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Sports log: Pistons fire Maurice Cheeks after 50 games

NBA

The Detroit Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks on Sunday after less than a year as coach. The Pistons are languishing well below .500 (21-29) despite offseason moves aimed at putting the struggling franchise back in contention. A person with knowledge of Detroit’s plans said assistant John Loyer will take over as interim coach. According to STATS, Cheeks became the first coach to leave or be fired after 50 games or fewer with an NBA team since Bob Weiss, who coached only 30 games for Seattle in 2005-06. The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs since being swept in the first round in 2009 — in Michael Curry’s only season as coach. Since then, Detroit has gone through two seasons under John Kuester and two under Lawrence Frank. Cheeks was Detroit’s ninth coach since the 1999-2000 season.

COLLEGES

Smart banned 3 games for fan shove

Oklahoma State basketball star Marcus Smart was suspended three games by the Big 12 for shoving a fan in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech Saturday night. The Big 12 acted swiftly in banning the All-American sophomore guard, saying in a statement the penalty was handed down for ‘‘inappropriate conduct with a spectator.’’ Smart apologized to the fan, his family, and team for his actions before coach Travis Ford expressed support for the sophomore without dismissing the severity of the player’s actions. Smart shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr with two hands after it appeared the Red Raiders fan said something to the NBA prospect. Orr denied making a racial slur and Texas Tech said evidence backs up Orr’s statement . . . Senior Keith Appling could miss a couple of weeks for No. 9 Michigan State because of a right wrist injury. Coach Tom Izzo said there was no break or stress fracture, but that the guard couldn’t pass the ball or move his hand. Appling is averaging 15 points and 4.9 assists per game . . . Oregon coach Dana Altman is concerned about safety at Arizona State’s Wells Fargo Arena after two of his staffers claim an ASU student spit at them at halftime of Saturday night’s game. Oregon assistant coach Brian Fish told The Oregonian the student spit at him and trainer Clay Jamieson and reported the incident to arena security.

FOOTBALL

Two in Congress urge name change

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Two members of Congress plan to send a strongly worded letter to the commissioner of the National Football League on Monday urging him to support changing the name of the Washington Redskins because it offends Native Americans, with one lawmaker saying she might reconsider the league’s tax-exempt status if it does not comply. In a copy of the letter released Sunday, Senator Maria Cantwell, a democrat from Washington and chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, and Representative Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma and member of the Native American Caucus, chided commissioner Roger Goodell for his recent remark that the name of the team “honored” Native Americans . . . According to multiple media reports, Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Williams will be arraigned Feb. 24 in Tampa on criminal mischief and trespassing charges. The misdemeanor charges are related to an incident that took place in December . . . Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive lineman Danny O’Brien were arrested Sunday on alcohol-related charges and resisting arrest, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said. Johnson, a first-team All-SEC selection last season, was charged with purchasing alcohol for a person underage and resisting arrest. O’Brien, a nose tackle as a redshirt freshman last year, was charged with criminal impersonation, resisting arrest, and underage consumption of alcohol. They have been released . . . Nebraska authorities are investigating the death of 18-year-old Wayne State defensive end Eddie Key III after he was found dead in his dorm room Saturday night.

MISCELLANY

Knapp, Italy dispatch US in Fed Cup

Karin Knapp won her second match of the weekend and gave Italy a 3-1 win over the United States in their Fed Cup first-round match in Cleveland. Knapp defeated Alison Riske, 6-3, 7-5, to give Italy the victory in the best-of-five series. Knapp also defeated Christina McHale on Saturday, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Riske fought hard through the second set and appeared to gain control before Knapp shut the door. Italy moves on to the World Group semifinals April 19-20. The United States moves to the World Group Playoff in April and will need to win in order to stay in the World Group . . . Marin Cilic overcame problems with his serve to win the Zagreb Indoors tournament in Croatia, defeating top-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany, 6-3, 6-4. Cilic gained his fourth title in Zagreb . . . Gael Monfils beat top-seeded Richard Gasquet, 6-4, 6-4, in the final of the South of France Open in Montpellier to claim his fifth career title . . . Brazilian authorities said three fans were injured in a shooting after a soccer game at a World Cup stadium. Police officer Francisco Araujo Silva told the sports daily Lance that the shots were fired by two men riding a motorcycle as local America supporters left the Arena das Dunas in the northeastern city of Natal on Saturday . . . Lea won the $500,000 Donn Handicap in Hallandale Beach, Fla., breaking the Gulfstream Park record for 1 miles in a 1½-length victory over Will Take Charge. The 5-year-old Lea, ridden by Joel Rosario, finished in 1:46.86 to break the record of 1:47.49 set by Quality Road in the 2010 Donn.

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