Don't look now, but the Spurs are red hot

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Don't look now, but the Spurs are red hot

From Comcast SportsNet SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Even shorthanded, the San Antonio Spurs keep finding ways to win. On Monday night, Richard Jefferson stepped up big. He hit a 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds left -- only his second field goal all night -- as the Spurs pulled out a 106-102 victory over the Utah Jazz. It was San Antonio's 11th straight win -- the longest streak in the NBA -- and the seventh consecutive on this nine-game road trip. San Antonio (23-9) hasn't lost on the road since Jan. 29 in Dallas. "I haven't been shooting the ball particularly well of late ... and even passed up one shot with about a minute to go," Richard Jefferson said. "But I was blessed the (3) went in." Tony Parker scored 23 points to lead the Spurs, who were without key players Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter , both expected to miss two weeks because of injury. "When you have guys that go down, I think sometimes it helps guys re-focus knowing you have less room for error," Jefferson said. "Everybody has to contribute." Without Splitter to provide a spark off the bench, Matt Bonner came through in the clutch with five 3-pointers. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting. "Matty was great. Matty was key for us tonight," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who finished with 20 points. "He was able to spread the floor and hit some shots and continue to score points for us when we really needed it." Al Jefferson scored 20 points to lead the Jazz (15-16), who fell below .500 for the first time since Jan. 2, but he couldn't get a mid-range jumper to fall with 29 seconds left. Paul Millsap added 16 for Utah, and Devin Harris 15. Josh Howard, in the starting lineup because of an injury to shooting guard Raja Bell, had 12 points. San Antonio trailed by as many as eight points in the first half and 10 in the third quarter before rallying. "Persistence," Duncan said. "We stuck with it. They did make a (13-0) run. We came out in the second half and didn't play well for those first couple of minutes. They got themselves a lead, but we knew there was a lot of game left. It kind of shows the character of this team, how we've been playing over the last 10-15 games. We're really starting to turn that corner." The Jazz, forced to practice Monday morning despite arriving back from Houston at 12:30 a.m., played with much more intensity than they did in a blowout loss to Houston on Sunday. In the end, they still lost -- and have dropped seven of their past nine. "Tough loss," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "I thought our guys fought hard, especially after last night. We had a chance at the end. We just didn't get the plays at the end." The Spurs led 56-53 at halftime, but the Jazz opened the second half on a 13-0 run. The Spurs fought back, with Bonner hitting his fifth 3-pointer and making three free throws after being fouled on his next 3-point attempt. And Parker had 11 assists to go with his 23 points. "Tony's an All-Star," Gregg Popovich said of his veteran guard. "He had another magnificent game -- scoring, finding people, playing tough, being a leader. He was good." The bad continues to be injuries for Ginobili. "It's killing him," Popovich said. "He just came back, played in a couple of games and was beginning to get in shape, get a rhythm and then he goes down again. He's pretty depressed about it. Hopefully the team can be over it and realize he and Tiago (Splitter) are going to gone for a while." Ginobili suffered a strained left oblique in Saturday's 103-100 victory at the Los Angeles Clippers. An MRI on Monday confirmed the injury to Ginobili, who had played just his fourth game since missing 22 with a broken left hand. He will remain in San Antonio for the remainder of the Spurs' road trip. Ginobili led the Spurs against the Jazz in the first meeting with 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Splitter, who had averaged 13 points off the bench in his previous five games, traveled with the team to Salt Lake City but also is out two weeks with a strained right calf. NOTES: Jazz great Karl Malone attended Monday's game just a few weeks after a very public spat with the organization and CEO Greg Miller. Afterward they met for about an hour in a closed-door session, though neither would discuss what was said. Earlier this month, Malone went off on the organization. He said he was forced to use a scalper to buy tickets for a game and also blamed the organization for coach Jerry Sloan's abrupt retirement last February, saying the Jazz had given guard Deron Williams -- now with the New Jersey Nets -- too much power. On Monday, Malone, with his son, shrugged off reporters but sat in the front row under the "home" basket next to a fan holding a colorful "Malone for President" sign. A security guard stood behind him. At halftime, Malone hugged coach Corbin and other members of the Jazz staff in the concourse, but was signing autographs when Miller walked by. Miller looked at him, and kept walking. After the game, Miller went over to Malone and the two chatted briefly before going behind closed doors "We talked," Malone said. "It's between us." ... Jazz SG Bell was inactive Monday after re-injuring his right adductor. It was the fourth game he missed because of the injury. The Jazz instead activated F DeMarre Carroll for the first time since signing him Feb. 8. ...The Spurs on Monday signed 6-9 rookie F Eric Dawson, a San Antonio native, to a 10-day contract. Dawson was averaging 15.9 points and 10.1 rebounds for Austin of the NBA Development League.

