Here’s a look at some of the top sports stories making headlines today, Thursday, Jan. 8.
HAWKS CONTINUE WEST HEX
The Atlanta Hawks have managed to increase their lead in the NBA’s Eastern Conference by continuing their mastery of the West.
The Hawks picked up their ninth straight win over the West as Jeff Teague dropped in 25 points to lead a 96-86 victory over Memphis in Atlanta. Kyle Korver had 14 points for the Hawks, who were tied at 84 before reeling off a 10-0 run. Teague and Korver each hit 3-pointers during the spurt.
Atlanta is 10-2 versus the West this season, the league’s best record against the conference. The Hawks also have won six straight and 20 of 22 overall to take a 2 ½-game lead over Chicago and Toronto in the East.
Also in the NBA:
Klay Thompson scored 40 points and the Golden State Warriors earned their fifth straight win, 117-102 against Indiana. Thompson hit six 3-pointers and Stephen Curry delivered 21 points and a 15 assists as the NBA’s top team improved to 28-5.
Blake Griffin delivered 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Lakers for the ninth time in their last 10 meetings, 114-89. Chris Paul contributed 24 points and Matt Barnes added 19 in the rout.
James Harden scored 21 points and the Houston Rockets used a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter to pull away in a 105-93 triumph at Cleveland. Dwight Howard had 17 points and 19 rebounds to help the Rockets send the Cavaliers to their fourth straight home loss.
Derrick Favors had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Utah’s 97-77 pounding of the Bulls in Chicago. Gordon Hayward had 18 points and Trey Burke added 17 while the Jazz held the Bulls to a season-low point total.
D.J. Augustin scored 17 of his season-high 26 points in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s season-high seventh straight win, 108-95 over the Mavericks in Dallas. Greg Monroe contributed 27 points and 18 rebounds for the Pistons, who were 5-23 before the streak.
Sacramento’s Rudy Gay pumped in 28 points and grabbed nine boards in a 104-83 thumping of Oklahoma City. DeMarcus Cousins chipped in 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Carl Landry added 24 points for the Kings.
Boston’s three-game skid is over after Avery Bradley scored 21 points and Tyler Zeller added 18 in an 89-81 triumph at Brooklyn. The Nets led by 11 in the first half before suffering their third straight loss.
Kemba Walker scored 31 points, including a game-winning 11-foot jumper off the glass with 1.4 seconds left to lift Charlotte past New Orleans 98-94. Gerald Henderson had 16 points for the Hornets.
DUKE, VIRGINIA STILL PERFECT
The second-ranked Duke Blue Devils struggled in Winston-Salem on Wednesday before keeping their perfect record intact.
Freshmen Justice Winslow and Jahlil Okafor led the 14-0 Blue Devils to a 73-65 triumph at Wake Forest. Winslow scored a season-high 20 points in Duke’s closest game of the season. Okafor finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in his first ACC road game.
Quinn Cook provided nine of his 12 points in the final five minutes to help the Blue Devils remain one of three unbeaten teams remaining in Division I men’s basketball.
In other top-25 finals:
Justin Anderson scored 16 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 14 as No. 3 Virginia beat North Carolina State 61-51. Mike Tobey had 11 points in the Cavaliers’ 19th straight home win.
Frank Kaminsky scored 21 points and Josh Gasser added 15 as fourth-ranked Wisconsin held off Purdue 62-55. The game was tied at 45 until a 9-2 run gave the Badgers a 54-47 lead with 3:19 left.
Chris Jones scored 20 of his 22 points after halftime for the second straight game to rally fifth-ranked Louisville past Clemson 58-52. Terry Rozier added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Cardinals improved to 14-1.
Ninth-ranked Utah clobbered Colorado 74-49 behind Brandon Taylor’s 14 points. Delon Wright added 13 points, six assists and four steals in the Utes’ sixth straight win.
Malcolm Hill scored 18 of his career-high 28 points in the second half of Illinois’ 64-57 upset over 11th-ranked Maryland. The Illini put together a 20-3 run in the second half and held the Terrapins to 37 percent from the field for the game.
Wayne Selden scored seven straight points, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:17 remaining to lead 12th-rated Kansas past No. 21 Baylor 56-55 in Waco. Jamari Traylor led the Jayhawks with 13 points before fouling out with 5:18 left.
ROGERS WILL PLAY
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he’ll play Sunday against Dallas despite sitting out Wednesday’s practice because of a lingering left calf injury. Rodgers has dealt with the injury for about three weeks and hopes occasional acupuncture will also help, along with the rest that the Packers received for earning a bye for the opening round of the playoffs. He aggravated the injury during a season-ending win over the Detroit Lions.
Elsewhere in the NFL:
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will miss Saturday night’s divisional playoff game against Seattle with a broken bone in his foot.
Giants’ rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is going to the Pro Bowl, replacing the injured Calvin Johnson of Detroit in the Jan. 25 game. Beckham had 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games this season.
San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick will try to hone his quarterbacking skills with Kurt Warner this offseason. The San Francisco quarterback will begin his training and study Monday with Warner, who led the Rams and Cardinals to the Super Bowl during his 12-year career.
The Atlanta Falcons have restructured their front office by giving assistant general manager Scott Pioli more responsibility. Pioli will take on pro and college scouting and will have new NFL draft responsibilities while continuing to report to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who retains responsibility for salary cap and player affairs, among other duties. The moves came as the team continued its search to replace coach Mike Smith, who was fired following a 6-10 season.
Washington has been working on the final details of a deal to hire Scot McCloughan as general manager. McCloughan previously served as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers and most recently was a senior executive of the Seattle Seahawks. His arrival would mean that Bruce Allen is stripped of the GM title, but Allen would remain team president.
The New York Giants have fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and secondary/cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta after allowing the third-most yards in the NFL during the regular season. Fewell had been the Giants’ defensive coordinator since 2010.
Longtime Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh (pyoo) has died at age 70. Pugh was the first Dallas player to lead the team in sacks five straight seasons, doing it from 1968-72. He is fifth on the team’s career list with 99 1/2 sacks.
LEAFS LOSE WITH NEW COACH
Coach Randy Carlyle had seen the Toronto Maple Leafs play like this before. This time, he wasn’t behind the bench.
The Leafs were losers in their first game under interim coach Peter Horachek as Marcus Johansson and Eric Fehr each scored twice in Washington’s 6-2 rout in Toronto. Braden Holtby turned back 31 shots in helping the Capitals improve to 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.
The Maple Leafs were playing just hours after naming Horachek interim coach to replace Carlyle, who was dismissed on Tuesday. Toronto suffered its third straight loss and fell to 2-8-0 in its last 10 contests.
Elsewhere on ice:
The New York Rangers won for the 11th time in 12 games as Rick Nash notched his team-high 25th goal in a 4-1 triumph at Anaheim. Derick Brassard, Mats Succarello and Dominic Moore also scored as the Blueshirts moved within six points of the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins.
Pittsburgh was a 3-2 loser to Boston as Patrice Bergeron scored his second goal of the night at 2:43 of overtime. Tuukka Rask stopped 37 shots as the Bruins ended a three-game losing streak and sent the Penguins to their sixth loss in eight games.
Justin Abdelkaderand Henrik Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist as Detroit beat Calgary 3-2 to improve to 2-1 on its six-game road trip. Riley Sheahan also scored and Gustav Nyquist had two assists to help the Red Wings climb within three points of Tampa Bay for the Atlantic Division lead.