Sports briefs for 2/22/13

MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press Published:

Some of the U.S. luge team's sleds went slip-sliding away down a Pennsylvania road.

Now USA Luge is trying to get them back, and needs the public's help.

Team marketing director Gordy Sheer said Thursday he was returning to his hotel after working at an eastern Pennsylvania ski resort last week when five sleds fell out the back of the truck. They were gone by the time he realized what had happened.

State police said a man in a black truck was seen picking up the sleds and driving off with them. Sheer, a 1998 Olympic silver medalist in doubles, said he doesn't think the man had any criminal intent, but simply found the sleds and decided to hold on to them.

The training sleds cost $400 to $600 apiece.

• Baseball

Weiner cautions: Baseball union head Michael Weiner says reporters should refrain from jumping to conclusions about media reports linking players to a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Weiner cautioned that Major League Baseball is still investigating Biogenesis of America, a defunct anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.

Venezuela hitters: Despite missing some of its best pitchers, Venezuela is heading into the World Baseball Classic with a big-hitting roster that features Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval.

Marco Scutaro, Elvis Andrus and Omar Infante also will be in everyday lineup. Luis Sojo will manage the team from the baseball-crazed South American country.

• Basketball

Front-flip shot: Ashlee Arnau, a cheerleader at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Miss., made an incredible front-flip half-court shot Thursday night at halftime of the school's men's basketball game that became an instant Internet sensation.

The ball was placed on the floor at midcourt. Arnau approached it with a running start, did a front-flip, grabbing the ball while she was upside down, and then launching it toward the basket while her legs swung forward. Swish!

Buss memorial: Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant were among the basketball greats gathered Thursday at an invitation-only memorial service to salute the life and legacy of Buss, who died this week at 80 after an 18-month struggle with cancer.

Wizards-Celtics swap: The Washington Wizards sent Jordan Crawford, who has led the team in scoring 17 times this season, to Boston Celtics for center Jason Collins and injured guard Leandro Barbosa.

Heat clear spot: The Miami Heat sent backup center Dexter Pittman and a second-round pick in this year's draft to the Grizzlies on Thursday for the rights to center Ricky Sanchez.

• Football

Lions hire Heffernan: The Detroit Lions have hired Terry Heffernan as their assistant offensive line coach.

Heffernan has been the O-line coach at Wayne State for the past six seasons.

Burleson restructures: Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson has restructured his contract for a second straight year.

• Elsewhere

Jackets comeback: Vinny Prospal scored with 24.7 seconds left, capping a comeback that lifted Columbus over Detroit, 3-2.

Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula scored in the first 2-plus minutes of the game to put the Red Wings ahead by two, a cushion they wasted for a third time during their five-game skid.

R.J. Umberger's power-play goal a couple of minutes after Detroit took its two-goal lead pulled Columbus within one. Derek Dorsett tied it in the third.

Prime time duels: The twin qualifying races for the Daytona 500 are moving to prime time.

The 150-mile qualifiers, called the Budweiser Duel races and historically run in daylight, will be held under the lights beginning in 2014.

The races are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, and will be televised by FOX Sports.

ESPN matches: Sports Business Journal and ESPN.com are reporting that ESPN has matched NBC's offer to buy the Big East's television rights for about $20 million per year over six years.

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