Still streaking: Fire beat Dallas for fourth straight win

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USA TODAY

Still streaking: Fire beat Dallas for fourth straight win

The tough test the Chicago Fire was supposed to receive Thursday didn’t exactly materialize the way it looked on paper, but the Fire still picked up a fourth straight win.

The Fire were leading after a frantic first 10 minutes and rode out a subdued second half to pick up a 2-1 win against an FC Dallas team, which sat six players who have started a majority of the team’s matches.

Nemanja Nikolic scored his 11th goal of the season, adding to his league lead, and it took less than three minutes to get it. Nikolic redirected Brandon Vincent’s cross from the left into the far post for an early Fire lead. Vincent and Nikolic connected for a similar goal eight days ago against Colorado.

Dallas (5-2-4, 19 points) didn’t take long to respond. In the sixth minute, Joao Meira scuffed a clearance and then Johan Kappelhof’s attempted clearance was blocked right into the path of Roland Lamah who tapped the ball in.

The crazy start continued with David Accam cutting in on his right foot from the left wing and scoring with a shot from outside the box to give the Fire (7-3-3, 24 points) the lead again. The ball skipped under the arms of Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz.

After that wild start neither team managed a shot on target until Arturo Alvarez fired a shot at Seitz in the 89th minute. Nikolic had a penalty kick saved in the final minute of added time.

With another game against Houston on Sunday, Dallas manager Oscar Pareja elected to sit a number of regulars. Kellyn Acosta, Walker Zimmerman and leading goal-scorer Maxi Urruti are among Dallas’ best players and were not included in the Dallas matchday roster. Michael Barrios, Maynor Figueroa and Hernan Grana also have started a majority of Dallas’ matches this season and did not start on Thursday. Barrios did enter in the 74th minute.

The Fire now have the second-best record in MLS after finishing a stretch of four games in 13 days with a 4-0 record. The Fire next play June 4 at Orlando.

Jalen Coleman-Lands reportedly transferring away from Illini

Jalen Coleman-Lands reportedly transferring away from Illini

The exodus out of Champaign continues, with Jalen Coleman-Lands reportedly the latest Illinois basketball player to leave the team in the aftermath of this spring's coaching change.

Coleman-Lands, perhaps the highest-rated recruit brought in during the John Grcoe Era, is set to transfer away from the program after two seasons with the Fighting Illini, per a report from Scout.com's Evan Daniels.

As a sophomore this past season, the sharpshooting Coleman-Lands played in all 35 of the team's games and started 15 of them. He averaged eight points a game and shot 38 percent from 3-point range.

Coleman-Lands was a big deal when he was recruited out of the state of Indiana. Landing a highly touted Hoosier has been an historic rarity for the Illini, but Coleman-Lands picked Groce's program over offers from Arizona, Indiana, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Xavier, among others. He was a four-star recruit and ranked by Rivals as one of the top 40 prospects in the Class of 2015.

While Coleman-Lands was at times electric from behind the arc, he wasn't always consistent, hence his moving in and out of the starting lineup.

Coleman-Lands' departure is the latest in a busy offseason of roster transformation for the Illini, something not too unexpected given the decision to fire Groce after a largely unsuccessful five-year tenure and replace him with Brad Underwood. While Underwood is earning rave reviews from outside critics and has already made a huge recruiting splash in luring Illinois' Mr. Basketball, Mark Smith, to the Illini, it's understandable that players who committed to Groce would want to rethink things.

D.J. Williams preceded Coleman-Lands in transferring out of Champaign. And half of the blockbuster recruiting class Groce assembled prior to his firing — four-star recruits Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett — opted to play elsewhere. All that on top of the team's three leading scorers from last season — Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan and Tracy Abrams — exhausting their eligibility in Groce's final year.

Coleman-Lands' decision means Illinois will return just five scholarship players from last year's roster: Jaylon Tate, Kipper Nichols, Te'Jon Lucas, Leron Black and Michael Finke.

But there are reinforcements coming in Underwood's first season leading the program. Smith will be joined by a pair of freshman guards recruited by Groce: Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams. Plus, just Wednesday, the team announced the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who averaged 19 points a game last season.

Still, as is often the case with college basketball coaching changes, this is a dramatic evolution of a roster in just a couple of months.

And to top things off, Illinois fans might not even see Coleman-Lands leave the state. Internet chatter in recent days has mentioned that Coleman-Lands could be transferring to DePaul, where his high school coach was recently hired as one of Dave Leitao's assistants.