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MYSTICS-SPARKS

Ruffin-Pratt scores career-high 18 in Mystics win

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored a career-high 18 points and Monique Currie added 16 as the Washington Mystics beat the Los Angeles Sparks 79-75 on Thursday night.

Ivory Latta scored 15 points for Washington (10-13), which had lost four of six.

Kia Vaughn had 14 points and nine rebounds, and netted the go-ahead basket to make it 74-72. Latta sank two free throws with 18 seconds left, and the Sparks' Kristi Toliver missed an ensuing 3-point attempt.

Jantel Lavender scored a season-high 23 points to lead the Sparks (10-12), who had their season-best, three-game winning streak end. Candace Parker scored 18 points, with seven rebounds and six assists, and Toliver had 13 points.

Parker scored eight points in the fourth quarter and pulled the Sparks into a 72-72 tie with two free throws. She missed nine of her first 11 field goal attempts and finished 5-for-16.

WIZARDS-PIERCE

Paul Pierce officially joins Wizards

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington Wizards have officially signed veteran forward Paul Pierce.

Pierce, who turns 37 in October, spent 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last season.

"We are very happy to welcome Paul to our organization and add his championship experience and history of clutch play to our team," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.

Pierce averaged a career-low 13.5 points last season in his first year with the Nets. But he is a 10-time All-Star who has gained a reputation as one of the best big-moment players in the league

Led by guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, Washington reached the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, their first postseason appearance since 2008.

"He will be a good fit alongside our young, dynamic backcourt while his presence and leadership will make a difference for us both on and off the court," Grunfeld said of Pierce.

NFL-THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

CBS won't dictate use of Redskins name on the air

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - CBS won't dictate to its announcers whether or not to use the nickname of Washington's NFL franchise during televised games this season.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said Thursday he hasn't told on-air talent such as Jim Nantz and Phil Simms what to say regarding the controversy surround the Redskins' name.

The network is set to air five Redskins games this season. Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed not to change the name, but is facing unprecedented opposition from those who consider it a racial slur.

McManus told the summer TV critics' meeting that CBS doesn't tell its announcers what to say about any topic, including team names.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league doesn't dictate to its broadcast partners how to cover games.

CBS is launching Thursday night coverage of NFL games this fall.

SEC-PLAYER PERKS

SEC players mostly leave lobbying to others

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) - Southeastern Conference players have mostly been content to let league administrators and coaches take up the drumbeat for NCAA reform.

Not that they're complaining.

Players at SEC Media Days this week were mostly pleased about the trend toward a few more perks - including scholarships that would offer full cost of attendance. They also admit they've already got it pretty good.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive has even said the Big Five conferences could break away from the NCAA if players aren't compensated more properly.

The life of major college football players and coaches could change drastically once the NCAA and Big Five conferences are done revamping the current system.

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel says players aren't starving but "it would be nice to receive a little more compensation."

SOUTHERN AMATEUR

Hossler, Murray tied for Southern Amateur lead

OOLTEWAH, Tenn. (AP) - Beau Hossler had a 4-under 68 in a second round that featured eight birdies Thursday to tie Grayson Murray atop the leaderboard at the 108th Southern Amateur.

Hossler, from Mission Viejo, California, birdied two of his final three holes at The Honors Course to match Murray's 36-hole total of 138. Hossler will be a sophomore at Texas this fall.

Murray, from Raleigh, North Carolina, had grabbed the first-round lead with a 66. He shot a 72 on Thursday.

Will Starke of Chapin, South Carolina, is one stroke behind the leaders. Trevor Cone of Concord, North Carolina, briefly led Friday before falling two strokes back. Cone golfs for Virginia Tech.

The winner of the 72-hole event earns a spot in the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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