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Hawks’ Al Horford out at least three months

Atlanta Hawks All-Star center Al Horford is expected to be out for at least three months because of a shoulder injury, a major blow to a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference.

The team announced Thursday that Horford tore his left pectoral muscle in the first quarter Wednesday night against Indiana. The injury probably will require surgery.

Horford, a two-time All-Star, could be out as long as four months, which would take his rehab deep into the playoffs — should the Hawks make it that far. He will get a second opinion before making a decision about surgery, but even the most optimistic projection would keep him out until mid-April.

The Hawks’ final regular-season game is April 26.

“We are very disappointed for Al and our team and we wish him the best as he moves forward in the rehabilitation process,” Hawks General Manager Rick Sund said in a statement.

Horford, 25, is averaging 12.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks. He is shooting 55.3% from the field.

Forward Michael Beasley (foot) and guard Jose Barea (ankle) will not travel with the Minnesota Timberwolves to New Orleans and Atlanta this weekend because of injuries that could cause them to sit out several more games.

Golden State Warriors center Kwame Brown is expected to sit out at least three months because of a chest injury.

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Alabama stars headed to NFL

Alabama All-Americans Trent Richardson, Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick declared themselves eligible for the NFL draft.

Richardson, a running back, and Kirkpatrick, a cornerback, announced their decisions to skip their senior seasons with the national champions. A school spokesman said Hightower, a linebacker, will not return either.

Richardson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and was third in the Heisman Trophy voting. He set school single-season rushing records with 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Louisiana State All-American cornerback Morris Claiborne and defensive tackle Michael Brockers are leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.

Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, and Brockers’ 54 tackles were seventh on LSU’s defense.

Former Arizona coach Mike Stoops confirmed that he plans to rejoin the coaching staff at Oklahoma. Stoops was the co-defensive coordinator for Oklahoma from 1999 to 2004 and helped the Sooners win the 2000 national championship before spending the last seven-plus seasons at Arizona.

Tony Reno, an assistant coach for the Harvard football team for the last three seasons, was introduced as Yale’s new coach. He replaces Tom Williams, who resigned after acknowledging that he was never, as he had claimed on his resume, a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship.

Florida running back Jeff Demps is giving up his football career to focus on track and his attempt to make the U.S. team for the 2012 Olympics.

ETC.

UCLA’s Rowe picked No. 3 in MLS draft

Two players from UCLA and two from UC Santa Barbara were among the first 13 selections in the MLS SuperDraft.

Bruins midfielder Kelyn Rowe was the third overall pick, going to New England, and forward Chandler Hoffman was taken 13th by Philadelphia. Santa Barbara’s Luis Silva, a senior forward from Salesian High, went fourth to Toronto while Gauchos teammate Sam Garza, also a forward, went to San Jose two picks later.

The league-champion Galaxy had two picks in the two-round draft, selecting Indiana defender Tommy Meyer with the final pick in the first round and Louisville midfielder Kenney Walker with the last selection in the second round.

With its only pick, Chivas USA, choosing fifth, took Maryland forward Casey Townsend.

The expansion Montreal Impact selected Duke forward Andrew Wenger with the first overall pick. MLS will hold a four-round supplemental draft Tuesday.

— Kevin Baxter

Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Andy Murray, the man he beat in the final last year, in the Australian Open semifinals and Roger Federer could play Rafael Nadal at the same stage after the draw was held Friday at Melbourne Park.

Top-seeded Djokovic will play Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the first round and No. 2 seeded Rafael Nadal will face a qualifier.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and 2011 finalist Li Na could meet in the fourth round after they were put in the same quarter of the women’s draw. Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki is in the same half as Clijsters and Li.

In the other half of the draw, five-time champion Serena Williams is in the same section as No. 3 Vera Zvonereva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova. The Australian Open begins Monday.

Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remained in critical condition in a Salt Lake City hospital after a successful operation to repair a tear to an artery that caused bleeding in her brain. Doctors put her into a coma to relieve stress on her brain after her accident Tuesday, and she had surgery the next day.

Burke, a four-time Winter X Games champion in halfpipe skiing and one of the pioneers of her sport, was injured while practicing on the halfpipe in Park City, Utah.

Brazil will play an exhibition game against the U.S. soccer team May 30 or May 31 at Landover, Md., or Foxborough, Mass. The game was announced by Brazilian soccer’s governing body. It will be part of a three-game U.S. trip for Brazil, which is to play Mexico on June 3 at Arlington, Texas, and Argentina on June 9 at East Rutherford, N.J.

The preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League will be eliminated for the 2012-13 season, and the group phase will expand from 16 teams to 24. Soccer’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean said the first round will be extended from six weeks to eight and will start July 31 and end by Oct. 25. A team from the U.S. or Mexico will be in each of the eight first-round groups.

Johan Santana said he hopes to be back on the mound for the New York Mets when the season starts, but he does not does not want to guess whether he will actually be ready by then. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is coming back from shoulder surgery and has not pitched in the major leagues since Sept. 2, 2010.

Free agent Luke Scott, a power-hitting first baseman-outfielder, agreed to a $6-million,.one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. He will receive $5 million this season, and the deal includes a $6-million club option for 2013 with a $1-million buyout.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, was named the sportsman of the year by the Los Angeles Sports Council and will be honored at the LA Sports Awards on March 15 at Club Nokia at L.A. Live.

Former Oklahoma State football coach Jim Stanley died at age 77. Kevin Klintworth, a school spokesman, said Stanley died of cancer Thursday in Arizona. Stanley was the Cowboys’ coach from 1973 to 1978 and led the Cowboys to a 35-31-2 record.


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