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Cora says opportunity to manage Red Sox is a return home

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Alex Cora didn’t expect his first chance to manage in the major leagues to come this soon, but the new Boston Red Sox manager he says he’s ready to take on the challenge of leading one of its most storied franchises. Cora was introduced Monday at Fenway Park as the 47th manager of the Red Sox. A native of Puerto Rico, the 42-year-old becomes the first minority manager of a club that was the last in the majors to field a black player. “I’ve always said the last two years, that I’m a capable manager. It was going to come down to somebody to give me that opportunity,” he said. “I never thought that I was getting interviewed because I was a minority. I happen to be.” Alex’s father, Jose Cora, was the founder of the Little League in his hometown of Caguas, Puerto Rico. He died in 1988, but his son still is propped up by the messages he learned from both his parents. “That’s what he preached — school and baseball,” Cora said. “My mom, she’ll be around during the season ... She’ll talk baseball with you guys.” A middle infielder on Boston’s 2007 World Series championship team, Cora says he sees the job as a return home to “a perfect situation,” inheriting a young team coming off back-to-back AL East titles under manager John Farrell. Cora played four seasons for the Red Sox, and this year was the bench coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros. The Astros beat the Red Sox this year in the AL Division Series in a matchup of first-place teams. While Cora wants to focus on baseball, he said he realizes the significance of his hire both on the mainland and in Puerto Rico. He presented president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox with a Puerto Rican flag to thank them for sending a plane full of supplies to aid in Hurricane Maria relief efforts. Later, wearing his new Red Sox jersey and cap, he took pictures holding the flag with his daughter, Camila, and stepson, Jeriel. “I’m proud to be a Puerto Rican,” he said. “You’re going to see that flag and you’re going to see a lot of fans from back home. ... The history I understand and the history throughout the game — there’s not too many Latino managers. There’s not too many minority managers. But there’s 30 capable managers and I’m one of them.” One of the criteria Dombrowski said would be key in finding a successor for Farrell would be someone who could handle the intense spotlight that comes with managing in Boston. He said Cora embraces it. “Boston, for a lot of people, is a challenge. But for me, it’s not,” Cora said. “This is a city where I understand they live baseball 24/7. But, you know what? I come from a country where they live baseball 24/7. In my family, for breakfast we talk baseball. For lunch we talk baseball. And for dinner, too.” In addition to Cora, Boston also interviewed former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and new Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. But Dombrowski said there was an instant comfort level with Cora. Dombrowski initially said past managerial experience would be important in the hire. But Cora’s cumulative experience with the Astros, as well as serving as general manager of Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and as a general manager and manager in the Puerto Rican Winter League satisfied that requirement. “It may not be the same as the big leagues by any means, but it is an experience of calling the shots during the game,” Dombrowski said. Cora says he won’t shy away from using the analytical approach he learned as a bench coach this past season with the Astros. But he stressed that won’t be a substitute for cultivating the relationship between the front office and players. “The most important thing about the whole analytical world and coaches is there has to be a connection,” Cora said. He said building bonds with players will be among his top priorities. “This year I learned talking to players is not bad, having a relationship with players is not bad,” Cora said. “You embrace them. You tell them how good they are, and when you have to twist their arm and tell them it’s not good enough, they’re going to respond to you.” NOTES: Dombrowski said the team is still working to hire a new pitching coach and will continue to purse filling that position during organization meetings in Boston this week. ... The Red Sox hired Tim Hyers as hitting coach and Andy Barkett as assistant hitting coach on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 7th, 2017

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

LeBron, back in Boston, for another Cavs farewell

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — LeBron James and the depleted Cleveland Cavaliers won’t get any sympathy from the Celtics when they return to Boston for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Already laboring to reach his eighth straight NBA Finals with a supporting crew made mostly of cast-offs and throw-ins, James lost the only other All-Star on the roster on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when Kevin Love was declared out for the series finale with a concussion. Now, in what could be his final game in a Cleveland uniform — again — James will have to do it largely on his own. In Boston, where the Celtics are perfect so far this postseason. And in a series where the road team hasn’t really even come close. “There’s something different about LeBron, period,” Cleveland forward Larry Nance Jr. said after James scored 46 with 11 rebounds and nine assists on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) to send the series to a decisive seventh game. “I think [coach Tyronn Lue] said it best: ‘We’re going into a Game 7 with the baddest dude on the planet on our team.’ I like our chances.” James is having what could be the best postseason of his career, averaging 33.9 points and just under nine assists and rebounds, with seven 40-point games, two buzzer beaters, and a sweep of top-seeded Toronto. But he’s played in every game this season — Sunday (Monday, PHL time) will be his 100th — and it showed in the Game 5 loss to the Celtics. He admitted to fatigue afterward, and then played all but two minutes in Game 6 despite a sore knee from a collision with Nance. Still, the four-time MVP carried his team even after Love banged heads with Boston’s Jayson Tatum in the first half and left the game. “I can’t say enough good things about him,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Every time we watch. Every time you’re standing out there. Every time you watch him on film. Best player in the game.” James will probably have to do it again in Game 7 to reach the NBA Finals for the eighth straight year, something accomplished only by Bill Russell and some of his Celtics teammates in the 1960s. Lue said he wasn’t concerned about James’ leg. Or about the team’s history in the TD Garden, where the Cavaliers lost the first three games by an average of 17 points. “We throw it all out,” Lue said on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “It’s one game left to go to the NBA Finals.” The Celtics have had their own injury problems, starting in the first quarter of the season opener — at Cleveland — when top free agent Gordon Hayward went out for the year with a broken leg. Five-time All-Star Kyrie Irving, acquired from the Cavaliers in an offseason roster overhaul, needed knee surgery and was lost in March. But they caught a break when Tatum was cleared to play on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Stevens said the team doctors checked on him “and he’s great.” “So nothing there as far as to be concerned about,” Stevens said. Well, there’s one thing to be concerned about. “We know LeBron is different than a lot of other guys, but we’ve got to get the job done,” Celtics guard Terry Rozier said. “That’s no excuse, so we’re looking forward to it.” For James, it’s an opportunity to extend the season for his hometown team and put off another summer of questions about his future. Eight years ago, he came to Boston for the conference semifinals and had a triple-double — 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists — but shot 8-for-21 with nine turnovers and the Celtics eliminated the Cavs from the playoffs. As he left the court, James stripped off his Cleveland jersey; then came “The Decision” and the move to Miami. James is again able to become a free agent this season, with the Lakers, 76ers and Rockets among the most-mentioned destinations. Having led Cleveland to the city’s first major sports title in half a century in 2016, there is less pulling at him to stay home this time. But another title would ease the pain even more. And with the injury bug hitting the Western Conference finalists — Chris Paul was the latest ruled out for a game — the East champion might not be as big an underdog as expected. James will be ready. “You’ve got to be poised. You’ve got to be able to handle a punch or two,” he said. “We know it’s challenging. They’re 10-0 on their home floor, and they’ve been very successful against us, obviously, at home. But if you love challenges, then this is a great opportunity.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Rockets return home for Game 5 against Warriors

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets have a chance to take their first lead in the Western Conference finals with a victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). To do that they’ll need their superstars to step up again, with the pressure on James Harden and Chris Paul to deliver after their big performances in Game 3 spurred Houston to the road victory that tied the best-of-seven series at 2-2. “We’re back to even,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We know what we have to do and see if we can do it against a great team.” After two blowout losses in this series, including an embarrassing 41-point rout in Game 3, the Rockets know they don’t have any time to celebrate Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) win. It was a victory that snapped Golden State’s NBA-record 16-game home playoff winning streak. “We have to get down to normal sea level real quick, because we’ve got a lot of work left,” D’Antoni said. “We know it’s not going to be easy, but also they know now it’s not going to be easy. We’re looking forward to it ... with the right type of fear and the right type of excitement.” It’s a huge opportunity for Harden and Paul, who’ve both had their fair share of playoff disappointments in the past, but combined to score 57 points Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) 95-92 win that put the top-seeded Rockets back in the driver’s seat in this series. The 33-year-old Paul is a conference finals rookie after failing to get out of the second round in his previous nine playoff trips. Though he’s never reached this level in the postseason before, his 13 years of NBA experience have proven invaluable as the Rockets try to knock off the defending champions and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning consecutive titles in 1994-95. Though the Rockets are heading to Houston for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) game, they know that playing at home doesn’t give them an excuse to let up. “Both teams have the ability to win on the road,” Paul said. “We had to prove that to ourselves. Weathering the storm, the runs that they made, and knowing that now we get a chance to go back home, we knew we had to get at least one win here. We got it, so now it’s a three-game series.” Though the pressure to perform is heightened for Harden and Paul, Rockets players and D’Antoni agree that they can’t get it done without plenty of help from Houston’s supporting cast. P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela combined for 29 rebounds on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), and in Houston’s Game 2 victory the Rockets had five players score 16 or more points. “It’s a close series so without any of them you don’t get there,” D’Antoni said. “So everybody has their role and some play a bigger role — bigger meaning they shoot the ball more so we as a society give them a bigger role — but everybody is just as important.” While the Rockets are thrilled to see the momentum of the series swing their way for perhaps the first time in the series, the Warriors are upset that they let what they feel like was a winnable Game 4 get away. Draymond Green is OK with his team having its back against the wall and believes the Warriors play well when faced with adversity. “I know what we’re capable of and I know the level of focus and intensity that this team brings when that is the case,” he said. “We blew a golden opportunity but it’s not one that we can’t get back. We can get it back. So there’s no panic.” Stephen Curry said he spent much of Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) going over each possession of Golden State’s 12-point fourth quarter in his mind and thinking of ways he and the team could have done things better to close the game out after leading by double digits early in the period. “It’s a frustrating feeling obviously ... but we’re great at turning the page and being resilient and finding a way to bounce back,” he said. This series has already had so many ups and downs that it could give a young person gray hair. For the already silver-locked D’Antoni, who at 67 would be the oldest coach to win an NBA title if Houston gets it done, the exhilaration of this journey has been well worth any stress it has caused. “It makes me feel alive, I know that much,” he said. “It feels good. You coach all year for this or even your whole career to get here or get as close as you can. It’s great competition, against one of the best teams ever.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2018

