Thursday's Sports In Brief

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Associated Press

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 3:06 AM

Updated Friday, May 3 at 3:03 AM

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The NBA fined Golden State coach Mark Jackson $25,000 on Thursday for making public comments in an attempt to influence the officiating in the Warriors' playoff series with Denver.

After Golden State's 107-100 loss in Game 5 at Denver on Tuesday night, Jackson said the Nuggets sent "hit men" and took "cheap shots" at point guard Stephen Curry. He repeatedly mentioned Kenneth Faried's foul in the first half, when the forward stuck out his right leg and moved his body while Curry ran through traffic.

"For two years now, I've taken pride in not ever criticizing referees — for two years. And then reading the statement by the NBA, I'm extremely thankful I am not fined for criticizing referees," Jackson said before Game 6 against the Nuggets on Thursday night.

Told the league fined him for an "attempt to influence the officiating," Jackson responded: "I don't like it, and I disagree." He declined to say whether he would appeal the fine.

Jackson, who doubles as an ordained minister, had never been fined for criticizing officials in his two years as an NBA coach. He couldn't recall being fined for criticizing officials in his 17 season as a point guard in the league, but said his team wouldn't allow all the rhetoric — or his fine — to be a distraction.

"This is an awesome time. I truly don't take it for granted," Jackson said. "I smile, $25,000 lighter, but I'm smiling."

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PRO HOCKEY

MONTREAL (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens are down a game and a key player early in their series with the Ottawa Senators.

Center Lars Eller suffered a concussion and facial fractures after taking a big hit from Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba in the second period of the Senators' 4-2 victory in Game 1 of their playoff series Thursday night.

Eller, who was taken off on a stretcher with a pool of blood on the ice, was spending the night in a hospital, the team said.

The hit came as Eller took a pass up the middle from Montreal defenseman Raphael Diaz.

"It's tough seeing a guy laying in a heap with blood coming out," said Canadiens center Ryan White. "You never want to see that."

Gryba was handed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.

"I can't make any comment," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "We all saw the hit. I'm sure the league is going to review it."

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AUTO RACING

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Denny Hamlin received medical clearance Thursday to return this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Hamlin has missed four races after sustaining a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back in a last-lap accident at California on March 24.

"Don't call it a comeback — LL cool J," Hamlin tweeted.

Joe Gibbs Racing said exact plans will be determined at the track. Hamlin could start the No. 11 Toyota, then give way to a relief driver.

"Welcome back Denny!" NASCAR tweeted.

Mark Martin took Hamlin's place in the No. 11 car at Martinsville, and Brian Vickers drove at Texas, Kansas and Richmond.

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SOCCER:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Doctors say a Utah soccer referee remains in a coma after being punched by a teenage player unhappy with one of his calls, and his family says their only hope is for a miracle.

The 46-year-old man remained in critical condition Thursday at Intermountain Medical Center in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray. Doctors say they're trying to control swelling in his brain and that his recovery is uncertain.

Police say a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league punched the referee, Riccardo Portillo, once on the side of his head Saturday after the man flagged him for a foul. The teen has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault.

Portillo's oldest daughter says it wasn't the first time a soccer player assaulted her father. Johana Portillo says the referee has had ribs and legs broken by players angry with his calls.

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Follow Brady McCombs at https://twitter.com/BradyMcCombs.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame unveiled a plan Thursday to add buildings and more than 3,000 revenue-producing premium seats in and around Notre Dame Stadium in a push to make that area of campus more of a community hub.

The stadium that opened in 1930 and was expanded in 1997 is used fewer than 10 times a year for football games, commencement and recreational events. The idea is to use the stadium as a centerpiece where academics, athletics, students' social lives and the surrounding community come together.

"We'll take our most iconic athletic venue and reimagine it as the site of year-round university use, not five-day-a-year athletic use," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said.

The first step is to see if space in and around "The House that Rockne Built" can be better utilized. The proposal would add more than 3,000 seats in new buildings that would rise up over the sides of the stadium and include classrooms, a media center, student center and community center.

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