Jimmie Johnson wins second NASCAR Sprint Cup race in a row

Staff And Wire Reports

Another race, another victory for Jimmie Johnson and yet another round of griping about the NASCAR champion’s dominance.

Only this time, there was a silver lining for those ready to see someone else hoist the Sprint Cup trophy: His competitors are clearly closing the gap.

Johnson reeled in teammate Jeff Gordon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the four-time defending champion won for the second consecutive week. He needed luck to win last week at Fontana and strategy Sunday at Las Vegas.

Sooner or later, though, he’s going to run out of ways to win.

“We don’t feel invincible,” Johnson said.

And he shouldn’t.

Kevin Harvick finished second for the second straight week, then showed signs of the swagger that only Harvick can pull off, and only when he’s running well.

“We can run with them, and they know it,” said Harvick, the current points leader.

Gordon dominated the race but had to settle for third when his pit strategy backfired. He led for 218 of the 267 laps.


O’Neal to have thumb surgery

Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal will undergo surgery Monday to repair his injured right thumb.

O’Neal was examined Sunday by Dr. Thomas Graham at the National Hand Center in Baltimore. He will perform the surgery.

An MRI exam Saturday confirmed the injury was a significant sprain. O’Neal was hurt during a win at Boston on Thursday.

The team has not provided any timeline for O’Neal’s return, but the Akron Beacon Journal reported he would sit out six to nine weeks.

Minnesota Timberwolves star center Al Jefferson apologized to the team and fans after his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated following a weekend loss to Portland.

The Timberwolves suspended Jefferson for the next two games without pay -- a punishment Jefferson said he accepts.


Djokovic repeats in Dubai event

Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Dubai Championships title, beating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, in a rain-delayed final in the United Arab Emirates.

Leading, 7-5, 2-0, before rain suspended play on Saturday, the second-seeded Serb won his 17th career title in a match lasting 3 hours 21 minutes at the Aviation Club.

Ernests Gulbis became the first Latvian to win an ATP Tour title when he upset second-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, 6-2, 6-3, at the Delray Beach International Championships in Florida.

Defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan moved into second place on the Open era doubles titles list when they won the 58th title of their career at the tournament.

The Bryans’ 6-3, 7-6 (3) final victory over Philipp Marx of Germany and Igor Zelenay of Slovakia ended their tie at 57 titles with Peter Fleming and John McEnroe, and Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan.

The Bryans are four titles away from surpassing the 61 titles record held by Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

Alisa Kleybanova won her first WTA title in the Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur, beating top-seeded Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 6-2, in an all-Russian final.


UCLA tops USC before big crowd

There were so many fans who showed up for Sunday afternoon’s baseball game between UCLA and USC at Dodger Stadium that the left-field and right-field pavilions were opened.

A crowd of 14,558 saw UCLA improve its record to 6-0 with a 6-1 victory over the Trojans (3-4) in a nonconference game as part of the Dodgertown Classic. Justin Uribe broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run single in the seventh.

Niko Gallego of UCLA hit a home run into the left-field bleachers in the eighth.

Freshman left fielder Cody Keefer had three hits and threw out a runner trying to score from third on a flyout.

Relievers Erik Goeddel, Matt Grace and Dan Klein threw shutout ball over the final 4 1/3 innings.

-- Eric Sondheimer