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Sports briefs for February 25, 2014

By wire service reports, Special to the BDN

NBA to consider enlarging courts

The NBA is exploring the possibility of expanding the dimensions of the basketball court to accommodate the growing size and increased athleticism of players, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn and vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe also acknowledged in an interview with that the league office had informally weighed the possibility of introducing a four-point shot.

Thorn and VanDeWeghe, in an interview during the All-Star break, spoke of the concepts mostly from a hypothetical standpoint but conceded that both ideas have been presented for discussion at a league level.

The NBA has employed a 94-by-50-foot court since the 1940s.

Felton arrested on gun charge

New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton faces three counts of criminal possession of a weapon after his arrest early Tuesday in Manhattan.

Felton remained in custody Tuesday afternoon on charges with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a firearm and fourth-degree possession of a firearm, a New York police spokesman said. The first two charges are felonies.

The 29-year-old Felton was questioned at the 20th precinct on the Upper West Side of Manhattan after turning himself in before 1 a.m. after his wife alleged that he threatened her.

The New York Post reported that Felton had pointed a loaded gun at his estranged wife, who recently filed for divorce.

Injury sidelines Penguins’ Martin

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without Paul Martin for four to six weeks after the defenseman suffered a broken hand during the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The 32-year-old Martin was sidelined for Team USA’s final two games at the Olympics, including the semifinal loss to Canada, and now will miss more time with the Penguins.

He previously suffered a broken leg in November that forced him off the ice for 23 games and he was also out for two games early in the season with a lower-body injury.

LeBron aims for Thursday return

Miami Heat forward LeBron James returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since breaking his nose last week and hopes to play Thursday night against the New York Knicks.

James was not wearing a protective mask at practice on Tuesday but said he was fitted for one and will need it for the next few weeks. The plan is to test the mask during Wednesday’s practice and then be re-evaluated before he is cleared to play Thursday night.

Before the injury, James was averaging 37 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.3 steals in the past four games.

Perkins sidelined for six weeks

NEW YORK — Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins will miss about six weeks after undergoing a medical procedure on his left groin, the National Basketball Association team announced on Tuesday.

Perkins, who has averaged 3.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 54 starts, was injured during the third quarter of last Thursday’s loss to the Miami Heat and did not play on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Panthers’ Gross to retire

Carolina Panthers veteran offensive tackle Jordan Gross is retiring after 11 NFL seasons, the team announced Tuesday.

The 33-year-old Gross spent his entire career with the Panthers, starting a franchise-record 167 games. He reached the Super Bowl in his rookie season with the team in 2003 and was named to three Pro Bowls, including the 2014 game.

Gross will make an official retirement announcement on Wednesday.

Utah DL critical after accident

Utah defensive lineman Moana Ofahengaue remains in critical condition after a motorbike accident on Sunday night.

The school announced in a press release that Ofahengaue suffered a serious head injury but offered no details about the accident.

Ofahengaue is a walk-on who joined the team last season. His uncle, Kalani Sitake, serves as the Utes’ defensive coordinator and his father, Tevita Ofahengaue, is a former Brigham Young football player.

Despite the severity of the injuries, the family is “extremely” optimistic about his recovery, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Titans sign Battle to 1-year deal

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans re-signed running back Jackie Battle to a one-year contract, keeping him from becoming an unrestricted free agent March 11.

Mainly a special teams player for the Titans, Battle had 36 rushing attempts for 142 yards during the 2013 season.

Battle said he is glad to know he has a team entering the offseason.


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