Rockets, Warriors look to advance to conference finals

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Paul is a win away from finally reaching the Western Conference finals in his 10th season in the playoffs. But the Houston guard isn't looking ahead to what most expect will be a showdown with the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the next round. After all, he's been in this situation before in 2015 with the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul is normally reticent to discuss his past playoff failures, but the nine-time All-Star was candid about that particular letdown when he was interviewed on TNT moments after Houston took a 3-1 lead over the Utah Jazz with a 100-87 win in Game 5. He was asked if he's allowed himself to think about being in the finals for the first time. "It's the process man," he said. "I've been here before, 3-1. (Expletive) went bad real quick, you know what I mean?" The collapse that Paul is referring to came at the hands of the Rockets. Paul and the Clippers raced out to a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals. They got blown out in Game 5, wasted a 19-point second-half lead in a loss in Los Angeles in Game 6, then fell in Game 7 at Houston. Paul got prickly later when asked to expand on his comments and share what he learned from that series. He deflected the question with a joke before finally mumbling: 'don't relax,' before James Harden stepped in to save his teammate from the uncomfortable moment. "He's not even thinking about that honestly," Harden said. "We've got a game on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and we're going to do whatever it takes to close it out." Houston's game against Utah is one of two games on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). In the other game, the Warriors also have a chance to finish off their series with the New Orleans Pelicans after taking a 3-1 lead with a 118-92 win on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). This is Paul's fifth appearance in the conference semifinals after losing to the Spurs 4-3 in 2008 while with New Orleans, being swept by San Antonio in 2012 with the Clippers and losing 4-2 to the Thunder with that team before that 2015 debacle against the Rockets. Coach Mike D'Antoni said the most important quality Paul has brought to the Rockets in his first year with the team is his toughness and edge. He doesn't expect to see anything different out of him on Tuesday despite having the opportunity to finally shed the label that he can't get out of the second round. "It's hard to go up another notch. I think he's on full-tilt all the time," D'Antoni said. "You'd have to talk to him a little bit [but] I'm sure it's on his mind." For the Jazz, they're hoping that they can recreate the success they had in Game 2 when they led by as many as 19 points early, and held on for a 116-108 win. "We were on a different level in Game 2 and I think we've just got to get back to that," rookie Donovan Mitchell said. Utah could get a boost in Game 6 with the return of Ricky Rubio. He's missed the entire series with a strained left hamstring, but was listed as questionable before Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) game and could be well enough to play on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). However, they could be without reserve point guard Dante Exum in Game 6 after he left Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) game in the third quarter with soreness in his left hamstring. Here's a closer look at the Pelicans-Warriors game. PELICANS AT WARRIORS Warriors lead series 3-1. Game 5, 10:30 p.m. EDT (10:30am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: The Warriors have been dominant on their home floor for two straight postseasons, having won a franchise-record 14 consecutive playoff games at Oracle Arena and already closed out the Spurs at Oakland in Game 5. With a 15th straight home playoff win, the Warriors would tie Chicago for an NBA record. The Bulls did so from April 27, 1990, to May 21, 1991. "We've got to win one game at Oracle and that's the one that we play next," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "That's as far as we need to look. Obviously it's a monumental task. It's been done before. As I said to the guys, 'We just got to go and play and you're not out until they win four games.'" KEEP ANY EYE ON: Stephen Curry continues to find his groove and this will be his fourth game back from nearly six weeks sidelined with a sprained left knee. His minutes are increasing each game he plays, up to 31 in Game 4. Curry is 22-for-51 with 12 three's so far this series. TOUGH CHALLENGE: The Pelicans never know which Golden State star might be on any given night — or all of them at once. The Warriors led wire to wire in Game 4 following its 19-point embarrassment in Game 3. Kevin Durant is coming off a 38-point performance, but it could be Klay Thompson's turn, or Draymond Green chasing another triple-double. "The bigger the game the better Draymond plays," coach Steve Kerr said, "the more intense he is, the more focus he has. He's going against Anthony Davis night after night and just doing an amazing job in concert with his teammates. Draymond's a rare guy. Every time the moment gets bigger, he gets better and not everybody can say that." Durant has scored 20 or more points in 16 straight postseason games. PRIORITY ON SHOOTING: Gentry gives New Orleans little chance of staying in the series and staving off elimination without a big scoring performance. The Pelicans lost 118-92 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and shot just 36.4 percent — 32-of-88 and 4-for-26 on three-pointers. "You're not going to beat them if you're not going to score 115 points, I don't care how good your defense is," Gentry said. ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

Never Say Die: Paul Zamar’s PBA Dream lives on

It was August 19, 2012. Former University of the East gunner Paul Zamar seemingly fulfilled his life’s dream when his name was announced as the 35th overall pick in the 2012 PBA Draft. Selecting him was the league’s most popular team, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. But, soon after, that same team that picked him, would let him go, unsigned. This is the predicament that many basketball players in the Philippines face as there are only so many roster spots available in the country’s first professional basketball league. Competition is extremely stiff and the careers of those players who get drafted but are unable to crack the roster usually suffers an early death. But, this has not been the case for Zamar, whose love for the game is deeply rooted. Zamar was born on October 20, 1987 in Mandaluyong. As a youngster, he was immediately exposed to the game because of his father, Boycie, an accomplished coach and basketball great. “I watched my father play in the PBL for Burger Machine where he shot the championship winning free-throws. I thought basketball was the greatest thing to do and that’s where it all began,” recalled the younger Zamar. He made his first varsity team as a freshman in San Beda High School, playing behind the likes of JVee Casio and James Martinez. Zamar would later transfer to the University of the East, where he played in the UAAP Jrs. Basketball tournament from 2003 to 2005 before moving up to the college ranks to play for the Red Warriors, the team of his father’s alma mater. It was in UE where Zamar made a name for himself as one of the league’s deadliest snipers. He also showed his versatility by being able to play point guard and taking on the challenge of defending the opposing team’s primary ball handler. Upon graduating from UE, Zamar would play in the PBA D-League for Blackwater Elite before that fateful day he was drafted. Being left out the roster did not discourage Zamar, as he went on to play an additional four years in the PBA-D-League for Cebuana Lhullier and Café France before deciding to take his talents overseas in 2017. Nowadays, the 5’11” Zamar, who is now 30 years old, has established himself as the starting shooting guard of the Mono Vampire Basketball Club in the ASEAN Basketball League. He is currently averaging 16.1 PPG and is shooting 39% from beyond the arc as the team’s Heritage Import. Although he’s been living in Thailand for over 18 months now, Zamar says it’s all part of being a professional in the world of basketball. “It’s a humbling experience (life in Thailand). First time living and doing everything by myself. Loneliness is always your enemy. I’m far away from my wife and my family. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my family in the Philippines,” shared Zamar. For any Filipino, making an impact in a foreign setting is a huge accomplishment. But, somewhere deep inside his heart, Zamar still feels that burning desire to return home and play the game at the place where he first fell in love with it. “I still have in me my PBA dream and it motivates me to just keep on playing. I believe na may purpose si Lord bakit dito niya ako nilagay. And wherever I am, I make sure I always give my best and keep improving myself,” said Zamar. Tonight, at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Zamar will have another opportunity to show the entire country his worth as his Mono Vampire Basketball Team takes on San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in Game 1 of the best-of-five Finals series in the 2017-18 ABL season. “We will play hard for 40 minutes. We know that we are the underdogs given the fact that we’re playing against ex-PBA and National Team Players and top caliber PBA Imports. But, we will leave everything on the basketball court and give the fans a great series,” promised Zamar. Six years ago, Zamar could’ve just easily given up and kissed basketball goodbye. But, ironically, he lives by the exact same mantra of the PBA team that drafted him: Never Say Die. There’s no telling how much longer Zamar will play professionally. Or if he will ever make it to the PBA. But, right now, his basketball career is very much alive with Mono Vampire.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2018

Striking-based ONE Super Series a treat for Pinoy fans, says ONE CEO

Aside from a sure-to-be entertaining main event between top bantamweight contenders Kevin Belingon and Andrew Leone, ONE Championship's return to Manila on Friday, April 20th will mark the debut of the ONE Super Series.  “It’s an open invitation to the greatest strikers in the world,” explained ONE Championship CEO and Chairman Chatri Sityodtong. “Fans will witness the absolute elite in striking martial arts, as they go head-to-head on the biggest and most prestigious global stage of competition.” And for starters, Manila's Heroes of Honor card will feature four ONE Super Series bouts headlined by kickboxing legend Giorgio Petrosyan taking on Jo Nattawut.  "ONE Championship is now the world’s largest martial arts organization, in that if you think about the umbrella of martial arts and all the verticals of Muay Thai, Kickboxing, submission grappling, boxing, mixed martial arts, these are all the verticals, and I decided we really wanna do all and celebrate all of Asia’s greatest martial arts, full stop. Asia is the home of martial arts, but we’ve never been able to see all, witness all of them. I think it’s also an amazing opportunity for our athletes to win world titles in both." What's more, in line with the debut of the ONE Super Series, ONE Championship will be exchanging their circular cage with a five-rope ring. The squared circle is the traditional battleground for striking-based martial arts such as boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai.  "ONE Super Series is dedicated in a ring, where you will see all the beautiful striking arts of the world, but you’ll also see mixed martial arts in there as well. The cage is going to be dedicated for primarily MMA, so that’s how it’s gonna work out."  "The beauty of this is, as a martial artist, you wanna test yourself in the cage, you can, you can test yourself in the ring, in any environment, and if you’re truly the best in the world, it doesn’t matter where the fight’s gonna be, you should be able to win, right, as a real world champion. That’s kind of the idea of experimenting with a ring. Definitely, this is a start, and we’ll have a bunch more ring shows this year." Sityodtong added.  Over the course of the past year, Sityodtong and ONE Championship have heavily promoted Asian martial arts in their fight cards, with Lethwei and Silat exhibitions, as well as a caged Muay Thai bout between Lumpinee legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao and Joseph Lasiri in Manila back in January.  With the ONE Super Series, Sityodtong aims to put these martial arts on full display.  "We’ve been toying with the idea for about two or three years, internally, about when is the right time. Now, ONE Championship has really arrived and just exploded all over the world and all over Asia, we said what else can we do to bring martial arts fans all over the world? ONE Championship being the home of martial arts, Asia being the home of martial arts, it’s a way for us to celebrate across the entire continent. We wanna showcase Lethwei, which we have, showcase Silat, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Wushu, Sanda, Kung Fu, all the beautiful arts of Asia, this is what I wanna showcase." So why choose to launch the sport in the Philippines?  Sityodtong explains that it's somewhat a way to give back to the Filipino fans for their continued support and unparralleled appreciation since ONE's inception in 2011.  "We also debated, where would we get the biggest bang for the buck, it’s no secret that the Filipino, it’s in the warrior blood of every Filipino, you guys are fighters at heart, probably the biggest fight fans in the world, and so I wanted to give a special treat and said let’s do it in the Philippines." "I wanted to do something special, for me, Manila holds a very special place in my heart, so many great moments of ONE Championship here. I said if we’re gonna do the ONE Super Series, let’s launch it out in Manila." Sityodtong added.    Catch the debut of the ONE Super Series at ONE: Heroes of Honor on Friday, April 20th, at the Mall of Asia Arena.  You can watch it LIVE starting at 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 17th, 2018

