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Sports Report: AFC/NFC Championship Games Set For Sunday

NFC and AFC Championship


This Sunday, the AFC Championship game will feature New England at Denver at 3:05 p.m. and the NFC Championship sees Arizona in Carolina at 6:40 p.m.

Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula is congratulating Kathryn Smith for becoming the NFL's first full-time female assistant coach by saying she earned the promotion. Pegula said in a statement released to The Associated Press on Thursday that Smith "has proven that she does excellent work" during seven years on Rex Ryan's staff.

Pegula says that while she understands the significance of the announcement, it's important to understand that Smith earned the job by being qualified and dedicated. Pegula issued the statement a day after the Bills broke the league's gender barrier by promoting Smith to be their special teams quality control coach.

Patriots Balls:

This ball controversy can't be blamed on the Patriots. Massachusetts State Police came to the rescue before Saturday's NFL playoff game between New England and Kansas City by delivering footballs that game officials left at their hotel.

League officials contacted the Hyatt at Logan Airport when it was discovered some balls and air pressure gauges had been left behind. The balls were the ones used in the kicking game. Hotel workers entered the room and a state trooper drove the equipment to Gillette Stadium, arriving about an hour before kickoff. The officials' gaffe came about a year after the start of the "Deflategate" scandal, when the Patriots were accused of using underinflated balls.


In the NBA, New Orleans beat Detroit 115-99, Cleveland won against the Clippers 115-102, Memphis topped Denver 102-101, Sacramento bested Atlanta 91-88, and it was San Antonio over Phoenix 117-89.

Former NBA player and University of Connecticut star Tate George has been sentenced to nine years in prison for running a real estate Ponzi scheme. George played for New Jersey and Milwaukee in the NBA. He was convicted in 2013 on four wire fraud counts. His victims include current and former NBA players and celebrities. He was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Trenton.


Kobe Bryant will be a starter in his 18th and final NBA All-Star game. The Los Angeles Lakers forward received a league-high 1.9 million votes as he plays his last season. Golden State guard and reigning NBA most valuable player Stephen Curry had the second-most votes with 1.6 million.

Bryant and Curry are joined in the Western Conference starting lineup by Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard. Cleveland's LeBron James and Indiana's Paul George will start in the East frontcourt on Feb. 14 with New York's Carmelo Anthony. Miami's Dwyane Wade is slated to start at guard with Toronto's Kyle Lowry, who overcame a 32,000-vote deficit to Cleveland's Kyrie Irving after the last update.


In the NHL, New Jersey doubled up Ottawa 6-3, Vancouver defeated Boston 4-2, Calgary beat Columbus 4-2, Pittsburgh edged Philadelphia 4-3, Carolina skated past Toronto in overtime 1-0, Tampa Bay beat Chicago 2-1, Nashville bested Winnipeg 4-1, Dallas edged Edmonton 3-2, San Jose won against Arizona 3-1, and Minnesota blanked Los Angeles 3-0.

The New York Rangers have signed veteran forward Daniel Paille. He's played in 31 games with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, collecting a goal and three assists. Paille has played in 570 NHL games over parts of 10 seasons with Buffalo and Boston, registering 85 goals and 87 assists.


The International Olympic Committee says the new stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be completed two months earlier than planned to allow organizers time to stage more test events before the games. Japanese organizers informed IOC vice president John Coates that the completion date would be moved from January 2020 to November 2019 during a two-day IOC "project review" of Tokyo's preparations.

However, the stadium will not be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup, which will be held in Japan from Sept. 20-Nov. 2, 2019. Work on the stadium fell behind when the government abandoned an earlier design by architect Zaha Hadid due to spiraling costs, sending organizers back to the drawing board.


On Saturday, RPI will meet Union at the Albany Time's Union Center for the Mayor's Cup.

In men's college basketball, Vermont beat Binghamton 61-52 last night. Kurt Steidl scored 16 points, including a trio of 3-pointers to lead Vermont. Marlon Beck II led Binghamton with 18 points, and Willie Rodriguez had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Hartford defeated Maryland-Baltimore County 98-87 last night. Jalen Ross came off the bench and scored a career-high 27 points, and Justin Graham added 14 — with a key 3-pointer for Hartford. The point total is Hartford's highest since January of 2003.

Sacred Heart beat Mount St. Mary's 76-71 last night. Cane Broome scored 24 points, and Tevin Falzon added 15 with two key 3-pointers late. Eyimofe Edukugho chipped in 12 points for Sacred Heart. Elijah Long had 20 points to lead Mount St. Mary's.

