five or 10 in Alexei Kovalev, so we definitely should score on die power play," said Alexandre Daigle, who scored his first goal since returning from a two-year retirement. "You're going to get six or seven opportunities every night, so for us it's'definitely a key." Pittsburgh, which is 4-2-2, has scored power-play goals in seven straight games and is 13-for-42 in that span. Daigle, Wayne Primeau and Michal Rozsival all scored their first goals of the season with Pittsburgh on the power play Saturday, and Aleksey Morozov's seventh goal of the season also came with the man advantage. "You get a guy in front, you hit the net and you can score," said Penguins' coach Rick Kehoe, who was encouraged to see Daigle and Primeau score goals by deflecting shots from the point. "(Assistant coaches) Joey Mullen and Eddie Johnston have been doing a lot of videotape work and showing what the other teams are doing penalty-killing wise, and players are responding." Lemieux had two assists to push his league-leading total to 18 points, and Kovalev scored his seventh goal of the season at even strength 43 seconds into the third to give him a goal in five consecutive games. The Sabres, who entered as the league's second-most penalized team, allowed the Penguins six power plays. "I thought we had some very undisciplined penalties," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We definitely crossed die line of where we want to be." "We have the best player in Mario Lemieux and another guy in the top five or 10 in Alexei Kovalev, so we definitely should score on the power play. "You're going to get six or seven opportunities every night, so for us it's definitely a key." — Alexandre Daigle Buffalo, beginning a six-game road trip, is 1-4-1 since opening the season with two victories. Adam Mair, acquired in July from Los Angeles, scored his first goal for the Sabres at 8:24 of the opening period when he slid his own rebound past Johan Hedberg for Buffalo's first shorthanded goal of the season. But Primeau scored his first power-play goal in three seasons just 15 seconds later, and Daigle's first goal since March 3, 2000, put the Penguins ahead to stay at 16:23. Morozov beat Martin Biron on a backhander from the bottom of the left circle at 5:30 of the second period to make it 3-1. Rozsival took Daigle's pass at the right point and scored on a slap shot for a 4-1 lead. "Going in, we knew they had a very talented power play," Buffalo's Stu Barnes said. "But you can't give up that many power-play goals in a game and expect to be in it." NOTES: The Penguins are 10-1-4 in their last 15 home games against Buffalo.... Pittsburgh was O-for-13 on the power play against Buffalo last season.... Lemieux (four goals and 18 points) and Kovalev (seven goals and 13 points) both have seven-game scoring streaks.... Jochen Hecht's goal in the second snapped an O-for-21 power- play drought for the Sabres. Angels rally past Giants to force Game 7 Continued from page C-l "There's no room for fear here, or else you're going to go home," Spiezio said. "We battle until the last out of the game. Until they kick us out of the park and say you've got to go home, we're not giving up." The whole thing left many believing the monkey has mystical powers. And it wasn't surprising — look at what the underdog Angels did to the New York Yankees and Minnesota in die playoffs. Now, Bonds gets one final chance at the only prize that has ever eluded him. A bad omen for him — of the last seven Game 7s in the Series, the home team has won every time. "There was confidence, definitely," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "But the game was not over. " That was a heck of a comeback by them." On Sunday night, in a fitting wrapup to baseball's first all wildcard World Series, either San Francisco or Anaheim will win its first title. It'll be Livan Hernandez starting for the Giants against rookie John Lackey. Ramon Ortiz had been scheduled to start for the Angels, but the ten- dinitis in his right wrist made them leery. Reliever Brendan DonneUy was the Game 6 winner and Troy Percival pitched the ninth for his second save of the Series. Tim Worrell took the loss. For Nen, it was a familiar sight — the Rally Monkey made its debut at Anaheim on June 6, 2000, and on that day, the Angels rallied to beat the Giants reliever in the bottom of the ninth. Unstoppable at the plate, Bonds hit his fourth home run of the Series, a solo shot in the sixth off Francisco Rodriguez that made it 4-0. When Kenny Lofton scored in the seventh, the World Series trophy was clearly in the Giants' grasp behind the shutout pitching of Russ Ortiz. But the resilient Angels and their fans never gave up, never left the building — though they also play in Southern California, this isn't a Dodgers crowd. The monkey started hopping in the sixth and by the seventh, the Giants had pulled Ortiz. Spiezio greeted reliever Felix Rodriguez with his homer, and the momentum had turned. Erstad's homer was the fourth of the game and 21st of the Series, setting a record. The drive also set the Angels' main man, their mascot, into hysterics. Tim Salmon followed with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner deluxe Chone Figgins. Anderson looped a single down the left-field line and Figgins, running all the way, sped to third. But when Bonds hobbled the ball and dropped it — he's past his prime as a Gold Glove — Anderson took second. Baker opted for his relief ace, yet Nen could not stop the rising storm as Glaus doubled to the gap in deep left-center. Bonds also dropped that ball as he tried to pick it up. Glaus did not advance, but he didn't need to because the damage already was done. Shawon Dunston curled a drive over the low fence in the left-field corner for a two-run homer that broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. Angels starter Kevin Appier had al- lowe'd one hit until David Bell's infield single with one out. Dunston, whose only homer this season came on April 15, followed to make it 2-0. Appier stood with his hands on his hips as Dunsion circled the bases. Shawon Dunston Jr. began clapping as he ran out to retrieve the bat and it was a sweet scene at home plate as the much-traveled veteran kissed his 9-year-old son. Dunston, 39, made it to the majors a year before Bonds, and also had never been to the Series. Lofton followed with a double and that was all for Appier. Lofton then stole third and scored as Francisco Rodriguez bounced a slider for a two-out wild pitch. Lofton singled in Ihe seventh, stole another base and scored on Jeff Kent's single for the 5-0 lead. Huston goes on birdie binge, flirts with magic number By The Associated Press PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — John Huston made six straight birdies and flirted with golf's magic number Saturday before finishing with an II- under 61, giving him a share of the lead with Tim f^f\\f Herron in the VJVMI Buick Challenge. Huston had every reason to believe he could shoot 59 on the rain-softened Mountain View course at Callaway Gardens. He failed to birdie two par 5s with putts inside 5 feet, and he missed another 6-foot birdie putt on the opening hole. Even so, he wound up matching the lowest score of his career and joined Herron (65) in the lead, both setting the 54-hole record in the Buick Challenge at 20-under 196. David Toms (63) and Craig Parry (66) were a stroke back, and Chris Smith (63) and Jonathan Byrd (65) were 18 under. Players were allowed to clean and place their balls in the fairway because of wet conditions. SeniorTour Championship OKLAIIOMA CITY — Tom Watson holed a 132-yard shot for eagle and needed only 23 putts to take a share of the third-round lead in the season-ending Senior Tour Championship. Watson, the 2000 winner, finished with a 6-under 66 to match Gil Morgan (69) at 9-under 207. Watson eagled the par-4 seventh two days after carding a double-bogey 6 on the hole. Second-round leader Hale Irwin was at 210 after a 73. Irwin needs to finish fourth or better to become the first senior Player to win $3 million in one season. Fuzzy Zoeller shot a 69 and is tied with Irwin. Bob Gilder, who began the day one stroke off the lead, shot a 73 and stood at 211 along with Larry Nelson (72), Morris Hatalsky (67) and Allen Doyle (70). Nine Bridges Classic JEJU ISLAND, South Korea — Se Ri Pak missed a chance to run away with the Nine Bridges Classic, shooting a 4-over 76 in windy conditions to take a three-stroke lead into the final round. The South Korean star, coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Tournament of Champions, was the only player under par after two rounds. She had a 3-under 141 total. South Korea's Grace Park, a two- time winner in three full seasons on the LPGA Tour, was the only player to break par Saturday, shooting a 71 to jump from a tie for 22nd to second. Mi Hyun Kim, another South Korean player who has won twice this year, shot a 75 to join Canada's Lorie Kane (75), Scotland's Mhairi McKay (75) and Jackie Gallagher-Smith (76) at 1 over. Annika Sorenstam, seeking her 10th LPGA Tour title of the year and 12th worldwide title, was five strokes back at 2 over after her second straight 73. Madrid Open MADRID, Spain — Ireland's Padraig Harrington shot a 