Sports shorts: Heat, Thunder lead full day of Christmas NBA games

2012-12-25T00:00:00Z Sports shorts: Heat, Thunder lead full day of Christmas NBA gamesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
December 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

MIAMI - It was practically a year beyond compare for LeBron James. He got his first NBA championship, was the league's MVP for the third time, a unanimous choice as MVP of the NBA Finals, and collected a second Olympic gold medal.

And in perhaps the last marquee moment of his year, James and the Miami Heat will host Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City today in an NBA Finals rematch.

The league's Christmas slate of nationally televised games also include Boston at Brooklyn, Knicks at Lakers, Houston at Chicago and Denver at Clippers.

There are some sensational story lines around all those games, but no NBA player could match what James did in 2012.

No longer uncomfortable with the fallout for the way he exercised his right in 2010 to choose his own future, he enjoyed a year loaded with triumphs and allowed himself to be in the public eye more.

"I'm driven," James said, "by something greater."

James, 27, is averaging 25.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists this season for Miami, which leads the Eastern Conference with an 18-6 mark. Oklahoma City leads the West with a 21-5 mark.

College basketball

Duke stays No. 1; UA now No. 3

Duke and Michigan remain the top two teams in The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll while Syracuse drops from third to ninth after its first loss.

The Blue Devils received all but two of the first-place votes Monday from the 65-member national media panel.

Arizona, Louisville and Indiana all moved up one place to third through fifth. Kansas, which won at Ohio State, moved from ninth to sixth. Missouri, which beat Illinois, jumped from 12th to seventh. Cincinnati advanced from 11th to eighth. Syracuse, which lost to Temple, and Ohio State complete the top 10.

Pittsburgh and Kansas State are new to the poll at 24th and 25th.

• Stanford remains No. 1 in the AP women's basketball poll for the sixth straight week, matching the team's longest run in the top spot. No. 2 UConn will visit Stanford on Saturday, trying to snap the Cardinal's 82-game home winning streak.

Miscellaneous

Swisher signing with Cleveland

CLEVELAND - Former New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, a native of Ohio, tweeted he is signing with Cleveland.

"Hey Cleveland! Are you ready? Because I'm coming home!" he said on Twitter.

Swisher, who likely will play right field for Cleveland, which won't comment until Swisher completes his physical.

• Soccer fans in Spain want Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho out. About 82 percent of the almost 100,000 participants in an online poll said he should be fired after Madrid's 3-2 loss to Malaga on Saturday, when Mourinho benched beloved veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Madrid is 16 points behind Spanish leader Barcelona.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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