Robert Morris beat Central Connecticut State 59-45 last night. Kavon Stewart and Elijah Minnie scored 15 points apiece for Robert Morris. JJ Cratit scored nine points to lead Central Connecticut State.


A building that's home to the iconic Citgo sign in Boston is being put up for sale. The lighted sign with a red triangle visible from Fenway Park has been part of the city skyline for decades. The new owners of the building will decide whether to continue a lease with a billboard company that owns the sign.

Chris Davis has signed the richest contract in the history of the Baltimore Orioles. The defending major league home run champion gets a new seven-year pact that will pay him $161 million. Davis had 47 homers and 117 RBIs last season, and ranked 13th in the majors with 100 runs. Since 2012, Davis leads the majors with 159 home runs and ranks fourth with 412 RBIs. Although he's only been with the Orioles since the middle of the 2011 season, Davis is 10th on the team's career home run list with 161.

Domestic Charges:

Florida prosecutors have decided not to file charges in a domestic disturbance case involving New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman and his girlfriend.

Broward Assistant State Attorney Stefanie Newman wrote in a close-out memo Wednesday that conflicting accounts and insufficient evidence made a conviction unlikely. Davie police had previously closed the Oct. 30 matter for similar reasons.

According to a police report, Chapman's girlfriend, 22-year-old Cristina Barnea, told police he pushed and choked her. Chapman said there was an argument, but he said he was pushed down by Barnea's brother. Chapman said he eventually got a handgun and fired eight shots into a wall and window while locked in his garage.

A proposed trade of Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers fell apart after the incident was made public. Chapman was then traded to the Yankees last month.

— The Chicago White Sox and reliever Matt Albers have agreed to a one-year contract that guarantees $2.25 million and includes a club option for 2017. The 33-year-old right-hander will receive $2 million next season. The White Sox hold a $3 million option for 2017 with a $250,000 buyout. He was 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 20 appearances last season.

— Major League Baseball is pushing back this year's deadline to make trades without waivers by one day to Monday, Aug 1. The move is designed to avoid having players on the field during Sunday afternoon games as they are about to get dealt.


The nation's premier dog show will feature a bumper crop of seven new breeds this year, ranging from a rugged South African watchdog to an Italian truffle-sniffing specialist.

Next month's Westminster Kennel Club show also newly includes an obedience competition. An agility contest was added in 2014. Both are open to mixed-breed dogs.

In the traditional breed judging, the seven newcomers represent the most additions since at least 2000. They were spotlighted at a news conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden, where the best in show will be chosen on Feb. 16.

They are: the Bergamasco, the berger Picard, the Boerboel, the Cirneco dell'Etna, the lagotto Romagnolo, the miniature American shepherd and the Spanish water dog.

Breeds are added as they earn recognition from the American Kennel Club. Criteria include having several hundred dogs of the breed nationwide.


Maria Sharapova has earned her 600th career victory while moving into the fourth round of the Australian Open. The fifth seed and five-time Grand Slam winner dominated the first and last sets of a 6-1, 6-7, 6-0 win over American Lauren Davis. Sharapova served 16 aces but made 42 unforced errors in earning a meeting with Swiss teen Belinda Bencic. The 12th-seeded Bencic also posted a three-sets victory.

Anna-Lena Friedsam took a three-set match from Roberta Vinci, who was appearing in her first Grand Slam since defeating Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals. Winners on the men's side include seventh seed Kei Nishikori, ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 15 David Goffin.


Jason Dufner is among a quartet that shares the lead through one round of the PGA's CareerBuilder Challenge. Dufner, Jerry Kelly, Jeff Overton and Anirban Lahiri each opened with 8-under 64s, putting them one stroke better than Colt Knost and Jamie Lovemark. Phil Mickelson is back after a long layoff, shooting a 4-under 68 in his first start since the Presidents Cup in October.


An American amateur has upstaged the stars in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship. Bryson DeChambeau fired an 8-under 64 in just his seventh start in a professional event to take the lead after the first round. The 22-year-old won the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship last year. He has a one shot lead over Henrik Stenson and is two in front of Rory McIlory. Top-ranked Jordan Spieth is four back.


Joe Durant shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead in the PGA Tour Champions' season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship. The 51-year-old Durant had nine birdies and two bogeys at Hualalai Golf Course. Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, Davis Love III and Tom Pernice Jr. were a stroke back.

©2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.