5-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Australia's Adam Scott after the third round of the Madrid Open. Harrington, trying to catch South Africa's Relief Goosen in the money race, had a 16-under 197 total. Scott also shot a 66. Kwan wins crown By The Associated Press SPOKANE, Wash. — Michaelle Kwan won her seventh Skate America tide Saturday night, just a week after she agreed to be a last-minute fill-in for injured Sarah Hughes. With a fall and another botched jump, it certainly wasn't Kwan's best program. But with everyone else bumbling and stumbling, it was more than enough to win. Fellow Ameri- RrJ^fo can Ann Patrice DM GTS McDonough was second and Elena IJashenko of Ukraine was third. Jennifer Kirk, who had been in second after die short program, dropped to fourth. Yukari Nakano of Japan and l.ud- mila Nelidina of Russia caused a stir by landing triple axels within a half- hour of each odier. They're the first women to do the jump in international competition since Midori Ito at the 1992 Olympics. In ice dancing, Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of Ukraine staged a minor upset by winning. Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski, favored to win here after taking the bronze medal at the world championships last spring, were a surprising fourth. Tatiana Navka and Roman Kosta- morov of Russia were second, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the United States were third. Tennis BASEL, Switzerland — Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez advanced to the final of the Swiss Indoors on Saturday. Gonzalez beat French Open runner-up Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 and Nalbandian, of Argentina, beat Roger Federer of Switzerland 67 (2), 7-5, 6-3. ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Sebastien Grosjean reached his first final of the season Saturday, beating Karol Kucera 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals of St. Petersburg Open. Grosjean will meet Mikhail Youzh- ny after the Russian eliminated wildcard entry Vladimir Voltclikov of Belarus 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinal. STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan beat Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-7 (5) 6-1 Saturday to advance to the final of the Stockholm Open. Paradorn advanced to his fourth final of the year and will face Chile's Marcelo Rios, a 6-3, 7-5 semifinal winner over Morocco's Hicham Arazi. L1NZ, Austria — Unseeded Alexandra Stevenson beat fifth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 7-6 (6) Saturday to advance to the final of the General! Open. In the other semifinal, fourth- seeded Justine Henin beat American Chanda Rubin 7-6 (1), 6-4 to reach her fifth final ofthe season. Stevenson beat top-seeded Jennifer Capriati, former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez and sixth-seeded Anastasia Myskina to reach the semifinals. Horse racing ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, 111. —Sent off as the longest shot (40-1) in the star-studded field of 12, Volponi found room along the rail and blew past die fading Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem and beat Medaglia d'Oro by 6'/2 lengths in the $4 million race on Saturday. As for War Emblem, his career closed with a thud on a cold and cloudy day at Arlington Park. The speedy black colt briefly took the lead around the far turn, but had nothing left in the stretch. He heads to Japan to stand stud having lost three of his last four races. In the $2 million Distaff, Azeri staked her claim to racing's top award with a wire-to-wire victory. The filly, who finished five lengths ahead of Farda Amiga, won her seventh straight and has 10 victories in 11 career starts. Tragedy touched the Breeders' Cup for the second straight year. I,and- seer, one of Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien's prized racehorses, shattered a bone in his right front leg in the Mile and was humanely destroyed. Before last year's Distaff at Belmont Park, Exogenous fell and hit her head as she was entering the track. She was euthanized several days later. Long-shot Domedrivcr won die Mile. The day wasn't a complete loss for O'Brien. His High Chaparral blew past the The Tin Man and won the $2.4 million Turf. AUTO GLASS $gQ OFF, OR $Cfl FREE INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLE bvGAS I WHEN WE REPLACE YOUR WINDSHIELD Free Mobile Service At Home Or Work I (Offers valid with this coupon) I ASSURANCE GLASS CO. CALL 1-800-452-7799 Family Owned/Operated For Over 30 Yrs. 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