LOS ANGELES - With injuries and infighting threatening to wreck their NBA season, the Orlando Magic found the ideal opponent to fix their problems - the reeling Philadelphia 76ers.
Dwight Howard had 20 points and 22 rebounds as the visiting Magic ended their five-game losing streak with an 88-82 victory over the slumping 76ers.
Glen Davis had 23 points and 12 boards for Orlando, who were without injured starting forwards Ryan Anderson and Turkey's Hedo Turkoglu. Just two days ago, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy revealed that he knew Howard had asked management for his removal.
The drama surrounding Howard's future appeared to reach a temporary end at last month's trading deadline, when he agreed to return to the Magic next season. Howard had been the subject of trade rumours since last summer.
But Orlando (33-23) had been just 4-7 since Howard's decision, and Van Gundy's revelation on Thursday threw the team into further turmoil. The Magic had dropped from third to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Sixers (29-26) have their own problems. The NBA's top defensive team are just 9-17 since a 20-9 start and are in serious danger of missing the playoffs after holding the Atlantic Division lead for three months.
Meanwhile, Paul Pierce scored 24 points to spark the visiting Celtics, who ended Indiana's four-game winning streak and moved two games in front of the Sixers. Danny Granger scored 20 points for the Pacers.
Los Angeles star Kobe Bryant was sorely missed in his side's clash with the Phoenix Suns, who scored a 125-105 home win.
Former Laker Shannon Brown scored 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter for the hosts, who tied Utah for ninth place in the Western Conference.
A shin injury forced Bryant to sit out for the Lakers, who got 30 points and 13 rebounds from Spain's Pau Gasol.
Dallas suffered a 94-89 loss to Memphis, with Rudy Gay scoring 25 points for the Grizzlies, who opened an early lead and held on for their seventh win in nine games.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points for the visiting Mavericks, seventh in the West.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - Australia's David Warner has challenged his teammates to improve after a sloppy opening day's play in the first Test against the West Indies in Barbados.
Australia dropped three catches as the Windies fought their way to 3-179 at stumps on day one at Kensington Oval, with rain causing play to be called off an hour early.
Warner provided the day's highlight when he caught Windies' vice-captain Kirk Edwards (61) off his own bowling to end a 104-run stand between Edwards and fellow Barbadian Kraigg Brathwaite (57).
The wicket was Warner's first in international cricket but it came after Edwards had been dropped in the previous over by Shane Watson in the slips off Peter Siddle (1-36).
Brathwaite also enjoyed plenty of luck in his 199-ball knock, dropped by Siddle off the Victorian's own bowling and then in the middle session Ricky Ponting grassed a diving attempt in the slips off Watson.
Warner said those missed chances could prove costly on a Barbados pitch offering little assistance to the bowlers and that the team had been "lazy" in the field at times.
MADRID - Lionel Messi became the first player in almost 40 years to score 60 goals in a single European top-flight season after a brace helped Barcelona come from behind to beat 10-man Zaragoza 4-1 yesterday.
Messi's 23 goals from the last 12 games has helped him arrive at the landmark 60 figure, the first time since Gerd Muller scored 67 goals in the 1972-73 season for Bayern Munich.
With a minimum of nine games still to play in the league and cup, 24-year-old Messi has the German's record well within his sights.
Barca's victory also helped the champions slash Real Madrid's lead to three points with Jose Mourinho's side facing a tough April schedule, starting against third-placed Valencia today.
After that comes the Madrid derby against Atletico and the El Clasico showdown with Barca also to feature.
GLASGOW - Celtic won the Scottish Premier League title for the first time in four years with a 6-0 thrashing of Kilmarnock at Rugby Park yesterday.
Neil Lennon's side needed one point from the match to end their long wait to be crowned Scottish champions and they did it in style, as Gary Hooper and Charlie Mulgrew both netted twice, with Glenn Loovens and Joe Ledley also on the scoresheet.
It is the first title of Lennon's two-year reign at Parkhead, although some will always remember it as the season their arch rivals Rangers were deducted 10 points for going into administration - a punishment that effectively handed the crown to Celtic weeks before they actually sealed it.
Lennon was delighted to clinch his first championship as manager and the club's 43rd in their history.
SYDNEY - Newcastle winger Akuila Uate scored two tries to help the Knights to a 14-6 victory over Parramatta in a scrappy NRL clash at Hunter Stadium.