Experts’ Eye: Donaire vs. Frampton - Part 2: More To Gain, More to Lose

With just a few days to go before the highly-anticipated showdown between four-division world champion Nonito Donaire Jr. and two-division world champion Carl Frampton for the WBO Interim Featherweight World Championship, it’s time to see what the experts have to say about this upcoming matchup. We asked three boxing experts for their two cents on the upcoming featherweight clash between Donaire Jr. and Frampton: Nigel Collins - Boxing Writer for ESPN, former Editor-in-Chief for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Hall of Famer Brian Campbell - Combat Sports Writer for CBS Sports. Former host and writer for ESPN and Grantland. Atty. Ed Tolentino - Veteran Philippine sportswriter and boxing analyst for ABS-CBN Sports.   In this second installment, we ask who’s got more to gain from capturing the WBO Interim Featherweight World Championship, Nonito Donaire Jr. or Carl Frampton?  — — Nigel Collins Winning the WBO interim featherweight title would put Donaire in line for a shot at WBO 126-pound titleholder Oscar Valdez. The same is true for Frampton, but at this stage of his career he could bounce back from a loss easier than Donaire. On the other hand, if Frampton loses in a definitive manner on his home turf, it would be such a massive blow to his career he might seriously consider retiring from the ring.   Brian Campbell Between the two, Donaire has more to gain from this fight even if you remove the interim title from the equation. While Donaire has never quite had a bad enough losing skid where the topic of retirement was ever seriously broached, he remains firmly in the twilight of what has been a great professional career. A victory of this caliber over a prime fighter the talent and name value of Frampton would be a major feather in Donaire's cap, and would instantly catapult him back into the fray as one of the top 126-pound fighters in the world. The fight also has large value for Frampton but it has more to do with getting Donaire's name as a victory on his record and building toward a fight against the very best in the division. This fight represents a stepping stone for Frampton where as for Donaire, it could be his final shot at a fight this important.    Atty. Ed Tolentino Winning the interim belt  will provide the winner with a shot at the regular title held by Oscar Valdez. In fact, if Valdez moves up in weight or gives up the crown, the interim champ will be promoted to regular world champ. Right now, Frampton has more to gain if he wins because at his age, he still has plenty of fighting years left. Donaire, at 35, is looking to simply extend his career with a win. For Donaire, every fight could be his last fight. For Frampton, Donaire is just a ticket towards a return to the featherweight throne which he once held. — —   In Part One, all three of our experts were unanimous in saying that the younger, more aggressive Carl Frampton is the favorite over Nonito Donaire Jr. This time around, we see a bit of differing opinions, with Nigel Collins and Brian Campbell saying that a WBO Interim Featherweight World Title win would do a lot more for Donaire. Understandably so.   If Donaire can manage a win over a guy who’s in the upper half of the division in terms of rankings, aside from becoming the WBO’s Interim 126-pound champ, it also significantly raises Donaire’s place in the rankings as well. Atty. Ed Tolentino on the other hand argues that while beating Frampton will do Donaire a lot of good, it doesn’t change the fact that ‘The Filipino Flash’ is on the tail end of his illustrious career. Collins however adds that a loss to Donaire could ultimately force Frampton into retirement. — — Donaire or Frampton? Who’s got more to gain? Be sure you don’t miss out on this massive featherweight matchup! Watch on Sunday, April 22nd, 6:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23! You can also catch the fight LIVE on Sunday, April 22nd, 2:30 AM on SKY Sports Pay-Per-View for only P199! Watch out for more Experts’ Eye soon!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 17th, 2018

Celtics still eyeing long playoff run after rash of injuries

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward exchanged the kind of toothy giggles normally only found between kids on a playground when they were introduced as the new faces of the Celtics. “It’s about to be crazy, G,” Irving said in the ear of Hayward to a soundtrack of clicking camera lenses as they sat on a dais back in September two days after Boston’s blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Seven months later, Irving has proven to be prophetic — albeit not how he had in mind. It has been crazy unlucky for the Celtics. Stunning too. Al Horford said even shocking. And though things haven’t gone as scripted in Boston, the Celtics will open the playoffs at the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference believing they can win it all without their injured offseason acquisitions. “Finals. I’m very confident,” guard Terry Rozier when asked how far Boston can go. “Everybody has to be on the same page. And we just gotta play. And play hard.” That’s been Boston’s calling card throughout the season. They have no choice but to play hard because from Hayward’s gruesome, season-ending left ankle injury on opening night, to the recent pair of left knee surgeries that has sidelined Irving, luck has been in short supply beyond the Celtics’ Leprechaun mascot named Lucky. Horford acknowledged being shocked when he heard that Irving was done for the season. But he said the time has passed for sulking about misfortunes. “We can’t dwell on the past,” Horford said. Obviously it makes it more difficult. Kyrie, he’s the leader of this team. We won with him and now we have to find ways to do it without him.” In addition to Irving and Hayward, Boston will also be without productive rookie Daniel Theis (left knee surgery) for the season and Marcus Smart (right thumb surgery) until at minimum the second round. That’s not to mention a plethora of nagging injuries that have dogged the rest of the roster. Yet, in an Eastern Conference that features a less-than-dominating LeBron James-led Cavaliers team, Boston veterans Horford and Marcus Morris and its corps of talented young players led by Jaylen Brown, Rozier and rookie Jayson Tatum give it as legitimate a chance as anyone to make it to the NBA Finals. The Celtics will finish with their second straight 50-win season and their highest number of victories under coach Brad Stevens. Last season as the East’s top seed, Boston made it to the conference finals in spite of being smacked with adversity on the eve of the postseason following the death of Isaiah Thomas’ sister. Thomas returned to the team, but was then lost midway through the conference finals to a hip injury he’d been quietly playing through. “With Isaiah, we had him all year. Even though he was banged up, he was with us,” Horford said. “Now with our group this year it’s different. We’ve been having so many injuries throughout the year that I feel like our guys — we’re much more prepared handling everything that we’re going through.” The good news is this Celtics team has already done an admirable job of figuring things out without Hayward and Irving. They’ve played all but five minutes this season without Hayward. In 20 games without Irving they are 13-7. Irving played his last game on March 11 (Mar. 12, PHL time). That’s given Boston time to see what its remaining rotation will look like. One thing it will certainly mean is a lot more minutes for reserves like Shane Larkin and Greg Monroe, as well as rookies Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele. Stevens acknowledged that there was hope after Irving’s first surgery on his knee last month that removed a tension wire that he would be able to return early in the playoffs. Having him ruled out has “just solidified that this is where our focus needs to be” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for the other guys and it’s our job to coach them,” Stevens said. “I believe in the guys in our locker room. They believe in themselves.” Without Irving, the most glaring deficiency for Boston is its lack of a go-to scorer. Brown is just a few games removed from scoring a career-high 32 points, and Rozier only recently had a 25-game double-digit scoring streak stopped. He’s also proven to be a dependable defender. Still, there is a sense in the East that Boston may be susceptible to a first-round upset. Miami and Milwaukee, currently have the same record (43-37) as the No. 6 and 7 seeds respectively. The Heat won 2-of-3 meetings this season with Boston, while the Celtics split their four games with the Bucks. Washington, at No. 8 leads the season series with Boston 2-1 with the series finale set on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Vulnerable or not, Horford has a message for whoever their first-round opponent is. “We’re the [No.] 2 seed. We have home-court advantage,” he said. “And this point, the only thing I can say to that is I can’t wait for the playoffs to start.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

Jordan Clarkson makes return to LA with forgettable performance

Former Los Angeles Lakers Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. made their first return to their former home court, the Staples Center, although their new team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the three-time Eastern Conference champions, lost against one of the lower-tiered teams in the West. Both Clarkson and Nance were shipped to the Cavaliers in a massive trade deadline swap, which saw Cleveland give away former Celtics star Isaiah Thomas to the Purple and Gold. The 46th pick of the 2014 NBA draft however did not make the most of the familiar rims and cavernous stadium, as he only finished the game with four points on 1-of-8 shooting, a far cry from his hot 21-point performance against the Lakers' co-tenants, the Clippers. Despite the loss and a terrible performance, Clarkson has been enjoying his opportunity in playing alongside LeBron James, one of the rare times a player has been able to play alongside Kobe Bryant and James, two of the best NBA players of all time. "It’s been awesome. He creates shots for us, he gets us going, [he's an] unselfish superstar. it’s definitely been cool." "I’ve played with LeBron and Kobe and not many people in the league can say that. That’s something I wanna be able to hold on to," Clarkson said in the post-game interview. .@JordanClarksons addresses media after his Cavs lose to his former Lakers team 127-114. Not the best stat line for the Fil-Am guard. 16 minutes of action 4pts on 1-8 shooting. 4 assists, 2 TO #NBAsaABSCBN #NBAsabaDOS 🇵🇭🏀 pic.twitter.com/cw3yG8qSrM — Steve Angeles (@StevieAngeles) March 12, 2018 Although his first game against the Lakers was sub-par, Clarkson will have to wait next season if we wants to showcase more of his repertoire at the Staples Center since Eastern Conference teams only visit Western Conference arenas once a season. With a report from Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

