- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

NBA PLAYOFFS

BOSTON (AP) - LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

Cleveland’s 4-1 series’ win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise’s first championship.

It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James.

Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is not yet ready to return to the bench as the franchise prepares for its third straight trip to the NBA Finals.

General manager Bob Myers made the announcement, though he didn’t rule out Kerr coming back at some point if he somehow is healthy enough to do so.

The team returned to practice following a two-day break after completing a four-game sweep of the Spurs on Monday night to improve to 12-0 this postseason.

The 51-year-old Kerr underwent a procedure May 5 to repair a spinal fluid leak stemming from complications after a pair of back surgeries in 2015, after the Warriors won their first championship in 40 years during his first season as coach. Kerr returned to practice May 13 after more than three weeks off the court. He then traveled for the Western Conference finals to San Antonio and has been watching games from behind the scenes, speaking to the team beforehand and during halftime. Acting coach Mike Brown has been leading Golden State during Kerr’s absence.

HOCKEY

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn’t get a handle on Kunitz’s shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

BASEBALL

BOSTON (AP) - Red Sox pitcher David Price is set to make his season debut for Boston on Monday at the Chicago White Sox.

The 31-year-old left-hander, starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contact, has been recovering from a strained pitching elbow.

“Excited, just to be back here,” he said. “There’s not a better feeling. You can’t replicate it anywhere else.

Price allowed nine runs - six earned - and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings during a pair of injury rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out eight and walked two.

NEW YORK (AP) - Rachel Robinson will receive the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award from baseball’s Hall of Fame on July 29, the day before this year’s induction ceremony.

She’s the wife of late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who broke the major league color barrier in 1947. Rachel Robinson created the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973, a year after he husband’s death. Rachel Robinson, who turns 95 in July 19, headed the foundation’s board until 1996.

The O’Neil award was established in 2007 to honor individuals who broaden the game’s appeal and whose character is comparable to that of O’Neil. He played in the Negro Leagues, was a scout for major league baseball teams and helped establish the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

The award was given to O’Neil in 2008, Roland Hemond in 2011 and Joe Garagiola in 2014.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee, a staffer under coach Rick Pitino, had hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

“Under Kentucky law, we can’t prosecute someone just based on their statements,” prosecutor Christie Foster said in a news conference. “We can’t prosecute Miss Powell just based on this book. We have to have sufficient corroborating evidence to present to a jury, and in this case we just didn’t feel that we have that.”

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline that is expected to be handed down by the NCAA in early June. Pitino has denied knowledge of the activities described in Powell’s book and recently answered the NCAA’s allegation that he failed to monitor McGee.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Four NFL teams will carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads during the 2017 season. Three players are from Britain and one from Germany.

The announcement by the NFL is part of a new International Player Pathway program. The international players are: tight end Alex Gray with Atlanta, defensive end Efe Obada with Carolina, defensive end Alex Jenkins with New Orleans and linebacker Eric Nzeocha with Tampa Bay.

The players have been training alongside NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida the past three months.

Gray is a former rugby player; Jenkins and Nzeocha were recent college players. Obada was originally signed by Dallas in 2015. Each team will get an exemption for an 11th practice player, who is ineligible to be activated during the season.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - The Chicago Bears added some salsa to the roster, signing former New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz to a one-year contract.

The Bears were looking for help after former Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffery signed with Philadelphia. They’re hoping Cruz can rediscover some of his old flair and give them a reliable option along with the oft-injured youngster Kevin White. A feared receiver with the Giants, Cruz helped them win the Super Bowl before being slowed by injuries. He was released after seven seasons in February.

Cruz has 303 catches for 4,549 yards and 25 touchdowns. A knee injury and a calf problem caused him to miss most of the 2014 season and all of 2015. Last year, he had 39 catches and one touchdown reception - the only time he got to perform his salsa dance in the end zone.

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