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Harden is MVP…Pacers dropping Stephenson…Jackson gets a new uniform

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) – Houston Rockets guard James Harden has come away with the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award after pacing the NBA in scoring, 3-pointers and 50-point games. He helped the Rockets win 65 games during the regular season and two playoff rounds before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers has won rookie of the year honors, Los Angeles Clippers standout Lou Williams is the sixth man of the year and Dwane Casey is the coach of the year just over a month after being let go by the Toronto Raptors.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indiana Pacers have declined to pick up their option on Lance Stephenson, allowing the point guard to become a free agent this Sunday. Stephenson brought grit off the bench for a team that won 48 games and almost knocked off Cleveland in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The eight-year veteran averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season.

DETROIT (AP) – Edwin Jackson worked six innings yesterday while joining Octavio Dotel as the only players to see action with 13 different major league teams. Jackson allowed a run and six hits in his Oakland Athletics debut, a 5-4 comeback win at Detroit. Nicholas Castellanos¬† slammed a three-run homer to put the Tigers ahead 4-1 in the seventh, but the A’s chipped away before Jed Lowrie hit a tiebreaking, solo blast in the top of the ninth.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) – The Atlanta Falcons have signed a one-year deal with safety Ron Parker, who spent the last five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. The 30-year-old Parker had 318 tackles, nine interceptions and seven sacks in 80 games with the Chiefs. He started in all 16 games in 2017 and had 67 tackles with two interceptions.

UNDATED (AP) – Spain won Group B at the World Cup as substitute Iago Aspas scored the late equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Morocco. Portugal had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Iran after Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty kick, costing the Portuguese first place in Group B. Salem Aldawsari scored with almost the last kick to send Saudi Arabia to a 2-1 victory over Egypt, at matchup of two teams that had already been eliminated.

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