The Knights made life difficult for themselves with some poor discipline but they did enough to hold off the last-placed Eels side who were coming off their first win of the season against Manly last week.
Five-eighth Jarrod Mullen came up with some big plays for the Knights but none bigger than his 40-20 in the second half which brought his side to life.
On the back of the play in the 54th minute Newcastle sent the ball wide with centre Junior Sa'u throwing a dubious pass for Uate to crash over in the corner.
Young halfback Tyrone Roberts, who replaced injured skipper Kurt Gidley, converted the try from out wide to give the Knights a 14-6 lead.
Newcastle led 8-6 at halftime after a terrible opening 40 minutes with both sides guilty of squandering tryscoring opportunities in front of a big crowd of 24,518.
The Knights opened the scoring with a soft try on six minutes when captain Danny Buderus went for a blindside play finding Sa'u who sucked in two defenders before popping a short ball for unmarked Uate to score out wide.
Roberts stepped up and converted the try and soon after slotted a penalty goal to settle any nerves he might have had to make the score 8-0.
Eels prop Tim Mannah made amends for a couple of terrible play-the-balls that resulted in scrums when he barged over to score from close range in the 35th minute on the back of a penalty against Timana Tahu for a high shot.
But it would be the visitors' only try in a game that struggled to reach any great heights.
CANBERRA - Canberra notched a comprehensive first home win of the season after downing the Warriors 32-12 in their NRL clash at Canberra Stadium yesteray.
Four tries to one in the opening half set the Raiders up for the win, the Warriors' second defeat on the trot after their loss to the Roosters last week.
The Warriors looked out of sorts for much of the match and were behind 22-6 early in the second half before getting back into the game.
They brought the deficit back to 10 points at 22-12 after scoring through James Maloney with 15 minutes to go and looked set for another before Manu Vatuvei's pass on the run was called forward.
Canberra, searching for their third win of the season, then put the result beyond doubt when Reece Robinson and Jarrod Croker both scored their second tries of the day to give the Raiders a solid 20-point victory.
WELLINGTON - The Stormers kept the Highlanders tryless and continued their unbeaten Super Rugby season with a comprehensive 21-6 win at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday night
It was a clinical performance from the Stormers, an intimidating effort up front well backed by intelligent kicking, incisive back play and some bruising midfield defence.
Winger Gio Aplon and fullback Joe Pietersen scored first-half tries as the visitors went to halftime leading 15-6 over the Highlanders, who had lost just one game and were just two points behind the Stormers on the table going into the round seven match.
In the 12th minute, captain Jean de Villiers pounced on a Highlanders fumble and toed ahead for Aplon to gather and touch down.
An end-to-end piece of brilliance just on the half-hour mark extended the Stormers' lead, as fullback Pietersen collected an ill-timed Aaron Smith chip kick and launched a counterattack which he ended 90 metres later with a try.
The Highlanders were guilty of wasting the few chances they did create in the first 40 minutes, with a somewhat aimless kicking game never really creating any pressure on the Stormers.
Five-eighth Chris Noakes booted two penalties for the Highlanders.
But they were shut out by a combative South African effort which allowed them neither time nor space for the full 80 minutes.
The second stanza turned into something of an arm wrestle, with two Peter Grant penalties the only addition to the scoreboard.
The Highlanders' pacey backline was smothered, struggling to find any space to launch from, and the home team couldn't even capitalise after Stormers hooker Tiaan Lienberg was yellow carded in the 69th minute for handling on the ground.
The South Africans' line-out was rock solid, with lock Andries Bekker unstoppable in garnering a steady supply of ball.
And although the Highlanders' scrum was competitive, they struggled for front-foot ball, too often rushed as the speed of the Stormers' defensive line kept the pressure ramped up.
BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - The Cheetahs scored 23 unanswered points in the first half to beat the Lions 26-5 for a Super Rugby victory yesterday.
Centre Robert Ebersohn went over for two tries and flyhalf Johan Goosen kicked 13 points before being replaced to put the home team out of sight in the week-seven South African derby at Free State Stadium.
Ebersohn skipped through two tackles for his first try as the Cheetahs racked up 23 points in a 15-minute spell.
He scored his second five minutes before half time to virtually seal victory.
Recalled flanker Cobus Grobbelaar crossed in the 65th for the Lions' only points but South Africa's Currie Cup champions slipped to a fifth straight defeat since beating the Cheetahs in the opening round.