Sharapova loses to Li Na in Australian Open semifinal:
China's Li Na has overpowered second-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the Australian Open final in Melbourne, Australia, and a chance for her second Grand Slam title. Li, who won the 2011 French Open and was the losing finalist here to Kim Clijsters the same year, broke Sharapova's serve in the fifth and seventh games of the second set on Thursday. Sharapova had dropped only nine games in five matches en route to the semifinals, a tournament record. The sixth-seeded Li, who has been working since August with Justine Henin's former coach, Carlos Rodriquez, will play either defending champion Victoria Azarenka or 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens in Saturday night's final.
NFL fines Brady $10K for 'aggressive slide:'
The NFL fined New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for an "aggressive slide" in Sunday's AFC championship game loss, 28-13 to the Baltimore Ravens. On a first-and-goal near the end of the second quarter, Brady was forced out of the pocket to his left. He ran for 3 yards but slid before he could be tackled. In the process, he raised his right leg and kicked defender Ed Reed in the thigh. Brady reportedly apologized to Reed in a text message.
PGA starts discussion on banning long putters:
The first PGA Tour meeting on a proposed rule for long putters made only one thing clear to commissioner Tim Finchem. There's still a long way to go to decide what the tour will do, and it figures to be messy. "It's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings," Finchem said Wednesday. "So consequently, it's a difficult situation. Personally, I view the professional game as being the strongest it's ever been. So I don't like to see distractions, but it's not a perfect world." Finchem also said there might be a place for bifurcation -- two sets of rules for the game -- in certain areas of golf, but he did not think the long putter issue was one of them. The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced Nov. 28 a proposed rule that would outlaw players from anchoring the club against their bodies. That's the stroke used for belly putters and broom-handle putters. Three of the last five major champions have used belly putters. Another month remains in a 90-day comment period before the governing bodies decide to adopt the rule. Then, it would not be enforced until 2016. But the PGA Tour can set its own rules.
Grizzlies extend Lakers' losing streak:
Darrell Arthur scored 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 as the Memphis Grizzlies beat Los Angeles 106-93 Wednesday night, handing the Lakers' their fourth straight loss and 10th in 12 games. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni had talked before the game about how having an All-Star team with players not having learned their pecking order. Yet Los Angeles lost its seventh consecutive road game, and center Dwight Howard missed the second half after aggravating his sore shoulder in the first half. Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen added 12 points apiece as Memphis improved to 12-0 when scoring at least 100 points.
-- Brook Lopez strengthened his push for a spot on the all-star team with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, helping the Brooklyn Nets hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-83 on Wednesday night.
Gaborik's hat trick helps Rangers net first win:
Marian Gaborik scored twice in the first period and then completed his hat trick 27 seconds into overtime as the New York Rangers overcame a pair of blown leads and beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 for their first win of the season. Gaborik broke free and outraced Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk down the ice. His first shot was blocked by goalie Tuukka Rask, but Gaborik batted the rebound out of the air to end the game and start a cascade of flying hats onto the ice.
New arena getting closer to reality for …