GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – The road to the NFC title will run
through Lambeau Field this season. The defending Super Bowl
champion Green Packers earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs
with a 35-21 victory over visiting Chicago.
Aaron Rodgers tossed five TD passes to give him 45 for the
season against just six interceptions. It’s the first five TD game
of Rodgers’ career with two going to Jordy Nelson and two to James
The Packers rebounded nicely from their only loss of the season
last week in Kansas City that snapped a 19-game winning streak that
dated back to last season. The 14-1 Packers set a club record for
most wins in a season.
The Bears fell to 7-8 with their fifth straight loss that
eliminated them from the playoff hunt. Chicago’s loss also clinched
a playoff berth for Atlanta, which plays at New Orleans on tonight.

Bulls, Heat, Thunder, Knicks, Clippers take openers
UNDATED (AP) – Derrick Rose picked up this season where he left
off in the last, when he was the NBA Most Valuable Player.
The Chicago Bulls all-everything guard hit a short go-ahead
jumper with 4.8 seconds left, and the Chicago Bulls rallied from an
11-point deficit in the final four minutes for a 88-87 victory over
the L.A. Lakers.
Luol Deng (LOO’-ul dehng) scored 21 points and blocked Kobe
Bryant’s potential game-winning shot at the buzzer as the Bulls
hung on for a thrilling finish to both clubs’ first-ever Christmas
Bryant scored 28 points and committed eight turnovers while
playing with a torn wrist ligament for the Lakers, who were
outscored 17-5 in the final three and a-half minutes.

In other NBA opening night action:
–The Mavericks unveiled their first championship banner ahead
of their season opener and then went out and got clobbered by the
team they beat in the finals to secure the title. Miami topped
Dallas 105-94 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final
score indicates.
The Mavericks trailed by 15 after one quarter, 21 at halftime
and 35 a few minutes into the second half.
LeBron James helped the Heat dole out a little payback by
scoring a game-high 37 points to go along with 10 rebounds and six
assists. Teammate Dwyane (dwayn) Wade chipped in with 21 points,
eight rebounds and six assists.
Jason Terry led Dallas with 23 points.
Recently acquired Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom was ejected
midway through the third quarter of his first game in a Mavs’

– Kevin Durant has started this season just the way he played
while he was the leading scorer each of the past two NBA seasons.
Durant scored 30 to help the Oklahoma City Thunder post a 97-89
victory over the Orlando Magic. Durant, who averaged 27.7 a game
last year, was 11-of-19 from the field and added five rebounds and
six assists.
James Harden added 19 points and the Thunder held Orlando star
Dwight Howard to just 11 points.

–The first game on the first day of the NBA’s lockout-shortened
season was a thriller. Carmelo Anthony sank two free throws with 16
seconds left, giving New York a 106-104 win over Boston. Anthony
finished with a game-high 37 points. Teammates Amare Stoudemire
(ah-MAR’-ay STOW’-duh-my-ur) and Toney Douglas chipped in with 21
and 19, respectively.
The Celtics were playing without All-Star forward Paul Pierce,
who is nursing a heel injury and watched from the bench in street
Rajon Rondo (RAH’-zhahn RAHN’-doh) led Boston with 31 points and
13 assists.

–The final game of Christmas was in Oakland where the L.A.
Clippers ruined Mark Jackson’s debut as Golden State coach with a
105-86 win over the Warriors. Blake Griffin led the Clippers with
22. Chauncey Billups, part of a whole new backcourt of the
Warriors, added 21.
In his first meaningful game in a Clippers uniform, point guard
Chris Paul recovered from a 1-for-6 first half and finished with 20
points and nine assists. He made three straight shots down the
stretch to seal the Clippers win.

Commissioner booed at Dallas opener
DALLAS (AP) – NBA Commissioner David Stern opened his
lockout-delayed season by hearing boos from Mavericks fans.
Stern was booed at the start of the Mavs’ banner-raising
ceremony honoring their first championship. The jeers came as soon
as he started speaking, but he quickly turned them into cheers by
offering his congratulations to team owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban and Miami’s Micky Arison were among five owners who voted
against the labor deal. Stern said “it doesn’t send any signal
whatsoever” that the two owners in the most recent finals were
against the agreement.
This season’s NBA scheduled started nearly months later and will
consist of 66 games for each team, 16 less than usual.

Musketeers back to shooting straight
HONOLULU (AP) – Fourteenth-ranked Xavier avoided a fourth
straight loss with an 87-77 victory over Southern Illinois in the
seventh-place game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
Tu Holloway led the way for the Musketeers with 21 points while
teammate Mark Lyons scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
It is Xavier’s first win since Dec. 10, when it beat city-rival
Cincinnati in a game cut short in the closing seconds by an
on-court brawl between the two teams.
The Musketeers improve to 9-3. The Salukis (suh-LOO’-keez) drop
to 3-8.

Nice present
TORONTO (AP) – Ron Wilson has gotten his Christmas wish.
Two days after hinting on Twitter of his desire for a new
contract, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach says the team has given him
an extension.
The team did not immediately respond to an email seeking
confirmation. Wilson tweeted Friday that what he wanted for
Christmas was a new contract from general manager Brian Burke.
The 56-year-old Wilson is in the final season of a four-year
contract. The Leafs are sixth in the Eastern Conference with 40
points. Toronto has not made the playoffs in three previously
seasons under his direction. Wilson is 119-120-42 with the Leafs.
The NHL was off for Christmas and will resume tonight with a
10-game slate.