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Around & About / News and notes

Heat, Lakers ready to play

Kobe Bryant and Lakers coach Phil Jackson haven't really checked out the Miami Heat much this season. They've caught late-night highlights and maybe logged a few minutes with a game from the opposite coast, but not a whole lot more.

It's finally time for the two-time champions to get an up-close look at their most intriguing challengers.

When LeBron James, Chris Bosh and -- maybe -- Dwyane Wade take on the Lakers in the NBA's Christmas showcase today (5 p.m., Chs. 7, 11), most players in both uniforms hesitate to pile any extra significance onto a television-manufactured event. Most minimize every aspect of it, saying it's no more than a holiday amusement for fans seeking a break from present-opening and eggnog-drinking.

"I don't think it's a measuring stick for us," James said. "It's just another game."

Yet competitiveness usually trumps Christmas for elite NBA players. Just ask Bryant -- or don't, since he tellingly hasn't spoken to the media since getting ejected from the Lakers' last game.

"The personalities that are going to be matching up in this game, I don't know if it can get any bigger," said Derek Fisher, the Lakers point guard.

The contest is one of five on the NBA schedule for today; all will be televised.

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Taurasi fails test

Diana Taurasi is facing one of the most difficult challenges to her stellar basketball career.

The WNBA standout and former UConn star tested positive for a mild stimulant while playing in a pro league in Turkey, her lawyer told The Associated Press on Thursday night.

Howard Jacobs said Taurasi's "A" sample came back positive from a lab in Turkey last week. He said the substance "was not a steroid or recreational drug," and that Taurasi has asked that her "B" sample be tested.

The Turkish basketball federation said Friday that the substance in Taurasi's positive test was modafinil. Modafinil is used to counter excessive sleepiness due to narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder or sleep apnea, according to the website for prescription drug Provigil, which contains the substance.

Neither Jacobs nor Taurasi's team, Fenerbahce, would confirm it was modafinil, which has been involved in several major doping cases.

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Fay will step down

David Fay is retiring from the U.S. Golf Association, his two decades as executive director marked by a steady push for golf's return to the Olympics and for the U.S. Open to be held on golf courses that anyone could play at a reasonable price.

Fay's announcement Friday was somewhat of a surprise, although he turned 60 two months ago and said it was an important milestone for cancer survivors. He joined the USGA in 1978 and became its sixth executive director in 1989, serving under 12 presidents.

Mike Butz, the deputy executive director since 1995, will take over Jan. 1 until a national search to find Fay's replacement.

"Things are in good order," Fay said in a statement. "Our senior staff leaders, each of whom I have put into place, are highly talented and motivated. And looking ahead, there are a number of multiyear projects on the drawing board ... which makes this, for me, a good time to move on. Leave on a high note, as Seinfeld would say."

From News and wire service reports.

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