Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Thursday. A full Sports Digest will be sent at about 3 p.m. All times EST.
— DENVER — Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, plans to meet with the family of slain Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard when Collins' Brooklyn Nets face the Denver Nuggets. Shepard was killed in 1998 because he was gay, and Collins wears No. 98 in Shepard's honor. Game starts 10:30 p.m.
— MIAMI — Winners of five straight, the Miami Heat play host to the New York Knicks. LeBron James is dealing with a broken nose for Miami, and it's the first Knicks game since guard Raymond Felton was arrested on gun charges. Game starts 8 p.m.
— PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Tiger Woods leads the strongest field of the year at the Honda Classic, which features seven of the top 10 in the world ranking.
— PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins begin the post-Olympic break against the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal will be without goaltender Carey Price, who with Crosby helped lead Canada to Olympic gold but is dealing with a lower-body injury. Game starts 7:05 p.m.
— SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 14 North Carolina, which already has two road wins against top 10 teams at Duke and N.C. State, will be seeking to make it three when the Tar Heels face No. 2 Notre Dame. Game starts 7 p.m.
— Instead of turning the debate over pace of play in college football and a proposed rule that would slow up-tempo offenses into a melodrama about player safety, maybe it's better to have an honest discussion about whether it's time to give defenses a break.