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Belichick stands by team...Aldridge tables surgery...Blazers, Grizzlies win...Sharapova advances

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patriots coach Bill Belichick held an impromptu news conference today, telling reporters that after conducting several tests over the last few days, he is convinced his team did nothing wrong in preparing game balls for the AFC Championship game. He gave a detailed account of how the pressure in a ball can change with weather conditions. The league's investigation is ongoing.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge has decided to put off thumb surgery. Aldridge said on Thursday that he needed surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb, a procedure that would cause him to miss from six to eight weeks. Aldridge hurt his thumb in the second quarter of the Blazers' 98-95 victory on Monday night.

UNDATED (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies still share second place in the NBA's Western Conference. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a game-high 26 points, had nine rebounds and hit four free throws in the final minute as the Blazers beat the Wizards 103-96. Zach Randolph had 17 points and 14 rebounds as the Grizzlies won for the sixth time in seven games, thumping Philadelphia 101-83.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Second-seeded Maria Sharapova has reached the Australian Open quarterfinals by winning the last nine games in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over No. 21 Peng Shaui (pehng shway). Next up for Sharapova is seventh seed Eugenie (yoo-JEE'-nee) Bouchard, who advanced with 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu. No. 10 Ekatarina Makarova also advanced to the quarters with 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Julia Goerges.

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Erik Compton shares the lead with three others through 54 holes of the PGA's Humana Challenge in California. Compton fired a 5-under-par 67 for a 17-under total, tying him with Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and first-round leader Michael Putnam. Matt Kuchar (KOO'-chur) had a two-shot lead until he bogeyed three of the last four holes to fall one stroke back.

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