Friday’s Sports in Brief

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — NHL

Pete DeBoer, who coached the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup finals in his first season in 2011-12, was fired Friday, with his aging and diminished team in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season.

Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello would not say who will be the next coach until he speaks Saturday with the players, who are on a three-day Christmas break. The Devils play the Rangers in New York on Saturday.

New Jersey has been hit with injuries in a 12-17-7 season. It has not won consecutive games since early last month, going 3-8-5 in its last 16. The Devils were missing six regulars to either injury or illness Tuesday night when they lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, the NHL’s second-worst team.

NFL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith will miss Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers because of a lacerated spleen.

Team trainer Rick Burkholder said Friday that Smith was hurt on a hit during the third quarter of last weekend’s loss to the Steelers, but the injury was not initially obvious.

Smith will not need surgery.

If the Chargers beat Kansas City on Sunday, they make the playoffs. The Chiefs would need to win and have Baltimore and Houston lose to earn a postseason berth.

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Rookie quarterback Connor Shaw will come off Cleveland’s practice squad and start the season finale on Sunday against Baltimore.

With Brian Hoyer still slowed by a sore right throwing shoulder, Shaw will be behind center when the Browns (7-8) conclude another disappointing season against the Ravens, who still have a shot at the playoffs.

“I’m excited about it,” Shaw said following practice. “It was a good week of practice and I had a lot of support from coaches and teammates and I’m confident going into this game with the game plan. We’ll see what happens on Sunday.”

An undrafted free agent, Shaw is the third quarterback to start for the Browns this season and the 22nd for the franchise since 1999.

After learning he’ll start, Shaw tweeted: #22.

It’s the third straight season and fourth time in five seasons that Cleveland’s No. 3 quarterback has started the finale.

PRO BASKETBALL

DALLAS (AP) — Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has passed Elvin Hayes for eighth place on the NBA’s career scoring list and 10th on the combined NBA-ABA list.

The highest-scoring foreign-born player in league history hit a long jumper early in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night to put him at 27,314 points, one ahead of Hayes. The 7-foot German passed Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth and the top spot among foreigners on Nov. 11.

Nowitzki’s latest milestone came with Kobe Bryant watching. Bryant, who passed Michael Jordan for third on the scoring list this month, missed his third straight game for rest.

The 36-year-old Nowitzki, in his 17th season, was questionable before the game with a stomach ailment.

Hayes spent most of his 16-year career with Washington and finished it with Houston in 1984.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao has had surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon, an injury that ended his season and altered Cleveland’s title hopes.

The Cavs said Varejao’s operation was performed Friday at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Brian Donley, who was assisted by team physician Dr. Richard Parker. There is no timetable for his return.

Varejao injured himself Tuesday night in a win over Minnesota as he was battling for a rebound.

The Cavs lost their first game without Varejao in Miami, and his injury will likely accelerate the team’s search to find inside help. Tristan Thompson took Varejao’s spot in the starting lineup against the Heat.

Varejao has missed 166 games the past four seasons with injuries. Still, he was one of the team’s best rebounders, which is why the Cavs signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract in October.

JUNIOR HOCKEY

MONTREAL (AP) — Jack Eichel and Chase DeLeo scored in a shootout to help the United States beat defending champion Finland 2-1 on Friday in their round-robin opener in the World Junior Championship.

Eichel is a freshman at Boston University, and DeLeo plays for Portland in the Western Hockey League.

Mikko Rantanen scored for Finland, and Boston College’s Alex Tuch tied it on a first-period power play. Boston College’s Thatcher Demko made 29 saves for the Americans, and Ville Husso stopped 36 shots for Finland.

In the other Group A game Friday night at Bell Centre, Canada faced Slovakia.

In Group B in Toronto, Russia beat Denmark 3-2 in a shootout, and Sweden faced the Czech Republic.

SAILING

HOBART, Australia (AP) — American super maxi Comanche and seven-time and defending champion Wild Oats XI continued their Sydney to Hobart duel on Saturday, approaching the first 24 hours of the annual ocean race to the island state of Tasmania.

Comanche, which was launched in October and is being tested in race conditions for the first time, led Wild Oats XI by just over a nautical mile. Both had covered about 200 nautical miles of the 628-nautical-mile race.

Super maxis also held the next two positions. Perpetual Loyal was in third place, about 13 nautical miles behind Comanche, with Ragamuffin, sailed by 87-year-old skipper Syd Fischer, in fourth.

Brindabella, the 1997 champion, was one of seven yachts which retired due to rough weather on the first day.


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