NFL

Friday's Sports In Brief

NFL

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) If Tom Brady has been playing with any extra motivation this season because of ''Deflategate,'' he isn't saying so.

The Patriots' quarterback said his teammates are ''all the motivation that I need'' as he prepares to head to Houston to chase his fifth Super Bowl ring.

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Brady's season began with a four-game suspension. His absence marked the first regular-season games he's missed since 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the season opener.

Patriots fans chanted ''Where is Roger?'' at Gillette Stadium during the AFC championship game, taunting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who would have to present Brady and the Patriots with the Lombardi Trophy if New England defeats the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Thomas Dimitroff's Super Bowl matchup against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots is far more than an executive facing his former boss and employer.

Dimitroff, the Atlanta Falcons general manager since 2008, has extremely deep ties with Belichick. Dimitroff's first NFL job was on the Cleveland Browns' grounds crew when his father was a scout and Belichick was the coach.

Dimitroff climbed the ranks before spending five years as the Patriots' director of college scouting under Belichick.

Now Belichick and the Patriots stand in the way of the Falcons' attempt to win their first Super Bowl.

It's a challenge Dimitroff said he relishes.

NBA

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - James Harden scored 51 points and added 13 rebounds and 13 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 123-118 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden, who had 19 of his points in the third quarter, has at least 30 points and 10 assists in 18 games this season. The NBA's third-leading scorer entering the game, Harden finished two points shy of tying his career high. He was 16 for 28 from the field, including 6 for 11 from 3-point range, while making 13 of 14 free throws.

Embiid had 32 points and seven rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a knee contusion.

CHICAGO (AP) - Goran Dragic had 26 points and 11 assists, Willie Reed scored 20 points and Dion Waiters added 19 to lead the Miami Heat to their sixth straight win, a 100-88 over the bickering Chicago Bulls.

Dwyane Wade had 15 points to lead the Bulls, who began the day with a team meeting and ended it with a second straight frustrating loss.

Wade and Jimmy Butler started the controversy when they questioned the desire of the team's younger players following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Rajon Rondo fired back a day later, criticizing Wade and Butler in an Instagram post.

All three players were fined, and Wade and Butler were held out of the starting lineup as punishment.

Butler was the first off bench and received a loud ovation from the United Center crowd when he checked in with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter. Wade also received a loud ovation when he entered 28 seconds later.

CLEVELAND (AP) - LeBron James scored 31 points, Kyrie Irving added 28 and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended a turbulent week with a 124-116 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.

The NBA champions had lost three straight and six of eight while James questioned whether the organization was fully committed to winning a second title.

The Cavaliers took advantage of a timely visit from the NBA's worst team. Irving scored 20 points, and James added 10 in the third quarter when Cleveland built an 86-62 lead.

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Tiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour after 17 months and lasted only two days.

Woods never got anything going after starting with a birdie Friday in the Farmers Insurance Open and didn't come close to making the cut. He missed a 12-foot birdie putt on his final hole on the North Course for an even-par 72 and missed the cut at Torrey Pines for the first time in his career.

He finished at 4-over 148, missing the cut by four shots. Woods at least kept good company. Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world, shot a 74 to miss the cut for the first time since the Farmers Insurance Open last year. Also in his group was U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who shot 74 and missed the cut.

Justin Rose rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 closing hole on the South Course for a 1-under 71. Rose, who was at 8-under 136, now gets two more cracks at the South Course, where the average score for two days was 73.8.

NHL

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr were among the easiest choices for The NHL 100, the group of enduring superstars chosen and honored by the league Friday night as the best players in hockey history.

Yet if the Great One, Super Mario and No. 4 had to pick an NHL 1, they would all choose Mr. Hockey, the late Gordie Howe.

Wondrous athletes with incredible achievements were in abundance Friday night in downtown Los Angeles, the site of Sunday's NHL All-Star Game and the celebration of the league's centennial. Dozens of the NHL 100 members were honored in the gala ceremony, from 1970s greats Guy Lafleur and Yvan Cournoyer to current Chicago Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews.

Many of the greats spared a thought for Howe, who died in June. He featured prominently in the memorial highlight reel shown to the audience at the Microsoft Theatre.