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Lakers spurn Jackson, name D’Antoni coach

– Pau Gasol got home from the game and read about it on Twitter, while Dwight Howard got a midnight message on his BlackBerry.

Just when everybody thought the Lakers were getting back together with Phil Jackson, Los Angeles switched course in the middle of the night and went with Mike D’Antoni.

The Lakers reacted with ample excitement and a little bewilderment Monday to their front office’s surprising decision to hire D’Antoni as coach Mike Brown’s replacement over Jackson, the 11-time champion who discussed the job at his home Saturday and apparently wanted to return. D’Antoni didn’t even interview for the job in person, speaking to the Lakers over the phone.

“It has been crazy, but all this stuff will just make this team stronger,” said Howard, who has been in a Lakers uniform for about six weeks. “Everything that we’ve been through so far, it’s going to make us stronger, and we have to look at this as a positive situation.”

The Lakers’ third coach in four days won’t take over the team until later in the week. D’Antoni still hadn’t been cleared to travel Monday after undergoing knee replacement surgery this month, although the Lakers are optimistic the former Knicks and Suns coach will arrive in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

So interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff was still in charge Monday ahead of today’s game against San Antonio.


NASCAR fines Gordon for wreck

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon avoided suspension Monday when NASCAR instead fined him $100,000 and docked him 25 points for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer at Phoenix International Raceway the day before.

Historic champ for NHRA

Antron Brown became the first black champion in any NHRA pro series when he won the Top Fuel title Sunday at the season-ending event in Pomona, Calif. Also, Jack Beckman claimed the Funny Car world championship when he edged teammate Ron Capps by two points.


Mad Ants’ games in showcase set

The Mad Ants will play the early games in the annual NBA D-League Showcase in Reno, Nev., according to the schedule released Monday. Fort Wayne will face Rio Grande Valley in the 1 p.m. game Jan. 9, then will play Tulsa at the same time Jan. 10. The Ants begin their sixth D-League season at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at Memorial Coliseum against Erie.

IU women win on the road

Sasha Chaplin hit a jump shot with five seconds remaining in Murray, Ky., to give Indiana a 63-62 victory over Murray State. Jasmine McGhee led the Hoosiers (1-1) with 20 points, and former Concordia standout Andrea Newbauer added two points, four rebounds and a team-high five assists.

No. 5 Michigan downs IUPUI

Trey Burke scored 22 points and Glenn Robinson III added 21 in Ann Arbor, Mich., leading No. 5 Michigan to a 91-54 victory over IUPUI in the NIT Season Tip-Off.


Armstrong leaves his cancer charity

Lance Armstrong cut formal ties with his cancer-fighting charity to avoid further damage brought by doping charges and being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong resigned from the board of directors for Livestrong on Nov. 4. He had previously resigned as chairman from the charity he founded Oct. 17 but had kept a seat on the board.


Irish’s Shembo earns honor

Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo was named the independent football defensive player of the week after he recorded a career-high three sacks along with five tackles, four for loss, and a fumble recovery in the No. 3 Irish’s 21-6 victory at Boston College on Saturday.


Hall of Fame adds 4 ex-players

The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed former players Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure and Adam Oates.


Djokovic beats Federer to win ATP

Novak Djokovic recovered from early breaks in both sets to beat Roger Federer 7-6 (6), 7-5 in the championship match at the ATP finals in London.