Slam dunk champ to defend his title

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will try to defend his Slam Dunk championship at the NBA All-Star weekend in Phoenix in February.

In New Orleans last season, Howard edged defending champion Gerald Green for the title in one of the most creative competitions in recent history. Howard scored perfect 50s on both of his first-round dunks -- one of which included his donning a cape for a "Superman" dunk.

Howard will face off against Memphis' Rudy Gay and 2006 winner Nate Robinson, of the New York Knicks.

A fan vote will pick the fourth competitor between Milwaukee's Joe Alexander , Portland's Rudy Fernandez , and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook .

- The Phoenix Suns announced they will assign swingman Alando Tucker to the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League.

The 6-6, 205-pound Tucker was selected by Phoenix with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft.

The second-year player from Wisconsin has not yet made his season debut with the Suns in 2008-09 after missing the first 22 games due to injury, including 19 following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in November.


Pierce isn't ready to call it a career

Two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce isn't ready to hang up her racket just yet.

Despite being sidelined by a knee injury since 2006, the Frenchwoman told sports daily L'Equipe that she'd like to play again at the French Open.

"I care about Roland Garros. If I could stand in center court for one match, that would already be a big victory," she said.

Pierce, who turns 34 next month, won the French Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 1995.

She ruptured a ligament in her left knee in October 2006 in Linz, Austria, in a match against Vera Zvonareva . She hasn't competed professionally since.

"I don't feel it's the right moment (to announce my retirement)," she told L'Equipe , adding that her left leg is weak but tests indicate her knee has recovered.


Series champion to make Suzuki debut

Defending series champion Chad Reed will make his Suzuki debut Jan. 3 in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

Reed left Yamaha at the end of the season, an opening that 2007 champion James Stewart has filled. Stewart previously rode for Kawasaki.

The season will close May 2 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. It also includes stops in Phoenix; Houston; San Francisco; San Diego; Atlanta; Indianapolis; Daytona Beach, Fla.; New Orleans; St. Louis; Toronto; Jacksonville, Fla.; Seattle; and Salt Lake City.


Defender chooses Serbia over the U.S.

Defender Neven Subotic has chosen to play soccer for Serbia instead of the United States.

Subotic, who was born in Bosnia and holds an American passport, has played for the U.S. under-17 and under-20s teams. He now plays for Borussia Dortmund in the German league.

Subotic wrote to U.S. soccer officials, informing them of his decision to play for Serbia.

"We wish Neven all the best and continued success in the future," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said.

Subotic had until next Dec. 10, his 21st birthday, to chose his senior national team under rules by soccer's governing body. He could have picked the U.S., Bosnia or Serbia.

The Serbian soccer federation said on its Web site that Subotic, a Bosnian Serb, made the decision "to return to his roots." He is expected to debut for Serbia during a tournament in Cyprus in February.

Serbian coach Radomir Antic said he plans to pair Subotic with Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic in the center of Serbia's defense in next year's World Cup qualifiers.



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