Don't ask Kobe

Ron Artest knows better than to ask Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant about something as trivial as a broken index finger.

"If I ask him how his finger is doing, he is going to strangle me," Artest said. "He is. When he is hurt, you are not allowed to ask him how he is doing or you're not allowed to ask, 'Are you OK?' He gets very mad."

Playing with a splint on his right index finger, Bryant scored a season-high 42 points Tuesday as the Lakers beat the fading Chicago Bulls, 96-87.

Last night, the former Lower Merion High star scored 27 of his 39 points in the second half to lift the Lakers past Milwaukee, 107-106, in overtime.

Artest defends Tiger

Artest said an open letter to Tiger Woods that was posted on his Web site was meant to encourage the golf superstar because Artest believes media coverage of Woods' mistakes has been unfair.

Artest, who said he doesn't know Woods, posted a blog where he called Woods a "perfect role model for me and my sons."

Russian buying Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings and the company that owns the New Jersey Nets announced that they had completed their agreement on a partnership that would own the team and develop the Atlantic Yards project in New York City.

The agreement provides for the sale of 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the new arena to Prokhorov's company, subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors.

-Associated Press