Rose embraces new home, blocks out doubters

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MINNEAPOLIS – Don’t let go of the rope. It’s one of Tom Thibodeau’s most familiar exhortations, a mantra of sorts to keep his teams locked in, digging down and generally committed through whatever grueling test they’re facing, be it a game, a road trip, a spate of injuries or the entire season. The trouble for Derrick Rose with that particular Thibs-ism is, so often, he has been the rope. On one side of an unfortunate tug o’ war, we’ve had the Rose loyalists, the fans, friends and family who believe that the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player’s return from injury hell to elite status is just one more, legit opportunity away. Pulling from the other side, there is a growing group of Rose skeptics who are convinced that the Chicago kid’s best days – his most explosive, elusive, game-changing moves – are behind him, strewn on the floors of too many surgical rooms and rehab gyms. Rose, 29, knows they’re there. One group pulling for him, the other doubting him. And in an unusually candid and forceful moment Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), the normally soft-spoken Rose delivered a stark message to them all. “Yeah,” Rose said after his first full practice since signing a minimum-salary contract Thursday (Friday, PHL tie) to join the Minnesota Timberwolves. “This is how I feel about the whole perspective on it: You can have your perspective on me as far as I’m a bum, I can’t play, I can’t shoot, this and that. All right. Cool. I have no hard feelings with that. I’m cool with that. If that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel. “But at the same time, I don’t need your [bleeping] validation.” Rose’s eyes burned bright, in a direct response to the many health challenges he has endured from acquaintances and strangers both, picking at whatever good or bad is left of his basketball career. “I know who I am,” Rose continued. “I know the type of player I am. So, you respect that and I respect that, and we should be good. That’s how I feel about it.” In other words, you work your side of the street, Rose will continue to work his. If there are NBA administrators like Thibodeau, the Wolves’ head coach and president of basketball operations, willing to give him another chance, he’ll be chasing the ghost of his own self while trying to help somebody win. One more chance Rose’s latest grab at faded glory could begin in Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) matinee against the defending champion Golden State Warriors at Target Center (editor's note: Rose wound up playing just seven minutes off the bench. He finished with two points on 1-of-5 shooting with a rebound, two assists, and two turnovers). It probably is his last, best shot to salvage something from a 2017-18 season that’s been largely lost due to injury, yes, but other factors outside Rose’s control as well. What looked like a terrific opportunity back in training camp – signing with Eastern Conference power Cleveland Cavaliers and home to the game’s best player (and Rose nemesis) in LeBron James – got sideways fast. In the Cavs’ second game, on a drive to the rim, Rose got whacked across the face and neck by Milwaukee center Greg Monroe. He landed badly on the baseline, suffering a “jacked-up” left ankle that left him in a walking boot and sidelined him for 11 of Cleveland’s next 15 games. Then word got out just before Thanksgiving that Rose had left the team, reportedly to contemplate his future as an NBA player. He was gone for nearly two weeks, at least part of it back home in Chicago, during what Cavs GM Koby Altman called “a very challenging and difficult time for Derrick.” Rose didn’t play again until Cleveland’s 44th game. In nine appearances over the next three weeks, he was a shell of the three-time All-Star he’d once been, averaging 6.3 points, 1.6 assists and 13.3 minutes, while shooting 39 percent. On Feb. 8 (Feb. 9, PHL time), he was one of six Cavaliers players dealt by Altman at the NBA trade deadline, sent to Salt Lake City as a throw-in to acquire Utah’s Rodney Hood and Sacramento’s George Hill. Two days later, the Jazz waived Rose. Four weeks passed before Thibodeau got the green light from Minnesota owner Glen Taylor to sign Rose. The Oklahoma City Thunder had sniffed in his direction, only to opt for veteran backup Corey Brewer. Rose had family duties to attend to – he and Alaina Anderson had a baby girl in Chicago to start the week – but he also had spent time working out by himself in the Cavs’ facility or at Cleveland State’s gym. The end seemed near. Given Rose’s limited involvement this season, he probably would have been a long shot to land with one of the league’s 30 teams in 2018-19, had Thibodeau not reached out. The people on the dark end of Rose’s rope were winning. Now, this buys him time for a shout-out to the folks on the other end. “‘Don’t give up,’ Rose said he would tell them. Talking later at the downtown Minneapolis hotel where he’s staying, he wanted to assure people that his desire to play remains strong, his passion to keep trying still burns, and his mental fitness for this and future challenges on or away from the court is fine. “I still have faith,” Rose said, two bags of ice strapped to each leg. “No matter what happens, I still have a lot of faith in myself and my ability. It’s just about opportunity and catching a rhythm. Whenever I do catch a rhythm, I’d rather see what it is then. Than to, like, give up knowing I have so much left. Like, ‘Damn, I should have kept playing.’ “I’m going to give it my all. And once I do, then it’s like, ‘All right, cool. I gave it my all, now what’s this next phase in my life?’ “But as far as right now, I’m still in it. I’ve got two kids that can look at me now. The oldest, my boy [P.J.] is 5 years old. He’s looking at me right now. He sees everything. I’m going to tell him, ‘No excuses. Don’t come to me cryin’, this and that. Nah.’ He’ll see what I’ve had to go through. ‘Now suck it up and go out there and do what you’ve got to do.’” A career interrupted For some NBA players whose careers got waylaid by injuries – Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Penny Hardaway – their bodies finally refused to cooperate. They went from 60-to-0, no wiggle room on whether they would continue. Rose, for all his setbacks, has worked his way back – not back to his previous form – from each and every injury. From the ACL blowout that started him down his hobbled path in April 2012 to three subsequent meniscus knee surgeries, from the left orbital fracture he suffered when he caught teammate Taj Gibson’s errant elbow in the face in the opening practice of 2015-16 to the lingering ankle sprain dealt by Monroe’s blow in October. In that sense, Rose is more like Bernard King, Sam Bowie or Grant Hill, standout players whose career trajectories were forever altered – but not ended – by injuries. Rose speaks as if he has reached some level of peace with his maladies, referring to his injuries as “part of the game” and his particular “cross” to bear. “I’ve just had five surgeries more than other people,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it. That don’t mean that I can’t play. That don’t mean that I lost my love for the game. No.” What Rose doesn’t like is the “fragile” label that’s been affixed to him. He’s less interested that he has played in only 486 of approximately 789 regular-season games so far, while proud of the 130 he logged with the Bulls (2015-16) and Knicks (2016-17) more recently. It seems clear that the reckless abandon with which Rose played – and the excruciating torque he put on his knees with his bounding, zig-zag attacks through the lane – wreaked havoc on his knees. Beyond that, though, he’s not buying any pattern business. “You see how I was injured [in October]? I was taken out of the air,” Rose said. “People are like, ‘Aw, he’s always injured.’ Are you just watching highlights, just looking at clips, like new fans are these days? Or are you watching an entire game? Are you just reading reports that come up on your phone?” Scouts say that Rose has lost both quickness and leaping ability, without developing a perimeter game to compensate. They also bundle his Cleveland hiatus with the AWOL episode last season with the Knicks, when Rose left the team without notice before a game against New Orleans, to question his reliability and commitment. Rose disputes the comments about his game, citing the circumstances in New York and Cleveland. “I could sit here and tell you, ‘I’m gonna try to change this. Do this and do that.’ Nah, I always felt, it starts with my rhythm,” he said. “[In] New York ... I was playing the triangle [offense favored by former Knicks president Phil Jackson] and still playing pretty well [18.0 ppg, 4.4 apg, 32.5 mpg]. In Cleveland, when did I really have a chance to catch a rhythm? When did I play 20 games straight? Or 10 games? Five games?” As for his reliability – or likelihood to take a powder on the Wolves the way he did on the Knicks and seemed to do on the Cavs – Rose said there is no issue there, either. In the past couple weeks, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan (depression) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (panic attacks) have opened up about psychological challenges they and other athletes face. But Rose shook his head as the question was asked. “Oh no, no, no,” he said. “I’m blessed, man. Beyond blessed. It’s not even ... what do I have to complain about? I don’t have anything to complain about. Of course, I wish I was on the court more. I think in time, with the right opportunity, I’ll be out there more. “I’m not depressed, even though I think everybody deals with some depression in some way. It’s about how you deal with it. We’re emotional creatures. We hold onto things. I try to meditate, try to do little things to change my mindset and try to read things to easy my nerves.” Rose admitted he did wonder if he would get another chance, once the Cavs traded him to a Jazz team that had no use for him. “Especially when you get dropped by a team like Cleveland, that needed players,” he said. “It makes other teams think, ‘Damn, if they didn’t keep him...’” Rose has not spoken with James since being dealt, he said. “The way I take it, I don’t take it as personal,” Rose said. “They didn’t need my services. That’s the way I look at it, OK? I understand. It’s business. Does that stop me from working hard? Does that stop me from still putting out goals and trying to reach my goals? No.” Familiar faces aid return Now Rose is reunited with Thibodeau, Gibson, Jimmy Butler (sidelined after his own meniscus surgery) and familiar coaches and staff making up the “TimberBulls.” He even trusts Thibodeau, often criticized for the heavy minutes he loads on his top players, not to break him. “If anything, I want him to play me,” Rose said. “I want to show to him that I can still play. I want him to see me and be like, ‘Damn, he’s still got it.’ I want him to count on me. I want to be held accountable. You know what I mean? I don’t just want to be, like, an average guy on the team riding along just to see how far they go. I really want to add.” Said Thibodeau, who ran Rose Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) through a rigorous refresher course on his playbook: “Obviously when he was at an MVP level, that was the peak. But he also, my last year in Chicago, he had a great year. ... He still has the potential to be very good. He’s young, that was the other part of it. He knows some of our guys, he knows the system. “Like all stories, there’s a beginning, there’s a middle and there’s an end,” the Wolves coach added. “I don’t think it’s a finished story.” Gibson thinks Rose can shoulder some of Butler’s late-game duties, simply because the scoring guard has strong muscle memory of such situations. He, too, hopes Rose’s story can take a happy turn. “I’ve got my fingers crossed,” the veteran forward said. “I truly believe in him. He’s got a lot left in the tank. It’s just, sometimes life doesn’t go your way and you have to push through it and keep fighting.” Thibodeau has said that Rose, like starter Jeff Teague and backup Tyus Jones, can play both backcourt spots, so he can mix-and-match based on situations. Rose anticipates no problem walking that line between asserting his game and rocking the Wolves’ boat. “My job coming here, I’m not trying to step on nobody’s toes. I’m not trying to take someone’s spot,” he said. “I’m not trying to show myself. Nah. I’m here to win. Me going out there and playing, hopefully you all see that. ‘He’s making money plays. He’s playing to win. And that’s what we wanted from him.’” Not that Rose, lest we forget from up top, needs anyone’s bleeping validation. Boosters and doubters can pull this way or that, but he said he’ll be the one who decides when his time is up. “When my love of the game is not there,” Rose said, sounding sincere near the end of his 10th season overall. “When I get tired of going to the gym. “Don’t get me wrong, we all go through that. But after a couple of days, I get antsy, I want to be in the gym. When a week or two goes by and I haven’t touched the gym, even in the summer, oh yeah, I’d know it was over.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

