Nash points to Christmas comeback
Steve Nash expects to make his return to the Lakers lineup on Christmas Day in Los Angeles against the Knicks. The 16-year veteran, who suffered a broken left leg two games into his first Lakers season, went through his initial full-contact practice since the injury Thursday. It was speculated the point guard would return Saturday against Golden State . . . Mavericks point guard Derek Fisher will miss at least three games with a strained right knee, suffered in Tuesday’s win over the 76ers. The team said Fisher will be reevaluated next week. The 16-year veteran was signed three weeks ago because of injuries and spotty play at the point, and is averaging 8.6 points and 3.6 assists . . . The Timberwolves waived forward Josh Howard after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Howard was injured last Friday at New Orleans . . . All-Star Saturday on Feb. 16 will have a team component, with the Eastern and Western conferences competing for $500,000 in charity — $350,000 for the winning side and $150,000 for the runner-up. Points will be earned based on the night’s four events: Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-point contest, and slam dunk contest.
Wisconsin officially hires Andersen
Ex-Utah State football coach Gary Andersen was hired to take the reins at Wisconsin, and will be formally introduced Friday. After an 11-2 season with the Aggies, which included a 16-14 loss at Wisconsin, Andersen signed an extension with Utah State before the Badgers came calling. Utah State promoted offensive coordinator Matt Wells to replace Andersen . . . Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt was named defensive coordinator at Florida State, replacing Mark Stoops, who went to Kentucky . . . Alabama All-America linebacker C.J. Mosley will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft. He leads the nation’s top-rated defense with 99 tackles . . . LSU coach Les Miles said punter Brad Wing was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson for an unspecified violation of team rules . . . Minnesota State-Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner, who was cleared of child porn charges after videos of his naked children were found on his university-issued cellphone in August, is fighting a 20-day unpaid suspension that begins Jan. 7 . . . Pennsylvania representative Charlie Dent voiced displeasure with NCAA president Mark Emmert’s response to a request from the state’s US House delegation that all of the $60 million in Penn State fines in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal be distributed to causes in the state. Emmert said in a Dec. 12 letter that a task force is to allocate at least 25 percent of the money to programs in Pennsylvania. The university met an NCAA deadline by placing the first of five annual installments of $12 million into a money market account . . . Pennsylvania judge Thomas Gavin denied Penn State’s request to delay ex-assistant football coach Mike McQueary’s defamation case against the school until related criminal cases are resolved . . . Jabari Parker of Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, one of the most highly touted basketball recruits in years, announced he will play basketball at Duke . . . An investigation of academic fraud at North Carolina found problems were confined to wrongdoing by the former chairman and an administrator of the school’s African studies department and went back a decade earlier than previously uncovered . . . Lisa Ann Gallup, 26, daughter of Boston College associate athletic director Barry Gallup, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer.
Real Madrid draws Manchester United
Real Madrid will face Manchester United in a mouthwatering Champions League last-16 clash. Champions League favorite Barcelona was drawn to play seven-time winner AC Milan. First-leg matches are Feb. 12-20, with return matches March 5-13 . . . Diego Maradona is a leading candidate to coach Iraq’s national team, according to a report by Argentina’s state-run news agency Telam . . . Olympic champion United States will play a second women’s exhibition game against Scotland Feb. 13 at LP Field in Nashville, four days after they play in Jacksonville, Fla.
Phelps is AP Male Athlete of the Year
Swimmer Michael Phelps, an 18-time Olympic gold medalist, added one more honor to his staggering list of accomplishments when he was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. Phelps edged LeBron James in voting, 40-37, to win the award for the second time, not only a fitting payoff for another brilliant Olympics (four gold medals and two silvers in London) but recognition for one of the greatest careers in any sport . . . US Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst was unanimously elected to a second term. The USOC board also voted to move forward in exploring a possible bid for 2024 or 2026, but stopped short of committing to one. The 2024 bidding process doesn’t begin in earnest until 2015 . . . American skier Mikaela Shiffrin, 17, of Vail, Colo., won a World Cup slalom in Are, Sweden, with a two-run time of 1:45.36. World Cup slalom champion Marlies Schild withdrew after she injured her right knee and back in a training crash . . . New York City Marathon runners can receive a refund of their entry fee after this year’s race was canceled because of Superstorm Sandy, or opt to have a guaranteed spot in the 2013, 2014, or 2015 marathon . . . The singles tennis champions at January’s Australian Open will each collect 2.43 million in Australian dollars ($2.55 million US) from a record total purse of nearly $31 million Australian. First-round losers will get $27,600 Australian, a 32.7 percent increase from 2012, second-round losers will get $45,500 (up 36.6 percent), and third-round losers will receive $71,000 (up 30).