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In brief: Sparks eliminate Sky, advance to WNBA Finals

Sparks’ Candace Parker, right, is fouled by Sky’s Imani Boyette. (Kamil Krzaczynski / Associated Press)
Sparks’ Candace Parker, right, is fouled by Sky’s Imani Boyette. (Kamil Krzaczynski / Associated Press)
Associated Press

WNBA: Candace Parker scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Chicago Sky 95-75 on Tuesday night to advance to the WNBA Finals.

Kristi Toliver added 21 points and league MVP Nneka Ogwumike had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Sparks, who led by as much as 28 and won the semifinal series 3-1.

They will face the defending champion Minnesota Lynx in a best-of-5 series for the league title. The top-seeded Lynx swept Phoenix in the other semifinal and will be going for their fourth title in six years. The second-seeded Sparks return to the finals for the first time since 2003 after winning championships in 2001 and 2002 with Lisa Leslie.

Cappie Pondexter scored 19 points and rookie Imani Boyette had 15 to lead the fourth-seeded Sky. Gonzaga graduate Courtney Vandersloot added seven points and four assists for Chicago. The Sky played without 2015 MVP and leading scorer Elena Delle Donne, who has a thumb injury.

Fernandez toxicology report under wraps

MLB: Investigators probing the death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends likely now know whether the three men were drinking the morning that Fernandez’s boat slammed into a jetty off South Beach.

They just aren’t saying.

In response to the Miami Herald’s request for the results of any toxicology tests performed on the victims following the crash, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman said that the agency has “received the report” from the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office. The Herald requested the test results because they should show whether any among the trio drank alcohol or used any of a number of common drugs the night of the fatal crash.

But FWC spokesman Rob Klepper declined to release or discuss the tests, citing the agency’s active investigation. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, however, says it is not involved in any criminal investigation given that everyone involved in the crash was killed.

Tebow ready for Arizona: Tim Tebow will test his baseball skills against some of the game’s premier prospects.

The New York Mets announced they are sending Tebow to the Arizona Fall League after cutting short their instructional league with Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida. Gov. Rick Scott already has declared a state of emergency.

Tebow, the former NFL quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, is scheduled to report Sunday and play for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Opening day is next Tuesday in the Arizona Fall League, a competitive proving ground designed to enhance the development of promising minor leaguers.

In a statement released by the Mets, Tebow called it “a great opportunity.”

Manfred in favor of changing roster rule: Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred supports changing the rule that expands active rosters from 25 to 40 each Sept. 1.

Managers have expressed concern that the rule changes late in the season, allowing multiple pitching changes for right-lefty matchups. The issue is part of negotiations for a labor contract to replace the deal that expires Dec. 2.

“Controversy has arisen because of changes that have taken place in the game and the way the game is played, particularly the use of so many relievers,” Manfred said before the American League wild-card game. “I do believe in a reform of those rules, again protecting the benefits that are available to players, I’m not looking to take away service time or anything like that, but I do think it would make sense to get to a situation where we played out September games closer to the rules that we play with the rest of the year.”

Broncos top NFL power rankings

NFL: The Denver Broncos are one of two teams off to a 4-0 start this season. However, they are alone at the top of the latest AP Pro32 poll.

The defending champion Broncos received nine first-place votes for 381 points from balloting by media members.

The Broncos used their stellar defense to shut down the Buccaneers 27-7 on Sunday.

The Minnesota Vikings, the NFL’s other 4-0 team, moved up a spot to No. 2 after beating the New York Giants 24-10 on Monday night. The Vikings received one first-place vote for 367 points.

The New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks rounded out the top five, respectively.

Pitino: sanctions should satisfy NCAA

NCAA: Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the school’s self-imposed sanctions are enough to satisfy the NCAA as the governing body continues investigating an escort’s allegations that a former Cardinals staffer hired her and other dancers to entertain recruits and players.

The school in February announced a postseason ban from the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments after its investigation into Katina Powell’s allegations determined that violations did occur. Louisville imposed additional sanctions in April, reducing scholarships and recruiting visits and contacts by staff in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Several investigations into the program continue, but Pitino says measures suggested by investigator Chuck Smrt should be enough.

Rose speaks out as rape trial opens

NBA: Derrick Rose’s rape trial got underway in a Los Angeles courtroom and the NBA star was halfway across the country saying he planned to win the lawsuit.

Rose told reporters in Houston before the Knicks exhibition opener that he didn’t settle the case seeking $21 million because he thinks he didn’t do anything wrong and he looks forward to telling his side of the story.

“That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to take it to court because I didn’t want to settle,” Rose said. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. If I go up there and just tell my side of the story, I think I’ll be alright.”

Nadal, Murray advance in China

TENNIS: Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray advanced to the second round of the China Open with straight-set wins in back-to-back matches on center court.

Nadal needed little more than an hour to beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-1, fending off two break points as he took time to get his serve under control in the first set. The 2005 China Open champion improved his first-service percentage from 42 to 85 in the second set.

Murray defeated Andreas Seppi 6-2, 7-5 in the next match, dropping serve once in the second set.

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