New era, new challenges emerge for Warriors

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst "It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest." -- Muhammad Ali Ali defended his heavyweight championship 20 times, during two eras: when he was young and unstoppable, after beating Sonny Liston in Miami in 1964, and when he was old and vulnerable, after beating George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. He was the fastest heavyweight ever in the first era; he was smart and could take a punch in the second. A generation later, the Golden State Warriors are defending their NBA title for a second time, in three years. But they, too, are doing so in two eras. In 2014, no one had seen anything like what Golden State did on a basketball court, and how Stephen Curry’s and Klay Thompson’s shooting range changed the geometry of NBA defenses. They stretched to the breaking point trying to get out to Curry and Thompson. They couldn’t figure out how to handle the Warriors’ five-man switching defenses. They couldn’t stand up under Golden State’s withering pace. There is no need to hold a telethon yet for the Warriors, three years later. They are 49-14 today, with four All-Stars among their five starters, including Kia MVP candidate Kevin Durant, in the prime of his career, who wasn’t there when the Warriors first beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 Finals. They are still first in the league in Offensive Rating, first in True Shooting Percentage, first in Effective Field Goal Percentage. They still are unsolvable to most opponents. But maybe not all, not anymore. The margin of separation between Golden State and the rest of the league is still there, most of the time. But there are tiny signs of slippage. Tiny. You recall what Warriors assistant coach Bruce Frasier said in the preseason, when no one is injured and everyone thinks they’re going 82-0. “Teams are starting to figure us out a little bit,” he said then. “We’re talented, so that sometimes overrides strategy. But I feel like teams are figuring certain things out to do to counter what they’ve seen. Year one, it was really hard, because it was all new. The pieces have changed a little bit, but I feel like our challenge will be to see if we can layer on some of the offense, our fluid movement, and counters, and change things up, and execute better. Defense is always big, too, so I wouldn’t go into the complacent (problem). I think it’s going to be more execution, and how smart can we really be, and can we keep that energy up through this year?” In each of their previous three seasons, the Warriors led the league in margin of victory -- 10.1 points in 2014-15, 10.8 points in 2015-16 and 11.6 points last season. This year, though, they’ve fallen to third, behind the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors -- and their win margin is down to 8.5 points per game. Two years ago, the Warriors were fourth in the league in Defensive Rating (100.9). Last season, Golden State was second (101.1). This season, the Warriors are fifth, at 103.4. In 2014-15, they were 14th in the league in points allowed in the paint; this year, they’re 24th (to be fair, they were 23rd last year, when they won it all anyway). Are they bored? Tired? Aging? Is their bench inconsistency this year the result of vets saving themselves for the playoffs, or guys just getting old? And will it matter against anyone other than Houston? “Once you start getting a little older, it’s harder and harder,” guard Shaun Livingston said last week. “We definitely need the youth, we definitely need the health. We’ve got to be healthy. We’ve got to be healthy. Sometimes you see teams that maybe are over the hill -- they have the experience, but maybe not (the ability). It’s human nature. Obviously, I don’t think we’re there yet. We’ve got guys that are still in their prime. It’s mental now.” In the Jean-Pierre Coopman phase of their latest title defense (oh, how one misses spectacles like Ali fighting Coopman, the “Lion of Flanders” -- with Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier on the call!), the Warriors came to Washington last week. There was no White House visit on the docket, only time with D.C. area kids and a trip to the African-American History Museum, with owner Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers on the trip as well. They have been in the public eye for five years now, back to Mark Jackson’s last season as coach, when the Splash Brothers exploded into the national consciousness. That’s a long time for one NBA team to have all that light and heat on it. For a minute, the Warriors tried to convince themselves that there was a backlash building against them nationally, that people had grown tired of their 3-pointers and video game point totals. It was, of course, a ridiculous posit -- Golden State and its players are more popular than ever, the love for Curry such that he felt perfectly comfortable posting a photo of the glass table he accidentally smashed in his hotel room on Instagram, any criticism surely to be muted amid America’s love for the two-time MVP.   when you feel like you’re on the @pgatour so you gotta get some swings going in the hotel room 😂😂😂 #idiot A post shared by Wardell Curry (@stephencurry30) on Mar 1, 2018 at 1:33pm PST “There was a little guy who was probably eight years old, and he came up and introduced himself,” Steve Kerr said. “His name was Ryan, and I’m talking to him, and he goes ’oh, my God, there’s Quinn Cook!’ And he ran over to Quinn Cook. Not Steph, not me -- he loved Quinn Cook. That was cool.” Throughout the Warriors’ run, they’ve faced down different challengers in the Western Conference -- the first iteration of the Rockets with Harden, a hybrid inside-out attack where Houston unhappily and unsuccessfully tried to meld Harden and Dwight Howard in the post. The Durant/Russell Westbrook one-two combo in Oklahoma City. The Spurs, morphing from the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker-led team to the Kawhi Leonard-dominant one. The “Lob City” Clippers, followed by the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin halfcourt version. But this season’s Rockets, with Paul at the point, may be the most unique and dangerous threat to the Warriors. They are much more than a team that just rains 3-pointers on you -- though they most certainly do that, and do it historically well. They’re also an outstanding defensive team, with the additions of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute giving them a grit they haven’t had in past seasons to pair with the shot blocking and rim presence of Clint Capela. The numbers are stark: Houston is 32-1 this season when Paul, Harden and Capela all play, including two wins over the Warriors The Rockets have no obvious weakness. They have no fear of Golden State, either, having won two of the three meetings with the Warriors this season. It’s not just that they’re good, it’s how they’re good that makes them look like the greatest challenge yet to Golden State’s hegemony in the West. “I mean, yes, because they do it a different way, I guess,” Curry said last week. “They adopted the power of the three ball and try to use it as a main weapon, and obviously with James and CP together. Honestly, we know that they’re playing well. We’re chasing that number one seed and keeping tabs on how they’re playing and whatnot. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of time left before we have to face them again. We know they’re serious. But so are we.” The Warriors have had to deal with great adversity during their run, to be sure. The biggest challenge came about this time last year, when a collision between teammates -- Zaza Pachulia and Durant, in D.C., ironically -- culminated in a Grade 2 MCL sprain and bone bruise for Durant, taking him out of the lineup at the worst possible part of the season. Golden State had just ripped off wins in 23 of its previous 27 games since a lamentable Christmas Day loss to the Cavs. Curry had started to figure out how to play with KD, and vice versa. They were in the middle of a brutal stretch of seven road games in eight overall, with the one brief return home to play the Celtics. When Durant went down, the initial fear was that he’d torn his ACL and would be out for the season. The Warriors’ locker room was funeral after the Wizards game. “Obviously, we were trying to figure out if he was like ’done-done’ for the year, or whether or not there was going to be a chance he’d return,” forward David West said. “We were, at the time he got hurt, we were just starting to figure out the sort of roles, everybody was getting comfortable with roles. We basically had to reset., change some of the functions we were doing. We lost a few games  trying to literaly just figure out and recalibrate and re-balance. That was one of those periods where we were just looking at each other, trying to start this thing -- we lost this huge, huge piece.” Yet the Warriors figured it out on the fly. And how they responded then provides a big clue to how they might respond to the challenge the Rockets present to them now. “It took us, I think we needed to get home before we were able to stablize,” Kerr said. “I want to say we lost three of the last four on the trip or something  (they did lose three of four, but one of the three losses was at Oracle in that one home game with the Celtics). We got home and righted the ship and got going. But sometimes (an injury is) a galvanizing force when a guy gets hurt, and you have to do certain things. Like, for us, when Kevin got hurt, we talked about it and we said we have to be the best defensive team in the league. We don’t have that luxury of throwing the ball to Kevin and saying ’get us 30 points tonight.'” During that stretch without Durant (March 2, 2017 to April 5, 2017), who returned just before the start of the playoffs, the Warriors led the league in the league in Defensive Rating (100.0, just head of San Antonio’s 100.2), first in opponent field goal percentage (.429), tied for second in opponent 3-point percentage (.316) and fourth in opponent points allowed per game (100.9). And once Durant returned for good, the Warriors again flexed. They tore through the West, winning all but one game en route to a third straight NBA Finals. And they took the Cavaliers apart in five games for their second title in three years. “You could see Draymond, Klay, Andre, Shaun, those guys, even Loon (Kevin Looney), were like, ’we didn’t have KD last year,’ ” West said. “For someone like myself, I just followed their lead. Klay got a little more aggressive. Draymond sort of settled everybody defensively. And we started winning.” That muscle memory will come in handy this year. Durant and Curry have missed time with injuries, and Golden State hasn’t figured out things at center just yet. (Would it shock me if rookie Jordan Bell played a big role there down the stretch? No, it would not.) But the Warriors still are smoking people in the second halves of games; per teamrankings.com, the Warriors lead the lead in third-quarter scoring margin at 5.3 points per game, more than double the margin of the second-place Denver Nuggets. Whether it’s adjustments or something else (“mainly, fiery halftime speeches, Knute Rockne style,” Kerr opines), they have again put a lot of opponents away with 12 minutes to spare. Since the All-Star break, they’re fourth in the league in opponent field goal percentage (.433) and Defensive Rating (100.3). “This year, obviously, knock on wood, we want to stay healthy,” Curry said. “We want to continue to push in the right direction. Every year’s different. That’s the fun part about this league. No matter how much success you’ve had and what your expectations are, it’s a different journey every year. We’re right in the middle of that right now. We have an amazing record, considering how we’ve played. I think we’d all say we haven’t lived up to our own expectations. That’s okay. We have an opportunity to build the right habits and the right momentum going into the playoffs this year and do it, all 15 guys.” Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2018

