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Last Update on March 06, 2015 06:35 GMT


ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks are blowing away everyone in the Eastern Conference.

Yet, there's always a sense that LeBron James will be standing in the way when they get to the playoffs.

That scenario adds an extra bit of intrigue to Friday night's matchup in Atlanta between the Hawks and James' Cleveland Cavaliers.

The front-running Hawks (48-12) insist they're not treating this game any different. Of course, that's what you would expect from the team with a double-digit lead in the East, which has all but locked up home-court advantage throughout the conference playoffs with more than a month to go in the regular season.

The Cavaliers (39-24) are 10-1/2 games behind and more concerned at the moment with beating out Chicago and Toronto for the No. 2 seed.


GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto made his spring debut and allowed one hit and struck out two in two scoreless innings on Thursday.

But reliever Burke Badenhop got hit hard in his Reds debut, giving up five runs while retiring only two batters and the Cleveland Indians pulled away to a 9-3 victory.

Badenhop allowed Jose Ramirez's two-run single and Yan Gomez's two-run homer during Cleveland's five-run fifth inning. The reliever gave up five hits and walked a batter.

The Reds signed Badenhop to a one-year, $2.5 million deal last month, trying to improve one of the NL's worst bullpens last season.

Cleveland's Trevor Bauer allowed a run and three hits over three innings, his first of the spring.


CINCINNATI (AP) -- Rey Maualuga agreed to a three-year deal Thursday, allowing the Cincinnati Bengals to keep one of their top linebackers.

Cincinnati's defense slipped to 22nd in the NFL last season, when Maualuga and linebacker Vontaze Burfict missed significant time because of injuries. After Maualuga returned after missing four games with a pulled hamstring, the run defense improved measurably.

Maualuga was a second-round pick in 2009. He could have become an unrestricted free agent next week.

Burfict missed most of last season with concussions and torn knee cartilage that required surgery, leaving his status for the start of next season unclear. The Bengals will try to add depth at the linebacker spot in the offseason.

National Sports News

Last Update on March 06, 2015 15:45 GMT


UNDATED (AP)-- The Chicago Bulls have the tough end of a back-to-back scheduling challenge tonight. After beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-105 last night in the Windy City, the Bulls hit the road to play at Indiana tonight.

That's one of 12 games on tonight's NBA slate. The Washington Wizards, who've dropped seven of their last 10, are home against Miami. The Wizards have no chance of catching division-leading Atlanta, but they're hoping to gain some ground to finish at least fourth in the Eastern Conference to gain the home-court edge in their first-round playoff series.

Those high-flying Hawks are home against Cleveland tonight in a possible preview of the Eastern Conference finals. The Hawks have a commanding 14-1/2-game lead over the Wizards. Meanwhile, the Cavs open the night a half-game back of Chicago in the Central Division. The Hawks have won five in a row while the Cavaliers are going for their third straight win.

Elsewhere in the NBA, Philadelphia hosts Utah, Orlando is home against Sacramento, Charlotte hosts Atlantic Division-leading Toronto, Boston visits New Orleans, Houston is home against Detroit, Memphis hosts the L.A. Lakers, Phoenix visits Brooklyn, San Antonio hosts Denver and Golden State is home against Dallas.


UNDATED (AP) -- In hockey, the New Jersey Devils have to pick up the pace in order to make the postseason. The Devils open the night eight points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. That makes tonight's home game against Columbus nearly a must-win game for the Devils, who are 16-9-8 at home.

Elsewhere in hockey tonight, Carolina hosts Minnesota, Buffalo visits Ottawa, the Detroit Red Wings host Calgary, the Chicago Blackhawks host Edmonton and Pittsburgh visits Anaheim.


UNDATED (AP) -- Today's AP Top-25 schedule starts with eighth-ranked Wichita State playing Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis in an afternoon tip-off (1:05 p.m. Eastern time). Southern Illinois advanced with a 55-48 win over Missouri State last night.

That will be followed by No. 11 Northern Iowa going up against Bradley this evening in another Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal.

Tonight, No. 14 Baylor hosts Texas Tech. In tournament play, No. 25 Murray State is in Ohio Valley Conference semifinals against Morehead State in Nashville, Tenn.


GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) -- Andy Murray quelled a mid-match comeback from Donald Young to win in four sets and give Britain a 1-0 lead over the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup.

Murray won 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in his first match in his native Scotland since winning Wimbledon in 2013.

James Ward will play John Isner (IHZ'-nur) of the U.S. in the second singles match later today.

The U.S. team lost to Britain 3-1 last year in the first round in San Diego.


DORAL, Fla. (AP) -- After taming the Blue Monster course at Doral with a 10-under 62 yesterday, J.B. Holmes takes a four-shot lead over Ryan Moore into today's second round of the Cadillac Championship. This is the first of the World Golf Championship tournaments of the year.

The top 50 golfers in the world are entered in a tournament for the first time since the 2012 PGA Championship.

France's Alexander Levy shot a 4-under 68 and is tied with Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson for third place.


RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) -- PGA Tour rookie Mark Hubbard takes a one-stroke lead into today's second round of the Puerto Rico Open, the regular Tour stop this week. Chris Smith, Billy Mayfair and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo were tied for second.


SINGAPORE (AP) -- Carlota Ciganda shot a 6-under 66 to move into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park after the second round of the HSBC Women's Champions. They're at 9 under par. Azahara Munoz was in sole possession of third place, two strokes back.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko birdied three of the last four holes en route to a 70 that put the 17-year-old in a tie for fourth with Stacy Lewis, Jenny Shin and Karrie Webb at 6-under.

Among Americans, defending champion Paula Creamer is tied for 36th after a 71. Michelle Wie (WEE) fired a 70 that included three bogeys, three birdies and an eagle and is tied for 23rd.


Sports Director Clay Hall

WSYX - Clay Hall

Clay Hall is the Sports Director for ABC 6 and FOX 28.

Find out more about Sports Director Clay Hall