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Phillips Hired as Broncos DC


NFL via Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Wade Phillips is the Denver Broncos new defensive coordinator after the two parties reached an agreement Wednesday night.

The 67-year-old Phillips will reunite with head coach Gary Kubiak. Phillips served as Kubiak's defensive coordinator for most of three seasons with the Houston Texans.

Kubiak was fired from Houston in the middle of the 2013 season and Phillips took over as the interim head coach. Houston decided not to bring Phillips back the next season, leading him to take the year off.

This isn't Phillips' first time in Denver: he served as the Broncos defensive coordinator from 1989-92 and was the team's head coach from 1993-94.

Next season will be Phillips' 39th as an NFL coach.

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Braves Agree to Deal with Cuban OF Dian Toscano


Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Braves finalized a four-year, $6 milllion deal with Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano on Wednesday.

The Braves and Toscano actually reached the deal in early December, but it took almost two months to work out the requirements that would allow Toscano to enter the U.S.

Left-handed hitting Toscano, 25, had a .356 batting average with a .892 OPS while playing for Villa Clara in Cuba during the 2012-13 season.

The contract comes with a $1.2 million signing bonus and a $1.7 million club option for 2019.

Toscano helps the Braves replenish an outfield that lost Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis.

The Braves designated Jose Constanza for assignment to make room for Toscano on the 40-man roster.

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Report: Reliever Casey Janssen Signs with Nationals


Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Reliever Casey Janssen signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Washington Nationals, MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Janssen has played eight major league seasons, all with the Toronto Blue Jays. During that time he's pitched 493 innings, compiling 90 saves, a 3.52 ERA, 368 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP.

Janssen served the last three seasons as the Blue Jays closer, saving 81 of his 91 opportunities.

Janssen is expected to serve as a set-up man for closer Drew Storen.

Janssen joins a bullpen that lost Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard to trades and Rafael Soriano to free agency this offseason.

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Irving Nets 55 to Lead Cavs to 8th-Straight Win


Chris Chambers/Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 55 points, offsetting the absence of Lebron James, to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94 Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers (27-20) have now won eight straight.

Irving was on fire most of the game, scoring 29 of Cleveland's 54 first-half points. He also hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Cavaliers the win.

Portland (32-14) received an admirable performance from LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge scored 38 points and grabbed 11 boards in the loss.

Irving's 55 points is the most scored by any player in a game this season, and also breaks the Quicken Loans Arena scoring record that was held by Allen Iverson.

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Scoreboard Roundup - 1/28/15


Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers 99 (27-20) – Portland Trail Blazers 94 (32-14)

Philadelphia 76ers 89 (9-37) – Detroit Pistons 69 (17-30)

Toronto Raptors 119 (31-15) – Sacramento Kings 102 (16-28)

Atlanta Hawks 113 (38-8) – Brooklyn Nets 102 (18-27)

Houston Rockets 99 (32-14) – Dallas Mavericks 94 (30-17)

Minnesota Timberwolves 110 (8-37) – Boston Celtics 89 (16-28)

Denver Nuggets 93 (19-27) – New Orleans Pelicans 85 (24-22)

New York Knicks 100 (9-37) – Oklahoma City Thunder 92 (23-23)

San Antonio Spurs 95 (30-17) – Charlotte Hornets 86 (19-27)

Los Angeles Clippers 94 (32-14) - Utah Jazz 89 (16-30)

Phoenix Suns 106 (27-20) - Washington Wizards 98 (31-16)

Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (8) Notre Dame 77 (20-2) – (4) Duke 73 (17-3)

(6) Arizona 90 (19-2) - Oregon 56 (14-7)

(9) Kansas 64 (17-3) – TCU 61 (14-6)

(10) Louisville 81 (17-3) – Boston College 72 (9-10)

(12) Wichita State 58 (19-2) – Loyola of Chicago 47 (13-8)

(18) Northern Iowa 59 (19-2) – S. Illinois 52 (9-13)

Purdue 83 (13-8) – (22) Indiana 67 (15-6)