Where the Eastern Conference stands after the All-Star break

With roughly a third of the regular season left to play in the NBA, here's where the Eastern Conference teams stand at the All-Star break. GOING TO THE LOTTERY #10 Charlotte Hornets 24-33 WL record (4-6 in last 10 games), 5.5 games back of #8 #11 New York Knicks 23-36 WL record (2-8 in last 10 games), 7.5 games back of #8 #12 Chicago Bulls 20-37 WL record (2-8 in last 10 games), 9.5 games back of #8 #13 Brooklyn Nets 19-40 WL record (1-9 in last 10 games), 11.5 games back of #8 The Nets of course, don't own their 2018 first-round pick. That's going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were able to improve their roster at the trade deadline while hanging on to that asset. Right now the pick is slotted in at #7, but there's just one game separating them and the two last-place teams, the Phoenix Suns and the Hawks. Of course, unlike those teams, Brooklyn is not incentivized to lose games and improve their draft position, and so where this selection winds up could still fluctuate wildly. #14 Orlando Magic 18-39 WL record (4-6 in last 10 games), 11.5 games back of #8 #15 Atlanta Hawks 18-41 WL record (4-6 in last 10 games), 12.5 games back of #8 ON THE CUSP OF THE PLAYOFFS #9 Detroit Pistons 28-29 WL record (6-4 in last 10 games), 1.5 games back of #8 The Pistons got a big boost from the Blake Griffin trade, helping them win the latter four games of a 5-0 stretch. After that though, they lost three in a row, including to trade partners the Clippers, before entering the break with a win over the Hawks. The biggest variable for the Pistons is point guard Reggie Jackson, who hasn't played since December 27 (PHL time) due to a right ankle sprain. He's projected to return in March, and how he fits in with Griffin and All-Star Andre Drummond will likely decide whether or not the Pistons go to the postseason. PRECARIOUS POSITION #8 Miami Heat 30-28 WL record (3-7 in last 10 games), 1.5 game cushion over #9 #7 Philadelphia 76ers 30-25 WL record (6-4 in last 10 games), 3 game cushion over #9 Two teams going in opposite directions right now. Miami had a red-hot January, winning 10 games out of 15, but have just one victory in February, versus 6 losses. In contrast, Philly has overcome a stretch where they were 3-5 spanning the last two months, and won five straight entering the break. And oh yes, the two teams played each other twice in February, with the 76ers winning both match-ups. It'll be interesting to see how Miami continues to use Dwyane Wade, whom they acquired at the trade deadline. In three games back in South Beach, Wade is averaging 7.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 22 minutes. However, he's also norming a whopping 4.0 turnovers. For the 76ers, it'll obviously be on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to carry the load, but improved play from Robert Covington would be a great boost. His three-point shooting has decreased each month, from 46.7 percent in November, to now just 27.9 percent in February. LOOKING FOR HOMECOURT #6 Milwaukee Bucks 32-25 WL record (7-3 in last 10 games), 4 game cushion over #9 #5 Indiana Pacers 33-25 WL record (7-3 in last 10 games), 4.5 game cushion over #9 #4 Washington Wizards 33-24 WL record (7-3 in last 10 games), 5 game cushion over #9 These three squads are Playoffs-bound, but the question is which of them will snag #4 and get home court advantage in round one. Right now, the team with the most upside has to be the Washington Wizards, who have so far done well without superstar John Wall, going 7-2 while he recovers from knee surgery. If they can continue to weather the storm until he returns in mid-to-late March, they should lock up #4. HERE THEY COME... #3 Cleveland Cavaliers 34-22 WL record (7-3 in last 10 games), 6.5 games back of #1 No doubt, it's a small sample size, one game sans traded pieces but before the new acquisitions were medically cleared, and then two with their four new players, but the Cavs were rolling entering the break, and LeBron James looks locked in anew. We'll need more games to see if James indeed has better chemistry with Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., and George Hill, and one more factor to consider is the impending return of Kevin Love from his broken hand, which will obviously necessitate changes to the amount of shots everyone gets. Right now though, the King seems to have the necessary type of players that he needs to return to the Finals anew. REGRESSING TO THE MEAN? #2 Boston Celtics 40-19 WL record (5-5 in last 10 games), 2 games back of #1 Boston has slipped from the top spot of the East in recent games, their defense suddenly giving up a ton of points to opponents. After a stretch of seven straight wins early in January, they're now just 6-9 in their last 15 outings. We'll need to see if the rest over the All-Star break gives them a boost, or if this is just the Celtics coming back down to Earth. Remember, in the aftermath of the Gordon Hayward injury, nobody expected them to play this well. That they did, and are now seeing a mini-slump, might just mean we need to adjust our expectations anew of how good this Boston team is. TORONTO ON TOP #1 Toronto Raptors 41-16 WL record (9-1 in last 10 games) Not only does Toronto have the best record in the East, they have the best home record too, dropping just four of their 28 games in Canada. In contrast, West #1 Houston Rockets have four losses, while defending champs Golden State Warriors have seven. Toronto's biggest boon, aside from DeMar DeRozan finally embracing the three-pointer, has been their bench. Right now, the five-man group of CJ Miles, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Delon Wright is their second-most used lineup, and it's +34.6. Their best quintet is the previously mentioned one, but with DeRozan in place of Miles (+82.5). There are still questions about how Toronto will look come the postseason. Over the past few years, DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have struggled mightily with their shot in the playoffs. Should they get there though with the #1 seed in the East, things might turn out differently. They have two more games each against Boston and Cleveland, and so the opportunity to get home court through the Eastern Conference Finals is definitely in play. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 21st, 2018

Griffin trade shows NBA’s current direction

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The East is open for business. The West is closed until further notice. There’s the takeaway from the deal where Blake Griffin got sent from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Detroit Pistons, and it may be a theme for the next week or so until the NBA trading deadline. The Pistons see opportunity to contend in the Eastern Conference, while the Clippers know the Western Conference is out of their reach and a full reboot is needed. They’re both right. Other teams are surely thinking the same way. No rational person would look at the NBA right now and see a logical scenario where the champion this season is anyone besides Golden State or Houston. What Brad Stevens has done in Boston, especially after losing Gordon Hayward on opening night, is coach-of-the-year stuff. Toronto is better than most fans may realize. Cleveland has LeBron James, still the best player alive. Yet would anyone other than Celtics, Raptors or Cavaliers fans pick those teams to beat the Warriors or Rockets in a best-of-seven? Probably not. As such, what happened late Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) makes a great deal of sense for the Clippers and Pistons. Start with Detroit: Griffin is oft-injured, but he’s only 28 and under contract for at least the next three seasons. When he’s right, there are few frontcourt players better. He and Andre Drummond — locked in for at least two more seasons — could be a frightening duo, given that this is a league where productive bigs are an increasingly endangered species. If this works, the Pistons could make noise in the East relatively quickly. And now, the Clippers: The best-case scenario this year was a brief playoff appearance. And that was a maybe. After going all-out to woo Griffin and sign him to an enormous contract last summer, they sent him away seven months later. DeAndre Jordan is free to walk this summer, so it would be a shock if he wasn’t traded in the next few days. They could have a ton of money to spend starting July 1, maybe two first-round draft picks as well. The Pistons believe they can make noise in the East. The Clippers know they weren’t going far in the West. So they did the next best thing: They entered The LeBron Sweepstakes. There will be almost certainly be another LeBronathon this summer. James loves Los Angeles, has a home there, has off-court interests that might make spending more time in Hollywood an appealing proposition. James won’t play for any team that doesn’t have a shot at winning a title, so the Clippers will have to do some serious planning and be ready to do some serious buying if they’re going to make this happen. It’s not a guarantee that James will leave Cleveland. If he does, maybe the Lakers will appeal to him. Or Philadelphia, with a young roster and players he likes. Or San Antonio, which has Gregg Popovich — a coach James reveres. But if Griffin was still in L.A., there would have been virtually no chance that James would be a realistic target for the Clippers this summer. To catch Golden State and Houston, someone is going to have assemble a superteam — like Miami did in 2010. Going the Philly route, with that multi-year cycle of tanking and drafting, tanking and drafting, tanking and drafting, takes a lot of time and a lot of luck. It’s more likely to come together through free agency, where the Clippers now may be a major player. The Pistons won’t be. They’re all-in now, a team that will try to build around bigs in an NBA where everyone shoots the three-pointer like never before. It’s bold. Now the question becomes which other teams in the East will make splashes. Cleveland is trying to make moves in an effort to help James get to the NBA Finals for an eighth straight year. Up in Boston, Danny Ainge is probably looking for another piece — whether Hayward makes a dramatic late-season return or not. Miami will talk deals, maybe even including the supremely talented yet often enigmatic Hassan Whiteside. Washington is in a tough spot with John Wall out for, at least, most of the remaining regular-season schedule. East teams should think buy. West teams should think sell. The Griffin trade is the annual reminder: Things can change very quickly in the NBA, and sitting still is rarely the right option. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 30th, 2018

