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Nuggets Surprisingly Fire Longtime Coach

Denver — The starless Denver Nuggets just lost their biggest name on the bench.

George Karl was ousted yesterday less than a month after winning the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. His tenure with the Nuggets is over after 8½ seasons.

The longtime coach is following general manager Masai Ujiri out the door in Denver after Ujiri, the league’s executive of the year, recently left to become GM of the Toronto Raptors.

“So, we lost a GM now and a coach, what’s next?” tweeted Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried.

Karl had just a year left on his contract, which may have played a role in this decision. Calls and emails to Karl’s representatives were not returned yesterday.

But Karl did take to Twitter, posting on his certified account: “I want to thank Nuggets fans for their support over the past 8 yrs. The karma on the street was incredible. Denver will always be home.”

There are quite a few teams currently on the lookout for a new coach. The Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers also have head coaching vacancies and the Memphis Grizzlies have given coach Lionel Hollins permission to speak with other teams.

Golf

Love, Appleby Among
Six Tied for Lead

Memphis, Tenn. — Davis Love III and Stuart Appleby shot 4-under 66 yesterday for a share of the lead with four other players after the first round of the St. Jude Classic.

Harris English, Nathan Green, Martin Flores and Glen Day also pushed their way into the lead on a day where at least three others had a piece of the top spot lead at some point.

Defending champ Dustin Johnson was 5 under through six holes, talking advantage of near perfect conditions at the TPC Southwind with a temperature in the low 80s and only a slight breeze early. But Johnson finished with a 67 and was tied with 10 others including David Toms, a two-time winner here, and Shawn Stefani, who was tied for the lead before he hit into a fairway bunker and bogeyed No. 18.

Phil Mickelson opened with a 71.

Sluman Leads Tradition

Birmingham, Ala. — Jeff Sluman birdied No. 17 en route to a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Fred Couples after the first round in the Regions Tradition, the second of five Champions Tour majors.

Sluman, who had eight birdies, and Couples both had their only bogeys on No. 16.

Couples, the Presidents Cup captain and World Golf Hall of Famer, made a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 sixth hole and a 30-footer for birdie on the next hole. His only blemish was a bogey on the par-3 1.

Track & Field

Gatlin Edges Bolt

Rome — Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt by a hundredth of a second last night to win the 100 meters at the Golden Gala meet, the Jamaican’s first significant loss since his false-start disqualification in the 2011 world championships in South Korea.

Gatlin was timed in 9.94 seconds and was restrained in his celebration, just clapping his hands rapidly. The American has won all five of his 100-meter races this year and is shaping up as a serious threat to Bolt at the world championships in Moscow in August.

Bolt briefly covered his face with his hands after the race, then saluted the crowd. After things settled down, Bolt went over and shook Gatlin’s hand and congratulated him.