At his news conference in Houston, center Dwight Howard said of joining the Rockets: "It means a lot to me just to have a fresh start and have an opportunity to write my own story. I don't think people understood the fact that I got traded to L.A., and now I had a chance to really choose my own destiny, and this is the place where I chose and I'm happy about it."
TENNIS: Jimmy Connors to coach Maria Sharapova
A day after parting ways with Thomas Hogstedt, second-ranked Maria Sharapova has hired Jimmy Connors as her new coach. Connors briefly worked with Sharapova before the 2008 Australian Open, which she won.
Martina Hingis was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, R.I. At 32, she became the fourth youngest in history inducted, behind Tracy Austin (30), Bjorn Borg (31) and Hana Mandlikova (32). The Hall of Fame tournament's semifinals were postponed a day after heavy rain wiped out most of the play on Saturday afternoon.
Fabio Fognini will play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final of the Mercedes Cup at Stuttgart, Germany, after each swept to semifinal victories. . . . In the semifinals at Bastad, Sweden, Fernando Verdasco of Spain defeated Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5; and Carlos Berlocq, Argentina beat Thiemo de Bakker, Netherlands, 7-5, 6-3. . . . Top-seeded Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci will face each other in the Italiacom Open final after winning their semifinals.
UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and former champion Anderson Silva will meet in a rematch Dec. 28 at Las Vegas. . . . Unbeaten Khabib Allakhverdiev held on to his WBA and IBO light-welterweight titles when the referee finally stepped in to save former champion Souleymane M'baye in the 11th round in Monte Carlo at Monaco. . . . Robert Stieglitz retained his minor WBO super-middleweight title when his fight at Dresden, Germany, against Yuzo Kiyota was stopped in the 10th round with the Japanese challenger bleeding from a cut in his left eye. The judges scored it 99-90, 100-98 and 99-90 for Stieglitz. . . . France won the Under-20 World Cup for the first time as it won in the penalty shootout, 4-1, after ending extra time in a 0-0 tie with Uruguay in the title match at Istanbul.