Georgia Tech 70 (10-10) – (23) Miami 50 (14-6)

(24) Oklahoma 81 (13-7) – Texas Tech 36 (11-10)

NHL: Washington Capitals 4 (25-14-9; 59pts) – Pittsburgh Penguins 0 (27-13-8; 62pts)

New Jersey Devils 2 (18-22-8; 44pts) – Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (22-23-4; 48pts) SO

Los Angeles Kings 4 (21-15-12, 54pts) - Chicago Blackhawks 3 (30-16-2, 62pts)

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Chicago White Sox Sign INF Gordon Beckham


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago White Sox and infielder Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year contract worth $2 million, the team announced on Wednesday.

To make room for Beckham on the 40-man roster, the White Sox designated outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment.

Beckham began last season with the White Sox before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21. In 127 games, he batted .226 with 27 doubles, nine home runs, 44 RBIs, and 53 runs.

“Adding Gordon improves the depth and flexibility of our roster,“ said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. “We are thrilled to have him back.”

The 25-year-old Viciedo hit .231 with 21 home runs and 58 RBIs in 145 games with the White Sox last year.

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Charlotte Hornets G Kemba Walker Has Knee Surgery


iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker underwent successful surgery on Wednesday in New York to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, the team announced. He is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks.

The 24-year-old Walker is averaging a team-high 18.8 points, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game this season. He has scored 20 or more points in 14 of his last 21 games he has played.

Charlotte originally selected Walker out of Connecticut with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. In four seasons with the Hornets, he has averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

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Marshawn Lynch Media Session Day Two: 'You Know Why I'm Here'


Jay Drowns/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch followed up his 4 minute and 51 second interview in which he said, "I'm just here so I won't get fined" 29 times on Tuesday with, "You know why I'm here."

Lynch would have been fined $500,000 if he did not speak at media day on Tuesday, ESPN NFL insider Ed Werder reports, but another fine could be on its way.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reports that Lynch could be fined $100,000 for wearing his 'Beast Mode' logo hat, which isn't an official sponsor of the NFL.

When asked about fans wanting to hear from him, Lynch said, "They know why I'm here."

Lynch is also required to speak to the media on Thursday.

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Blatt: LeBron Is 'The Greatest Player in Our Game'


Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have turned their season around after winning seven in a row. Head coach David Blatt was astonished that LeBron James isn't always in the MVP talk.

"He's the greatest player in our game, and he's had, since he's been healthy -- and really all year, but particularly since he's been healthy -- his performance has been as high level as ever," Blatt said before their game against the Pistons on Tuesday. "And you don't have to look very far at our record to see what impact he has on this team when he's playing and not playing."

James is averaging 30.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.0 steals in eight games since returning from taking two weeks off to rest.

"Certainly it does say something about what his value is when he is absent, what happens to the team," Blatt continued. "But again, it's of course what his impact on his own team but it's also the performance that that player is having relative to the rest of the league. Obviously if we look at our own example [in James], then you're looking at an MVP player in every respect. Which is not new news to anyone."

"I don't really get involved in what people say about the way I approach the game," James told reporters Tuesday at Cavs shootaround. "I know I can play the game at a high level. I know who I am and what I'm about. So, me making an excuse about my injuries throughout the time while we were struggling would just add on to what we were going through. So, it made no sense for me to talk about it until I crossed that path."

James has won four MVP trophies in 12 seasons.

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NBA Dunk Contest Lineup Announced


Christian Petersen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The NBA announced the players who will participate in the 2015 Sprite Slam Dunk contest on Tuesday.

Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, and Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine will have their chance to shine.

The dunk contest will take place on Saturday, Feb. 14 at the Barclays Center, the home of the Nets in Brooklyn, New York.

Plumlee is looking forward to the opportunity.

"It's official, Thrilled to be a #Dunker in the #SpriteSlam Dunk contest @NBAAllStar weekend!" Plumee tweeted following the announcement.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall won the dunk contest last year.

The All-Star Game will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, Feb. 15.

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