Jags ‘threw a tantrum’ when Marrone started making changes

By Mark Long, Associated Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s locker room was abuzz late last season. Four guys played table tennis while others crowded around a small table for dominoes. Two 80-inch televisions were tuned to a sports highlight show, and music blared from one corner of the room. Doug Marrone, the team’s offensive line coach at the time, walked through and shook his head. “Can you believe this?” Marrone whispered. The Jaguars were in the middle of a nine-game losing streak that would ultimately cost coach Gus Bradley his job. Marrone had watched from afar for two years, witnessing an atmosphere he felt was too loose, too laid-back and too lenient amid losing. So when Marrone was hired to replace Bradley last January, high on his to-do list was to change the culture in Jacksonville. His success is one reason the Jaguars (12-6) are in the AFC championship game against New England (14-3). The ping pong table was the first to go. Dominoes followed. The locker room stalls were overhauled, too, with Marrone mixing and matching position groups and putting certain players next to veteran leaders and/or NFL role models. “We definitely threw a tantrum,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “Went in there and talked to him about it. Definitely wasn’t happy. I learned just to be quiet, you know, and go with the flow. He’s been at it longer than I have, and I’m just the football player. He says do this and I go do it. Just learn to follow him, and I’m glad I did.” Marrone saved the most significant changes for the practice fields. Marrone, top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell wanted a much tougher and more physical team. They drafted bruising running back Leonard Fournette and fiery left tackle Cam Robinson to complement a defense that was significantly beefed up in free agency with the addition of All-Pro pass-rusher Calais Campbell, Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye and veteran safety Barry Church. They also designed an offseason program that was more grueling than most players had experienced. Marrone’s message was clear: Go hard or go home. “You remember guys in camp talking about this took a few years off their lives,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty funny just to see us now. I guess he does know what he’s doing.” The Jaguars were in full pads nearly every day during training camp, a tortuous stretch in draining heat and humidity that left rookies and veterans questioning the process and wondering if it would pay off. It was the NFL’s version of boot camp. Break them down, then build them up. It ultimately brought players closer, making them accountable to each other and causing them to care more for each other. Winning was the final piece, and thumping Houston 29-7 in the season opener was all the proof players needed. “It was the toughest training camp I’ve ever been a part of,” said linebacker Paul Posluszny, in his 11th season. “Coach Marrone would talk to us and say, ‘Listen, I have a plan and you have to trust me.’ With that, guys were able to say, ‘OK, we haven’t gotten what we wanted in years past doing things a certain way, so we have to buy in, trust the head man and know that that’ll bring us success when it’s time.’ “It was difficult just because of so many changes from what we were used to. I think the most important thing is we always said, ‘Well, if it helps us win, then it’s all good.’” Jacksonville had lost 63 of 80 games over the previous five seasons — the worst record in the NFL during that span — and had been through two coaching changes. Coughlin’s return was a key part of the team’s revival, and although the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach with the New York Giants gets much of the outside credit for the team’s turnaround, the reality is Marrone was the one pushing all the right buttons. Marrone has been other places where players resisted, prompting personnel moves that would slow progress. That wasn’t the case in Jacksonville, and he credited his players for being open to change. “They gave our staff the opportunity to say, ‘This is what we want to do. This is what we believe in as coaches or as an organization. This is how we want to handle ourselves,’” Marrone said. “We are still working toward that. It is not perfect by any means.” It’s clearly working, though. The Jaguars are in the title game for the third time in franchise history, one victory away from their first Super Bowl appearance. “They say (stuff) rolls downhill,” Jackson said. “Well, the good stuff rolls downhill, too. ... It’s all worth it when you win.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Don’t expect to see Terrence Romeo with Globalport this month, with Gilas next month

Terrence Romeo stayed on the court for nearly an hour after Globalport wrapped up its practice on Friday at the Greenmeadows Gym in Pasig. However, that seems to be the most action the Batang Pier star will be seeing anytime soon. Romeo said that remains no timetable for his return and that it is unlikely he will be back on the court this month. “’Di ko pa nakikitang kaya ko this January. Malabo,” he told reporters. The high-scoring guard is recovering from a knee injury and is yet to suit up this season. According to him, his knee is far from a hundred percent. “Tumatakbo ako konti-konti and nararamdaman ko yung pressure (sa tuhod), masakit. Ayokong pilitin,” he said. He also said that it isn’t just his knee that has been affected, but his conditioning as well. As he put it, “Medyo nawala ako sa shape nung nakalipas na buwan kaya kelangan ko rin magpapayat nang konti para pagbalik ko, hindi mapupunta lahat ng pressure sa tuhod ko. “ Along with missing out more than half of Globalport’s elimination round schedule, Romeo’s injury will also sideline him from the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February. Gilas will be resuming training on Monday for a looming showdown with fellow undefeated team Australia in its home court on February 22. Romeo said that he has already informed coach Chot Reyes about his status. “Actually, nakausap ko si coach last month and sinabi ko nang kung pwedeng bigyan ako ng chance na makapag-try out ulit, pero after February na,” he said. He then continued, “Si coach Chot naman, ‘di siya nagko-close ng opportunity para sa kahit kaninong tao kaya nung in-open ko yun, sabi niya, of course, open pa rin yung pool.” Of course, the former UAAP MVP said that when that time comes, he knows full well he has to earn a spot. “Siyempre, kelangan ko maging deserving by that time. Kung magiging deserving ako by that time, makikita naman nila yun. Kung di naman ako deserving, maiintindihan ko naman din yun,” he said. He then continued, “Sisiguraduhin kong by (the next window), magiging healthy ako and kundisyon para 100 percent ako na makapag-tryout para sa pool.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

Carroll still believes Seahawks can be title contender

By Tim Booth, Associated Press RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll insisted again that he's not going anywhere. He's intent on remaining the leader of the Seattle Seahawks even if it means many of the faces he spoke to this week while closing out the 2017 season are gone by the time Carroll finally gets to coach his team again. "I'm pumped up about it. I'm excited about that challenge," Carroll said Tuesday. "I'm upset that we have to face it this early. I'd like another six weeks here, that would be nice. But that's not what this one is. We got to go after it. Nothing's going to change other than maybe our resolve." For just the second time in his eight years in Seattle, Carroll spent Tuesday explaining why the Seahawks were not in the postseason. It's the first playoff miss for Seattle since the 2011 season and with the rapid rise of division foe Los Angeles indicated — at least for one year — a significant change in the hierarchy of the NFC West. Injuries played a major role in Seattle's slide to 9-7. So, too, did inconsistency on offense, continued problems with penalties and salary cap constraints that limited adjustments the Seahawks could make during the season. It's likely to be a busy offseason as Seattle attempts to manage its tight cap situation while making key decisions about how to move forward and if it still is a championship contender needing slight tweaks or a major overhaul. "I think there is a championship team sitting in this meeting room right here," Carroll said. Here are some of the issues to know about Seattle's 2017 season and going into next year: REDISCOVER THE RUN: Perhaps nothing irritated Carroll more, or had a great impact on the efficiency of the offense, than Seattle's inability to run. It's been a staple of Carroll's program from the day he arrived in Seattle. This year the Seahawks had one rushing touchdown by a running back. Quarterback Russell Wilson was the leading rusher with 586 yards, 346 more than any other player. Seattle had hopes for promising rookie Chris Carson, but he was sidelined by an ankle injury early in the season and never made it back. The lack of a running game affected Wilson as a passer as well, as defenses didn't have to commit an extra safety to stopping the run, leading to smaller throwing windows and some tentative decisions by Wilson. "There are tremendous examples of teams around the league that have turned their fortunes around with a formula that should sound familiar to you: teams running the football, playing good defense and doing the kicking game thing," Carroll said. INJURY CONCERNS: Carroll wouldn't get into specifics, but there is a chance Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor have played their final games. Avril and Chancellor suffered neck injuries during the season. Carroll said on the radio Tuesday that both would have a "hard time" playing football again. A couple of hours later, he softened his stance, saying each have quality-of-life decisions to address with their football future. "Both those guys are marvelous people and competitors and all that. We'd love to see them through the rest of their career. I don't know what's going to happen there," Carroll said. LEGION OF WHOM: If Chancellor does not return, it could be the start of a major makeover for Seattle's secondary. Richard Sherman is coming off a torn Achilles tendon and was openly shopped by Seattle last offseason. Earl Thomas is entering the last year of his contract and his actions toward the end of the season indicated a desire to be elsewhere for the 2018 season. A big key will be if Seattle can re-sign versatile safety Bradley McDougald after he played both free and strong safety this season. HOME-FIELD AVERAGE: Seattle went 4-4 at home, its first .500 record at CenturyLink Field since 2011. The Seahawks have always thrived at home, but some of their uglier performances this year came in front of their own fans. OFF THE FIELD: Seattle was among the most active teams in the league with a significant number of players participating in national anthem protests. The protests, on top of the incident Michael Bennett had with police in Las Vegas in August, created a number of unexpected issues. Carroll said he believed that only once this season — Seattle's loss at Tennessee — did discussions of off-field issues affect the team's performance. Seattle had long discussions following comments by President Donald Trump about NFL players and opted to remain in the locker room as a team during the anthem before that game. "That was an extraordinarily heated time," Carroll said. "I think that was a different amount of emotional output that occurred before the game and it looked like it the way we played.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2018

Moreland remains with Red Sox, agrees to $13M, 2-year deal

BOSTON --- First baseman Mitch Moreland has agreed to a $13 million, two-year contract to return to the Boston Red Sox and play for former teammate Alex Cora. "He's a great baseball guy," said Moreland, who was on the Texas Rangers when Cora made a brief appearance there in 2010. "He was a great teammate then, and I don't expect anything different from him as a manager." Moreland, 32, spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Rangers. The 32-year-old left-handed batter hit .246 with 22 homers 79 RBIs in his first season with the team last year. His home run total was just behind Mookie Betts (24) and Hanley Ramirez (23) on the Red Sox, who hit an AL-low 168 for the season....Keep on reading: Moreland remains with Red Sox, agrees to $13M, 2-year deal.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 19th, 2017

Horn wants to show Pacquiao win was no fluke

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Jeff Horn's reward for a successful first title defense since a contentious win over Manny Pacquiao could be a bout with Terence Crawford. A failure could send him back into boxing obscurity. Horn wants to use his WBO welterweight title defense against Gary Corcoran on Wednesday to dispel any notion that he got a hometown decision against Pacquiao in Brisbane last July. If he gets his way, it could set him up for a big 2018. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum attended Tuesday's weigh-in and said a win here "will lead to massive fights coming next year." "I think Pacquiao is going to return to the ring. Terence Crawford will be the mandatory for this fight. The biggest building in Las Vegas is on hold for this fight," Arum said. "Going to have a tremendous year in the welterweight division and these two participants ... will be giving it their all to see who will go ahead as part of these major programs that will take place next year." Horn, now unbeaten in 18 bouts, knows what it's like to be given no chance of beating the champion, so he is trying to think only about Corcoran at the Brisbane Convention Centre. That's not far from where he beat Pacquiao in front of more than 51,000 fans in an outdoor bout at a regular rugby venue. "I've got until after this fight to start having discussions," he said. "He's definitely a possibility if I can manage to get through Gary first." The Australian former schoolteacher was written off before taking on Pacquiao (59-7-2), but pressured the eight-division champion for 12 rounds in an upset that changed the trajectory of his career. Pacquiao's camp disputed the unanimous decision, which was widely panned by critics but later confirmed after further scrutiny by the World Boxing Organization. Pacquiao had a rematch clause for the Horn fight, but so far hasn't committed to a date or venue. Corcoran is 17-1 since turning pro in 2011 and is ranked 10th by the WBO. He is the underdog and is fighting outside of Britain and Ireland for the first time for his first world title. Trainer Peter Stanley said his boxer would not be intimidated by the situation. "We've fought away from home before in front of bigger, more hostile crowds against bigger boys," Stanley said. "There's nothing new here." The buildup to the fight has been overshadowed by accusations from the Corcoran camp that Horn resorted to head-butting Pacquiao, and claims from the British-based boxer that he would resort to biting if confronted with the same circumstances. At the official news conference, one of Corcoran's trainers held up a laptop computer to show images of Horn clashing heads with opponents and later wore a cap with a glove attached at the top in a swipe at the head-butting claims. Horn and his trainer Glenn Rushton responded by wearing caps with a pair of boxing gloves on top of earmuffs to protect from biting. Both boxers were expecting an aggressive, walk-up style of fight. Rushton said Horn would be furious but fair. "It is boxing. It's not table tennis — it's tough," Rushton said. "Stop (complaining) — Jeff's one of the fairest fighters in the world." Corcoran doesn't have a high profile, and even ring announcer Michael Buffer mistakenly called him by the wrong name at the weigh-in. "Does it matter?" Stanley said. "He'll know his name afterward, I promise you that — he won't forget it. "Gary's a consummate pro. He's come here to fight and win. They both made weight, they're both fit. The only difference is Jeff's got the world title and Gary wants it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 12th, 2017

