Pacers dismiss O’Brien as coach after winless trip

Jim O’Brien’s future as the Indiana Pacers’ coach was in question heading into a four-game trip, and team President Larry Bird didn’t get the answers he wanted.

Bird fired O’Brien on Sunday after the team squandered a promising start to the season by losing seven of its last eight games.

Bird had discussed the team’s options with owner Herb Simon, saying he wanted to see how the team performed on a Western swing against the Clippers, Golden State, Portland and Denver.

“We were in three of the games, and the Denver game we didn’t really have a chance,” Bird said.


The Pacers returned to Indiana to play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, with O’Brien’s status tenuous. Orlando won, 111-96, and Bird had seen enough.

Assistant coach Frank Vogel will take over for the rest of the season.


Kostelic wins title in super-combined


Ivica Kostelic erased a massive deficit in the slalom leg to win a World Cup super-combined race at Chamonix, France, to clinch the discipline title and extend his lead in the overall standings. Kostelic was nearly unbeatable in slalom races in January and he secured his seventh victory this month by finishing in 2 minutes 57.12 seconds.

Fellow Croat Natko Zrncic-Dim was 0.51 of a second back in second place for his career-best result. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway took third, 0.53 behind.

Olympic champion Christine Nesbitt of Canada set a track record in the 1,000-meter speedskating World Cup race, finishing in 1:15.59 on the Krylatskoye Ice Stadium oval at Moscow.

She shaved 0.42 of a second off the mark set by Anni Friesinger of Germany during the 2009 World Sprint Speedskating Championships.


Ireen Wust of the Netherlands was second, 0.35 of a second behind.

American Heather Richardson was third in 1:16.18.

In the men’s 1,000, Stefan Groothuis finished in 1:08.82 to secure his third World Cup victory of the season. The Dutchman edged Denny Morrison of Canada by 0.75 of a second.



Nicklaus, Watson repeat in Hawaii

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson successfully defended their Champions Skins Game title, finishing with seven skins and $310,000 to edge Mark O’Meara and Bernhard Langer by $10,000 at Kaanapali, Hawaii.

O’Meara and Langer had seven skins. Fred Couples and Nick Price claimed $80,000, matching Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller.

Switch dominated the Grade I, $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs at Santa Anita, winning by 31/2 lengths over Gilded Gem. The 4-year-old daughter of Quiet American, ridden by Joel Rosario, finished second to horse of the year Zenyatta on Oct. 2 and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.


Eric Sondheimer

Jason Bowles of Ontario held off D.J. Kennington to win the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, which brings together leading drivers in NASCAR’s developmental stock-car racing series at the half-mile Toyota Speedway in Irwindale.

Kennington finished second Saturday night, Jonathon Gomez of Twin Falls, Idaho, was third and Luis Martinez Jr. of Long Beach was fourth. Travis Pastrana, the X Games star and rally racer who’s planning to compete in NASCAR’s second-level Nationwide Series this year, made his NASCAR debut in the Showdown. He finished sixth after starting 20th.

Earlier in the day, Sean Woodside of Saugus won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model event at Irwindale.


Jim Peltz