Temperature check at 20-game mark of 17-18 NBA season

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Twenty games is not a small sample size. At 20 games, much of what an NBA team is -- and much of what it will become -- is mostly well-established. Fourteen, 16, even 18 games into an 82-game schedule, it might be easy to understate and/or overstate a season. That round number of 20, though -- the closest a team can get in whole games to 25 percent of the regular season (24.39, actually) -- resonates. As our man John Schuhmann notes annually in his Power Rankings, what qualifies as one-fourth of the season carries a certain heft, in terms of who’s good, who’s not and who’s headed where over the remaining 60-62 games. The teams that are likely to be in the playoffs largely are known by now -- 14 of the 16 qualifiers in 2016-17 were above the lottery cutoff by Dec. 5, last season’s quarter mark -- as are those that are racing toward the bottom or merely churning about. Twenty games is no joke, in other words, which is why numerous NBA teams do some serious evaluating at this point each season. Those at or near the top (and those committed to the cellar) may not make course-altering decisions. The teams in the yawning middle might be particularly engaged right about now -- all 30 teams will have played at least 20 games by Friday morning -- in either fishing or cutting bait. The Miami Heat, at 10-9, will hit 20 at Cleveland tonight. They’re especially known for the so-called Rule of 20 owing to team president Pat Riley’s ways dating back to his New York and Los Angeles days. The thinking is, 82 games is too vast and ill-defined, splayed across six months or so, to allow for clear, concise judgments along the way. By the time you get a feel for where your team is headed, you’ve either already gotten there or been sidetracked. At 20 games -- and then again at 40 and 60 -- there’s an opportunity to correct one’s course or adjust one’s objectives. Lock into a starting lineup, pursue a trade, fire a coach, opt for Plan B or hitch up the shorts for a stretch drive, it’s only doable if the right markers are heeded. Some coaches will talk about “continuous improvement” as their overriding mission, but there are so many tiny variables from one game to the next: travel, schedule quirks, minor ailments. Better to go with a block of games. And to know when you can’t. “You have a pretty good idea of your general feel and context of your team,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But that’s not always in cement. Just look at us last year. We didn’t really understand where we were. But you have an idea of what direction, usually, that your team is going in.” The Heat in 2016-17 had one of the most unusual seasons in league annals, going 11-30 after a Jan. 13 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and then 30-11 in to finish the season. They were 7-13 after 20 games, then wound up barely missing a playoff berth on the season’s final night. This time around, the Heat seem to be a blend of last season’s good and bad, and their mediocre mark shows it. Spoelstra has rolled back a lot of the work between games to fundamentals and essentials, with the focus on building good habits. “We’ve got a ways to go,” he said. ‘We’re building habits. We’re building better behavior, all the little things that lead to winning, so hopefully we’ll be a much different team every 20-game block from here on out.” (Some even think 20 games is too many, too diffused and vague for the short attention spans players almost necessarily have to have when uploading mass quantities of opponent research for a homestand’s worth of foes. Hall of Fame coach Hubie Brown preferred to mentally break the season into eight-game chunks. Go 5-3 in enough of those, you’re almost assured of being a playoff team.) Twenty games in is a fragile time for coaches, as far as job security, as the Memphis Grizzlies’ David Fizdale found out Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). At 7-12, he and the Grizzlies had been given enough rope that management obviously felt a determination could be made. Memphis’ quick start, winning five of its first six, didn’t resonate nearly as much as its eight consecutive losses did. Not every franchise hits 20, 40 or 60 games on the nose before doing something dramatic. Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough felt he needed to see only three games to fire coach Earl Watson. In 2015-16, the Houston Rockets pulled the plug on Kevin McHale after 11 games. But the last time Miami made a coaching change in season, Riley sent home Stan Van Gundy at 11-10 in 2005-06 and took over for the final 61 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt 41 games into the 2015-16 season. And the last time each of these organizations -- Washington, Toronto, San Antonio, Minnesota, Golden State, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Chicago -- made coaching changes during the season, they did so after 17, 17, 18, 19, 23, 23, 24 and 25 games respectively. What have we learned about the league this season, with 20 games coming sooner than usual? * Boston’s acquisition of Kyrie Irving, its young starting forwards and a more tenacious defense than expected have more than made up for Gordon Hayward’s loss. * The day Philadelphia coach Brett Brown longed for finally has arrived. * Detroit, Indiana and New York might manage to overachieve their way into lower-seed possibilities. Washington’s window is closing before its eyes, and Milwaukee has flaws at both ends that won’t be solved if and when Jabari Parker returns. * Houston’s James Harden might snag the Kia MVP trophy many thought he deserved last spring. * Minnesota, Denver and Portland are for real in the West, while it’s getting late early in Oklahoma City. Carmelo Anthony was supposed to have left his sub-.500 records back with the Knicks. * The next man Memphis owner Robert Pera offers a full-time coaching position is going to speed-dial Lionel Hollins, Dave Joerger and Fizdale in some order. * A strong field of Kia Rookie of the Year candidates at least six deep from the Draft class of 2017 all might wind up slotting in behind the Sixers’ Ben Simmons. * The drama of the draft lottery might be greater than that of the playoffs decided several weeks later. * LeBron James still moves the Earth and the league when he firmly puts his foot down. Then there’s the best thing about the NBA season at 20 games: That means 62 more to go. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2017

Manning, Pierre-Paul and rest of Giants stun Broncos 23-10

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Eli Manning ignored the loss of four wide receivers, and the reeling New York Giants capped a stormy week of injuries and infighting by stunning the Denver Broncos 23-10 on Sunday night. The Giants (1-5) pulled off one of the season's biggest upsets by dominating Denver in every phase from start to finish. The Broncos (3-2) blew a golden opportunity to close in on Kansas City in the AFC West after the Steelers knocked off the last unbeaten team in the league earlier Sunday. Visiting teams went 8-5 in Week 6 and are 46-44 overall this upside-down NFL season. Jason Pierre-Paul had a trio of sacks for the Giants, who came into Denver tottering from a tumultuous week in which three wide receivers landed on injured reserve, five other starters were sidelined with injuries and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended for insubordination. It was a wipe-out, all right, just not the one everyone was expecting. "Nobody is giving us a chance in hell to win this ballgame," coach Ben McAdoo said as he prepared to bring his team to Denver, where the Broncos were healthy, coming off a bye and leading the league in defense. Yet the Giants had a goal-line stand to go with four sacks and two interceptions, double their season total. And it was the Broncos who bumbled their way through a nightmarish night filled with muffs and mistakes, flags and frustration. Quarterback Trevor Siemian was knocked out of the game briefly, and he lost his right tackle Menelik Watson (calf) along with receivers Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Isaiah McKenzie to ankle injuries. Before being soundly booed as they retreated to the locker room trailing 17-3 at the half, the Broncos kept hollering at each other in the huddle, couldn't convert third downs and gave up more big plays than they had all season. The biggest came when Siemian, who earlier threw into triple and even quadruple coverage while overlooking open targets, threw a pick-six to cornerback Janoris Jenkins . His 43-yard interception return for a touchdown with 48 seconds left before halftime gave New York a two-touchdown cushion and left Siemian writhing in pain. Siemian dived at Jenkins as he scooted past him near the goal line, and Siemian jammed his left shoulder into the ground. It's the same shoulder that bothered him almost all of last year and required surgery in January. He was replaced by Brock Osweiler but returned to start the second half. On this night, it was the Broncos who were the team in turmoil, falling behind 20-3 before Siemian hit Jeff Heuerman from 13 yards out with four minutes remaining. Aldrick Rosas hit a 40-yard field goal in the final minute, and then made the tackle of Brendan Langley after a 47-yard kickoff return. FIRST QUARTER FOLLIES: Denver hadn't allowed any points and just two first downs in the first quarter before yielding a 13-play, 69-yard drive that ate up seven minutes and ended with a 25-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 3-0 lead. The Broncos surrendered four first downs on the drive that set the tone for the game. KICKING WOES: Brandon McManus' miss from 35 yards out, his fourth missed chip shot of the season, was an ominous sign for Denver. He also had a 53-yard attempt that was blocked. McManus has been anything but money since signing an $11.25 million extension last month. His 53-yarder blocked by Kerry Wynn was his fifth miss in 13 tries. Last year, he missed five times in 34 tries. Adam Gotsis returned the favor by blocking Rosas' 49-yard field goal try. BIG GAIN: The Broncos were allowing just 50.8 yards rushing per game. Orleans Darkwa gained almost that many on one run in the second quarter when he knifed right up the middle and wasn't pulled down until safety Justin Simmons caught up with him 47 yards later. That set up Manning's 5-yard TD toss to tight end Evan Engram that gave New York a 10-0 lead. Darkwa finished with 117 yards, the most this season against Denver, which had shut down Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch before their bye. M*A*S*H UNIT: In addition to being without star Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants didn't have five other starters. Defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) and linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck) were missing from a defense that was already without Rodgers-Cromartie, who was suspended indefinitely. Center Weston Richburg (concussion), running back Paul Perkins (ribs) and receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) were also missing on offense. Not that the Giants missed any of them on this night. UP NEXT New York returns home to host the Seattle Seahawks before a bye week. The Broncos visit the Los Angeles Chargers in the first of three consecutive road games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2017